On The D/L – Outlander
Season 1 Episode 3 – “The Way Out”
Claire tries to make the best of her situation as prisoner in Castle Leoch by attempting to win the trust of those around her so she can later plan her escape.
The main focus of this episode is Claire fully acclimating to her day to day life in Castle Leoch in the service of the MacKenzie clan. Her 20th century medical knowledge comes in handy in the relatively primitive conditions of the time. I really liked how this episode contrasted science with religious superstition as personified by Claire tending to a sick child who is believed to be possessed by a Demon in service of Satan where in reality it’s simply a poison caused by eating something harmful to humans. We see the reaction you might expect to such a condition which includes an attempted exorcism but simple -to Claire- medicine saves the life of the poisoned child much to the delight of the parent. It’s all an effective illustration of how much power superstition had over people and in many ways hampered scientific progress. Claire’s integrity shines through here with her dogged determination to solve a medical issue and save a life.
As with the first two episodes, this outing keeps the characters at the forefront with particular attention given to Claire since she is the narrator. We see it reinforced that she is a very strong and intelligent character who takes adversity head on and does her best to deal with it but the episode also shows her cracking slightly under the pressures of constantly having to prove herself to those who don’t trust her as well as being away from her husband. A flashback to her being separated from her husband under wartime conditions helps to punctuate this and shows that this is something she has dealt with before -albeit under very different circumstances- and can deal with again, at least according to her own thinking.
Claire is also shown to be fairly self aware as her narration at the moment of her minor breakdown is fully honest about why it happens as well as confessing a childish jealous reaction she has to Jamie’s romance with Laoghaire. At first I was apprehensive about a show containing yet another love triangle -those of you who read my reviews of The 100 will know how sick I am of these- but it’s actually handled really well here. Laoghaire realises that Jamie’s true attraction is to Claire but takes advantage of the fact that Claire is oblivious to this and goes after him. The episode makes it obvious that Jamie is just subsituting Laoghaire for the woman he can’t have. In general the chemistry between Claire and Jamie is nothing short of electric; the two actors work very well together and far more is said non verbally than the dialogue presented. It’s obvious where these characters are going but I like that the story is spending some time getting to that point.
Her interactions with the other characters are also really good; Colum and Claire have a particularly interesting relationship developing where he is realising how invaluable her knowledge is becoming and clearly has no plans to ever let her leave, so long as she remains useful to him. Colum is a great character in general; he’s a strong man in a handicapped body who doesn’t want to be pitied or considered differently by anyone. The way he chews out the tailor who makes that assumption shows this perfectly. Seeing how terrified the tailor became so quickly was great and really shows how intimidating Colum is. I also like the character of Geillis Duncan who seems to have a sense of kinship with Claire meaning that the characters work well together in scenes but also having secrets of her own as well as an impressive skill at manipulation; the scene where she manipulates her husband to reduce the sentence of a boy set to lose a hand is excellent. She seems intelligent beyond her time period in her thinking over demonic possession and superstition and I look forward to seeing more of this character.
Everything Claire does is clearly a deliberate and carefully laid out part of a larger plan that involves escape and returning back to her own time. She does acknowledge in the narration that she has no idea if it’s even possible but I like how hope is dangled in front of her by way of a folk song describing a very familiar situation to hers. The scene with the folk song is really effective as well and reminded me of the haunting tone of the Druid dance in the first episode.
Overall, another great episode that slowly builds the story and nicely develops the characters. Claire’s situation is very well explored and I like how the episode shows her adjusting to life in the 18th century as well as how people are adjusting to her. The romance between Jamie and Claire is building nicely and I’m actually interested to see what will finally cause it to really begin.