Outlander Ep. 209 – Je Suis Prest

I love this episode with my whole heart.  Not only was the cinematography and the music spectacular, but the character-work delighted me.  Jamie was so Jamie and Murtagh… well you know how I feel about Murtagh. And we got to meet a very young “William” Grey.

Claire, Jamie and the remaining Lovat men – a number of them having deserted en route – arrive at the training camp Murtagh has set up.  I love this reunion; they’re all smiles.


We didn’t get to see it in the show, but it’s clear that the 9-or-so months spent at Lallybroch have deepened the relationship between the Fraser couple and Fergus and his joy is evident when he runs up to greet them.  Claire hugs him with obvious affection.  Fergus mockingly complains about being at Murtagh’s beck and call these past few weeks.

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The next morning, when Jamie and Claire emerge from their lodgings, making plans for the day, they are greeted by two familiar faces, Rupert and Angus, come to join Jamie’s troops.  Impertinent Angus immediately begs a kiss from Claire and she obliges with an enthusiastic buss on his cheek.  A delighted Rupert lifts her off the ground when he hugs her.  The mood changes abruptly when she asks about Willie and from the downcast faces we all expect the worst news.  But no, the lad has merely gotten himself married and sailed off to Colonies.  It is clear that Angus and Rupert consider this a gross betrayal.

outlander10901 outlander11701 outlander13101 Then Dougal appears.  Jamie greets him with open arms, while Claire is polite, but not enthusiastic, in her greeting.



Dougal reveals that he is there without the consent of Colum, his laird and brother.  He is raring to go and kill redcoats, but Jamie cautions that the men need discipline and training.  It is clear from the outset that they have very different ideas about how this war should be conducted.  Dougal, as war chief of the Clan MacKenzie, has only fought in clan skirmishes and has a wildly romantic notion of the superiority of the Scots. Jamie, however, was a soldier in France before he met Claire and knows what war entails.  Also, this is Jamie’s command, and regardless of Dougal’s age or title, he is going to have to follow Jamie’s orders.  Claire, Murtagh and Jamie exchange meaningful glances.


Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love Murtagh more, he starts training the men and it’s awesome!  With Jamie and Dougal looking on, he tries to get them to line up and respond to bagpipe signals, but they’re more interested in getting their hands on real weapons instead of the farm implements with which they are presently armed.  He tells them that first they will have to learn to stand, march and move in that order and only then will they get weapons.

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Murtagh’s exhortations evoke memories of World War II for Claire.  She shakes off the flashback to a British sergeant major drilling troops, but later, when she spots Fergus playing shinty with some of the men, she flashes back to American soldiers playing baseball.  She is clearly rattled and angrily drags Fergus away.

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Jamie and Dougal join Murtagh in training the men in close combat.  Jamie is patient and deliberate, Murtagh loud, but also patient.  Dougal is just this side of sane, stabbing a straw dummy with wild abandon. At the end of the day, he once again tries to convince Jamie and Murtagh to wrap this up and march off to battle.  He is concerned about others getting there before them and finding favour with the prince. Jamie is resolute – he will not send his men off to fight until they are well-trained and disciplined.  Dougal’s frustration is all too apparent.

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Claire observes Angus spitting out his food and flashes back to WWII again, this time to two American Airborne soldiers complaining about the food.  In the flashback she chats with the two Yanks, Corporal Caleb Grant and Private Max Lucas, who seem quite taken with Nurse Randall.  We find out that it is here she picked up her trademark Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.

That night Jamie sees that Claire is struggling with something, but when he asks her what the matter is she tells him she’s fine.  He doesn’t believe her, but lets it go for now.

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The next day Jamie delivers a heartfelt speech to his troops.  He acknowledges their reluctance to learn to fight and tells them about his own experiences as a soldier, how cocky and excited he was, but how the first volley of shots shattered his illusions.  He tells them the brutal truth – courage is not enough; it takes discipline to beat a professional army.


His oratory is interrupted by Dougal and his men, bare-chested and covered in mud, enacting a traditional Highland charge.  Jamie’s men scatter in the face of this fearsome sight, but Jamie calls them back.  He is seething, but calmly explains that, yes, a Highland charge can be effective, but only when you have the element of surprise.



After dismissing the men, Jamie confronts Dougal, who goes right on the offensive.  Jamie shuts him down.  These are his men.  This is his command.  If Dougal wants to fight with them, he will respect Jamie’s authority.  If not, he can take his men and go.

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Dougal, not willing to accept this quite yet, changes tactics and approaches Claire, telling her that Jamie is clearly out of his depth and she needs to intervene on Dougal’s behalf.  When she refuses, he tries to blackmail her with the agreement she made to marry him should Jamie die at Wentworth.  She tells him, in no uncertain terms, that there are no secrets between her and Jamie – she’s told him everything  Dougal grudgingly admits that Jamie is a better man than he, and Claire agrees wholeheartedly.  She calls him a narcissist and tells him to go fuck himself.  Dougal admits to loving himself, but declares that he loves Scotland more.

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In the next training montage the men are much more confident and proficient.

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Jamie sees Claire looking troubled again and asks Murtagh if he has noticed anything amiss.  Murtagh agrees that she is not herself and says that Claire usually speaks her mind, so this must be serious.

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Next, Claire sees Angus examining his truly gross feet and lectures him on proper foot care in order to avoid trench foot.  Angus, being Angus, mocks her concern and this sets Claire off again – she has another WWII flashback where she lectures soldiers on foot care and a cocky young soldier blows her off.  She loses it with Angus, letting loose another F-bomb.  Claire is definitely unraveling.


It is night time and the men are sitting around a fire, telling improbable tales of their sexual prowess, as men do.  Dougal appears with a group of new recruits, who he claims are volunteers.  It takes Jamie no time at all to find out that they’ve been press-ganged and he gives them the opportunity to go home, as this is treason and the consequences, should the Rising fail, will be death by hanging.  They all leave and Jamie gives Dougal another talking to, telling him that he and his men will take over the sentry duty.  He orders the current sentries, Ross and Kincaid, to be lashed for allowing the party of men to enter the camp unchallenged.  This job falls to Murtagh.  Claire watches, but walks away when the lashing starts.


Claire is deteriorating.  She jerks with every shot as she walks past the men practicing with rifles.  Eventually she drops her basket and stumbles to a nearby cart, where she has an extended flashback.  She is traveling by night in a Jeep with the two Yanks when they hit a landmine.  She and Grant are thrown from the vehicle and land in a ditch, from where they can hear Lucas screaming in pain.  The Germans arrive and she volunteers to get Lucas, but Grant tells her to stay put.  He goes himself, and is shot.  Claire curls up in the fetal position with her hands over her ears, trying to block out the sound of the wounded soldier crying for his mother.  She is found muttering “Shut up, shut up” in that same position by Allied soldiers in the morning.

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This is also how Jamie finds her now.  She tells him the story and agrees with him that she couldn’t have saved the two men.  Jamie’s troops remind her of them.  Jamie tells her that he is sorry that he brought her along and that he will send her to Lallybroch, where she can wait out the war.  Claire doesn’t want to do that – she knows that she will feel powerless, like she was back in that ditch again.  And this time it will be worse, as the people dying will be her loved ones.  Jamie promises her that she will never be alone again.  He kisses her and holds her.  It’s a beautiful moment amid so much fear and sadness.



It’s night time again and Jamie relieves himself against a wall.  Suddenly he is attacked from behind.  He successfully wards off the attack and breaks the assailant’s arm in the process.  It’s a very young man, only 16 and in possession of a letter addressed to a British officer.  Murtagh declares him a spy, but he hotly denies it.  He was drawn by the fire and recognized “Red Jamie”, the traitorous and unprincipled rebel.  Jamie tries to extract information from him by twisting his broken arm, but the boy, while clearly frightened, refuses to talk, saying only that he is prepared to die.  Jamie is reluctant to torture and kill a child, but needs information regarding the strength and location of the British camp.  He heats his blade in the fire and approaches the boy, as if he’s going to burn his face with the hot blade.  Claire arrives and, thinking on her feet, intervenes.  She calls Jamie a Scottish barbarian and a sadist.  Even though she resisted his advances earlier, she will surrender to him if he allows the boy to go free.


Jamie is quick on the uptake and tells the lad that, even if he has no concern for himself, maybe he will consider the honor of an English lady?  He roughly grabs Claire and kisses her, while she pretends to resist.  Murtagh finds this enormously funny.  Jamie gets a bit too in to it, and Claire retaliates with a well-placed knee at one point.  I loved this exchange!

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The boy, of course, relents and Jamie hands Claire off to be restrained by some of the men.  The boy identifies himself as William Grey, second son of Viscount Melton. He tells Jamie everything he needs to know and Jamie orders his men to take him back and tie him to a tree a mile from his camp.  If his information proves to be false, they should kill him.


Jamie tells Grey that he gives him his life and to use it well.  Grey replies that he owes Jamie a debt of honor, although he wishes that he doesn’t.  He hopes to discharge the debt one day, after which he will kill Jamie.  Jamie says that in that case, they must hope to never meet again and bows to him.  The young man earnestly replies that a Grey does not forget an obligation and is then taken away.

This time Jamie sentences himself to be whipped, for while Dougal’s men were on sentry duty, it was his own reputation and unshielded fire which provoked the attack.  Murtagh once again wields the strap and everyone flinches as Jamie receives 18 lashes on his already scarred back.  He, of course, bears it stoically.


Afterwards the men prepare to raid the English camp.  Dougal is eager to go, but Jamie orders him to stay behind and resume sentry duty.  This doesn’t sit well with him and Jamie reminds him that he is a soldier and has to obey his commander.  The raid goes off without incident – the wheels are removed from the gun carriages and burned in a big bonfire back at their own camp.

Jamie wakes Claire, his face still covered in the soot they used for camouflage.  He tells her that they went on a commando raid, a term he obviously learned from her.  Despite his dirty face, Claire is more than ready for a different kind of action, but has to contend herself with a few passionate kisses.  They have to get out of there before the British show up.


They march off to Perth to join the Bonnie Ponce.  It’s beautiful.  When they arrive, Jamie graciously allows Dougal to ride ahead and announce their arrival.  They are ready.

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Written by Matthew B. Roberts and directed by Philip John.

Outlander Ep. 208 – The Fox’s Lair

On its own, this episode is as good and entertaining as any other episode of Outlander. It is mainly when viewed in conjunction with the rest of the Season that it becomes somewhat problematic, mostly with regards to the time-line, the relevance of these events and the over-use of a specific theme.  I will discuss my reservations at the end of the Season and limit this post to a recap of the the actual episode.

Thank Bride, we’re back in Scotland, with a brand new and intriguing title sequence and a much more pleasing musical arrangement.  And beautiful scenery!

The title card is of a rather scruffy-looking fox and this is followed by a brief voice-over from Claire bringing us up to speed –  they are at Lallybroch where they have healed from their experiences, Jenny and Ian have had another baby and they are all healthy, happy and at peace.  The first potato crop is ready and the members of the family, including Fergus and wee Rabbie MacNab, gather in the kitchen to celebrate and figure out how to cook the potatoes.  Jamie and Claire are adorably affectionate with each other and I just want them to stay here and be happy for the rest of their lives.

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Unfortunately this is not to be.  The mail arrives and with it a letter from Cousin Jared.  Jamie curses when he reads it.  Jared has included a copy of the Stuart declaration of King James’ divine right to rule.  A list of supporters to the cause is included, and Jamie’s forged signature is on that list. This publicly brands him a traitor to the crown.  Charles has landed in Scotland and is assembling troops.  The Rising has begun.

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Later that day Claire and Jamie discuss their options.  They know what the outcome of the Rising will be – Culloden and the end of the Highland way of life.  Claire wants them to flee to Ireland or the Colonies, but Jamie can’t abandon his land, his family and his tenants.  He is going to have to fight for the Stuarts in the hope that this may be enough to change the outcome.  Yes, they failed to prevent the Rising, but he points out that Claire has managed in many small ways to change the future by saving the lives of a number of people.  They lean on each other for strength and reassurance.

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Jamie and Murtagh spend some time discussing their plans.  Murtagh will assemble the Lallybroch men who can be spared from the estate to go and fight, while Jamie and Claire will make a detour to Beaufort Castle.  The Ponce has requested that Jamie petition his grandfather – Simon, Lord Lovat – for support.  They will meet up again on the road to Crieff where they will join the Ponce’s army.  Jenny is acerbic about Jamie’s intention to go to Lord Lovat – there is no love lost between the Frasers of Lallybroch and their grandfather.  Jamie is not looking forward to this prospect either, but will do what must be done.

That night Jamie confesses to Claire that his father was the acknowledged bastard son of Lord Lovat.  His grandmother was a kitchen maid.  Claire is not troubled by this and he carries her off to bed for some lovin’.


Much later Claire wakes up to find Jamie gone from the bed.  She can hear him talking softly in Gaelic though and gets up to see him seated by the fire with Jenny’s new baby.  It is an adorable scene that reminds us that he never even got to hold his own daughter.  Jenny joins Claire and they watch the touching tableau together.  Jenny informs her that Jamie couldn’t sleep and neither could the baby, so he took her off Jenny’s hands so that she may at least get a bit of sleep.  She acknowledges Claire’s loss in a matter-of-fact way that perfectly conveys how close these two have become in the last few months.


The goodbye the next morning is very touching.  Jenny gives Jamie a rosary and tells him he’d better come back or she’d never forgive him.  Claire and Ian tell each other to look after their respective Frasers.  Jenny and Claire embrace warmly, and if you’re a book-reader you’ll know that this is the last time these two will see each other for a very long time.



8/ 06 Ext Lallybroch Jamie & Claire prepare to leave: Fergus can't travel with them. Claire takes a look back as she leaves

Fergus rides up on a donkey, clearly intending to go with them.  Ian tells him he’s too young to fight, but Jamie agrees that Fergus’s place is with him.  He will go with his commanding officer, a.k.a. Murtagh, and the Lallybroch men.


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On the road Jamie fills Claire in on Lord Lovat, who has a history of shifting loyalties and political back-stabbing.  He’s been married three times and acquired some of those wives through nefarious means.  He was vehemently opposed to Brian’s marriage to Ellen MacKenzie and tried to have her kidnapped to avert it, which severed Brian’s relationship with his father completely.  Jamie and Jenny have only met him once, after Ellen’s death, and that was not a friendly encounter.

