"That's the beginning of their relationship then developing into something else," Sam Heughan says about Saturday's big reveal.
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Saturday's episode of Outlander, "The Devil's Mark."]
For fans of Outlander, Saturday’s episode was a one-two punch of major plot development and character reveals. After being accused of witchcraft alongside Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is put on trial, where her good deeds were used against her to prove the case. It is only when Geillis cops to being a witch to save her that Claire realizes she was not the only time traveler in town.
But she’s not given much time to process it all before she and Jamie (Sam Heughan) must flee to Lallybroch. It is during their travels that Claire finally comes clean, revealing her past in the 1940s and explaining her origins as a woman fallen through time.
When Jamie gives her the option to return to Craigh na Dun and go back through the rocks to Frank (Tobias Menzies), Claire turns against her past and towards her new future.
"He says he trusts her word. Whether or not he can quite even grasp what exactly it means to be from the future is another story," says Heughan. "But he knows her soul and he knows her as a person, and that makes it easier for him to accept what she says. In that moment, in a way, it makes sense. And that's the beginning of their relationship then developing into something else."
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the episode’s writer, Toni Graphia, about the major moments of the night.
Why do you think Geillis sacrificed herself for Claire
Geillis has been focused all along on saving her country. That's why she traveled back through time. She is uppermost a patriot. However, when Claire refuses to renounce her in court, it stuns and moves her. Geillis doesn't connect to anyone on an individual level — even her relationship with Dougal is bound up with their mutual goals for Scotland. We think of patriotism as involving nations, but the word patriot comes from a French word that means “fellow countryman.” And what Geillis saw was that Claire's decision in that moment amounted to a personal patriotism. That's why Geillis, in turn, made the decision to save Claire.
What drew you to this part of the story in particular?
I fell in love with this section of the book. I would’ve wrestled to the ground any [other] writer that wanted to do it. I would have had a sword fight for it. Geillis was always my favorite character besides Claire.
Geillis' reveal itself also opens up the whole universe of the show itself.
Right. Geillis has always been a little different then other people in the town, and she and Claire were always drawn to each other. You got the feeling that Geillis was always trying to ferret out information. I don't think she knew the truth about Claire, but she suspected it. It wasn't crystallized until the scene when Claire says that Nathaniel Hale quote, "I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country," and Geillis says, "Nicely put!" That for me was the moment she knew for sure that Claire was from the future.
It’s interesting that even though they spend two nights in the hole, they never outright say it to each other.
We had a lot of discussion in the writers' room about whether or not Claire should say she's from the future and vice versa, and we didn't want to do it because we didn't want to step on the Jamie reveal later on. Once we see [Geillis’] vaccination scar we know for sure. We also added a little nugget: The scene in the back of the church where she mentions the "f—ing barbeque." (Laughs) That's something that was not in the book. I have to credit Ron Moore with that line though. I love it. It's my favorite in the episode.
What brought the addition about?
We added it because we thought it was crazy to have these two women in the thieves' hole for two whole nights and bare their souls the way they do without the future coming up.
And it paves the way, ultimately, for Claire’s outpouring of the truth to Jamie in the next scene.
It's such a big thing in the book when Claire reveals to Jamie that she's from the future. To fit that in with the witch trial and do justice to both things, it's almost like two disparate stories. There was talk in the beginning about mak[ing] it two separate stories. But of course I didn't want that because I love both parts and I wanted them to work. She and Geillis baring their souls in the thieves' hole to one another is [the] bridge to the scene with Jamie. Claire realizes it's a shame for two people that love each other — or that are close especially in times of crisis — to not be who they really are with one another.
Claire's reveal to Jamie feel like such a release, to hear her finally speak her truth out loud.
Ron has always said that even though Claire does all the talking, it’s Jamie's scene. It's all about his reaction.
How and why do you think Claire decided to stay?
We wanted to show the passage of time because it wasn't an easy decision for Claire. She sat there thinking all day long, and we wanted to make it clear that he wasn't waiting for her. And that's why he's so surprised when he wakes up. My interpretation is that the rocks are magnets and both sides of the rocks have a pull. For me, the pull of Jamie and this time was just stronger at that point. I think she does love Frank and was very tempted to go back, but in the end the pull of Jamie won out. Not to say that choice doesn't have repercussions down the line. You'll see — without giving away too much —that decision cost her something. She is very aware that she abandoned someone she loves, and that's going to lay on her and have some repercussions and cause some drama down the road.
