Rent opens with Claire looking out over a loch reciting a John Donne poem which Ned Gowan recognizes and recites with Claire. While the men mess about teasing each other and wrestling. When Claire inquires as to the teasing going on Ned informs her the men are encouraging young Willie to have Biblical relationship with his sister; as a joke thankfully. Claire and Ned get acquainted and Claire realizes the man is asthmatic and gives him a pipe full of thorn apple and jimson weed to relieve his coughing fit and help him breathe easier. They talk further about collecting rent and Ned’s willingness to take any stock except pigs.
Dougal informs them they are leaving and we see them all riding and singing. Claire continues to get to know Ned and we learn Ned studied Law in Edinburgh but city life wasn’t adventurous enough so he came to the Highlands and convinced Jacob MacKenzie (Dougal and Colum’s father) to take him on.
Claire tells us while she enjoys Ned she won’t let his friendship stop her from going home.
We see the party in camp again we see the men eating while Dougal tells quite the bawdy joke. Angus takes Claire a plate of food and then makes a comment, clearly, about Claire to the men in Gaelic. She knows they are speaking in Gaelic to exclude her and it upsets her. Jamie comes over with a bannock telling her not to worry about what the men are saying. Claire tells Jamie that she believes the men hate her but Jamie tells her they don’t trust her, well maybe Angus hates her but apparently he hates everyone. She asks him if she believes she’s a spy and he scoffs but does tell her she tried to run. When Claire walks away, Jamie says, “We’ll you did ask.”
We see the men in a village collecting rent. Dougal greets several men while Ned takes stock and money. Dougal asks if the men he greets will be there tonight. One tenant brings two pigs as rent against Ned’s wishes which Dougal overrides.
Claire walks off bored and hears singing. She meets Donalda Gilchrest, a woman of the village, who tells her the women are singing a waulking song because they are waulking wool. Claire tells them she’s idle and Donalda takes her to meet the other women of the village. Donalda pours hot piss onto the wool, “It sets the dye faster,” and the women set to the wool waulking. Claire watches them for a moment before joining in.
Claire and the women are in one of the village homes taking a break and drinking something strong. Claire discovers Donalda and her husband had to give up their goat to rent and their baby won’t nurse so now they don’t have milk for the child. Claire inquires about the standing stones and learns it is about three days away. The women are set to get back to work but need a fresh bucket of pee. Claire is willing but Angus comes in demanding to know where she’s been. She tells him she’s been walking wool with the women but he’s angry and tells her they are leaving. Angus pushes her around and Claire yells at him. As she approaches the wagon she unties the goat. She fights with Rupert over the goat because the “family needs her.” Angus tells everyone she’s drunk and she denies it. Dougal approaches and tells Claire the beast is payment for rent. Claire asks if he’d let a baby go hungry and he tells her the goat goes with us.
Dougal notices the villagers starring and tells them she’s a drink Sassenach. An Englishman steps forward and asks if she’s all right. Claire is clearly stunned but Dougal and Angus tell the man to mind his business or else, basically. The man is alone and backs off. As the MacKenzie party leaves, we see the Englishman put on his Redcoat and hat.
Inside what appears to be a tavern, Dougal is joking with villagers and then starts and impassioned speech in Gaelic. He rips off Jamie’s shirt showing his back. Murtagh is clearly ready to do something about it but Jamie stops him. The villagers start handing over money. Claire looks on clearly saddened at Jamie’s exposure. After the villagers have left, Dougal comments about make a good deal of money and then tosses Claire Jamie’s shirt to mend. She throws it at him and tells him to mend it himself. Dougal says he won’t do it and Jamie can where rags. Claire relents and Jamie grabs his shirt and says he’ll do it himself.
Claire is on the bank of a river washing when Ned brings her blood pudding (which she eats). She asks Ned what Colum would think of Dougal stealing money from him and using Jamie to do it. Ned tells her she’s canny and wonders if there are separate books to keep track of the stolen money. Ned seems to distract her with compliments and platitudes about it being a pity woman can’t practice law. Ned leaves and Claire turns to see Dougal watching her.
The party continues on, taking rent at different villages and the same show in taverns where Jamie loses his shirt. Eventually, the come upon a croft being burned by the Watch. They are suspected of being Red Coat sympathizers so the Watch burned their home and is taking their livestock. Dougal rides down for his rent without trying to stop what is happening. Claire notes Jamie’s disappearance and Murtagh tells her the Watch would turn him in because it is all about money to them.
Again we see them at camp and Angus is telling of his conquests. Angus offers Claire food but she refuses it and Angus drops it at her feet. Claire tells them she has no stomach for stolen food. Claire stands up and tells them she doesn’t sit with thieves either. Angus takes offense and pulls his dirk on her telling her he’ll not be judged by an English whore. Jamie intervenes telling Angus if she doesn’t want the food there is more for them. Angus backs off and Claire walks away. Murtagh breaks the tension with a joke. Jamie follows her and tells her she needs to not judge what she knows nothing about.
