OUTLANDER Episode 105: RENT
Note: I am using “Aside” when Claire speaks to the audience, as if writing a diary.My notes and any additions to the recap, appear in italics and at the end.
The program opens with the site of horses’ hooves in motion.
Claire is in a woolen jacket with fur trim. She stands on a shore, Looking off at a body of water, she mutters a poem by John Donne which is overheard and finished by Ned Gowan, Collum’s lawyer. As she and Ned talk a bunch of the men are fighting, wrestling and kidding with each other.
John Donne. 1573–1631
That Time and Absence proves
Rather helps than hurts to loves
ABSENCE, hear thou my protestation
Against thy strength,
Distance and length:
Do what thou canst for alteration,
For hearts of truest mettle
Absence doth join and Time doth settle.
Who loves a mistress of such quality,
His mind hath found
Beyond time, place, and all mortality.
To hearts that cannot vary
Absence is present, Time doth tarry.
My senses want their outward motion
Which now within
Reason doth win,
Redoubled by her secret notion:
Like rich men that take pleasure
In hiding more than handling treasure.
By Absence this good means I gain,
That I can catch her
Where none can watch her,
In some close corner of my brain:
There I embrace and kiss her,
And so enjoy her and none miss her.
Claire is surprised to meet Ned Gowan, who she had seen at the castle but had not been introduced to. He was an Edinburgh lawyer when young but wanted the adventures of the Highlands and worked for Collum’s father before Collum became the MacKenzie. .
He is there to help with the rent collection and explains it. He is coughing. He says it is something that happens each year on the road. She asks if he has a pipe. She gives him thorn apple /Jimson Weed to smoke. Aside explains it is Jimson weed and helps with asthma.
The group then mounts and goes on singing a Scottish song from which Claire is excluded.
Aside – can’t allow the pleasant association with people like Ned to distract her from getting to the stones and returning to her own life.
At the camp, Claire sits apart. Dougal tells a dirty story while Claire looks on with some emotion – distaste, disdain, anger?.
Aside: She says she’s not offended by the jokes, or that her dinner looked like an easter rabbit. Troubled that the men are clearly using the Gaelic to exclude her, Jamie brings her bread – she says they hate her he says they don’t trust her. She asks if he thinks she is a spy – he says he thinks there are things she is not telling them and that it is plain for him to see it is still her plan to run.
At the collection point in the next village, there is a long line. Dougal greets each man in turn, inviting them to the inn or where they are staying that night to join him.
Bored Claire wanders about and hearing a group of women singing, follows the sound. She is startled by a rough but pleasant woman, Dinandra (?) Gilchrist who eyes her with suspicion when she hears her accent. Dinandra explains it is a working song. Claire tags along, eventually singing and working with the woman who are setting dye with “hot piss.”
After the dye setting session she and the woman share a strong drink and Dinandra’s baby cries. Claire is outraged that the goat for the baby’s milk has been paid as rent. As she goes to pee in the bucket, Angus bursts in looking for her and grabs her complaining she smells of drink and piss. She tells him he is about the same. He threatens to tie her to the wagon She tries to untie the goat and bring him back. Dougal says they are keeping the goat, claiming she is drunk. Hearing the altercation an Englishman in a leather apron comes forward to ask if she is alright. When menaced by the Mackenzie men he weighs the odds against him and backs off to his tent where he replaces his apron with the red jacket we all know as the jacket of a British soldier.
That night in the gathering place, inn, tavern or house, Dougal is telling a story and he rips Jamie’s shirt off to show his scars. It’s Gaelic (I wish there were subtitles.) but obviously it’s intended to rouse. Everyone is shocked by his scars. They set up a collection hat.
Later, Dougal throws the torn shirt to Claire telling her to mend it. Indignantly, she says she will not. Dougal says, then Jamie can be dressed in rags. Fine she says and grabs the shirt, but Jamie, angry and embarrassed, grabs it and says he’ll do it himself as he storms out.
The next morning Claire is at the stream washing when the lawyer brings her black pudding. She takes and eats some. Indelicately, she asks Ned how Collum would feel about Dougal’s collection of money for himself.
With a “canny” expression, he tells Claire she is clever to have it all figured out. And that she would make a fine barrister. It’s a pity, he tells her, that woman can’t be lawyers and that they are several centuries away from that. As he leaves, we hear her reply that it is only two centuries away from happening.
Aside: Claire tells us sometimes she thinks Dougal can read her mind about wanting to run. She is on the trip because he respected her healing abilities and had come to trust her. But she can see that is slipping away. As the days on the road turn to weeks, village after village she feels helpless. Even amongst the vast landscape she feels trapped and will she have toreconcile herself to live among strangers 200 years in the past
The party is on horseback and crests a hill. They come across a family whose home is being burned down and belongings stolen. It’s the “watch” to whom one must pay “protection” money. The house is being burned because the husband does business with the British army. Jamie has slipped off to avoid being seen by the watch who would turn him in for the money.
Dougal is approached and giving a sack of chicken, Someone says that’s not patriotism, it is business
At the meal of chicken around the fire, Angus talking about his swiving abilities. Claire refuses the food, saying she has no stomach for stolen food. Angus pulls a knife on her when she says wont sit with thieves. Jamie talks him down. Claire storms off and Jamie follows her asking what’s got into her – talking to Angus that way. Calling him a thief is fighting words. She asks if she is just to stand by? He tells her not to judge things she doesn’t understand. He tells her to stay out of it.
There’s more collecting rent; Claire watches. It’s very muddy and the collection is meager.
Dougal asks why one man has empty pockets. He says the Redcoats came and took all their food and he has nothing with which to feed his family. Dougal gives him a sack of grain and they begin handing food back to the people as Dougal proclaims they will all eat, and invites them for a drink.
