Episode 2 of Outlander was faster moving, had better flow and pacing, and lots of character development and backstory. Claire’s plans to get back to Inverness were foiled by Dougal and his brother, the Laird of Castle Leoch, Colum McKenzie. We learn about Jamie’s history, while Claire figures out what time period she’s traveled to and finally shows some fear and trepidation about her situation.
Throughout the episode, Claire periodically flashes back/forward to exploring the ruin of Castle Leoch 200 years in the future with her husband Frank, before falling through the looking glass, to where the castle resides. Some of Claire and Frank’s questions from episode 1, about what people did in certain rooms and who lived there, are answered as Claire meets various residents of the castle.
At the castle, Jamie introduces Claire to Ms. Fitzgibbons, the cook/housekeeper. Mrs. Fitzgibbons is an interesting character, who seems like she might be an ally to Claire down the road, or at least a friendly face amongst people who do not seem to trust her.
While changing Jamie’s bandages, Claire notices some severe scarring on his back. He says it’s from the redcoats, and Randall flogged him twice in a week; the first time was for escaping Fort William and the second time was for theft. I like that some of Jamie’s character and history is revealed in this episode, and some of the more personal reasons for Jamie and his family’s hatred of the English is touched upon.
Claire is missing Frank, and is worried about what he is going through. Claire tells Jamie her husband is not alive, which is technically true since he is 200 years in the future. She starts sobbing and Jamie tries to comfort her. Although the scene was likely intended to build sexual tension, I thought it was done in a very harlequin-esque manner. Pretty cheesy. There were other scenes between Jamie and Claire that were better at highlighting the chemistry and connection between them, but this scene was just fell flat to me.
I get why Claire is taken with Jamie and is drawn to him. He’s an exceedingly attractive man. He is honest and open with her and protective. Other than the obvious of Claire being beautiful, what is the attraction on the other side? Does Jamie have some sort of a savior complex? He’s shown with three different women he’s saved: Claire, his sister and the young girl he saved from a beating. Or is it Claire’s “otherness”? Her wit? Her spirit that he refers to later on in the episode? A combination of all of the above? That remains to be seen and I think what will be interesting to see the relationship between Claire and Jamie blossom.
In a later scene, Claire brings Jamie some lunch while he is out in the stable. This scene is much more revealing for the characters than Claire doctoring to a shirtless Jamie. Jamie tells Claire that he’s wanted for murder. He reveals that when he was on the run. Jamie says he didn’t actually kill the man he’s wanted for and explains what happened at Fort William.
Jamie also tells Claire his real last name is Fraser, and he’s used McTavish to protect himself. Colum and Dougal both know he’s a wanted man, but they are his uncles on his mother’s side. I loved the exchange between Jamie and Claire that came next regarding telling the truth and Jamie deciding to trust Claire, as I think it is important in establishing the bond and trust between them.
Claire boldly confronts Dougal about why he is having her followed and what he suspects her of. Dougal thinks she’s a spy. Claire hasn’t told them the truth about who she is, but who would believe her? She does not believe the situation herself quite yet. Claire is doing remarkably well at adapting to being thrust into a place and a culture in which she has no idea how to handle herself. I also understand why Dougal and Colum do not trust Claire. It does not appear to me that they are out to get her, but their family presumably has some yet to be explored bad blood and history with the English, besides what Jamie has already revealed. They are just trying to protect themselves and protect Jamie.
“Castle Leoch” did an excellent job of showing contrasts between self-assured 20th century Claire Randall and the more fearful, out-of-place, 18th Century Claire Beauchamp. The bond between Jamie and Claire continued to develop and strengthen. In the next episodes, I am curious to see whether Claire is more successful in adapting to her environment, how Jamie continues to navigate the relationships with his uncles and his budding relationship with Claire, and in whether the show continues to be successful in drawing the 20th century/18th century contrasts in settings, characters, expectations, and mentality.