Entertainment Weekly: Outlander postmortem: EP Ronald Moore talks Geillis reveal, Claire's shocking choice
Spoiler alert! In its 11th episode, Outlander saw Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Geillis (Lotte Verbeek) prosecuted for witchcraft, which lead to the shocking discovery that Geillis is also from the future—1968, to be precise) While Claire was eventually rescued by Jaime (Sam Heughan)—and judging from the flogging she received, not a minute too soon—Geillis had no such luck and was hauled off to be burned at the stake.
“The Devil’s Mark” also saw Claire reveal her time-travel secret to Jaime, and tracked how she eventually chose Jaime over Frank when she was given the opportunity to return to 1945. Here, executive producer Ronald D. Moore breaks down some of the episode’s biggest moments, and teases what’s ahead when Claire and Jaime head to Lallybroch.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You packed so much into this hour. Can you tell me about the decision to address the trial, Geillis’s backstory, and Claire’s attempt to return home, all in one episode?
RONALD D. MOORE: I felt like the Lallybroch stories deserved their own section. And it didn’t feel that either the witch trial or Claire’s revelation to Jaime should be part of the Lallybroch story. The witch trial in and of itself is its own big deal, and then Claire telling Jaime the truth is another big deal. But neither one of those quite felt like they should be an entire episode. The nice thing about doing the witch trial in its present size [is that it] gave enough time in the episode to do the Claire revelation to Jaime, which is not a full-blown story but is a major moment in the book and in the life of the series. So it made sense structurally as I looked at how we were going to carve out the hours.
Episode 11 was very much a courtroom drama. What influenced you to go into that direction, and why put so much of the action in one place?
For that reason—because it’s a trial and there was something nice and familiar about making it feel like a trial. In the book version, they went outside more. There’s a lake, or a loch, that’s part of the action. But there’s something about being trapped in that room, in that space with the people that are rooting for you to lose—Claire and Geillis are literally surrounded by the faces of all these people that are rooting for them to die. It’s claustrophobic and intense. I also liked the location that they found, which is an actual church. That’s why we kept it in that same location.
Can you tell me about the decision to make Laoghaire such a prominent character, both within the entire storyline and in the trial itself?
The book takes you in different places for different periods of time, but when you’re doing the show, you’re sort of making choices about what works best. And we made the choice to highlight Laoghaire in the early beginning. Once you set up Laoghaire as the girl Jaime took a beating for way back at Castle Leoch in Episode 2, you’re already going, ‘Who is that? Why would he do that? Who’s that girl and where’s that going to go?’ And then Claire sees them kissing in the alcove, and it just felt that once you established that character in the series, you just wanted to play it up more strongly. So when we came back to the castle in Episode 9, it was just natural. We wanted to follow up more and push her forward, so that when we got into the trial itself, the people that are testifying are not new faces. And Laoghaire is a big, emotional character that the audience recognizes, so we thought, “Let’s give her a bigger role.”
How did you try to make Geillis’ reveal special, even for fans of the book?
There was a lot of discussion about what exactly we wanted to reveal about Geillis and when. We used the book, or even multiple books, since there’s a longer, deeper story about Geillis Duncan. All the fans are looking towards this episode as the big moment. So there’s two ways you can approach it. You can try to do it exactly the way the book lays it out, where there’s a satisfaction for you the reader to see it realized exactly. But there’s another way you can go too, which is to give them the moment but surprise readers with how you do it. Which I like, because it creates that moment of suspense for the fan, so that when they’re watching it, they’re also surprised.
So when we were going through the book, we laid out exactly how she tells Claire and moved some puzzle pieces around. The 1968 reference in the book was something that Dougal says to Claire much later in the story, in a completely different context. But in our story, by the time I get to that same scene with Dougal and Claire, in Episode 14, it felt a little bit irrelevant. It felt like I was going back to an old episode. It felt more relevant to put that information here and to deliver it in the most dramatic way in the heart of this episode.
[Spoiler (click to open)]The final scene with Geillis makes it seem as though she was burned at the stake—but we don’t actually see that happen. Does she really die?
That’s a tough one to answer. Fans of the book know what happens all too well, and I’d like to preserve that for the fans that have not read the book.
[Spoiler (click to open)]Will we ever learn more about her—and will we see her again this season? Or is that Season 2 territory?
She will not be seen the rest of this season. You will learn more about her story and who she was in subsequent seasons.
There’s a moment in the episode where Geillis is being passed through the crowd naked. That prosthetic belly looked incredibly realistic—how did you achieve that? It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen on TV.
