'Outlander' Season 1 Episode 4 recap: The Gathering takes place at Castle Leoch.

Outlander Recap: I Love It When a Clan Comes Together

Mix the pomp of the biggest wedding you’ve attended with the awkward tension of your family’s worst holiday dinner, and you’ve got an inkling of what The Gathering – which takes place in this week’s episode of Outlander – is like. Can you really blame Jamie for avoiding it for as long as possible?

But when Claire’s escape plans go awry, the redhead winds up having to do some tricky diplomatic work just moments after someone clobbers him on the head. Again. Try not to think about how many concussions young Mr. Fraser has sustained throughout his relatively short life, and instead let’s review what happens in “The Gathering.”

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GANG’S ALL HERE | As the hour opens, Claire is a woman on a mission. She’s going to use The Gathering, aka the semi-regular assemblage during which all MacKenzie men pledge their loyalty to Colum, as a cover for her escape from Castle Leoch. With all of the drunken revelry and assorted distractions, she figures, she’ll easily be able to slip away and make for the stones at Craigh na Dun.

Almost no one notices her squirreling away food and sizing up a suitable horse – except for Geillis Duncan. While delivering some port to Claire’s surgery, Geillis notes Claire’s small horde of snacks and muses that perhaps the castle healer is knocked up. Of course, she’s not; in fact, we learn that Claire and Frank tried to have kids but weren’t successful. “Maybe you’re barren,” Geillis blurts out. (Side note: I kind of love Lotte Verbeek’s portrayal of Ms. Duncan, with the cooing weirdness, blunt observations and crazy eyes.) Claire’s pal goes on to drop some fortune-cookie realness – “Sometimes you find yourself on a path you never expected. Doesn’t mean it can’t lead you to a bonny place.” – and some actual good advice (“The highlands are no place for a woman to be alone.”) before taking off.

Claire thinks she’ll leave while The Gathering is getting going. Um, Claire? Mrs. Fitz would like ye to think again, lass.

outlander_gabaldonoutlander_mooreOATHKEEPER | After she’s been gussied and beribboned and trussed up (good God, in that tight bodice, Caitriona Balfe’s bust looks like it wants to escape almost as much as Claire does), Ms. Beauchamp enters The Gathering and passes a few familiar faces along the way. Do you recognize the dark haired man in the frame as she walks in, or the woman with whom Mrs. Fitz trades smiling barbs on the balcony? They’re executive producer Ron Moore and series author Diana Gabaldon, the latter serving up a very respectable Scottish brogue.

Murtagh translates the proceedings, all in Gaelic, for Claire. Basically, all the men of fighting age must get up and say they’re willing to take up arms in defense of Colum and the MacKenzie lands. Dougal gets the vow-making started, but he doesna look very happy about it. Then again, does this man look very happy about anything?

Claire flits out of the main room, grabs her things and is about to put the castle in her rearview when Laoghaire knocks at her door, asking for a love potion to use on Jamie. Recalling the makeout sesh she witnessed in the previous episode, Claire wonders why the girl needs such a thing. Turns out that while Laoghaire might evoke the interest of Jamie’s nether regions, she wouldn’t mind having his heart and mind, too. Claire gives her powdered horse dung (side note: APPROPRIATE) and tells her to sprinkle it at his door while chanting a Wizard of Oz-inspired incantation.

THWARTED TIMES TWO | The next event in Claire’s get-me-the-hell-outta-here Olympics: evading handsy drunken clansmen. Dougal appears to be of help… until he reveals himself as the drunkest, handsiest clansman of all. He kisses Claire roughly, but when he starts to realize that she’s going on the lam, she brains him with a nearby stool. Then she’s on to the stables, where she’s just about to steal a horse when she trips over… Jamie!

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” she squeaks in surprise. “No, Sassenach. Just me,” he replies, grinning as he puts away his blade. (You can’t know how much I wish that were a euphemism. Knowing what’s ahead means I have no patience, Outlander. None!) He instantly deduces her plan and talks her out of it; after all, he says, there are extra guards in the woods to protect the clan stronghold during the party, and she’d never make it far even if she did somehow evade instant capture. With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa, Jamie sympathetically tells her he’ll see her safely back to the castle.

