A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 111: THE DEVIL’S MARK

Outlander Episode 111: THE DEVIL’S MARK is – in two words – intensely moving. You know from my previous reviews, I have been enjoying the series a great deal, but this is the first episode which brings the Outlander novel to full life.

The story focuses on Claire and Geillis for the first part of the episode, then on Claire and Jamie for the second. What brings Diana Gabaldon‘s written word to colorful being is the evolution of Claire’s relationship with Geillis and the fruition of Claire and Jamie’s love. Claire makes several choices in this episode, at the expense of herself, and finally, at the expense of Frank.

Perhaps you view it a different way: Claires stays for Jamie. True, but I believe she stays more for herself. She makes the choice to turn her back on Frank, the 20th century, relative safety, and what she knows. None of that can be taken lightly, especially given the sad blue eyes saying goodbye to her. But let’s not jump ahead too far.

THE DEVIL’S MARK delivers one or two surprises while handling the most precious moments of the episode with all the care and faithfulness we’ve come to expect from the performers and producers of this show.

Lotte Verbeek, as Geillis Duncan, gives another outstanding performance, but the star of the show takes her place in the spotlight. Caitriona Balfe, as Claire Fraser, shows us why no one else could have played this part. She glosses through a range of emotions, chilling to the bone and rousing to the heart.

THE DEVIL’S MARK is directed by Mike Barkerwho beautifully handles every scene from the most terrifying of the episode to the most heart-wrenching. My tears are still on reserve for WENTWORTH PRISON, but I do choke up a bit during the courtroom climax of Geillis’ self-condemning confession to save Claire.

We may have thought no line could top Dougal’s “. . . the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me,” but Geillis’ delivery of “Looks like I’m going to a f#@*ing barbecue” tips the scales to the ladies, thanks to Ms. Verbeek and screenwriter/Executive Producer Toni GraphiaThe script for THE DEVIL’S MARK embodies two emotional stories in one: First, pitting Claire and Geillis against each other in a life or death situation, and secondly, putting Claire in a life or love situation with Jamie. Both tales require the making of a sacrifice. Both endings tear at the heart. Brava to Ms. Graphia.


The episode opens with Claire and Geillis unceremoniously tossed into the thieve’s hole – locked in its dank, dark depths.

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“Where the hell are we?”

Claire wants to know. She was too busy eyeballing Laoghaire through the paddy wagon bars to overhear the warden say, “The thieve’s hole for you.”

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The moment the cage door slams shut, it’s every woman for herself. Geillis immediately points the finger at Claire.

“What a coincidence,” she claims, “that the wardens should show up on the heels of your arrival.”

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“I’m not the one who hexed my lover’s wife, killed my husband, and danced naked around a fire in the woods,” Claire throws back.

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Geillis knows when she’s been caught. Too bad she didn’t figure it out sooner.

“You got me,” her face says. She did poison her husband, wanting to be rid  of him before the baby started to show.

Claire is disgusted with Geillis, rejecting her gesture of friendship. When dinner is delivered – a half loaf of not-bad-looking bread – Claire makes a plea to the jailer, claiming there’s been a mistake. She’s the wife of James Fraser, nephew of the Laird. Unfortunately, “King Arthur” is not interested in her feeble attempt to escape judgement.

Wanting to be TTBFFs again, Geillis attempts to cheer Claire up:

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“We won’t be here long. Dougal will come for us.”

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“Jamie said that Dougal told Colum all about your affair and the baby. Colum banished him, sent him to his wife’s funeral, and commanded that he stay away. And sent Jamie with him. No one is coming, Geillis.”

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“Well, sh*t. There goes that plan.”

What am I thinking at this point as the two suspected witches lay their heads down to sleep in the freezing thieve’s hole?

If no one is going to eat the bread, I’d use it as a pillow.

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Days later – I assume – Claire and Geillis are escorted to their fair and impartial witch trial, passing by the innocuous beginnings of a pyre, which can’t possibly have anything to do with them as the official proceedings have yet to begin.

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“Is that what I think it is?”

Claire asks, this being her first witch trial.

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“Well, it’s not a maypole,”

Geillis replies, surprisingly unalarmed.

I am now questioning the logic of putting a witch on trial. If a woman really is a witch with magical powers, wouldn’t she use her magic to break out of prison or cast a spell on her accusers? What witch, once caught, would hide her powers? How do primitive minds allow themselves to believe a woman with the power of dark magics won’t use them to save herself? Not questions I expect to be answered here, but I wonder . . .

On to the sham of the witch trial.

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Claire and Geillis enter the courthouse . . .

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filled with bored housewives . . .

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and weak-minded men – all puppets of Father Bain. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. The trumped up charges are read,

while Claire searches the crowd for a friendly face.

No one. Nothing. Nada. All those people with whom she’s made friends over the past few months at Leoch . . . Oops. She didn’t make any friends at Leoch, other than Mrs. Fitz, who wouldn’t be caught dead at a witch trial.

Finally, a familiar voice bursts through the crowd. Good ol’ Ned Gowan (Bill Paterson) tries to press his way past the guards, who seem bent on keeping the sane people not chanting ‘burn the witch’ from entering the courthouse. Only the looneys are allowed easy access.

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“I demand to be let into the proceedings,”

Ned entreats politely, hoping to avoid a pat-down.

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He is allowed to approach the bench, and immediately attempts to have the case dismissed as it’s based on a bunch of poppycock, even the English courts have come to realize. Much muttering and disagreement. These folks got up early for a burnin’ and ain’t goin’ home ’til they get one – or both – of the witches on the pyre.

