Episode 105, “Rent,” Written by Toni Graphia, Directed by Brian Kelly
Recap: The episode begins with a shot of Claire (Caitriona Balfe) reciting a poem to an open landscape and Ned Gowan (Bill Paterson) joining in. Ned Gowan is the MacKenzie Clan’s lawyer. He is along on the rent trip to collect funds and keep a written account of it. In the midst of Claire and Ned’s conversation, we are introduced to Willie (Finn den Hertog) who is a member of the Clan, and it is his first time on the rent trip. Claire uses her herbal knowledge with Ned’s asthma.
While travelling on the road, we get a taste of Dougal (Graham McTavish) and friend’s singing abilities. (Not so bad, boys.)
Claire and Ned continue their conversation and Claire learns of why Ned came to the Highlands. He grew tired of the city and moved north to search for adventure and ended up the lawyer for the MacKenzie Clan starting with Colum’s father, Jacob.
In her narration, we are reminded that Claire is still trying to get back to the stones and the 20th century.
In a very telling scene, we see Claire sitting apart from the rest of the group at a stop to eat and sleep. She glances in the group’s direction, but since they are speaking Gaelic, she does not know what they say, but their tone is evident. There is some English spoken, and it is quite funny to see Dougal speak in a girly voice as he tells a riddle and makes rude gestures towards Willie. Angus (Stephen Walters) offers Claire a whole, cooked rabbit to eat, and it is pretty much taken as a way to intimidate her once again. Jamie (Sam Heughan) comes over to offer her some bread and some kindness. He says they don’t trust her, and while he does not think she is an English spy, he does believe she is not telling them everything, especially since she tried to run at The Gathering.
At the first stop on the rent trip, Claire experiences what the trip is all about. She stays behind Ned as the villagers come to pay the rent either in coin, other goods, or live animals. Dougal greets and meets with each as they pay. He invites them all to the local watering hole for a dram that night.
Claire walks away from Ned to explore the little village and hears women singing. She runs into Donalda (Valerie Edmond) who at first is a bit untrusting of Claire due to her English accent, but invites her to the waulking wool gathering with herself and the ladies. Introduced to the rest of the ladies, they are untrusting of her as well. However, Claire does join the walking of the wool, which includes soaking the wool with hot urine to set the dye. Tensions ease.
After walking the wool, she retreats with the ladies for alcoholic refreshment. There she learns of Donalda’s child’s need of a goat for milk that was given to Dougal for rent. Claire also uses the opportunity to ask about Craig na Dun. Soon enough, Angus finds her and drags her back to the group.
The next scene is pure Claire. Brazened by a bit of alcohol, her stubbornness and grit come forth as she tries to take the goat back to Donalda, but she runs up against Dougal. It is in this confrontation, that an Englishman (Tom Brittney) appears to ask if everything is alright. It is only after the conversation between Dougal, Angus, and this man that we learn that he is an English Dragoon. Dougal and the others had already left, so they do not what this man actually is. This does not bode well.
We see Dougal and the group in a small tavern that night. Dougal starts a speech in Gaelic and in the middle of it, he rips Jamie’s shirt off to show his back scars. As we know from previous episodes, Jamie is proud and never shows his back to anyone. Now Dougal is displaying his scars to everyone in attendance, and it has the effect of garnering more monetary donations to Dougal. Claire is unaware of what Dougal is saying but she is utterly shocked that he would use his nephew in this way to line his own pockets.
The next day, Claire confronts Ned about what Dougal is doing, but Ned does not say that she is correct, nor does he say what is really happening.
Fast forward many weeks, the group comes upon burning homes. This is the work of The Watch. The people were suspected to be helping the English. Jamie makes a quick exit since he is wanted and The Watch would surely turn him in for a monetary reward. Claire’s opinion of Dougal sinks further as he does not help the people, but just takes his part of the spoils.
The group eats the spoils (2 chickens), but Claire refuses to eat stolen food. Claire makes a thieves comment that makes Angus angry and he lashes out at her. Jamie defuses the situation and goes after Claire. He tells her that she should not judge what she sees because she does not understand what is going on or how things are done here.
