"Outlander" The Gathering (TV Episode 2014) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • The Gathering shows Claire's attempt at her first real planned escape. The run-ins she has with various characters on the way include a major run-in with Dougal, and yet another moment with Jamie alone - building their relationship. Also an oath-taking ceremony could have awful results if not handled carefully.

  • Claire now feels confident enough to attempt an escape. Under the cover of playing with the children she's had the opportunity to explore the woods outside the castle and has planned a route to get back to the stones. It's also the gathering of the MacKenzie clan, which should provide good cover. What she doesn't count on is bumping into Jamie, who seems to be hiding out in a barn. They return to the castle where members of the clan swear fealty to the Laird, putting Jamie in an awkward position. The next day, Claire accompanies some of the men on a boar hunt and her services as a healer are put to good use. She particularly impresses Dougal who realizes she has seen death before.

  • The annual clan gathering at the castle, to pledge allegiance to laird Colum, seems an ideal opportunity for Claire to escape in time for the lunar cycle, so she searched the area under cover of playing with the children to plan a route. Jamie avoids the tricky risks of offending the laird by refusing a pledge or his brother Dougal's party by formally taking it, which would make him a public pretender to Colum's succession. After tiresomely shaking her clan 'watchdogs', Claire bumps into Dougal, whom she knocks unconscious. Suddenly Jamie appears, explaining why she's lucky he stopped her futile attempt. Next day's boar hunt, which she assumed to be boring, actually proves a bloody spectacle.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The Clan MacKenzie Gathering has begun and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is being pursued through the forest. MacKenzie sentries on wooden towers take aim with their muskets at the sounds coming from the forest, but relax when Claire appears with several of the castle children in pursuit. Their hunting game is soon put to an end by Claire's ever-present guards who want to return to the festivities of the gathering. Rupert (Grant O'Rourke) implores Claire to return saying there hasn't been a gathering since he was a bairn. Claire acquiesces and they head back to Castle Leoch. As they return we hear Claire's thoughts in voiceover that the hunting game is a pleasant diversion that allows her to unobtrusively reconnoiter the castle grounds for escape routes. Having found and marked two such routes with bits of her hair ribbon and clothing, Claire now only needs to find something to distract Rupert and Angus (Stephen Walters) so that she can make good her escape that night. One distraction presents itself shortly when she spots a woman (Victoria Taggart) in the gathering encampment who seems to fancy one of the men. Claire mentions this and a dispute erupts between the two men as to who gets to reciprocate that interest. Claire settles things with a game of "pulling sticks" that Angus wins. Claire and a visibly unhappy Rupert head to the stables ostensibly to choose a mount for tomorrow's hunt, while Claire explains in voiceover that she wants a gentle mount to use in her escape as it has been years since she has ridden a horse. Telling Alec (Liam Carney) that she has come to get a mount for the next day's hunt, which she, as castle healer, is to attend, he leads her to a filly with the unlikely name of Brimstone. Alec assures Claire the horse is misnamed, saying, "its like calling a big man wee." He assures Claire that Brimstone is really a good, gentle horse that will turn for home at the first opportunity. While discussing her mount with Alec, Claire learns that Jamie (Sam Heughan) is not about and is told by Alec that it is for the best for all concerned if Jamie keeps to himself until the gathering is over.

    Having found her mount, Claire returns to the surgery where she is startled by Geillis (Lotte Verbeek) who was waiting for her. Geillis gives Claire a bottle of port she had requested and then proceeds to ask several very probing and discomfiting questions, clearly trying to pry from Claire answers she doesn't want to give. Geillis is obviously suspicious of Claire, asking her if she needs so much food because she is with bairn and questioning her about her husband who Claire, upon Geillis pushing her on the subject, finally asserts is dead rather than just "not alive." Geillis notices that Claire has a large amount of valerian root, enough, she says, "to put an army to sleep till the next moon." Claire excuses herself saying she must return to her preparations for the hunt. Geillis leaves, but not before remarking that the Highlands are no place for a woman alone.