Short episode if the examiners are to agree, thus Ned is allowed to stay and represent the accused – much to the ladies’ collective relief.

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First up on the witness stand – the Duncan’s young house maid, Jeanie Hume (Lucy Hollis). (Told ya she had a last name for a reason.) By the way, a witness at this trial is pretty much anyone with a grievance who has the gall to stand up and spew the truth as they see it. I notice no one is sworn to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.”

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To be fair, young Jeanie is an uneducated woman, destined to live her life in service, but not the plushy Downton Abbey kind of service. She’s also, most likely, never in her life been asked for an opinion. It’s her time to shine, speaking about Arthur’s satanical bowl movements as cursed by his wife, Mistress Duncan, and Claire’s bewitching shenanigans with Geillis, picking herbs and such.

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“Jeanie was rigorous and detailed in her accusations. For the better part of an hour, she built a convincing case against us,”

Claire’s voice over tells us to spare the audience Jeanie’s long-winded testimony.

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Ned easily dismisses the maid’s circumstantial eye witness accounts as that belonging to a disgruntled employee who often referred to her master as,

“a flatulent old scunner . . . and his wife to be a flibbertigibbet.”

Hmm. Not sure Jeanie knows a word with that many syllables. No matter. She’s dismissed. Next up: Robena Donaldson (played admirably by Kim Allan), mother of the changeling child.

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This is one of my favorite segments of the first half of the episode because of the haunting music and magical photography.

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Robena relays the tale of watching Claire approach the changeling child in the tree. The world, through Robena’s eyes, appears enchanted, as if on another plane between reality and faeryland.

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What she sees and hears is Claire chanting a curse over the child, dooming it to death such that her own human bairn is kept by the faeries.

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Ned is much gentler in his handling of this particular witness. She bears no personal grudge against Claire, but is simply looking for a way to ease the pain at the loss of her child.

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Ned manages to turn her sorrow into hope, claiming Claire’s touch tainted the changeling such that the faeries kept the human bairn in faeryland to live a happy, healthy life.

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Let’s face it. This trial is about perception, suspicion, and perspective. These people are trying to make sense of the strange and unknown. Claire is certainly both of those; Ned senses. Geillis should know better; Ned confirms later.

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Alastaire Duffie (Mark Prendergast) takes the stand next. Right away, I assume this dandy made a play for Geillis at some point in the past but was shot down. Now, he’s a d*ickwad, getting back at the woman who spurned him – or something like that – talking about the summoning of lightning on the battlements and Geillis flying through the air.

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Ned can’t believe he lives in the 18th century, clapping a Black Jack hand to his forehead. Even the examiners have heard enough and adjourn for the day.

Claire and Geillis are shackled for the walk back to the thieve’s hole, with Claire asking Ned, “How do you think we’re doing?”

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“There’s grave danger afoot,”

Ned imparts. No shi*t. Remember Jamie’s ironclad warning?

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful.”

Claire further asks if Colum is the one who sent the little lawyer to assist? Nope. Colum wants nothing to do with the crazies in Crainesmuir.

Yeah . . . I’d have asked, “Have you seen Jamie? And where the hell is Murtagh?”

As consolation, Ned slips a flask of whiskey into Claire’s pocket. Personally, I think something to pick the lock on the cell would have been more useful.

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Back in the thieve’s hole, it’s time for Claire and Geillis to bond – something people tend to do just prior to certain death. Geillis spills more secrets. She’s a Jacobite, drawn to Dougal for his heroic duties to Scotland and the clans. She syphoned money from the late Arthur’s accounts to fund the rebellion and would do it all again, despite her current predicament.

Claire is shocked to learn of Geillis’ true love for a dog such as Dougal, but apparently, political ambition trumps infidelity. Yep. Nothing’s changed in hundreds of years.

Geillis won’t call her feelings for Dougal love, but she does want to know how Claire feels about Jamie.

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“Do you love him,” she asks, “– your ginger-haired, laddie, Jamie? It’s his name you cry out in your sleep.”

Hmm. I think Claire has a lot in common with more than a few of my readers.

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Claire declines to answer.

We don’t know exactly how many days have passed since Claire and Geillis were first interned in the thieve’s hole, but they’ve let go of their animosity, recognizing they have only each other for comfort and support. Sharing a tender moment before the jailer arrives . . .

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Claire acknowledges an even more innocent soul is at stake.

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The witches are ushered to their second and final day of inflammatory testimonies. At least they can say they received a speedy trial.

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With hair perfectly coiffed, Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson) of Castle Leoch, makes a grand entrance as the first to speak. Claire shouldn’t be shocked, but looks it.

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From Leery’s perspective, outsider Claire entered the castle and stole Jamie’s attention away. This can’t really be disputed. Of course, if it hadn’t been Claire to steal Jamie’s affections, it probably would have been another woman. Laoghaire is young and in love, and has little reason to believe Jamie didn’t/doesn’t feel the same way.

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The dealing of Laoghaire’s character in the series has led to much controversy, but perhaps we should try taking a step in her shoes.

A young woman is in love with a young man and has been for many years. He re-enters her life and showers her with affection – a pretty way of saying they made out like rabbits in an alcove. We don’t know what they said to each other on that occasion or any other, but this is the man for her; she decides.

Enter the other woman. At first, the other woman attempts to help Leery capture the lad’s heart, even providing a magical elixir. It fails, and the young man is explicably drawn to the other woman.

