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Two Takes: Outlander “Rent” 

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Claire, the clan MacKenzie and lawyer Ned Gowan, hit the road to visit the villages and collect rent. This latest episode features beautiful landscapes, the chance to learn some interesting rituals and it also gives us a glimpse into the differences between men and women of that time. The hour’s action is alternately bumpy and brutal as tensions rise, political opinions swirl and danger lurks. In the middle of it all is Claire, who’s still trying to figure out a way to get back to the 1900s. Unfortunately, her hopes are being dashed bit by bit. The longer this reluctant time traveler stays back in the past, the more difficult it gets to make her exit.

Tina: What is fascinating about this episode — for me — has to be the development of the relationship between Claire and the clan MacKenzie. I felt so bad for Claire in the beginning. She’s the only woman among men who exhibit some boorish and vulgar behavior. They act as they normally would act if there wasn’t a woman in their presence. They further isolate her by speaking solely in Gaelic. She feels alone and trapped even as they travel through the various villages. She continues to think of escaping but there’s no opportunity, at least not yet. At the same time, she judges their actions as they “extort” more money out of these villagers who don’t have much money or food or animals to spare. I like how her opinions and conceptions begin to change. And her eyes are opened to their true motives. I love the connection that gets made by the end of “Rent.”

Kara: I knew there was gonna be trouble in that tavern the moment Claire came down for breakfast. Even though the men were talking in Gaelic, it was clear to me that they were speaking very rudely about Claire. She, of course, was too busy trying to warn Ned about the futility of the upcoming Jacobite uprising, but the rest of the men from the MacKenzie clan were paying attention to every word of those men’s insults. Considering that the clash between Angus and Claire almost resulted in violence earlier in the episode, it’s interesting that he’s the first one to throw a punch in her defense. It’s ok for them to make fun of Claire, but they will absolutely defend her honor to outsiders. Claire doesn’t realize she was the cause of the fight until she’s tending to their wounds. And after that, the tensions between Claire and the men ease…until Dougal confronts her at the river while she’s washing up. He doesn’t seem to think she’s an English spy anymore, but he wants to know why she’s sowing deeds of doubt amongst the men. It’s not like she can explain – even if she wants to – but she doesn’t get the chance. They’re come upon by Redcoats and Claire is asked point blank if she’s being held against her will.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: The whole time Claire opens up to Ned about how there’s no way the Scots can win the war against the British military because they’re the best in the world…I wanted to stop her from talking. I mean what is she thinking? She clearly feels she can trust him since he’s one of the few people who wants to converse with her. And as nice as Ned is to her, there’s no way he wasn’t going to tell Dougal about her political opinions. Oh, my bad. It’s not opinions, states Claire. They are facts. What is Dougal supposed to do? Sure, Claire may not be a spy but she sure is something. I don’t know. It might have been better if she didn’t say anything. I know she wants to protect some of these guys. She wants to warn them because she doesn’t want them all to die. But she has to be careful. Like you said, she and Dougal find danger in the form of Redcoats. Cut to black. Bring on next week, already.

Kara: Claire, the mouthy Sassenach. She will forever be that to me and that’s not an insult. I think we both agree that she needs to be smarter about who she talks to and what she says. But her mouth even gets away with her at the first place their traveling caravan stops to collect rents. Claire doesn’t have much to do as a healer, so she tries to be helpful to the women folk. They aren’t very welcoming at first, but when she rolls up her sleeves and literally gets covered in piss, they warm up. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re all a bit tipsy when Claire asks about Craigh na Dun, although that conversation is cut short. All she discovers is that it’s a 3 days journey away. When Angus barges in, he’s not happy. She didn’t tell him where she was going and he’s in trouble with Dougal for not keeping an eye on her. Realizing one of the families had to give their goat up for rent although they need that milk to feed the baby, Claire is determined to return the animal to the family. Dougal shuts that down, but a British man tries to come to her defense – a man we later learn is Leftenant Jeremy Foster.

Tina: I’m sorry, Kara. You mentioned the world “Leftenant” and now all I can think of is Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow. That’s what he often calls Abbie Mills. And I love it every time he does it. OK, I digress. Back to Outlander and the guy who constantly tries to bridge the gap between Claire and the rest of the clan. I’m talking about Jamie. I think he wants her to see them from a different perspective so it’s great how he has to act as the buffer and/or the translator for the men. Claire needs this help since she’s already made some judgements. And as much as I love shirtless Jamie, I hated seeing Dougal use him and the brutality he experienced at the hands of the British. I know it’s to help raise money to build an army for an inevitable war, but you could tell how humiliating it was for everyone to see his scarred back. Punching a tree is his way of working his frustration out.

I do have a question, though. How many times did Dougal tear a shirt off Jamie? One time, he threw the shirt to Claire telling her to mend it. And she threw it back to him saying not so much. I think Jamie said he’d mend it himself. But did he? How many shirts were destroyed for the cause? How many shirts does Jamie have on him? These are the things I think about. I know I need to be stopped.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Kara: Nah, I’m good with that. And if anyone is gonna be tearing shirts of Jamie, it needs to be Claire. Even though it was humiliating for Jamie – and I really felt his pain and shame every time he had to sit there shirtless – I think that act helps bond Claire and Jamie even more. And you know I’m not going to complain about looking at a beautiful, half-naked man. I prefer the front view, but I’ll take Jamie form any angle.

I wasn’t sure we were going to get any flirty and/or inappropriate Claire/Jamie action in this episode, but I was wrong. When Claire thinks she hears something outside her door, she goes to investigate and inadvertently trods on Jamie, who is sleeping right outside. He’s there, of course, to protect her honor and once Claire realizes that she invites him to sleep in her room. Jamie’s reaction is priceless. Claire doesn’t understand how this sleeping situation is any different from them sleeping under the stars with the rest of the MacKenzie clan,  but Jamie reminds Claire she has a reputation to think of. I love that Jamie is worried about Claire’s virtue, even when she isn’t.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.

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