The first person they meet at Beaufort Castle is not Lord Lovat, but Colum MacKenzie, who has aged considerably in the 18 months since they’ve left Leoch.  Claire is not happy to see him and tells him so.  He says that she’d simply been in the wrong time and place during the witch trial.  Claire reveals Laoghaire’s role in her arrest and he admits that he had her beaten for it.  Mrs Fitz has taken the lass in hand since then.


Colum’s presence is a surprise to Jamie – Ellen had been Colum’s sister after all.  Colum explains that he is here to discuss the Clans’ response to the Ponce’s call to arms and when Claire asks why Dougal, the war chief, isn’t there, reveals that Dougal has been all but banished from Leoch and now resides at his own estate.

Enter Lord Lovat.  He is gloriously awful.  After slinging around a few insults, deftly parried by Jamie, he dismisses Claire.  She ventures out on the ramparts of the castle, only to run into a repentant Laoghaire, who has been sent to see to Colum’s needs on the journey.  Claire is not convinced by Laoghaire’s apologies and pleas for forgiveness; in fact she tells her that she’d often fantasized about revenge, but now she only pities her.



Jamie, when told about this conversation, is surprised that Claire even spoke to Laoghaire.  He has not forgiven her either.  Claire is “allowed” to accompany Jamie to dinner, with the caveat that she remains quiet.

The dinner is an uncomfortable affair during which Jamie speaks passionately about the Rising and the need for victory.  Colum questions the commitment of the French in lending support.  He is advocating neutrality in the Rising and seeks to persuade Lord Lovat to join him in dissuading the smaller clans to join the Jacobite cause.  Lord Lovat doesn’t trust the MacKenzie though, and Colum has to use Jamie to expose the weakness of the Ponce’s position.  Lord Lovat insults just about everybody, including his milksop son, Young Simon.  Young Simon seems taken with Laoghaire, who is helping with the serving, and Lord Lovat casually molests her to put the young pup in his place.

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Later Claire and Jamie return to their room, still discussing the situation.  Jamie realizes that Jenny was right when she said that Lord Lovat would want something in return for his cooperation.

The next day Claire witnesses Lord Lovat throwing a woman into the corridor, telling her that he knows she’s keeping something from him.  Claire rushes to the woman’s aid and finds out that her name is Maisri and that she’s Lord Lovat’s seer.  Apparently every well-appointed castle has one.  Maisri runs off, leaving Claire none the wiser.

Jamie and Lord Lovat finally have a chance to talk in private.  Lovat is bitter about Brian’s defection and his refusal to return to the fold after Ellen’s death.  He slyly asks whether Jamie has pledged fealty to Colum, causing Jamie to suspect that Lovat wants his fealty.  He is shocked and dismayed to find out that Lovat is actually after Lallybroch.  Jamie is not about to give up his land and Lovat tells him that he can keep Lallybroch in exchange for Claire’s honor, forcing Jamie to play the La Dame Blanche card again.  Trying to bed his witchy wife against her will comes with dire consequences, a point he underscores by throwing the bottle of whisky into the fire.  This seems to rattle the Old Fox somewhat.


Back in their room, Jamie tells Claire that he might have to give up Lallybroch.  Claire proposes getting Young Simon’s support instead.  The only way that would work is to boost his confidence and to accomplish that they need Laoghaire help.  Claire approaches Laoghaire, who is hanging up washing and creepily sniffing Jamie’s shirt while she’s at it. She is reluctant at first, but agrees when the prospect of Jamie’s forgiveness is offered.  She will not give up her virginity though.  Claire assures her that it will not come to that.


Jamie speaks with Colum and tells him that he knows what is going to happen in the future.  Colum reminds him of the past Risings that all failed due to lack of support from outside.  Colum implores him not to give up his land and Jamie promises to protect what he holds dear.  It’s a great scene and Colum is awesome.

Claire walks to the chapel with Young Simon and they just “happen” to come across Laoghaire, sans dowdy cap, who is picking mushrooms.  Claire contrives to leave them alone.  Laoghaire struggles to make conversation with the awkward young man, and he does himself no favors by declaiming sad and depressing poetry at her.  Laoghaire almost injures herself rolling her eyes.


In the chapel Claire runs into Maisri and learns that Lord Lovat is not an easy master.  You don’t need to be a seer to know that!  Claire wants to know more about Maisri’s visions and learns that they have often in the past helped to change an outcome.  Maisri tells Claire that she saw Lord Lovat with the shadow of an executioner’s axe over his face, but she doesn’t want to tell him this for fear that he may kill her.  They are interrupted by Loaghaire, who has managed to scare off Young Simon by flattering him and affording him a peek down her dress.

Claire finds Jamie in his happy place – the stables.  She tells him of Maisri’s vision and he wonders whether the executioner was British or Jacobite.  He realizes that giving up Lallybroch may be his only chance of getting enough men to gain Charles’ favor and change the outcome of the Rising.  Unless, for course, Claire wants to out herself as a time-traveler from the future… Claire is not on board with that, but comes up with a Plan B…  I’m going to have to assume that Jamie is in on this plan.

Lord Lovat has drawn up two documents – a deed of sasine that assigns Lallybroch to himself and a neutrality pact with the MacKenzies.  The choice is Jamie’s.  Colum objects to this, but Lovat is resolute.  Jamie takes up the quill to sign the deed of sasine and Claire drops her mug to the floor, drawing all the eyes in the room to her.  She staggers dramatically and points at Lord Lovat.  She’s having a vision. Maisri’s vision, to be exact.  Jamie catches her and she recounts the vision to Lord Lovat, who desperately wants to know which side the executioner was on.  Claire fabricates wildly that she sees a carpet of white roses, the symbol of the Jacobites.  Lovat then proves that Maisri’s fears for her life were not unfounded; he charges at Claire with a dagger, calling her a witch, but is physically checked by Young Simon.  Presumably having a keek at Laoghaire’s pair allowed him to grow a pair.  He tells his father that he is going off to fight for the Jacobites and the Old Fox signs the neutrality agreement with Colum.

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In the courtyard everyone is getting ready to leave.  Young Simon looks dapper, while Colum just looks old.  The bond of respect and even affection between Colum and Jamie is evident when they say goodbye to each other.  Jamie helps his uncle into the coach.  Claire asks Jamie to thank Laoghaire for her help and he reluctantly does so.  She tells him that she hopes that she will one day earn his forgiveness… and as he walks away, “his love“.  Oh Laoghaire, I was just starting to like you!  That last line makes me not feel bad for you that you have to travel in this manner… in the rain.


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On the road, Jamie, Claire and Young Simon see a large group of men cresting the hill and looking down on them.  Then Lord Lovat rides down to meet them.  He tells Young Simon to go and assemble “his” men.  So, even now, he’s playing both sides.  If the Jacobites win, he can claim that he sent his heir and men to war and if they lose, he can claim that he was neutral all the time and that Young Simon acted without his consent.  He credits Claire for making this possible. As for Lallybroch, he will bide his time…80692d7889aa13480907d2056a3f6f5cJamie wonders if he’s anything like his grandsire and Claire teasingly tells him that she’s seen him display a “similarly devious turn of mind” on occasion.

So, off to war they go.  Hoping, once again, to change the future…


Some thoughts:

  • Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat, was a real historical character and while the events in this episode are fictional, as is his bastard son Brian, he was known for his shifting loyalties and alliances and his nefarious ways.  He was beheaded as a traitor to the British Crown following the Rising.
  • Young Simon was about 19 at the time of the Rising.  He survived Culloden, but lost his home and lands and it took many years of legal wrangling to regain them.   At the time of the Rising, the castle was actually called Castle Dounie, but that was destroyed in the aftermath.  The new castle, built much later, was called Castle Beaufort.  Young Simon was a career soldier and while he married later in life, never had children.  The Lovat line continued through a distant cousin and still exists today.
  • While the MacKenzies of Leoch are fictional, there was a long and bitter enmity between the Frasers of Lovat and the real Clan MacKenzie.
  • I kind of wish Colum had brought Ned Gowan with him!

The episode was written by Anne Kenney and directed by Mike Barker.

Outlander Ep. 207 – Faith

This episode concludes the Paris arc of the season in a truly heartbreaking and emotional fashion.  Fortunately both the ending and the beginning provide a ray of hope that, despite the devastating loss Claire and Jamie suffer in this episode, they will have another child (although to be clear, that does not negate the loss of this particular child) and they return to Scotland emotionally united and reconnected.

Instead of a title card, we get a opening scene of Claire and a red-haired little girl in a library in Boston in the 1950’s.  The girl addresses Claire as Mama and, as she is looking through a book on birds, asks her if she’s ever seen a heron in real life before.  Claire says that she has, a long time ago in Scotland.  The picture of the heron transitions to an actual heron taking flight.


At L’Hopital des Anges Claire is drifting in and out of consciousness as Monsieur Forez and others are working on her.  Prayers are being said and Mother Hildegarde assures her that she will take care of her.  Claire cries out for Jamie and her baby and sees the heron again.  The camera pans out to show a disturbing view of the bloody aftermath of the stillbirth / miscarriage.


Some time later Claire wakes up and, feeling her flatter belly, asks for her baby.  She sounds both desperate and hopeful. Mother Hildegarde tenderly breaks the news that the baby was stillborn.  “She has joined the angels.”   As Claire tries to process this shock, one of the nuns places a statue of the Virgin Mary near her bed, for comfort.  Claire does not want to be comforted though, she wants to see her baby and becomes more and more agitated and vehement in her demands.  In the ensuing struggle to try and restrain her, the statue of the Virgin falls to the floor and shatters.




On top of her precarious mental and emotional state, Claire develops an infection and becomes very ill.  Mother Hildegarde tells her that she had the baby baptized and little Faith was buried in hallowed ground.  There has been no word from Jamie.  A priest comes to anoint her, but Claire refuses to be absolved from her sins – they’re all she has left.  Mother Hildegarde leaves Bouton to watch over Claire.

During the night, a hooded Master Raymond approaches the bed, orders Bouton to leave and wakens Claire.  He cautions her to be quiet so that he won’t be discovered.  He lays hands on her and asks her what she sees.  She replies that she sees blue wings, which he declares a good sign, as blue is the color of healing.  Claire feels the infection leave her body and the retained piece of placenta which caused the toxemia is expelled from her uterus.  Raymond calls her Madonna again, to which she replies that she no longer has a child.  He tells her that he calls her that because of her blue aura, like his own and like the Virgin’s cloak.  He takes his leave, but assures her that they will see each other again.  The nuns declare her miraculously healed.

Claire again asks Mother Hildegarde about Jamie, only to find out that he is in the Bastille, at the pleasure of the King.  Fortunately for him, Randall did not die of his wound and has returned to England to convalesce.  Claire tells Mother Hildegarde that Jamie has betrayed her and bitterly refuses to forgive him.

It is Fergus who eventually compels Claire to return home, some weeks later.  The servants are all lined up in the courtyard to welcome her as she gingerly emerges from the carriage.  Suzette weeps openly when she rushes up to greet her.  Claire is barely holding it together, which makes her curtsying to Magnus, who saved her life, all the more poignant.




She is still unable to fully engage later that evening when Fergus brushes her hair by the fire.  She thanks him by rote, but fails to notice his sudden distress and abrupt departure from the room.  Even later, unable to sleep, she paces the room.  She spies the box of Apostles Spoons, opens it briefly and then shoves it out of view.  Pulling on her robe, she flees the room in tears.  In the hallway, she hears a Fergus crying out and rushes to him.  She wakes him and coaxes his nightmare out of him.  He tells her that he wanted to bring her something – the bottle of lavender water he found in the room in the brothel.  The English officer – Randall, of course – caught him red-handed and raped him.  Naturally he cried out in pain and fear, causing Jamie to burst into the room and start beating Randall, in absolute shock and rage.  He had to be pulled off Randall, but challenged him to a duel as he was being pulled away.  Claire, now understanding what made Jamie break his vow to her, comforts Fergus and tells him that it was not his fault.


The next morning Claire petitions Mother Hildegarde, who has important connections, for help in freeing Jamie from the Bastille.  She tells the old nun that, although she is still angry, she now understands Jamie’s motivations and that he is the father of her child.  I think in that moment she is actually referring to Fergus.  Mother Hildegarde warns her that the King will expect to lie with her as payment for such a favor.  Claire is pragmatic when she says, “If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I will add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris.”

At Versailles, the King seems pleased to see Claire.  Aloof, but cordial, she accepts his compliments and the offered refreshments (chocolate and an orange, both extremely exotic and expensive in that time).  She makes her request and he parries with the seriousness of the charge, forcing her to offer that she would be most grateful.  He tells her that he would like a favor in return, and she declares herself to be at his complete disposal.  Instead of leading her to the bed, he takes her out of the room via a concealed door.

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They enter the magnificent Star Chamber, where the ominous Monsieur Forez awaits them.  The Comte de Saint-Germain and Master Raymond are ushered in and the King reveals that they both stand accused of practicing the dark arts, based on evidence found in the Comte’s house and Raymond’s apothecary.  Since Claire, a.k.a. La Dame Blanche, is pure of heart, she must examine the accused and pass judgement, upon which the evil one, or both, will be executed.  Claire is appalled, but has no choice but to agree.

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She looks intently at each man, then reveals that she sees darkness in the eyes of the Comte.  She drops the name of Les Disciples in an attempt to expose him as the mastermind behind the attack on her and Mary.  Enraged, he calls her a liar and a witch.  She has survived poison, which he knows since he was the one who poisoned her.


Claire doesn’t deny that she is a witch, but tells the King that she is a white witch and practices white magic.  The King points out to the Comte that Claire is not the one on trial.  Despite her resentment of him, Claire doesn’t want to condemn the Comte to death, so she tells the King that everyone has darkness within them.  The King doesn’t seem to like this assertion and offers another way to expose the evil – a serpent.  A Gabon Viper in a glass case is wheeled in and I involuntarily pull up my feet…  Fortunately Claire is not eager to tangle with the snake either and comes up with another solution – poison.  The snake stays in the case and Claire rummages through Raymond’s potions for bitter cascara, which she knows will sicken, but not kill, the two men.  This might be enough to convince the King that both men are innocent and should be spared.

