Other Media Review

Outlander Episode 4: The Gathering

Title: Outlander on Starz: Episode 4
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

OutlanderWe open with guards in the woods, and Claire running (and an unfortunate shot of the actress’s warm up boots, and not the boots meant to be seen, much to the ETERNAL DISMAY of Terry.)  But instead of escape, Claire is playing with the children, but also scouting out the terrain around the castle for her planned escape.  As escape plans go, it’s fairly clever, she’s also working at being annoying to her guard/escorts so they’ll be more inclined to ditch her. 

All of Clan Mackenzie is making their way to Castle Leoch for a Gathering, where the fighting men will reaffirm their loyalty to Colum, and everyone will get gussied up and eat and drink and engage in community building activities like boar hunting and shinty and drinking a LOT.  Claire is hoping she’ll be able to sneak out during the chaos.  She’s got an escape route, she’s got a horse, she’s got a pile of food, she’s got valerian in a bottle of port for Thing One and Thing Two (Angus and Rupert, MY BOYS) (“It’s a sedative.”  “….is that Spanish?” Bless.) It’s a good plan, and it almost works. 

And she’s almost out (after running into a bunch of drunk, rapey dudes and then Dougal gropes her and she breaks a chair over his head) when she trips over Jamie sleeping in the stable, who points out that Colum has like, tripled the guard and things would go very badly for her WHEN they caught her.  Then he is found by yet more drunken clansmen and they’re both brought back to the Hall, where Jamie has to play political game master and pledge fealty JUST ENOUGH to keep everyone happy, but not enough to declare himself a Mackenzie and thus a contender for the laird-ship and then get murdered for his pains. 

Then there’s a boar hunt where a guy dies after a disgusting closeup of his disemboweled bowels, and Claire and Dougal work together in a really interesting fashion.  And Dougal and Jamie engage in male bonding by beating the shit out of each other in a shinty game.  Then Dougal tells Claire that she’ll be going with him and Jamie out to collect rents from tenants who could not make it to the Gathering, because having a healer along would be a good idea, so Claire gets a beautiful fur trimmed coat and off they go into the next episode.

Elyse:  So basically my entire feelings about this episode were summarized when my husband walked into the room and said, “Guys with beards and kilts playing hockey. Do you need a minute alone?”

Um, yes.

I forgot about all the casual rapeness of the book. Clearly even as Dougal's guest, Claire is not safe. Maybe her watchers are as much for keeping her unmolested as they are because Dougal thinks she's a spy.

The Gathering scene. I'm really torn between wanting to wear those gorgeous dresses because OMG and bearing the knowledge that I can barely stand a bra.  Geillis' dress is The Shit.

And all the people drinking from that bowl? The whole castle is going to have the flu. And Mrs. Fitz snarking? OMG yes.

The two things that really stood out in this episode for me were Claire's realization that maybe she's not as safe as she thought she was and Sam Hueghan playing an amazing Jamie.

Claire thinks she has everything figured out for her escape and manages to get Jamie almost killed in the process. Her dismissive comments about the hunt, followed by the poor guy who got gored by the boar really showcased how much danger Claire is in day to day. Plus Geillis is starting shit and Claire realizes it.

And Jamie. Ye Gods, my lone ovary cannot handle him being sweet to Claire and speaking French. She cannae take any more, Captain!

I neeeeddd the Claire/Jamie romance to move faster, damnit! Sweaty field hockey can only sustain me so long!

RHG:  This is one of my favorite sections of the book- it’s world building, character building, and just the whole Gathering thing is just fascinating to me.  And Claire and her falling into the rhythms of the castle and how it all works is lovely.  I think this is what Galbaldon does best- plopping her characters and letting them run around with only loose plot.


Diana Gabaldon's role…ma'am please don’t quit your day job.  I would have been fine if she was just in the background, but she can’t act and it was distracting.

Laoghaire does have some self-awareness- “moving his heart forward” and sucking face are not the same.  I really think Nell Hudson is doing a great job- it’s not an easy role, and she is making her sympathetic- she’s 16!  She’s an infatuated 16!  I really like what she’s doing, and she’s cute as a bug.  (Spoilers, again: I think the attempt to get a love spell from Claire is an attempt to make her a bit more well-rounded and sympathetic- she now has legit reason to think that Claire is a witch, as opposed to being a purely murderous 16 year old girl.  I like it.  I’ll take it.  End spoilers)

I suppose our one episode streak of no attempted rape was too good to hold.  I am just so happy with Sam.  So so happy (one of my podcast cohosts saw him in a play in Edinburgh a few years ago and has been rubbing it in my face because she’s the WORST).  And his “They didna hurt you?” with the look of a man who’s about to go pound some heads is perfection.