Wow. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me, because that was not an easy one, let me tell you that. It was very difficult. The challenge was to come up with a piece that would work when Geillis is dancing naked with lots of movement. Those things tend to start pulling and bending, and creasing, and then ultimately tearing as an actress moves that much. So we had a lot of conversations about her body size and how advanced her pregnancy has to be. It has to be advanced enough that we see, the audience and Claire sees it, but not so pregnant that when she’s wearing her day-to-day clothes that everyone else knows she’s pregnant. You’re trying to walk a very fine line.
We had to go in during post and clean it up digitally. You’re cleaning the edges, and you’re making sure the shadow falls correctly. And in the subsequent scene in the witch trial when she exposes herself and is carried out, we had to go back in and actually enhance the prosthetic digitally. When you saw her being carried by the crowd on her back, the belly didn’t read as well. Suddenly, even though the shape was there and we hadn’t changed anything, the camera angles and the lighting distorted the shape. We had to go back in during post and sort of add some shadow and some texture to it so you kind of read the bump a little bit more. It was a lot of work, so it makes me very happy to hear that it looked believable.
Why is Jaime is so understanding of Claire’s ridiculous story? For all intents and purposes, he should be in disbelief over what he’s heard—but he’s not. Why is that?
It’s a lot of different things. First and foremost, Jaime is a special guy. He’s different from the other guys of his era. He’s educated, he’s smart, and he’s willing to think in bigger terms than a lot of his contemporaries. At the same time, he did grow up in Scotland. He did grow up in a world where they believe in magic and fairies and people going through time. There was even an earlier episode where a song was sung that talked about a traveler going to a set of stones that took her to a different place and brought her back. So he’s heard of stories like this—it’s part of his reality.
Then, there’s this personal experience with Claire. His belief is driven by the fact that she clearly believes it. She clearly believes this story. He knows she’s not insane—she seems pretty rational. She’s telling him about this crazy story that touches on other things he’s heard, and it’s a huge buy—but he’s willing to go there because there’s this intuitive trust for her, for what they have. So he’s willing to believe this crazy thing. And if he’s wrong, at least they’ll go down together.
Has Claire really chosen Jaime over Frank?
Claire has her chance. She could go back home and go back to Frank, but she walks away. She could go right to those stones. Jaime’s not there. It’s not like he’s begging her to stay. It’s completely in her lap, and she makes a conscious choices to stay.
At the end of the episode, Claire and Jaime begin their journey to Lallybroch. What lies ahead for them?
It’s the old story. He’s been dreaming about it, but be careful what you wish for. You go home, and your family’s still there. And Jaime thinks it’s going to be joyous, but there’s going to be complications and problems. Can Lallybroch live up to his dreams? Can he live up to his own expectations of what it means to go home and be the laird of Lallybroch? That’s the next chapter.
Outlander has many strengths, but one is the show's versatility. In the first 10 episodes, the show has been a romance, an adventure, a comedy, and a drama. The current flows in the same direction but takes twists and turns into these different areas and does so naturally and often exceptionally. Tonight's episode hit an intense tone we haven't quite seen before but switched between that tone and quieter moments and then hit an emotional wall with full velocity. It was a ride.
The back and forth between Geillis and Claire was particularly striking and beautiful in its own way. The juxtaposition of them become closer friends than ever during this horrific event -- chatting and joking in their cell and then being attacked by the mobs -- was well done. They argued, they bonded, and they were basically all over the map which is only appropriate given the extreme circumstances.
Lotte Verbeek was nothing short of phenomenal throughout the episode. She landed every note of Geillis's casualness, mocking, bravery, and then despair. Though I haven't warmed up to the character of Geillis because I have trust issues, Verbeek made me sympathize with her. Then again, no one deserves an unfair trial like the one Claire and Geillis dealt with.
TV.com Outlander "The Devil's Mark" Review: The Nick of Time
Lairds and Ladies, I'm here to tell you that “The Devil’s Mark” was the best episode of Outlander we've seen to date. The show has done tension and suspense before, but I’ve never felt so riveted by and present in the action as I did this week. The hour arguably marked the real start of Jamie and Claire’s love story, and we have a lot to talk about.
First of all: Despite the Thieves’ Hole being a terrifying, comfortless prison, it was also extremely picturesque. When Geillis and Claire were first tossed in there, Claire had a bit of a meltdown, telling Geillis she may not have been a witch, but she was certainly a murderer, and also no one was coming for them and Dougal was far away and nothing would save them now. Which, you know, way to terrify a pregnant lady, Claire! Then she even refused to cuddle with Geillis for warmth. It was bad times.
The next morning, they were marched past a stake being constructed for their trial, which has to influence a jury to some degree, and put out in front of their Ecclesiastical judges and a restless mob of extremely bored Scottish people.