Claire hands the cup of “poison” to Raymond first and he solemnly takes a drink, then bends over as if choking and in pain.  He hands the cup back to her and when she takes it, the stone in her necklace turns black, denoting the presence of poison.  Remember Master Raymond proficiency in sleight of hand?  Yup, he’s added real poison to the cup and both Claire and the Comte know it.  Realizing that he has no choice, the Comte laughs bitterly, acknowledges Raymond’s victory over him and curses Claire.  Then he drinks the poison and dies rather ignominiously.

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King Louis casually steps over the body and tells Raymond that his life will be spared, but he is to leave France and never return.  Then he takes Claire back to his bedchamber and has quick, non-conclusive, transactional sex with her.  In other words, it is a mere formality, with no pretense of pleasure for either of them.  He grants her request to have Jamie freed and promises to arrange a pardon for him from the English crown too, so that they can return to Scotland.  Claire grabs her orange and, with great outward dignity, leaves.

Back at the house, Jamie wearily climbs the stairs to their bedroom.  A stony-faced Claire waits for him and the top.  He is dirty and unkempt and has a truly awful beard.  His voice sounds rusty and hoarse when he implores her to tell him about the baby.  Claire bitterly tells him all about Faith.  Jamie says that he tried to keep his promise and she replies that she knows about Fergus.   Throughout the conversation she avoids looking at him, but finally has to do it when he asks her if she hates him.  She tells him that she did hate him.

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We flash back to Claire at L’Hopital des Anges, being handed her dead baby so that she would not be left with only her imagination.  She describes Faith to Jamie, remarking on the red hair and slanted eyes.  We see her crooning to Faith and rocking her.  Apparently this goes on for hours, until a visibly pregnant Louise arrives, evidently summoned by Mother Hildegarde.  Louise proves herself to be a good friend in this moment, gently coaxing Claire to relinquish her baby.  Claire, arms now empty, wails in despair and turns her face into the bed.


So yes, I hated you“, the tells him.  Jamie looks so overcome with grief and despair in this moment.  Then Claire reveals that she realized that it was all her fault – she had asked the impossible of him, she had put Frank before their own family, she had followed him into the woods.  Jamie tells her that he has already forgiven her for anything she could ever do.  Claire then tells him the final piece of truth, that she slept with the King.  Jamie flinches, but knows that she did it for him and compares it to him giving himself to Randall to save her.  They know they can never be the same again, but they can bear the loss and the burden together.  Claire tearfully begs Jamie to take her back to Scotland and, also in tears, he agrees.

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In the final scene Jamie and Claire visit Faith’s grave.  Jamie places one of the Apostle Spoons on the simple stone marker.  It represents Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.  Still much burdened by grief, they cross themselves and kneel together by the grave.  Clutching tightly to each others’ hands, they say a final goodbye to their daughter.

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It was a very powerful episode, beautifully written and produced.  Catriona Balfe’s performance is exquisite.  She manages to convey all the stages of grief beautifully – I cried until my head ached.  Truly, she deserves all the awards ever conceived by the industry.

I find the recurring themes and symbolism in this episode fascinating.  Blue is used throughout – the blue heron, Claire and Brianna’s blue clothing, the blue of the Virgin Mary, the blue wings, the blue flowers – anemones – that Fergus brings her and even her blue cloak when she arrives home.  I don’t know much about color symbolism, but I know that sadness is often referred to as “feeling blue” and Raymond calls it the color of healing.

As for the name of the episode – “Faith” obviously refers to the baby, and there are numerous religious symbols in the episode.  But the statue of the Virgin is shattered, Claire clings to her sins and refuses to forgive.  At the end though, she forgives Jamie and herself, and even makes the sign of the cross at the grave.  More significantly, I think that the trust between Claire and Jamie and the faith in their love and each other were shattered, but are finally restored.  Yes, they are still filled with grief, and it will never fully go away, but they are more unified at the end of this episode than they have been since Wentworth.  And that is beautiful and satisfying.

The episode was written by probably my favorite writer in the Outlander writers’ room, Toni Graphia, and beautifully directed by Metin Huseyin.

Outlander Ep. 206 – Best Laid Schemes…

We open with Jamie sitting at his desk at home, deep in thought.  He has clearly been thinking about his emotionally charged altercation with, and eventual promise to, Claire.  He seems to come to some sort of resolution.  Murtagh walks in and tells Jamie that Randall has been released from the Bastille.  He’s found a good spot for the duel and says that they should go and practice – Jamie needs to work his bad hand.  Jamie informs him that there won’t be a duel.  He’s withdrawn the challenge.  Jamie won’t tell him why, which upsets Murtagh.  He leaves in disgust.  Magnus informs Jamie that Claire has gone to the hospital – news which is met with a certain measure of frustration.




Claire looks rather uncomfortable tending to the patients in her advanced stage of pregnancy.  Monsieur Forez asks her to help prepare a deceased patient for burial and she readily agrees.  She asks him if he is going somewhere, to which he replies that he has been called by the King to perform his usual duties. The King wants to execute several practitioners of the dark arts by means of hanging, drawing and quartering, which he describes in sinister detail.  He mentions Claire’s friend, Master Raymond, which Claire perceives as a veiled warning.  Monsieur Forez is very creepy – great casting choice here.


Needless to say, Claire is freaked out by this and rushes to warn Master Raymond.  The apothecary is, at first, somewhat dismissive of her warning, but when she elaborates and insists, he agrees to leave Paris.  He thanks her for her friendship and assures her that they will meet again, in this life or another.


That night Jamie is rubbing Claire’s tired feet.  He broaches the subject of their recent argument, saying that he’s saved her life as well.  They’re even.  That was not the reason he agreed to her plea to delay killing Randall.  Claire chose him and he doesn’t feel that he owes Frank anything.  His motivation is Charles Stuart – should their attempts to prevent the Rising fail and should something happen to Jamie, he wants there to be a place for Claire to go.  He wants there to be someone to care for Claire and their child, someone who loves her.  He asks her to promise that, should the time come, she will go back through the stones to Frank.  Deeply disturbed by this notion, Claire promises, and as we already know from Episode 201, she will honor that promise.  There have been lots of complaints from book fans that this season has not blessed us with enough sex scenes between our two favorite characters, but I would rather have scenes like this, with such intimacy, honesty and emotional depth.  I’m perfectly happy to imagine that they’re “doing it” often and well, but I don’t need to see it.  This I do need to see though.  This is what this story is about – love, honor, sacrifice and a soul-deep connection.  I love it!


Claire has figured out how to imitate the symptoms of smallpox, which will hopefully, when unleashed on Saint-Germain’s men, result in the destruction of his warehouse and the Ponce’s wine shipment.  Murtagh doesn’t understand why they just don’t kill the “Italian fop”, but Claire points out that that would only make him a martyr through all of Scotland.  She instructs Jamie and Fergus (who is acting like a goofy child for a change) on the application of the herbs, using Jamie as a guinea pig.


The herbs take effect in no time, but Murtagh is still not impressed by the scheme.  Claire and Jamie both realize that the time has come to tell Murtagh the whole truth.  A decidedly worse-for-wear Jamie joins Murtagh, who is pacing the courtyard.  With Claire watching through the window, Jamie tells him everything.  It is clearly a lengthy conversation.  In the end, Murtagh says that if Jamie believes Claire to be a witch, he will not contradict him.  He socks Jamie in the jaw for not trusting him with this knowledge from the beginning. Male bonding – it is a weird and wondrous thing.


Jamie and Fergus leave on horseback for Le Havre to spread the plague.  Claire admonishes Jamie to be careful and Fergus assures her that he will watch over “Milord”.


Claire comes across Murtagh in the salon,  He has written down all the years she’s lived in the 20th century.  He’s trying to wrap his mind around it.


He questions her about the Rising and she confirms that it won’t end well for the Scots, which is why they are trying to prevent it from taking place at all.  He asks if she knows what will happen to them and she tells him that she doesn’t know about specific people, only that many will die.  He squeezes her hand and says that he wouldn’t want to bear that burden.  She is touched by his understanding.


Jamie and Fergus ride through the French countryside to Le Havre. Fergus slips into the warehouse after dark, steals two bottles of wine and brings them back to Jamie, who breaks the seals and administers Claire’s concoction.  He knows that when the men discover the opened bottles, they will drink the contents.  Fergus sneaks back in, places the bottles on a table and paints nettle juice on the inside of the men’s coats.  Mission accomplished without incident.


Upon his return home, Jamie reports back that all went well and falls asleep in Claire’s arms.


Jamie meets with the Ponce and the Comte in a back room at the brothel and learns that the men at the warehouse have been infected with an unidentified illness, but Saint-Germain, true to form, has managed to secrete them away, so the authorities are none the wiser.  This means that the wine will have to transported to Paris with all due haste and Jamie is charged with that task.  The Comte doesn’t trust Jamie one bit, so he is coming along.  Oh good, road trip!  They can sing Simon & Garfunkel songs and play count-the-red-cars.


Jamie and Murtagh hastily concoct a plan in which he and a band of hired criminals will impersonate Les Disciples and ambush the cargo on the road to Paris.  Murtagh is not a fan of the fancy duds, grousing while Suzette dresses him.  Jamie acknowledges that it’s a risky plan, but it’s all they’ve got.


They're so cute together!

They’re so cute together!

Later, in bed Claire voices what we already know, “Bad things tend to happen when we’re apart.”  Jamie assures her that they will always find their way back to each other.  Then he feels the baby kick and he adorably talks to the belly.  “Wee one, it’s your father.  I canna wait to meet you.”  Such a poignant moment.  They make love.


While Jamie is away Claire attends a soiree where she gets annoyed by the empty gossiping of the ladies.  She tries to change the subject and raise their social awareness, but the women completely miss the point and she decides to leave.  She is clearly out of sorts.


Out on the dark road, the masked “highwaymen” strike.  Saint-Germain refuses to back down and is about to shoot Murtagh, forcing Jamie to intervene by shoving away the Comte and taking down Murtagh.  They grapple while one of the bandits hold back the Comte.  Jamie signals Murtagh to knock him out.  The Comte shouts idle threats as the robbers make off with the wagons.


Claire goes to the hospital, rather than sitting at home waiting and worrying.  While she tends to the patients, Fergus plays with Bouton.  Mother Hildegarde notices how tired she looks and orders her to rest. When the Mother helps her to lie down, she sees streaks of blood on Claire’s stockings.  She reassures Claire that it is of no great concern, but that she should stay the night.  The Mother’s look of concern belies her words, though.  Fergus will deliver the news to the household.



Charles laments that he is ruined.  He has lost his profits from the wine venture and he has no means of paying back the bank loan.  The Comte, looking far less put-together than usual, is suspicious of the timing of the attack and all but accuses Jamie of having a hand in the robbery.  They face off, but Charles points out that by the Comte’s own account, Jamie saved him from injury or even death, at the risk of his own life.  He dissolves in a puddle of tears and self-pity.  I honestly tried to summon some sympathy for him, but failed miserably.



Jamie arrives home in time for breakfast.  Fergus greets him and informs him that Claire stayed over at the hospital.  He asks when Murtagh will be home and Jamie tells him that he’s gone to Portugal to sell the wine – it will take a month or more. Suzette enters with the news that the Bonnie Ponce has finally worn out his welcome at the brothel and is in some difficulty with regards to the bill.  Can Jamie help?  Jamie, with Fergus in tow, sets off to settle matters before the gendarmes can be called.


Poor Jamie.  Nobody ever stays put when he tells them to.  Fergus is no exception.  While Jamie confers with Madame Elise, he wanders around the brothel and spies a half-open door.  He enters the room, in which a familiar red coat can be seen hanging, and investigates the objects on the table.  As he pockets a small bottle, the door closes and he turns around, realizing that he is trapped.


Later in the day Claire arrives home.  She notices the servants acting strangely and asks Suzette where Jamie is.  Suzette tries to avoid the question, but Claire points out that, since his hand-brace is there, he must have returned from Le Havre.  Suzette reveals that Jamie has gone to the Bois de Boulogne, there to fight a duel with an English officer.  Claire snaps.  She literally unravels before our eyes.  She finds a note from Jamie, saying simply, “I am sorry.  I must,” and despite the fact that she is obviously in physical discomfort due to pregnancy related issues, sets off for the woods with Magnus, the butler.


The carriage races through the streets, jolting Claire, but she hardly seems to notice.  She is so angry and distressed over the fact that Jamie has broken his promise to her. When they reach their destination, Claire is unable to walk unassisted, but she doesn’t seem to notice her own physical condition.  Her only goal is to stop the duel.  Yet, as she comes upon the combatants, she is unable to cry out for fear of distracting either of the men.   By now she is clearly in pain, doubling over and gasping.



The duel is very physical and brutal.  Both men are in it to the death and it seems they are fairly equally matched.  Jamie eventually manages to stab Randall in the crotch.  At the same time, copious amounts of blood pour out of Claire onto the grass at her feet.  She cries out to Jamie and he hears her.  Unfortunately the gendarmes arrive at that moment and he is unable to go to her.  He yells her name as she collapses on the ground.  She manages to tell Magnus to take her to Mother Hildegarde before losing consciousness.  Jamie is being restrained from reaching her, and as Black Jack closes his eyes, continues screaming her name in anguish.





Written by Matthew B. Roberts and directed by Metin Huseyin.

All screencaps sourced from Outlander Online.


Outlander Ep. 205 – Untimely Resurrection

This episode introduces a new writer to the Outlander stable of writers, one Richard Kahan.  Not only was this his first episode for Outlander, but it was his first ever episode for television.  I was nervous for him, but you know what, he did great.  Not only was it a great first effort, but it was a great episode of television.  He very skillfully built the tension throughout until I was perched at the edge of my seat, barely remembering to breathe.  I hope we see more from Richard Kahan in future seasons – he is very talented.

We open in the early hours of the morning, as the house staff clear away the debris of the previous night’s dinner party and the ensuing fight.  Claire’s voice-over tells us that everyone involved in the brawl have been taken away by the gendarmes, even though it was all a misunderstanding.  Jamie arrives home to find Claire waiting on the settee for him with a sleeping Fergus by her side.  He picks up Fergus and carries him off to bed, commending him for guarding his mistress well during the long hours of the night.  It’s very touching.


In their bedroom Jamie tells Claire that Duverney secured their release, but that the only thing that will exonerate Alex Randall is Mary’s testimony that he wasn’t the one who raped her.  Even Sandringham won’t come to his aid – in fact, he sent a message to relieve him of his position, because of the disgrace.  Jamie says that at least Sandringham has seen that the Ponce is a poor investment and that means that the dinner party was a success.  Claire informs him that Charles left with Saint-Germain, which can lead to more problems.


