“Both Sides Now” is episode eight of season one of Outlander.
In the previous episode, “The Wedding”, Claire got married to Jamie, and consummated the marriage, in order to keep her out of the clutches of her husband’s evil twin (well, evil ancestor anyway), Black Jack Randall. Which means she is now married twice, albeit with marriages that are separated by a couple of centuries. Furthermore Dougal, who now seems to have swung entirely in the opposite direction regarding Claire, suggested that she could always dally with him if she wanted to – and that her marriage to Jamie would be no block to this. Claire has already been technically unfaithful to husband; she didn’t have any interest in making it two.
This episode opens in the 20th century, but not in Claire’s past as it has previously. Given that she is in the past now, it’s in her future, but it’s probably in what her future would have been had she stayed in the present (time travel can be confusing). It’s in what Claire’s future would have been if she hadn’t travelled back to the past in “Sassenach” (although in such a case this present wouldn’t have happened; see, confusing).
It opens at a police station in Inverness where Claire’s first husband, Frank, is waiting. The police haven’t managed to find Claire (not surprising) in the past six weeks and Frank isn’t happy. He makes it quite clear, if fairly politely, clear to the detective in charge that he isn’t happy with what the police have accomplished – which is nothing. The detective’s favourite theory is that Claire has run off with her lover, the man that Frank saw staring up into her window. Frank does not appreciate this theory and states that his wife is not with another man. Of course she actually is, but not in the way the detective is suggesting.
Back in the past and Jamie is asking Claire about how it is between a man and a woman. She does have more experience than he does – she did say that she had a husband, so this isn’t bad. Then an arrow lands near them, which would have been a lousy shot if it was aimed. It was fired by a friend of Jamie’s – one who looks like he spends a lot of time in the countryside. He has a wedding gift – a huge chunk of amber. A former captive and slave of the Turks, he has had his tongue cut out. The man also has news for Jamie – there’s a witness who saw what actually happened when Jamie got a price on his head, and he may get the price lifted as a result, meaning that he could finally go home.
For the first time since “Sassenach” Frank has a significant role in the episode. The reverend has been helping Frank, but they really aren’t getting anywhere – because they are looking in the wrong time. Is there a hint of Claire’s existence in the past in any of the histories though? And who was the man watching Claire through the window, and why? The woman, Mrs Graham, the reverend’s housekeeper, who read Claire’s palm knows of stories about the stones at Craigh na Dun – and about people who travelled through them, and through time. She thinks that this may be what happened to Claire. She’s right of course. It does sound a little crazy, especially to one more rooted in what they consider to be the rational world.
Black Jack reappears and there is a bit of a cliff-hanger ending.