“Between Two Fires” gave us a glimpse of a few risky moves from Claire. Is this a sign of things to come for her on Outlander?
For the entire history of Outlander, we’ve counted on Claire to be the rational and advanced character. She is always the voice of reason in the plot, rarely taking chances, and routinely bringing Jamie back to Earth when he’s ready to pounce.
And in return, Jamie is always her lightning rod. They balance each other and provide a safe place when one is spinning off the rails. But with Jamie away on a tense manhunt for Murtagh, what is happening to Claire?
In Episode 2, we saw her do a few odd things that, while they make sense to us, could get her into a heap of trouble in the world of Outlander. In fact, one of her plans could alter the future to such a degree that it could change everything our time travelers know about the world they left behind.
Fair warning: This is just looking at the story from a show-only/first perspective and not considering what happens in the books.
For starters, Claire is keeping big secrets from the neighbors. After a settler died, Claire decided that she simply must use his body as a teaching tool and for investigation. It’s an incredible risk for her to take, but as Claire does, she is willing to do it to better help people.
Since no one of Outlander understands what an autopsy is or why it would happen, Claire is hiding her work. She even involved Roger to bury a coffin full of rocks and keep the body hidden from everyone. When she brought Marsali into the room to ask her to be an apprentice, the poor girl nearly fell to the floor praying to God, thinking Claire was up to some dark magic.
For me, this is not the biggest twist in Claire we saw this episode. Whether you’ve read the Outlander books or not, you can probably see that Claire is on the verge of creating penicillin.
Fans of the Outlander book series know exactly where this is going. But if you are new to this story, you may be asking yourself a lot of questions at this point.
Even Brianna thinks she is out of her mind with this choice. You may ask yourself, “What’s the big deal? Wouldn’t that be a good thing?” Well, sure, it would do good work and save many, many lives. But have you thought about the incredible ways it could alter life as we (they) know it?
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If you saw Back to the Future 2, or watch The Flash, you know that Marty McFly and Nora Allen would both testify that even one minute detail can completely ruin everything. Sure, it could right a wrong or make something better for millions. But at what cost?
Historically, hundreds of thousands of people should die in the coming century before this cure is expected to be discovered. Yes, it’s amazing to save lives, but what will happen as a result?
Most of those people will go on to reproduce, at a minimum. That means the population will increase incredibly in the future. In addition, some of those people will become partners to people who would have otherwise found someone else because the now living person was never there before.
This means tons of people would never come into existence (their children) and different people would. How many of those previous children would have gone on to become significant historical figures?
Assuming antibiotics came into play 100 years sooner, like Claire is about to ensure, our medical advancements would be on a much more advanced path by the current day. Who knows what our doctors and scientists will have at their disposal 100 years from now, but those things will come about in the 1900s instead. What would World War II look like if we did not have such casualties? What about society as a whole?
Another consideration is the advancements made along the path to the discovery of penicillin. Failures in medical research often lead to incredible changes. The microwave was invented by accident when a scientist discovered that the chocolate in his pocket melted while he was experimenting!
As always on Outlander, and any other story involving time travel, it’s not just about what might happen, but also what might not. What else may never be part of the known future if penicillin is found so directly?
In the end
The point is, Claire appears seems unstoppably out of control. Brianna immediately discouraged her from going forward, but Claire’s reasoning is solid. She can’t find it within herself to not do literally everything possible to help these people. Consequences be damned, she is about to alter the future (again).
The big question here is what will have to happen to deter her? Whatever it is, it will have to be painful. Claire would have to see a seriously dire outcome before she would abandon her fight for antibiotics and accept the pain of watching people die from things as simple as scrapes and food poisoning.
Personally, I’m caught wondering if it will be there in the current time, or if Bree and Roger will head back to the future only to find it is horrific. Then they’d likely come back to warn Claire, and who knows what they will have to go through to even make that possible. It’s Back to the Future all over again.
The risks of Claire’s decisions on Outlander may prove to be too great. I just know I’m going to cry when the chips finally fall on this. My one big hope is that when Jamie arrives to gather more troops for the hunt, he will discover her activities and talk some sense into her.
What could get Claire to step back from medical progress? What will happen when someone inevitably discovers her autopsy situation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Outlander airs on Starz every Sunday!