    As soon as Geillis is out of sight Claire prepares her bundle of food and heads for the kitchen in search of a weapon, stating in voiceover that all of the fighting men of Clan MacKenzie would be at the oath-taking ceremony that night making it her one and only chance to escape Castle Leoch and return to Craigh Na Dun. As she enters the kitchen she espies Angus eating a bite, and, through an open door, spots Rupert very much involved with the woman they had encountered earlier. Angus shrugs and Claire continues to the kitchen work area where she locates a knife. As she is about to hide the knife up her sleeve, Mrs. Fitz (Annette Badland) suddenly appears. Claire quickly slides the knife in amongst the clutter of the work table as Mrs. Fitz asks if she intends to wear what she has on to the ceremony. Claire states that she assumes a Sassenach would not be welcome, but Mrs. Fitz insists that she must attend since she is Colum's special guest and ushers Claire off to find suitable clothing.

    Later, outfitted in a beautiful plaid and flower-embroidered gown with matching choker, Claire follows Mrs. Fitz upstairs to the gallery to observe the oath-taking. In voiceover Claire states she had realized that having Mrs. Fitz as chaperone for the oath-taking was actually a good thing that might make Rupert and Angus less vigilant and cause them to relax their guard on her. As they reach the gallery, Mrs. Fitz spies old acquaintance Iona McTavish (Diana Gabaldon) and they exchange a few edgy remarks hinting at a possible dislike existing between the two. Mrs. Fitz then greets Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and draws him to the rail with Claire and herself where they observe Colum's (Gary Lewis') entrance into the hall. To the accompaniment of a bagpiper Colum makes a grand entrance and takes his place on the dais, giving a rousing speech in Gaelic, which Murtagh translates for Claire. Afterwards, Dougal (Graham McTavish) is the first to pledge his loyalty to Colum as laird. He pledges on his dirk, then kisses Colums extended hands, and drinks from the quaich of whiskey offered to him by Colum who then drinks from it himself. Dougal rises and heads to the back of the hall where he takes a big drink from an offered bottle as the rest of the clansmen line up to pledge their oaths to his brother.

    As the oath-taking continues, Claire excuses herself saying "if you have seen one..." Downstairs she encounters Angus, who has just given his oath, and tells him she is heading for her surgery to continue preparing for the hunt. Angus argues and pleads with her to stay and enjoy the festivities. Seeming to give in, Claire produces the bottle of port, takes a drink and offers it to Angus. Chortling over her behavior Angus takes the bottle and drinks long from it. As he does so, Claire turns and unobtrusively spits onto the floor the valerian-laced port she was holding in her mouth. Angus remarks that the wine is "no Rhenish," Claire revealing to him that it is port. "'Tis quite strong," Angus says, "I can't keep my legs about me." "It is a sedative," Claire replies. "Is that Spanish?" Angus inquires. Claire encourages him to keep the bottle and share it with all his friends. As he wanders off looking for female company, forgetting about Claire, she says in voiceover "the more unconscious clansmen tonight, the better."

    Finally getting back to the surgery, Claire gathers her things and is on her way out the door when she almost bumps into Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) who has come to seek her help with a problem. Asking what she can do for her, Laoghaire responds shyly that she was wondering if Claire might have a potion that would open a lad's heart to a lassie. Claire realizes she is speaking of Jamie and says that when last she saw them together Laoghaire didn't seem to be having any problem holding Jamie's attention. Laoghaire answers that it isn't "that" for which she needs the potion, but she wishes something to move his heart forward. Claire hurries back into the surgery and scoops some dried horse dung into a bottle saying to herself that it is harmless and Jamie will never know the difference. Giving the potion to Laoghaire, she tells her to sprinkle it on Jamie's threshold, tap her heels together three times, and recite "there's no place like love, there's no place like love," having obviously seen "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939 England. Laoghaire thanks her and they go their separate ways.

    As Claire makes her way out of the castle she encounters three drunken clansmen near the kitchen who try to force their attentions on her. She knees one, but cannot fight the others off. Dougal suddenly appears and removes Claire from their grasp, saying something to them in Gaelic that causes them to leave. Dougal is very drunk and Claire, becoming uneasy, states that she should leave. Dougal stops her saying she must now pay a penalty, and kissing her, starts to fumble with raising her skirts only to be soundly slapped by Claire. Reason restored, Dougal tells her to "get ye gone, lass." Claire looks for the bundle she dropped and sees it by Dougal's feet. He follows her gaze and is bending to pick it up when Claire hits him over the head with a stool, knocking him out. She retrieves her bundle and quickly leaves, making her way across the courtyard to the stables.

