Outlander – Season 1 Episode 10

Apr 12, 2015 | Posted by in TV

“By the Pricking of my Thumbs”

Outlander resumes focus on Claire after a brief interlude spent looking at things from Jamie’s perspective.

It was a nice diversion but this show is infinitely more interesting when Claire is the central figure of the narrative. She is the most compelling character in the show and her reaction to the time period is instrumental in having audiences gain an understanding of how it all works.

This episode features the return of Geillis, a character who has been largely absent over the past few episodes. She has always been an intriguing character and quite progressive so it’s only natural that Claire would become friendly with her.

She’s always been a mysterious presence in the show and I like how this episode plays on that. Up until now she has seemed mysterious yet odd but also having a very clear idea of the sort of person she is. Her self confidence makes her really engaging and I’ve always wanted to find out more about her.


Geillis performs a summoning ritual

Seeing her perform the ritual makes a lot of sense given what we know of her so far. It turns out that she’s pregnant with Dougal MacKenzie’s baby and is doing a summoning ritual to get her husband out of the way so that she can run away happily with the love of her life. The ritual was very nicely shot and allowed the episode to simply stop and give us a sequence with the sole purpose of setting a mood. It was nicely cut with footage of the ritual that Claire witnessed in the first episode. This again reinforces that Claire is a woman out of time and therefore draws parallels with what she knows. It also shows us that certain traditions never change no matter how much time has passed.

The death of Geillis’ husband and her being the cause is something that doesn’t really surprise me. She wanted to be out of that situation and I don’t think she really assumed that her magical rituals would do the trick so it makes perfect sense that she would poison her husband. It does beg the question as to why Geillis performed such a ritual if she knew it wouldn’t work. It does nicely add to her mystique and keeps her being a spiritually enigmatic character.

Lotte Verbeek performed incredibly throughout this episode. She always projects a layered character and this was no exception. Her knowing reaction when her husband lay dying before reacting seconds later was chilling and really showed how ruthless she is.

Claire’s verbal sparring with the Duke of Sandringham was a really clever addition. She will need to be careful when using her knowledge of the future against people in case she gets branded a witch. I do like that she uses that knowledge to campaign for the result she wants and how she manages to hold her own when talking to such a powerful man. Claire has always been strong willed so seeing her deal with the Duke in such a way is perfectly in character. She is often fearless in these sorts of situations and it’s always good to see her using her intelligence and resourceful nature to get what she wants.


Dougal goes berserk

I find Dougal’s arguments with Colum to be really well done as well. Colum likes to hold his authority over Dougal’s head probably because Dougal hates it so much. It was refreshing to see a rare moment of vulnerability for him when he admitted he loves Geillis. It’s a nice change from the strong and stubborn characteristics we’ve seen so far. The scene where he went insane and started attacking anything that came near him was really well done. Graham McTavish manages to always appear strong and intimidating.

For all the good stuff going on in this episode some of it felt a little disjointed. I felt that the Duke of Sandringham story seemed as if it were from another episode where more focus should have been afforded the Geillis and Dougal situation. It would have been good to see the characters share a scene together where their relationship could be developed by them talking to one another.

I’m really not enjoying the Laoghaire jealousy subplot. It’s coming across as petty -which I suppose is the point- and she doesn’t come across as a well rounded person. Her contribution to the story is merely as an obstacle and there’s no real depth there. I can’t see her remaining a credible threat for very long and the story will just get more tiresome as it drags on.

  • 7.5/10
    By the Pricking of my Thumbs - 7.5/10


A strong if slightly disjointed episode that had an awful lot of different story threads to keep track of.

Geillis’ story is proving to be interesting as her mysterious nature comes into focus a little more clearly. Her pregnancy by Dougal and subsequent murder of her husband makes a lot of sense for her character given how backed into a corner she appears otherwise. Having her perform a ritual that called back to the one depicted in the first episode was a great mood scene and only added to her mystique.

Dougal’s maniacal reaction to her pregnancy was nicely acted and gave us yet another example of Dougal’s intimidating physicality. It was also really refreshing to see a moment of vulnerability from him as he admitted that he loves her.

Claire’s confrontation of the Duke of Sandringham was a great story that potentially sets up future problems for her in the show. If she keeps using her future knowledge to manipulate the situation then people might accuse her of being a witch. She’s already not well liked so people don’t really need more ammunition to use against her.

As good as this story thread was it felt like it was from another episode in a lot of ways. The focus should have been on Dougal and Geillis but this story thrown in was a lot to keep track of.

The Laoghaire jealousy subplot really drags the episode down. There’s no depth to it and it seems like an obvious tactic to give Jamie and Claire an obstacle to overcome in their relationship.

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