Monday, April 20, 2015

OUTLANDER: Season 1, Episode 11 The Devil's Mark


[This post comes with all the usual Spoiler Alerts—proceed with caution if you haven’t seen this episode.]

If you can get through some tiresome courtroom scenes, this episode holds many little, special gems and some big emotional moments. This is an episode some of us Outlander readers have been waiting for—for a couple of reasons:


1. First Revelation: Geillis isn’t a witch, she is a time traveler.

The episode opens with Claire and Geillis in the Thieves’ Hole, a lovely little place with wet, slimy walls, rats, and hard jagged rocks to rest upon. Their time in the Hole becomes a bonding opportunity for the falsely accused women. I don’t remember that being quite the case in the book, nor do I remember Geillis being so kind and compassionate. Ever. In any scene. Though she obviously isn’t a witch, she kind of is…in that she has a streak of evil in her. Other than confessing to murdering her husband, she comes across as a lovely person. NO!!

Throughout their time in the hole, Geillis is trying to get Claire to admit to something that Geillis has suspected pretty much since they first met. When Claire, horrified at their prospects, quotes Nathan Hale’s “I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country,” which was said in 1776, Geillis needs no further proof. She knows what Claire is. But I don’t think the audience knew what Geillis was thinking—not the ones who hadn’t read the book, anyway. It was played coolly and ambiguously by Lotte Verbeek.

Though I quickly tired of the trial scenes, I loved Ned Gowan, and cheered when he made his way into the courtroom. Yay, Ned! He tries valiantly, but with a crowd hungry for a witch burning, there is little he can do. In the end the best he can come up with is for Claire to blame Geillis for everything. When the two women are alone, Geillis, knowing her time is short, asks Claire, “WHY are you here?” meaning HERE in Scotland, HERE in this time. Claire, being a little thicker than usual, hasn’t fully caught on to Geillis’ implied meaning, and tells her it was an accident, that she doesn’t think it is possible for her to get back home.  If you were unfamiliar with this story and hadn’t caught on to the fact that Geillis was also a time traveler, you probably did right about now. Geillis, frustrated and despondent, says, “You don’t want to change things. It was all for nothing.” We found out in the hole that Geillis is a Jacobite—she is in that time because she wants to change the political outcome. That someone just landed there by accident is a sad waste in her mind.

Claire refuses to blame Geillis—all that bonding and everything. Just before Claire gets a pre-burning flogging, Geillis tells Claire, “I think it IS possible.” Claire looks confused, then Geillis says, “1968.” Again Claire isn’t as quick on the uptake as she normally is, and still this means nothing to her. Fortunately Jamie arrives in the nick of time to rescue Claire from the burning. Geillis very bravely chooses this opportunity to take the blame, pronounce that she is carrying Satan’s spawn, and clear the way for Claire to get to leave. As she makes the ludicrous statements, she shows her “Devil’s Mark” which Claire recognizes as a small pox vaccine scar. FINALLY Claire realizes that Geillis is a time traveler as she puts together the vaccine with the ‘1968’. She knows Geillis traveled from 1968. And now the audience does too.

2. Second Revelation: Claire reveals to Jamie that she is from the future.

This scene is one of my very favorite from all of the books in this series. And for the most part I was pleased with how it was brought to life.

After rescuing Claire and tending to her injuries from the flogging, Jamie asks her to tell him the truth: is she a witch? He asks because he has seen the mark on Claire’s arm, the same kind that Geillis said was the Devil’s Mark. She explains that she isn’t, but that after he hears what she has to say he may wonder about that. She tells him what the mark is, how she can never catch small pox because of it, that she knew about Randall and when he will die, about the doomed Jacobite cause, etc. “I am from the future…I was born in 1918.” Jamie looks a little stunned. He tells her he believes her because he trusts her, but that he does not yet understand what she’s said. She goes on to tell him everything—about how she was a combat nurse and the war all the way to how she came through the stones. Jamie is nicely devastated about his actions after she tried to run away, now that he knows WHY she did it. Loving, tender moments ensue.

3. One gigantic turning point in the story: Claire makes a choice.

After Claire’s revelations, she and Jamie travel for several days to get far from the witch hunters. Throughout this time he tells her all about his home, Lallybroch. She’s a little ambivalent about settling there. When they finally, after days of travel, reach a crest of a hill, Jamie asks her if she’s ready to go home. Still ambivalent about Lallybroch, she looks over the hill and sees the stone circle. Jamie’s brought her to the place that will allow her to go home, to her time, to her husband. Their farewell is heartbreaking, there are tears, maybe mine too, and Jamie tells her he will stay nearby until he knows she’s safe.

We see her approach the stone, and then we hear the noise that means she’s traveled, or maybe it’s the noise that means the episode is over, and the screen goes black. What a horrible place for it to end! But NO! There’s more. Jamie is asleep next to a campfire. It is now night. Claire is there. She wakes him. She tells him to “Take me home to Lallybroch.” Yeah, I was crying now.

CLAIRE HAS MADE A CHOICE! She had two choices: Frank and the 20th century, or Jamie and the 18th century. We have always known she loved Frank, all we heard about for MANY episodes was how much she wanted to get back to the stones and Frank. But she has a greater love now, and she can’t bring herself to leave him. Jamie. TURNING POINT—Claire has turned her back on her 20th century life, and has decided to embrace her 18th century life. This is a game changer, and it makes the rest of the story possible.

Slàinte mhath!

No comments:

Post a Comment