Jamie intends to have Murtagh follow the Comte in the hope of determining whether he had anything to do with the attack.  He asks Claire for more details about the assailants and she describes them as having the speech and clothing of aristocrats.  He wants to know how they escaped and she tells him that the men mistook her for some some mythical creature named La Dame Blanche, the White Lady.  This stops Jamie short and, at Claire’s prompting, he admits that he may have let it slip that he was married to La Dame Blanche.  Claire is incredulous, to say the least.  Jamie says that the Ponce was forever pushing whores on him and he wanted to remain true to her without appearing “unmanly”.  Claire just can’t believe that, after what happened at Cranesmuir, Jamie would publicly announce that she was a witch.  He says that there may have been a fair amount of drinking involved.  Claire infers from this that the attackers must have been customers of the brothel, a clue which could be useful in tracking them down.  She leans back in Jamie arms, scoffing – half angry, half amused – “La Dame Blanche!”.  It is so good to see them united again, just being close and together.


Murtagh reports back to Jamie at his warehouse office that the Comte was easy to track, but that there was nothing suspicious in his behavior.  He was, however, able to gain information at Madame Elise’s that there is a gang of masked noblemen called Les Disciples who prowl the streets in search of prey.  Admission to the gang is the taking of a maidenhead.  Since Mary was a virgin, her rape was a right of passage for her assailant.

Jamie tells Murtagh he looks like a “right clarty midden”, a phrase I want to employ at some opportune moment in the future, and orders him to get some sleep.  But Murtagh needs to unburden himself.  He’s failed Jamie.  Jamie denies it, but Murtagh feels guilty for not protecting Mary, Claire and the unborn baby.  Jame points out that he was outnumbered and that there is no shame in falling in battle.  He charges Murtagh with finding the culprits and Murtagh vows that he will lay just vengeance at Jamie’s feet or be damned.  Jamie, the laird, acknowledges the vow with a solemn nod.


Claire visits Mary, who seems much recovered from her ordeal, although her face is horribly bruised.  She hugs Claire tightly and tells her that she is to leave Paris as soon as she is able to travel.  She is relieved to hear that Jamie and Murtagh have been released and is writing a letter to secure Alex’s release too.  She asks Claire to deliver the letter to the authorities and Claire promises to do so at once.  Mary continues to speak fondly of Alex.  Claire asks her how she’s feeling and she sadly expresses her shame – she feels like a different person now.  Claire assures her that she has nothing to be ashamed about – none of this was her fault.  She gives Mary some herbs to ease the tenderness and bruising and instructs her on how to use them.  Mary fearfully asks if she is going to have a baby, but Claire tells her that it’s not likely.  Mary expresses her gratitude for Claire and says that at least now she won’t have to marry the awful Viscomte.  She is certain that once Alex is freed from the Bastille, he will come for her so that they can be married.  This prompts Claire to remember about Frank – Mary has to marry BJR, not Alex.  She toys with the idea of burning the letter… wondering whether she holds the key to Frank’s existence, but realizes that she can’t condemn Alex to prison.



Jamie has yet another visitor at the warehouse.  This time it the Bonnie Ponce, who demands the finest wine to be opened because he has excellent news.  The female haze that once clouded his mind has been lifted, the supposed investors have shown their true colors, but he has a new venture in the works.  Jamie has to work hard to keep his composure and feign happiness at this news.  To his horror, the Ponce’s new business partner is the Comte de Saint-Germain.  Charles has secured a bank loan to buy a shipment of wine.  This will garner enough funds to begin purchasing ships and weapons for a Rebellion and convince Duverney to help secure French funding.  Jamie expresses concern regarding the Comte’s reputation for dabbling in the dark arts, but Charles dismisses this as rumors and speculation.  He pays no attention to such things, just as he is not concerned that Jamie is married to La Dame Blanche.  Jamie smiles ruefully at that.  Then Charles delivers another punch – Jamie will sell the wine.  He is to meet with the Comte to discuss details of the venture, as Charles is too important to be plagued with such things.  Oh, happy times.


Claire and Alex Randall are walking in a garden and he thanks her for her assistance in facilitating his release from the Bastille.  Claire brings up Alex and Mary’s plan to wed and expresses her concern over his ability to secure another position and provide for Mary.  He has a coughing fit, and she adds his deteriorating health to her list of concerns.  In her opinion Mary deserves better than a life of taking care of him, and in poverty no less.  He needs to consider what is best for Mary. He says he wouldn’t dream of condemning Mary to a life of penury – he loves her enough to want her to have a better future.  He thanks Claire for her candor and tells her that Mary is fortunate to have a friend as caring as she.  He bows to Claire and leaves, clearly heart-broken.  In voice-over Claire expresses her own sadness over having to tear them apart, but they simply can’t be together, because of Frank.  All the concerns she expressed to Alex are true and valid, but still, it feels as if she’s just kicked a puppy.



Jamie and the Contemptuous Comte have a brief, but pointed, meeting at Madame Elise’s.  With Jamie speaking English and the Comte French, they both take pains to inform the other that they really don’t want to be there, or work together.  Saint-Germain tells Jamie that he has not forgotten that Claire has callously tried to ruin him and Jamie retorts that, since the Comte mentioned Claire, he knows that someone tried to poison her, attacked her in the street and raped her friend.  The man responsible, when found, will die a slow and painful death.  The Comte brushes this off, saying he has no interest in Jamie’s personal life and lays down the terms of the venture.  He will secure the shipment until Jamie has buyers in place and tells Jamie not to contact him before then.  Then he gets up, disdainfully drops some coins on the table in front of Jamie and walks off.  He fascinates me!


Back home, Jamie relates the details of the venture to Claire.  If it succeeds Charles will sail for Scotland.  He jokes that it would probably be too much to expect that the Comte ship will be carrying smallpox again, which gives Claire an idea.  She has herbs that will cause symptoms resembling smallpox, which will result in the destruction of the ship.  She will look into it tomorrow.  Jamie reminds her that they are going to the Royal Stables tomorrow, where he will assist the Douche of Sandringham in selecting a new team of horses.  After a quiet moment caressing the baby bump, Jamie gets up to retrieve a gift that he has been waiting to present to Claire. It’s a beautiful wooden chest with twelve Apostle Spoons – a christening gift for the bairn.  Claire is visibly touched and asks where he got them.  He tells her that they’ve been in his family for years and he’d written to Jenny to send them over.  Claire shares her concerns over being a good mother and Jamie reassures her, saying what she doesn’t know they will learn together. They both say they love each other and he calls her mo nighean donn for the first time in a very long time.  They kiss tenderly.



The next day at Versailles Jamie is loving the familiar smell of the stables.  Pregnant Claire not so much.  The ever-effusive Douche joins them and Claire excuses herself.  Jamie starts showing Sandringham some horses, pointing out their physical attributes and the Douche makes assenting noises, all the while checking out Jamie and not the horses!


Claire is meanwhile checking out the refreshment tables.  She is hailed by Analise de Marillac, Jamie’s old flame, who invites her to take a stroll around the gardens.  Claire graciously agrees and they set off.


The Douche tells Jamie that the dinner party, although tumultuous, was not a complete waste.  It allowed him to take the measure of the Ponce, who he found to be an “utter arse”.  He expresses amazement that Jamie could be such a fine judge of horses, but such a poor judge of men.  Jamie tells him that he sees the Ponce for what he is, but that his father is the true King.  Sandringham wants to see more horses, professing himself to be a man who cherishes options.


On their walk, Analise tries to subtly needle Claire about Jamie – she remembers him so differently than how he is now.  Claire doesn’t see Analise as competition and won’t give her any satisfaction, forcing her to concede that Claire has turned Jamie into a man.  And speaking of men, there is a dashing man watching Claire.  Jack Randall, decked out in dress uniform, comes into focus, making his way towards Claire.  She freezes and he addresses her, in Frank’s voice, as simply “Claire…”  He’s never called her by her first name before and that makes me suspect that he now feels connected to her through Jamie.  Ugh!


Analise asks if they are acquainted and he smugly confirms that they are.  He introduces himself in truly execrable French.  He twinges when he bows to her and, in answer to her inquiry, reveals that he’d met with an accident a while ago.


Claire, who has not said a word until now, turns her back to Randall and tells Analise that she must go as she is not feeling well. Analise helpfully offers to fetch her husband and  rushes off before Claire can stop her.  Randall says “Jamie…?  He’s here?  Where?”  Claire bites out that he should go, that Jamie will cut his throat.  Randall points out that to draw a weapon in the presence of the King would be a lethal mistake.  He keeps blocking her escape, blathering about fate and destiny.  He mentions the King again and Claire, at the end of her tether, hisses “Fuck. The. King.”.  Jack sinks into a deep bow next to her and she turns around to see the King and his coterie of sycophants.  Oops!


Claire recovers her composure quickly, greets the King and, at his inquiring glance, introduces Captain Randall.  Louis welcomes Randall to Versailles and he responds that it is an honor to be there. The hangers-on titter at his terrible accent and the King, switching to English, acknowledges that French is not an easy language.  He then kisses Claire’s hand and, in French, compliments her on her own mastery of the language.  Randall looks a bit put out that Claire should be in such good standing with the King.  Louis, resplendent in his own uniform, in short order comments on Randall’s uniform and insults the English military.   Claire smirks.  The King asks Claire if she and the Captain are friends and Claire says they are… acquainted.  And then Jamie arrives and the King addresses him as Lord Broch Tuarach, clearly delineating the social difference between a mere soldier and members of the nobility.  Randall looks far more shaken than Jamie does.


Jamie greets Randall without looking at him and inquires about his accident.  “Sheep, was it?”  “Cattle, actually,” Randall replies.  He is quite recovered, although he has some difficulty getting out of bed on cold mornings.  Jamie assures him that the weather in Paris is expected to be quite warm for the foreseeable future.  Claire takes Jamie’s arm and he turns to face Randall for the first time, while Claire asks the million dollar question, “Why are you here?”  Randall explains that he is here to intervene with the Douche of Sandringham on behalf of his brother.  The King tells him that he should beg.  On his knees. Black Jack can’t quite believe his ears and Jamie struggles to keep from smiling.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the proud and mighty Randall to be so humiliated in front of Jamie and Claire, but at the Kings insistence, he slowly lowers himself onto his knees.


The King starts to laugh and everybody, including Claire and Jamie, join in.  The Kings mocks Randall for being so literal.  He has obviously picked up on the tension between the Frasers and Randall and is just fucking with the Captain.  Black Jack is seething.  Claire takes the opportunity to ask the King’s permission to leave, once again claiming that she feels unwell.  He excuses both her and Jamie and finally allows Randall to rise to his feet, but not before delivering one final dig.


As they’re walking away Jamie asks Claire if she is really unwell and she says no.  She just wanted to get away.  He tells her to wait and strides purposefully back towards Randall.  Claire watches them talking.  Then Black Jack puts his hand on Jamie’s chest, they bow to each other and Jamie returns to her.  She asks him what that was about and he happily tells her that he’s just challenged Randall to a duel.  Randall accepted, saying he owes Jamie a death.  Jamie obviously intends it to be Randall’s death.


In the carriage on their way home, Jamie is grinning in anticipation, while Claire is clearly upset.  He is so preoccupied when they reach the house, sending Fergus to find Murtagh, that he doesn’t even notice that Claire is not getting out of the carriage.  She orders the coachman to take her to the Bastille immediately.

Night has fallen and Jamie and Murtagh are discussing the particulars of the duel, while Jamie exercises his weak left hand.  Jamie is confident that Randall will choose swords over pistols.  Murtagh cautions him that Randall, being a captain of dragoons, will most definitely be skilled in sword-fighting.  Claire enters the room and announces that there won’t be a duel – Randall is locked up in the Bastille.  She has sworn an accusation that he was the one who attacked her and Mary.  She knows that her charge won’t hold up for long, but it will give her enough time to get Jamie to listen to her.  Dueling is illegal in France and if caught, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.  That is if he doesn’t get killed.  He has a responsibility to her and the child.  Jamie says that there are places in the city where the gendarmes don’t patrol and Murtagh chimes in that he will make sure Jamie doesn’t get caught.  Claire asks Murtagh to leave – this is between her and Jamie  – and she closes the door behind him.


Jamie says that Claire gave him a gift when she told him Randall was still alive, affording him the chance to kill Randall, and he is now claiming that gift. She tells him that he can’t kill him now, because of Frank.  Jamie is taken aback and she lays out Frank’s ancestry – Jack Randall has to conceive a child with Mary Hawkins to ensure that Frank will be born.  She says that Frank is innocent in all this and Jamie explodes, “Must I bear everyone’s weakness?  May I not have my own?”


Feeling betrayed, he wants to know how she of all people can ask this of him and she tearfully begs him for a delay.  He refuses, drawing his dirk and pointing it at this chest with her hand.  She has to choose between Frank or him, and if she won’t allow him to kill Randall, she must kill Jamie herself.


She begs him for a year, swearing that after a year she will gladly help him kill Randall.  He owes her that much – she’s saved his life twice.  He owes her a life.



Disillusioned, and with great bitterness, he reminds her of what Randall did to him and how it affected him for months afterward.  He then asks her if that she really wants to claim that life from him now.  She says yes.  Looking her in the eyes, he angrily picks up his sword and kisses it, vowing to give her a year.  She reaches out to him in relief and gratitude, but he says with disgust, “Do NOT touch me,” and retreats to to the other side of the room, his back to her.



Some additional thoughts:

  • This is the first time we’ve seen Jamie wear a kilt since Wentworth.  I find it significant – he is back to being himself again.
  • The Ponce really needs to stop touching Jamie’s face.  It’s inappropriate.
  • Claire is not herself.  I think it’s a combination of shock following the attack, pregnancy hormones, residual guilt over abandoning Frank, stress over the magnitude of the task they have set for themselves, feeling out of place in Paris and who knows what else.  Her sudden obsession with preserving Frank’s future existence and her subsequent meddling in the affairs of others is not rational or logical.  I wish we were given more of an insight into what’s going on with her.

Written by Richard Kahan and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.

Outlander Ep. 204 – La Dame Blanche

This week’s episode opens with a somewhat unique title card – a man with a conspicuous birthmark on his hand disabling the wheel of a carriage.

