There’s rather more going on in this episode than might first appear – apart from the cameos by the show’s creative forces (Diana Gabaldon and Ron Moore) during the Gathering itself. The political situation at Castle Leoch has been slowly becoming clearer, and now we can see how Jamie fits into the picture – and how some of Claire’s (and our) preconceptions about how things work there were very wrong. The tension as Jamie stands before Colum is palpable, and there are strong performances from Sam Heughan, Gary Lewis and Graham McTavish as Colum’s brother Dougal.
In fact, in many ways it’s McTavish’s episode – Dougal seems to come to Claire’s rescue, but then takes things too far himself; he deals with Jamie’s unexpected presence at the Gathering; and then Dougal and Claire help a man pass peacefully, with a tacit understanding between them over what needs to be done. The thanks at the end of the episode is nicely directed, and given the next episode seems likely to put the two characters together for much of the time, I’m expecting some dramatic fireworks from McTavish and Caitriona Balfe.
Lotte Verbeek’s character Geillis is just starting to become a little irritating; there’s clearly something more to her than meets the eye from some of her remarks (and no doubt those familiar with the original books are reading more into these scenes than those coming to the story fresh) but if she knows something of Claire’s situation, let’s find out!
Verdict: Another solid episode that advances our knowledge of plot and characters. 8/10