Rent, Rebellion, and Raunchy Jokes
The romance between Claire and Jamie is a slow burn. Starz admitted season one was going to take time to unfold the heated love story. They also took a rather leisurely pace with Episode Five, Rents.
As promised, Dougal allows Claire to travel with the familiar characters, plus a few new ones, on their trip across MacKenzie lands to collect the rent. Rent comes in all shapes and sizes from a pence to a pig, handed over to Mr. Gowan, a solicitor, who collects and writes receipts. Claire is civil to this newcomer, which is quite contrary to her behavior with the rest of the clan the entire episode.
In this part of the story, there are three things striking about Claire. One, her hair is flowing and not tied back. Those beautiful curly locks make her look very attractive. Second, her wardrobe with the fur collar and cuffs, worn for traipsing through the Highlands, seems a bit out of place. It makes me wonder who at Leoch is providing the obvious expensive wardrobe, or if the costume designer for the show is just have loads of fun dressing her up. Third, her attitude on this trip equates to one sour pickle. She flashes her scathing looks and wields a sharp tongue in almost every scene—except toward Jamie, of course. Frankly, I wanted to slap her a few times myself because her attitude had become a bit irritating. It appeared as if Claire was burning every bridge between the relationships she had forged and the trust gained.
The remainder of her companions—Dougal, Angus, Rupert and the lot of burly men around the campsite—are a raunchy bunch, telling lewd stories. Claire, on the other hand, is sulking propped up next to a tree. She grumbles to herself that everyone hates her and has excluded her from their presence. Frankly, let’s face it—she doesn’t exactly have much in common with the rutting band of merry men speaking Gaelic. Jamie feels sorry for her, comes over with a peace offering of bread, and leaves her with a reminder that they treat her that way because they don’t trust her.
A few days later during one of their rent gathering sessions, she gets bored and wanders off in the small community. She meets a band of women sitting around a table rolling fabric in a pool of hot piss. She joins the group, grabs the cloth, and gets down and dirty with the locals. Apparently pee sets the dye in the fabric. When she is about to add her tinkle in a bucket, Angus barges in and hauls her roughly away by the arm. The clan is ready to leave, and his physical treatment only enrages Claire further.
She ends up having a hissy fit and an unpleasant scene unfurls with Angus and Dougal as she tries to return a goat to one of the women who needs it to feed her child milk. An Englishman intervenes over Claire’s harsh treatment, who appears to be one of the villagers. He asks if she’s all right, and Claire looks at him in astonishment. Before she can respond, the stranger is threatened by Angus. The Englishman doesn’t press the matter but retreats. He disappears in the shadows and puts on his Redcoat uniform, which unfolds later in the episode.
It’s obvious as we watch the hour continue that Claire becomes aware that more than rent gathering is occurring by Dougal. He is also raising funds for the rebellion, which she knows will end up in catastrophic loss. There are multiple flash-forwards between Claire and Frank as he tells her the history behind the massacre at the battle of Culloden. Ironically, in one scene Claire is standing by Frank at the battlefield location and looking at a MacKenzie memorial stone, which is one of many that commemorate those who lost their lives.
If you hated history as a subject, take a deep breath because you’re going to get one regarding Jacobitism, King James, and the house of Stuarts in this episode. Claire tries her best to warn Mr. Gowan and Dougal that their efforts are for a lost cause. Of course, her advice isn’t understood, and neither is her meddling as she tries to change the course of history without much forethought over the consequences. It’s understandable that Claire has the burden of knowledge in the presence of these men, but is powerless to change their minds. She cannot help but wonder how many of the men she knows will still be alive in 1746.
Even though the episode is filled with snarky jokes aimed as Sassenach, and she thinks they should kiss her English ass, Claire learns a lesson. When a brawl ensues at one of their stops over an insult hurled at Claire, the men rise into action. Afterward, she discovers it ensued because someone called her a whore. To her surprise, Murtagh replies, “You’re a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you but God help any other man who does.”
As far as Jamie and Claire, the scenes vary. Jamie admonishes Claire not to judge what she doesn’t understand, and reminds her it doesn’t matter where she came from–she’s here now. He saves her from Angus’ knife at her throat, brought on by her sharp tongue hurling insults. However, the memorable scene is Claire stumbling over Jamie outside her door. When she discovers he is there to protect her, she invites Jamie to sleep in her room instead of the floor. His cute virginal response and the look on his face is priceless.
“Sleep in your room with ye? I couldna do that! Your reputation would be ruined!”
The episode ends with a cliffhanger and the Redcoat she met earlier finding Dougal and Claire alone by a stream. He reappears with a band of Redcoats on horses and looks at Claire and asks her once again behind the boldness of his status, “Are you here by your own choice?” Don’t expect an answer until next week.
Guess who’s back? Your favorite sadistic Frank look-a-like, Black Jack Randall. The only good return of that blackguard is that it will soon lead to a marriage so all ye lasses can swoon over Jamie losing his virginity.
Overall, the episode was slower paced, historically rife, and not as exciting as others.
Most tender moment: Jamie turning down Claire’s invitation to sleep in her room.
Most humorous statement: “You’re a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you but God help any other man who does.”
Most disturbing moment: Angus losing his temper with Claire.