When the title of this week’s episode of Outlander flashed up onto the screen, I snickered.
That’s because as a former theatre nerd, I have strong associations with the word ‘Rent.’ To be specific, it invokes vivid memories of my own angst commingled with pop-Broadway warbling about AIDS, being broke, and in love. Thankfully (or not, depending on your predilections, I suppose) neither Claire nor Jamie burst spontaneously into song, though I have it on good authority that she does have the best ass below Culloden.
Ah, but that’s not entirely true now, is it? The singing part. Not the ass part – I stand by that. Dougal’s men and Claire hit the road to collect rents from the clansmen, and, as Claire would eventually deduce, raise money to support the Jacobite cause.
All this traveling and politicking wore on Claire. She was bored senseless and, with her new friend the asthmatic lawyer Ned Gowan being detained by Dougal’s crew, Claire was all #foreveralone. This is probably why she wound up getting drunk with some Scottish women, splashing urine on wool, and pretending to sing along as they all wailed in Gaelic. Clearly Claire has lived in the past too long if she thinks nothing of manhandling the odorous fluids of others or of pissing into a pot while being observed by strangers and an angry (if lackluster) bodyguard.
Speaking of Angus (the aforementioned bodyguard with a rage/squirrel-eating problem) that brings me to the crux of this week’s episode. This installment wasn’t only visually stunning (now that we’re out of Castle Loach and exploring I am 100 percent more likely to start Googling stuff like “cheap Scottish vacations”) but propelled the heart of the story forward by beginning to illustrate the bond Claire slowly forms with the Highlanders. It was handled so deftly that I started singing “Smooth Criminal,” which I often do when a writer or actor impresses me.
Someday I will record this happening. Today is not that day.
At the episode’s start, Angus literally spits, manhandles and holds a knife to Claire’s throat, but that changes utterly by the end and in a way that feels completely organic. Claire is finding her place in the 18th century and I really don’t want her to leave! Much though Claire still finds history dull (a fact which never fails to entertain), now that she’s in the thick of it, it’s informing all of her relationships.
She’s desperate to stop her now sort-of-friends from jeopardizing their lives in support of a Stuart king who will never reign. That combined with Jamie’s increasing kindness (HE SLEPT OUTSIDE HER ROOM, THEIR HANDS TOUCHED! IN THE 18TH CENTURY THAT IS BASICALLY ORAL SEX) has Claire’s mindset shifting.
Sparks they were a-flyin’. Without being too spoilery (don’t I treat you good?) Claire is forced to make a big decision in the final seconds of the episode and for the first time as a viewer I had no idea what she would choose.