Claire is told it is not her business.
That night when the group gathers so Dougal can excite the masses, Jamie doesn’t let Dougal rip his shirt, he just takes it off. Claire recognizes the Gaelic for “long live the Stewart” and recalls talking about it in the future with Frank, She sees a preserved Jacobite flag framed on the reverend’s wall.
Back in the tavern, Claire begins to realize the money collection is not criminal but political; they’re raising money for Jacobite army.
At camp, Claire overhears Jamie arguing with Dougal about the collecton and showing his scars. Dougal says no one forcing against their will and something about the warrant out for Jamie. Jamie says his neck own concern and so is his back. Dougal stomps off and Jamie takes his anger out punching a tree. Claire tells him Dougal will use him again to get what he wants.
Jamie says he will because he is his uncle and one has to choose what’s worth fighting for? He tells her he knows she understands that well. There’s a sweet look between them. Breaking the moment he says they had best get some sleep. Of course, she returns, admonishing him against hitting trees. Wryly he says trees are safe.
In the morning as they break camp Aside: Claire confides in us that she is beginning to see the MacKenzies in a different light; not as criminals but as rebels; she wishes she could tell them they are on the losing side, they would never unseat the Bristish King.
They come to an execution site – a crucifixion, with the Corpses of men with “T”s on their torsos marking them traitors. ASIDE Claire tells us even she can tell it is not the work of the watch, but of the Redcoats.
At Dougal’s command they take the men down and bury them solemnly.
That night Dougal tells the story of the crucified men in the tavern.
He outs up the plate for collection, no longer needing Jamie’s back as a way to stir the passions of the villagers.
Claire is in bed, thinking, she hears a noise and grabbing a candlestick opens her door. She more or less trips over Jamie wh says he wasn;t sneaking but trying to sleep there to protect her from drunken townsmen from the tap room downstairs. She says she is sorry she stepped on him for being kind. He cannot sleep there she tells him, why doesn’t he sleep inside her room. He is scandalized by the suggestion. Sleeping near each other in the camp is a completely different thing. She asks if at least he can take her blanket or would that be too scandalous? Their hands touch. He tells her he will be right there outside the door. She says goodnight and goes back to her room.
In the morning in the taproom, Claire wishes Jamie good morning as he goes off to the horses. Men watch her and she sits with Ned. Men speak suggestively about her in Gaelic as she sits not unperturbed but ignoring it. Claire asks Ned why he let her believe they were thieves. He says he thought she had no Gaelic. She tells him she could recognize a few words enough o get the idea. She tells him the odds are against them; they’re raising money for a fight they cant win. Tells him going to lose. He says it is her opinion. She says it is a fact and he must believe her.
The men keep talking about her and Angus starts a fight. Claire and Ned get out of the way in the brutal bar brawl.
Claire is tending the wounds and Angus winces as she cleans his hand. She says he is a baby. Murtagh says she was the excuse for the fight. They were defending her honor at having been called a whore, As guest of Mackenzie they can insult but god help any other man that does
As they mount up Rupert is telling a story about having two woman at once and for some reason asks if they can believe that. She responds that she believes his left hand might be jealous of his right, She says his left hand gets jealous of his right. It takes a moment but Rupert understandsit as having been a joke. Jamie says it is about three days ride to Culloden Moor. She recalls Frank telling story of battle which lasted an hour but in which the Scots lost 2,000 men. But worse, Frank tells her, the estates were plundered and sold, wearing tartans was forbidden. In the future she sees a stone marked Clan MacKenzie.
Aside: In the past she asks And what of these men – how many would die.
At the camp. Claire is trying to untie her bed roll. Angus helps her in a friendly way and she thanks him. Ned greets her neutrally. She says she is going to the river to wash – Dougal says to let her go.
She goes down and washes her hands and face. Dougal, comes up and asks her who she is. He says she may not be a spy but is sowing dissent. Trying to warn, trying to save their lives.
WE hear “Madame,” and the officer who was at the rent collection comes up with his men. He asks is all is alright. Identifies himself Foster.
Dougal proclaims who he is. Foster says, MacKenzie, or not if holding this woman against her wishes he will be dealt with.
Again, he asks Claire if she is there by her own choice. She wrinkles up her chin and sets her jaw, as if she is trying to give her face the look the author would have said Claire had, and says NOTHING as the screen fades to black.
Why would Ned Gowan have said anything about the progress of woman’s rights, about being centuries away from women being allowed to practice law. I didn’t know that was seen as the natural progression of things in 18th century Scotland. I cannot remember if Gowan was an actual character in the book and if so was he also a time traveler?
The way Caitriona-as-Claire sets her chin as a gesture of defiance is beginning to annoy me. It just doesn’t feel real to me. I believe in acting it is called “indicating.”
In Scott Rogers Studio for Acting: Reel Tips for Reel Actors he says:
Often times, actors know intellectually what a character should be feeling at a given moment so they try to convey that feeling. Unfortunately, since they are not actually feeling that emotion at the time, they end up indicating the desired emotion.
That’s what I am feeling from the actress playing Claire in this instance.
Otherwise, there is a slow burn forming between Jamie and Claire; I think of it like a crush where two people are attracted to each other and seek each other out without realizing the attraction is obvious.
You get a real feeling in this episode of the tedium of Claire’s road. She didn’t even have a book to read, and could not have read it while riding anyway. Imagine that, no books, no radio, no television, and at night you don’t even get the language in which the entertainment is being offered. Oh yeah, everyone dislikes you simply for your nationality and the actions of your fellow countrymen who really aren’t YOUR fellow countrymen as you were born so far in the future. It’s would not just be tedious it would be maddening.