The long-awaited return of Outlander on Starz was well-rewarded with “The Reckoning”. Images of a beautiful Scottish waterfall appear at the beginning of Outlander Episode 109, showing water rushing over rocks and waves colliding into one another. This imagery foreshadows the conflicts in the episode that will occur between multiple factions over many situations. Although these conflicts aren’t all directly connected, they all affect other situations in the episode. As Jamie’s voiceover ponders the importance of choices that people make in their lives, he skips stones in a slower-moving section of the stream. The ripples from a stones’ landing signifies the impact that each of our choices have on life and those around us. Jamie cites that knowing his actions as a man will not only affect him, but also those around him, and Claire in particular, was when he became a man.
Jamie finally meets with Horrocks, a British Army deserter that has knowledge of who shot a sergeant at Fort William, for which Jamie has been framed. After being given the gold demanded for this information, Horrocks reveals that Black Jack Randall was the murderer. The MacKenzies dispute that even Randall, as vile as he is, wouldn’t shoot one of his own men. Jamie seems to accept this information, although he is disappointed in the loss of hope at being able to clear his name and the price on his head. At this point, a member of the MacKenzie party comes running up, frantically saying that Claire has been taken by Redcoats and that she was fighting like crazy to get away. Jamie’s expression changes, revealing that he cares much more for Claire’s safety than his own, and instantly chooses to leads the charge to rescue her from Fort William.
Murtagh and Jamie set upon Fort William to retrieve Claire, and force a guarding soldier to tell them where she is being held. After killing him to ensure his silence, Jamie climbs to the top of the castle’s tower, silencing another soldier and taking his pistol. He tests the security of a rope and repels down the wall and swings into the room where Black Jack Randall is holding Claire hostage, with her dress torn wide open and about to be raped. Jamie shows remarkable restraint in choosing to not charge Randall, because Claire’s safety is paramount. Randall laughs when he sees Jamie, asking how his handiwork is doing (meaning the floggings he had inflicted upon Jamie months before) and inviting him to watch the evening’s entertainment, as he attacks Claire. She intermittently tries to fight back and protest, only to be silenced by force by Randall.Randall forces Jamie to surrender the pistol, then takes it and fires it at Jamie, only to find the pistol empty. Jamie seizes this opportunity to rush Randall, render him unconscious and hastily unbind Claire. He then gently covers her with a cloak before leading her to escape down the stairwell. Jamie’s voiceover mentions that he often wondered later why he didn’t kill Randall at that point, which foreshadows impending consequences from not doing away with him. After beating back soldiers on the stairs, Jamie and Claire encounter a sizable explosion, set by the other MacKenzie men, which successfully subdued the remaining soldiers pursuing the couple. At this point, Jamie and Claire look over the edge of the castle wall, knowing that they must jump into the water to survive. Claire asks Jamie if there’s actually water down there, as it’s too difficult to see in the foggy darkness. He replies that he hopes so, and they show their resolve to survive as they make yet another choice to take this literal leap of faith. The waves crashing in the water below symbolize the myriad of conflicts they willingly choose to brave together.
After riding all night, Jamie and Claire dismount along with the other clansmen at an inn. Jamie takes Claire aside to formally ask her if she’s alright after the previous evening’s peril, and then asks for an apology. She angrily denies her fault in being taken captive, and he cites her choice of disobedience to stay where he instructed her to remain had put them all in great danger. Both are angry and hurt from the shattered expectations that have resulted from the entire debacle. Their facial expressions and body language intensely convey the palpable tension between these two characters, as multiple emotions collide. She slaps him and he seizes her and fiercely warns her to not do it again. Explosive rage from both of them ensues as they yell and scream insults at one another. Jamie finally turns away, nearly collapsing with exhaustion from the intense emotions and thought of having potentially lost Claire at Fort William. They apologize to each other tenderly and affectionately reconcile. Jamie’s voiceover says that he had already forgiven Claire for this and anything else she might ever do, long before this happened, because he of falling in love.
They walk into the inn and join the other Highlanders for supper. The men ignore Claire, pointedly, and Jamie nods to himself knowingly. He knows what is expected of him by his culture for his wife’s grievous error. After being ignored again when trying to apologize to them, Claire decides to go to bed. At her leave, Murtagh reminds Jamie of what she had cost them, as if to steel him for what he must do. Jamie enters their bedroom, and begins calmly taking to Claire, who is lying in bed, as he undresses. She apologizes again, and he says that if she had only offended him he wouldn’t think anything of it, but her choice to rebel had affected others. He stands up, removes his belt, and says that he must punish her. Claire pops up out of the bed with a bewildered, horrified expression, as he tells her to pull up her skirt for her ‘hiding’. She forcefully refuses, and he started hurriedly explaining that she came from an easier way of life and that this would make her truly understand that she would never forget. Energetic fiddle music strikes up in the soundtrack as they begin facing off. She throws a glass at him as he charges towards her. The other men downstairs laugh and comment on the situation upstairs as they play dice. Dougal says this is Jamie’s duty, and the others speculate who’s actually punishing who. He cuts her off from escaping and starts spanking her. She fights to get away and strikes him in the testicles to make him let go. Now angry, Jamie recovers her and begins spanking her with the strap again. She claws his face as the beating continues, with him saying that he only said he must punish her, and not that he wouldn’t like it. The choice to physically punish Claire results in them both being weakened, emotionally and physically. By opposing each other, as two competing waves in a storm, they cannot overcome one another and will continue to bounce about in misery.
