Outlander: Review: Series 1 Episode 10: By the Pricking of my Thumbs

Jamie is forced to deal with the consequences of others’ actions, and Claire realises how dangerous some of the women around her can be…

It feels as if a lot more plot than usual is contained within this hour episode, even if plenty of time is devoted to atmospheric scenes (the initial sex between Jamie and Claire, and then Geillis’s later frolics in the glade). Simon Callow adds some welcome shading to the Duke of Sandringham, not allowing him to be a stereotypical villain in the way that Black Jack Randall rather has; his scenes with both Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have a crackling energy.

There’s also a fantastic performance by Gary Lewis as the MacKenzie, delivering what is pretty much a monologue to his brother and then to Jamie – I’ve sometimes wondered how, in such a harsh environment, a man with his physical problems has been able to maintain control, but the force of personality on show makes that abundantly clear. Graham McTavish likewise is terrific – one has to wonder how much Dougal knew about Geillis’s plans at the stage when he appears grief-stricken following the death of his wife, but it’s clear that he’s very complicit in the death of Geillis’s husband (something that was so clearly telegraphed, Duncan might as well have walked round with a sign round his neck saying “Walking Dead”).

And that’s not to suggest that the performances from Nell Hudson as the spurned Laoghaire and Lotte Verbeek as Geillis are any the less strong: the latter’s confidence in Dougal’s ability to protect her is about to be sorely shattered, I suspect…

Verdict: An episode that moves things forward with vigour. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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