What "The Devil's Mark" got so right was the idea that the witch trial was not just a mechanism through which small communities could expunge the impoverished and disenfranchised women their religion told them it was their duty to provide for, it was also extremely entertaining theater. Even today, who doesn't love a good court-based miniseries? Witch trials offered people a chance to get up and tell lurid fanfiction about their neighbors and then feel like they’d done something morally cleansing. Claire’s witch trial would be controlled from the first by performance and swaying the crowd, not any semblance of rationality or logic.
Luckily for Claire and Geillis, they had the assistance of Ned Gowan, who'd popped down from the castle unbeknownst to Colum to remind everybody that maybe in England women were burned and hung without mercy, but here in Scotland they got lawyers. Then he effortlessly discredited Geillis’s gossipy maid.
Then the woman who'd abandoned her baby on a hillside stood up and accused Claire of killing it and Claire was like, “I was trying to save your baby!” marking the first of many outbursts of Claire’s that would work upon the crowd like splashes of gasoline on a house fire. Claire and Geillis retreated to their picturesque wet rock cell and split a flask of whiskey that night, and nothing gets a girls’ night going like knowing there is literally no tomorrow, so the secrets were flowing. Like, Geillis genuinely does love Dougal. She also supports him politically and has been embezzling her husband’s fortune for the Jacobite cause.
On the second day of the trial, things got very out of hand. Larry whipped everyone into a frenzy with her tearful rendition of “The Boy Is Mine” and mentioned that Claire had struck her, and Claire was like, “Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t all of you? The girl’s a B.” Which, you know, did not sit well with the village, 99 percent of whom were probably closely related to Larry. Then Father Bain came in and put on a SHOW. A super dramatic monologue about how Claire’s superior skill in practicing medicine was forcing him, a priest, to leave the village. In terms of spectacle, this was the equivalent of jumping a motorcycle over 40 flaming Cadillacs. The crowd had heard enough. Kill the witches! The stake was all finished outside. Grand finale time.
That was when Ned Gowan pulled Geillis and Claire into a room and told them basically that either Claire could forsake Geillis and live, or the two of them would burn, but there was no way both of them were leaving that courthouse alive. He left them alone to sort things out, and you know, their nights in the hole really did set up this moment quite well. I believed they were deeply bonded and I believed that each woman genuinely mourned for the other one.
Geillis started pressing Claire: Why did you come here? What are you going to do? Claire answered cryptically that she'd "come here" by accident and just wanted to go home, and it was time to go face the murderous crowd again.
Even as someone who's read Outlander's source material and knows there are too many episodes ahead for Claire to be burned alive right now, I found the scene to be incredibly tense, and when Claire refused to denounce Geillis, I felt actual anxiety. I also felt, for maybe the first time, admiration for Claire’s choices. Sure, standing by Geillis was as foolhardy and fruitless as many of the other mortal risks she’s taken in the last few episodes, but it was kind. Her decision felt justified and earned. And then things really went to hell.
Ned Gowan, the most ride-or-die lawyer in human history, pulled out a gun and threatened the crowd back as Claire was condemned, but the crowd overwhelmed him and then pulled Claire through the court in a wild wide shot that really captured the sense of mob horror and the terrifying futility of the individual in a situation like that. Claire shrieking, “You’ll all be damned! You’ll burn in hell!” may have been a trite swan song for an accused witch, but it was exactly what I would have screamed if I'd been in her place. Then the crowd ripped off her bodice and started whipping her!
This moment also really illustrated what had to be a factor in early European witch scares: the rendering of sexualized female bodies as community property. It was horrifying, but suddenly Jamie was there, knocking 10 guys down at a time. Everything was going to be okay.
And then Geillis stood up and outclassed every act we’d seen in the courtroom by confessing to witchcraft and declaring herself pregnant with Satan’s baby. She was trying to draw eyes so that Claire could escape with the man she knew Claire loved, as her own lover had abandoned her. She pointed out a Devil’s Mark, then tore off her dress to expose breasts and a bump—something that I have literally never seen on TV before. Geillis’s act of heroism was the payback for Claire’s heroism earlier. Her sacrifice felt meaningful and tragic at the same time.
This is what they call catharsis, guys. When the tension rises so much higher than you thought it could go and suddenly the best thing happens and you feel actual physical relief and incredible affection for the character who has just restored order to the world. This is what great television looks like, and Outlander took the positive momentum of Jamie's rescue and ratcheted it up by having Claire, in a still grove of very green trees, tell him everything. That she’s from the future. That she has a husband. That Geillis's “Devil’s Mark” was not a mark at all, it was a vaccine (and by the way, Claire’s explanation of vaccines was possibly the most poetic thing I've ever heard). Not only was scene charged with intensity and emotion, it served as a tragic reveal that Geillis was also from the future, and had made it her mission in the past to save her country’s future, to sidestep the massacre waiting for the Jacobites, to establish a sovereign Scotland.
