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Outlander Recap: ‘By the Pricking of My Thumbs’

Tara Ward recaps episode 10 of Outlander, in which there are bad omens aplenty, Colum is surrounded by fools and idiots, and Claire knows best. //

We begin with a bang, with world traveller Jamie going downtown to Chinatown. For the love of all things tartan, I may need to light a cigarette after that erm, opening, and we’re only two minutes into the episode. A different type of banging interrupts our heroes. It’s Murtagh at the door, jumping about like an excited hairy sparrow with news that the Duke of Sandringham has arrived. “He could lift the price on my head!” says Jamie. Enough with the head, Jamie, we’ve your name to clear.

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1945 Claire knows the Duke and Black Jack Randall were in cahoots. “A friend of Jack Randall’s can be no friend of yours” she warns Jamie. I’m surprised Claire can remember her own name right now, but kudos for staying on task, girlfriend. As a free man Jamie can return home to be Lord of Lallybroch, and “you can be my Lady,” he tells Claire. Right now Claire’s thinking: Big Mac, carry on as you were and I’ll be Priscilla Queen of the bloody Desert if you want me to.

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Claire has problems of her own to sort, including the small matter of an ill wish sent by Love Lorn Laoghaire. Claire takes the gentle approach: back off, schoolgirl, the Ginger is mine. Neither a bitch-slap into 1744 nor the reappearance of Claire’s Angry Chin deters the teenage temptress, who reckons Jamie “belongs to me, and one day it will be so”. OMINOUS FORESHADOWING.

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Claire’s a sucker for trouble and takes her fabulous fur coat to visit BFF Geillis, who’s busy summoning Mother Nature by writhing topless on the ground in a full moon frenzy. As you do. Later there’s friendly chitchat about how icy wind makes nipples harden like acorns (memo to self), and a shocking revelation that Geillis is knocked-up by that old corn-grinder Dougal McKenzie. To be fair, Dougal boasts a beard so fine it would prove hard for any thinking woman to resist.

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Claire’s distracted by the sound of a baby crying. Geillis tells her it’s nothing but a changeling, a sick child left to live with the fairies, and warns Claire that she must not go up the faerie hill to find the baby. Why, I must go up the hill and save the child, Claire decides. She discovers the wee bairn has died from exposure, and Jamie arrives through the mist to say she has no idea what she’s dealing with. Jokes on you, Jamie, your wife fell through time. Nonetheless, OMINOUS FORESHADOWING etc.

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Back at Leoch, there’s news that Dougal’s wife is dead. So soon? We hardly knew her. Dougal takes the news like a man, drinking himself into a sniveling mess and going on a violent rampage. Colum is sympathetic: “did you bring some potion to muzzle this idiot?” he asks Claire. MORE OMINOUS FORESHADOWING. Surely complementing Dougal’s magnificent facial hair would improve the situation, rather than rely on Claire’s mysterious potions?

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Geillis is upbeat; it seems Mother Nature heard her prayers and the path to Bearded Heaven is suddenly paved with heather and tussock. Naïve Claire asks whether Mr Geillis has an issue about that; not for long, Geillis replies. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, OMINOUS FORESHADOWING EVERYWHERE.

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It’s All You Can Eat Night in the castle. The Duke wears his best wig! There’s bagpipes! A man pretending to clap! And best of all, a peacock pie on a wheelbarrow!

Mr Geillis stuffs himself grand but, before asking for one more wafer, gives an impromptu Scottish reel climaxing in the dying swan. I love interpretive dance at a party. His foaming mouth is not yet cold before Geillis and Dougal exchange the Glad Eye across the room. Colum never lets a Glad Eye pass him by: he’s onto The Bearded One, and Claire’s onto Geillis, as her 20th century sense of smell tells her this death was not accidental. CLAIRE PRESENT AT AN UNEXPLAINED DEATH? Nothing to see here, people. Move along.

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The Duke of Sandringham agrees to clear Jamie’s name, but only if Jamie returns the favour by fighting a duel. It’s a civilized event until the McDonalds and Jamie exchange smutty insults. Then it’s on like Donkey Kong in a beautifully choreographed swordfight where Jamie single-handedly fends off 1300 McDonalds, while the Duke cowers behind the nearest tree.

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Colum has had a bad day. He sends Dougal away in exile as punishment for screwing the town temptress, and Jamie with him for the argy-bargy with the McDonalds. “They totes started it, Uncle!” Jamie splutters. Colum is just wants to seek solitude with his lambs wool coat. That coat never lets him down.

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As they bid farewell, Jamie warns Claire to stay away from Geillis. Why, I must go and see Geillis, decides Claire. There’s a knock at the door: it’s the Warden to arrest both women for witchcraft, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he steals Claire’s knitted cowl. Bastard! Claire spies Laoghaire, lurking nearby with a smug smile. Tits McGee, you have a lot to answer for.

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Oh, Claire. On one hand, you’re to be commended for your listening skills: retaining what Frank was prattling on about came in handy with the Duke of Sandringham, but could you not have listened to your 18th century husband as well? Oh, that’s right, you’re your own person. Well, tell that story walking to the Thieves Hole, would you? Never mind what that damp air will do to your hair…

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