At another small village, poorer than the others, we see some compassion in Dougal as he accepts what they can offer and gives food to those in need. One family’s rent was taken by the English as they raided their house. That night in the local tavern, Claire finally picks up a word mixed in with the Gaelic, “Stuart.” This is in reference to Charles Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie, the man the Scottish want back on the throne. She realizes that the money Dougal has been raising in the taverns is not for himself, but for the Jacobite cause. We then see a flashback to Claire in the 1940s with Frank (Tobias Menzie) and Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet) as the history is explained.
That night, Claire overhears an argument between Jamie and Dougal. Jamie has clearly had it with the use of his back to raise funds. Jamie takes his frustration out on a tree, when Claire interrupts him. There is some flirting going on as Claire tries to calm him.
The next day, the group comes across a disturbing site: two men on crucifixes with the letter T carved into their chests. It is the work of the English, and the “T” stands for traitor. They cut the men down and given them a proper Christian burial. The site of these men adds to that night’s speech by Dougal, as he garners probably more than usual in funds.
Claire apparently is shown some kindness as she is given a room at the tavern to sleep and a bed to sleep in. As she is falling asleep, she hears some footsteps outside her door. Convinced that someone is coming to do her harm, she rises and carries a candlestick over to open the door. As she opens it, she trips over Jamie lying at the foot of the door. He did this to protect her from the drunken men downstairs, but will not sleep in the room with Claire as to protect her reputation. This is another look at the developing relationship between them and how honorable Jamie is.
The following morning, Claire has breakfast with Ned as a group of men nearby speak in Gaelic as to what can only be interpreted as lewd comments. Surprisingly, the MacKenzie group rises up to defend Claire’s honor and has an all out brawl. It is only after that Murtagh tells Claire what they were doing. Only they are allowed to tease and taunt Claire.
Outside, after Claire tells Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) a joke, she learns that they are heading to Culloden Moor. She has another flashback to when Frank and her visited the Culloden memorial site and she learned what happened there.
The final scenes show that the group is becoming more trusting and kind towards Claire. Dougal lets her go wash by herself, but he follows her to have a discussion about who she is and what her intents are. Their discussion is interrupted by a group of English Dragoons led by the English man Claire and Dougal met in one of the villages. We learn the man is Jeremy Foster. He asks her if she is alright and the episode ends with him asking if she is here by her own choice. Claire does not respond and we are left hanging until the next episode.
Review: “Rent” is an entirely different episode from the previous ones. Claire leaves the security of Castle Leoch, the routine, her position in the Castle, and any friends she has made. Her voyage with Dougal and other members of MacKenzie Clan is uncertain and she shows it in her demeanor and actions. She basically leaves on an 18th century camping trip not knowing when and if she will be back. She also is travelling with only guys. Her security is questionable, and probably having Jamie Fraser along is her only comfort. She is still an English lass in a country not on good terms with her home country. She does make a friend in Ned Gowan, and Bill Paterson is given quite a lot of screen time to develop this character. However, he is still loyal to Dougal, and Claire does not get too friendly with him. He does become a sounding board for Claire’s suspicions, although he does not correct her.
Graham McTavish described the episode as a love letter to Scotland, and it is indeed the first episode set almost entirely in the Scottish landscape. The production certainly took advantage of the wide open space and showcases Scotland.
Jamie and Claire’s relationship develops further, and the obvious attraction to each other is evident on screen. Readers of the book will no doubt be delighted to see the scene with Jamie sleeping outside Claire’s room at the tavern. It is funny in the book and quite funny in its onscreen translation. It gives another inclination of Jamie’s protectiveness over Claire.
The mention of Claire’s feeling excluded when the guys speak Gaelic is a reaffirmation of why the series does not use subtitles for the Gaelic language. Quite a few fans would really like to know what is being said, but not knowing makes us experience it as Claire would.
Since it has been about eight months since I finished my reread of Outlander, I do not remember all the details of this part of the book. I do not remember a lot happening, so screenwriter Toni Graphia has put in some new events to make the episode more exciting. The major focus is still on Claire in this new environment, and the most important part of this portion of the book is still there: Dougal’s use of Jamie to further his Jacobite cause. The introduction of the Jacobite cause and the political environment of this time period are important to the story of both of the series and the future books.
Toni Graphia also uses the series’ first cliffhanger to end the episode. Book readers may know what happens next, but this series has not stayed exactly like the book, so even book readers may be in for a surprise in next week’s episode. This episode was quite intense compared with previous episodes, and I have a feeling the next episode will not relent.
Below are two new clips from this episode:
Source of clips: Starz