Episode 104, “Rent”
Claire has already begun to establish a friendship and mutual attraction with Jamie, but after a rocky start, in “Rent” she finally solidifies her relationship with the Highlanders.
Once on their journey to collect rents, it isn’t long before Claire begins to feel isolated from the Highlanders. She is concerned that their use of Gaelic represents an effort to exclude her, and she reminds herself that being on the road would be her opportunity to escape. Jamie notices her unease and comes to her. She asks him if the Highlanders hate her. Jamie reassures her but admits that they don’t trust her. Then she asks him if he thinks she is a spy for the British. He tells her, “No, but I do think there are things ye’re not telling us, and I know you tried to run during the Gathering. It’s on your mind still, plain and clear.”
What is interesting about Jamie’s observation in that in the books, Claire is frequently puzzled by Jamie’s seeming ability to read her mind.
Once again, Claire’s righteous indignation causes conflict, and Jamie comes to her rescue when Angus does not take kindly to being called a thief. Claire believes Dougal is not only collecting rent from clan members, but is using Jamie’s scars to garner sympathy from them in order to line his own pockets.
Claire’s healing skills had begun to give her some credibility and help build a measure of trust with Dougal and Colum. However, when she confronts Ned about her suspicions, that trust quickly dissolves. It isn’t until another collection night that Claire realizes Dougal is raises the extra money to finance a Jacobite rebellion.
This is my single most favorite scene from the episode. The collection party stops at an inn for the night. While the men drink downstairs in the tap room, Claire retires to her room upstairs. A noise outside her door leads her to investigate the source of the disturbance. She finds Jamie just outside the door after she steps on him. For fear that the drunken men might wonder upstairs, he again intends to protect her by sleeping at her door. She offers to let him come inside, but he fears it “would ruin [her] reputation.” Amused, Claire instead offers him her blanket, “If it isn’t too scandalous,” and he bashfully accepts. The sexual tension in this scene can be cut with Jamie’s dirk. (Yes, pun intended.)
The next morning during breakfast when Claire tries to convince Ned that history will never again record the name of a Stuart king, a group of rowdy locals are heard referring to Claire as a “Hoor.” Ironically, Angus, who had previously drawn his knife on her, is the first to throw a punch in defense of her honor. After the fight, Murtagh explains to Claire that as she is a guest of the Mackenzie, “We can insult ye, but God help any other man that does.” Even Dougal joins in the fight. This represents a turning point in Claire’s relationship with the Mackenzies. A bond is strengthened and she is defended as one of their own.
Rupert regales the group with a story about his experience with two women in bed, where they become jealous and begin arguing over who he will “swipe” first. “Can you believe it?” he jokes. Claire replies, “I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right. That’s about all I believe.” After a brief silent pause, Rupert breaks into a hardy laugh, the Highlanders following suit. “Ah, you’re a witty one,” Jamie says. Amazed at what he has heard from Claire, Rupert says, “I’ve never heard the woman make a joke!” Claire responds, “There’s a first time for everything.” Clearly the entire groups appreciates the moment, and the bond with the Highlanders is now solidified.
Now Claire needs only to convince Dougal that she is not a spy.