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Warning: This article contains spoilers for Men in Kilts Episode 4, “Witchcraft & Superstition”
In the fourth episode of Men in Kilts, Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish bring us on an adventure to one of the most memorable and saddest Outlander locations. The standing stones, aka Craigh na Dune, where Jamie and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) say goodbye twice — and both times it is seemingly forever. Here’s a quick recap of the stones’ meaning in Outlander: Girl touches stone. Girls travels 200 years back in time. Girls meets boy. Girl marries boy. Battle. Pregnancy. Boy tells girl to touch stone. Girl touches stone. Boy and girl separated for 20 years. Girl touches stone again. Boy and girl reunited. And that is the story of Jamie and Claire and those damn stones.
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Graham McTavish spends most of the episode being scared by Sam, and probably wants to send him through the stones Claire-style. But no luck. I could watch an entire show of just Sam scaring Graham and be content with life. In this episode, Sam and Graham explore the history of witchcraft and superstitions in Scotland. And it all leads up to a topless campfire, Graham being scared no fewer than 108 times, and their epic re-enactment of Jamie and Claire in a signature scene from Outlander’s second season.
Satan’s little helper
The episode kicks off with Sam scaring Graham with the help of a person in a mask. Not a mask like the masks we wear now, but a scary-looking mask. Then right when Graham recovers, Sam scares him again. And that is the theme for this episode. So if you like watching people getting scared, this is the episode for you.
As they head to their first stop, Sam reveals there is a superstition about porridge. Correct. Those little oats. Apparently, if you stir your porridge in a certain direction, it wards off the devil. But they don’t know which direction. And Sam looks genuinely concerned he’s been stirring it the wrong way. Graham asks him if he has any superstitions. Sam confesses he gets a new pair of socks for each marathon. “That’s hygiene. Not superstition,” Graham replies. Let’s go with hygienic superstition.
Graham recaps the episode in one quick line: “I don’t want this episode to be one near heart attack after another for me.” Sam shows that he hears him but doesn’t care, and scares him again. Graham tells Sam he’s “Satan’s little helper.” And then they drop an Outlander flashback from Season 1, which shows Jamie telling Claire, “Satan’s clever.” The editing here seems suspect. Or brilliant. Unclear which. Speaking of witches….
Which witch is which?
Remember when Claire was thought to be a witch in the Outlander episode, “The Devil’s Mark?” Even Jamie was like “Hey boo, you a witch?” And she was like “Are you f-ing kidding me?! No. I’m from the future.” Duh. Yeah, don’t be ridiculous, Jamie! Perfectly logical explanation, she’s a time traveler.
Sam and Graham arrive at Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, which is part church, part-prison, and they discuss the Witchcraft Act of 1563. Yes, there were actual acts written about women they thought were witches.
They meet up with Charlotte Golledge, a death historian. Mom, Dad I’m going to study the dead! What a legend little Charlotte must have been. As they head to the prison, Charlotte randomly asks Sam, “Are you going to get naked in the prison?” (Very natural segue there?!) Sam looks mildly perplexed, and Graham matter-of-factly says, “You’ve done that.”
Charlotte tells them the reason they lock the prison cemetery is because of a homeless man who hid in a tomb one night and then opened some coffins?! But fell in a burial pit and scared the caretaker. Homeless man was never seen again. The caretaker quit. But there’s more — something got released from the coffin.
“Après vous,” Sam morphs into a polite French man, as he tells Graham to go first into the creepy dark prison room. Graham yelps, “I’m actually scared!” Same Graham, same. They go in and Charlotte locks them in! Omg. Charlotte what are you doing?! Why?!? Sam and Graham, you have made a mistake. Remember in Outlander’s season 5 episode, “Free Will,” when Claire went up those stairs in that spooky house and found a very almost-dead maggot-filled body?!? This is the same situation. Properly freaked out, they leave. Bye Charlotte. Fun times.
“Stench of witch”
As they head to their next destination, Graham points out that witchcraft was ultimately about persecuting innocent people. And we get another Outlander flashback to Geillis and Claire getting arrested for witchcraft. Sam tells Graham he would have reported him as a witch back in the old days. Specifically that Graham has a “stench of witch” and dances like Satan. (See the last Men in Kilts episode recap for confirmation of this fact). They reveal that in the old days actors were burned, as they weren’t trusted since they could pretend to be other people. Wow, I bet the Oscars really would be lit back then. Too soon? Or too late?