    Claire hurries through the stables toward Brimstone's stall and trips over Jamie (Sam Heughan) , asleep in the hay, who comes awake holding his dirk to her throat. "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ," Claire croaks, and Jamie replies, "No, Sassenach, just me." He sees her bundle, and, picking it up, asks her how far she thought she would get on a dark night, with a strange horse and with half of the clan MacKenzie after her by morning. She replies that they wouldn't be after her - they were all up at the hall and she would be surprised if one in five of them were sober enough to stand in the morning let alone ride a horse. Jamie remarks that she is running away on a whim just because the men are drunk and Claire replies that it isn't a whim, he knows she has wanted to leave Castle Leoch for weeks. She tells him she knows exactly how many sentry posts are around the castle as well as how to find her way through the woods and find the road back to Inverness. "That's a very sound plan, Sassenach, or it would be, did Colum not post extra guards through the woods tonight. He would hardly leave the castle undefended with all of the fighting men of the clan inside it." Claire defiantly states that she is going anyway and walks toward Brimstone's stall. An exasperated Jamie calls after her that the best trackers in the clan are present and that they will find her. "Colum will not be calling you guest after that," he concludes. A visibly upset Claire states that no one should care since she is, as he stated, just an outlander, a Sassenach. Jamie says he is sorry if he offended her and Claire responds that she knows he didn't mean it that way, she is just upset to have her hope of the escape she had been planning for some time shot to hell in a moment's time. Jamie takes her bundle and gently says he will see her back to the castle, beginning to walk away. Claire doesn't budge, saying she doesn't think that is a good idea and tells him about her encounter with the drunken clansmen. He asks if they touched her and she responds by saying that she cannot go back and tells him of her encounter with Dougal. "Dougal and I were in the corridor near the kitchen. He was being forward with me, and I may have walloped him over the head with a chair or something. I think he's unconscious." Jamie asks if Dougal was drunk and Claire responds "Very." Jamie laughs and tells her he doubts very much that Dougal will remember the incident, and, even if he does, he will not want to admit that a lass got the better of him. He playfully nudges her with his shoulder, "You knocked him out cold, hunh?" "I didn't exactly stick around to examine him." "Well, I hope you left a good mark so he'll remember his error in judgment. It's fine, Sassenach. Come." Taking her hand he leads her to a secret tunnel leading into the castle he had discovered as a child. At the tunnel entrance they stop to exchange a few words of thanks and are caught by the castle guards. Recognizing Jamie as Colum's nephew the men say he has come late to the oath-taking and that he wouldn't want to miss his turn in front of himself. Desperately Jamie tells them he is not decent to attend dressed as he is and asks leave to go to the cottage and change, but is told they can outfit him proper inside. The clansman holding Claire asks to keep the lassie, and Jamie knocks him out with a cry to "let the lady go." Asking if she is all right, Claire cries out a warning too late as Rupert knocks Jamie over the head.

    In the castle, appropriate clothing for the ceremony is provided to Jamie who tells Rupert he didn't need to hit him so hard, he was willing to come, to which Rupert responds that he didn't want Jamie maiming half the clan while he was making up his mind. Rupert gives him a brooch for his kilt. Claire translates the Latin "Luceo non oro" on the brooch as "I shine, not burn" and is told it is the MacKenzie clan motto. As the others talk, Claire apologizes to Jamie who was hit while standing up for her. He tells her not to fash herself on his account stating that his sister says his head is hard as an iron pot. Holding the brooch, he tells Claire he cannot wear it because he's not a MacKenzie. Asking if Claire knows his clan motto, which she doesn't because she doesn't even know what clan he is from, he tells her it is "je suis prest" and drops the MacKenzie brooch into a bucket of water. Jamie tells Claire to find a place in the hall. As she leaves we again hear her thoughts in voiceover, "Je suis prest. I am ready. But ready for what?"