Considering Jamie was raised in a culture with an unshakable conviction in an invisible world, time travel does not seem like such a huge leap in credibility. This is a man surrounded by people who give their babies to the fairies and burn witches. So at this point, his patient credulity in the face of Claire’s crazy story didn't feel like a cheat. His willingness to listen was sort of the fantasy for the audience. Would that we all could have such a ruggedly handsome man hang on our every word for so long!
From there, they just sort of decided to get the hell out of dodge, do a little camping, a little fishing, a little love-making. And then after a few gorgeous shots of them posing near brooks in beautiful tartans, Jamie revealed that he’d brought them back to the Standing Stones, so she could go back home if she chose to.
And like, obviously obviously obviously she chose to go back home. But now her home is Jamie, and he WEPT when she returned to him and guys "The Devil's Mark" was my favorite episode of Outlander so far, period. I am probably going to go re-watch that ending again immediately after I finish writing this, because this is the real start of Jamie and Claire's love story. They are choosing each other; they're acknowledging that love, not necessity, is what binds them, and guys I think I'm head over heels for them too.
... Best part of the trial?
... Why didn’t Dougal return with Jamie?
... Do you have a theory about why the Standing Stones transport some people but not others?
... Where would you rather vacation for two weeks: the 16th century, the 1940s, or 1968?
Outlander: “The Devil’s Mark”
Geillis changes the game
Even though many Outlander episodes follow more-or-less the same structure—Claire finds herself in trouble as the result of her outsider status and then either uses her own knowledge and skills to work her way out of it or is saved by a last-minute Jamie rescue—the show doesn’t pull its drama and excitement from the same well week-to-week or even within just one episode. It sounds silly to say a show has “everything” or “it all,” because such phrases are pretty empty exaggerations, but when it comes to Outlander, I sometimes do hear the voice of Bill Hader’s Stefon saying “this show has everything.” The writers use each of the show’s many genres to create different shades of dramatic stakes. The sexy side of the show is often as engaging as the action-adventure side—often more so.
This week, Outlander adds another genre to the mix, as the first three acts resemble a legal procedural. It’s Outlander doing The Good Wife, with the added twist that 18th-century Scottish courtrooms have a much more chaotic structure to them. But even though some of the language used and laws referenced are unfamiliar or at least outdated to us—and Claire—the episode follows a very familiar trajectory of a dramatic courtroom battle. Ned represents Claire and Geillis—on trial for alleged witchcraft—with the same brand of sharp-tongued wit as Diane Lockhart, and I half-expected him to bust out an Alicia Florrick eyeroll after every witness presented their testimony against the women.
The courtroom proceedings are fun and exciting, adorned with some humor from Ned’s quips (“So now we have to take the testimony of a cat”) but also packed with twists. Father Bain comes forward to speak ill of Claire, only to then confess he was wrong about her being an agent of the devil and telling the crowd about how she saved the Baxter boy. A quick smile from the father, however, reveals that he knew this change of tone would only further incriminate her in the minds of the townsfolk, who decide only a witch could turn a man of god away from the church. The trial gives new significance to past events, like Laoghaire’s love potion and the Thomas Baxter exorcism and the sick baby in the woods, weaving together a detailed courtroom thriller that follows the structure of a procedural but is backed up by serialized storytelling.
Caitriona Balfe and Lotte Verbeek heighten all of the drama with superb performances, with Verbeek turning in her best work yet. They give weight to the trial’s suspense, playing Claire and Geillis’s softer moments—like when the two joke about being actual witches with one another—as convincingly as the more emotionally fraught moments. The writers have very carefully built their friendship over the course of the season, making it feel organic and cogent.
There has always been a sense of a deep connection between Claire and Geillis. Part of it comes from their shared interest in healing as well as Geillis’s apparent disdain for the traditions of her time, especially when it comes to the way men treat women. But their relationship is richly defined beyond just common beliefs and interests. There’s an intimacy to their moments together in the woods, a closeness and comfort that mirrors Claire’s relationship with Jamie, minus the sex. That being said, even though there isn’t anything explicitly physical about their relationship, their interactions are often subtly erotic, even romantic. There’s the obvious example of last week’s little performance by Geillis for Claire under the full moon, but even tonight’s scenes hint at intimacy: “Lie near me,” Geillis says to Claire in the dark, cold pit where they await trial. Look, I’m not saying that the two are in love, but they definitely do love each other, in a way. The way their relationship has been written touches on the romance that imbues some close female friendships, and that gives context for a lot of Claire’s actions when it comes to Geillis. I saw some people in the comments last week expressing frustration that Claire would go against Jamie’s orders by going to warn Geillis. But I saw that as a very believable based on how we’ve seen these two grow close.
