Outlander Recap: Rent-to-Throne

Outlander Season 1 Recap

December 24th, 9 pm Eastern Standard Time. From here on in, I shoot without a script — 

Oh, wait. Wrong “Rent.”

In my defense, this week’s episode of Outlander and the Tony-winning Broadway musical with which it shares a name both center on a ragtag group full of drama and feature a catchy song, complete with hand motions, sung ’round a long table. Only the TV series, however, can boast (repeatedly!) shirtless Jamie, hot pee as a household solvent and “Your mother” jokes in Gaelic.

“Hot what now?” you ask? Dinna fash; it’ll all make sense as we review what happens in the drama’s latest hour.

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CLAIRE LAWYERS UP | Claire hasn’t made many pals while accompanying Dougal’s Rent Tour 1743, save elderly lawyer Ned Gowan and, of course, Jamie. The former becomes a fast friend after they recite John Donne poetry together and she gives him jimson weed to smoke to ease his asthma; the latter is the only member of the core gang who shows her any kindness – though he informs her that the men still don’t trust her and that he’s well aware that she’s got secrets. Meanwhile, I am well aware that Caitriona Balfe is bringing Belle back with that gorgeous fur-lined coat, and her loose, soft curls are perfection.

In the first village Dougal’s group visits, the tenants line up to pay rent. Ned accepts their payment, which often comes in the form of livestock, and Dogual invites the locals to drink with him at a nearby tavern that evening. Bored, Claire wanders off and finds a group of women singing around a table and is soon drawn into helping the ladies of the village work some wool. The mass of fibers is slapped onto the table and doused in… “Hot piss,” one of the women helpfully provides as Claire wrinkles her nose. (Apparently, urine sets the dye.) But still, the assemblage is rather welcoming and Claire joins in, happy that no one is thrusting a half-skinned rabbit under her nose or threatening to do her bodily harm.

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Outlander Season 1 RecapPEE YA LATER | That ends when Angus catches her, mid-stream, as she’s helping fill a bucket for the next round. Soon, she’s being hauled out by the arm. And when she tries to liberate a rent payment (read: goat) so a hungry family can eat, Dougal is not pleased. Their argument captures the notice of a British man who asks if Claire needs help; the Scots tell him to take a hike and, because he’s far outnumbered, he does.

That night at the tavern, Dougal gives a rousing speech in Gaelic. It culminates with him ripping the shirt off his nephew and showcasing his scarred back. Normally, I’d be all for anything that disrobes Jamie in an efficient manner, but 1) I wince every time I see his scarred back, and 2) the move clearly doesn’t sit well with young Mr. MacTavish – or Claire, when she sees how upset he is.

After watching this show in a few villages, and seeing how eager it makes tenants to put coins in a bag passed around after, Claire deduces that Dougal is raising cash for himself on the sly. She voices her suspicions to Ned, who won’t confirm or deny – but he remarks that she’d make a good lawyer. Too bad women aren’t allowed to study law, and “It’ll be a few centuries before that happens,” he says as he walks away, chuckling. “Only two,” she notes aloud. (Heh.)

Although I love Claire to pieces, girlfriend has gotta lighten up about jumping to conclusions, particularly about business conducted in a language she doesn’t speak. Even Jamie drops his bemused expression to drop some Scottish science on her arse by warning her not to judge things she doesn’t understand. “Stay out of it, Claire,” he warns.

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THE REBEL ALLIANCE | Because here’s what’s really going on, as Claire learns by the end of the episode: Dougal is, indeed, raising cash out on the road. But instead of lining his own pockets, he’s socking away money to fund an uprising that aims to restore power to Charles Stuart, pretender to the British throne. Stuart’s supporters call themselves Jacobites, and the British are really not fond of them.

But as Claire’s flashbacks to hanging out in Rev. Wakefield’s dusty study show us, she knows that the upcoming Jacobite uprising will fail miserably, killing thousands of Highlanders and essentially ending the clan system in Scotland. But she can’t say anything to stop it, can she? This is the dilemma she’s likely pondering in her room at an inn one night when she hears someone outside her door.

