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Outlander – S1E4 – The Gathering

Previously on Outlander, ‘The Way Out’ 

claire escapes

It’s hard to say how long Claire has been at Castle Leoch–weeks? months, maybe?–but in between the healing and wine drinking, she’s been spending her time learning the lay of the land. From the rotation of the guards on duty to the 43 steps between the door and the wall, her escape is mapped out and her plan ready to spring in to action during the chaos of The Gathering. The Gathering is when all of the people who live on the MacKenzie lands come and swear fealty, and if they’re all busy swearing, no one will notice her slip out the back door. No one except Geillis, maybe, who surprises Claire in her surgery to have another weirdly ominous heart-to-heart with Claire. She’s got to know something, right? No one drops that many pointed questions in a conversation without suspecting something.

Outlander 2014

Her escort puppies Angus/Rupert would definitely notice Claire’s absence, if she hadn’t just drugged one of them with a sedative-laced port. Poor man won’t be able to keep his eyes open; hopefully he shares his drink with all his buddies. Sleepy clansmen make for easy escaping.

Laoghaire would miss Claire, too, since she’s dancing around outside Claire’s office hoping for a love potion to turn young Jaime’s heart towards her. His lips, luckily enough, have had no trouble yet finding their way, which Claire takes the time to point out even though she’s on a very tight schedule.

Actually, Dougal would probably also notice Claire was missing, since a regular stroll down a dimly lit castle hallway turns him into the defender of her honor (and ladybits) from a few agressively drunken clansmen. Well, he mostly defended it, and then turned around and sampled that honor for himself just a little bit. Chalk it up to all that Gathering and fealty-swearing celebration; Dougal’ll wake up in the morning with a sore head, considering how drunk he was, but it might also have to do with Claire knocking him out with a wooden chair to make her escape from him.

jaime oath

Oh, you know who else would notice Claire missing? Jaime. If Claire weren’t at the castle anymore, who would be there to accidentally trip over him while he’s hiding in the straw-covered stable floor? To be fair, it’s probably best Jaime was around to point out all of the glaring flaws in her plan, like the extra guards she didn’t know about. When Claire is caught–and she will be caught–she won’t be coming back to the Castle as Colum’s guest. Since Claire clearly can’t go anywhere without being assaulted, Jaime sneaks her back into the Castle and ends up getting caught himself. There was a reason he was hiding in the straw, and that was to avoid the Gathering ceremony altogether. Murtaugh explains it all to Claire while Jaime waits his turn for the proverbial ring-kissing: if Jaime swears fealty, he’ll take the MacKenzie name and most likely be nominated to be the next Laird, a position Dougal has already nominated himself for. If he doesn’t swear fealty, it will be an insult to Colum and every other MacKenzie in the room (and there are a lot of them), and will most likely end in a bloody and stabby death. He’s a fast thinker, that Jaime, and at the last minute swears not his fealty to Colum but his obedience as long as he is on Colum’s land. This seems to satisfy everyone involved, and Jaime even has the good grace not to blame Claire for outing him from his hiding place and almost getting him killed.


The next morning is the boar hunt, and as you would think a fight between pigs with sharp tusks and men with sharp sticks, there are a lot of casualties on both sides. Claire has been brought along as medic, and she and Dougal end up holding the hand of one of the men as he bleeds to death from major internal injuries after a particularly gruesome piggy encounter. Dougal realizes that Claire not only has a cool head under pressure, but that men dying in horrible, violent deaths is not new to her. He lets her know he’ll be taking her with him when he leaves the next day, going out to collect the yearly taxes and other business of Collum’s. It’s hard to tell if he’s got some plan that’s going to require a level-headed nurse or if he’s getting her out of the castle as a thank you for her help on the “battlefield”, but there is definitely a reason he’s taking her that he isn’t letting on. He’s true to his word, though, and the next day Dougal, Claire, Jaime, Murtaugh, one of the watch-puppies, and a whole troop of them leave the Castle at first light.

ride out


What was important:

-This episode was INTENSE. From the minute Claire started her escape to Jaime’s showdown with his uncles, it was one long sequence of super tense scenes. I don’t think I even realized I was holding my breath until Jaime left the main hall and it was all over.

-In general, and especially in this episode, the show does a really good job of keeping you on Claire’s side. Not that there’s any reason to be against Claire, and I find her to be a remarkably likeable heroine, but have you noticed how much Gaelic is spoken without subtitles? Or how many rituals or daily actions we watch that are given no explanation whatsoever? It’s a really interesting way to make sure we get to feel exactly what Claire is feeling, even under such impossible circumstances. It’s like we all get to be Outlanders!

-Even though this whole episode was centered around Claire’s escape, the number of times Frank gets mentioned decreases with every episode.

-I don’t know what stick is up Dougal’s ass–wait, I think we do actually know what stick now. That man has some sort of issues. I would have thought that with Jaime not wanting to be the new boss, all of that testosterone-laden tension would have cleared right up. There is absolutely something suspicious going on in that man’s head, and him taking all of our favorite characters on a road trip can only mean something terrible is going to happen.

-Just in case you missed it, Fionna MacKenzie, the woman who exchanged sharp words with Mrs. Fitz, was a cameo by Dianna Gabaldon, the author of the book and consultant for the show. Ron Moore, the showrunner, also had a silent cameo, but I missed him on screen.


About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

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