“By the Pricking of My Thumbs”
For once we don’t have to wait for sexy times because the episode opens with Claire, naked in bed, gasping and moaning as she is orally pleasured by Jamie. She seems to be really enjoying herself and Jamie seems to know what he’s doing down there. Then, of course, there is a knock t the door but they ignore it because once in a while, we ARE allowed to have nice things. Only when Claire has found her bliss does Jamie get out of bed. Murtagh has news. The Duke of Sandringham is in town and he could lift the price on Jamie’s head.
Claire remembers a conversation with her Other Husband, so she knows the Duke probably isn’t going to be a good friend to Jamie because he is in cahoots with Black Jack Randall. Jamie is, however, undeterred because he might be able to return to his homeland and be laird and Claire can be his lady and they can live happily ever after and have more sex. We want that too so, I guess, optimism it is!
If there are two women and a man, there’s going to be furniture moving. Such is the way of drama. Claire pays a visit to Laoghaire in the kitchen and they quickly exchange harsh words with Laoghaire insisting Jamie is hers despite ample, ample evidence to the contrary. Also, people are not possessions but we can quibble about that later. Laoghaire asserts that Jamie has to get drunk as hell before he bones his cold English wife and Claire brings the heat by slapping the young woman in the face. Laoghaire confesses to putting the “ill wish” beneath Claire and Jamie’s marital bed and vows that Jamie will return to his rightful place between her thighs. Claire is like, HOLD MY EARRINGS, GET ME MY VASELINE as she glares the younger woman down. Laoghaire tells Claire she’s wrong about Jamie and her friend Geillis who, we learn, sold Laoghaire the ill wish. “Stay away from me and my husband,” Claire says before stalking away. I am kind of mad about this subplot because it is so predictable.
Claire pays a visit to town to find Geillis whose husband is having a gastric attack. The maid tells Claire to find Geillis in the woods before dawn because it’s a full moon. Claire finds her friend wearing a flowy dress and chanting and lighting small fires, which reminds Claire of the ritual she witnessed before being transported back in time to the best sex of her life. Speaking of the best sex of a woman’s life, Geillis seems to be enjoying herself quite a lot in her writhing about on the ground. We see a lot of her breasts and thighs. When she finally settles down, she says, “You can come out now, Claire,” because Geillis knows all.
Turns out, Geillis is pregnant! No one knows. Geillis admits she has a lover—Dougal MacKenzie. Claire promises to keep Geillis’s secret and then they walk around in the woods having some girl talk. Both women admit they are BFFs which we already knew but it’s nice, sometimes, to have a friendship affirmed.
In their meandering, they stumble upon a baby’s cries and Claire instantly wants to rescue the child. Geillis warns Claire that the child is a changeling, stolen by faeries. They part ways and Claire finds the baby who has already died. She holds the baby to her chest, rocking sadly until Jamie finds her and tries to explain why the world is strange and cruel. This was one of those, “Why is this happening” moments that sometimes occur.
Back at Leoch, the newlyweds look over a letter where Claire attests to Randall’s penchant for sexual violence and she quietly pays a visit to the Duke of Sandringham, letting him know that Jamie will be by shortly with a petition of complaint about Black Jack. The Duke is not particularly swayed until Claire demurely asks him how much Jacobite gold he has received from Dougal MacKenzie. Their witty banter takes on a more serious texture. The Duke suddenly becomes more amenable to hearing young Jamie’s complaint and Claire makes it clear Jamie is not to know she was ever there.
News arrives at Leoch that Dougal’s wife has died of fever. Claire is quickly called to help because Dougal is in a raging drunk, swinging his sword to and fro and bellowing about how his departed wife deserved better than the likes of him. Claire adds some magic potion to his moonshine and before long Dougal passes out.
Claire and Geillis chat about the passing of Dougal’s wife as they stroll through the market in the village. Geillis is, as you might expect, cheered by this turn of events but Claire is a bit more cautious. Claire is, frankly, a bit of a negative Nancy throughout this entire episode.
Jamie and Murtagh visit the Duke and the Duke makes his attraction to Jamie quite clear but that’s neither here nor there and we are in agreement with the Duke nonetheless. Jamie is a fine specimen of man. In exchange for the Duke doing something about Randall, Jamie needs to serve as the Duke’s second in a duel against a member of MacDonald clan, something about an unpaid debt. Blah blah blah. This is all filler between sex scenes so I give it the attention it is due.
At a feast that evening, the Duke is feted for being a rich white man. Some things never change. Claire and the Duke have some words and suddenly Geillis’s husband collapses, foaming at the mouth. As his corpse cools, Geillis and Dougal exchange gleeful glances and then, Geillis emits an operatic wail, rushing to her dead husband’s side. Nicely played, Geillis. Claire smells bitter almonds and deduces that the poor man has been murdered. Claire always knows everything. Not sure how annoying that is yet but give me a few more episodes.
The duel is rather anti-climactic. The Duke and a MacDonald fire at each other, miss, and then share a drink because that’s how men solve problems, I guess. Before they can peacefully part ways, there is some shit-talking between the MacDonalds and Jamie what with the bad blood between the clans. In summary, there’s some yo mama shit talking going down, Highlands style. Jamie returns to Leoch with a gash in his lovely abdominals. Claire stitches him up seething with quiet anger, giving us ample opportunity to imagine stitching Jamie, let’s say, orally.
Column is none too happy now that he has figured out that Dougal and Geillis are a thing. Dougal is summoned to his brother who lays down the law. Dougal must return home to bury his wife and stay there until Colum calls for him again. He also sends some of the fellas, including Jamie along to keep an eye on Dougal. It’s pretty sad because Dougal admits he loves Geillis and that Geillis is pregnant with his child. Dougal really cannot catch a break, man.
Claire and Jamie stand by a horse as they say goodbye and Jamie cautions Claire to not spend time with Geillis. This is like a RED FLAG that Claire is going to do the exact opposite of what her husband tells her to do. Like, we could build a drinking game around this certainty. Sadly, we don’t get to see the couple have, “Who knows when I will see you again sex,” but they have a romantic moment where Claire trills, “Come back to me, James Fraser,” and Jamie promises, “As soon as I can,” and we hope he is a man of his word because we want to see more hot Highland sex.
Whilst attending to a burn on Mrs. Fitz’s hand, Claire receives a note from Geillis urging her to come to the village right away. At the Duncan home, Claire learns that Geillis didn’t send the note. While she’s there, Claire urges Geillis to pack some things and leave town but Geillis is adamant about staying right where she is. She assures Claire thatDougal will protect her and the baby but alas, she speaks, perhaps, too soon. Before long, there are wardens banging down the door and they arrest Claire and Geillis for witchcraft. Of course. Unruly women are always witches, no matter what century we’re in. The women are loaded into a wagon and as Claire stares through the bars, she sees Laoghaire emerge, smiling slyly. Damn that Laoghaire, always making mischief.
The silver lining of this episode is that Claire wasn’t sexually imperiled for one whole episode. Maybe we can make it two! Hope springs eternal and silver linings aren’t made like they used to be.
Roxane Gay is the editor of The Butter.