Welcome back, ladies and gentleman (men?). Last week we left Claire in the tender care of Scottish Santa and his merry band of disoriented-by-female-agency helper elves. Will Jamie (not Jaime from “Game of Thrones” as I was spelling it last week…though let”s be honest ladies, we wouldn”t kick Nikolaj Coster-Waldau off the horse, if you know what I”m saying) and Claire continue their tentative friendship? Or will figuring out day-to-day life in Castle Leoch overwhelm our combat nurse? Let”s find out!
We begin exactly where we ended last week, with Claire entering an ancient stone castle on horseback. Only now all the hay and peasant structures have moved inside because TV shows have budgets dammit, so they”re getting as much use out of Leaning Shack #4 as they can. To differentiate from the outside, everything now also has a layer of mud on it. Spring cleaning has obviously not been invented yet, because grime is caked on everyone and everything. Honestly being a peasant would be more hygienic than being aristocracy if this is the gold standard of living.
Claire stands out like a sore thumb in her white dress as everyone else dismounts and goes about the process of unpacking the horses. She looks uncomfortable and mad at herself for being uncomfortable. I would like to take this moment to just appreciate Caitriona Balfe”s micro-expresssions.
One of the Scotsmen says something about a gathering later and I can only assume he means a gathering of Scottish Santas because Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ THEY. ARE. EVERYWHERE. Scottish Santa in the mud. Scottish Santa with his bud. Scottish Santa looking down from above. It”s an infestation!
Just as it occurs to me Claire is seriously outnumbered by bearded men in kilts, with nary another XX chromosome to be seen, 18th century Mrs. Graham appears. Her name is Mistress Fitzgibbons and thank God there”s only one of her because clearly I can”t keep my industrious middle-aged women right…apologies to the maligned Mrs. Baird of Episode One.
Mrs. Fitzgibbons tells the men they smell terrible, which must be TRULY awful since living in this castle would make anyone nose-blind to all but the most pungent of odors, before noticing they brought home a stray. With the resignation of any mother who has ever indulged a child saying “It followed me home, can I keep it please? Please??” she attempts to bundle Claire off into a Makeover Montage. But Claire is having none of it. She”ll worry about her immodest appearance later because right now it is time for flawless Bitch Face™. Jamie clearly needs his wounds disinfected before he rolls around in the bacterial heaven that is everything…just everything.
I cant tell if Mrs. Fitzgibbons is impressed with Claire”s gumption and medical knowledge or is secretly trying to guess what size stick they”ll need to burn her on a witch pyre.
So off we go inside. All that setup in Episode One pays off in spades as Claire is led through the castle. We”re treated to a flashback of her walking in the 1940s with Frank spliced in with her current predicament because remembering things from a week ago is strenuous on the audience.
My main takeaway here is medieval castles were dark and gloomy and depressing as hell. Maybe Scottish Santas are allergic to excessive sunlight? It discolors their magnificent ashen beards, which are obviously the source of their power.
After setting up the impromptu nursing station, Mrs. Fitzgibbons says we can just call her Mrs. Fitz which bless her because typing out her whole name was gonna give me carpal tunnel and/or continuous giggle fits because the idea of gibbons in Age of Enlightenment dress is hilarious and I am five years old.
Um, someone call Frank because THIS is how you do exposition. Jamie is shirtless and has enough scars on his back that he”s either been flogged or is secretly an alpha werewolf struggling to protect his pack and his secrets and…nope he was just flogged. By Black Jack Randall. What a small, plot convenient world. While Claire changes the dressing on Jamie”s bullet wound, he regales us with the story of how he was beaten for stopping Randall from raping Jamie”s sister Jenny. During this story, we learn several things.
• Jamie”s parents had a thing for alliteration.
• Randall definitely has an M.O. and it is that he is an asshole.
• Jamie is really bad at what constitutes as a ‘seduction” story.
• Alternatively, Jamie is really GOOD at what constitutes a ‘seduction” story because now we all know he is anti-rape which is a fine quality in any potential mate.
• Jamie has a fantastic immune system to have not died from his wounds.
• 18th century women”s clothing can magically restitch after being torn down the front.
• Jack Randall is not worthy of his line, “That”s interesting.” You are no Jack Sparrow. In fact, you are a disgrace to the name Captain Jack. Good day to you, sir. I said good day!
There is then talk of levies and history and four years ago the British government sent out parties to collect food and other taxes and oh noooooooo! Guys Jamie has been infected. He is vomiting exposition. Is no one safe from this scourge!?
We also learn some stuff about Jamie”s multiple run-ins with the law: obstruction of justice, escape, theft. He is one leather jacket and a toothpick between his teeth away from being a teenage girl”s wet dream. Claire is immediately attracted to his neurological exposition disorder.
