Just in case you thought Claire (Caitriona Balfe) had forgotten Frank (Tobias Menzies), she hasn’t. Saturday’s episode of Outlander kicked off with a heartfelt flashback to when the newlyweds parted ways during World War II. “Promise that you’ll return to me,” Frank calls to Claire as her train shepherds her away. “I promise,” she says.
Back in the 18th century, Claire is taking the Ice Bucket Challenge or, as it was known then, a shower. “Your next husband will be a lucky man,” Mrs. Fitz (Annette Badland) says while dousing Claire in freezing water. In a rare moment of desperation, Claire confesses everything, telling Mrs. Fitz that she’s a visitor from the future. Mrs. Fitz, understandably, freaks out and accuses Claire of being a witch. Fortunately for Claire, this entire sequence is all a dream. Whew!
In the real 18th century, Claire is trying to figure out how to practice 20th-century medicine with jars of suspect herbs and wood lice (ew). She’s slowly ingratiated herself with the MacKenzie clan by treating their various ailments, particularly Colum’s twisted legs. He’s so pleased with her, he invites her to the night’s gathering, an event where everyone, well, gathers and watches performers sing folk songs.
There, Claire counsels Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) on how to flirt with Jamie (Sam Heughan), but he still gives the young girl the cold shoulder in favor of the sassy time-traveling nurse. “He needs a woman, not a lassie,” a friend of Jamie’s later tells Claire.
But the real plot of the episode revolves around Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, who became “possessed” after visiting some ruins in the area. He can’t eat, can’t sleep, and he’s having hallucinations. The town priest is quick to turn to exorcism, but Claire’s convinced there’s a medical reason for his symptoms: poison.
Claire visits the town herbalist, Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), to replenish her stores. Of all the people Claire’s met thus far, Geillis is the most polarizing. The townspeople call her a witch, though she pretends to be simply a humble wife to the local fiscal Arthur Duncan. While we’re not quite sure what’s true about her, one thing is certain: She suspects Claire is more than a mere displaced English woman.
Jamie takes Claire on a trip to the ruins Mrs. Fitz’s nephew visited. She asks him whether he thinks the boy is possessed by a demon. “I’m an educated man, mistress,” he counters.
As they make their way through the ruins, trying to figure out what might have poisoned the youngling, Jamie points out a simple plant the boys used to challenge each other to eat: wood garlic. Except it’s not wood garlic, it’s lily of the valley and it’s highly poisonous (see: Breaking Bad). Fortunately, it’s also highly curable! Claire saves Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, much to the chagrin of the exorcism-happy priest.
With her newfound status as a miracle worker, Claire realizes it won’t be so easy to escape the castle after all. But as she attends another gathering alongside Jamie and listens to a folk tale that sounds much like her own, she resolves to leave – regardless of Colum and Dougal’s permission.
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