Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Outlander. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
This week’s episode of Outlander, “The Devil’s Mark,’ is my favorite episode of the series so far. Yes, I loved “The Wedding” (and have re-watched more times than I’m prepared to admit), but episode 11 marks a true turning point in the series. I almost feel like I say that every episode is a turning point, but this weekend, a big shift in the dynamic happened: Claire makes THE choice!
Okay, let’s backtrack a little… As we saw in last week’s episode, Claire was tricked by Laoghaire into getting arrested for practicing witchcraft with Geillis Duncan. The episode opens with the women getting thrown into a dark thieves’ hole, waiting for their inevitable damning witch trial. Geillis’ hope of Dougal saving them is diminished when Claire explains that Colum has him banished from Castle Leoch and made Jamie go with him.
The trial begins in the morning, and it’s off to a very bad start until Ned Gowan arrives to defend both Claire and Geillis. Gowan’s clever about dismissing the claims of each witness, but the crowd is bloodthirsty. They want to see witches burned, and it doesn’t matter if they’re guilty or not. Still, Claire is grateful for Ned’s help, besides being so infuriated by how irrational the rest of the courtroom is.
The second day of the trial brings two key witnesses. First up is Laoghaire, who accuses Claire of creating a love potion, but then using it herself to steal Jamie away from Laoghaire, his intended. Claire admits to making the potion, but I don’t understand why she couldn’t just lie. With a court as informal and biased as this one, lying wouldn’t be a big deal, especially to get you out of getting burned at the stake. Even though Ned tries to dismiss Laoghaire by calling her a jealous, heartbroken girl, she twists that into her favor, riling up the crowd against Claire. The second witness is Father Bane, who performs a devious scene of manipulation, turning the people even more against Claire.
These two witnesses, plus Claire’s outbursts, ruin any chances Claire and Geillis ever really had about escaping this trial alive. Ned suggests that Claire accuses Geillis, who has been known for dabbling in the witchcraft, of bewitching her. Claire knows Geillis isn’t exactly the most innocent person, but she doesn’t want to be the reason her friend is burned at the stake.
The anger and emotions of the witch trial scenes dissipate as Claire and Geillis have a moment alone to discuss the situation. It’s when things get interesting because finally the pretense is dropped, and Geillis asks why Claire is here in Scotland. She seems upset to hear that Claire’s arrival in Scotland was by accident. We’ve had hints that Geillis may also be from the future, but as she storms back out to the courtroom, uttering that it’s time to go to “a fucking barbeque,” we know that she is indeed from the future. She also vaguely tells Claire that she does believe it’s possible to change the past and that’s she from 1968.
These hints aren’t immediately apparent to Claire though, until after the women are found guilty and Jamie bursts into the courtroom to save Claire. As valiant as his efforts are, it’s really Geillis who saves Claire’s life, by confessing to be a witch and controlling Claire to do her bidding. Geillis strips her clothes off, praising the devil and creating a distraction for Jamie to safely lead Claire out of town. Before they leave, Geillis points out a mark on her arm as the “Devil’s Mark.” In fact, it’s a scar from a small pox vaccination, otherwise proof that Geillis can also travel back in time.
Out of town and in the forest, Jamie—who didn’t miss Geillis’ mention of the Devil’s mark, a scar he’s noticed on Claire’s arm many times before—asks Claire if she’s a witch. He asks in the most delicate and sympathetic manner, which triggers Claire into telling him everything. Jamie is noticeably stunned by Claire’s story of time travel and the future, but miraculously, he believes it, even if he doesn’t quite understand.
They say the truth sets you free, but as they continue their journey, it still nags at Claire. She feels better that she finally told someone the truth, yet she still is having a hard time assimilating to 18th century Scotland. It isn’t until Jamie takes her back to the rocks that everything falls into place. She finally has a chance to make her choice. Does she choose the past, a future with Jamie, or her past, a future with Frank? Jamie makes his case, saying that she belongs in her time, where there isn’t so much danger. He leaves her to decide, saying he’ll wait at the camp to make sure that she makes it across safely.
Claire stares at the rock. Finally, she’s at the major crossroad where it is up to her—and her alone—to decide which path to follow. There are no accidents and dangerous situations forcing her hand. This one is all on her…. and she chooses Jamie.
Now that Claire has made her choice, what does this mean for Jamie and Claire? Exciting and dangerous times are ahead for the couple! However, first, we’ll be making a trip to Lallybroch! Who else is excited to see what is essentially a new chapter for them? What made this episode so entertaining is how it touched on all of the genres it covers, in particular the time travel element. It leaves us wanting to learn more on how it works and the next big question—something that Geillis mentions: Is it possible to change the past? Guess we’ll find out.
Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.