    Claire enters the hall as the oath-taking continues and we see Angus struggling to stay awake. Approaching Murtagh Claire can see over his shoulder that Jamie is approaching the main entrance. Claire whispers to Murtagh, "Jamie's here." Startled, Murtagh turns to look, as do many others in the hall. Claire asks why everyone is so tense and Murtagh shushes her, drawing her aside to explain. He tells her that if Jamie pledges fealty to Colum he becomes part of Clan MacKenzie and would be in line to become laird. He explains that clans are tanist, so if enough clansmen wanted Jamie as laird, they would elect him. Claire says she thinks Mr. McTavish would make a good laird, but Murtagh says that was an honor Dougal had been holding for himself when Colum dies. Should Jamie swear his oath to Colum, Dougal wouldn't let him breathe MacKenzie air for long. Claire asks why Jamie doesn't just refuse to take the oath and Murtagh tells her that while he abides at Leoch and as the laird's nephew and a healthy man of arms, he has no choice. Should he refuse to do so before all, the maids would likely be scrubbing Jamie's blood from the floor at Colum's feet. "No matter what he decides he winds up dead? Why stay at the castle, why doesn't he just leave if both of his uncles would have his head on a pike?" "He's got a price on his head. The only safe place in Scotland is here, at Leoch. Until now. If Jamie had just stayed hidden until the gathering is over, Colum and Dougal wouldn't have pressed the matter any further." "Leaving the stables to escort me back. Oh God, this is all my fault!" Claire says as she turns to see what happens. "Aye, it tis," Murtagh agrees.

    As Jamie enters the hall, Dougal appears rubbing the back of his head. They eye one another as both make their way to Colum. Jamie is the last in line and is clearly troubled. He hesitates, then takes a knee before Colum, but continues to look down, saying nothing, trying to decide what to do. At last he rises and faces Colum. As he does so, Dougal's grip on his dirk tightens. "Colum MacKenzie, I come to you as kinsman and as ally, but I give you no vow, for my oath is pledged to the name that I bear." At this several clansmen start to unsheathe their dirks. Stepping closer to Colum, Jamie says, "I give you my obedience as kinsman, and as laird. And I hold myself bound to your word, so long as my feet rest on the lands of the Clan MacKenzie." Colum stares at Jamie, then turns, picks up the quaich, and, smiling, offers it to Jamie. Jamie smiles in relief and takes the vessel with a quick bow of his head, than proceeds to drain the entire thing to the cheers of the clan. Colum says something loudly in Gaelic and bagpipes and dancing begin immediately. Colum and Dougal exchange a meaningful look as Jamie makes his way through the throng to Murtagh's side, nodding at Claire as he approaches. "I'm getting too old for this," Murtagh states as Jamie reaches him. Jamie and Murtagh take their leave of Claire, who turns away, and Jamie casts one last look at her before exiting through a side door.

    The next day is the boar tynchal. Claire approaches Rupert as he sharpens his spear stating that "this is a quite a show of force for a pig hunt." "It's a boar." "Oh, of course, twenty men armed with spears and muskets seems about right to me for one hairy pig." "You've clearly never seen one then. Get to your mount. Time to go." The hunt begins as men on foot and horseback advance armed with spears, bows, and muskets, beating on their shields and yelling to drive the herd of boar before them. Suddenly a boar coming from cover startles a horse, unseating its rider who is then gored in the leg. Rupert hearing the man's cry of distress turns and runs to him calling for Mistress Claire as he goes.

