Outlander: Castle Leoch (1×02)
Synopsis: Claire is presented to Colum MacKenzie, laird of the castle, and soon realizes that she is under suspicion of being an English spy. She meets the mysterious Geillis Duncan, and witnesses Jamie doing a kindness for the granddaughter of Mrs Fitzgibbons.
While the pilot gave us a taste of 1940’s and 1740’s, episode 2 gives us an intimate look at the “headquarters” of Outlander, Castle Leoch. We get to meet the laird of the castle and of the clan, Colum MacKenzie, a man suffering from Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome. Colum quickly proves that despite being physically lacking his mind is as sharp as a tack. The people in the Clan respect him and his decisions as the laird. He interrogates Claire easily, plying her with a lot of wine and food, and arriving at the conclusion that she is lying about who she is.
Claire’s closest encounter, however, is not with Colum or even young Jamie. It is with Mrs. Fitzgibbons, the head housekeeper of Castle Leoch. In spite of her initial suspicions of Claire, she takes care of her, feeding her and dressing her, giving her a taste of the 18th century. We see Claire growing closer to the woman who seems to run the entire castle from morning to night.
Speaking of making girl friends, on a trip gathering food for Mrs. Fitz, Claire meets Geillis Duncan. The mysterious woman is friendly, and while most people have kept their distance from Claire, Geillis does not seem to have the same fear. Like Claire, Geillis seems to share an affinity for herbs and medicine, though Geillis seems to have earned herself an unofficial title of witch. The two hit it off, and Geillis becomes her companion later that night at the hall, translating the conversations held in Scottish.
Although she’s made some new friends in Mrs. Fitz and Geillis, her close and intimate interactions appear only to be with Jamie. We learn early on in the episode that Jamie has some major battle scars from an encounter with Black Jack Randall that left not only him with some scars but his sister as well. Jamie is a great offset in a world that seems to be not only dangerous but frightfully unfamiliar for Claire. Smiles and niceties quickly dissolve with ulterior motives. Colum and Dougal are all cloaks and daggers, but Jamie’s honesty shines with his openness.
Jamie, we find out, has some secrets of his own. McTavish is not his true surname, and he is in trouble with the law enough to need to go undercover. Both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe continue to have a great chemistry in their scenes together, both drawn to each other but tentatively remaining separate. But like everyone, Jamie has his own faults. As a viewer, we cannot truly understand what is going on in the scene when Jamie volunteers himself to receive the punishment meant for a girl, but it is clear when he steps in he is challenging his uncles authority with a smile on his face. It doesn’t take too long for Dougal to put him in his place.
Claire learns early on in the episode that there is a man who comes through to Castle Leoch on his way to Inverness, and Colum allows her to leave on that day with him to return to Inverness and therefore return to Craigh na Dun. However, at the last moment, Colum and Dougal quickly decide that Claire will be staying in Castle Leoch as their healer while the two decide if Claire is or is not an English spy since neither believes her story.
The second episode of the series feels a little lackluster compared to the pilot which felt so refreshing amongst the other new shows premiering in the past two weeks. I found myself craving more of an interaction with the 1940’s version of Claire and Frank. The small scenes in which we are given a glimpse into her past life are jewels. However the introduction of the new characters and the new dynamics prepares the audience for many more adventures to come.