At Versailles Jamie and Duverney are once again playing chess, while Claire looks on.  She rubs her now-visibly pregnant belly, prompting Duverney to ask if they have decided on a name for the baby.  They clearly haven’t even discussed it yet, because both come up with grossly unsuitable names.  Ominous Anonymous, a.k.a. the Comte de Saint-Germain makes his appearance, revealing the eventual outcome of the game in favor of Duverney, expressing ennui at this pastime and generally oozing disdain before wandering off again.  Jamie concedes the game, but Duverney urges him to consider it a draw, since he would rather win fair and square. Despite his first impression, Duverney really is a nice guy.


Claire excuses herself so that the gentlemen can concentrate on their new game.  Jamie watches her as she accepts a glass of wine from a footman and then goes to peruse the bookshelves.  Duverney reveals that King Louis is intrigued by a possible alliance with Britain, to which Jamie can only feign a pleased response.

With the Comte lurking in the background, Claire takes a sip of wine.  Within moments she starts to feel unwell and is soon bent over, gasping and gagging.  Alarmed, Jamie rushes to her aid and carries her away, demanding to see the doctor.  The Comte turns away, looking inordinately pleased.



That evening chez Fraser, Claire is tucked up in bed, weak and wan, but recovering.  She tells Jamie that she doesn’t think it was poison, but rather bitter cascara.  Jamie is relieved to hear that she and the baby should be okay. They both suspect Saint-Germain.  Jamie wants to take revenge, but Claire warns that their political machinations are at a sensitive point, so they can’t confront the Comte and risk a public scandal right now.  Claire has another cramp and asks Jamie to distract her with news from Duverney.  He informs her of King Louis’ interest in an alliance and comes up with the idea of hosting a dinner for both the Ponce and the Douche of Sandringham, so that the latter can take the measure of the “delusional popinjay” and hopefully realize that he’s not worth staking his life and fortune on.

Outlander 204

Claire knows that this is a good plan, but realizes that she has to come clean.  With apprehension, she tells him that Jack Randall is alive – injured, but very much alive.  To her surprise Jamie reacts with something akin to joy.  This is a gift.  Now he can take his revenge and lay his demons to rest.  He’s not going to rush off to Scotland right now, but he has something to look forward to.  He thanks her and kisses her lips and belly.



The next morning Claire runs into Murtagh and when he inquires about Jamie’s cheerful mood, she tells him that she’d revealed the news about BJR and jokingly mocks his earlier concern.

Next up is a visit to Master Raymond to confront him about the bitter cascara.  She is wearing my favorite outfit of the season…


Raymond tells Claire that he’d only sold the cascara once in the past month, to an unknown servant.  Delphine warns Raymond that they are being watched and he takes Claire to a hidden room behind the shop.  Claire is intrigued by his collection of gleaming animal skulls.  When she picks up a dinosaur fossil, he pointedly tells her that he is fascinated by things not of this time.  Then, perceptively, he says that she has something else on her mind.  She nods and tells him that she is worried about an old friend of hers named Frank.  She thinks his future might be in jeopardy.  After impressing her with a sleight of hand trick, Raymond casts some sheep knuckles on a zebra skin (as we do in Africa) and tells her that she will see Frank again.  Claire looks thoroughly discomposed by that news.  Raymond also offers her a necklace which will protect her by changing color in the presence of poison.



Later that day Claire visits Louise, who delights in showing off her cuckoo clock.  She sends Mary Hawkins out of the room on some errand and leads Claire to the couch for a heart to heart.  She’s pregnant, but her husband is not the father.  She needs Claire’s help in correcting the situation.  Claire explains that a termination would be dangerous.  Does she want the child?  Yes, but she can’t leave her husband and he would cast her out if he found out.  Claire asks if he could be persuaded that the child is his and Louise is shocked at the notion of sleeping with her husband.  Her lover would be furious!  Claire, rightly, points out that her lover is not the one who is pregnant. Louise is dubious about raising a child with a man who is not the father, but Claire prophetically points out that as long as the child is loved, it will be all right.


That night Jamie arrives home, full of vim and vigor.  She is delighted to enjoy her husband’s attentions, but when he removes his shirt, spots bite marks on his thighs.  “What the hell is that?”  Jamie admits that a whore at Madame Elise’s got a bit carried away, but swears that nothing happened.  Claire wants to know if it’s “that brunette whore Fergus is always talking about“, but Jamie assures her that it was a different girl entirely.  Claire is understandably furious and Jamie ineptly tries to explain his way out of trouble.


She is gutted that he would desire another woman while he has barely touched her in months. He admits that he was tempted, but that the temptation came as a relief.  His ability to feel desire is back.  He can once again be a husband to her, but she is not appeased that that realization came via another woman.   He reveals that it was she, Claire, who’d made the difference by telling him that Randall is alive.

Claire rages at him that, while she has tried being patient and understanding, she’s been feeling abandoned.  They have barely even talked about the pregnancy.  He says that he is here now and she doesn’t understand what he’s been going through.

Well then, tell me, dammit!” she beseeches him. “Talk to me.  Make me understand.”


And he does.  It is sad and beautiful and achingly honest.

 “There is this place inside me. A place I think everyone has that they keep to themselves. A fortress. Where the most private part of you lives. Maybe it’s your soul. The bit that makes you yourself and not anyone else. But after Wentworth, it was like my fortress was blown apart. The thing that once lived there was exposed in the open without shelter. Without…  That’s where I’ve been ever since, Claire. Naked. Alone. Trying to hide under a blade of grass.”



Overcome, he retires to the daybed for the night. Too much has been said.

And here is why this marriage ultimately works.  Claire sets aside her anger and her pride and she goes to him in the night, naked.

Come find me, Jamie.  Find us.”

And he does.  And they do.  Mending their wounds, their baby between them, they make love.  It made me cry.


In the aftermath he confesses that he has now built a lean-to for his little inner being, and a roof to keep out the rain.

The moment is interrupted when Jamie hears footsteps on their actual roof.  Dagger in hand he goes to investigate.  When someone taps at the window, he pulls in a very wet and bedraggled Bonnie Ponce, who apologizes for the inconvenience.    Jamie presents Claire, who curtsies in her nightclothes.  The Ponce immediately reverts to his usual spoiled self, demanding whiskey and attention to a wound on his hand.


As she’s cleaning and bandaging his wound, the Ponce relates how he and his lover were quarreling.  Upon her husband’s untimely return, he was forced to flee by way of the roof.  She has ended the relationship, but Charles is determined to win her back.  Claire identifies the wound as a bite mark and Charles says it is from his lover’s pet, who only tolerates her and nobody else.  Claire asks if the bite is from a monkey, and when he confirms that, she realizes who his lover is – Louise de Rohan.  And that means that Charles is the father of her baby.

Mark me!

“Mark me!”

Once the Ponce has left, Claire and Jamie retire to the dining room for a nightcap and some spousal gossip.  They are clearly back on the same page, since they both realize at the same time that they can use this extra-marital affair to their advantage.  They will invite Louise and her husband to the party and reveal “their” pregnancy, thus forcing Charles into making a fool of himself.  “We’ll use his broken heart to break his bank“, Jamie proposes.  Claire worries that this makes them bad people, but Jamie consoles her that it’s for a good reason.  They seal the deal with a kiss.


On the day of the dinner party, Claire is summoned to the hospital to help out with an influx of patients following an explosion at the Royal Armory.  Jamie implores her to be back in time to receive their guests and sends both Murtagh and Fergus with her.  Her two escorts while away the time by throwing daggers and talking about women.  Well, Fergus is talking about women – he has way more insight than Murtagh, having grown up in a brothel.  Mary Hawkins comes out to tell them, to their dismay, that Claire will be another hour.


Inside the hospital it is chaotic and loud, with people screaming in pain.  Claire and Mary assist a “doctor” in setting a compound fracture of the tibia.  That accomplished, he gives them lotion to put on the man’s burns.  It is hangman’s grease – the rendered fat of hanged criminals.  Mary is desperate to wash her hands, but Claire rolls with it and applies it to the injured man’s chest.  She asks Mother Hildegarde where it came from and the Mother informs her that Monsieur Forez is the King’s Executioner.  She warmly compliments Claire’s skill and dedication.



When they’re done, the two ladies leave the hospital, only to discover the carriage out of commission.  It will take some time to repair the wheel and Murtagh has dispatched Fergus to inform Jamie of the delay.  Claire decides that they should all walk.

At the house, Jamie is all decked out in his finery, ready to receive the dinner guests.  First to arrive is the Douche of Sandringham, accompanied by his secretary, Alex Randall, who he introduces with uncommon glee.  He is such a slimeball!  Jamie squares his shoulders and welcomes both men.  Alex excuses himself to dine with the butler.  Next up are Mr Silas Hawkins, Mary’s uncle, and her fiancé, the Viscomte Marigny, who looks vile, to say the least.  As more guest file in, Fergus appears and informs Jamie of Claire’s misfortune.


Then the Ponce arrives. Jamie introduces him to Sandringham.

Claire, Mary and Murtagh make their way home through the dark streets.  Mary confides to Claire that she is in love with a man with whom she’s been secretly corresponding for weeks, Alex Randall. Claire stops in her tracks. Murtagh, who is following the ladies hears a noise. He turns around and a masked assailant jumps on him from above and knocks him out. Claire does her best to scream and call for help but to no avail. Young, virginal Mary Hawkins is beaten and raped while Claire struggles with her own attacker.

At the party, Jamie is stunned when the Comte de Saint-Germain and his wife enter the room.  The Douche has invited them, which is very poor form, if you ask me.  Jamie pastes a smile on his face and welcomes them.  I would have sent them to dine with the butler, but I guess Jamie is more gracious than I.

Back in the alley, Claire notices a portwine stain on her assailant’s hand.  One of the men removes Claire’s hood and is terrified when he identifies her as La Dame Blanche.  The men make the sign of the cross and scatter, screaming to their friends to save their own souls and flee.  Claire shoves Mary’s rapist off her and cradles her in her arms, shocked and crying.


Louise and her husband finally arrive at the party and Jamie introduces them to the Ponce, who makes a fool of himself by lingering much, much too long over Louise’s hand.


Magnus discreetly alerts Jamie that Claire and party have arrived and are in some distress.  He bows out of the room and meets them in the courtyard, where Claire and Murtagh, who is carrying an unconscious Mary, fill him in on the events.  After ascertaining that Claire and the bairn are all right, he is all set to go out and find the miscreants, but Claire dissuades him, saying that the dinner party is too important.  They have to get through it.  Alex Randall has meanwhile appeared and Claire leaves him to stay with Mary, who is now tucked up in bed, sedated with poppy syrup.


With Suzette’s help, Claire readies herself for the party, but she is clearly shaken.  After taking a deep, fortifying breath, she makes a gracious entrance, apologizes for the delay and announces that dinner is served.  Walking into the dining room, she has a whispered conversation with Louise and learns that Jules is convinced that the baby is his – the result of a drunken encounter between the two of them.


Up in Mary’s room, Alex speaks soft words of love and comfort to her while she sleeps.

Claire and Jamie sit on either end of the long and sumptuously arrayed table.  To her right is the Comte, with the Comtesse on her left.

It is hard to decide who is the bigger asshole – the Ponce or the Douche.  Suffice it to say, they both fail to impress the other. In fact, they sling veiled insults back and forth. Claire and Jamie exchange triumphant glances.


In the meantime, the Comte is doing what he does best, glare ominously at Claire. I swear, the man even eats ominously.


Louise interrupts the Ponce’s pontification about his mission as God’s emissary to restore a Catholic king to the British throne by introducing the subject of the opera, which both she and her husband adore.  Charles asks Sandringham if he’s ever been married, which is another dig, because, well, the Douche is clearly “not the marrying kind.”  Charles then proceeds to cast aspersions  upon the fairer sex in an attempt to insult Louise, who is acting all lovey-dovey with her rather oblivious husband.  While Claire gives Jamie a nod that it is time to drop the bomb, the Douche expounds on the unfathomable beauty any offspring of Jamie and Claire is sure to possess.  And so say we all!

Jamie raises his glass and says, “I understand congratulations are in order for Madam and the Marquis as well,” thereby publicly announcing their pregnancy.  Louise is taken aback but maintains her composure in speaking of their excitement as a couple. Charlie looks as if someone just kicked him in the balls.  But he raises a glass and wishes them both all the happiness in the world.  He finishes his wine in one swallow, slams down his glass and proceeds to insult Louise’s husband. This is all going to plan.



Upstairs Mary wakes up, disturbed and panicked by a man’s presence at her bedside, looming over her. Alex tries to calm her but she hits him and flees the room, with him in pursuit.


At the dinner table, La Comtesse remarks on Claire’s unusual stone necklace. Le Comte points out its supposed magic properties and questions the safety of the food at the dinner if she feels compelled to wear it in her own home. As usual, he refuses to speak a word of English.  Claire tells him that perhaps he should be worried…



Mary has since reached the lower floor and Alex – kind, but foolish Alex – manages to catch her, inadvertently pinning her to the floor.  Her screams interrupts the most awkward dinner party ever and the guests file out of the dining room to investigate.  I have to admit, it looks bad.  Mary’s relations are understandably in an uproar and Jamie’s attempts to diffuse the situation and explain are doomed to fail.  A full-scale brawl erupts and Claire once again gains a protective hold of Mary while the party goes to pieces.


Sandringham laments the fact that dessert is now no longer an option and leaves.  Le Comte leaves with the Ponce, but not before ensuring that the gendarmes are summoned.

The episode ends with Fergus picking over the leavings at the abandoned dinner table and Jamie knocking a man out with an ornate curtain tassel.


I can only imagine that this dinner party is going to be the talk of the town!

Written by Toni Graphia and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.



Outlander Ep. 203 – Useful Occupations and Deceptions

In Episode 203 we see Claire and Jamie continuing to struggle to adjust to their new situation.  Their sexual connection, which is such an important part of their marriage, has not yet been restored following Wentworth and, despite their love for one another, this is adding considerable strain to their relationship.  Jamie deals with the lack of connection by being busy, leaving Claire to find a useful occupation of her own.

Claire awakes at dawn when Jamie arrives home from yet another night out with the Bonnie Ponce.  Jamie sweeps through the house, attended by servants, changing his clothes and telling Claire that the Ponce is getting impatient to meet Monsieur Duverney.  He is there for all of five minutes before rushing off to see to the wine business, then chess with Duverney and another night with Charles. He does notice that Sawny, his little wooden snake, is gone and charges Claire with finding it.  She, whose only other obligation is tea with the ladies, agrees to turn over the house for Sawny.