Outlander Season 1 RecapClaire grabs a candlestick and prepares to crack it over the head of the intruder, but when she yanks the door open, she just trips over Jamie. Again. We know you have to lay low on account of the price on your head, Jamie, but you don’t actually have to stick so close to the floorboards. He’s sleeping outside her door to make sure that drunk dudes don’t try any funny business. (Hear that, Hilton? I couldn’t even get extra towels during my last hotel stay!) Anyway, the gesture is sweet but nowhere near as quaint as his reaction to her suggestion that he come inside where it’s warmer.

“I couldn’t do that,” he says, shuffling his feet and averting his eyes like he’s a seventh-grader at a school dance and the DJ just started playing “Save the Best for Last.” “Your reputation would be ruined.” He does, though, accept a blanket – though I doubt he needs it after the heat generated by their prolonged hand-brushing.

MY BOYS | The next morning in the inn’s common room, Claire tries to tell Ned that the uprising will end in tragedy. He might be a little more open to your divinations, Claire, if you weren’t so off-putting while making them. She’s interrupted when Dougal’s men and a trash-talking table of guys get into a fistfight.

After it’s over, Claire patches up the men and scolds them for so often allowing testosterone to override common sense. Murtagh interrupts her harangue to say that the men were fighting for her honor. “You’re a guest of the MacKenzie,” she is informed. “We can insult ye, but God help any other man that does.” Aw, guys! Claire shows her thanks by making a masturbation joke at Rupert’s expense, and even Dougal smiles. (Side note: I love Caitriona Balfe’s face in the beat between making the joke and getting a reaction. She takes Claire from ballsy self-assurance to oh God what have I done? in seconds.)

But don’t let Dougal’s easy laugh fool ye: He’s still hella suspicious of the Sassenach. So when he gets her alone, he demands to know why she’s sowing seeds of doubt within his gang. Before she can really answer, the young man from the first village appears… and he’s a Redcoat… and he’s got lots of other Redcoats with him. His name is Jeremy Foster, and he’s got one question for Claire: “Tell me, madam, are you here by your own choice?” And while Ms. Beauchamp is pondering his query, we cut to black. What’s it gonna be, Claire Bear?

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. LemonLime says:

    BEST.OPENING.LINE.EVER, Kim Roots!!! That was pretty clever!!!!!!

  2. Alichat says:

    I have to agree with you about her jumping to conclusions so often. And they make her incredibly judgmental and rude. She was rather overbearing in this episode. Actually, it’s two episodes now we’ve had to hear her lecture them about being barbarians and the stupidity of brawling blah blah blah. They need to dial all of that back.

    • CA says:

      But that’s true to form from the book. Claire is judgmental and overbearing. She’s a stranger in a strange land but knows the outcome of history. Besides, the whole idea behind them speaking Gaelic is because they know she doesn’t understand and they are suspicious of her. Her reactions are in line with the character developed by the author. This will allow her to grow into what we see later on.

      • Alichat says:

        Yes she is that way in the book. And there were times in the book, I wanted to reach into the story and throttle her myself…..(although I didn’t like that moment in the book after she leaves the Grove and Jamie gets her back…..you know what scene I mean…..I put the book down in disgust and almost didn’t pick it back up again. I hope they leave that out of the show…but I digress)…..but I think that they displayed those parts of her personality too much in the episode. Because of the shortened nature of the storytelling via a tv show, we can’t see all the moments from the road trip….the moments in between the ranting and berating of the men. It’s understandable due to time constraints, but there needed to be more of that buffer in the episode. We didn’t really need to see her being judgmental, rude, and overbearing in 90% of the episode to know that she is judgmental, rude, and overbearing.

        • Ness says:

          That is the exact part I stopped reading the book!! I was completely in disbelief! How is she going to get to those stupid stones in a dress and she barely knows where she is!!! And the rescue was also unbelievable. I still haven’t picked it back up. And I know this will rile people up but Jamie is too perfect. Every other men is a rude boorish soon to be rapist but him. I wish there were some kind of middle ground there.

          • Alichat says:

            The part where I put the book down is after the rescue when they are in their room at the Inn in Doonesbury. If you’d hit that part, you’ll know that Jamie is far from perfect. And it was that moment, Claire’s reaction, and how it was resolved that disgusted me. There’s also a moment in book 3 that will put Jamie into the middle ground as well. In most instances, he is a very good man. Intelligent, educated, introspective, a born leader, problem solver, loyal, loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing, and brave. But he can also be hot tempered, violent, stubborn, and reactive. His saving grace is that he knows he’s flawed, regrets these bad moments, and (once he calms down) is willing to admit he was wrong. It took me a bit to pick the book back up again after the Doonesbury incident, but I did and enjoy the stories now. I had to stop at book 4 to take a breather because there is alot of crazy stuff that happens…..much like a soap opera, but with less comas and quickly aging children…..and I need a break. LOL!

