The title for this Season One Outlander episode (By the Pricking of My Thumbs) made me curious regarding its relevance because I didn’t see anyone actually pricking their thumbs. Turns out, it’s a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” And, there’s plenty of wickedness to go around! Wow… where to start?
First off, Claire discovers that it was Laoghaire who put the ill wish doll under her and Jamie’s bed. Laoghaire hopes it will turn Jamie against Claire so that Jamie will return to her – he never was “hers,” but Laoghaire figures if she can get Claire out of the way, she’ll figure out a way to latch on to Jamie. Claire’s a bit un-nerved when she learns that Geillis Duncan provided the doll to Laoghaire, but Geillis denies any knowledge of who the doll was for. I think Claire wants to believe her, but I also wonder if the loyalty to her newfound friend is fading.
Geillis is wicked-busy in this episode. In addition to doll-making, she’s taken a lover (Dougal MacKenzie), and is pregnant with his child. Claire finds her in the forest, summoning the sprits to align and have things work out for her and Dougal. Oddly enough, Dougal’s wife dies of a fever shortly after, and Geillis scoffs at the notion that her antics in the woods had anything to do with it. Geillis may not be a witch, but her motives are certainly less than honorable.
Dougal’s not off the hook here, at least not in my book. He’s married, hasn’t been home in years, and has fathered a child with another, married woman. He pretends to be devastated at the news of his wife’s death (sorrow, guilt, or show?) and puts on quite a display in the great hall that ends when Claire finds a sedative that finally subdues him. When I looked up the definition of wicked (evil or morally wrong), I decided that Dougal can join the cast of the wicked.
The Duke of Sandringham is stirring his own little pot of wicked deception. He’s playing both sides of the political conflict (Jacobites vs. the English) and wants to come out on top, no matter who wins. He tries to threaten Claire when she calls him out about the Jacobite gold he’s given to Dougal. He comments on her lovely neck and how it holds her head so prettily… and that “I’d hate to see them parted.” (Careful there, Duke!) When Jamie and Murtagh show him the petition of complaint drawn up by Ned Gowan, he strikes a bargain with Jamie. He will take the petition to London in exchange for Jamie being his second in a duel with Andrew MacDonald (to settle an unpaid debt). The aftermath leaves Jamie wounded and the Duke sprinting away from danger with a promise to present the petition in London.
And, back to Geillis. She poisons her husband Arthur at the dinner held in honor of the Duke’s visit to Castle Leoch. She might have gotten away with it if she’d hurried to her husband’s side instead of making eyes at Dougal. But she didn’t count on Claire catching a whiff of the poison or Colum catching the glance between Geillis and Dougal. Geillis turns on the devastation a bit too late, and her attempts at convincing anyone fail miserably.
The last bit of wickedness rests with Laoghaire. She writes a note to Claire (posing as Geillis), asking her to come quickly (to Geillis’ home). When Geillis denies writing the note, Claire knows this is not going to end well. (Claire, you fool! You didn’t keep your promise to Jamie to stay away from Geillis!) She and Geillis are arrested for witchcraft and loaded into a wagon for a trip to the Thieve’s Hole. We catch a glimpse of who took advantage of something she must have overheard – Laoghaire. The girl with the satisfied smirk on her face, peeking around the corner of a building. Wicked, indeed.