Later in the day, Claire is playing cards with Louise and Mary Hawkins, when Mary blurts out that she can’t marry a Frenchman.  She has heard about the things they do in bed and is of the opinion that Englishmen and Scots don’t trouble their wives that way.  Claire, who has regrettably not been troubled that way in recent months, tactfully offers to enlighten her, while Louise is overcome with mirth.

3/ 04 - 3/06 Int' Louise's house Mary doesn't want to marry the Vicomte, she reveals she is from sussex, Claire is stunned, she leaves

Outlander Season 2 2016

Mary insists that where she’s from, in Sussex, the men don’t do such things and this prompts Claire to remember a conversation she had with Frank regarding his family tree.  Suddenly she realizes where she’d heard the name Mary Hawkins before – she is to marry and have a child with Black Jack Randall, thus ensuring the lineage that will eventually produce Frank.

On her way home she realizes that she must have always known, deep down, that Black Jack did not die at Wentworth, since she is still wearing Frank’s ring.  She resolves that BJR must therefore survive another year so that he can father a child, completely ignoring the fact that to allow Mary Hawkins to marry that monster would be a total travesty.

She is still out of sorts when she arrives home and learns that the servants have failed to find Sawney and that Suzette has not completed her mending.  Turning her agitation into anger, she storms into Suzette’s room to confront her, only to find Suzette in flagrante with… wait for it… Murtagh.  Claire leaves the room in a huff.


A hastily dressed Murtagh finds Claire doing the mending herself.  He tells her that he won’t apologize.  She blows up again, but quickly realizes that she’s being unreasonable and apologizes to Murtagh, admitting that she has not been herself lately.  He acknowledges that and she reveals to him that BJR is still alive and that she has been keeping that secret from Jamie.  He agrees with her decision and the reasons for it and turns to resume his assignation with Suzette.  Claire asks whether they are using birth control, but Murtagh naturally has no idea what she’s talking about.  Claire determines that she will have to see to it herself.

At Versailles, Jamie is playing chess with Duverney, who tells him that the King is not interested in funding another war, as France’s funds are being depleted by the war in Austrian.  Jamie asks him to impart this news to the Ponce in person.   Duverney can’t meet with the Ponce in any official capacity, but Jamie invites him to Madame Elise’s, a neutral and discreet location.  I very much like the affable relationship between Jamie and Duverney.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Good God, this man is perfect!

Claire uses the excuse of procuring a contraceptive for Suzette to visit Master Raymond.  Outside the shop, she encounters the Comte de Saint-Germain, in whispered conversation with Master Raymond.  Claire and the Comte exchange pointed, disdainful glances before the Comte takes his leave.  She questions Raymond about his supposed enmity with the Comte, but he tells her that sometimes one has to do business with people one doesn’t like or trust.


She states her purpose, and while he is looking for the right herbs, she inspects a jar, which he identifies as poison.  He tells her that he doesn’t actually sell this to his customers.  Should anyone want poison, he sells them bitter cascara, which causes immediate pain and discomfort, but doesn’t kill the victim.  This usually satisfies the customers’ need for petty revenge, as they attribute the victims’ recovery to spiritual or divine interventions.

Changing the subject, he asks about the contraceptive and she explains that it is for her maid, which he finds interesting, commenting that it is usually the maid buying it for the lady so she can hide her affairs. Claire prides herself on being an unusual lady, but realizes that she is not so unusual anymore. Paris has changed her. Master Raymond suggests she try using her medical skills at the charity hospital, since they are always in need of skilled healers, as much as she is in need of helping others.  Claire is immediately enthused by the idea.

As the hospital is in a seedy part of the city, Murtagh accompanies Claire to L’Hopital des Anges, commenting that Jamie would not approve.  Claire says that Jamie will be happy if she’s happy.  Right.  I wonder if she really believes that.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Inside the hospital, Claire is shown around by Sister Angelique.  She points out the “physicians” – a butcher and a maker of trusses.  She is introduced to a little dog, Bouton, and to its owner, Mother Hildegarde, who is in charge.  Mother Hildegarde seems to have little faith that this grand lady will be of much use, but tells Sister Angelique to find her something to do.

This turns out to be emptying chamber pots.  Claire, now wearing an apron over her gown, doesn’t seem to be put out by this menial chore, which is understandable, since she was a nurse in her previous life and that is what nurses do. Mother Hildegarde watches her thoughtfully.

Claire spies a flask of urine next to an obviously suffering patient.  She wonders what the use of a urine sample could be without the necessary equipment to test it.  She picks up the container, sniffs it and then dips the tip of her finger in the urine to taste it.  Mother Hildegarde approaches and asks if she can tell what the woman is suffering from. Claire asks the woman if she is thirsty. She admits she is, and always hungry, but never able to gain any weight no matter how much she eats. Claire diagnoses the woman with diabetes (although she is careful to refer to it as “sugar sickness”) and informs the Mother that she will not live the month and that there is nothing they can do to save her. The nun confirms that it is the same diagnosis one of the other physicians gave earlier.  She is clearly surprised at Claire’s diagnostic skills. She sends her to assist Sister Angelique with dressing another boy’s wounds, rather than continuing with the chamber pot chore.


At the brothel, Jamie and Duverney are meeting with Good Time Charlie.  We glimpse a young boy in the background, busing tables and picking the occasional pocket when the opportunity presents itself.  The minister is explaining to the Ponce how the current situation with Austria has caused businessmen to go elsewhere to avoid tax increases. Charles claims to understand, but drops a bomb – he has already raised almost the full amount needed to fund the war.  This stops both Jamie and Duverney in their tracks. The minister, after glancing to Jamie, apologizes for misunderstanding the Ponce’s situation and wonders what the purpose of the meeting is then. The Ponce boasts that wealthy members of the British aristocracy believe in his father’s claim to the throne and have pledged him large sums of money. He misinterprets the appalled look on Jamie’s face as relief and awkwardly touches his face.  Jamie politely removes “the outstretched hand of God” and adjusts his facial expression.

Charles offers a future alliance between Britain and France if the King agrees to contribute to his war chest. The minister, intrigued by promises of an alliance, says he will speak with King Louis about it. Jamie realizes that his endeavors have failed, but manages to retain some measure of composure as they all celebrate the new alliance with a toast.

A thoroughly upset Jamie returns home to find Claire out. He works on correspondence and the books for the business, growing more agitated and concerned with her absence as the hours tick by. It is well past dark when she returns, animated and voluble about her exploits at the hospital.  Murtagh grouses about having to listen to her gruesome tales all the way home, and Jamie asks irritably where she has been.  She tells him she was at the hospital, which makes wonder what had taken her there. Murtagh, no fool, can sense the tension and excuses himself to get something to eat, whispering an “I told you so” to her on the way out. Claire explains how they needed volunteers and about her skills being useful there. She enthuses about the Mother and the story of the urine sample and tasting it, which completely fails to amuse, or win over, Jamie.

Claire asks him what is wrong. She thought he would happy for her. He points out that she is pregnant  and risks exposing herself and their child to all kinds of diseases. She insists that she thought of these things and that she has no intention of treating contagious patients if they have something she can contract. Jamie doesn’t understand why she would even take that risk, and she explains that she needs to feel useful and to have a purpose in her days. This nettles him further, as he reminds her about the rebellion they are trying to stop. He wants to know how working in the hospital is going to help them save Scotland. She asks him what he wants her to do, but the best he can come up with is that he wants her home to act as a sounding board when he runs into a problem.

He reveals the true reason for being so upset – Charles has blindsided him.  Claire insists that England and France will not become allies for another century. Jamie realizes that Charles is smarter than he gave him credit for and he has been keeping secret from him, his supposed “trusted friend”.  He is at a loss over what to do next.

Claire tries to comfort him by rubbing his shoulders.  She acknowledges that all the work of thwarting Charles has fallen on Jamie and assures him that she wants to help in any way she can.  He tells her that that is what he was hoping for when he came home, but instead she was out indulging herself.  He pushes her hands away.  She walks around to face him, saying that she was helping others, not indulging herself.  But yes, that does make her feel good and gives meaning to her life.  He wants to know when he gets to feel good.  What gives his life meaning?  He is forced to spend time with a man he neither likes nor respects in order to lean his secrets and undermine his cause.  Ignoring her distress, he leaves the house.

Murtagh and Suzette watch him go.  Murtagh comments that he knew this would not go well.  Suzette asserts that Jamie and Claire’s problems probably stem from the fact that they are not being physically intimate – a ladies’ maid being in the position to know what does or does not occur in their marriage bed.

As men have done for centuries, Jamie goes to the “local” to drown his sorrows.  Only, his local is Madame Elise’s.  He shrugs off overzealous whores and spies the boy we saw before, picking pockets while the customers are distracted by the stage show.  Jamie accosts the boy, who runs away.  A chase through the streets ensues, but Jamie manages to outwit and catch the lad.  The boy threatens to tell his wife that he ruts with whores if he tries to turn him in to the police, but Jamie tells him that (a) his wife won’t believe him and (b) he is not going to the police. Instead he will tell Madame Elise.  This scares the boy, who says that he doesn’t do it every night – only when they are very busy and the men very drunk.  Jamie has a proposition for him – no, not that – a job as a pick-pocket.  Turning the boy upside down, he shakes all the contraband from his pockets.  He spies Sawny among the items.  They negotiate the terms of the boy’s employment.

Outlander Season 2 2016

At home Claire is restlessly tossing and turning in bed.  She hears a crash downstairs and hurries down to investigate.  She passes a servant with a tray of broken glass and finds the young boy, with his feet casually on the dining room table, eating a chicken leg.  She starts to interrogate him and he bows to her, complimenting her on her breasts.  She closes her robe and Murtagh comes in to cuff the boy on the head, pointing out that he said the same to Suzette.  The boy is adorably confused – the ladies at Madame Elise’s are usually flattered by such compliments.  Jamie appears and tells Murtagh to take the boy to the servants’ quarters where Suzette has prepared a bath and bed for him. The boy again bows to Claire and wishes her good night before a grumbling Murtagh whisks him away.

Obviously still miffed at her, Jamie tries to walk away, but Claire wants to know who the boy is and what he’s doing there.  Jamie tells him that Fergus is now in their employ – his job is to steal letters to and from Charles so that they can find out about his plans and contacts.  Claire thinks it’s a good plan and says so.  Jamie formally thanks her and goes off to bed, not really appeased.

Next we see a montage of the Frasers’ activities over the next few weeks:  Fergus stealing letters and handing them over to Murtagh, Jamie spending time with the Ponce and Claire working at the hospital between social engagements.  fergus

Outlander Season 2 2016

Jamie and Murtagh combine their efforts to decode the letters before Fergus returns them.  They are not the only people interested in the Ponce’s correspondence – there is ample evidence that the seals have been broken multiple times before.  They are not finding much of interest in the letters though, until they stumble upon a sheet of music, which they deduce to be a code of some sort.  The lyrics are in German, but the sheet was sent from England.  Since neither of them know music, they will need to consult with a music teacher to help figure it out.  Murtagh knows someone… but Jamie won’t like it.

At the hospital Claire is stymied by the symptoms of a man who still exhibits signs of infection even though his wounds are healing.  Mother Hildegarde charges her little dog, Bouton, to sniff out the infection, which turn out to be a pocket of putrefaction under a small, scabbed-over entrance wound.  Claire extracts a splinter and cleans the wound.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Just then Jamie appears, requesting Mother Hildegarde’s help in figuring out the music puzzle.  Being a musical prodigy, she is able to make sense of the key changes, comparing the piece to the work of her friend, Herr Bach.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Once they understand that the key is the key (don’t ask me, I know nothing of music), they manage to decode the message.  Charles’ claim is real – his backers have promised £40000.  Claire and Jamie simultaneously identify the sender as the Douche of Sandringham – the first time they’ve been in step in a while.  Jamie believes he can convince the Douche that it’s a poor investment.  Elated, he leaves the room to fetch a celebratory dram and Murtagh warns Claire that he is bound to find out about Randall if he meets with Sandringham.  He advises Claire to reveal the truth and she agrees, but when Jamie returns, full of smiles, she can’t bring herself to burst his bubble.  Murtagh shakes his head in disgust, while Jame and Claire hug.

Many book fans expressed displeasure at the continued strain in Claire and Jamie’s relationship, but I find it interesting and believable.  They are both out of their element.  Jamie is forced to play a role he obviously finds abhorrent.  He is tired and sleep-deprived, while still plagued by his experiences at the hands of Jack Randall.  His inability to make love and fully connect to his wife must be a source of frustration and guilt.  He is right in asking when he gets to feel good.  He is also right in wanting to discuss his efforts with Claire. But, Claire is suffering too.  First of all, she is pregnant, and with her husband being so distant from her, he is also distant from the pregnancy.  As we’ve seen, Jamie is almost never home.  She has every reason to feel unsupported.  On top of that, she is a passionate woman with no outlet for her passions.  Tea and gossip with the vapid ladies of the French aristocracy will never satisfy Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser.  Working at L’Hopital des Anges is a wonderful and much-needed occupation for Claire.  Her only role in stopping the rebellion is behind the scenes, providing an ear to Jamie and helping him plot and plan, but this she can still do between shifts at the hospital.

I have every confidence that the Frasers will find their way back to each other.

Bonus picture, because really, he's hot!

Bonus picture, because really, he’s hot!

Written by the wonderful Anne Kenney and directed by Metin Huseyin.  And let me just say, Terry Dresbach’s costumes continue to delight and amaze me, as do the set designs of Jon Gary Steele.

Outlander Ep. 202 – Not in Scotland Anymore

Episode 202 came as quite a surprise.  I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.  They did an excellent job of showing us that 18th century Paris was… well different.  Frivolous, decadent, debauched, superficial, opulent and sumptuous.  I have no problem believing that the lower classes would rise up in another forty-odd years and brutally eliminate this particular échelon of society.  The Frasers are trying to their utmost to adjust to this new lifestyle and environment, with varying degrees of success.

