Outlander: The Devil’s Mark

Posted on April 18, 2015

Oulander-Season-1-Episode-11-The-Devil's-Mark-Television-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOLotte Verbeek and Caitriona Balfe in “Outlander” on Starz

Now we feel bad for yelling at Claire so much last week. Had we known all the stuff we yelled at her for would come back to bite her in the ass this week we’d have been a little more patient. Turns out? You actually can’t sell love potions or administer sleep potions or pull dead babies out of trees in 1743 without people forming, shall we say, opinions about you. It feels weird to say this, but like the beating Jamie gave Claire, we kind of needed to see this level of backlash to Claire’s behavior on a social level. Otherwise, the story wouldn’t feel like it was based in a recognizable version of the period. From our perch in 2015, she’s an amazing character and extremely likable and relatable in a lot of ways. But every time we try and imagine the kind of reaction she’d get from people born 300 years ago, we can’t help thinking she’d have to be considered shocking if not downright terrifying in her behavior at times – although not so much as Geillis, to be sure. We loved seeing Claire call her on her bullshit, especially the tendency to poison people and dance naked under the moonlight without being especially discreet about it. But as we saw with the testimony against her, fanciful as it sometimes got, it was clear that people have been noticing Claire more than she ever realized.

We’re not saying Claire needed to be punished for being bold and opinionated, or for meddling in local politics or family squabbles, but she did need, for story reasons, to be tested on these actions. There have to be consequences to being a bold, brave, loudly opinionated Englishwoman in Scotland in the 18th Century, otherwise, you might as well be watching an episode of Doctor Who (A show which we love, but it allows for a more fanciful take on historical settings than we’d like to see with this show). And again, as with the beating, she needed to know exactly the kind of world she was living in because it makes her choices going forward – most significantly, the one she makes at the end of the episode, all the more poignant and significant.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Shit went down this episode. So much so that it left our heads spinning. In fact, if we have a complaint it’s that the pacing was a bit off and certain aspects of the story probably weren’t given enough time to breath a little. The trial wrapped up rather abruptly and then we were suddenly off and running in an entirely different direction – literally. And it wasn’t exactly an insignificant direction. In fact, it was a bit of a narrative bombshell dropping as Claire did something we truly didn’t expect her to do at this point in the story: she told Jamie the truth – all of it.

It feels like something this important should have had a bit more time devoted to it, rather than tagging it on to the last 15 minutes of an equally as important witchcraft trial arc. We’re still reeling, not only from the implied fate of Geillis, but also from the reveal that she’s a fellow traveler from the future. What fascinates us most about the revelations and secrets told this episode was the idea that Geillis was actually trying to change history. We joked last week about how reckless Claire can be about the timeline, but Geillis was deliberately trying to change it somehow. She felt she was thrown back in time for a reason – to reverse the fortunes of the Jacobite cause – and she assumed Claire was there for some reason as well. She even implied that she thought Claire was there to stop her somehow, which explains why she wasn’t particularly forthcoming with her. This hints at enormous possibilities for the story going forward and we sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of Geillis Duncan. We’ll miss her terribly if she’s really gone from the story, but we’re holding out hope we’ll see her again since we never actually saw her death and she seemed convinced that Dougal would show up for her eventually. Even so, if this has to be her exit from the story, then it was a phenomenal one. The trial was horrifying and infuriating, but we got to see these two bold, intelligent, and even dangerous women bond in a way they probably never would have if they weren’t tossed into that pit together. It’s the great tragedy of the story so far that they couldn’t have come together honestly before it was too late. What allies they could have made.

In other news, we have to admit, we find Jamie’s reaction to Claire’s major revelation to be a bit too much of a fantasy for us. We can accept an 18th Century recent virgin with apparently excellent bean-flicking skills, but an 18th century man who accepts time travel so readily? “I trust your word, your heart. I trust there is a truth between us.” That is some seriously romantic dialogue, but we still can’t quite accept that he’d have absolutely no problem believing his wife is from 200 years in the future. This resolution came too quickly and a bit too easily; another reason to believe this part of the story needed time to breathe. In addition, Claire has a change of heart off-camera and (for once) un-narrated. We don’t know why she chose Jamie over Frank. Sure, we can assume it was because of the aforementioned bean-flicking skills, but it would be nice to have more of an idea of what she’s thinking. Perhaps more revelations are coming down the line.

One thing’s for sure: we can’t WAIT for the Very Special Episode of Outlander where Claire beats the living snot out of Laoghaire for 50 minutes or so. Maybe it could be a Christmas special or something.

Also: Ned Gowan is awesome.

 

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[Photo Credit: Starz/2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc]

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