And now we know just how deep their connection extends. They share the the devil’s marks, which in actuality are scars from the smallpox vaccine. After weeks of hinting that she knows Claire’s hiding a secret, Geillis shares one of her own in the show’s biggest and most thrilling reveal to date: She’s from the future. In fact, she’s from even farther into the future than Claire: 1968. And based on her involvement in the Jacobite cause as well as her genuine look of despair when she finds out Claire arrived in the highlands on accident, Geillis very intentionally came to this time with some sort of mission in mind. We don’t get to learn much more though, as right after Geillis offers Claire the truth, she sacrifices herself by confessing to witchcraft in order to save Claire. There’s no way we’ve seen the end of Geillis. Even though the crowds were carrying her to the stake when we left her, she has to survive somehow, otherwise the reveal that she’s also a time traveler is pretty useless. My guess is that the very religious people of court aren’t down to let her unborn child burn, even if she claims he’s the son of the devil.
But even as we’re quickly torn away from Geillis, this reveal has immediate and significant repercussions for Outlander’s very premise. Suddenly, there are more time travelers in the mix. There’s the implication that time travel isn’t only random or accidental in this universe, as it was for Claire, which opens up so many new story possibilities. Keeping with the Good Wife comparison, “The Devil’s Mark” propels the story forward and explodes the narrative to create something new entirely in the same way a lot of the best episodes of The Good Wife—like “Hitting The Fan” and “Outside The Bubble”—do. “The Devil’s Mark” could have easily just been confined to the trial; that alone would have been enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. But the episode doesn’t just stop with the Geillis reveal; it piles on the drama by also letting Claire come completely clean to Jamie.
When it comes to romance on genre shows, it’s always only a matter of time before the Moment Of Truth—the moment the vampire tells the human they’re a vampire and shakes up their entire worldview, testing the strength of their love. Claire tells Jamie she’s from the future, and the final act of the episode thwarts conventions: Jamie doesn’t freak out or immediately call Claire insane. While that outcome would certainly be plausible, it’s much more interesting to have Jamie react the way he does. He supports Claire, acknowledges that he doesn’t necessarily understand it but that he trusts and believes her. The confession brings them closer but also creates a disconnect between them, as he realizes that to give Claire what she really wants, he has to let her return to her own home.
Just as the writers have carefully crafted the friendship between Claire and Geillis, so much detail and character work has been poured into making the Claire/Jamie relationship so believable. The writing, combined with Balfe and Sam Heughan’s chemistry, has made it easy to get on board with the two of them since the very first episode. So when Jamie takes her to Craigh na Dun so she can return home, it’s devastating, both actors effectively capturing a deep level of sadness that had me screaming at my screen for Claire to take him with her.
Instead, she decides to stay with him and go to Lallybroch. But make no mistake: Even though Claire chooses to remain where she is, the events in “The Devil’s Mark” have permanently changed Claire’s story, and because Outlander is intimately told through her eyes, that means the show’s narrative foundation has shifted. Claire’s still a sassenach adjusting to life in a new time and place, but Jamie has been pulled in on the secret, which changes their relationship and also lifts a lot of limitations off of Claire. Her actions moving forward will be different now that she has at least one person who she can be honest with (two if her path ever crosses again with Geillis). And that’s a lot more exciting than if she had just returned home to Frank.
Colum definitely had a hand in this trial, right? Sending Jamie with Dougal seems too convenient to be a coincidence. Again, book readers, try to keep any future reveals out of the comments or at least clearly mark them with spoiler warnings.
I enjoyed how masterful Ned was with his manipulations of the court and the masses in attendance. He effectively discredited witnesses, but he also knew exactly the right things to say. In his takedown of the mother of the dead child, he appealed to her grief and also acknowledged the existence of fairies and changelings.
Another thing I noticed in the comments last week was people defending the shoddy character development done around Laoghaire since the writers are just following the way the character is used in the book. But it’s my belief that adaptations not only can but should improve upon their source material. Sure, Laoghaire turns into a villain in the book because of a broken heart and jealousy, but there’s no reason the show has to follow that gendered cliché to a tee.
Verbeek gives an awards-worthy performance in this episode, but I fear that most awards shows won’t take Outlander seriously because of its genre(s). That won’t stop me from campaigning for her on Twitter.