“I may have wholloped him over the head with a chair or something.”  Oh, Claire, really.

Oh!  The use of 1940s music when Claire is all in her head.  I LOVED THAT.  Fascinating choice, and I think it totally worked.

Jamie and Claire have A++++ eye-fucking game.  Good job, you two.  Good job.


Carrie: I felt like crap on toast when I watched this and it was perfect because I didn’t have to be all, “OMG PLOT!”  I like that we are moving slow but that details seem significant for future plot.  I was very content to watch the costume porn and also ponder what the hell kind of game they are playing.  Hockey minus ice?  Rugby plus sticks?  I have to admit that I don’t care about plot – in fact, since the plot is harrowing, I’d just as soon not have any plot at all.  Let’s just hang out in the village being tense and dressy at parties and beating each other senseless during Death Croquet and exuding sexual tension.  That’s my idea of good TV, y’all.

It was fun to watch Claire be irritating and then to realize that she had a Master Plan.  It was a crappy plan, but still she set it up as well as she reasonably could, with her “I play with cute children so I can see everywhere!”  “I’m snobby and irritating and you don’t want to follow me around!”  “I’m generous with alcoholic beverages!” routines.  The parade of peril was a bit much but seeing her knock out Dougal “with a chair or something” was very satisfying.  I appreciated Elyse’s points about how this episode is a reality check for her – she keeps thinking she’s got this down but she’s so over her head.

Like RHG, everytime I see something knitted I’m all, “ELYSE!”  And those party dresses looked so uncomfortable and sooo pretty.  What the heck was Geillis wearing, a toga?  And have we had an episode yet in which Jamie keeps all his clothes on?



Strongest part of the episode was watching Jamie think his way out of political disaster and Claire figure out how to help the dying man.  I realize Dougal was a huge asshat one scene prior but watching them work together seamlessly as a team with no spoken communication was brilliant.  Both characters and actors deserve applause for getting through that scene.


Elyse: You guys, stop encouraging me! I'm going to be doing nothing but knitting Outlander cowls and mitts for the rest of the year. You get a cowl! And you get a cowl! Everyone gets a cowl!

Why does Claire get all the pretty fur-lined dresses BTW? That seems fancier than her standing…


Carrie:  Elyse, you could make millions here.  There’s a vast untapped Outlander cowl and mitts market just waiting for you.

The game is called shinty.  I looked it up because I’m that much of a nerd.  It’s related to hurling but the rules are slightly different.  You are allowed to tackle – no word on whether you are allowed to beat your opponent senseless with a stick.  The game is ancient and it’s still played today.  But official teams play in shorts and jerseys, not in kilts – behold how quickly I lose interest, because I am shallow.


RHG: I suspect that beating your opponent senseless with a stick was just an expected outcome, certainly before regulation play.  It’s kind of what I expect from Scots, after watching the independence debates go on and on and on for the past year.


Amanda:  With all this cowl generosity, I’m very glad I don’t live in Florida anymore. I also know Diana Gabaldon has a cameo in this episode, but I agree with RHG that maybe she should’ve left the acting to professionals.

Well, I was hoping someone else owned that kilt…

I found it interesting the choice of music they chose to play during the stable scene when Claire is looking for a horse. Glad to see the other ladies picked up on it, too!

Geillis is always so impeccably dressed and I know that, whenever she’s on screen, I can count on her to say something hilarious (i.e. about her husband’s farting). I wouldn’t mind if she had her own show: Geillis Says the Darndest Things.

Why can’t neck bows be in right now? And Mrs. Fitz can deliver a backhanded compliment like nobody’s business. And Colum cleans up rather nicely, I might add. I’m calling it right now. Best scene of the night: When Claire gives Angus the spiked alcohol.

I feel like there should be a sign, you know the ones they have for workplace accidents. Instead, it should say: We have gone ____ days without doing or saying anything related to rape.

I am quite saddened that it takes nearly a half hour before we see any of Jamie’s beautiful face, though the eye sex was definitely worth it. And a shirtless Jamie.

