“The Devil’s Mark”
Claire and Geillis are tossed into a deep, dank, dark place called a Thieves Hole and locked in. The women instantly begin accusing one another of terrible things but it’s understandable; their circumstances are dire. Geillis admits she murdered Arthur so she could be with her One Twu Luv. A guard throws down some bread that looks very suspect and Claire tries to pull a “Do you know who I am?” The guard is unmoved but Geillis, still flush with love (and perhaps hormones) is convinced Dougal will come to save them. Claire rains on her parade by telling Geillis that Dougal has been banished and Jamie is with him, so there.
The next day, the women are plucked out of their grimy hole and taken to trial. It all seems rather hopeless until Ned strolls in talking about how the whole trial is illegal and that under Scotland law, witches deserve lawyers too. Due process wastes no time in 18th century Scotland. The first witness is Jeannie, the Duncans’ maid. She spends an hour talking about how Claire and Geillis are evil witches but then Ned cross-examines Jeannie and reveals that she is merely a disgruntled employee. BYE JEANNIE!
Another witness is the mother of the dead baby Claire found in the woods last week. Finally, it all makes sense. In her grief, she accuses Claire of killing her baby and Claire cries that she was only trying to save the baby. Ned shushes Claire and makes everything okay by making the woman believe she should have done something to stop Claire. Then he assures the grieving mother that her baby is alive and well with the faeries and that it was the changeling child who died. This all begs a rather glaring question—faeries are okay but witches are not? Does not compute.
The final witness of the day, a man, accuses Geillis of conjuring storms. After the trial adjourns, Ned puts a flask of liquor in Claire’s pocket to keep her warm. That Ned is a keeper.
As the ladies drink to console themselves, Geillis laments that they are not long for this world. She knows witches never live. We also learn that Dougal and Geillis met because of a love of politics. They are like the Clintons of yesteryear. Geillis confesses that she would do it all over again and has no regrets, which is kind of inspiring given the circumstances.
In the morning, Claire and Geillis are led through town in chains. It’s all very The Crucible. Back in the courtroom, Laoghaire is the star witness. She tells the court Claire drank a potion meant to open Jamie’s heart to her and stole Jamie from her. Laoghaire needs to get a grip. I mean, honestly. She is followed by the village priest. The phrase “whore of Babylon” is used as he pontificates. He then breaks down, tearfully recounting how Claire saved a dying boy when he could not. He falls to his knees and begs God for forgiveness for his failures. He declares he is no longer worthy of his post but he was never worthy because he is an evil, petty man. Whatever. The town’s people are swayed in the priest’s favor. The crowd begins to froth and demand justice or what we in modern times understand as the mockery of justice and the blatant persecution of women for daring to think and act for themselves.
Ned pulls the women aside and tells them there can be only one. Yes, that’s a Highlander joke. The women quickly realize what Ned means an that Claire is the one who will be saved if she renounces Geillis. The ladies are given a moment to think about it and alone, Geillis demands the truth from Claire about why she is in Scotland at that time. Claire admits it was an accident and that she just wants to go home. Before she can answer, Geillis quips, “It looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.”
Was barbecue a word back then? I consulted Dr. Google. The word “barbecue” finds its origins in the mid-seventeenth century so, yes! But also, that might be a hint about something else.
Claire decides not to betray Geillis and stands by her friend. WITCHES DIE TOGETHER! They are found guilty and condemned to death. Just before they are taken to the pyre, Geillis says “The question you had before, I think it is possible, and adds1968.” Claire has some sassy words for the court about how they are murderers who will burn in hell so of course, before they burn her, the judges order her flogged. It was too good to be true that Claire might go for more than one episode without being subjected to violence. She is whipped in the middle of the courtroom as everyone cheers her suffering on. Geillis breaks down and is forced to look away. Suddenly, our beloved Jamie appears and draws not one sword but two! (And we think, idly, of his third sword.) He babbles about his vow to protect Claire and in the lull, Geillis declares that she is a witch. She bares her arm, revealing the scar from a smallpox vaccine, calling it the mark of the devil. What’s that? Yes. Geillis is from the future too. OMG WHAT??? I did not see that coming. Geillis starts ranting and stripping naked and talking about how she is pregnant with the Devil’s child. Team Geillis!
Once they are well enough away, Jamie tends to Claire’s back. The he demands the truth because he knows she has a “devil’s mark” on her body, too. Jamie remains perfect as Claire admits she is from the future. Even though her story is insane, Jamie totally believes her. It’s amazing! What is this guy’s deal? Most people would be like, “I’m going to need you to stop taking drugs right about now.” When she admits why she ran off that one time, Jamie is beside himself because he beat her for merely trying to get back to her husband.
Let’s unpack that a little… beating your wife for disobedience is totally fine but beating your wife because she belongs to another man and is trying to get back to him? Not acceptable! Math is hard.
After riding hard for a few days, Jamie and Claire share a tender moment by the fire, with Jamie gently caressing his time-traveling wife. (For those keeping track, sexy times begin at 48 minutes in this week.) And then Jamie is gently caressing the inside of Claire’s vagina and when she says she wants him inside her, he’s like, no baby this is all for you and I want to watch you. Perfect perfect perfect. NEVER CHANGE, JAMIE FRASER! Also, Jamie has gone from virgin to beast of a lover in no time flat. Very impressive.
The perfection continues when Jamie reveals that they are at the stones that brought Claire to the 18th century. If you love something, you let them go or whatever. That is total nonsense but for some reason, love stories continue to espouse this as the proper course of action.
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Before she can walk into the stone (LOL just let that sink in), he grabs her and kisses her fiercely one last time. UTERUS THROB THROB. As Claire waffles, Jamie declares, “There’s nothing for you on this side, nothing except violence and danger.” This is when my uterus began throbbing in earnest because he looked like he was about to cry and man tears are delicious and sexy. He says he will stay at the camp until nightfall to make sure Claire is safe. This man is committed to perfection until the bitter end. I volunteer to take Claire’s place on weekends, that’s all I’m saying. I volunteer as tribute.
Jamie walks away and Claire is left with the mystical stone and she must make the easiest decision between two men ever—Jamie Fraser in dirty violent no toilets 18th century or boring ass Frank in the 20th century and modern amenities.
Slowly, Claire walks toward the stone and then, PSYCH!
Jamie, beautiful perfect Jamie, is alone by his fire, crying when Claire says, “On your feet, soldier.” Jamie opens his eyes and is tearful and joyous and so are our loins. Jamie and Claire kiss like it’s the last kiss of their lives, their faces bathed in Jamie’s delicious sexy man tears. Next week, they are off to Lallybroch, Jamie’s ancestral home but for tonight, they have the campfire and the night sky and let us just imagine what the lovers get up to.
Roxane Gay is the editor of The Butter.