There’s rather more voiceover from Caitriona Balfe in this episode than last, although I appreciate that it would be difficult for the necessary information to be imparted in any other way given that there is no-one else with twentieth century knowledge for Claire to discuss such things as poison cures with. Some of the scenes in the castle, where Balfe and Sam Heughan’s acting more than sells the import of a moment, might have benefitted from a little less explanation of what we’ve just seen.
That minor quibble aside, this moves the plot forward quite a bit, even if for Claire it seems as if it’s one step back for every two forward. The gradual loosening of her captivity is demonstrated by the proximity – or lack of it – of her guards, and her relationship with Annette Badland’s Mrs Fitz is one of the real strengths of the series, both within the fiction and as a show. The chemistry between Balfe and Heughan is becoming ever more apparent, helped by a less than flattering scene for Tobias Menzies.
There’s a veritable feast of British acting talent on display, with guest spots this week from Tim McInnerny as a priest who will always be right in his own and God’s eyes, and John Sessions as a peppermint-guzzling law dispenser. Both pitch their performances at the right level to keep the series the right side of melodrama.
Verdict: Outlander continues to impress. 8/10