Here’s another scenario. Your boyfriend is blackmailed into marrying another woman. The woman who blackmailed your boyfriend tells you to stay away – he was never yours. Who’s the villain now?

Of course, I know Jamie and Claire belong together. Of course, I don’t like Laoghaire. But she is not e-v-i-l.

A liar? Yes, but not from her point of view.

Obsessed? Yes, from all points of view.

In the right? Perhaps, from an 18th century perspective.

In the wrong? Definitely, from Jamie’s perspective, but he never set her straight when he had the chance.

Laoghaire’s claims of she and Jamie being meant for each other come honestly and from the heart. She’s too naive and inexperienced to fathom that she’s projected her feelings onto Jamie. Claire is a wicked and vile temptress who turned Jamie away from his one true love. Laoghaire means to rid herself, and save Jamie from Claire, for good.

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Laoghaire’s later promise to Claire,

“I shall dance upon your ashes,”

is cruel but kind of understandable, given her primeval state of mind. This is a time when people are treated to a matinee of beheadings and hangings – oftentimes, mandatory. Dancing on someone’s ashes sounds rather benign.

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The court saves the best for last, as Father Bain (Tim McInnerny) takes center stage. His presence is forceful, helping him to put on an influential performance – for the courtroom and the home audience.

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Father Bain paints Claire Fraser as the whore of Babylon, but shouldn’t that be the whore of Battlestar Galactica?

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Then he drops to his knees, castrating himself for failing to save Tammas Baxter from the clutches of Beelzebub:

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“Blinded by vanity – hubris – I rebuked Claire Fraser, but it was she who determined the boy was ill from ingesting poison flora. And Claire Fraser did what I could not – saved the boy’s life.”

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Both Claire and Geillis are astounded by the good Father’s words, as his tearful admission continues:

“Blessed congregation, hear my confession. I failed Tammas Baxter. I failed you, and I failed God. I am no longer worthy to serve the good and holy people of this parish. I beseech you. Let me go.”

The examiners refuse to accept Father Bain’s resignation. I would think only the Almighty can do that. Anyway, Claire and Geillis are stunned by Bain’s full confession. Just in case you bought it . . .

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Yeah, that was too good to be true.

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With Laoghaire’s crocodile tears testimony, and now the fiendish Father’s  perfectly played ploy . . .

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. . . Ned feels the tide turn against them and calls for an immediate recess.

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Once alone, he gives it to the girls straight:

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“You’re both screwed unless one of you throws yourself on the fire.”

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“Why is he looking at me?” Geillis wonders.

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“Thank goodness he’s looking at Geillis,” is Claire’s knee-jerk reaction before she vehemently insists there must be another way. Remember, folks. This is her first witch trial.

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Ned insists Claire must throw Geillis under the bus, as she’s been a suspected witch since long before Claire’s arrival in Crainesmuir. Makes legal sense, but what’s with the Kung Fu  Eagle’s Claw?”

Goody Claire doesn’t want to do it.

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“What if I don’t?”

she asks, the gravity of the situation not quite setting in yet.

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“They’ll burn you both,”

Ned replies to the silly question.

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“Well, sh*t. I don’t like this plan.”

Ned leaves the room, so they can decide what to do. I’d vote for busting out through the window, but instead . . .

20th century Geillis emerges, coming out from behind her 18th century persona. If she’s going to be burned alive as a witch, she wants to know the truth from the Claire.

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“Why are you here?”

she asks the million-shilling question.

Claire goes into her usual spiel, but Geillis cuts her off. Everyone knows she’s been lying. It’s the reason Colum hasn’t lifted a finger to help.

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“It was an accident!”

Claire yells, obviously relieved to tell the truth. She simply wants to go home but doesn’t know if it’s possible.

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Geillis suspected in their early meetings, Claire was from the future, but it never occurred that her time-traveling friend’s presence might be an accident. She’d held out hope, until that moment, her cause might be carried out through Claire. Geillis is devastated when she realizes her efforts to change the past, and thus change the future, will amount to nothing upon her death.

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Putting on a brave face, Geillis charges back to the courtroom:

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“Looks like I’m going to a f#@*ing barbecue.”

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Claire doesn’t seem to catch the obvious clue, but then, she has a lot on her mind – like dying.

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Back in the courtroom, Ned sets the stage for Claire’s renouncement of Geillis – sure to be almost as juicy as a confession.

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But Claire foils Ned’s plans and declares she has nothing to say.

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That’s good news for the examiners, as they are prepared to give the bloodthirsty crowd what they want.

“Thou shall not suffer a witch to live. Thereby, we pronounce Claire Fraser and Geillis Duncan guilty and do hearby condemn them to death. “

says Grandpa Examiner.

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One of the bored housewives throws in a:

“Burn the witch! Burn them both!”

She has a pot simmering on the stove and has to get home already.

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Bad-hair Examiner stands to add,

“Conduct the prisoners to the pyre, if you please.”

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Ned looks appalled at the sentencing – not sure why

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– and rushes to Claire’s aid. This is one of the biggest surprises of the episode, and I’m not sure I buy it. Ned sent Jamie into Fort William with an unloaded pistol to rescue Claire, but ignores his own advice and brandishes a loaded weapon in a court of law.

True, this seems an act of desperation, but he knew the highly probable outcome of the proceedings. What exactly was his plan?

I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to make Ned a hero, but he took that title the moment he walked into the courtroom. Atticus Finch anyone?

