“The Gathering” is episode four of season one of Outlander.
In the previous episode, “The Way Out”, Claire had decided to win the trust of the MacKenzies by being a good healer. This has backfired to a degree. She managed to cure a devil-cursed boy, Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, who had simply been poisoned by eating lily of the valley (presumably not a common site in the British Isles in the 18th century). This made Claire far more popular with the clan than she wanted, so much so that they probably wouldn’t want her to leave, as well as made an enemy of the priest at the same time – the latter seeming offended that the boy hadn’t died and told Claire that she was in league with the devil.
On the plus side, Claire also heard an old folk tale, one which sounded suspiciously similar to what happened to her, travelling through the stone. One which also said that the person in the tale got back to their own time as well. Dressed up in different words admittedly – time travel wasn’t a common concept back then – but it gave Claire hope.
This episode opens with a man standing watch on a tower with a gun when he hears a woman running. He takes aim, but it’s Claire who is playing with some children. Claire’s guards want to return to the castle, because the gathering that was mentioned in the previous episode is happening, and her guards want to return to the festivities. Claire was actually playing with the children so that she could become familiar with the area around the castle, for future escape, and had left things at a couple of places she thought were likely to provide a route through the sentry posts. First, she needs to get rid of her guards. One is easily distracted; next she needs a horse.
Geillis is visiting Claire at the castle, and notes her stores for the journey she plans. Which leads her to make certain assumptions; Geillis also seems to have suspicions about what Claire might be up to. She is planning to escape that night during the oath taking of the MacKenzie men. A bit of a spoke is put in this plan when Mrs. Fitz insists that, as Colum’s guest, Claire must attend the event. However, with Mrs. Fitz escorting her, Claire’s guards may be less vigilant.
The ceremony itself is quite a formal event and Claire is planning her escape when the young woman who is infatuated with Jamie asks for a love potion. Which results in a harmless concoction using one of the previous healer’s odd ingredients and a magical incantation that owes a fair bit to The Wizard of Oz.
The escape runs into another problem when Claire is accosted by some amorous Scots (although what they are saying cannot be understood). Dougal intervenes, but he’s not a big fan of Claire which causes additional problems. It’s highly likely that something will completely derail Claire’s plans. Perhaps related to Jamie, who isn’t attending the gathering, due to not being a MacKenzie, even if he is related to Colum, and he has a price on his head. If Jamie does pledge allegiance, it will cause problems. Fatal ones for Jamie. So, naturally, there is a bit of a tense moment.
Jamie does intervene, and tells Claire that her plan will fail. Claire also ends up going on a wild boar hunt; she has no real concept about just how lethal they can be. Events of the hunt do seem to improve Dougal’s opinion of her, but that has its own problems.
There’s a common problem often seen in fiction. In real life, people do not get knocked on the head hard enough to make them unconscious only to get up a few minutes later without any after-effects. Such a thing is more likely to kill the person.
More Scots Gaelic; fortunately someone translates some of it for Claire, meaning that the viewer knows what’s being said as well.