Oh, I love Outlander’s Geillis Duncan.
Wait, hold on, major spoilers ahead if you didn’t watch Outlander, Episode 11 “The Devil’s Mark,” so stop reading. When I interviewed Caitriona Balfe earlier this year I had already screened this episode, one of my personal favorites from the second half of Season 1, where we chatted about the WTF-moment involving Geillis. OK, so who else adores actress Lotte Verbeek?
As we witnessed the heated exchange between Claire and Geillis, with Geillis so desperatelly wanting to know the truth about Claire, it was surprising that Claire never caught on to why she was so connected to her friend in the first place.
“She said @#$%ing barbecue, which that word was not around until, well before the forties,” Balfe laughs, when asked how Claire didn’t catch that one. “The funny thing about Geillis and Claire is they had this initial — from the get go — they’ve had this initial attraction. There’s something very like-minded about each other. They loved their shared interest of herbs and botany. But they’ve always sort of circled each other because they’ve both had so many secrets. What was great was to finally see these women put their cards out on the deck and really — I think then that’s when they become true friends. It’s like, ‘oh this what you were made of?’”
Claire definitely was at odds with Geillis prior and was conflicted knowing she had poisoned her husband.
“For Claire to understand where Geillis came from with what she did to her husband, that’s very tough for her. I think she begins to understand who this woman is. It’s not to judge them, it’s to understand,” Balfe continues. “I think that’s what’s great about Diana’s writing. It’s a lot of understanding the reasons why people do things. It’s easy to sit in judgment. I think Claire can be quite quick sometimes to judge people. She always, then, has to come around and learn, ‘OK, this is why they’ve done it.’ Maybe then you can have more empathy for them. Claire has to learn to empathize. This is a different time and there is a different moral code.”
Ultimately Claire does learn that Geillis too is from the future, and is a true friend.
“What Geillis does for Claire, it breaks my heart every time,” Balfe says.