Outlander Episode Four: The Gathering of Clan MacKenzie by Christina Ivanowich

Spoiler Disclaimer – I will be discussing the episode in detail, so I would stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen up to episode 4. I will do my best not to include spoilers from the books, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make references to them. Now, on to Episode 4: 

Welcome to the Gathering of Clan MacKenzie! It's been thirty years since the last Gathering, and the MacKenzie’s are out in force, drinking and hunting and partying, strengthening bonds and pledging their loyalty to the Laird. It's a celebration, but also a political situation, as all the fighting men and upper-crust are together in one place. Colum and Dougal (as his Number Two) need to appear strong and united in order to keep the faith and support of their men, their family. And as thanks for their loyalty, the Laird hosts the grandest shindig most of them will ever see in their lives.

And while all that’s going on, Claire attempts, and fails, to escape.

Dougal is heavily featured in this episode, as we see developments in his relationships with both Claire and Jamie. Through Jamie's oath-taking, we learn a little more about the bad blood that clearly exists between them. But even after Jamie swears to be a good and loyal servant to his uncle, Dougal still tries to beat him to death during a game of shinty! In many ways, Dougal is the closest thing Jamie has to a father, and I think that comes through in the way they both hate and protect each other.

Dougal's relationship with Claire is at least equally complicated. He doesn't trust her, that's clear. He is also very attracted to her; his amorous attentions in the hall weren't just due to the whiskey, and his restraint isn't solely due to his already-stated disinclination towards rape in general. I think he is fascinated by her, and that expresses itself in either aggressive affection or violent outburst, much in the same way he interacts with Jamie, oddly. And while her treatment of Geordie as he lay dying may have earned her some small amount of trust, it also drew attention to another way in which she is different.

Random Thoughts:

- I’m not going to delve into changes between the book and the show (at least not yet), but I am struck by the many ways in which the show has upped the tension and conflict during these episodes at Leoch. For example, in the book, we have a sense of the strained nature of Jamie and Dougal's relationship at this point, but the show adds the shinty game, and it's all simply laid out in the open! As an avid fan of the book, I'd say that the changes being made all serve to better communicate the feel of the story, even if it means losing some of the exact detail. I think it's working brilliantly so far.

- This is the first episode that doesn't feature any scenes from the 20th Century. Instead, there are two scenes that feature the clicks and pops of records as Claire's mind wanders and she hears the popular music of her own time. For just a moment, I wasn't sure what I was hearing! Claire’s "ear-worms" again serve to underline her otherness, and feel as displaced as Claire herself. I love the use of music on this show!

- Jamie shows himself to be quite adept at disarming potentially dangerous situations. Even as the men are reaching for their swords to kill him where he stands, he is honest and respectful, but also just a bit cheeky. He has a cool head and a knack for making people like him. Look in those soulful eyes and try to not fall in love!

- Once again we see Geillis Duncan, and again it seems like she's interrogating Claire! She knows that Claire is planning to escape, and has her suspicions about Claire's "dead" husband. So why doesn’t Claire seem to notice?

- Also, if you have a keen eye, this episode includes appearances by both writer Diana Gabaldon and creator/producer Ron Moore! First reader to spot them both gets a cookie!

See you next week for Episode 5!


Read our recap of the next episode, Outlander Episode Five: The Upcoming Stuart Uprising, or the previous episode: Outlander Episode Three: Time Travel — Science or Magic?.

Christina Ivanowich watches television (and occasionally writes about it) from London, Ontario. You can follow her on Twitter: @civanowich.


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