“Outlander” and its jaunty Scottish opening theme song are back for another week, and so too, are recaps! I’ve got to say, the title of this episode (“Rent”) is kind of misleading – there’s not one big Broadway musical number to be had. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay good money to see Jamie and Claire take a turn at “Light My Candle,” AMIRITE?
Lads will be lads, but it's lasses with the potty mouths
Anyway, the episode opens with Claire on the road with Dougal’s men. She’s made fast friends with a lawyer, Ned Gowan, who’s joined the party to keep track of the rent they’re collecting from town to town. Claire’s outfit is ON POINT and I experience a sudden pang of sadness that my coat collar and cuffs will never be quite as fluffy as hers. Get on that, Zara designers, and take my money. While I’m busy admiring Caitriona Balfe’s killer style, the lawyer onscreen is busy explaining that they accept multiple forms of rent payment – not just money, but also grains, bread and livestock. (I can’t help but wonder what my landlord would say if I produced him a cat in bag as monthly payment.) (He’d probably ask for 30 more cats. The rent in New York is too damn high, y’all.)
After helping Mr. Gowan with his asthma, once again proving that she is invaluable to the MacKenzies as a healer, Claire and her captors are back on the road. Claire is optimistic that the journey through the highlands will get her back to the Magical Standing Stones and back to the 1940s. At camp, the men are being men, and telling super lewd jokes, while Claire sits off to the side. Via voiceover, we learn that she’s not offended by their crudeness, but that they’re using Gaelic in order to exclude her. SHE JUST WANTS TO MAKE FRIENDS, GUYS. Jamie explains that it’s not that they don’t like her; it’s that they don’t trust her. She asks him if he thinks she’s an English spy, to which he replies that he doesn’t, but he does know there are things she’s not telling him. Claire storms off in a huff.
The next day at the village, while Dougal and his men collect rent, Claire takes the opportunity to explore. It’s here we learn how the ancestors of the Zara designers set the dye in their amazing coats. The village women are sitting around kneading a pungent length of fabric. Pro tip for you naturalists out there: Urine sets the dye faster! The More You Know, right?! After proving to the women that she’s no princess and lending a hand, Claire receives ... a fresh pot of "dye setter." Claire, our intrepid heroine, lifts up her skirts and squats over the wee bucket (get it???) just as Angus bursts in to drag her back to the rent collectors. Trust me, it’s awkward for everyone.
A sexy British man appears to liven up this episode!
Claire, angry at being manhandled and upset that the MacKenzies are taking a goat that was providing a hungry baby with milk, causes a scene and begins to mouth off at Dougal. (She really doesn’t do herself any favors, honestly.) And then: HANDSOME STRANGER ALERT!! An Englishman, dressed in what I’m assuming is blacksmith’s attire, interrupts and inquires after Claire’s well-being. There’s a tense moment that the Scots manage to diffuse, but the camera follows The Handsome English Stranger as he moves away from view and shrugs on an English army red coat. Definitely won’t be the last we see of him!
It’s like the writers know we’ve almost forgotten about Jamie after The Handsome English Stranger’s interruption, because the next scene involves Dougal lecturing passionately in Gaelic inside a shadowy tavern before literally tearing the shirt off Jamie’s back. (YES PLEASE.) The gathered crowd, shocked at the scars on his back, reach into their pockets and give Dougal what little money they have left. Turns out, this is Dougal’s version of a fundraiser! We learn later that Dougal and his men are actually Scottish rebels, raising money for an army to fight the English. (We’ve all seen Mel Gibson’s “Highlander,” right? It’s kind of like that but with a touch more historical accuracy.) (But only a touch.) Claire, obviously, knows how this all turns out (hint: not well). We don’t mind that everyone might die, so long as Jamie keeps getting his shirt ripped off.
White knights and Redcoats
After another midnight taproom fundraiser, Claire finds Jamie sleeping outside her door with the intent of protecting her from wandering drunkards. She invites him inside (YES!!!!) because it’s cold out in the hall, but he refuses, citing her ruined reputation if he accepted the offer. (Jamie Fraser can ruin my reputation any day, I’m just saying.)
The following morning, the MacKenzie men get themselves into a bar fight with the locals. It ends in several injuries Claire must mend. While she's scolding them, they explain that they were fighting to protect her honor; it turns out that as a guest of their clan they can insult her, but no one else can. (That sounds a lot like my marriage, to be honest.) It’s a touching little scene where we learn these massive Scottish brutes do have a softer side, and Claire realizes that she can get along with them, proving her mouth is just as filthy as theirs.
The episode closes out as Claire and Dougal face down against The Handsome English Stranger from earlier. This time he’s bought a few of his Redcoat buddies with him, once again inquiring after Claire’s well-being. There's a tight close-up on Claire’s face. What is she going to say?! Will she feel safer with the English, or will she remain loyal to the MacKenzies?
CREDITS ROLL! Damn it: We’ve got no way of knowing her answer until next episode (er, except for re-reading the books, of course). Seeya then, I guess!