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Two Takes: Outlander “By the Pricking of My Thumbs” 

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Even though the tenth episode of Outlander‘s first season takes place entirely at Castle Leoch (and its surrounding areas), there’s a lot of a delicious drama to talk about. At the heart of it all are two women: Geillis and Laoghaire. They resort to magic, murder and plenty of machinations in order to get their men. As for the guys, we get to see a drunk and disorderly Dougal, a cranky Colum and we meet the dueling Duke of Sandringham, who is very fond of Jamie. Very fond. Join the club, Duke.

Tina: I don’t know who to start with: Geillis or Laoghaire. Both of these women show they’ll do whatever they can to have the life they want with the men they want: Dougal and Jamie.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Okay, let’s talk Geillis first. Lottie Verbeek‘s really wonderful in this episode. She exudes this confidence and this sexiness that just pours from her…pores, you know what I mean? Anyway, from the shadows in the woods, Claire spies a pregnant and almost naked Geillis performing some sort of ritual. Of course, Geillis can sense Claire watching her and has no problem outing her presence. The “witch” explains to her curious friend that she performed a summoning. She has things she needs to come to fruition and asked Mother Nature for some…help.

She loves Dougal and wants to be with him but there’s a small matter of the man’s wife. Oh, Geillis. She’s really not one to actually sit back and let Mother Nature really do its thing, amirite? We find out soon that Dougal’s wife mysteriously dies. And I keep thinking was it Mother Nature or did Geillis do a little somethin’ somethin’ underhanded and diabolical to help Maura travel to the great beyond sooner rather than later. I haven’t read the book in a while so I don’t quite remember.

Kara: I’m hesitant to call Geillis a witch. I know she’s been accused — and arrested on the charge of witchcraft — but it’s actually her own cunning and knowledge of herbs and medicines that lands her in this trouble. Her husband’s been in decline for years, so maybe she thinks his death isn’t that suspicious. But Claire knows Geillis poisoned him and Colum suspects foul play as well. Perhaps the most damning thing, though, is her association with Claire. When Claire confronts Laoghaire about the ill-wish, she plays dumb — at first. But we soon realize that Laoghaire sees Jamie as hers now and forever. That ill-wish is an indication of the lengths she’s willing to go to get her man. And it’s not like people haven’t been whispering about Geillis Duncan for years. At this time in history, the witch trials are in full swing. People are terrified of what they don’t know and/or can’t explain. To be accused of being a witch is almost always certain death. I have to say I didn’t want to think Laoghaire capable of this level of treachery, but I guess all’s fair in love and war.

Tina: Okay, I went back and put quotes around my witch reference. There’s definitely something different about her — her knowledge of herbs and medicines and the performing of rituals is all pretty suspicious. Although, as we know from the books (and I won’t spoil that right now), something else is in play with her that helps explain a lot of this. But Geillis doesn’t seem one to mess around and be patient. I think she’s completely capable of speeding things up so she can get what she wants. I don’t know if she did that in Maura’s case, but her husband’s case? I think she did it.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

As for Laoghaire, the show is a little more on the nose than the book is. I feel like even though we may have suspected it, it took a while to realize that Laoghaire was behind Claire’s showing up at Geillis’ where she was also arrested on a count of witchcraft. That last shot of Claire seeing Laoghaire as she was carted off — the show doesn’t want us to wonder at all. It’s Laoghaire making a play for her man while Jamie’s away. And the earlier argument in the kitchen was played up for soapy effect, too.

Claire slaps Laoghaire and it all reminded me of a fight that would happen between Amanda and Alison on Melrose Place or something like that.

Kara: I think I need to re-read the book re: Geillis, but yeah, Laoghaire is much more blatant in the series than she is in the book. Speaking of blatant behavior, can we talk a little more about Sandringham?

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

He’s so very obviously into men and isn’t shy about expressing his appreciation for a bonny face. I’m sure he’s careful when he needs to be, but he feels no need to hide his proclivities in front of Claire and the rest of Clan MacKenzie. He gets a little too touchy-feely for Murtagh, which made me laugh, but Jamie needs something from him so he allows the inappropriate behavior. If Jamie is to make any headway in getting those charges against Black Jack Randall heard in a court of law, he needs the Duke on his side. But Sandringham must find a way to damn the captain and not incriminate himself.

Sandringham: “Damn that Randall. I must admit that shielding him from the consequences of his misdeeds sometimes feels like a full-time occupation and I loathe work.”

So when Sandringham asks that Jamie be his second in a duel, he’s only too happy to agree. Murtagh wants him to stay out of this business, as the duel has been instigated by the MacDonalds, and Claire is furious because the Duke is taking advantage.

But does Jamie really have a choice? This may be his only chance to clear his name and return to Lallybroch without a price on his head.

Tina: I love how Claire doesn’t leave all the maneuvering and manipulating to Geillis and Laoghaire. She does some of it too, albeit to a much lesser degree. She visited the Duke without Jamie’s knowing to make sure the reluctant Duke become less reluctant to signing that petition of complaint against Black Jack. That’s one of the things I like about this Outlander universe. The women don’t sit back and let things happen. They act. They react. They instigate. It’s all very refreshing. With Claire, she won’t hesitate to do everything she can to protect Jamie and see that he gets freed from these bogus charges.

Kara, what do you think about the part with Claire and the “Changeling?” I’m wondering if Claire picking up the baby who ended up dying is going to come back in some way. Because I feel in the book her attempted intervention or whatever you want to call what she did, is a big faux pas.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Kara: I can’t remember what happens down the line (although I think you’re probably right), but there is a nice bit of foreshadowing in the book when Claire hears the baby cry and decides to go find it.

Geillis: “Claire. Listen to me. If you go near that child and it dies — and it will, believe me, I’ve seen them like that — then the family will blame you for it. Do you no see the danger of it? Don’t you know what they say about you in the village?”

But Claire never actually touches the baby in the book. Jamie does, in fact, run into Geillis on the road and when she tells him what’s going on, he checks on the baby himself. He tells her the baby is dead. So, I think the fact that Claire has any interaction with the baby in the series has meaning and we’ll see how that all plays out soon. I think we also see Father Bain again, which is not good for Claire. He was trouble before and he’ll be even bigger trouble for Claire in the near future.

I love what you say about the women of Outlander, the series. In a time when  a woman had no rights and got very little respect, this is a refreshing take. Claire’s strong will and inability to keep her opinions to herself gets her labeled as feisty. But I love that she has so much spirit and so does Jamie.

Jamie: “You’re not normally a close-mouthed woman, Claire. I expected noisier displeasure. But quiet anger can be very effective.”

This is, of course, after the duel when Jamie gets impaled upon the sword of a MacDonald and she’s sewing him up. Is Claire being as careful as she can be while she works? Probably not. We know she’s got a serious temper. But who know who has a bigger temper? Colum. But he has every right be to angry with Dougal.

He’s tired of constantly reminding people that he’s laird and what he says goes. Dougal admits that Geillis is pregnant with his child, but that baby is a Duncan in the eyes of the law. And just because they both find themselves suddenly without spouses, doesn’t mean Colum will give them permission to wed. In fact, Colum wants Dougal to give up that “evil temptress” and banishes Dougal to his home until he can come to his senses. Unfortunately, Jamie is sent away as well. But, how long will it be until Jamie hears his wife’s in trouble (again) and how quickly can he ride to her rescue?

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.

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