By the Pricking of my Thumbs

The Duke of Sandringham visits Castle Leoch allowing Jamie to ask his help in getting a pardon.

The episodes starts with Jamie and Claire in the throws of passion. There is a knocking at the door. Annoyed, Jamies opens the door to find Murtagh, who tells him that the Duke of Sandringham will be visiting. Jamie sees this as a great chance to ask the Duke to help clear his name. Murtagh agrees. However, Claire tells them to be wary because she knows the Duke is a friend of Black Jack Randall. Murtagh doesn’t see how she can know this, but Jamie says he believes her. They all agree to discuss the matter with Ned Gowan.

Ned gives Jamie some sobering advice. He tells him that the truth often has little to do with the law, and that innocence is no guarantee of a pardon. He also  that the English are a tricky lot. An English Judge will most likely accept a British officer’s word above an accused highlander. He suggests trying to use Randall’s assault of Claire to rubbish the soldier’s reputation in Sandringham’s mind.

Claire pays Laoghaire a visit. She challenges her about the ‘ill-wish’. The exchange is poisonous. Laoghaire says Jamie’s belongs to her, and that he is trapped in loveless marriage to a “cold English bitch”. Claire slaps her in anger. Laoghaire retaliates by admitting that she did place the ‘ill-wish’ under the bed. Claire tells Laoghaire that Jamie will never be her’s. Laoghaire says Claire is wrong about Jamie. She adds that Claire is also wrong about her friend, Geillis Duncan, who gladly sold the charm.

Claire goes to Geillis’s house. She isn’t there, but her assistant, Jeanie, tell Claire that it’s a full moon, so she should seek Geillis in the woods north of the foothills just before dawn.

Claire waits for Geillis. She hides herself, watching Geillis dancing and writhing while nearly naked around fires. She is reminded of the women she had seen dancing at Craigh na Dun. Knowing that Claire is watching her, Geillis calls for Claire to come out. Claire approaches Geillis commenting on her pregnant belly. Claire expresses her doubt that Arthur is the father. Geillis confirms her suspicion, adding that the child is Dougal’s. She is hoping the pregnancy fails, which was the purpose of the dancing and fires. Giellis asks that Claire keep all this secret.

The two women take a walk. Geillis apologises for selling the ill-wish to Laoghaire, saying she was unaware of its intended use. While discussing their friendship, Claire learns that Dougal is on good terms with the Duke of Sandringham.  This reminds Claire of Frank and Rev. Wakefield’s discussion about the Duke’s Jacobite sympathies. She is also surprised to learn that Dougal is married, but that  his wife likes to keep herself locked away.

As they continue to walk, Claire hears a baby crying. Geillis tells her not to worry and let it be. She explains that the child isn’t human, but a changeling. When fairies steal a child, they leave one of their’s in its place. If the changeling is then left at a fairy hill, the child will be returned. Claire scoffs at this. Geillis warns her not to interefere. True to form, Claire ignores the advice.

Reaching the fairy hill, Claire is too late. The baby is dead. She turns to see Jamie, who has found he by way of meeting Geillis. He is supportive, saying she has a kind heart. However he also says that she has no idea what she is dealing with. Claire is disgusted that he might believe in fairies and the like. He tells her she needs to consider the people who believe this. She nods and asks to go home.

In an effort to clear Jamie’s name, Claire and he write a letter of complaint about Randall. Ahead of presenting this, Claire visits the Duke of Sandringham’s home. She discusses their intention with the Duke. He is reluctant to help. The Duke however seems agitated when she suggests that he is might be uncomfortable because they are making a complaint about his friend. He restates his reluctance to help. However, Claire asks the Duke to reconsider, or she will inform the authorities that he has been accepting Jacobite gold. Trapped by Claire’s threats, the Duke backs down and agrees to help.

Back at Castle Leoch, Dougal is grief-stricken. His wife, Moira, has died suddenly, and he is in a violent rage. Rupert and Angus ask Claire to give Dougal a sedative to calm him down. She gladly agrees. When Claire later discusses the death with Geilis who explains that her dance has cast a spell that has set her and Dougal free. Claire reminds her friend that she is still married. Geillis simply smiles.

Jamie and Murtagh arrive at Sandringham’s. The Duke is agreeable to Jamie’s request to forward his complaint about Black Jack. However he wants something in return. He asks Jamie to be his second in a dual with the MacDonalds, a rival clan of the Frasers. Murtagh recommends against this, but Jamie agrees, keen to clear his name.

Later, at the castle, Colum is entertaining the Duke of Sandringham. Claire is upset about the duel, threatening vengeance on the Duke should any harm come to Jamie. Soon after Arthur Duncan starts choking violently. Claire tries to help, but he dies. However, while attempting to assist Arthur, she smells cyanide. She also notices Geillis is not very uspet. Claire concludes Geillis murdered Arthur.

The day of the duel proves eventful. Initially the duel goes well. All are happy, and nobody is hurt. However the sons of the MacDonald chief want their father to spill English blood. An argument erupts, leading to the two sons and Jamie all being injured. Back at the castle this leads to unexpected consequences.

Jamie returns to find Colum livid. The chief has found out about Dougal and Geillis, and is enraged. He has exiled Dougal from the castle, sending him home. To make matters worse, Colum is angry about Jamie spilling MacDonald blood. He exiles Jamie, telling him to go and watch over Dougal. Worse still, Claire is to remain at Castle Leoch. Jamie says farewell to Claire, warning her to keep away from Geillis.

True to form, Claire ignores good advice from Jamie. She receives a letter fro Geillis, asking that she come quickly to her home. She visits Geillis. There Geillis denies sending any letter. Claire accuses Geillis of murdering Arthur, but before they can expand on this, there is a knock on the door and the two women are arrested for witchcraft. While they are being taken away, Claire sees Laoghaire looking smug.

 

Filmed at Hopetoun House, this episode shows off the house and grounds one of Scotland’s finest stately home. Interestingly, while we were there we saw film crews starting to set up. Unfortunately, we were ushered out and couldn’t find out anything more. Anyone out there know any more?

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