Outlander review: Claire comes to Castle Leoch
The second episode of Outlander moves much more briskly than the pilot, and that's a great thing.
Let's face it, as much as Frank means to Claire (Caitriona Balfe), we are not here for the Frank and Claire show. No, we are here for the slowly burgeoning love between Claire and a certain Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), and this episode brought the goods.
When Claire arrives at Castle Leoch, she's brought before Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis), the laird of the clan, and suspicions are high that she's secretly a spy for the English army. Since she can't exactly tell them the truth, which is that she traveled through time from 1945 after touching the stones at Craigh na Dun, she's forced to blunder her way through a story about distant French relatives that none of the men of Clan MacKenzie quite believe. Claire's whole goal is to return to Inverness and Craigh na Dun, hoping that whatever carried her back will carry her forward once more, but in the meantime, she's thwarted by Colum.
He asks her to stay on as a healer, noting her skill with herbal medicine and injuries, presents her with her own lab to work in... and then makes it quite clear that this is not a request. She won't be returning to Inverness until he's satisfied that she's no threat to his clan.
As for Jamie and Claire, however, the connection they forged during the pilot burns as strong as ever. We catch a glimpse of Jamie's back, the mess of scars from a brutal flogging that have left him marked for life as Claire dresses his injuries, and he finds himself slowly opening up to her about the day he received them, confiding about the rape of his beloved sister Jenny at the hands of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), who is the distant relative of Claire's husband Frank. He tells her the truth of his identity, that he's a wanted man with a price on his head, and when she inquires as to why he'd tell her something so serious, he has no real answer to give.
It's just that he trusts her, already, the spark between them somehow already ignited, and neither one of them is sure of what it means or what to do about it.
Claire's respect for Jamie is cemented when he offers to take the punishment for Laoghaire, a young girl in the village whose father wants her beaten for "loose behavior." He's beaten until blood is drawn, all with an insouciant grin on his face to draw attention away from the girl, and he later explains to Claire that it was nothing to him, but it would've mortified the young girl. He's a stand-up gentleman with a finely honed sense of honor.
And yes, in case anyone's asking, we did spend a portion of this episode yelling, "KISS! KISS!" at the two of them.
Other highlights of this week include the first appearance of Mrs. Fitz, the beloved Clan MacKenzie housekeeper who rules the kitchen, and Claire's showdown with Colum. Colum is unimpressed with her (true) claim that Randall tried to rape her, saying there was no good reason for him to do so.
Claire looked him dead in the eyes and told him, point blank, that she was unaware there was ever a good reason for rape, and for a moment, Colum was shamed down to his bones.
That's why Claire is such an excellent character, and that's why we're so in love with this show. Swoonworthy romance and historical drama though it may be, Claire put him in his place, and we loved her for it.