Outlander 101 Sassenach Recap
People disappear all the time.
Most are found.
A woman in a blue coat looks longingly at a blue vase in a shop window. It is a Tuesday afternoon, six months after the end of WWII.
Next we see the same woman, a combat nurse, tending to a grievously injured man in a field hospital in France. She is covered with blood, not her own, when a colleague tells her, Claire, the war is finally over. Exultation takes over with the realisation the war had ended – V-E Day (8 May 1945) has come.
Returning to the vase, she announces that despite all that is to come she would still make the same choice.
Beautiful scenic credits, ending with title card shot of small blue flower, perhaps forget-me-nots.
Then we see Claire and a man driving through countryside, with her saying she and her husband, Frank, have come to Scotland for a second honeymoon to get to know each other again after enduring five years of separation due to the rigours of war.
They arrive in the 1945 version of Inverness, and note blood splashed around doorways. Mrs. Baird the host of the boardinghouse tells us it is the blood of a black cockerel in honour of Saint Odhran. Claire explains that her husband, Mr Randall, Frank, is about to take up a post at Oxford, as a history professor. It’s almost Samhain – Halloween – and Mrs Baird says there’ll be ghosts about.
Claire and Frank are shown to their room by Mrs Baird, it is a pleasant old-fashioned room with flowered wallpaper. Frank bounces on the bed, they both note the squeaks of the springs. Frank says Mrs Baird will be kept in touch with with their attempts to start a family, then he reaches for a book. Claire does not delay, she climbs onto the bed telling Frank he is a lazybones and he’ll never manage the next branch on his family tree if he doesn’t show more industry than that. Teasingly they both bounce, standing, on the bed. Downstairs Mrs Baird smiles at all the squeaks. Claire tells Frank she missed his laugh and he tells her he used to sketch the lines from her palm, even in the margins of official documents. They finally kiss, Frank starts to interrupt Claire but she pulls him down onto the bed. Mrs Baird hears more squeaks, slower and more rhythmic this time, she smiles.
We again see Frank and Claire driving through the Scottish Highlands, both appear happy. Claire tells us via Voice Over (VO) that Frank also has come to research his family genealogy.
We have a flashback showing us part of Claire’s upbringing on archaeological sites and Claire tells us she has developed a keen interest in plants and herbs for medicinal use. They visit the ruin of Castle Leoch the ancestral home of the MacKenzie Clan. Claire tells us Frank was involved in running intelligence operations. They enter the castle and Frank tells us the castle was within the operational sphere of his ancestor “It is just possible that he walked these very halls.” With a flashlight they walk the stone corridors, pushing open a door and entering a cavern like room. Claire seems to have a chill run down her back. Claire hops up on a table, looking beckoningly to Frank, who tells her she’ll get dirty. She pulls up her skirt, partly baring her legs and tells him teasingly that he can give her a bath. He comes to her and she spreads her legs, he stands between them and she flicks off his hat. He says she has left her undergarments at home, as he kneels between her legs. Claire tilts her head and body backwards sighing with pleasure as he attends to her wants.
Next a large two storey stone building appears, Frank’s car is parked outside. Inside we see Frank and another man, a Reverend, searching through papers, with Frank declaring he has found records naming his direct ancestor, Jonathon Wolverton Randall, known as Black Jack Randall, captain of His Majesty’s dragoons. Claire tells us Franks sleuthing over the past week has paid off. Frank mentions that the English were not popular in the Highlands in the 18th century. Claire seats she thinks they, the English, are still unpopular as she heard a barman refer to them as sassenach’s the previous night. The Reverend explains they shouldn’t be offended, the terms only refers to Englishman or Outlander. The reverends housekeeper brings tea to The Reverend and Frank but invites Claire into the kitchen for a cup. They regale in the pleasures of drinking good tea since the deprivations of the war are behind them. Mrs Graham laments that she had been unable to read the tea leaves properly, being taught by her grandmother and her grandmother before her. Mrs Graham encourages Claire to drink up so she can check her cup. Claire’s tea leaf reading proves a little contradictory, so Mrs Graham moves on to read Claire’s hand. Her lifeline is interrupted, and her marriage line divided indicating two marriages but unusually forked. At this point they are interrupted by Frank and the Reverend coming into the kitchen talking about Frank’s ancestors possible relationship with the Duke of Sandringham. Claire chooses this time to leave, saying she needs to have a bath. A storm is brewing and Claire asks Frank to try and come back before it breaks.
Claire walks back to Mrs Baird’s with a sense of foreboding. Inside we see Claire tugging at her knotted hair with a brush. Outside, in the dark and rain, Frank approaches and we see a silhouetted figure in Highland dress looking up towards a lit window. Inside a mirror reflects Claire. Frank challenges the figure which turns away and then seems to disappear. At the same time lightning strikes, thunder is heard and the power goes out. Frank enters their room looking pensive, Claire, dressed in pale flowing night attire, says Frank looks like he’s seen a ghost. Frank thinks that he may have, as the figure passed by very close to him without feeling any movement and then disappeared. Frank said he felt a chill down his spine. Now Frank gets cagey, asking Claire if she treated any Scots during the war, implying she may have had a relationship with another during the war, someone who wants to reconnect with her. Claire becomes upset at the accusation, and Frank says nothing she ever does could stop him loving her and asks her forgiveness. They fall into each other’s arms and begin undressing, making love to find each other again through sex, as they always did. Later Frank says they need to set an alarm, so they can get up early to see the “Druid witches” at Craigh na Dun, a nearby circle of standing stones.