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“I think it is possible,” Geillis tells Claire. neither woman paying attention to the brouhaha in front of them.

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“What’s possible?” Claire still has her mind on dying and has no idea what Geillis is saying.

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Ned continues to risk his life, but is overpowered by the mob. I really wanted to watch him try to lead the women out at gunpoint.

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“1968,”

Geillis says, kind of vaguely, but not really.

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Claire is still a bit baffled and now has no time to ponder Geillis’ meaning with Ned’s pistol discharging a few feet from her ear.

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The lawyer is swept off his feet and dumped over a railing onto his head. Claire starts shooting her mouth off, damning everyone to Hell and calling them murderers – ’cause that always works.

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Grandpa examiner is tired of the women having an opinion and orders Claire to be skelped – but not with harsh words though delighted Laoghaire has a few.

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“I shall dance upon your ashes,”

she spits in Claire’s face. Well, not really, but I expected her to.

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Claire is on sensory overload at this point, but I would have loved watching her kick Laoghaire where the sun don’t shine. What’s she got to lose at this point?

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As the strap lashes across Claire’s back,

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the men – for lack of a better word – in the crowd cheer . . .

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Geillis cries . . .

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and the women who pointed the finger at Claire watch in horror. After all, they could be next week’s entertainment.

This is a good place for an intermission, aye? Emotion levels are high. Claire is being tenderized for the pyre. Looks like Laoghaire is going to get her man – because surely he can forgive her this. Poor Ned is either injured or being carted off to the thieve’s hole. And Geillis has dropped several revealing hints about her most precious secret – not the baby.

Really, I’m stalling – waiting for the arrival of . . .

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Jamie (Sam Heughan) enters the courthouse – sort of in the nick of time – and rushes to his beloved’s rescue.

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“Claire!”

he yells behind his Wolverine mask.

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Kill Bill and X-Men all rolled into one. These villagers don’t stand a chance.

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The witnesses wisely skedaddle, with Laoghaire the first to flee the scene of the crime. Seems her righteousness doesn’t stand up to Jamie’s wrath. Are we surprised she’s not offering a breast to him now?

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Jamis stoops beside Claire’s prone body, the fury apparent on his face when he sees the marks on his wife’s back.

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Geillis is astounded by the hero’s arrival, perhaps wondering if Dougal is close behind. Any moment, he’ll rush into the room to save his lover and unborn child. To Geillis’ disappointment, Dougal does not make a gallant entrance. What is it that keeps him in exile? Did Colum’s words penetrate so deeply, he cannot act on his own conscience?

Geillis and Dougal’s love story is an unexplored bit of Outlander. What an intriguing tale their first meeting must have been. Drawn together by politics, they both have a desire for power, though I feel Geillis is willing to risk more for it than Dougal.

Jamie is willing to risk all for Claire, as he’s proven more than once. As the horde closes in on them, he stands and draws swords.

“I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman, and if you tell me you consider your authority to be greater than that of the Almighty, then I must inform you that I am not of that opinion myself,”

he preaches to the examiners in the choir and anyone else who dares to challenge him.

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It is in this moment, Geillis finds meaning in her own death, perhaps even the real reason she is meant to be in the 18th century. The question of whether the past can be altered is a popular debate among time-travel enthusiasts. We can’t know if Geillis comes to a definite conclusion regarding the lives of the Jacobites in her final hour, but she knows she can save one life.

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“This woman is no witch,” Geillis calls above the crowd, “but I am. I confess that I killed my husband, Arthur Duncan, by the means of witchcraft. I took advantage of the ignorance of Claire Fraser, bewitching her for my purposes. She neither took part in nor had knowledge of my dealings.”

Is it wrong of me to suggest, this is a good time to accuse Laoghaire of witchcraft? I mean, the villagers did build a pyre for two. Why not take the little b*tch with her?

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Jamie takes full advantage of the villagers’ distraction, working his way back through the crowd. This may be the first time in recorded history a witch is actually confessing.

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“See here. I bear the mark of the devil.”

Geillis seduces the crowd with a bewitching voice and pulls down the sleeve of her gown. Would she have thrown herself to the wolves like this if Jamie hadn’t showed up? I like to think so.

Claire see the scar Geillis claims to be the devils’ mark, finally putting all the pieces together:

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“What the villagers saw as evidence of evil, was actually the scar of a small pox vaccination. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Geillis was from the future, from 1968.”

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There is more than one hero in this episode, but Geillis’ sacrifice is the greatest. It’s terrifying and beautiful at the same time to watch and listen. Geillis is at her very best during the worst moment of her life.

No, let’s not discuss Voyager here. We’ll leave that analysis for Season 3. Young Ian! (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

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Jamie rushes his distraught Claire out of the courthouse,

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as Geillis is carried – a lamb to the slaughter – through the streets of Crainesmuir toward the waiting pyre.

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Claire and Jamie watch the passing rapture – helpless.

Whew! I need another intermission after Geillis’ confession. Let’s mini-recap. Jamie burst into the witch trial and went Kill Bill/X-Men on everyone in the room. Geillis, impressed by Jamie’s obvious love for Claire, steps up and saves both their lives. Laoghaire left the building with Alastaire, Robena, Jeanie, and Father Bain. They’re all hiding out somewhere together. I’m wondering if Jamie saw Laoghaire standing directly in front of his wife who was being flogged.

