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The Gathering is the fourth episode of Season One of the Outlander television series.


As the Castle prepares for The Gathering, Claire plots her escape. But after a dangerous encounter with a drunken Dougal and an unexpected run-in with Jamie, her plans are dashed.


At Castle Leoch, men stand guard on wooden towers as a woman runs through the woods. It is Claire laughingly being chased by a group of children led by young Hamish MacKenzie. As Claire playfully falls to the ground in defeat and the children cheer at their victory, Angus approaches and stands over her causing Claire to grimace. When she stands, Hamish tells Claire she has lost her fichu and that she had lost her hair ribbon the day before. Claire says she was so concentrated on losing him that she didn't even notice.

Angus asks if Claire is done with her game, and she says soon. Rupert MacKenzie says the MacKenzie did not say she could waste the whole day outside. The children groan and Claire says there are still lots to explore. As she and the children head off, Hamish says that Claire was right, this part of the woods is much better to explore than the castle's courtyard. Rupert stops them from leaving and pleads that they're missing the festivities, and they haven't had a gathering at Leoch since he was a boy. Claire, not wanting to push, relents. As they walk back to the encampment, she reflects that the hunting game is allowing her to reconnoiter the woods surrounding the castle and to plan her escape route using bits of her handkerchief and ribbons to mark escape routes.

Claire thinks that the victory day celebrations in London and Paris were much larger than the MacKenzie's gathering, but this was different in the joy the unwarring clan takes in simply being together. In spite wanting to leave, Claire was happy to be there and a part of her regretted her escaping. Nevertheless, Claire continues with her plans to distract her watchers and tells Angus and Rupert that a buxom woman stirring a pot appears to fancy them. Rupert gleefully pushes Angus aside and says he'll be bedding the woman that night, but Angus argues that they had agreed that it was every man for himself during the gathering. Dougal says yes, but Angus knows how much he likes women with meat on their bones. Claire interrupts the arguments and suggests the men draw straws. Angus wins and hurries off to woo the woman.

As her next step, Claire heads to the stable to make sure she has a good horse to escape with. Her uncle Lamb had taught her to ride a horse while they lived in Ireland, but it has been many years since she's ridden, and she needs a gentle, easy horse. Auld Alec MacMahon tells her that Jamie is not around, and she'd best leave him alone for today. He picks out Brimstone and says she's a gentle horse despite her ominous name. She's not fast, but she's sweet and strong, but if she's not constantly watched, she'll turn for home.

In Claire's surgery, Geillis Duncan is waiting for her and says she has brought the bottle of port that Claire requested. Claire thanks her for her trouble, but Geillis says they have plenty and that there's something in the wine that makes her husband as flatulent as an ox. Geillis notices that Claire has a large amount of food stores in the surgery and asks if Claire is pregnant. Claire denies it and says she was always faithful to her husband. Geillis asks if Claire's husband is not alive and Geillis presses that he's dead. Claire admits he is. Geillis asked if they had children and Claire says no, even though they tried. Geillis suggests Claire might be barren. Claire says it doesn't matter now.

Geillis then notices Claire has a large amount of valerian roots and wants to know if Claire has insomnia. She says she boils the root and gives it to her husband in his tea, so she can sleep like a baby. She warns Claire to be careful because she has enough of the root to put a whole army to sleep. Geillis says when she first came to Cranesmuir, she didn't have anything except her wits and her knowledge about the uses of the plants. Then she found a respectable man with a house and money, and even though he's not much to look at, that doesn't bother her because she's free to do what she wants. Claire says it sounds like Geillis has built a comfortable life for herself, and Geillis says that sometimes one finds oneself on an unexpected path, but it doesn't mean it can't lead one to a good place.

Claire says she must go and prepare for the hunt, and Geillis warns her that the Highlands are no place for a woman on her own and Claire would best remember that. Claire promises she'll see Geillis at the oath-taking and Geillis says that promise is a serious thing in this country. Claire says it is in hers too. When Geillis leaves, Claire continues her plans, knowing that with all the men in the hall during the oath, no one will be watching the stables.