The next morning at breakfast, the Highlanders tease an annoyed Claire about her sore bottom, so she withdraws from them and Jamie. They ride back to the Castle Leoch and enter the Great Hall to find the castle’s inhabitants warmly congratulating them on their marriage and excitedly welcoming them home. Dougal and his wife enter the Hall, and Dougal congratulates Claire, but pointedly doesn’t offer warm words to Jamie, while staring at him angrily. Jamie is disappointed and confused by this, but goes to speak to Colum afterwards in his office, along with Ned and Dougal. On his way to Colum’s office, crying Laoghaire stops Jamie begging to know why he had married Claire. He comforts her, saying he would explain later, apologizing that he had hurt her. In choosing to not explain that he married Claire because he loves her, and not strictly out of honor, he leads Laoghaire on, giving her hope that he would want her if Claire wasn’t in the picture.
Colum asks Jamie, Ned and Dougal about the marriage and about the gold that had been raised for the Jacobite cause without his blessing. Dougal defends Jamie here, saying that he only used Jamie’s back to illustrate the brutality of the English. Colum shows that one of the men from the rent-collecting party has brought him the gold raised for the Jacobite cause. A faceoff between the MacKenzie brothers escalates, as Colum attempts to declare his sovereignty, and Dougal defends his allegiance to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Dougal says that he has declared his loyalty to Colum repeatedly, fought his wars for him and even went so far as to ensure his bloodline (by having a son with Colum’s wife), but that freeing Scotland from the English and restoring a Stuart to the throne more important than the Clan. At this point tensions are insanely high, and Colum dismisses the older men, but keeps Jamie with him. Colum berates Jamie for choosing to marry a Sassenach (Englishwoman), knowing that in doing so he wouldn’t have to be Colum’s successor. Colum sees this as a betrayal, and Jamie denies that it was intended as one.
Jamie goes to his and Claire’s bedroom to find her getting ready for bed. She coolly responds to his report about the meeting with Colum and stops him from getting in bed with her. She’s still angry and hurt emotionally from the strapping, and sends him on his way.
After encountering a group of the clansmen who side with Dougal that are punishing the man who gave the Jacobite gold to Colum, Jamie and Murtagh speculate on how they can get away from the castle with Claire to keep from having to choose between Colum and Dougal. Jamie chooses to go to Colum and make a big for bringing peace to the clan before a full out war erupts. He appeals to Colum to give Dougal back the gold and allow him to play the rebel, because even though it may appear weak, Colum is actually retaining control by pacifying his brother. Colum tells Jamie to send for Dougal and Ned, and gives Dougal back the Jacobite gold, but implies that he retains control. Colum also calls for a banquet for the Duke of Sandringham, a British royal that has Jacobite sympathies.
Jamie goes to his favorite quiet spot and ponders how to fix things with Claire as he skips stones into the stream. Again the ripples made by the stones reflect the impact of the choices he is making on himself and others. Laoghaire walks into the clearing and says that she can tell Jamie isn’t happy with Claire. As they talk, and he says that he is wed she disrobes, saying that he is all she’s ever wanted. She tries to seduce him, but he chooses to reject her as Jamie and Claire’s them plays softly in the soundtrack. He apologizes as she runs away. In choosing to reject Laoghaire, Jamie has ensured the sanctity of his relationship with Claire, but ominous things could result at the hands of the scorned maiden.
Jamie goes to his room with Claire, and says that even though his family’s tradition commands that wives are to obey their husbands that maybe their marriage should be different. He pledges his loyalty to her, formally, and Claire says that she stills wants him even though her logic disagrees. Their conflicting opinions combine into one united wave as they choose each other. While passionately making love Claire grabs a weapon and holds it to Jamie’s throat, demanding his promise to never raise a hand to her again. He agrees and they continue intensely making up. Jamie says he is her master and she is his, that he couldn’t possess her soul without losing his own. Afterwards they talk, and Jamie asks her the meanings of words she had called him during their fight, and she laughingly explains the meanings. When he rises to get them something to eat, Claire find a strange object under the bed. Jamie sees it and explains that it’s an “ill-wish”… and angrily says that he thinks Laoghaire left it there, meaning to harm Claire. As they exchange these explanations, we can see that they choose to empower each other with their gifts of knowledge; they’re not only giving each other their bodies and hearts, but also their strength. When two colliding waves crash into each other, they either dissolve into smaller, ineffectual waves, or become a stronger one together. Jamie and Claire face off multiple times in conflict, but as they continue to choose to accept each other and yield in their more selfish desires, they will become stronger in their relationship and tougher against outside forces against them.
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