Regardless, I’m prepared to make a bold prediction. I don’t think the subject of Laoghaire will come up the rest of the season. As horrible as her crime is/was, she is insignificant in the grand scheme of Claire and Jamie’s life (until Season 3 and beyond). They currently have much bigger issues to face, and will be challenged with even larger issues soon enough.

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Finally safe, Jamie and Claire take refuge in a peaceful glade.

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Jamie attends to Claire’s back with what – I swear – looks like one of those brown paper towels from the ladies’ room. Just saying’ . . . there may have been a mix up between the props department and craft service.

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After assuring Claire her wounds aren’t deep enough to leave a physical mark, Jamie sits down beside her to address big issue #1: Honesty

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“I know there are things you don’t wish to tell me. I have one thing to ask (of) you – honesty. When you do tell me something, let it be the truth, and I promise you the same.”

Oh, the honesty speech. It has a slightly different flavor following the heels of the witch trial, rather than the wedding. Up until now, Claire and Jamie agreed to reveal only what they each feel comfortable sharing. Jamie has had to overlook several of Claire’s oddities, but the life-threatening situations have mounted up.

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Claire agrees. Honesty is good, right? On to big issue #2: The Devil’s Mark

“Now, there’s one thing I must ask you, for your own safety, as well as mine. Are you  a witch?”

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Not sure what Claire is expecting Jamie to ask, but it certainly isn’t that. Jamie goes on to question the mark on Claire’s arm, exactly like the one on Geillis’. Claire explains it’s a small pox vaccination scar, then let’s honesty take completely over – divulging the truth about her knowledge regarding Jack Randall, the Duke of Sandringham, and the Jacobite’s doomed cause.

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Jamie listens, without interrupting and with barely a change in his expression. This is most definitely not the answer he expected.

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“I know all of this because . . . because . . . I’m from the future,”

Claire drops the final bomb.

Jamie doesn’t speak for quite some time, prompting Claire to ask if he thinks she’s raving mad.

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Well . . . maybe . . . he might . . . but he says he thinks she speaks the truth and promises to believe anything else she has to say.

Claire goes on, telling Jamie about her life back in the 20th century – being a combat nurse, being married to Frank . . .

Much time passes. You can tell by the nifty editorial transitions.

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Finally, we come to “old” big issue #3: Claire’s beating

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Jamie is distressed to learn Claire was attempting to get back to the stones when she was captured by the English – trying to get back to her husband (big issue #4). Understandably, saying “back to your husband” seems to bother Jamie more than the rest of it.

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He apologizes for putting the strap to her – probably feeling even worse about enjoying it –

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then wraps the weeping Claire in his arms.

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“Rest now. No one will harm you. I’m here,”

Jamie tells her. We can already see the wheels turning. He has a lot of information to absorb but only one choice to make.

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“Do you really believe me?”

Claire asks the most wonderful husband in the world. Jamie answers with one of the most iconic lines from the novel:

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“Aye. I believe you, Sassenach, though it would have been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.”

What makes Jamie believe Claire so easily? I am certain mile-long threads exist discussing exactly this question, but I’ve never partaken. Whether a person is from the 18th century or the 21st, time travel is not a simple concept to accept. Perhaps its Jamie’s Age of Enlightenment roots which make him more open to belief. “Seeing is believing” describes the 21st century man, while “believing is seeing” is more applicable to the 18th century mind.

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“Over the next several days, we rode hard. We were both determined to leave the castle and the trial far behind us, hopeful the distance would overshadow the questions that remained unanswered.

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Jamie spoke repeatedly of Lallybroch, detailing the life we’d have together – the life he’d always imagined.

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“I tried to listen. I tried to invest in Lallybroch as my home.

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“I tried to imagine a life for us both, but I felt adrift – anchorless in a running sea.”

After several days of hard riding, Jamie and Claire set up camp for an evening of rest and relaxation. Not much happens . . . Oh, unless you count this:

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But I prefer this part:

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And this – the look on Jamie’s face when Claire “Hello!” wakes up:

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Now, this is what I call slight of hand. Claire thinks Jamie is getting primed for his big finale, but it’s all about her. This makes two sex scenes in a row where Jamie puts Claire’s pleasure (and ours) before his own. But we know there’s something much deeper going on here besides sex.

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“I want you inside me,”

Claire pleads. She still thinks it’s just sex.

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“No. No, mo nighean donn. I want to watch you.”

Do we need to take another intermission here? I can wait while you all run off to replay this particularly hot scene – the hottest yet sweetest sex scene on television with clothing; I must say. Oh, that Toni Graphia.

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Let’s end the scene with a kiss and move on to the next emotional climax of the episode.

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Morning breaks and Jamie approaches his bride, taking in the sight of her for as long as he possibly can.

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“So . . . Sassenach . . . are you ready to go home?”

he asks solemnly.

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Claire is ready, having woken up in the bestest of moods this morning. Why wouldn’t she be after last night? Well, her mood’s about to get crushed . . .

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They walk to the top of a hill where Claire discovers, to her apprehension . . .

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Craigh na Dun.

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“It’s what you wanted . . . what you’ve always wanted . . . to go home,”

Jamie says, breaking hearts across the globe.

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Hand-in-hand . . .

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they climb to the top of the hill.

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After so many months of the stones eluding her, Claire looks distressed to be near them again. The familiar sound beckons her forward.

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Jamie watches as Claire approaches . . .

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hands outstretched . . . reaching toward the future . . . toward Frank.