But it instantly reminds her of Frank and she freaks out about how he must be taking it. I want to be mad at her for thinking about her husband when she”s got so much other stuff to worry about, but you know what? In a happy marriage, THAT'S HOW IT WORKS. You worry about the other person even when you”re up to your eyes in shit.
Claire is a sobbing wreck which, you know, happens when you finally get a minute for reality to hit you in the face. Jamie comforts her, thinking Frank is dead, and I have a moment where I think I”m going to throw something at the screen if they kiss because no. Do not kiss the girl in a moment of weakness. Do no pass GO. Do not collect $200. Luckily they salvage it at the last second and I don”t have to buy a new television.
Look, I know we”re all supposed to be rooting for her and Jamie but honestly I can”t help but think how distraught I would be in this situation and the show hasn”t done anything to disparage Frank”s character so…hold on to your butts…I think I”m Team Frank.
After a day-long nap Claire is awakened by Mrs. Fitz. A bleary-eyed Claire looks like she wants five more minutes mom, but no dice. Mrs. Fitz has come to collect on that Makeover Montage. We get a great moment where Claire has to explain what a bra is… “It”s from France?” (Please let this be a running gag similar to Timmy Turner”s “It's from the Internet?” on “The Fairly Oddparents.”) We”re about halfway through the 7000 layers of clothing when I realize there was no bath.
There was no bath. Claire has been running through the woods and been bled on and gotten mud on her and is probably covered in itchy bug bites and saddles sores and who knows what else and they just put her in new clothes without so much as a sponge down. Claire is unruffled by this lack of hygiene because she”s a badass, but 18th century Scotland is the worst you guys.
Finally presentable – or as presentable as she allowed to be in this bathless hell – Claire is taken to be introduced to the Laird of the castle. The wall paintings are gorgeous and I can”t stop looking at them as Claire explores the room. Seriously, A+ work set designers. Since Head Scottish Santa isn”t in his office, Detective Claire is on the case. She needs to find out what year it is so she can come up with a convincing cover story.
Never before in history has a woman been so grateful her husband constantly inundated her with British Isles history. The pressure is on as Column MacKenzie – Laird High Magistrate of the Guild of Scottish Santas – arrives to find her snooping through his books. The poor man is suffering from an affliction that gives him crazy bow-legs. No one should ever have to walk like that unless they just had the best orgasm of their life.
MacKenzie has questions for Claire. Questions like ‘who are you” and ‘why were you in the woods in your shift” and ‘can you please keep your cover story to less than three minutes, we”re on a time table.”
Claire is sweating like a sinner in church but she is the type of person who performs better under pressure. With the proverbial clock ticking, Claire follows the old rule that a lie should be based in the truth. She basically throws Black Jack under the bus and good, let him rot there. She”s also like, “Excuse me, there is a never a good reason for rape. You wanna fight me, bro?” And Lord High Santa is like, “My bad, sorry. We”ll arrange transport for you. Don”t hit me!”
However, I”m slightly concerned Claire learned about how to lie from Frank even if he IS a professional spy. DON”T MAKE ME REGRET BEING TEAM FRANK, FRANK.
Surviving her interrogation, Claire exits through Scotland”s tiniest door and contemplates how different life is in this century. But then she sees Dougal playing with the boys (what the hell, no Arya Stark tomboy??) and thinks maybe these people aren”t that different after all. Cue rainbows and unicorns as we live happily ever after…ha, just kidding.
Cut to dinner. Castle Leoch is still actively depressing and dark. But Claire counteracts this by being adorable and nervous and trying to in vain to fix her hair. Girl, let it go. Until they invent hairspray, that mane is just going to do what it wants. Give in to the natural curl.
All eyes are on Claire as she enters the Great Hall. This scene is giving me panic attacks about the first day in a new school. Claire is a total pro though and makes it through the eyes of judgment to Laird Column (I”ve been told it”s Colum but I reject this reality and substitute my own). He introduces Claire to his wife Letitia…leader of the Plastics and one of the worst people you”ll ever meet.
We are treated to some girl”s bare back and bizarre “Little House On The Prairie” head gear as she sits at another table. Is this going to be important later or am I just noticing weird crap again? Also, was that a budget Thorin Oakenshield in the corner?
No time to wonder because Claire has stepped in it now. Neither she nor I know what ‘it” is, but the tension in the room ratcheted up to eleven when she tried to engage a child in conversation about playing swords in the courtyard with Dougal. See Claire? This is what you get when you try to deflect from your rapidly unraveling cover story. You get to eat bread and drink exotic pink wine and try to will yourself into nonexistence as your host family has a tense exchange that you know will turn into a screaming fight as soon as they”re behind closed doors.