They roll into Wormiston Castle next where they meet Leonard Low, a “witch expert.” Graham recites a poem from Macbeth. All we hear is “the crow makes wind.” Now I’m not a poet, but does that mean the crow is flying? Or the crow has gastrointestinal issues?
Witch expert tells them that Scotland believed witchcraft was heresy, so the punishment was burning. They flash back to the Outlander scene where the town is screaming, “Burn the witch!” about Claire and Geillis. And Claire just looks at Geillis with an 18th-century wtf-face, which is timeless by the way. It can work in any century.
Sam leaves Graham in a dungeon
Time for the dungeon. Leonard hands Graham a bowl of food to show the tiny hole through which they used to feed witches. Someone grabs the bowl and Graham screams. Sam screams. And I scream. We all scream. Not cool, Leonard. In the dungeon, there are lots of torture devices, including a thumb squisher – which they promptly put on Graham. He doesn’t look super happy about this. He’s screwed. No really, he is. They literally start tightening the thumbscrews. Quick history pause, this is what they used to torture women they thought were witches. Society was not kind to strong women. (Still aren’t…oh heyyyy). Graham’s thumbs get stuck. He looks nervous.
Leonard says witches who weren’t burned were banished and branded with a W. Then he shows them a long needle and Sam exclaims, “I want that!” Leonard explains how they used the needle to torture people. Imagine the worst acupuncture ever. This might be why the episode where Claire is captured as a witch is titled, “By the Pricking of My Thumbs!”
Then Sam and Leonard put another witch torture device on Graham. “Not so clever are you now witch?” Sam gleefully tells Graham. As a Hannibal Lecter-esque metal helmet goes over his head, Graham simply says “Holy shit.” And then Sam and Leonard leave him to go have tea. Savage move, boys.
Sam & Graham get stoned — Outlander’s magical stone circle
Next up is the Isle of Lewis, which is probably the most iconic location in Outlander. First, we see the defining Outlander flashback of Claire at the stones, having just fallen through time. As Sam and Graham walk around the stones, Sam explains that Outlander took casts of these stones and moved them into their studio. These are some pretty rocks. They both touch the large stone that Claire touches in the show, and Sam reveals they did a photoshoot with that stone between them, with 100 cameras around them with Caitríona on one side and Sam on the other.
So why were stone circles built almost 5,000 years ago? They don’t really know. Could be cycles of the moon? First clock? Sam thinks they were maybe built for Outlander. If only those stones could talk….
Sam then tries to touch the stone à la Claire Fraser, and Graham says, “It’s fiction.” He does not care and leaps at the stone and hits it pretty hard. Claire’s got a lot more chill. Jamie can’t travel through the stones and now we definitely know Sam can’t either. But he can fly really hard into them.
The last stop is a pagan party. They meet Justine, who tells them these festivals were a celebration of fertility. Then flash back to Geillis in Outlander having a one-woman naked pagan party. Sam and Graham start to dance as the fire ceremony begins. Wow, they are really dancing. After claiming he can’t dance in the last episode, Sam Heughan certainly is dancing. Lies. Maybe he’s the witch. Then they get headdresses and start screaming. (Also known as Monday for me, minus the headdress). Graham begins dancing, “Walk like an Egyptian”-style, to a bagpipe techno song, which maybe I Shazamed. Don’t judge me. It was unshazamable sadly. “Here’s to paganism,” they cheer. And then Sam is topless.
Jamie and Claire’s goodbye scene
The end credits outtake is something to watch over and over. Sam and Graham re-enact Jamie and Claire saying goodbye at the stones. Except Sam plays Claire. And Graham plays Jamie. Sam tells Graham, “Oh Jamie, I don’t want to go, you’re so wonderful, you’re so pretty, I’m not touching it yet.” Let’s just say Caitríona Balfe’s job is safe.
Next week on Men in Kilts, Sam and Graham seem to be weaving baskets and herding sheep. Cool. Normal day. Sam hinted that it goes very wrong. It’s sure to be a total sheep show.
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Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch (or re-watch).
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