We don’t know if Jamie sees anything, as in the novel, or only senses Claire’s imminent departure from the 18th century, but there is unquestionably a change in Claire herself. She is drawn into the circle as if in a trance . . . disoriented . . . unaware . . .

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Jamie grabs hold of Claire moments before “it” happens, not ready to lose her yet.

It’s interesting to ponder what would have happened if Jamie had allowed Claire to pass through. What was on her mind as she approached the stone? I would venture to guess, she was thinking about Jamie. Where would that have landed her?

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It’s time to say goodbye. Jamie has decided to let Claire go – back to where it’s safe(r), back to what she knows, back to (gulp) Frank. He tells her there’s nothing for her on this side of the stones – nothing but violence and danger.

Jamie promises to stay at the camp until nightfall, to make sure Claire is safe. They say their goodbyes, and he walks away.

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You’re verklempt; I know. Take a moment.

We arrive at big issue #5: To stay or go?

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Claire seems to brood over this question for most of the day, sitting in front of the stone. Because it’s not a feast day, is its lure weaker; I wonder? Or is Claire’s desire to stay, stronger than the lure of the stone itself?

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She stares at both rings . . . one on each hand . . . thinking of Jamie . . . thinking of Frank . . . thinking of Jamie . . .

She’s been here before – only this time, she’s truly in love. She didn’t answer Geillis’ question in the thieve’s hole, perhaps because she wasn’t ready to admit it to anyone, including herself.

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If you’ve never read the novel, I’d be very curious to hear from you. Was there any doubt in your mind what Claire’s decision would be? Did you hope she would go back through the stones? Is there really any drama in this scene – any real dilemma?

Maybe not for the audience, but for Claire, there is certainly a great deal of fear driving her decision. There’s the fear of passing through the stones. We know it’s not a pleasant experience. Perhaps she’s not even sure she’ll end up back where she started.

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There’s the fear of knowing what kind of dangers she faces in the 18th century – primitive warfare, archaic medicines, certain hardship, relentless villains.

Claire takes none of this lightly, but in the end, she makes the right choice – the only choice.

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Having cried himself to sleep – I like to think – we find Jamie back at the campsite.

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Claire approaches – lured back to Jamie’s side.

“On your feet, soldier,”

she says to wake him up. I can think of several other – better – ways to wake Jamie, but . . .

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he’s awake and happy to see the woman he had planned to spend the rest of his life with – no matter in what century she lived.

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“Take me home to Lallybroch.”

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Think he’ll tell her “no, I want to watch” this time? I don’t think so either.


THE DEVIL’S MARK marks the end of Geillis and Laoghaire for the remainder of Season 1, unless the producers/writers have a spectacular surprise in store for us. Like Frank’s character, Geillis and Laoghaire were developed and expanded upon, making us admire and despise them, respectively, even more than we do in the novel.

I can’t admit to respecting Geillis in the novel to the degree I’ve come to admire her in the series, but that’s a tribute to Lotte Verbeek‘s performance and the material she was given to perform. Diana Gabaldon created a colorful character which Ms. Verbeek brought brilliantly to life. Like Jack Randall, I find myself wanting more, more, more.

In the series, Loaghaire is stripped of her novel innocence, which makes her a more engaging character and more believable. I may have ruffled a few feathers in my recap – more than a few, most likely – but hopefully, I made you take a little peek through her eyes. Call her anything you want, but in the end, she’s just a girl – a fictitious girl. Not worth getting your panties in a bunch. I say, blame the parents. Ooh. That ruffled some more feathers.

Going out on a limb, I assert this episode showcases the most iconic Claire and Jamie moment of the season so far. THE WEDDING episode is beautiful, romantic, sexy, playful – perfectly written and performed, but Claire and Jamie’s feelings for one another are not as mature as they are in this episode. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan bring the characters vibrantly to life, as if stepping directly out of Diana Gabaldon‘s novel.

The main achievement of this episode is the level of emotion imparted on the audience in each scene – a level one expects to feel in a season finale. We’ve been warned the second half of the season is darker and more intense. THE DEVIL’S MARK proves beyond a doubt, “they” ain’t kidding.


Showrunner Ron Moore is joined by screenwriter, Toni Graphia, during the podcast for Episode 111: THE DEVIL’S MARK, available for free on  iTunes or you can listen to it here.  He also treats us with an Inside Look at the making of Ep 111, delving into Claire and Geillis’ relationship and the decisive moment between Claire and Jamie.

Designer Terry Dresbach discusses the process of synchronizing the costumes with the Outlander world in her Ep 111 post: Creating a World…What we do. The Devil’s Mark

Composer Bear McCreary talks about the “dread, hope, despair, adventure, lust and romance” moments for which he scored in Ep 111. Discussion of the episode is included in the post for Ep110. Go to his official website.

Once again, Mandy Tidwell provides our Gàidhlig translations in her Outlander Episode 111 blog post: The Devil’s Mark – The Gàidhlig Bits I Could Decipher.

Outlander Episode #112: LALLYBROCH premieres on Starz on Saturday, 25 April 2015 in the U.S.

For more goodies on this episode, check out: Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode #111: THE DEVIL’S MARK

And if you missed my previous recapped review, you can read it here: A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS

29 thoughts on “A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 111: THE DEVIL’S MARK

  1. I wait after episode for your recaps but have discovered I must start reading them AFTER my morning coffee. It is getting old cleaning coffee off my keyboard from bursting into laughter. I loved this one as much as your others. Thanks so much, Candida!