Claire heads for the kitchen to get the final item she needs for her escape, a weapon. She sees Angus there drinking and then Rupert cavorting with the buxom woman outside. Angus just shrugs. She takes a knife from a table, but before she could hide it, she is intercepted by Mrs. Fitz who asks why Claire isn't ready for the ceremony. Claire says she had assumed a Sassenach wouldn't be welcome and Fitz scoffs saying she is Colum's personal guest, and she has to attend. Claire protests she's not dressed for the occasion, and Mrs. Fitz whisks her away to prepare.

The MacKenzies, all in their best finery, gather in the hall as Claire and Mrs. Fitz hurry though to get a good spot to view the beginning of the oath-taking, which is the finest part. Claire thinks that while she had been afraid Mrs. Fitz would disrupt her plans, she realizes that being seen in her company could only help Claire since she needed them to accept her presence and to relax as they enjoyed the event. They make their way to the upper balcony of the hall and they're interrupted by Iona MacTavish, who greets Mrs. Fitz by her first name. Iona observes that Mrs. Fitz has the castle looking as bright as a new pin and Mrs. Fitz retorts by saying what a lovely dress Iona has on and says Iona wore it so well at the last gathering.

To Mrs. Fitz's delight, Murtagh is there and the three of them line up to watch the hall below. Colum slowly makes his way into the hall to the sound of bagpipes as clan members part to let him pass. With great dignity, he mounts the platform with his chair and greets his son and wife, Letitia. With a roar of "Tulach Ard," he begins his speech in Gaelic. Murtagh, with a shush from an irate Iona, translates for Claire, saying Colum welcomes the men to Leoch and hopes they had safe journeys. He says Colum hopes that while he hopes the clan's men never have to draw iron, if they do, he couldn't hope for better men to defend the clan's honor. Colum says only the crazy would challenge the MacKenzie, and he's proud to be their Laird. The speech ends with luceo non uro to the cheering clan.

Dougal steps forward and gives his oath to Colum that if ever he betrays the clan, he will die by the holy iron he holds within his hand. They drink the quaich to seal the oath. Angus cuts in line to give his oath as Dougal grabs a bottle of spirits and drinks heavily from it. Claire asks Murtagh if all the oaths are the same and when he says they are, she takes her leave. Downstairs, Claire tells Angus she's heading to the surgery to prepare for the hunt, and he says he doesn't know how they celebrate where she's from, but he's not missing the fun to stay with her. He says Dougal's orders say he must stay with her and asks she stay at least until he finds a woman to keep him company for the evening. She agrees and says if she must stay, she might as well join in and pulls out the bottle of port she got from Geillis. She takes a drink and hands him the bottle much to his delight. While he drinks, she spits out the wine onto the stone floor. He observes it's not rhenish and she tells him it's expensive port. He says it's very strong, and he feels whobbly and she laughs and says it's a sedative. He asks if that is Spanish. She encourages him to go have fun and to share the wine with his friends. He scampers off.

Claire retrieves her cloak and supplies from the surgery and is startled to find Laoghaire MacKenzie at the door. Laoghaire asks Claire for a love potion and demurs when Claire asks if it's for Mr. MacTavish. Claire gives Laoghaire a bottle of dried horse dung, and knowing Jamie won't notice it, tells the girl to sprinkle it on Jamie's doorstep, to tap her heels and recite three times, "there's no place like love." Claire wishes her luck.

As she makes her way through the corridors, she's interrupted by three drunken men who assault her. The men are beaten off by a very drunk Dougal MacKenzie. Dougal tells her she should not be there and kisses her and paws at her as a penalty. She slaps him, and he tells her to go away before she has to pay a bigger price. He notices her sack of supplies, and as he's reaching for it, she slams him over the head with a stool. Without a look back, she runs outside and to the stables, determined not to worry about Dougal and to make her escape.

Inside the stables, she creeps along until she trips over a sleeping Jamie. Claire cries out "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and Jamie says it's just him. He quickly guesses that she's trying to escape and asks how far she thinks she'd get before she's caught. Claire tells him she has a sound plan, but he says it won't work because Colum has posted extra guards to not leave the castle undefended. Claire says she's going anyway. He tells her she will be caught by the best trackers in the land and that Colum will not consider her a guest after they do. Claire insists she needs to because she's so clearly an outlander as he pointed out. He apologizes if he's offended her and she says she knows he didn't mean it as an insult, but she's been planning for weeks and all her hopes have been shot to hell in a moment.

