Welcome back, ladies and gentleman (men?). Last week we left Claire in the tender care of Scottish Santa and his merry band of disoriented-by-female-agency helper elves. Will Jamie (not Jaime from “Game of Thrones” as I was spelling it last week…though let’s be honest ladies, we wouldn’t kick Nikolaj Coster-Waldau off the horse, if you know what I’m saying) and Claire continue their tentative friendship? Or will figuring out day-to-day life in Castle Leoch overwhelm our combat nurse? Let’s find out!
We begin exactly where we ended last week, with Claire entering an ancient stone castle on horseback. Only now all the hay and peasant structures have moved inside because TV shows have budgets dammit, so they’re getting as much use out of Leaning Shack #4 as they can. To differentiate from the outside, everything now also has a layer of mud on it. Spring cleaning has obviously not been invented yet, because grime is caked on everyone and everything. Honestly being a peasant would be more hygienic than being aristocracy if this is the gold standard of living.
Claire stands out like a sore thumb in her white dress as everyone else dismounts and goes about the process of unpacking the horses. She looks uncomfortable and mad at herself for being uncomfortable. I would like to take this moment to just appreciate Caitriona Balfe’s micro-expresssions.
One of the Scotsmen says something about a gathering later and I can only assume he means a gathering of Scottish Santas because Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ THEY. ARE. EVERYWHERE. Scottish Santa in the mud. Scottish Santa with his bud. Scottish Santa looking down from above. It’s an infestation!
Just as it occurs to me Claire is seriously outnumbered by bearded men in kilts, with nary another XX chromosome to be seen, 18th century Mrs. Graham appears. Her name is Mistress Fitzgibbons and thank God there’s only one of her because clearly I can’t keep my industrious middle-aged women right…apologies to the maligned Mrs. Baird of Episode One.
Mrs. Fitzgibbons tells the men they smell terrible, which must be TRULY awful since living in this castle would make anyone nose-blind to all but the most pungent of odors, before noticing they brought home a stray. With the resignation of any mother who has ever indulged a child saying “It followed me home, can I keep it please? Please??” she attempts to bundle Claire off into a Makeover Montage. But Claire is having none of it. She’ll worry about her immodest appearance later because right now it is time for flawless Bitch Face™. Jamie clearly needs his wounds disinfected before he rolls around in the bacterial heaven that is everything…just everything.
I cant tell if Mrs. Fitzgibbons is impressed with Claire’s gumption and medical knowledge or is secretly trying to guess what size stick they’ll need to burn her on a witch pyre.
So off we go inside. All that setup in Episode One pays off in spades as Claire is led through the castle. We’re treated to a flashback of her walking in the 1940s with Frank spliced in with her current predicament because remembering things from a week ago is strenuous on the audience.
My main takeaway here is medieval castles were dark and gloomy and depressing as hell. Maybe Scottish Santas are allergic to excessive sunlight? It discolors their magnificent ashen beards, which are obviously the source of their power.
After setting up the impromptu nursing station, Mrs. Fitzgibbons says we can just call her Mrs. Fitz which bless her because typing out her whole name was gonna give me carpal tunnel and/or continuous giggle fits because the idea of gibbons in Age of Enlightenment dress is hilarious and I am five years old.
Um, someone call Frank because THIS is how you do exposition. Jamie is shirtless and has enough scars on his back that he’s either been flogged or is secretly an alpha werewolf struggling to protect his pack and his secrets and…nope he was just flogged. By Black Jack Randall. What a small, plot convenient world. While Claire changes the dressing on Jamie’s bullet wound, he regales us with the story of how he was beaten for stopping Randall from raping Jamie’s sister Jenny. During this story, we learn several things.
• Jamie’s parents had a thing for alliteration.
• Randall definitely has an M.O. and it is that he is an asshole.
• Jamie is really bad at what constitutes as a ‘seduction’ story.
• Alternatively, Jamie is really GOOD at what constitutes a ‘seduction’ story because now we all know he is anti-rape which is a fine quality in any potential mate.
• Jamie has a fantastic immune system to have not died from his wounds.
• 18th century women’s clothing can magically restitch after being torn down the front.
• Jack Randall is not worthy of his line, “That’s interesting.” You are no Jack Sparrow. In fact, you are a disgrace to the name Captain Jack. Good day to you, sir. I said good day!
There is then talk of levies and history and four years ago the British government sent out parties to collect food and other taxes and oh noooooooo! Guys Jamie has been infected. He is vomiting exposition. Is no one safe from this scourge!?