  2. Excellent, and humorous, summation, as always! To answer your question, my husband has never read the books, but as Claire pondered her decision, he commented, “If she went back to Frank, there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell.” So, he at least, never doubted she would return to Jamie. I had to chuckle, however, given what happens much later in the tale.

    I’ve often pondered, given Jamie’s uncharacteristic18th century attitudes about many issues, if, at the end, it turns out he, too, was some sort of a time traveler (perhaps one not aware of his journey). Just sayin’….

      1. He likes it, but doesn’t completely understand my obsession with it. We will see how he feels about it after the Wentworth Prison episode….

  3. Loved your recap and agree with about everything. A few thoughts to add:

    This episode was filled with more unselfish acts than just about all of the other episodes combined…from Ned’s defense of both and his drawing of the gun to try to stop the burnings; Claire’s refusal to throw Geillis under the bus; Geillis’s confession in order to save both Claire and Jaime (probably the most unselfish thing she’s done and ever will do in her life); to Jaime being willing to not only believe the unbelievable story Claire just laid on him but to try to send her back to keep her safe (because loving her and keeping her safe has always been uppermost in his mind).
    The moment Claire tells Jaime she’s from the future and he’s looking away from her, you could almost see the thoughts running through his head of all of the things she has said and done in his presence which actually confirm what she has told him (at least it looked that way to me). For example, calling Prussia Germany; telling a bunch of armed and dirty highlanders to stop before they broke his arm all the while seemingly standing around in her shift; asking him if the woman in the song went back through the stones and looking so excited about it; her attitude about any kind of corporal punishment (whether to herself or others); her insistence that just because they are married, she isn’t his property; and her refusal to stop thinking for herself. Her speech and swearing are very odd for even an Englishwoman of the time. There are many other instances but these are just a few.
    As far as Loaghaire is concerned, at this point in the proceedings she has completely deluded herself. It wouldn’t have mattered if Jaime told her point blank that he married Claire not just because of Dougal’s machinations but because he wanted and loved Claire more than anything and anyone else in his entire life (and I’m talking about in that hallway “why’d you do it” moment.) She’s convinced herself that Claire has bewitched Jaime. I would spare more pity for Loaghaire if she hadn’t lied through her teeth during her testimony. I really wanted Claire to mention that when she first saw Loaghaire, Loaghaire was about to be beat for “loose behavior.”
    I’ve already been way more longwinded that planned with this so I’ll just end with this, this was the best episode of the season.

    1. Thank you, Jerri. A lot of hidden subtext in this episode – done so well. I honestly think Laoghaire believes she is the victim and is trying to save Jamie. People tend to forget she’s of a very different mindset, believing in witchcraft. It’s the only rational explanation for Jamie not being in love with her.

    2. I relate to much of what Jeri adds above. Sam has described Claire as an alien being who fell into Jamie’s world & rocked it. That Claire is a time-traveler, as hard as the concept is, kinda makes sense in a far-fetched way to me. What I really want to add here is Geillis’ reframing of Dougal which altered my perception of him. Dougal is a nationalist, someone who wants to unite the clans, a very noble endeavor in light of Scotland’s subjugation under the British. Until then I just looked at Dougal as power hungry. This is my favorite episode & we’re up to Ep 112 at this point. (Candida, I’m not into SM. How do we petition Starz to extend to Season 3?)

      1. Hm. Well, regarding “petitioning” Starz for a Season 3, it’s probably best done over social media as the more public – the better. But if you aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or anything like that, perhaps try emailing someone in the Starz public relations department:

        Laila N. Mahmud
        Manager of Public Relations, Publicity
        laila.mahmud@starz.com

        Joy Phillips
        Publicist, Publicity
        joy.phillips@starz.com

        Kristin Silady
        Publicity Specialist, Publicity
        kristin.silady@starz.com

        1. Wow thx for the footwork for me. Yeah Ron said if we want Season 3 now’s the time. So would twitter be better? Did sign up for that but dont get the sense that somebody is actually receiving it- know what I mean?

          1. I know exactly what you mean. For the first week, I had 6 followers – a nephew, 2 Outlander fans and 3 hookers! I tweeted a few people, but none of them responded. The only person who ever answered me was Diana. How’s that for luck? If you have the inclination and/or desire, artwork is a good way to get noticed. Even just a picture or screen grab helps. Tweet to @Outlander_Starz @JeSuisPrestNow @OutlanderAmbass and @outlanderpod all together. The last three are big RTers with large followings. @Writer_DG is generous with RTs as well if you tweet something interesting/unusual to catch her eye. She’s very into social media. Good luck!

            1. Your story is so LOL funny. Well I did reg for Twitter & still have but that egg-like empty space for myself so… Well I’m going to email. I know, call me a Luddite- sorry. I know SM is invaluable in this day & age. Hopefully Ron’s instruction will be spread as we go on yet another drought. Best to you, Candida!

  4. Love the recap and love the comments (especially Jerri). Great insight. My hubs also has not read the books, loves the series, and thinks Claire will return to Frank at some point – but loved the way this episode ended. ( I say nothing, of course.)

    For me, this was a wonderful episode and I had tears at the end. I really love the way Lotte Verbeek embodied Geillis and her “final” scene was theatre all around! So good!

    Thank you for the recaps. Can’t wait (and yet am sort of dreading) the next bits.

    1. Hi, Lin. Thanks so much. I am looking forward to WENTWORTH PRISON because I know the performances are going to be amazing. Have no idea what I’m going to do about Jamie’s Top 30. Maybe that’ll be a good time to compile a Top 30 Best Sex Scenes. Ugh.