Too bad they get caught on the way back in, and that Jamie is knocked out cold and forced to appear before Colum – something he’d evidently been avoiding. In the kitchen before he enters The Gathering, a revived Jamie changes into a more suitable outfit but rejects a brooch bearing the MacKenzie clan motto: Luceo non uro, or “I shine, not burn.” Though Jamie does have MacKenzie blood in him, he’s of another clan with a different motto: Je suis prest, or “I am ready.” And when a firelit Sam Heughan gazes into the middle distance and utters the phrase with conviction, je suis dead.

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YOU CHOOSE AND THEN EVERYTHING CHANGES | As Jamie approaches Colum’s chair, Murtagh explains to Claire why the room feels so tense. If Jamie swears the oath and enough clansmen want him to be the next laird, it will be seen as an insult to Dougal, who’d been thinking that he would succeed his brother as clan boss. So Dougal would probably kill Jamie soonish. But if Jamie doesn’t swear the oath, he’ll be seen as an ungrateful jerk who’s been feeding at the MacKenzie teat for some time now. So Colum would probably kill Jamie soonish. And with a price on his head, Jamie can’t exactly just go somewhere else.

If the young man had just stayed hidden until after The Gathering, Murtagh continues, both uncles would’ve let him go without taking a formal stand. But because he was helping Claire back to her room… “Oh God, this is all my fault,” Claire says, heart sinking. “Aye, ’tis,” Murtagh confirms. (Heh.)

But Jamie’s smarter than pretty much anyone there gives him credit for. He doesn’t take the oath, but he does passionately pledge his obedience to Colum and says that he’ll do whatever is necessary, thereby making both uncles unlikely to off him in the near future. (Though Dougal still engages in a no-holds-barred game of shinty – or at least, that’s what it looks like – with his nephew later on.)

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PIGHEADED | A chagrined Claire attends the next morning’s boar hunt at Colum’s request; these things tend to get bloody, and he’d like a healer on hand. Sure enough, one man gets gored and another nearly disemboweled by the pissed-off Pumbaa; the latter, a clansman named Geordie who’s one of Dougal’s old friends, dies on the forest floor with Claire and Dougal holding his hands.

Jamie’s uncle later stops by the surgery and remarks on her poise in the face of death, then informs her she’s getting what she wished for: a trip away from Leoch. “Ye’re comin’ on the road,” Dougal says, explaining that she’ll accompany him and his men as they travel the MacKenzie lands, collecting rent and such. And as the episode closes, we see the band of travelers – oh haaaay there, Jamie – setting off for adventure.

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. amy says:

    I am thoroughly enjoying this show, but the tension between Claire and Jamie is killing me. And I never catch the names of Claire’s two babysitters, but I just keep referring to them as The Hobbits with their drinking and shenanigans.

    • Shadowcat85 says:

      Angus and Rupert are her two babysitters. And they totally remind me of Ben and Lon from Pocahontas! Also, I nominate Graham McTavish for Performer of the week. Great great episode for him.

  2. CourtTV says:

    I missed Ron Moore! I’ll have to pay closer attention next viewing.

  3. Alanna says:

    Another fabulous episode. This show just keeps getting better and better!

  4. Ali says:

    Each ep gets better and better, tho, I could have done with more Jamie tonight, Lovin’ this series.

  5. JAO says:

    Yes, so good! My husband is hooked now! I’m really enjoying Caitriona’s portrayal as well as Dougal. Of course, there is never enough Jamie!

  6. wordsmith says:

    Points to bonny Kim Roots for the cleverest article tagline I’ve seen in quite a while.

  7. “Though Jamie does have MacKenzie blood in him, he’s of another clan with a different motto: Je suis prest, or “I am ready.” And when a firelit Sam Heughan gazes into the middle distance and utters the phrase with conviction, je suis dead.” Ain’t it the truth. Of course, he had me at the pensive look – didn’t have to say anything. All I have to say about tonight’s episode is what I’ve said about all of them so far – TOO SHORT! I really wish they could have made these two hour episodes. This business of 8 one hour episodes and then WEEKS before we get to see the back 8 episodes is just unacceptable! :-)

  8. meg says:

    So good. I also have no patience for Jamie and Claire though! Hurry up!!!

  9. danelles says:

    “With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa”…yes! This!

    My favorite episode yet. Loved the review!

  10. This show is too awesome to be true, is it really going on? I feel like I’m dreaming. I absolutely love every second of it, even when they talk in those weird accents that I can barely follow what they’re saying. Only thing it needs is more shirtless Jamie.

