Outlander, Season 1, Episode 11: “The Devil’s Mark”
The official synopsis, courtesy of Starz:
Claire and Geillis are on trial for witchcraft. Jamie manages to rescue Claire, but not before she discovers a secret about Geillis’s past.
Boom! Claire and Geillis are dumped in the thieves’ hole — a dirty, smelly, rat-infested hole under the ground with a locked iron grate across the opening. The women are angry at each other and trade accusations.
Geillis believes Claire is to blame:
“I kept your secrets, Claire. You should have kept mine.”
Claire points out that Geillis isn’t exactly spotless — she did, after all, murder her husband. Geillis doesn’t bother denying it, and in fact, owns up to dosing Arthur with white arsenic for a while now, building up to the final dose of cyanide. She’s confident that they won’t remain in the hole long — Dougal will come and take them both away from there.
Claire is horrified, and tells Geillis the cold, hard facts: Dougal is gone. Colum has sent him away, and Jamie too.
“No one is coming, Geillis.”
They spend a wretched night, but things don’t look better in the morning. In fact, things only get worse, as they’re hauled out of the thieves’ hole, dragged through the streets of the village with their hands bound by leather thongs, and brought into the church for a trial. As they’re led through the village, they pass the stakes erected in the town square, with branches being piled around them. It’s always handy to have a pyre ready when you’re trying witches.
The courtroom/church is packed with angry townspeople who seem to find a lot of satisfaction in shouting angrily at the two women. There are no familiar faces in the crowd; Claire sees no one there from Castle Leoch. As the judges (priests, apparently, or some sort of religious figures, in any case) start the trial, there’s an interruption as Ned Gowan barges in. Ned points out that witch trials are no longer the law of the land in Scotland, but the judges are not impressed, as this is a religious matter. Ned insists on acting as defense lawyer for both women, and the trial commences.
First up is Geillis’s serving girl, who tells tales of women from the village coming to Geillis for charms and amulets, and reports seeing Claire in league with Geillis, with the two women chanting “ominous incantations” Ned discredits her testimony pretty easily, pointing out how she’s a disgruntled servant who’d been seeking other jobs and is now getting back at Geillis for not paying her more.
Next is a young, grieving woman — the mother of the dead child Claire found on the fairy hill. The woman describes seeing Claire pick up the child and speak words over it, and the next morning it was dead. She claims that she’d left the ailing child for the fairies to take back, so they’d return her own child to her, but with Claire’s witchery, the fairies didn’t bring back her own child. Ned offers sympathy to the woman, but gets her to admit that the child was too ill to survive and that Claire did nothing.
Still, the crowd continues to shout “Witch!” at Claire and Geillis, and Claire shouts back that she’s a healer. The courtroom is outraged that Claire is speaking out, and Ned cautions Claire to stay quiet and let him do his job.
Another witness comes forth — a man who swears he saw Geillis call down lightning as she laughed in a storm, then fly into the sky like a bat. The crowd eats it up, of course… and the court is adjourned for the day. Back to the hole go Geillis and Claire, along with a flask from Ned to help them keep warm.
Geillis’s optimism from the previous day is gone:
“You still don’t understand, do you? They mean to kill us.”
Claire questions Geillis. Why has she done the things she’s done? Was it Dougal that she wanted? A better position? Money? Geillis scoffs — as Arthur’s wife, she had a respected position and plenty of money. In fact, she managed to divert over a thousand pounds from Arthur… for Scotland. Geillis is a Jacobite, dreaming of a Stuart king back on the throne.
“Come the Rising, I shall know I helped.”
She has no regrets, she declares. Claire responds by quipping, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Geillis seems amused as she comments, “Nicely put.” Ah, a hint!
As the women bond over their miserable situation, Geillis asks Claire if she truly loves Jamie. It’s his name she cries out in her sleep. The two women huddle together to keep warm. As they’re pulled from the hole the next morning, it’s clear that they’ve reconnected. They describe themselves as a flock of two, and promise to protect one another. It’s a moment of shared affection and peace, before they head back into the storm.
Things at the trial take a dismal turn. Laoghaire strolls in as the next witness. She tells the court that she came to Claire for a love potion to open Jamie’s heart, and declares that she was the one that Jamie was meant to marry. But Claire took the potion herself, hexed Jamie, and stole him away from her. Ned tries to dismiss Laoghaire as just a heart-broken girl, but the crowd is on her side and Laoghaire seems gleeful to be getting revenge on Claire.
From bad to worse — next is Father Bain… who, surprisingly, seems almost to be saying that Claire isn’t a witch. He tells the story of Claire saving the boy that he was trying to exorcise, and exclaims that he has failed God and the congregation, and therefore he’s giving up his post. It’s all a sinister, clever ruse. As Father Bain announces his departure, the crowd yells for him to stay, and shout that this is yet further proof that Claire is a powerful witch who has even managed to enchant and hex such a godly man. The crowd is incensed, the judges seem ready to pronounce a decision, and Ned calls for a recess.
He takes Claire and Geillis into a back room and tells them the harsh truth. The climate has turned ugly, and the only chance for either to survive is if one turns against the other. He bluntly tells Geillis that she’s beyond saving, given her history and reputation in the town, and advises Claire to denounce Geillis and accuse her of tricking Claire with her evil ways. Otherwise, they’ll both be burned. Ned leaves to give the women a moment to consider.
Geillis, full of emotion, questions Claire. Why is she here? What is the real reason? She knows Claire is hiding something, and now she must tell the truth! Claire tells Geillis that she is there by accident, and her answer deflates Geillis. So she doesn’t want to change anything? Is it really all for nothing? She seems to accept Ned’s recommendation that Claire save herself by giving up Geillis.
