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Outlander review: Dougal collects rent and stirs rebellion

There’s a story in Greek mythology about Cassandra, a woman with the gift of prophecy. Her gift was a two-sided coin. Every prophecy she made would come true with perfect accuracy, but no one would ever believe a word she said.

This week’s episode finds Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in an identical predicament when she’s taken on the road with Dougal (Graham McTavish) and a band of MacKenzie man to collect rents due to the laird. However, Dougal and family lawyer Ned have a side business they’re running. Once the rents have been collected and the families come together for a celebratory drink, Dougal gives a rousing speech in Gaelic, then tears the shirt off Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) back to reveal his scars to drive home his point about the brutality of the English. At which point, the tenants are so moved that they donate money toward the rebel Scottish cause to restore Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne and remove English rule.

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Claire, however, knows the outcome of this rebellion from her husband’s scholarly pursuits and their explorations of Scotland. Three years from now, the rebellion will be soundly defeated at the Battle of Culloden. The clans will be slaughtered and whoever remains will be banned from wearing tartan, from speaking Gaelic, and the highlander way of life will effectively come to an end. The cause that Dougal is so passionately rousing his kinsmen to will doom them all.

It’s not just Jamie that Claire’s come to care for by now. The sparks are still flying strong between them, as evidenced by the way he’ll sleep outside her door to protect her honor, but this is the week Claire realizes Jamie’s not the only one who keeps her well-being in mind. Even after so many clashes with the MacKenzie men, she finally understands they’ve come to be fond of her, in their own way. When they stop at an inn and another group of men begins to insult Claire, every single MacKenzie man in the party leaps to his feet and begins an all-out brawl. “We were defending your honor. You’re a guest of the MacKenzie,” Claire is informed when she asks why on earth they started the fight. “We can insult you, but God help any other man that does.”

She’s speechless at this show of loyalty and touched in spite of herself — a young girl surrounded by a group of older brothers that she didn’t even know cared about her at all.

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It makes her want to protect them in turn. Her warnings to Ned, however, fall on deaf ears, and the tentative trust she’s built with Dougal is shattered when he once again accuses her of being an English spy. She’s infuriated at his accusations, protesting that she’s only trying to save his life when their argument is interrupted by a band of English soldiers.

Claire caught the attention of a young lieutenant in one of the towns the MacKenzies collected rent in, who tried to intervene when he saw Angus treating her in, well, Angus’ typical brash manner. Now revealed to be a redcoat, he can’t be turned away so easily. This time when he asks Claire if she’s all right, his band of men outnumbers the clansmen.

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All the power is in Claire’s hands. It could be the chance she’s looking for to escape, but it will come at the price of the men she’s finally realized that she’s build a rapport with. Not to mention the fact that Jamie is back at the camp, and she knows full well he has a price on his head.

It’s the first cliffhanger that Outlander has left us on, and next week’s installment can’t come soon enough.

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