    • Isobel says:

      They’re Scottish accents nothing weird about them lass

      • miracle says:

        For non native speakers (and even some native speakers, as I’ve been told) it is. I have to rewind many scenes to finally get what’s been said (I refuse to watch with subtitles, too distracting). Not that I’m complaining about the “rewind many scenes” part… :D

  11. For the Win: “With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa, Jamie sympathetically tells her he’ll see her safely back to the castle.” Brilliant! And Matt Roberts did a fantastic job writing/adapting this episode!

  12. pam says:

    Another excellent episode. Seeing ron moore and diana gabaldon was quite a treat. How exciting for her to be able to step into her novel! Reading the book again along side the series has been fun. They are truly dedicated to making this adaptation right! Slante!

  13. Laurie says:

    “With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa, Jamie sympathetically tells her he’ll see her safely back to the castle.” How true. How true.
    I went back to figure out why Jaime was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Your recap made it very clear.
    Dougal is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma blanket. I quite enjoy Jaime’s besty, Murtagh.

  14. Alichat says:

    I enjoyed the episode, but the only thing I didn’t like was the love potion scene. I would have preferred that Claire told her no, and then we see Laoghaire whispering with Geillis later during the gathering. The Wizard of Oz-esque enchantation just pulled me out of the episode completely.

    • Tara says:

      I firmly believe that this is going to come back to bite her in the arse ;) but the oz reference did take me out of the episode too bec I started wondering exactly when the movie came out lol

      • Pat from OC says:

        The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939–probably one of the last non-war focused, feel-good movies seen by Claire before she went off to war. Made perfect sense to me. And if she had refused L. the potion, she just would have begged her for it & delayed Claire even more.

    • JJ says:

      But that’s the way it happens in the book. So it has to happen that way in the show also. I am so impressed by the entire crew for how they are keeping it true to the book and still showing us a little something else. Awesome.

  15. Meri says:

    I must say as a diehard hockey fan I loved the game of what I believe is called shinty! Brutal game.
    Has anyone else noticed the the 40’s style music layered in the episodes. I really like that.

    • Peggy says:

      The field hockey is played the same way I played ice hockey: lots of cheating and slashing! I also noticed the music absolutely- the interplay of the 40’s music is subtle, but effective at helping us see the world through Claire’s view.

  16. B says:

    “With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa”

    So… warm then? Great recap for a great episode. Can’t believe this first half is already half over now! This series is all I hoped it would be, but it’s going by too fast!

  17. C G says:

    The horse dung love potion scene had me in stitches!
    But I found the 40’s music distracting this week.
    Looking forward to the coming road trip :)

  18. “we see the band of travelers – oh haaaay there, Jamie – setting off for adventure.” I SAW HIM TOO. Whew. Can’t have Claire leaving town without Jamie.

  19. Liz says:

    I really liked this episode. The slow pace, and the voice overs too as they allow us to be with Claire every step of the way.
    I just can’t wait for more! (more of Claire & Jamie that is!)
    AND I’m glad they’re going on the road, this way we won’t have to see Laoghaire! To ask for a “love potion” to get a guy, I swear!
    P.S: Can I have Claire’s coat? The one she wears at the end of the episode? It’s just gorgeous…

    • Isobel says:

      I often want Claire’s clothes, though maybe not the pillow she wears around her waist ;)

      • BarbaraJ says:

        Bum roll – not pillow. It’s part of a woman’s dressing in that time period. If you lived at that time, or have a dress made for Halloween patterned on that time, you wouldn’t want to go without the bum roll.

  20. Lana says:

    I have read this series over and over and my bff (she’s the one who started it) just got the latest book and I am chomping at the bit to get ahold of that book. Anyhow I am loving this show and most everyone looks just like I pictured them to look, though Jaime’s hair isn’t long enough to braid like the books but he has everything else. It is so much fun to see everything unfold though I am going to have to read Outlander again cause the show is going too slow, I mean once a week for only an hour!! I love, love this show and I want it to do all the books so that means being on for years and years.

    • Shelley says:

      I hope it does. Go on for years and years. But, taking its time in sequential story telling. The show is very well done. Loving every episode more and more each week.

    • miracle says:

      His hair will grow. :) It’s that short because he had to shave his head a few weeks before he returned to Scotland (and first met Claire) due to a wound at the back of his head that had to be tended. It’s also explained in the book.