They move onto another village and this time the tenants are clearly poorer. One tenant informs Dougal he was robbed by the Red Coats and he has nothing to feed his family let alone pay his rent. Dougal gives him food and tells the villagers they will all eat with him tonight. Claire tells him she knows what he’s doing by giving away food just to get more money tonight in the tavern. Dougal looks angry but Ned steps in and tells Dougal the English are smart, smarter than them since Claire figured them out; though it becomes apparent she doesn’t know what they are doing. Dougal asks Claire what he’s accusing her of and she tells him, “a penny for the laird, a pound for your own pocket.”
In the tavern that night, Jamie removes his shirt rather than having it ripped from him. Claire then hears “long live the Stewart” in Gaelic which she recognizes.
We are taken to the 20th century where Reverend Wakefield and Frank talk about the Jacobite rebellions. Frank teases her wondering if her Uncle taught her about this saying, “What were you doing in the desert?” She shows him up telling him about the Jacobites.
Claire sits at the fire in camp and hears Jamie and Dougal arguing. Claire goes to eavesdrop and hears Jamie airing his grievances about his back being shown. Dougal reminds him of his oath which Jamie says was made to Colum. Dougal tells him he’s Colum’s legs and head on the road. Jamie tells Dougal that Colum clearly doesn’t know what Dougal is doing (raising money for the Jacobites) and Dougal tells them he’s not forcing them to give. He goes on to say they have something in common which is they want their king back where he belongs. Dougal asks Jamie if he wants Stewart on the thrown, as he would save his neck. Jamie says his neck and back are his own concern. Dougal tells him not while he travels with him and walks off. Jamie takes out his frustrations on a tree.
Claire approaches and tells Jamie that Dougal will just keep using him. Jamie agrees and tells her it gets him what he wants. Claire asks if Jamie will let Dougal use him; and Jamie tells her that Dougal is his uncle and he has to choose what is worth fighting over. Claire tells him to try not to hit anymore trees and Jamie tells her the trees are safe.
The next day, Claire sees them all differently and wishes she could tell them what is to come.
As the party travels they come across to men who have been crucified and marked with a T for traitor. Everyone in the party knows the Red Coats committed this horrible act. Jamie crosses himself and Angus voices his frustrations. Dougal orders them cut down to be buried. They burn the crosses.
In the tavern that night, Dougal tells of what they’ve seen with no need to expose Jamie’s back. Even Claire seems moved.
Claire is in a room above the tavern when she hears noises outside of her door. She grabs a candlestick to defend herself and then opens her door only to step on Jamie. She asks why he’s sneaking around outside of her door. He tells her he wasn’t that he was sleeping because the townsmen are all drunk and he thought to protect her. Claire apologizes for stepping on him. She invites him in to sleep where it is warmer and Jamie is shocked. He tells her he can’t because it would ruin her reputation. She says he’s slept with her under the stars with at least ten other men and Jamie tells her it isn’t the same at all. She gives him her blanket and their touch lingers. Jamie tells her he’ll be right here, outside of her door.
The next morning Jamie and Claire greet each other awkwardly. Claire sits with Ned and tells him she understood “Long Live the Stewart” sounds like and how futile a war with England would be. The men of the town are clearly making vulgar remarks about Claire in Gaelic though she doesn’t understand them. The townsmen clearly go too far and Angus starts a fight with them that the other MacKenzie’s are all too willing to finish.
After the fight, Claire is bandaging them up and yelling at them for fighting when Murtagh tells her they were defending her honor because the men had called her a whore. They can call her names but God help anyone else who does. Claire is beyond stunned. Ned and Dougal are conferring in the background.
Outside, Rupert is telling of one of his conquests and Dougal tells him, “I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right. That is about all I believe.” Everything goes quiet and then Rupert starts laughing and the men join in while Jamie calls her a witty one. Rupert says he’s never heard a woman tell a joke and she tells him, “There’s a first time for everything.”
Jamie mentions it will be three days before they cross Culloden Moor and Claire remembers a trip there with Frank while he explains the boggy moor and how the Scots were exposed and didn’t stand a chance. The Jacobites lost approximately 2000 men but what followed was the razzing of the clans where there was a ban on broadswords and tartans. The years following 1746’s battle ended what the Clans has once been.
In the next camp, Claire is having trouble with her bundle and Angus comes over and helps her. She thanks him and then decides to go wash. Dougal let’s her go off by herself but then follows asking her who she is. He believes her a spy because she has strong political opinions. He tells her she’s seen things on the road that would get them killed should she tell the English. She reaffirms she is not a spy and that she’s trying to warn him. When he asks what, she only tells him she’s trying to save his life.
The Red Coat from earlier appears with a dragoon of me telling us his name is Lt. Jeremy Foster. He asks if she is all right. Dougal tries to intervene but is clearly at a disadvantage now. Lt. Foster asks Claire again is she is there by her own choice. And we fade to black.