Claire informing us that Geillis’s mark is a scar from the vaccination is one of the only times I can think of where the voiceover was actually useful. I wouldn’t have been able to put the pieces together in the moment without her help.
Roxanne Gay: When My Uterus Began Throbbing in Earnest
Highlight: Jamie opens his eyes and is tearful and joyous and so are our loins. Jamie and Claire kiss like it’s the last kiss of their lives, their faces bathed in Jamie’s delicious sexy man tears.
Claire and Geillis are tossed into a deep, dank, dark place called a Thieves Hole and locked in. The women instantly begin accusing one another of terrible things but it’s understandable; their circumstances are dire. Geillis admits she murdered Arthur so she could be with her One Twu Luv. A guard throws down some bread that looks very suspect and Claire tries to pull a “Do you know who I am?” The guard is unmoved but Geillis, still flush with love (and perhaps hormones) is convinced Dougal will come to save them. Claire rains on her parade by telling Geillis that Dougal has been banished and Jamie is with him, so there.
The next day, the women are plucked out of their grimy hole and taken to trial. It all seems rather hopeless until Ned strolls in talking about how the whole trial is illegal and that under Scotland law, witches deserve lawyers too. Due process wastes no time in 18th century Scotland. The first witness is Jeannie, the Duncans’ maid. She spends an hour talking about how Claire and Geillis are evil witches but then Ned cross-examines Jeannie and reveals that she is merely a disgruntled employee. BYE JEANNIE!
Another witness is the mother of the dead baby Claire found in the woods last week. Finally, it all makes sense. In her grief, she accuses Claire of killing her baby and Claire cries that she was only trying to save the baby. Ned shushes Claire and makes everything okay by making the woman believe she should have done something to stop Claire. Then he assures the grieving mother that her baby is alive and well with the faeries and that it was the changeling child who died. This all begs a rather glaring question—faeries are okay but witches are not? Does not compute.
The final witness of the day, a man, accuses Geillis of conjuring storms. After the trial adjourns, Ned puts a flask of liquor in Claire’s pocket to keep her warm. That Ned is a keeper.
As the ladies drink to console themselves, Geillis laments that they are not long for this world. She knows witches never live. We also learn that Dougal and Geillis met because of a love of politics. They are like the Clintons of yesteryear. Geillis confesses that she would do it all over again and has no regrets, which is kind of inspiring given the circumstances.
In the morning, Claire and Geillis are led through town in chains. It’s all very The Crucible. Back in the courtroom, Laoghaire is the star witness. She tells the court Claire drank a potion meant to open Jamie’s heart to her and stole Jamie from her. Laoghaire needs to get a grip. I mean, honestly. She is followed by the village priest. The phrase “whore of Babylon” is used as he pontificates. He then breaks down, tearfully recounting how Claire saved a dying boy when he could not. He falls to his knees and begs God for forgiveness for his failures. He declares he is no longer worthy of his post but he was never worthy because he is an evil, petty man. Whatever. The town’s people are swayed in the priest’s favor. The crowd begins to froth and demand justice or what we in modern times understand as the mockery of justice and the blatant persecution of women for daring to think and act for themselves.
Ned pulls the women aside and tells them there can be only one. Yes, that’s a Highlander joke. The women quickly realize what Ned means an that Claire is the one who will be saved if she renounces Geillis. The ladies are given a moment to think about it and alone, Geillis demands the truth from Claire about why she is in Scotland at that time. Claire admits it was an accident and that she just wants to go home. Before she can answer, Geillis quips, “It looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.”
Was barbecue a word back then? I consulted Dr. Google. The word “barbecue” finds its origins in the mid-seventeenth century so, yes! But also, that might be a hint about something else.
Claire decides not to betray Geillis and stands by her friend. WITCHES DIE TOGETHER! They are found guilty and condemned to death. Just before they are taken to the pyre, Geillis says “The question you had before, I think it is possible, and adds1968.” Claire has some sassy words for the court about how they are murderers who will burn in hell so of course, before they burn her, the judges order her flogged. It was too good to be true that Claire might go for more than one episode without being subjected to violence. She is whipped in the middle of the courtroom as everyone cheers her suffering on. Geillis breaks down and is forced to look away. Suddenly, our beloved Jamie appears and draws not one sword but two! (And we think, idly, of his third sword.) He babbles about his vow to protect Claire and in the lull, Geillis declares that she is a witch. She bares her arm, revealing the scar from a smallpox vaccine, calling it the mark of the devil. What’s that? Yes. Geillis is from the future too. OMG WHAT??? I did not see that coming. Geillis starts ranting and stripping naked and talking about how she is pregnant with the Devil’s child. Team Geillis!