    We next see Claire bandaging the man's leg and berating him, saying, "It serves you right, what did you expect the animal to do with you barbarians chasing it? Did you forget their tusks could be lethal?" Assuring him he would not lose his leg, but would have a limp, she gives Rupert instructions for Mrs. Fitz and instructs him to take the man back to the castle. Suddenly, there is another scream up ahead. Claire tells Rupert to take the man back now and runs toward the cry. As she runs toward danger, a frustrated Rupert exhorts her to wait for him. Hurrying forward, Claire hears another cry and calls "Where are you?" Immediately, she hears the loud grunt of the boar and the rustling of the underbrush nearby. Frightened, she continues moving forward while turning in circles looking for the boar. A boar surges from the undergrowth to her right, just as a loud crack from a musket is heard. The boar drops dead mere feet from Claire who sees Dougal a short distance away holding a smoking musket. Another scream is heard ahead and Dougal moves off immediately toward the injured man. Claire takes a few moments to recover from her fright, then follows to find Dougal holding and comforting a clansman with a horrible gash in his thigh. As she applies a tourniquet Claire assures the man, Geordie (Bryan Larkin), that he will not lose his leg. She stops the bleeding, but discovers upon turning back his kilt that his intestines are exposed and we hear in voiceover that the wound to his stomach is fatal, she can stop the bleeding to his leg as it is not arterial, but it will only cause him to linger in agony. Shaking her head at Dougal, he reaches down and, out of sight of Geordie, releases the tourniquet, giving him a better death Claire states in voiceover. As Geordie begins to bleed out, Dougal and he talk of old times and Dougal confesses to having slept with Geordie's sister. Geordie is in great pain, but Claire tells him it will be better soon, the pain will be gone soon. Geordie replies that he can no longer feel his leg or his hands. Claire asks Geordie about his home and he describes it, saying he wishes he were there now. Dougal replies that he soon will be. He asks Dougal to stay with him and both he and Claire reply that they will. Geordie soon dies in Dougal's arms, and Dougal and Claire share a long look over his body.

    Returning to the castle with Geordie's body draped over one horse and another dragging the carcass of the boar, they come upon the clansmen playing a rousing game of shinty. Dougal is in a rare mood after the death of Geordie, and, spying Jamie amongst the players, takes up a stick and charges toward him, hitting a man behind the legs and knocking another through a cooking fire as he goes. Jamie has the ball and Dougal hits him from behind. They fight over the ball, Dougal remarking that he taught Jamie this game to which Jamie responds, "Aye, ye did." Dougal hits Jamie in the stomach with his stick and steals the ball, then passes it to Angus. Murtagh takes the ball from Angus and, at Jamie's cry, passes it to him. Jamie is fielding the ball when Dougal hits him from behind again and knocks him down, stealing the ball in the process. Claire and Rupert are watching from the sidelines and Claire says to Rupert, "That doesn't look very fair." Jamie rises, saying, "That's twice you've caught me napping" and charges after Dougal, tackling him. Dougal lands on top and presses Jamie into the ground telling him to "Yield," but Jamie says "What would you think of me if I did?" to which Dougal replies, "Not much." Dougal is soon up and off after the ball while Murtagh intercepts Angus who was trying to hit Jamie a blow that looked deadly while he was down, hitting Angus between the legs while telling him to "Play fair, now!" Jamie and Dougal lock sticks in the middle of the field after Dougal hits him from behind again. Jamie fends Dougal off by crossing their sticks, but Dougal manages to hit him several blows on either side of his body. Everyone stops and watches this little duel. Having finally had enough, Jamie uses the leverage of his stick crossed with Dougal's to heave Dougal over his head, flipping him onto his back. Throwing down his stick, Jamie offers Dougal a hand up with the words "Ye taught me well." Dougal says, "Aye, too well" and takes the offered hand, but not with good grace. Still locked at the forearm they glare in one another's faces before each throwing off the other's hand. Dougal turns and stalks off and Jamie looks across the field to Claire giving her a quick nod of salutation. Murtagh approaches him and they walk off companionably, Jamie asking "Did we win?"

    Later we see Claire grinding up herbs in her surgery, thinking in voiceover that, her escape plan thwarted, she fears being stuck in this dungeon forever. Not ready to give up, she needs time to come up with another plan. Dougal enters saying, "You've seen men die before, and by violence." Claire responds, "Yes, many of them." Dougal tells her she is doing a fine job as healer and thanks her for helping Geordie. Claire says that in truth she did nothing for him, but Dougal says she "took him to a peaceful place which is all that any of us can ask when we pass." He then tells her that he is going on the road the next day and plans to take her with him. Since Colum does not travel he is going out to visit the tenants who could not come to the gathering and to collect the rents. He thinks it wise to have a healer along who does well under strain as there is a lot of that on the road. Telling her they are leaving at first light he admonishes her not to be late for dinner so as not to anger Mrs. Fitz and then leaves.

    The next dawn we see a group led by Dougal and including Jamie, Claire, Angus, Rupert, and Murtagh leaving the castle. In voiceover we hear Claire's thoughts that perhaps this journey will bring her closer to the standing stones of Craigh Na Dun and that, if so, she is determined to reach them, knowing this time, she must not fail.

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