There are times when part of a set becomes a fascinating, compelling part of a story. I noticed the window in the first few episodes of Season One of Outlander and followed it along as it played a captivating role in the dramatic impact of the scene where it appeared. I was struck by how much this silent part of Castle Leoch had to say.
The first time the window appears (in the very first episode), it’s merely a deteriorated frame with vines and webs open to the outside elements. Frank and Claire are visiting the castle as part of Frank’s desire to explore his personal genealogy. One of my first thoughts was that if something happened to that door they just forced open and they were trapped down there, they could use it as a means of escape. Claire hesitates in front of it; she hesitates, and I wonder if something significant is going to happen here.
Back in the 1700s, the surgery window is intact with panes of glass. Colum MacKenzie, laird of Castle Leoch, has his suspicions about Claire and how she came to be at the castle. The day she is supposed to leave for Inverness (via the tinker), he summons her to the lower level, which was used as a surgery by Davie Beaton. He wants her to take up the work, but he really wants to keep her around so he can determine whether or not she is a spy for the English. The window is no longer to the open, and the panes are glazed in such a way that one cannot see to the outside. A soft, sympathetic light shines on Claire as she is literally and figuratively trapped in the 18th century.
Determined to make the best of the situation and earn her release, Claire takes up the work of Davie Beaton. One of her patients turns out to be Jamie (JAMMF), and we can all see where this is going! He’s escorted her to the surgery after she’s overindulged in Column’s rhenish. After a short conversation, he gets up to leave, but Claire calls him back so that she can check the status of his healing gunshot wound. There is a pitcher of flowers on the windowsill, a soft, romantic touch that heightens the sexual tension in the air.
The window casts a foreboding light on Colum and Dougal as they leave Claire in the surgery (tinker escape thwarted). It shines on Claire as if helping her escape during the gathering. Earlier in the day, Geillis Duncan delivers the port wine and has an unsettling conversation with her (babies, honesty, etc.). As she’s leaving, she turns back to Claire (and the viewer), and the window’s light shines on her. It seems to be a millisecond message – remember this person and consider yourself warned.
I found it to be an interesting pattern of events in the light that shines from the window onto specific characters, telling us something about them. Is the window warning Claire and us, the viewer? Is it asking us to sit up and take notice of the people and what they are (or not) saying? This window has a lot to say – I need to go back and listen.