I can’t decide whether I like Dougal or not. Just like with Frank. We get to see softer sides and sweet moments with them, which make it really hard to cement one particular feeling about them. And as with Dougal, I can’t decide whether or not I liked this episode. I’ll admit I teared up, and Claire and Jamie’s scenes are always well worth the wait, but it was just okay for me. Then again, I’m also super impatient about things.


Add Your Comment →

  1. 1
    Andrea2 says:

    Am I the only one that was pulled out of the Outlander magic when Claire started paraphrasing the Wizard of Oz? 

    I had to look up the timing to see if Claire in her real (1940s) time could have possibly seen the movie . . . and it looked possible but unlikely.  The move was released in the US in 1939 but was not a huge success at the time.  Would it have been shown in the UK before Claire was sent to the front? Or was that that part about clicking heels and saying ‘there’s no place like home’ in the original Frank Baum books, in which case she could have read it.  And another question – was that reference in the original Outlander book (if so, I missed it) or was this an addition done for the TV series?

    As you can see, it really did pull me out of the episode, so I’ll have to go view the episode again and not get side tracked by the Wizard of Oz references.

  2. 2
    CarrieS says:

    The quote is form the original Baum book, also the movie opened in the UK in December 1939 (according to IMBD).  The books were very widely read and although the movie was not a huge box office hit it was nominated for an Oscar so it’s certainly possible Claire would have seen it.

  3. 3
    Andrea2 says:

    Carries – thanks for the clarification.  Was this part in the Outlander Book?

  4. 4
    CarrieS says:

    @Andrea2 – I haven’t read the book in so long I can’t remember!  Anyone else recall?

  5. 5
    redheadedgirl says:

    No, that whole scene was added in.

  6. 6
    ppyajunebug says:

    You guys, if they don’t put out the soundtrack for this IMMEDIATELY after the show finishes airing, I’m going to be PISSED AS HELL.  Bear is absolutely KILLING it.  I’m bummed we haven’t gotten blog entries for the last two episodes- I would love to hear the thought process and song choice behind Claire’s 1940s head music.  I’m sure it’s even more intricate and fitting than we know.


  7. 7
    Amanda says:

    @ppyajunebug: Seconding the lack of sexxing outrage.

  8. 8
    Lammie says:

    I don’t recall any Wizard of Oz mentions in the book, but Claire does often mention things that make no sense to 18th century people: telling Jamie he didn’t have to be John Wayne, making a comment in a later book about Rollo (a dog) trying to tell her something about young Ian along the lines of “little Timmy is in the well” ( a reference to the old Lassie TV show, for those too young to have seen it). 

    Spoiler comment.  Will add space because I don’t know how to hide it:
    The episode titles up to episode 8 are listed on IMDB, so all those waiting for Claire & Jamie sexy times have to wait only until episode 7. 🙂

  9. 9
    redheadedgirl says:

    I have it first hand from an Actual Scottish Person (shut up, I have more than one Scottish friend) (I have two!) that shinty really is nothing but beating the shit out of your opponent.

  10. 10
    KellyM says:

    Shinty is definitely still played. After the episode, Ronald D. Moore says hat they hired actual shinty players as extras for that scene.
    Agreed that DG should’ve just done a non speaking cameo like Ronald D.Moore did.
    Elyse – i volunteer as tribute to set up your Outlander Knittery Etsy shop.

  11. 11
    mochabean says:

    They weren’t in the book, but I’m getting a kick out of the wizard of Oz references—Geillis’ ruby slippers last week and Claire’s “click your heels together three times” this week.  There’s no place like home, depending on just where you decide home is, and Claire’s lack of a permanent home is a constant theme in the books, even in the most recent version.

  12. 12
    CC says:

    @ppyajunebug: I agree with the soundtrack idea! I can’t get the title song out of my head (in a good way) and now think there is a sad lack of bagpipes in today’s top 40.

  13. 13
    Michele says:

    “Oh!  The use of 1940s music when Claire is all in her head.  I LOVED THAT.  Fascinating choice, and I think it totally worked.”

    Co-signed! This seems to be a controversial choice, but I just loved the hell out of it. I’d rather more of this kind of subtle reminder that she is who she is than more voiceover.

  14. 14
    Elyse says:

    @KellyM I think I’d have to charge a lot for those cowls because I refuse to knit with cheap yarn. I’m a wool snob.