          • Alichat says:

            Well….I’ve tried three times to post a reply to this comment…..none appear. It was a good comment about the scene in the book that made me pause in reading it….it’s after your stopping point….and that it shows Jamie isn’t perfect…and his qualities….etc…and that comment just won’t appear. Sigh. I won’t type it again.

        • cegluna says:

          For some reason it’s not letting me reply to your later comment so I’ll have to post here. I’ll try to be brief and vague so as not to spoil non readers but y’all should really skip this.

          I agree as to how difficult the reprimand scene is to read, but this was the norm in 1743 (heck I’m not convinced it wasn’t common in 1945!). And the promise he makes (and holds) to never again do so (rather quickly afterwards I’ll point out) is valid proof of how good/progressive a man he truly is.

          • Alichat says:

            Yay….my comment finally appeared….two days later. LOL! Yeah, I know it was common then, but up to that point, he’d been a pretty good/progressive man. (And stop reading those who haven’t read the book!!) So, it was shocking when it happened, and I think I was disgusted more with the fact that he enjoyed it. He reminded me of Randall. Plus, I kept waiting for her to point out to him in the ensuing argument that he’d lied to her. He did say “Ye need not be scairt of me”, but then gave her plenty of reason to be afraid of him. And then of course the scene from the 3rd book. Yikes. But, as I said above, his saving grace is that he knows he’s flawed.

    • lori says:

      I actually don’t think she was that way in the book. She jumps into situations pretty quickly that get her into trouble but she wasn’t as rude as she was last night. Most of what was shown along the road with the traveling clan didn’t happen in the book. She got on with them somewhat well. That was why I was frustrated with the episode.

      • VanessaW says:

        I agree completely with your assessment of Claire
        s character. Although ready to jump in when she sees the need (and often when a bit more caution is in order), she’s really too intelligent about cultural differences and her precarious position to be so openly and rudely judgmental, and I don’t see how it advances the story to make her otherwise. It would have been wonderful to see more skillful means of conveying her sense of alienation and her changing perceptions of the Highlanders.

        I also found her improbably extensive wardrobe and good hygiene hard to overlook as wrong notes, and I’m disappointed that they’ve probably decided to change the means by which Claire ends up once again in Black Jack’s clutches.

        • Alichat says:

          I too would have liked to have seen a more skillful way of portraying her feelings of alienation and gradual acceptance of the culture of 18th century Scotland. I have found that I dislike the episode more upon second viewing. And I will agree that perhaps she’s not so much overbearing in the book, but maybe the better term is bossy (owing to her army nurse experience in the years before she time travels). She is judgmental, but as you said she was smart enough to not vocalize it all the time to everyone around her. This episode, after the second viewing, just seems off the rails a bit in story and character development. I, as well, don’t understand why they changed the manner in which she meets Randall again. The reasoning in the book makes perfect sense, and explains her coming along much better than the excuse of having a healer along (only to have her stand around and do nothing.) I also didn’t like having Ned give her the cold shoulder after the talk of the Rising. (or her telling Ned the Rising would fail for that matter) And considering what is coming up, why not expand that conversation with Jamie to better match the book….where she learns his father has passed, and that he’d taught him to fight? Instead of having her try to take a goat or insult Angus. Why didn’t they have her immediately offer to check Jamie’s hand after he’d finished boxing that tree? Wouldn’t Claire the nurse do that?

          • Miss O'Ginny says:

            I agree about the tree scene…it was Claire who suggested it to him in the books saying it would make him feel better to hit something after his argument with Dougal…in that case she would not necessarily have asked to check his hand afterwards…but to come into a scene (in the series) because she saw him hitting the tree does make it odd that she didn’t want to check his hand as a reflex being a nurse.

