BWW Recap: OUTLANDER Invites You to Join 'The Gathering'
The episode begins with a frantic Claire running through the woods, darting around trees and panting heavily, as a sentry keeps his watchful post from above. It's all wracked with tension and suspense, particularly when we recall Claire's ominous testimony at the end of last week's installment: get back to Craigh na Dun, or "die trying."
"Run, Claire, run!" we simple viewers implore-for all of ten seconds, until we realize, "Oh, but of course, she's just playing a game."
We, and the sentry, relax as Ms. Beauchamp emerges from the trees, a gaggle of pint-sized Scots eagerly giggling at her heels. Claire is smoothly transitioning into life at Castle Leoch, it seems-but as always, Claire is really fixated on just one thing: freedom. And no matter how much fun she and the wee bairns appear to be having, she's using the game to better explore the castle grounds. For escape routes. Oh, girl, that is clever.
Meanwhile, it's Prom Night at Castle Leoch, minus the DJ and spiked punch, and double the oaths and plaid, as the clansmen gather, for the aptly named "Gathering," to pledge their fealty to Colum Mackenzie. Claire is set on missing the festivities, determining that particular night to be the best opportunity for escape. Her provisions are ready to go, and her plan is carefully prepared; all she needs is a weapon, just in case-but oh, what's that? Not going to the Gathering? Oh, no, lassie, Mrs. Fitz will not be hearing it. And just like that, Claire's plans are put on hold as she is dragged to watch the clansmen swear their oaths. It's all bagpipes, tartan, and Gaelic in the hall, and we feel a bit like Sassenachs ourselves, as unsure as Claire is of what exactly is happening, until Murtagh conveniently comes on hand to provide translation.
While Claire respectfully makes her appearance at the Gathering, she doesn't linger, and quietly excuses herself to return to the surgery. Sure, Claire; "The surgery."
Just before she clears the hall, she meets Angus, who puts up a valiant effort to keep Claire from leaving, until she whips out her trusty flask and offers it to him in friendship. Of course, every true Scot is a sucker for a fine port, and one long, and I mean long, swig later, Angus is just about as drunk as a kilt-clad skunk. "The more unconscious clansmen tonight, the better," Claire muses, and it seems like a solid plan.
Get 'em all liquored up and leave them in their drunken stupor to slip inconspicuously through the castle halls and make it to the grounds undetected. Yes, it's all well and good, until she stumbles upon a gang of particularly inebriated clansmen. Just before things get too out of hand, though, Dougal swoops in to the rescue-but oh, wait, nope, he's drunk too. Claire whacks him over the head and gets the heck up outta there before any serious damage can be done, to herself physically, or to her escape plans. She finally makes it to the stables, and it's almost time to breathe a sigh of relief, but then oof, Claire trips right over a sleeping Jamie. He throws a serious wrench into Claire's strategy: Colum has posted more guards in the woods around the Castle Leoch, due to the Gathering. Well. There goes that. After some coaxing, Jamie convinces Claire to return to the castle with him. Sneakily, they try to make their way inside without anyone noticing, but of course that doesn't work either. Soon they are ambushed and taken back in by force.
In case you were wondering why Jamie wasn't at the Gathering to begin with, there's a simple enough explanation for that. If he pledges his fealty to Colum, he'll become the next in line to succeed as laird of Castle Leoch. Pretty sweet deal, except Uncle Dougal really wants to be laird too. Like, really. Like, "Yeah-sure-I'll-kill-my-own-nephew-if-I-have-to" really.
On the other hand, if Jamie refuses, that'll look very very bad, and Colum could have him killed just as easily. What's a boy to do? Leave Castle Leoch, maybe, but then there's the issue of Black Jack Randall also wanting to kill him. Poor Jamie. "This is all my fault," Claire laments, knowing if she hadn't run into Jamie in the stables, the Gathering could have continued on peacefully without anyone noticing young MacTavish's absence. "Aye," Murtagh agrees soberly, "it is." Hey, at least the dude's honest. Crisis is narrowly averted, however, when Jamie humbly refuses to make a vow, per sé, but pledges his obedience all the same. Everyone's happy. Commence rousing applause and spirited Scottish dancing.
As the episode reaches its conclusion, Claire accompanies the men on a boar-hunt, which ultimately turns deadly for one unfortunate clansman. Dougal gives the man, bleeding profusely in his arms, an honorable death, with an equally sympathetic Claire just beside him. Not that such a poignant moment necessarily takes away from Dougal's otherwise vile nature; he still could turn on Jamie at any moment, he still almost drunkenly raped Claire, and he's still an all-around sketchy guy, but there's a heart in there somewhere, and at least for now, things between him and Claire seem to be reconciled. Let's hope so for the latter's sake, anyway, because Dougal's decided to take Claire on a road trip. As we now move outside of Castle Leoch, the world, or at least Scotland, is waiting, and with the Highlands readily at Claire's feet, perhaps there will be more, even better, opportunities for her escape back to Craigh na Dun.
P.S. This week's "Gathering" had an extra special guest. Did you catch "Outlander" author Diana Gabaldon's cameo appearance in the 18th century Scottish Highlands? Check out her Castle Leoch debut, as well as a brief interview, in the clip below!