The Gathering

Castle Leoch is preparing for the Gathering. Meanwhile, Claire is plotting her escape.

Claire is outside, playing games with the children of the castle. As well as entertaining the youngsters she is reconnoitering the woods and lands around the castle and marking an escape route with ‘lost’ handkerchiefs and ribbons. She plans to leave during the Gathering. Continuing with her efforts to distract her Angus and Rupert, she points them towards a buxom young woman. She tells them that the young lady is interested in them. They argue over the woman, and after a brief exchange Angus goes over to her. Her watchers distracted, Claire finishes her preparations and returns to castle.

Geillis Duncan is waiting for Claire in the surgery. She has brought Claire a bottle of port as earlier requested. Claire thanks her. Geillis explains that she has plenty, and that it gives her husband violent gas. She then uses this to direct the conversation to discussing Claire’s husband and family situation. Geillis also explains that she had a hard time in when she arrived in Cranesmuir, but marrying a man with money and status, although ugly, has allowed her much freedom. Before leaving she offers Claire some friendly advice, adding that the Highlands is no place for a woman alone.

Claire heads to the kitchen. She needs one more thing for her escape, a weapon. Although Angus is present, she manages to get hold of a knife. However, before she can hide it, Mrs Fitz comes in the room. She further complicates Claire’s plans by asking why she isn’t ready for the ceremony. She tells Claire, that as Colum’s guest she is expected to attend, and shoos her away to get ready for the evening.

Claire and Mrs Fitz arrive as the ceremony is beginning. Although appreciating the company Claire is concerned the cook will spoil he escape attempt. Then Murtagh joins them, much to Mrs Fitz’s delight. Claire has no choice but to postpone her escape.

Colum arrives to cheers! And the pledges of allegience begins. Claire quickly realises that every pledge is identical, and makes an excuse to leave. However, she meets Angus. Saying that she needs to prepare the surgery for the hunt, they agree that he will only guard her until he has found a woman for the night. Fortunately she has a better plan. At the surgery she offers him some port, and giving him the bottle, persuades him to leave.

Claire starts her escape. However she has obstacles on the way. While gathering supplies, she is interrupted by Laoghaire who want a love potion for Jamie. Claire quickly gives her a bottle of potion and instruction, and wishes her luck. Then, as she makes her way through the castle she is assaulted by a group of drunk men. An equally drunk Dougal comes to her rescue, beating them off her. But Claire is forced to knock him out as he gets overly friendly. With Dougal out cold, she heads for the stables.

At the stables Claire runs into Jamie. She trips and falls over him as he sleeps. He is quick to realise her plans and despite Claire’s obvious anger, chastises her for her plans. He asks her far she expect to get before being caught. Also, had she considered that Colum would post extra guards on a such an important evening? He points out that she would be tracked down, brought back to Leoch, and no longer be tolerated so favourably by Colum. Reluctantly, Claire agrees and Jamie walks her back to the castle, telling her not to worry about Dougal – he’ll be to drunk to remember anything.

As they make there way back to the Gathering, Jamie and Claire run into Rupert and other highlanders. They are concerned about Jamie pledging allegiance to Colum. This leads a scuffle, with Rupert having to knock Jamie on the head to prevent a full blown fight.

Back at the ceremony Claire asks Murtagh about the tension surrounding Jamie taking the oath of allegiance. He explains that, although not a MacKenzie, being Colum’s nephew, Jamie has MacKenzine blood. Therefore, if he pledges allegiance to Colum, he could be in line to succeed him as Laird. Claire is surprised by this. Murtagh explains that if he were to gain enough support, Jamie’s MacKenzie blood would allow him to become Laird.

Murtagh goes on to expand on the problems surrounding Jamie’s pledge. Because Dougal wants to to be Laird, if Jamie takes the oath of allegiance Dougal will kill him. Claire asks why Jamie doesn’t simply refuse to take the oath. Murtagh explains that as an able soldier living at Leoch, Jamie must pledge allegiance. Refusal will oblige the clansmen attending the ceremony to kill him. Claire says that she feels she has put Jamie in this difficult situation. Murtagh agrees.

Jamies makes his pledge. Rather than an oath allegiance to Colum, he offers him his obedience as kinsman and Laird. Colum is happy with this pledge and everyone cheers. Claire and Murtagh are much relieved.

The following day the hunt is on. The clansmen are hunting wild boar through the surrounding forest. Claire is uncomfortable, considering it all to be cruel, but she is  there to tend any injuries. And it not long before she is needed. Very soon she has to attend a rider thrown from his horse. Then, almost immediately after, she is called upon by Dougal to attend to a gravely wounded hunter. The bleeding clansman, Geordie, has no chance of survival and Claire and Dougal tend to him while he bleeds to death.

That evening Dougal visits Claire at her surgery. He thanks her for her efforts with Geordie. He adds that he thinks she has seen men die before, which she agrees is correct. He has news. The following day she will accompany him and a band of clansmen to collect taxes from those who were unable to attend the Gathering. Claire is quietly overjoyed, hoping they will pass near the stones of Craigh na Dun.

The morning after Claire, Dougal and co. ride out from the castle.


This episode was filmed at Doune Castle (Castle Leoch).