Jamie tells her he'll escort her back to the castle, and she tells him of her encounter with drunken clansmen. He asks if they hurt her, and she says she can't return. She tells him that a very drunk Dougal was being forward, and she hit him over the head with a chair and left him unconscious. Jamie has a hearty laugh and says he doubts Dougal will remember and even if he does, he won't rush to tell anyone that a woman got the better of him. Jamie's teasingly asks if she knocked him out cold and she says she didn't stick around to find out. Jamie hopes she left a good mark for him to remember his error of judgment. He says it'll be all right.

Jamie leads her to a hidden tunnel that leads back to the castle's basement. She thanks him for seeing her safely, and he says it is him who should thank her for healing all of his various wounds. They are grabbed by some clansmen and one recognizes Jamie as Colum's nephew and says Jamie doesn't want to miss his turn to take the oath. Jamie says he has to change first, and the man says they'll make sure he's properly dressed. One of the men starts to paw at Claire, and Jamie breaks free to attack the man. Rupert shows up and hits Jamie with the hilt of his sword.

Inside, Jamie is changing his clothes and admonishes Rupert for hitting him so hard as he meant to come. Rupert says he knows, but didn't want Jamie to be wounding half of the clan. He holds out a plaid pin and Claire looks at it and reads the words, "luceo non uro" and translates them: I shine, not burn. A man tells her it's the MacKenzie motto, and they all salute. In a whisper, Claire apologizes to Jamie, who tells her not to worry. She asks how his head is, and he says fine and jokes that his sister Jenny says his head is harder than a cast-iron pot. He picks up the badge pin and says he can't wear it because he's not a MacKenzie. He asks Claire if she knows what his clan's motto is, and she says she doesn't even know what clan he's from. He tells her it's "je suis prest" or I am ready.

As she returns to the hall, Claire wonders what Jamie is ready for. She finds Murtagh and tells him that Jamie is here as people start to notice his appearance. She asks why everyone is so tense and Murtagh pulls her aside. He tells her that if Jamie pledges his oath to Colum, then he'd be in line to succeed as Laird. Claire asks why wouldn't Hamish or even Dougal succeed, and Murtagh tells her that it's not like the English system, but the clans are tanist and since Jamie has MacKenzie blood if enough clansmen wanted him to be laird, then he could be. Dougal, rubbing his sore head, returns to the platform to stand by Colum's side as Jamie gets in the line.

Claire observes that Jamie might be a good choice for Laird, but Murtagh says Dougal wants to be Laird himself when Colum dies and if Jamie takes the oath Dougal will kill him. Claire asks why not just decline to take the oath, and he says that while Jamie is living at Leoch and as a healthy soldier, he has no choice and the men in the hall will kill him on the spot. Claire anxiously asks why Jamie is even there, and Murtagh says with Randall and the Watch after him, he'd never last long and Leoch is the only safe place for him in Scotland. Claire realizes it's her fault that he's in that position. Murtagh agrees.

Jamie approaches Colum and kneels as Dougal puts his hand on his sword. Jamie stands and tells Colum he comes to him as kinsman and ally and gives no vow as his oath is pledged to his own name, but instead offers his obedience as kinsman and Laird, as long as he is on MacKenzie lands. Colum smiles and they drink. Disaster averted, the crowd cheers, the pipes come to life, and the dancing begins. When Jamie makes his way to Murtagh and Claire, Murtagh tells Jamie he's getting too old for this.

The next day, the men are getting ready for the hunt and Rupert is sharpening his spear and tells Claire it's a great for a boar hunt. Claire notes that twenty men armed with spears, and muskets seem just about right to kill one hairy pig. Rupert says she's plainly never seen a boar and tells her to get her horse as it's time to go. The hunters beat through the woods as Claire leading Brimstone follows. The boars begin to charge, and one man on a shying horse is wounded. Claire tends to him saying it serves him right, what does he expect from a frightened animal with barbarians chasing it. She orders Rupert to take him back to the castle so Mrs. Fitz can get him some hot broth and blankets while waiting for her to stitch him up. She tells the man he'll be all right, but he'll have a limp. Score one for the boar.