The next day Claire is off to redress Jamie”s bandages since he wasn”t at dinner last night because family drama I guess? Mrs. Fitz gives her some lunch to take up there too and Claire seems completely unaware people might be starting to suspect ‘changing the bandage” is some Englishwoman slang for sex. She is also unaware that she is being followed by a guy in a blue hat. BLUE!
During lunch we learn Jamie is wanted for murder (dangerous!) but he didn”t do it (mysterious!) and he has eaten grass before while raiding cattle in times of strife (heartbreaking!) and how his friends broke him out of Black Jack”s camp (endearing!) and he”s been on the lamb and MacTavish isn”t his real name (cryptic!) and I don”t mean to alarm anyone but I think Jamie is a cyborg sent back in time to seduce women with his perfect combination of sexy danger and boy-next-door morals all wrapped up in a mullet kilt.
Claire confronts Scottish Hagrid about following her. He tries to remain stoic but quickly breaks down and confesses Dougal sent him to spy on her. Claire is understandably annoyed. So she does the only reasonable thing: she immediately confronts Dougal with the knowledge that she knows he”s spying on her. Girl, no. This is Ned Stark levels of idiocy. If he is spying on you, he does not trust you. Why would you say you”re going to actively be boring now? Because that means you weren”t going to be before. Which is suspicious as hell. Claire nooooooo, don”t tell him your plans for exactly when you are leaving, what is wrong with you? Frank would be ashamed at your lack of covert skills.
During the montage of the next four days, all I can think is “Who gave Claire all these costume changes? Did women really have that many outfits?”
This whirlwind of clothes ends as we meet Geillis Duncan, red-headed witch. She”s sitting in the garden clad completely in BLUE, so we know she”s important. She”s also overtly sexualize and knows about abortions, so obviously she is either a villain or going to be painted as one by the menfolk later when she pisses them off. I instantly love her and am already mourning her inevitable untimely demise.
Geillis invites Claire to a party but it is literally the worst party ever. There”s no dancing or music or snacks or anything. Just a bunch of people complaining to Column about their cows and land disputes in Gaelic. Geillis tries to translate but Claire is like “Don”t bother, I”m bored enough already.”
Just when we”re all about to fall asleep standing up, a dude enters with a really pretty blonde girl. He is obviously upset. Mrs. Fitz appears from the kitchens and looks distraught. Shit is about to go down. I can tell because dude basically holding the girl like property and if I”m upset about it then Claire must be bleeding from biting her tongue.
Turns out this guy is her dad and he wants the blonde punished for ‘loose behavior” and wow what the actual hell why are we not also punishing the guy she was ‘loose” with if that”s how it”s gonna be? And just when Column agrees to let her be flogged for daring to enjoy sex, Jamie steps in because he is over your slut-shaming bullshit.
Jamie agrees to take the blonde girl”s punishment for her. Everyone agrees to this for reasons I”m not 100% sure about but am 100% on board with. The girl runs to Mrs. Fitz and Jamie opts to let Scottish Hagrid punch him in lieu of getting whipped. Hagrid is not happy and looks like he might cry but he keeps on punching.
HE HIT HIM IN THE BULLET WOUND. FOUL! YELLOW CARD! UMP ARE YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION!?
Cut to the kitchens, where Claire is bandaging Jamie up yet again. When she asks why he took that beating he responds with some mumbo-jumbo about honor or whatever but we know the truth. He just keeps looking for reasons to have Claire touch him again. We”re on to you buddy. But all his machinations were for naught when she reveals she is leaving in the morning. Or is she?
The next morning, Claire attempts to leave Castle Leoch wearing the most expensive looking gown in the county. Seriously, Letitia must be seething somewhere, wondering where all her good clothes have gone while Mrs. Fitz cackles because she never liked that bitch anyway. But just when Claire is about to abscond, a ninja Dougal appears, says Column wants to see her.
Instead of flipping him the bird and getting on the wagon, Claire follows Dougal to meet Laird High Santa, who is in the basement of the castle. Now I”m not psychic, but I have a feeling there will be no cunnilingus on the table this time around.
Looks like I was right…instead of oral sex there is only betrayal. Column and Dougal do not trust Claire because she might be a spy. So she is their prisoner/guest and will also serve as the castle doctor because the last one died. Because when you suspect someone of being an assassin, you should definitely trust them with your health. A+ logic boys.
We end with Claire locked in the room she explored with Frank only days prior, imprisoned for the crime of not wanting to sound crazy by explaining she”s from the future. The credits roll and I am incensed by this character assassination! Claire would not sit and allow this. It is time for action, to break off a table leg and bust out the window panes. Climb to freedom, girl!
What did you guys think? Are you utterly heartbroken by Scottish Santa”s sudden but inevitable betrayal? Who do you think Claire should punch first?