  5. Oh Candida! I LOVED your 30 top Jamie expressions. They are all classic.
    You make it so much fun to relive the episodes.
    I will say this one made me glad I’ve read the book. My imagination is SO much better than anything anyone could put out on screen. I did have to suspend my book knowledge with regard to some of the things they left out and put out of sequence but I totally see why things have to flow the way they did. Will be interesting to see how some stuff is resolved later, if at all.
    I do wish they hadn’t made Loaghaire so vindictive. I agree with you about her, that she is just a wounded child. But I have to wonder, if she really thinks Jamie is bewitched, after Claire is killed, won’t she have to find another witch to “un-bewitch” him?? Obviously killing her breaks the spell? Maybe? Who the heck knows. Except witches.
    As far as Jamie accepting Claire’s explanation that she’s a time traveler – he comes from a land where they believe in fairies, water-horses, witches and “Auld Nick haunting the Kirkyard”. Why wouldn’t he believe someone could travel through time? And remember Gillan the Bard’s song about it at the Gathering concert?
    And NED!!! Whoa, baby! I harken back to the Rent episode when he told Claire he was looking for a little more adventure in his life so he left Edinburgh to work for a Laird in the Highlands. Well, he got it! Can’t help but think he might have a “little thing” for Claire, considering his behavior when they said they were going to burn her. I’m so glad to see him shine a bit more than in the books. Bill Paterson is great.
    Lotte was just incredible in this – Her – episode. The “F#@*ing BBQ” line will be appearing on a t-shirt soon (if it hasn’t already.) I read that she auditioned for the Claire role – aren’t we lucky they tapped her as Geillis?!
    Fr. Bain was a bit of a disappointment to me. I guess because I’ve always thought he was too brawny to be a priest. (Then again I’ve never been to Mass in Scotland.) For some weird reason he kind of reminds me of Young Frankenstein. Creepy but not quite creepy enough.
    I must confess, I just love it when Jamie draws his sword. (Those GOT casting people are probably kicking themselves right about now.) I’ve watched just about everything Sam has done in the past – at least as much as you can find on the internet – and I’ve always thought he was a stellar actor. So versatile and so believable in every character he portrays. But his face says it all – every time. The man is damn good as our Jamie.
    And finally – Caitroina. Wow. I’ve loved her from the beginning when we all first “met” her but the woman just gets better and better and better.
    It is a testament to just how good these two are as actors and how comfortable they are with each other that they can give themselves over so completely on screen to virtually become Jamie and Claire. I just love watching them.
    Looking forward to Saturday and Lallybroch!

    1. Hi, Susan! Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. This episode is a whopper, resulting in my longest recap yet. Every scene deserved to be mentioned. I rather liked the emphasis on other “witnesses” at the trial, rather than it being all about Father Bain crucifying Claire on the stand. I think his brawn is effective, as his character is portrayed in the series.

      WENTWORTH PRISON, here we come!

  6. My husband hasn’t read the books yet (just started, because he IS enjoying the series and thinks they are stellar). His thoughts on the stones scene is that Claire must’ve tried to go through the stones but it didn’t work, so she went back to Jamie. He doesn’t seem to see the same connection between Jamie and Claire as is described in the books.

    1. I understand your husband’s take because it did seem as if she could have tried and failed. I don’t believe that’s the case, but I wondered why that was made so vague. Maybe the writers are planning more explanation of that scene later. I feel sure Claire chose to stay with Jamie.

  7. How artfully you maneuvered between sentiment and humor in this thoughtful recap of the best episode yet! I haven’t read the books, but will start as soon as this season ends. They obviously are meant to be together, but I was terrified she was going to go back, at least briefly, before she realized how much she loved Jamie. I was so glad the episode didn’t end with that blackout at the standing stone. It would have been torture to wait till next week, and I may have had to reconsider my preference to be surprised by the series before reading the books.

  8. Good insight on Fr. Bain. I need to separate his character in the show from the book. I also loved “the crowd” at the trial. They were great.

  9. Terrific recap. I too thought this was a wonderful episode, even with the changes from the books. Will be interested to see how the future actions with some of the characters are handled. I read Outlander for the first time right after it was published (gone through three books-just wore them out, lol)- so I know the story upside down and sideways. The more I’ve seen, the more I have invested in the TV production. I think for most of the avid group of us, a visual of this wonderful story has always been desired, but feared. Who could ever do justice to the scope of it all, and who on earth could adequately portray these amazing folks? I might (ahem) quibble about some of the changes (why fix it if it ain’t broke?) especially if it doesnt interfere with the story arc, but this episode really worked for me. I think I’ve watched it at least five times. Not done with it yet either.
    Love reading this blog–brings me a dose of reality along with the fantasy that is Outlander!

    1. Thank you, Dee. So glad you enjoy my take on the show. I said in my very first review for SASSENACH that this show is groundbreaking. It continues to break new ground every week.

      1. I agree! And I hope it continues for years to come (well-I will try to be realistic about it). Keep on writing- its added to my enjoyment (obsession?) with this- my most favorite book (fingers crossed you get to the two books that brought the story home for me- Voyager and Drums)!

  10. Fabulous, Candida! Love your take, as always! My favorite episode with a dark, heavy cloak of humanity at its worst, but also its best (per Jerri’s comments of unselfish acts). And you know me and witches…. I’m a tad partial…..

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