It was not all fun and games though.  The episode opens with a soft-focus scene of lovemaking between Claire and Jamie in which Claire’s face quickly dissolves into Black Jack Randall’s.  Jamie savagely and repeatedly stabs Randall, until he himself is drenched in blood.  And still the bugger won’t die.  It is a horrifying nightmare.  “He’s gone, Jamie,” Claire reminds him. “He’s alive in my head,” Jamie replies. “I canna get him out.”  We learn that this is not the first time he’s been tormented by BJR in his dreams.  He is still suffering from severe psychological and emotional trauma, which is different from in the books, but we have to remember that in the TV show Claire did not heal Jamie in a weird opium-fueled “exorcism” in the abbey.  That is a good thing, because it would simply not have worked on screen.  But it means that we are going to have to address the after-effects of Wentworth on an ongoing basis during this season.  I have every confidence that it will affect their relationship for a while, but lead to an eventual satisfactory resolution and reconciliation.

In the morning, Claire appears in an absolutely gorgeous outfit (reminiscent of Dior) and we see that she is struggling to adjust to having servants take care of everything.  The chambermaid is literally begging to be allowed to make the bed and fold the clothes.

Outlander Season 2 2016

The purpose of this excursion is to procure a sleeping potion for Jamie from an apothecary.  And of all the apothecary shops in Paris she ends up in Master Raymond’s shop, which happens to be filled with all kinds of interesting and arcane objects, including a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling.  I love the rolling staircase and Raymond’s assistant, Delphine.  Raymond recognizes Claire as someone with a knowledge of herbs and healing and leaps to the correct conclusion that she must be Claire Fraser.  Apparently her meddling with the Comte’s affairs in Le Havre is known in certain circles in Paris.  He tells her that he and the Comte are rivals and that makes Claire his friend.  She is charmed by him and accepts his gift of valerian root with gratitude.


Murtagh and Jamie are exercising their sword-fighting skills in a park. This in part serves to help strengthen Jamie’s left hand, which is still in a leather brace. The fashionable Parisians strolling in the park gawk at them in astonishment – dueling is outlawed in Paris.


They sit down for a rest and Murtagh proceeds to complain about Paris – he misses Scotland.  In fact, he even misses Rupert and Angus, or as he calls them, Lard-bucket and Big Head.  Jamie tells him that they won’t be in France long .  Murtagh still believes that it would be better to kill Prince Charles, but Jamie reminds him that the real threat is Charles’ father, King James.

Back at Chez Fraser, Claire presents Jamie with a letter from Jared, who has procured him an introduction to HRH Prince Charles.  In a brothel.  As one does.  Jamie and Murtagh ventures out to Maison de Madame Elise to meet the Bonnie Prince, or as I am going to call him henceforth, the Bonnie Ponce.

Outlander Season 2 2016

This is the man who is going to inspire a rebellion?  For whom people are expected to lay down their lives?  Jamie and Murtagh are not buying it either and try to discourage the Ponce, telling him that the clans are neither united nor ready.  Charles is motivated by his belief in the divine right of kings, though.  He is the outstretched hand of God.  All he needs to succeed is money and Jamie is charged with arranging a meeting with the French Minister of Finance, Monsieur Duverney.  It seems the Ponce is quite taken with Jamie.  In response to Jamie’s blunt assessment of his prospects he says, “I see you have the heart of a true patriot, willing to risk my divine wrath in order to safeguard your countrymen.”

We are also treated to some light entertainment.  All I can say is, please never rent a dildo.

Back home Murtagh calls the Ponce a blockhead and Jamie says he wouldn’t trust Charles with Lallybroch’s vegetable patch.  They need to make sure that Charles has no access to the money necessary to fund his rebellion. Claire posits that “…if the Scottish rebellion can be started in a French brothel, then perhaps it can be stopped in the French court.”  She calls on her new friend, Louise de Rohan, who has all kinds of connections among the nobility in Paris, to wangle an invitation to court.  Louise is being waxed when Claire shows up, but between slapping her aesthetician every time he yanks off a wax strip, manages to introduce her to a very young and shy house-guest, Mary Hawkins, who is engaged to a wealthy and much older nobleman.  Claire recognizes the name, but can’t place the girl.


Can I just say that I love Louise?  Sure, she’s over the top flamboyant, but absolutely fabulous.  Plus, she promises to get both Jamie and Claire invited to Versailles and refers Claire to her modiste in order to commission an appropriate gown for the occasion.  Then she opens her legs, in full view of a fascinated Claire and a horrified Mary, for more intimate depilatory attention.  Her pet monkey screeches when the wax is ripped off, and no, that is not a euphemism.

That night in their bedchamber Claire attempts to seduce her husband by leading his hand under her nightgown.  It would be an understatement to say that he is surprised.  “Your honeypot… it is bare.”  That she should rid herself of such lovely forest…!  Initially her plan works and he is all in, until BJR intrudes on the proceedings again and the moment is ruined.  It seems that BJR’s diabolical “impersonation” of Claire in the dungeon at Wentworth is not going to be erased so easily.  Ever-patient and understanding, Claire comforts him and they go to sleep.

Two weeks later Murtagh and Jamie are waiting in the vestibule when Claire descends the staircase in The Red Dress.  Murtagh’s slack-jawed amazement is priceless. Jamie looks stunned too.  He prompts Murtagh to avert his eyes and questions Claire’s judgment with regards to her décolletage.  She produces a fan to shield her scandalously (to him) exposed bosom and he advises her to get a bigger one.



At the ball, Jamie is enthusiastically embraced by a young woman.  Claire looks askance at this.  We find out that Jamie is an erstwhile admirer of the fair Annalise and that he once fought a duel over her, an event he adorably tries to downplay.  It turns out he won the duel, but she married the other guy, who was only slightly wounded.  The now-widowed Annalise offers Jamie an opportunity to attend the king’s toilette and Claire acquiesces, but dispatches Murtagh to act as chaperone.

The king’s toilette turns out to be literally that.  The man is seriously constipated.  The onlookers offer helpful suggestions to move the royal bowels, with no result.  Jamie recommends “parritch”, but the Louis is far too fancy to eat peasant food.  We are definitely not in Scotland anymore…



Claire, in the meantime, finds herself in a group of salacious French women tittering about male members.  She and Louise spy Mary Hawkins talking to a rather soberly dressed young man.  Bored with the ladies, Claire excuses herself to get some air.  Louise spots Monsieur Duverney and, remembering that Claire had expressed interest in meeting him, mischievously encourages him to follow her outside, not correcting his assumption that Claire’s interest is sexual.

Outlander Season 2 2016

Duverney follows Claire to the absolutely gorgeous pavilion, where he introduces himself and attempts a clumsy seduction.  He all but sticks his nose in her cleavage, but quickly moves on to her feet.  She fights him off, just in time for Jamie to casually push him over the parapet into the lake.  Claire informs him that that was the Minister of Finance, the very man they are here to see.


This is by far the funniest part of the episode.  A sodden Duverney, clutching his ruined wig, emerges from the water, slipping and sliding.  Next we see him standing in front of a fireplace, drying his wig and apologizing profusely for his crass behavior.  He is so sincere that you have to like him. Claire and Jamie forgive him too.


Is it just me, or does he look like Bruce Springsteen here?

King Louis finally makes his appearance and Duverney quickly dons his wig, which now resembles Bon Jovi’s coiffure circa 1985.  It’s hilarious.  And I just adore Duverney.

The king gives Claire an appraising glance, even though her décolletage is decisively eclipsed by that of his mistress…

Outlander Season 2 2016

Recovering from that shocking display, Murtagh spots a familiar face across the room and hurries off to confront…  the Douche of Sandringham.  Murtagh is about to draw his blade, but is stopped by Jamie, who reminds him that to do so in the presence of the king is death.  The Douche insincerely apologizes for not delivering Jamie’s petition of complaint to the proper authorities, blaming Randall.  Jamie observes the niceties and leaves Claire alone with Sandringham.

Outlander Season 2 2016

As soon as Jamie is gone, Sandringham’s demeanor changes – he clearly despises Claire and the feeling is entirely mutual.  The young man previously engaged in conversation with Mary appears and Sandringham introduces him as his secretary, Alexander Randall.  Yes, he is the younger brother of Captain Jonathan Randall Esquire.  Who is not dead after all.  Claire staggers upon hearing the news.  The Douche takes his leave from her, but not before giving her an incredibly evil smirk.  In the first season I found the Douche ridiculous – an ageing fop – but now he comes across as dangerous.


Alexander Randall seems rather decent, although not in the best of health.  I suppose he can’t help who is brother is… The resemblance is uncanny.  Great casting choice.

Claire is distressed about the news of Black Jack Randall’s continued existence and resolves to keep it from Jamie, even though she knows that he will inevitably find out in time.

I was delighted and entertained by this episode.  It is evident though that all is not hunky dory in the Fraser household.  Jamie is tormented by his memories of his rape and torture and Claire is trying to be supportive, while naturally missing their previous closeness and, let’s not forget, being pregnant.  Running a household and dealing with the ever-present servants cannot be a satisfying way for her to spend her time. Now she has to keep an explosive secret from Jamie, which doesn’t sit well with her.  The Bonnie Ponce is not disposed to listen to reason, which means that they will have to take more drastic measures to subvert his cause, while they now have two enemies in lurking in the shadows – Sandringham and Saint-Germaine.

The episode was written by Ira Steven Behr and again directed by Metin Huseyin.

Outlander Ep. 201 – Through a Glass Darkly

Season 1 ended with our intrepid time-traveling heroine and her traumatized-but-recovering husband setting sail for France to escape the British, start a new life in France, have a baby and, for good measure, stop the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 which, in future-Claire’s history books not only decimated the Jacobite Army, but destroyed the Scottish Clans and their way of life.

Anyone not familiar with Diana Gabaldon (author of the Outlander books) and her diabolical mind, would expect to see our beloved couple arriving in France and settling in, accompanied by their faithful godfather/sidekick, Murtagh.  But no.  The opening scene is of Claire’s face as she awakens on Craigh na Dun, having evidently traveled through time again.  This time she is not unaware of what’s happened and it is clear that she is not here by choice.  Her anguished scream is truly heart-rending.


“I wished I were dead.  And if I’d kept my eyes shut, I could have almost touched the edges of oblivion.  But I’d made a promise and had to keep it, even if it meant living a life I no longer wanted.”

She frantically searches for something, first checking her bodice and then scratching in the grass.  She finds a ring, but the gemstone is missing. I am looking forward to finding out the significance of this ring.

She numbly makes her way down the hill and then trudges along the paved road.  The car coming up behind her confirms that she is indeed back in the 20th century.


We find out from the kindly, but confused, motorist that it’s 1948.  Close to hysteria, Claire demands to know who won the Battle of Culloden – the Scots or the British.  Upon learning that it was the British, she collapses, weeping in complete and utter devastation.  You’re tearing my guts out, Claire.


After this cold open, we have a new title sequence, with a part of the Sky Boat Song sung in French.  I’m not blown away, but that may be because there is a snake in there… I have a major phobia of snakes.  I do love the title card, which shows wee Roger sleeping on a sofa, clutching a model airplane.

A somewhat disheveled Frank arrives at the hospital and learns that Claire is in reasonable health, but had to be sedated the night before.  He finds her in her hospital room, clearly unnerved by the noise and bustle of the 20th century.

I'm back.

“I’m back.”

She may be back in body, but her heart and mind are most definitely elsewhere.  She remains emotionless.  Numb.

He moves towards her and she sees a brief flash of Black Jack Randall and recoils.


Whatever your feelings towards Frank, you have to sympathize with him.  His wife has been gone for over two years and when she returns, she is not happy to see him. I also give him credit for not pressing her for answers.  He tells her that they will be staying with Reverend Wakefield until she is ready to travel.  Her only flicker of interest in this news is whether Mrs Graham is still working for the Reverend, as she needs to speak to her.  She rightly suspects that Mrs Graham might understand what happened to her, having read both her palm and tea leaves the day before she disappeared through the stones.

At the manse, Claire immerses herself in the Reverend books.  He is an amateur historian and has a sizable collection of Jacobite references.  She is hoping to find out what happened to Jamie at Culloden.


It makes sense to me that she has told Mrs Graham everything.  When we are bereaved, we need to talk about what we’ve lost.  The only time her face lights up is when she is reminiscing about Jamie.


Mrs Graham is warm and sympathetic, but advises Claire not to cling to the memories of a ghost when she has a living husband who loves her.


I have to think that Frank suspects what has happened to Claire.  Remember that Mrs Graham told him about the stones back in Episode 108?  He may not have believed her then, although he did swing by Craigh na Dun on his way out of town, but now he has further evidence – Claire’s authentic, yet not aged, 18th century clothing.  I think the reason he’s choosing to wait in the wings is because a part of him just doesn’t want to know the truth.

When Claire is finally ready to talk, she invites him to her room.  He tries to connect with her by pointing out that the setting reminds him of the evening they sat talking at the fireplace in their room at Mrs Baird’s.  She tells him flatly that it was their last night together.  She also says that she will tell him the whole story and that he can ask questions when she’s done.  In a brief montage, she talks through the night, which is still way shorter than the audiobook version, so I’m guessing he got a précis.  It’s probably a good thing she left out the juicy bits.


He tells her that he believes her and professes his undying love for her.  He seems reassured that she hadn’t left of her own volition, conveniently ignoring the fact that she chose to stay with Jamie.  He naively believes that they can resume their marriage and live happily ever after.  I can’t help thinking that he is still clinging to his memory of an earlier version of Claire.  Not even the Claire who was with him in Inverness in 1946, because we know that there was already a distance between them then.  No, his idea of her is still that blushing young bride who looked at him with adoring eyes – the pre-war Claire.  And this is not that woman.  Not by a long shot.

Many viewers felt that Claire was harsh, even rude, to “poor long-suffering Frank”, but I have a different take on her attitude. She has just lost her soul mate.  The love of her life.  She is in mourning.  In fact, she is all but prostrated by grief.  She’s a shell of a woman right now, with absolutely nothing to offer Frank.  Do we call newly bereaved widows selfish and cruel?  Do we suggest that they start a new relationship right away?  Of course not!

That doesn’t mean that she never loved Frank, or that she can’t love him in some way again in the future.  He is not her soul mate, nor the love of her life.  He is not Jamie Fraser.  It would have to be a new start, not just a resumption of their old relationship.

Of course her grief is too fresh to even contemplate this and she tries to push him away, even referring to herself as his ex-wife.  She knows that her well is empty and that she can’t be the wife that Frank wants her to be.  Which is why she plays her trump card – she’s pregnant.





