In the last episode, just as Claire had become extremely disillusioned with Dougal and his MacKenzie sidekicks, she is offered an escape by a gallant English officer, Lieutenant Jeremy Foster. Claire hesitates, but tells the Lieutenant that she is the guest of Clan MacKenzie. He insists that she accompany him to see his commanding officer, and Dougal says he will go with her (although Claire knows he hates the English soldiers). A foppish English officer (Brigadier General Sir Oliver Lord Thomas) welcomes Claire to his dinner table – he appears to have wandered out of Georgette Heyer – and he and his pals insult Dougal, who says softly they should have stayed in London if they don’t like the local accent.
Claire appears quite at home with the nobility despite having been camping for weeks and wearing the same dress all that time. At first she revels in the company of her countrymen and they are equally delighted to be entertained by a delicately bred Englishwoman. Genially, Lord Thomas instructs Lieutenant Foster to escort her to Inverness, and Claire thinks she is home free until Captain Jonathan Randall, our villain, bursts in. They glare at each other but pretend they haven’t met. Lord Thomas suggests that Captain Randall bring Claire to Inverness so he can hear about her adventures. Captain Randall tells Claire about an English private who was killed by the Scots, Isis-style. While Claire expresses sorrow over his fate, she points out that she encountered some Highlanders who had apparently been crucified by the English without due process. The English officers don’t see that both sides are exercising vigilante justice, and see Claire’s candid opinions as disloyal. Captain Randall seizes the opportunity to impugn her morals and accuses her of sleeping with Dougal (in Dougal's dreams!). Claire says that’s a scurrilous lie, and Randall pretends to apologize. Claire is so angry she defends the Scots and their right to their own land, which offends her hosts.
There is a skirmish outside the town and Claire offers to help with the wounded, startling the English officers who don’t know she’s a healer. She warns Dougal to make himself scarce because the English will want someone to blame, then she assists with an amputation without anesthesia (just in case you forgot that medicine in the 18th century is primitive). When she returns to the elegant dining room, the English officers are all gone except Randall who is being shaved by his batsman. Claire has a flashback to Frank, using the same blade, but with her affectionate assistance. Randall dismisses the servant and tells Claire that her outspoken comments make her loyalty questionable. However, he tells her he wants to apologize for their previous encounters and says he hopes they can start again with honesty on both sides. “My honesty will match yours, Captain,” Claire replies warily.
Randall states her behavior labels her as a trollop or a spy. Desperate, Claire makes up a new story, saying she was betrayed by a lover stationed in Scotland. Randall doesn’t believe her, but says if she gives him evidence that Dougal is raising money for the Jacobites, he will bring her to Inverness. Claire insists she never heard any discussion of treason. Randall threatens to torture her to get the information he wants. Furious, Claire tells Randall she’s heard about his notorious lashing of a young Scot and we get an unpleasant and way too long flashback to Jamie getting flogged while Randall enjoys it. Jamie’s refusal to beg for mercy made his punishment worse, just as Claire refuses to back down to Randall. If you had any doubt about Randall's character, hearing him talk about the beauty of the flogging shows you how sick he is. Claire, revolted but trying not to show weakness, listens to Randall blame war and the Scots for what he has become. She tells him he can choose to be the man he wants to be, despite what he has done. He says he can start by escorting her to Inverness but he is toying with her; he calls his servant, Corporal Hawkins, back into the room, but when he helps Claire up, he punches her in the stomach. As she lies gasping on the floor, he forces the corporal to kick her Kick her, milksop!” Dougal bursts in just in time to rescue Claire, warning Randall to let her go unless he wants to start a war. here. on this day.
Randall gives in reluctantly but commands Dougal, “Be sure to deliver her to Fort William by sundown tomorrow, if she is not present at the appointed time, you’ll be accused of harboring a fugitive from English law and you’ll hunted down and punished even unto death, war chief or not.”
How Claire could get on a horse after Randall’s abuse, I don’t know, but they gallop away and she manages stay on while Dougal leads her to a mysterious pool and tells her to drink. Then Dougal pulls a sword and asks her yet again if she is a spy. Angrily, Claire denies it. He tells her he brought her to St. Ninian’s Spring; according to legend, anyone who drinks must tell the truth, so because she drank he finally believes she isn’t a spy. Dougal explains the only way he can save Claire from Captain Randall is for her to marry a Scot: then the English would have no jurisdiction over her. Claire refuses and asks suspiciously if she is to marry Dougal but he makes it clear that while he lusts for her (like everyone else), Jamie is the lucky guy.
When Jamie appears, looking a million times more attractive than Dougal (although Dougal looked pretty good when he rescued Claire from Randall), Claire is reading her own marriage contract drafted by everyone’s favorite 18th century lawyer, Ned Gowan. Claire is surprised that Jamie is willing to marry her and asks if there isn’t someone he is interested in. Surprised, Jamie reminds her he has a price on his head so isn’t the most eligible prospect. She can’t believe he is so willing to go along with Dougal’s plan and finally pulls out her last objection, “Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not a virgin?” Jamie replies slowly, “Ah, no, so long as it doesn’t bother you that I am.” Shyly he adds, “I reckon one of use should ken what they’re doing!” Stunned, Claire gulps down some convenient alcohol as Jamie saunters back to the men, who are waiting patiently for the wedding.
What’s Important About This Episode:
· Claire is torn between the Highlanders who have more or less protected her and the English, her own people, who (by disappearing) allow Randall to mistreat her
· Claire continues to be freaked out by Randall’s resemblance to his descendant, Frank, one who hates her and one who loves her.
· Randall’s obsession with torturing Jamie is made all too clear – both in the flashback and in his delight in recounting it to Claire
· Fabulous scene with Claire and Randall with incredible tension and great acting on both sides. Just as in the book, the viewer forgets to breathe and is stunned by Randall’s unexpected brutality at the end.
· Lord Thomas may be the garrison commander but it is Captain Randall who decides who gets kicked
· Despite Dougal’s flaws, he protects Claire even when dangerous to do so (partly because she is the clan’s guest and partly because he hates Randall)
· Claire and Jamie to marry! Isn’t that what we’ve been waiting for since episode one?! But what role reversal – it’s the hero who is young and so-to-speak untouched and the heroine who is experienced.
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