Outlander’s no stranger to major plot twists and in season three episode twelve the show delivered one of its biggest shocks, revealing that the time travelling Geillis Duncan was alive and well on the island of Jamaica.
But who is Geillis? And why is she such an important part of Claire and Jamie’s story?
Let’s take a trip down memory lane…
Who is Geillis Duncan?
Geillis Duncan first popped up in Outlander season one, when she was the wife of Cranesmuir’s Procurator Fiscal, Arthur Duncan. Geillis ran a herb store and bonded with Claire Fraser over a shared interest in herbs. But while Claire was interested in the plants’ healing properties, Geillis was using them for a darker purpose.
Geillis had been stealing money from her husband for the Jacobite cause and embarked upon an affair with the MacKenzie war-chieftan, Dougal. After Dougal’s wife died from an illness, Geillis – who had fallen pregnant with his child – poisoned her husband, leaving Claire utterly horrified. Dougal’s brother Colum forbade him from pursuing a relationship with Geillis, and exiled him to his estate, with Jamie in tow. Claire and Geillis were then arrested for witchcraft.
It was during their time in captivity that Claire began to realise Geillis wasn’t quite as she seemed, and when she spotted a smallpox vaccine scar on her shoulder she came to realise that this complicated woman had also travelled through the stones from the future. But the pair didn’t get a chance to chat about that great big thing they had in common because Geillis confessed to being a witch in order to save Claire’s life and was led away to be burned at the stake.
In the season two finale we learned that BEFORE she travelled through the stones she was a 1960s political firebrand by the name of Gillian Edgar. Edgar was incredibly passionate about Scottish nationalism and was obsessed with finding a leader who could give the country its freedom – even if she had to travel through time to do so.
Claire, who believed Gillian/Geillis would meet her maker on the pyre, tried to warn her about what might happen but reached Craigh Na Dun just a fraction too late. She discovered Gillian’s husband’s body in a burning car, just moments after the redhead had disappeared through the stones. Gillian had killed him, believing she needed a human sacrifice to make time travel work.
Didn’t Geillis DIE in season one?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that – even Claire was convinced Geillis had been burned at the stake. However, it transpired that she’d actually been granted a reprieve because she was pregnant with Dougal’s baby. After she’d given birth to the child, Dougal helped her trick her captors into burning a dead body instead.
Why is Geillis so important?
Well, first thing’s first, she’s another time traveller – just like Claire. And she seems to have a more detailed understanding of the ways in which the stones work.
How did Geillis know about the treasure on Selkie Island?
Remember that rather important relationship she had with Dougal MacKenzie? The man who loved her, fathered her child and helped her escape the pyre? Well, he told her where he’d hidden the treasure.