Frank’s momentary joy is so poignant, but the realization that he is of course not the father sets in quickly.  He loses it, looming over her with a raised fist.  With his last shred of reason, he flees the room, reeling with shock and rage, and falls apart in the garden shed, but not before he trashes the place.  I completely understand this reaction.


Frank apologizes to Reverend Wakefield for the damage and offers compensation.  The Reverend graciously excuses him and advises him to raise the child as his own.


Frank is still coming to terms with this, revealing that he can’t father children of his own, when wee Roger appears in all his cuteness.  He calls the Reverend “Father” – not in the clerical way – and the Reverend jumps on the opportunity to point out that there are plenty of children in the world who need fathers and plenty of men who need to be fathers and that bringing them together is all part of God’s plan.


Frank returns to Claire’s room and tells her that he will be a father to this baby – that it will be their child.  He’s been offered a position at Harvard and it would be a good idea to accept it, as the British press will “flog this story to death“. (A reporter managed to sneak into the hospital and take Claire’s pictures, speculating in the subsequent newspaper article that she’s been stolen and returned by the faeries.)  Claire bristles at the term “flog”, as well she might, seeing as Frank’s ancestor, who looks exactly like him, so lovingly described how he’d flogged her beloved Jamie.  She tells Frank to never use that word in her presence again.

And this is where I lose it with Frank.  That unconditional love he professed?  Not so unconditional after all.  She has a request – please spare me some pain, Frank – and he has conditions.  She is to stop researching Jamie’s ultimate fate.  The child must not know that Frank is not its father, as long as Frank is alive.  The subtext here is that she has to forget Jamie and stop grieving.

Claire, knowing that Jamie exacted that same promise from her, agrees.  She hands over her 18th century clothing and pretends to try and take off her wedding ring.  We all know that she was never going to do that, even Frank, who concedes that it can wait for when she’s ready.  Dude, she wore your ring all this time, even while married to Jamie, out of loyalty and respect.  Do you really think she is going to remove Jamie’s ring?


They exchange an awkward hug, both tearful and Frank scurries off to burn her clothes, while Claire finishes her packing.



She examines the ring – the one she found in the grass – and lovingly places it in her suitcase.  Then she puts on her coat and examines herself in the mirror – a sad, hollow woman, albeit with a fabulous blue coat.


They fly off to New York and we transition from her reaching a hand out to Frank helping her down the airplane stairs to Jamie reaching to take her hand as she steps off the boat in Le Havre in April 1744 (if your version says 1745 it’s wrong – there was an error with the original chyron).  Jamie is relieved to be on dry land again, having been wretchedly seasick on the crossing.  Which is why Claire kissing him, while cute, kind of grosses me out a little.  I’m happy to see them both looking happy though.


Murtagh is not a fan of France or the French, grousing all the way.  In their lodgings, Jamie painfully sinks down on the bed.  It reminds us that his ordeal at the hands of Black Jack Randall happened only a week or so ago.  He is messed up, and confesses that he still feels Randall’s hands on him.


Claire tries to distract him by talking about the Jacobite Rebellion and what they can do to stop it.    Jamie thinks that maybe they should use her knowledge to change the outcome, instead of stopping it altogether, but she says she doesn’t know enough for that to be a viable option.  They should infiltrate the Jacobite Movement, maybe through the offices of Jamie’s cousin, who is an avowed Jacobite.

They also need to get Murtagh on board, and for…  I don’t know… reasons, I guess, they can’t tell him the truth.  Murtagh is not happy, but accepts it for now.


Three weeks later they finally meet with Jared, the cousin.  He is a wine-merchant with business interests in Le Havre.  At first he is a bit suspicious of Jamie’s sudden interest in politics, but is quickly convinced when Jamie shows him the scars on his back, courtesy of the English.  He agrees to open some doors for them.

Jared also needs someone to run his wine business while he travels to the West Indies and Jamie quickly negotiates a satisfactory arrangement, which includes not only a share of the profit, but also the use of Jared’s apartment and staff.

While they finalize the details, Claire, who is suffering from a bout of morning sickness, takes a walk down the pier.  She hears a commotion and sees a sick man being carried off a ship.  Being a nurse, she runs towards the men entering a warehouse to lend assistance, ignoring Jamie’s exhortations to wait.  She diagnoses the man’s affliction as smallpox and tells the officials that they should impose a quarantine to prevent an outbreak in the city, which would of course be devastating.

Outlander Season 2 2016

The official declares that the ship on which the now-expired man had arrived would have to be destroyed, much to the dismay of the owner of the ship, the menacing-but-gorgeous Comte de Saint Germaine.  The Comte, a business competitor of Jared’s, expresses his displeasure and disdain for both Claire and Jamie in no uncertain terms.  The episode ends with the infected ship burning in the bay and Jared warning Jamie and Claire of the Comte’s penchant for revenge.

Outlander Season 2 2016

This choice to open the season with a framing device – Claire returning to the 20th century – places us, the viewers, in an interesting position.  We know in advance that all Claire and Jamie’s efforts to subvert the Jacobite cause will fail – this is going to end in tragedy.  It seems that the past cannot be changed.

I enjoyed the part of the episode that dealt with Claire’s return to 1948.  It was heart-breaking, especially because we know that Claire and Jamie belong together and she is going to have his baby without him. I have a strong feeling that, despite Frank’s best intentions, this is not going to be a happy marriage – he will emotionally “punish” her for not loving him as deeply as she loved Jamie and for “deserting” him.  And she is going to shut down a vital and essential part of herself.  It is so sad.

The last part of the episode, back in 1744, was somehow less riveting.  I think it was because it felt rather rushed and was much more plot-driven than character-driven.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to see Jamie and Murtagh again.  And I am more that happy that Outlander is back!

The episode was written by showrunner Ronald D Moore and directed by Metin Huseyin.

Outlander Season 1 – The Love Story

I have been both amused and exasperated by the efforts of all involved in the production, as well as the media, to try and classify Outlander as anything other than an epic romance.  Yes, there are elements of magic and mysticism, yes there are wars and battles, rape and torture, political intrigue and time travel, but at its heart, this is a love story.  Labeling it as such would of course not attract a male audience, and heaven knows, despite our politically correct declarations of feminism, in television no endeavor is deemed worthy if it doesn’t appeal to men.  This is simply not true, but it’s a windmill at which I am not going to spend my time tilting.

Not only is Outlander a love story, it is one of the most engaging and inspiring love stories in literature.  The love between Jamie and Claire is special, enduring, restorative and transformative.  These two people are only fully themselves in relationship with one another and each of them will literally do anything for the other.  The success of the TV adaptation rests firmly on the ability of the production to depict that love story accurately.  So, how did they do?


From the outset, we are set up to see the conflict of the story as a love triangle.  So, let’s start with Claire and Frank and look at what we are shown about their relationship in chronological order.

The scene depicting their early relationship, the one outside the registry office, shows a very young Claire so in love with her older beau that she happily allows her own needs and desires to be overridden by his.  She even frames her own wishes as a question directed at him.  Instead of saying, “I would rather have …”, she asks “Wouldn’t you rather have…?”  This is not unusual – I’ve been there myself.  When we’re young and in love, we overlook the troubling traits of the object of our infatuation.  In fact, we often find them charming.  For instance, on the surface his declaration that she is the only family he cares about comes across as charming, but on closer examination it is a selfish way of isolating Claire, who grew up an orphan, from his family.  Claire wants a home and a community, but Frank actively separates her from his community.  He usurps her identity, wanting to introduce her as Mrs Frank Randall, instead of Claire Beauchamp, or even Claire Randall.  There are, of course, women who settle happily into this kind of relationship, but Claire is a singular woman, strong and capable, although I don’t think she realizes it at this point.


Fast forward to the war years.  We see Claire and Frank parting at a railway station, where she is leaving for the front.  His control over her is slipping, and he valiantly tries first to dissuade her, and then to accept her autonomy by claiming that he finds her stubbornness charming.

When we see Claire again on VE-day, she is a very different woman, tough and capable.  It’s not that the war changed her as much as revealed and developed her innate strengths and her fierce independent spirit.  It also gave her a useful and valuable occupation.

On their second honeymoon, Frank seems to have changed very little.  He’s older, and certainly affected by the reality of the war and the things he’d had to do, but he is ready to resume his earlier life and pursue his old interests.  Claire is out of place and struggling to connect to him and to her old life.  Every time the distance between them becomes too apparent, she distracts both herself and Frank by initiating sex.  Unfortunately this is just a stop-gap measure, not, as we later see with Jamie, a way of truly connecting.  If Claire and Frank’s marriage is going to work, she will have to once again suppress the most vital and interesting part of herself and become the dutiful don’s wife.  The study of botany, without much of a practical application, would not have sustained her.  I fear that she may have become one of those secretly alcoholic 1950’s housewives, especially if she and Frank never had children.  Frank is not a bad man, but he is a poor match for Claire.  Her continued loyalty towards him is a credit to her, but it shouldn’t be confused for grand passion.


The production team have stated often that they chose to return frequently to Frank in order to make the audience more sympathetic towards him.  If so, I think they failed, because for me, Frank was not well served by this adaptation. I don’t know if I liked him better in the book, but he was not as present in the book, so I didn’t think of him that much.

I believe that it was Claire’s destiny to fall through time and meet Jamie.  Not only did she find her soulmate, but she found herself involved in community and useful occupation.

The attraction between Claire and Jamie is almost immediately apparent.  A large part of that is physical chemistry – they are both beautiful people – but even early on they seem to have a knack for working together towards a common goal.  They can communicate without speaking, yet they are also able to really talk to each other.


Jamie is a truly exceptional man.  He more than once puts Claire’s needs above his own – freeing the young boy from the pillory, escorting her back to the castle during the Gathering despite the risk to himself, sleeping on the floor in a cold and drafty hallway to protect her from possible – not overt – threats. He shows his respect for her by making their wedding special, at the same time involving the community she so clearly appreciates being part of.

I’ve always believed that Jamie made out with Laoghaire only that one time, and only because he thought he couldn’t possibly have Claire.  Perhaps not his finest hour, but he’s human and young to boot.  I forgive him.

One of the things I love most about Jamie is his willingness to show vulnerability to Claire. In a lesser man, that would show weakness, but in Jamie it is authentic and endearing.  He knew full well that she was desperately uncomfortable on their wedding night and as much as he must have been eager to consummate their marriage, he gave her the space to get to know him better and get more comfortable.  The reason why The Wedding remains my favorite episode of the Season is not because of the sex or the nudity, but the enormous leap forward in terms of trust and intimacy between them.  He treated her with patience, respect and humor and she responded to him despite herself.


As for Claire, she fought valiantly against her attraction to Jamie.  As much as Frank was fading from her memories, she remained loyal and I don’t believe she would have acted on her growing feelings toward Jamie if she weren’t obliged to marry him.  Frank alluded to her faithfulness during the war, but I have no problem believing that she would not have cheated on him.

On their brief “honeymoon” Claire admits that what is between her and Jamie is different.  Special.  It’s not a case of “I’m hot, you’re hot, let’s be hot together.” Apart from the passion, there is a deeper connection, even then.


Claire’s mad dash to Craigh na Dun was never a choice of Frank over Jamie.  It was a desperate attempt to escape the harsh reality of the violence and danger of the 18th century.  She had just come close to being raped and killed and she had just killed a man.  She was, as she herself said repeatedly, in shock.

Jamie showed enormous courage to rescue her from Fort William – the very place where he’d been brutally flogged and where his father had died.  Not only that, he brought himself to the attention of BJR again.  The fight between Claire and Jamie shows how incredibly passionate their response to each other is.  When he breaks down, laying bare his anguish, she’s right there with him. It’s beautiful – my favorite scene of the whole Season.


Reams have been written about the beating.  I choose to see it as a plot device that helps establish the balance of power in their relationship, as we so clearly see in the reconciliation afterwards.  It motivates Jamie to put Claire above his cultural identity – in a sense their union makes them both Outlanders.  The reconciliation is another moment of incredible vulnerability.  Jamie does not take oaths lightly, as we saw earlier in the Season, so his oath to Claire is a big deal.  He is fully committed.  When she accepts the oath, she commits as well, although she does not yet tell him the truth about herself.  I believe that from that moment she is reconciled to this marriage and this relationship and that she’s no longer hoping to returning to Frank.

When she finally reveals her origins, Jamie not only believes her, but he gives her the opportunity to choose her own destiny.  I can’t even write about it without tearing up.  He loves her so much that her happiness is more important to him than his own.  To her credit, Claire gives an appropriate amount of time to the choice.  I believe that part of that time is spent saying a final goodbye to Frank.  She is all in now.

At Lallybroch Claire is ostensibly in the background, but she is there for Jamie, supporting him and even providing a much-needed prod when necessary.  They continue to establish the boundaries of their relationship.  When Horrocks arrives, she assures Jamie that they will handle whatever happens – together.  They also talk about their love for each other for the first time.


One of the most touching scenes is where Claire confesses to Jamie that she fears she might not be able to give him children.  She knows how much this means to him and she is truly devastated by her possible infertility.  He reassures her and tells her that while he can bear pain himself, he wouldn’t be able to bear her pain.  Only when she leaves the room, does he allow himself a moment of disappointment.

Claire goes above and beyond to search for and rescue Jamie when he is taken by the English.  Yes, she would have killed that courier.  Her courage and dogged determination is breathtaking.  In the torture chamber, her own depredations at the hands of Marley and BJR pale in comparison with her absolute focus on and concern for Jamie.  And Jamie sacrifices himself for her safe delivery.  He does the one thing that he swore he would never do – give in to BJR.  It was never about the physical surrender for him and BJR knew it. In the end, he has to use Jamie’s love for Claire to break him.  It’s heartbreaking.

Claire does not give up on Jamie, even when it seems that there is no hope of rescuing him from Wentworth.  She keeps trying.  Her biggest challenge turns out to be the redemption of his soul.  She has to get him to talk to her about his experiences, to understand what he went through and to make him understand that he is not to blame, that there is nothing to forgive and that she will stay in the darkness with him until he is ready to return to the light.  Nobody but Claire could have done this for Jamie.  That is the power of love.  And that is why Outlander is my favorite love story of all time.

The TV production got there in ways that often differed from the book, but I am completely satisfied that they managed to convey the essence of the story.  I hope that they will continue to do so in future seasons, because no matter what these two face, that central love story is what connects us so powerfully to Claire and Jamie.