  21. Owen says:

    Claire gives her powdered horse dung (side note: APPROPRIATE)


  22. lar says:

    What a fantastic recap! Just the right amount of commentary. Well done!

  23. Shelley says:

    Loved this episode. This show is captivating me. However, their thick accents are hard to discern what their saying. But, Jamie was outstanding in this episode. Can’t wait for more.

  24. Believe me the tension between Jamie and Claire will be released with an earth-shattering TWANG.

  25. agatvel says:

    I loved the show, but this time I feel like there’s not enough Jamie-Claire tension. I know that he had serious problems and no time for girls but still I don’t see he’s interested in her, or slightly falling for her…

    • Meri says:

      Really? I think they have amazing chemistry.

    • Amy says:

      They show it in subtle ways this episode. Like, the way he looks at her after he does his promise to Column. He also looks at her and gives her a nod after dropping Dougal on his a:$, like “this is for you, baby.” And at the end when they leave leoch, he is in the horse in front of her ,looking back to make sure she is ok. I love all the little things, like you know he’s watching out for her.

  26. Teena Fuller says:

    Each episode gets better as the story line builds and the actors settle into their roles. Love the books; love the way Ron Moore is handling the adaption; could not be happier with the #outlander series.

  27. Alexandra says:

    Claire’s costumes are great. The scarf from last week is available from several shops on Etsy now.

  28. Such an excellent show. I wait every week eagerly.

  29. Doug says:

    These recaps are far more entertaining than the show!

  30. LaBete says:

    Great recap! Jamie and Claire are driving me crazy with their old timey reticence. They need to get this romance going!

  31. pam says:

    Patients girls, patients! This romance is like a very fine wine. Drink it slooow and savor the flavor!

  32. Pam Germany says:

    Loving the series. I read the books in the 90’s. Beautiful scenery , talented actors. I love the costumes and the Gaelic brogue. Argus and Rupert so funny. Jamie and Claire play the characters so well. Looking forward to the next 11 episodes. Bring it on

  33. callalily89 says:

    I wonder if any of ye know what liquid was in the bowl being shared during the oath-taking ceremony? I found it interesting that they were using a bowl.

  34. JJ says:

    I’ve loved the books for twenty years, and I’m loving the show equally. Thanks for including this great show to the repertoire. And they cast the show magnificently.

  35. Elaine says:

    Kudos for the phrase “With a voice like a cashmere throw knitted by kittens sipping hot cocoa.” Well said and gave me quite a good laugh!

  36. judi says:

    I wish there was more than an hour to each episode. I don’t want them to end. I’m loving every minute of it. Sam is so much better than, I pictured Jame as I read the books.

  37. miracle says:

    Breathtaking episode! I mean, I know what happens, but then… I’m just sitting in front of the screen trying to figure out what happens next… so much tension in this one. This may sound weird… I can’t explain it in another way…

    I laughed about Angus and Rupert, and about the banter between Ms Fitz and Iona MacTavish (DG), cried over Geordie, and cheered about the stool on Dougal’s head. I don’t need to talk about Jamie and Claire… *sigh*

    So looking forward to next week’s episode. Je suis prest!

    Thanks for another great recap! Just need to watch this ep again. :)

  38. Moffett says:

    Kimberly, loving your recaps. Je suis dead. Pumbaa. Too funny! Thanks!

  39. LaBete says:

    BTW–hottest Jamie/Claire picture so far!

  40. Ali says:

    I never thought I would like a show as much as the Vikings but….Outlander blows it away!

  41. Lorraine Shaw says:

    Though it took a bit to aclimate myself to the back and forth of the wedding scene…it turned out to be very smart. The sex scenes were good, though Claire spent a bit too much time looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Made her look like the virgin rather than Jamie.
    Of course 2 hr segments would have been wonderful….but it’s the break in the middle that bothers me the most.

  42. jaybour says:

    the series is tedious, boring, lacking in production values, often unintelligible, and a downright struggle to get through. And the big-band music – now there’s a directorial conceit gone awry. Nor did I think it possible for Claire to be more irritably meddlesome than in the book – but she is. I wish someone would give her one helluva smack!

  43. jaybour says:

    As for Ms. Gabaldon’s cameo in episode 4, she would do well to learn from Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos in his films – be seen and not heard!