  15. 15
    Maureen says:

    I am really happy with the way the series is going. I loved Battlestar Galatica, so I should have had more faith-but I was so nervous about it. I love the casting, and Claire and Jamie have such a great chemistry. When she was untying his cravat (?)-holy moly-HOT! In fact this reminds me of classic movies-where there is such a build up to romance and love-I can’t remember the last time I saw something made recently that was so romantic.

    I also loved the 1940’s music that was playing. At first I was a bit disconcerted, but then I loved it. Makes sense that would be the soundtrack for Claire…

  16. 16
    PetiteJ says:

    Sorry to hijack the comments but if you’re looking for more clothes-porn, check out “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”  The first season is streaming on Netflix. It’s based on a series of books starring a lady detective in late-1920’s Melbourne. Amazing clothes. I lust hard after the wardrobe.

  17. 17
    DonnaMarie says:

    I need to rewatch this episode. I seem to have missed A LOT. Apparently watching with one eye swollen shut by shingles blisters and covered with an ice pack does inhibit your ability to retain what you’re watching.

    My impression after watching Dougal with his dying friend was “why wouldn’t anyone want to be led by this man?” I fell a little in love. Then I came out of my drug haze and remembered that he’d jumped on Claire the day before. Then I have to be all judgy by today’s standards as opposed to what everyone seemed to think was acceptable behavior in the way back. BTW, I haven’t read the books, does Dougal have a thing for Claire or was it just that she was there and had breasts?

    Elyse you could be a rich, rich woman. And anyone who’d want mittens and shawls and collars (oh my) would certainly pay the big bucks for the $20-$40/skein yarns. My fellow watchers have agreed that if Vogue pops out a pattern, they will pay me ENORMOUS money for Claire’s first episode coat. Although one of them wants it in black. BLACK!? I’ll be charging her double.

  18. 18
    Diana says:

    @ DonnaMarie: Dougal has a thing for Claire in the books. 

    Dougal comes onto to her pretty hardcore in a scene late in the 1st book, and tries to get her to abandon Jamie.  This is where Dougal makes a comment that he wanted to marry her himself, but his wife was still alive at the time.

  19. 19
    DonnaMarie says:

    Okay, shortest crush in history. Damn.

  20. 20
    Suz says:

    Tw: Rape

    There is so much I love about this show. I love the slow burn sexual tension between Claire and Jaime, the landscape porn, the clothes porn, and all of the little historical details.

    Unfortunately, the rape-as-plot-device that occurs in almost every episode is starting to get stale for me. Maybe I’m just an overoptimistic Pollyana, but I find it hard to believe that even in the 1740s, a man’s first instinct on seeing a woman walking down a hallway alone was to rape her. Like maybe they should chat her up first to make sure she’s not friends with/related to someone who might stab them?

    Or even if history really was that rapey, I wish the people making the show would find another way to distinguish the heroes from the villains.

    Other than that, though, I’m loving this show like crazy.

  21. 21
    kkw says:


    I have to admit that I don’t care about plot – in fact, since the plot is harrowing, I’d just as soon not have any plot at all.  Let’s just hang out in the village being tense and dressy at parties and beating each other senseless during Death Croquet and exuding sexual tension.  That’s my idea of good TV, y’all.

    Exactly.  I don’t know that I actually think it’s good, but I no longer care. I have entirely embraced the slow pacing, and am racing through my latest cardigan fiasco because I need more arm mitts.

  22. 22
    Jen says:

    Thing One and Thing Two—ha!  I’m loving the show and the recaps and comments here.  Pace is fine with me because I know where we’re going so it’s all a delicious tease on our way.  It’ll make the…ahem…climax much more satisfying.  Sigh.

    I’m a knitter and crocheter too and am also loving the knitty goodness.  This was back when knitting mattered dammit!

    Was trying to get a buddy and male co-worker to watch but made the mistake of talking about the show rapiness versus the book rapiness and let loose stuff I shouldn’t have.  Mouth insert foot.  Hoping more guys start enjoying the show too though.

    Redheadedgirl, what podcast?  I’d love to listen.  I’m currently following 4 Outlander podcasts so I may already be.  🙂

  23. 23
    Sheila says:

    Dougal’s hot!

  24. 24
    Sheila Sullivan says:

    Love this blog. Just found it! Thank u! For being sooo normal….

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