As they return to the courtroom, Ned announces that Claire has something to say. But after a moment’s pause, Claire states that Ned is mistaken – she has nothing to say. The women are found guilty and condemned to death. As the crowd swarms around them, Geillis turns to Claire and tells her, “I think it is possible. 1968.” What does this mean?
The crowd goes nuts. Claire yells that they’re all murderers, and the judges decide to give Claire one last lesson on her way to the stake, ordering her to be “stripped and skelped”. Her dress is torn down the back, and she’s held still as another man begins to whip her. Claire cries out in pain — but then the door bursts open, and finally, Jamie is there! He storms in, defies the crowd with sword and pistol, and stands over Claire to protect her.
He’ll be attacked in a second himself, but then Geillis offers the ultimate distraction: She yells out that Claire is not a witch, but she is — and pulls her gown from her shoulders to display what she calls a devil’s mark, but which Claire recognizes as a smallpox vaccination scar.
Geillis continues to shout about serving the devil as she strips off her clothes and shows her pregnant belly. She’s bearing Satan’s child! As the mob rushes her, Geillis mouths the word “Run!” to Claire and Jamie, then continues to scream as she is lifted and carried out, providing enough cover for Claire and Jamie to make an escape. There’s nothing they can do to help Geillis. They escape on horseback, riding fast and far from the awful village.
Finally, Jamie stops in a glade to tend Claire’s wounds. It’s a first — Claire is injured, and Jamie’s the one providing care. At last, they talk. Jamie asks Claire for honesty. He knows that there are things that she maybe can’t tell him, but whatever she does tell him, let it be the truth. Are you a witch, he asks. He’s seen the same mark on Claire that Geillis has.
No, she’s not a witch, Claire tells him… and tells him the truth. She was born on October 20 in 1918. She’s from the future. Jamie confesses that he doesn’t really understand, but he does believe her. He asks to know more, and she tells him everything — about the war, about Frank, and about the stones at Craigh na Dun, as well as about the Jacobite cause and the disaster of Culloden.
Jamie realizes to his horror that when she ran away and ended up captured at Ft. William, she’d only been trying to get home, to her own time and to Frank. He feels awful that he beat her for this, now that he knows why she did what she did. He tells Claire how truly sorry he is, and vows that no one will harm Claire again.
They ride hard for several more days, leaving Leoch and the trial far behind. Jamie describes Lallybroch and what their life could be like there. They camp at night, and Jamie holds Claire by the fire, tracing her face with his fingers, gazing at her as he touches her and gives her pleasure. The next morning, he asks Claire if she’s ready to go home… and walks her up a hill so that she can see where he’s taken them. They’re back at Craigh na Dun.
“It’s what you wanted. What you’ve always wanted. To go home.”
Jamie takes Claire by the hands and leads her to the stones. As she’s about to touch the main stone, he pulls her back for one last embrace. He wasn’t ready, but now he knows it’s time for them to part.
“There nothing for you on this side. Nothing, except violence and death. Good-bye, Sassenach.”
And he walks away. Heartbreak!
Claire sits by the stones, looking at her hands with her two wedding rings, touching each in turn, deep in thought. She looks back toward Jamie, and looks toward the stones. We see her walking toward the stones, and then all goes black.
Next, we see Jamie sleeping by his fire. And then there’s Claire, saying “On your feet, soldier.” She’s made her decision — she’s staying with Jamie. She asks him to take her home to Lallybroch. In tears, Jamie takes Claire in his arms for a kiss and a loving embrace.
Holy moly, what an emotional roller-coaster of an episode!
That scene by the fire! It’s sexy and tender at the same time, and while all the clothes stay on, it’s a fairly explicit depiction of sexual exploration and gratification.
Claire and Geillis are dirty and bedraggled most of the episode, wearing the same clothes they had on previously, so I wouldn’t say this was an episode for high fashion!
Major facts that the episode gets on the table:
- Geillis is from the future! There have been hints, but now Claire knows for sure. Apparently, Geillis is from 1968, although with her on the way to being burned as a witch, Claire has no opportunity to find out more.
- Laoghaire shows her true colors, willing to bring about Claire’s death if it means she gets a shot at Jamie.
- And the biggest moment of all: Claire has the opportunity to finally go home to Frank… but chooses Jamie instead.
Geillis, after Ned asks what she’s going to do:
“It looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.”
Laoghaire to Claire:
“I shall dance upon your ashes.”
Jamie, in heroic rescue mode:
“I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman. And if you tell me that you consider your authority to be greater than that of the Almighty, then I must inform you that I am not of that opinion myself.”
It’s all there, isn’t it? Geillis did murder her husband, but she considers herself justified by her devotion to Scotland and the Jacobite cause. Her morals are definitely shady, but she comes through for Claire in the end, sacrificing herself so that Claire can live.
Laoghaire is a vengeful little trollop. Ugh.
Jamie is brave and true, and listens to Claire with an open-heart. He believes her because he loves her, and trusts her to tell him the truth, whether or not it makes sense to him.
LOVE! Claire finally has a real decision to make, the ability to choose her future, and she chooses Jamie. It’s a wonderful moment, and the confession scene between Claire and Jamie really gives us a chance to see how far they’ve come and how much trust and devotion exists between the two of them.
Geillis really shines in this episode, thanks to the amazing work of Lotte Verbeek. She does an extraordinary job of portraying Geillis as a powerful, driven, enigmatic woman, who may be delusional in her beliefs and aspirations, but ultimately is willing to give her own life to save her friend.