  3. christine says:

    I thought this was the bedt episode yet which is high praise. Claire does need a chill pill though

  4. Ian says:

    One of the slower episodes for sure. I was almost bored.It just felt like filler between last week and next week’s ep with Randall.
    It’s time for everyone to get over it whenever Jamie’s shirtless now, too. And boy, was I ready for Angus to die this episode. Any lighthearted feelings between him and Claire should be over now. He proved he’d hurt her for something as small as pride.
    I was left stunned by the cliffhanger though. Great moment.

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  7. pam says:

    OMG! The scottish country side is awesome! Love the scenery. I would love to visit but looks way too cold! Episode moved the story along nicely and yes even in the book it was a bit dull but necessary. Still a solid performance by all.

  8. LABete says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. It was so sad to see the MacKenzie memorial stone in Culloden field and think that everyone we know in the show may end up dead there in 3 years. I do feel that Claire needs to chill out and stop the judgmental harangues–it’s not a very attractive habit. Conversely, Jamie is so sweet, guarding Claire’s door! And the end was so good! I’ve been thinking that the show would be better if the episodes ended in cliffhangers–and this one did!

    • Keep in mind that next week is suppose to be the episode that serves as a game changer for the series. Critics who reviewed this show have simultaneously picked episode 6 as the stand out episode of the series so far(they watched the first six episodes).

  9. cegluna says:

    Another satisfying episode. Even having read the book, the cliffhanger ending still had me in suspense.
    And Claire’s costumes were lovely!

  10. Christian White says:

    Absolutely brilliant episode once again. To be fair, I can understand why Claire might still be a bit abrasive, I mean she has just been thrown into a strange era in a strange country and will probably never see anyone she knows (including her husband of course) ever again.

    As for the cliffhanger, I almost swore when it went to black! I really wanted her to say ‘yes’, as it seemed like she’d really built up some rapport with the MacKenzie clan, especially in this episode, but I can understand if she were to say no, as technically that’s the truth. Either way, I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

  11. Laurie says:

    Loved when the fellas defended her. Murtagh telling her that no one can insult her … except them.

  12. Episode 6 is going to be epic, I cannot wait!!!

  13. I think Claire feels somewhat superior to these primitive Highlanders at the beginning. She doesn’t believe in witchcraft, she knows germ theory, and she has enough of a grasp of what is to come to believe she is better than they are. Jamie will disabuse her of this notion soon enough.

  14. JAO says:

    I just love you’d recaps. Claire Bear…ha! Another good episode. Loved the waulking song! Wonder if that was how the Walker surname came to be? Thank goodness the Wedding is coming doom! Claire & Jamie’s chemistry is just leaping off my screen!

  15. amorley552014 says:

    Loved it! Low on Jamie but we got to know everyone else better.

  16. So Happy says:

    I think Claire will say that the McKenzie clan have been kind to her and repeat her story of how she came to be a guest of theirs. She has not had a positive experience with the Redcoats and she has seen how they have mistreated the Scottish people during their collecting of rents. Also, Claire doesn’t want anything to happen to Jaime, who is definitely wanted.

  17. amy says:

    Still in love with all of Claire’s wardrobe. I haven’t looked on Ravelry recently, but I did find this pattern on Lionbrand that is similar to the brown cowl Claire has worn a few times: http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/L32238.html

  18. katie says:

    “I couldn’t do that,” he says, shuffling his feet and averting his eyes like he’s a seventh-grader at a school dance and the DJ just started playing “Save the Best for Last.”, Love! laughed so hard I cried :)

  19. Electrat says:

    Loved this episode, it did a nice job of weaving actual historical events with the main story. Scotland looked gorgeous as did the costumes, not sure I’d want hot p**s on them though! One small point in your review – he may have been a ‘British’ soldier but more pertinently he was English. Scots are British too, for now…

  20. msnyder1985 says:

    I have to agree with a lot of the other commenters. I wasn’t as enamored with this episode as I have been about the rest. It was a little slow, and Claire doesn’t seem to be processing her change of life as well as she should be. I can’t really be more specific about what I didn’t like, it just didn’t have the same feel as the other episodes. The ending though totally did it for me, what a great cliffhanger.

  21. Steph says:

    I was very disappointed and I believe I may be the worlds biggest Outlander Fan LOL!
    Jamie was portrayed in this RENT episode as distant, cold and weak and of course he is not….in the books. I have waited all week for this episode and I really feel cheated by the portrayal of this important part of the book. Let’s hope the next The GARRISON episode is better although as it is the same director I am not confident.