This weekend brought us episode four of Outlander, “The Gathering”. With a title taken from the ninth chapter of the novel we’re moving along through the story with keen observance and, in this episode, with a dabbling of humor. As the men of Clan MacKenzie gather to pledge their oaths to their laird, Colum, Claire hopes to take advantage of the gathering’s opulent festivities with a deft escape from Castle Leoch whilst the clan is distracted. With painstaking dedication she settles her plan, formulating the best routes around Colum’s sentinels and deciding which way to best distract her personal shadows, Rupert and Angus. But when new circumstances waylay her, she may be forced to devise a new strategy – with unforeseeable dangers in her path. Meanwhile, Jamie struggles with his devotion to his own clan in the event of the MacKenzie gathering, and his only options - to pledge his oath to Colum or retain his fidelity to his clan - could cost him dearly.
As Castle Leoch divulges in the utmost resplendence for “The Gathering”, we viewers gain an understanding of what such a lavish affair for a Scottish clan would have looked like. (And no Outlander celebration would be complete without a cameo from Diana Gabaldon herself, who, as it happens, wears 18th century Scottish chic quite well. I loved seeing the creator within the world she created. Did you catch her brief appearance?) The show continues its deep journey into the richness of the history, and here special attention is given to the importance of a clansman’s oath to his laird. The ceremony calls on the Scots’ dedication to their tradition and the formality – as well as the dire seriousness – with which they handled such matters. Tension comes in the shape of Jamie’s dilemma, which illustrates just both how fierce the lairds were in their wishes and how fierce the clansmen were in their defense of their clans. This bit of history sets the stage for what Claire considers a perfect distraction on the night of her escape, which makes it as much an intriguing backstory as it is an integral part of the plot.
I loved the way this episode focused so dearly on not only the relationships of the historical figures – clansmen and their laird – but also on the relationships between the Outlander characters. From Dougal’s relationship with Colum to Jamie’s connection with the clan as a whole, many of the complexities are set out and examined, bringing us closer to the characters as they continue to leap from the pages. Additionally, we see a bit more of the dynamic between Claire and Dougal here as well; from the danger he may pose to her into the ways she’s able to surprise him. There are plenty of opportunities in “The Gathering” to observe and absorb what it meant to be a in the world of Scotland’s 18th century as well as what it means to be in the world of the Outlander novels.
You can catch this and other past episodes of Outlander OnDemand or on the Starz Play app, as ever. Find more info about this episode and go behind the scenes at Starz.com, plus catch sneak peeks from next week's new episode, "Rent".
Photos: © Starz