In the dark early morning hours we see Claire and Frank have come to the stones. They crouch behind rocks looking at a group of ladies clad in flowing shifts, carrying lit torches and dancing around the stones chanting as the sun rises. Mrs Graham, the Reverend’s housekeeper, seems to be the leader of the group, which disperses when the sun has risen through the stones. Claire and Frank start walking through the stones. Claire spots a group of small blue flowers, but they have to hide when one of the Druid ladies comes back to retrieve an object.
Back in Inverness we see Claire studying a book looking for the blue flower. Frank suggests she return to the stones to get it while he resumes his genealogical investigations with the Reverend. Claire, being wee bit bored with Frank’s dusty old relatives, plans to return to the stones to get the flower. They kiss goodbye, declaring their love for each other. Claire looks at Frank wistfully as he leaves the room. Woe betide his leaving Claire to her own devices!
Next we see Claire getting out of the car and walking up the hill at Craigh na Dun. She looks around and goes to the small blue flowers, then a strange noise, which seems to emanate from the large stone, is heard. Claire stands and walks to the stone, placing her hand out, instantly fade to black. Then we hear VO from Claire explaining how she was once involved in a car crash where the vehicle overturned, this being as close as she can come to describing the feeling of what has just happened. Next we see her on the ground, looking confused. Then she rises looking about and noting things look different.
Walking about trying to get her bearings she hears gunfire and sees uniformed men running through the forest. She clings to the hope that she has stumbled upon a historical movie being made. Nothing is making sense as she stumbles and tumbles down a slope, in the process losing her wristwatch and belt. Now dirty and disoriented she runs, fearing she is being followed until she comes upon a Redcoat clad man, a doppelgänger for Frank, who introduces himself as Jonathan Randall Esq. Claire is unsettled and confused. While the man may look like Frank the set of his face is very different, this man is trouble, and he begins to show us his true character immediately when he attacks Claire. She turns and runs and Randall catches up with her, threatening her with his sword.
She is defiant saying her husband will come looking for her in a few minutes. When asked about her husband’s name she says it is Frank Beauchamp (having the presence of mind not to say Randall) and calls Captain Randall a bastard. Randall says the speech of a lady the language of a whore, he chooses the whore. As Randall starts to tear at her clothes a man in Highland dress arrives knocking out Randall and calling to Claire “Druid”, then taking her away, knocking her out to prevent her crying out and attracting the attention of the British. She awakes upon a horse with the man. We see them ride towards a stone cottage. Upon entering we see men speaking a strange language. Their leader asks her name she tells him Claire Beauchamp. The man who found her says there was some discussion about whether she was a whore, Claire emphatically states she is not. Everyone is a bit put out that she appears to be wearing her underwear. What counts as a suitable dress in the 20th Century, does not it seems, pass muster in the 18th Century, 1743 in fact, where Claire has mysteriously found herself.
The man Dougal says they must ride tonight but they are concerned about one of their party, a young man, Jamie, who has a dislocated shoulder. Claire steps in just in time using her nursing skills to prevent them breaking a bone in the young mans arm. He is stoic as she manipulates his shoulder back into place, giving instant relief. She binds his arm to his body giving instructions to rest it for a few days. They leave the cottage. It is dark and raining, as Claire looks down the hill for Inverness. The young man says it is down there but no lights are present, reinforcing that Claire in no longer in the 20th century.
She rides along with Jamie, in the cold and dark. He warms her by pulling his plaid over them both, but not without help from Claire, hindered as he is by his injured shoulder. Along the way Claire warns them about a place where Frank had mentioned the English often ambushed the Scots. Dougal is wary of how she comes to know such things, but then they are attacked. Jamie tosses Claire off his horse to keep her safe. Claire takes the chance to flee. She runs through forest until she happens upon a stream. Making her way along the stream until Jamie intercepts her insisting she go with him. She fights against him and he threatens to put her over his shoulder.
Reluctantly she goes with him joining the others who make cheeky comments. Jamie offers her a drink of whisky to stave off hunger and cold. They proceed along their way, night falls and we see Jamie topple from his horse. He has a gunshot wound to the shoulder and has been bleeding. Claire treats him, giving orders to the other Highlanders who ignore her requests. She swears and curses as she bandages his wound with fabric torn from her own dress, entreating him to take better care of himself. She continues to treat him, swearing again in frustration. Claire insists he needs rest, but Dougal insists they must move on. The young man tells her that Randall, the Redcoat officer will not give up, he will have sent patrols to find them. He will not allow Claire to be taken by BJR. If necessary she must leave him and go with the others.
We get a number of firsts here, their hands gripped together as Claire helps him to his feet, the first time he calls her “sassenach”, and the first time she says “soldier” to him – “on your horse soldier”.
Daylight has come as the group wends their way through the forest and onward to Castle Leoch. We see the castle, a hive of activity, very different from the place where Claire had come with Frank two days before…
BIG POSSIBLE SPOILER READ ON AT YOUR PERIL IT MAY CAUSE YOU YEARS OF FRUSTRATION
Diana was asked if the forget-me-knots have special significance.
“Is there a reason you selected the Forget-Me-Not to be the flower that draws Claire to the stones? What was the significance of that particular flower. The theory was that it had something to do with ‘the Ghost’ and somehow having something to do with the flower being placed there by Jamie himself and it drawing Claire to that spot. Not sure if this question has been asked before but I am curious.”
Yes, but a) I didn’t know what it was when I used it <g>, and b) I can’t tell you what it is yet.