“Are you here by your own choice?” a redcoat asks Claire (Caitriona Balfe) at the start of this week’s episode of Outlander.
It’s a vital question for Claire – she waits to respond and everyone looks shifty while waiting for her to answer. “I am a guest of the Clan MacKenzie,” she says at last, surprising Dougal (Graham McTavish).
The British decide to take her back to their general anyways, and Dougal insists on accompanying her. Once they reach the garrison, however, he’s relentlessly mocked by the British. Claire defends Dougal, coming dangerously close to outing herself as a Scottish sympathizer. The British are so charmed by the English rose that Claire’s words don’t initially raise any suspicion – until Capt. Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) shows up.
It’s Randall who throws a wrench in Claire’s schmoozing with the British. He questions her virtue, and Claire foolishly tries to defend herself, but only ends up arousing more suspicion. The general recruits Randall to take Claire back to Inverness quickly, so she can be among her people once again and out of the reach of the Scots.
The conversation is interrupted when the garrison is fired upon and Claire leaves to attend a wounded man. When she returns to speak to Randall about her passage to Inverness, he informs her that in the wake of her troubling loyalties, the trip is in jeopardy. (Poor Claire, she’s a spy no matter where she goes.)
Claire invents a moving story in an attempt to sway Randall, but he sees through it. Only one thing will get him to take her to Inverness: if she brings him proof that Dougal is raising funds for the Jacobite cause.
She accuses him of brutality, citing the day of Jamie’s lashing. He recalls it with a starry-eyed fervor that’s sickening, but Claire, seeing her husband’s face when she looks at Randall, still believes there’s a decent man inside.
“You cannot undo the things you’ve done,” she says, “but it’s not too late to win back your humanity.” Randall agrees – then sucker-punches her in the stomach. He doesn’t want her sympathy, he says, before calling in a corporal to kick her.
It’s Dougal who saves Claire, taking her with him against the will of the British. Finally convinced that she’s not a spy (after a side trip to a truth river), Dougal tells Claire the only way he can keep her from the British is for her to become a Scot. And that means marrying one.
Claire’s repulsed by the idea – who would want to marry Dougal? – but he says he has someone else in mind: Jamie (Sam Heughan). “Well, you’ve mended my wounds more than once,” says Jamie when told of his and Claire’s arrangement.
But wait! There’s one thing that concerns Claire about this whole marriage thing: she’s not a virgin. Won’t that bother you, she asks Jamie. “So long as it does not bother you that I am,” he answers. Ladies, commence your swooning now.
Tune in to Starz on Saturday (9 p.m. ET) for the next episode of Outlander.