Once they are well enough away, Jamie tends to Claire’s back. The he demands the truth because he knows she has a “devil’s mark” on her body, too. Jamie remains perfect as Claire admits she is from the future. Even though her story is insane, Jamie totally believes her. It’s amazing! What is this guy’s deal? Most people would be like, “I’m going to need you to stop taking drugs right about now.” When she admits why she ran off that one time, Jamie is beside himself because he beat her for merely trying to get back to her husband.
Let’s unpack that a little… beating your wife for disobedience is totally fine but beating your wife because she belongs to another man and is trying to get back to him? Not acceptable! Math is hard.
After riding hard for a few days, Jamie and Claire share a tender moment by the fire, with Jamie gently caressing his time-traveling wife. (For those keeping track, sexy times begin at 48 minutes in this week.) And then Jamie is gently caressing the inside of Claire’s vagina and when she says she wants him inside her, he’s like, no baby this is all for you and I want to watch you. Perfect perfect perfect. NEVER CHANGE, JAMIE FRASER! Also, Jamie has gone from virgin to beast of a lover in no time flat. Very impressive.
The perfection continues when Jamie reveals that they are at the stones that brought Claire to the 18th century. If you love something, you let them go or whatever. That is total nonsense but for some reason, love stories continue to espouse this as the proper course of action.
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Before she can walk into the stone (LOL just let that sink in), he grabs her and kisses her fiercely one last time. UTERUS THROB THROB. As Claire waffles, Jamie declares, “There’s nothing for you on this side, nothing except violence and danger.” This is when my uterus began throbbing in earnest because he looked like he was about to cry and man tears are delicious and sexy. He says he will stay at the camp until nightfall to make sure Claire is safe. This man is committed to perfection until the bitter end. I volunteer to take Claire’s place on weekends, that’s all I’m saying. I volunteer as tribute.
Jamie walks away and Claire is left with the mystical stone and she must make the easiest decision between two men ever—Jamie Fraser in dirty violent no toilets 18th century or boring ass Frank in the 20th century and modern amenities.
Slowly, Claire walks toward the stone and then, PSYCH!
Jamie, beautiful perfect Jamie, is alone by his fire, crying when Claire says, “On your feet, soldier.” Jamie opens his eyes and is tearful and joyous and so are our loins. Jamie and Claire kiss like it’s the last kiss of their lives, their faces bathed in Jamie’s delicious sexy man tears. Next week, they are off to Lallybroch, Jamie’s ancestral home but for tonight, they have the campfire and the night sky and let us just imagine what the lovers get up to.
New York Times: The Power of Choice
And the next day, when Jamie asks Claire if she’s ready to go home, it’s not Lallybroch that lays over the horizon, but Craigh na Dun, the stones through which Claire slipped out of her time and into his. He leaves her, telling her to return to her time, as there’s nothing for her in Scotland. After he’s gone, Claire examines her two hands, her two rings, her two love lines, her two lives, and she makes a choice. She chooses Jamie. She’ll make that choice again and again, just as Jamie will, an infinite number of times, because that’s what marriage is.
Kindred spirits are still difficult to come by once the guilelessness of youth has faded and it’s rarer to find that person who knows you before you are known. The brilliance of “The Devil’s Mark” comes in its understanding that there’s a difference between difficult and impossible and that, though unlikely, Claire has managed to find two such souls in a single moment. Moreover, each declares their affection through the power of choice. Geillis Duncan proves it by choosing to give herself for Claire in a gesture of true understanding, while Jamie Fraser proves it by choosing Claire every moment of every day. Perhaps something is lost in the process and friendship isn’t quite as magical as it once was, but maybe it’s that element of choice makes the relationships all the more resonant.
Wall Street Journal
But this time around, we don’t want to see Claire go through the stones. Unlike last time, Frank isn’t on the other side to tug at our heartstrings. Jamie is the only one who’s doing that. Also, Jamie’s made a pretty strong case for himself post-spanking: He saved Claire from being burned alive, he believes her ludicrous time-travel story when there is a very good chance that Professor Frank wouldn’t, and, most importantly, by bringing her to Craigh na Dun, he proved that he was willing to sacrifice his own happiness for hers.
So when we hear that familiar buzzing at the stones, and the screen cuts to black just as it did when Claire went through them in 1945, we’re really, really hoping that history hasn’t repeated itself. That’s why Jamie’s unbridled tears upon hearing “On your feet, solider. Take me home to Lallybroch” later that night don’t just illustrate his own joy and relief that Claire decided to stay with him – but ours as well.