Hearing screams, Claire rushes off toward them searching frantically through the brush. She encounters a snarling boar and screams when it charges towards her. A gunshot rings out and the dead boar skids to a halt by her feet. Claire looks up to see Dougal lowering his rifle, then takes a moment to calm her fear before racing after him as he hurries towards the screams. She arrives in time to find Dougal sitting upon the ground holding a fallen man. Claire binds up the bleeding leg, knowing that there is a good chance she could stop the bleeding, but the man was gored in the belly by the boar and will die from that. Dougal looks at Claire and she shakes her head indicating the man won't live. Dougal hugs the man close, then reaches over and unties the tourniquet. Claire realizes Dougal is allowing the man to die cleanly under the sky. Geordie asks Dougal if that time they raided the clan MacDonald, and they hid for a while in his home, did Dougal sleep with his sister. Dougal admits he did since she was a beautiful girl. Geordie Dougal was always charming for the ladies.

Claire tells Geordie that the pain will soon be gone, and he can no longer feel his leg or his hands. Dougal comforts the man as Claire asks Geordie about his home. He describes it for her, saying that the heather is so thick you can walk on it. She says it sounds lovely, and he wishes he was there. Dougal tells him he'll be there soon, and along with Claire promises they'll stay with Geordie. They and the other hunters silently watch as Geordie dies in a weeping Dougal's arms.

Back at the castle, Dougal sees some men playing shinty and after stripping off his coat and cloak, he grabs a stick and joins in. Claire and Rupert watch as he tears through the players, knocking some down and shoving others aside. He runs into Jamie and after the two men look at each other, they crash together. Dougal growls he taught Jamie how to play and Jamie agrees. The game continues with the ball racing down the field with Jamie receiving a pass from Murtagh, who knocked down an angry Angus. Jamie gets the ball, but is stuck from behind by Dougal. Claire remarks to Rupert that it doesn't seem fair, but he only looks at her. Jamie stands up and says that's twice Dougal caught him from behind and races after his uncle, crashing into him and knocking them both to the ground. Dougal tells Jamie to yield, and Jamie asks what would he think of him if he did and Dougal says not much.

Angus tries to strike Jamie as he's lying upon the ground, but Murtagh catches his stick between Angus's legs and pulls him to the ground. He tells a writhing Angus to play fair. The other players stop to watch as Jamie and Dougal fight fiercely until finally Jamie throws Dougal over his shoulder and to the ground. Jamie throws his stick to the ground and laughs as he holds out a hand to help Dougal up and says he taught him well. Dougal agrees and says too well. Dougal and a limping Angus head back to the castle and Jamie asks Murtagh who won.

Later, Claire is grinding herbs in her surgery thinking that she might be stuck in that dungeon forever, but she's not giving up. Dougal arrives and tells her she's seen men die by violence before. Claire says she's seen many men die. He tells her that she's done a fine job as a healer and that Mrs. Fitz would have a portrait made of Claire were it up to her. He thanks her personally for what she did for poor Geordie. Claire protests that she did nothing for him, but she wishes she could have. Dougal says she did help him; she took him to a peaceful place which is all anyone could wish for when they die. He repeats his thanks, and she tells him he's welcome. Dougal tells her that he came to set her free from her dungeon, and he's taking her on the road to collect the rents from the tacksmen and tenants who couldn't come to the gathering. It's his responsibility since Colum cannot travel. He wants to have a healer who does well under pressure with them as there danger on the road. He tells her they leave at first light.

Early the next day, the party of wagons and mounted men, including Jamie, Rupert and Angus, rides out from the castle. Claire reflects that she had no idea where this journey will lead, but she hopes it will bring her near Craigh na Dun, so she can return home.


Main Cast

Guest Cast

Production Notes


  • "The Gathering" is the title of Chapter 9 in Outlander.
  • The events of this episode correspond with Chapters 9 and 10 of Outlander.
  • This episode marks the acting debut of Outlander author Diana Gabaldon. Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and story developer, also has a cameo among the guests at the oath-taking in the hall.



Last.fm_play.png "Clean Pease Strae" – Bear McCreary




See Also