I don’t know about you, but when I make plans, I get all irritated when something comes up to change them (unless it’s something better!). And this episode, by the team’s newest member, Richard Kahan, is all full of irritating plan changes and foils. If you’ve accepted the many changes in tone and character that the show has made, it was an excellent episode!
We saw the aftermath of last week’s dinner party brawl (or “excellent evening,” as my sons would say), as Claire waits for Jamie to be released from the Bastille. (Yes, this is the same prison that was stormed many years after this scene in the “let them eat cake” riots, although it had fallen into disuse by then.) The Fraser men have been let out, but Alex Randall still sits, falsely accused by Mary Hawkins’ uncle Silas. That’s not his only problem – he’s been fired as well, by that dastardly Sandringham. Apparently “innocent until proven guilty” hasn’t made its way into the lexicon yet. But Jamie’s not taking the night as a total loss – he believes, and it’s confirmed later, that Sandringham has had the chance to form an opinion of Prince Charles, and “see him for the poor investment he is.” Goal achieved. That may be the only one tonight, though. Everyone, including Jamie and Claire, finds that their plans have been interrupted, their hopes dashed, their lives turned upside down. But their apartment is absolutely beautiful – Jon Gary Steele and the set decorators have done an amazing job.
We got the story behind La Dame Blanche – something Jamie mentioned at Maison Elise to keep them from tossing more whores his way. I liked how Claire tied it to being tried as a witch at Cranesmuir – anything connecting her and witches or sorcerors is probably a bad idea. But her smile as she said it at the end of the scene was sweet – she understood where Jamie was trying to go, and forgave him for it.
A few short moments really can change lives. Murtagh’s having a hard time with that. This scene was one of my few disappointments with the episode, and while I try not to compare scenes in the books to the show, this scene could have been so much more. There’s been a tendency with this production to change, equalize and minimize many of the characters’ basic natures. Murtagh, for the most part, has been turned into a much more interesting player, and it’s been great to see his development. But he’s not Jamie’s peer, he’s a family tacksman – sworn to protect Jamie since his birth. Jamie is his laird, his chief, not just his friend. He’s been there for every moment of Jamie’s life – not because he felt like hanging around, but because he had devoted his life to this child of Ellen Fraser. And “I’m sorry, man, I feel bad,” just doesn’t do it. The scene, as it plays out in the book, is much more moving, and truly shows the depths of his despair at having been overcome by the attackers and not preventing the harm that befell Claire and Mary.
In the book, Murtagh sees his failure as punishable by his death – and asks Jamie to take his life for not safeguarding Jamie’s wife, Jamie’s child, and Mary’s virtue. Sure, he says in the show that he can’t forgive himself, but that’s nowhere near what Diana gave us. I strongly suggest you go read the end of Chapter 19 in Dragonfly in Amber.
I’ve failed ye, and I’ll ask ye, as my chief, to take my life now, so I needna live longer wi’ the shame of it.
At least they’ve made some headway toward learning the identities of the attackers, and possibly the brains behind it – only a small number of people could have heard Jamie’s La Dame Blanche excuse, and Le Comte could have been one of them. Could he be behind Les Disciples? And their horrifying initiation ritual?
It seems that Jamie’s plans to disrupt Prince Charles have succeeded in part – his investors have backed out – but he hasn’t completely managed to get the money out of Charlie’s hands. That damnable Comte! What does he think he’s doing, offering the Prince a share in a business venture? Well, of course, we know he’s not an ethical businessman, and oops, he may be involved in more sinister doings as well, but good for Charles, he doesn’t listen to gossip, and chooses to partner up with Le Snake anyway. Have you noticed how often the Prince lets his hand linger on Jamie’s face? And how uncomfortable Jamie is with it every time? I love these little bits (I even love hearing him say “Mark me”). Jamie’s doing well keeping his true feelings from the Prince, the insufferable popinjay, and Charles still has complete confidence in Jamie’s loyalty. “I will lead you all to the gates of London, and to Glory,” he tells Jamie. “To that glorious day,” he toasts, as Jamie chokes inside.
The last thing Jamie wants is to be in business with the man who may be behind the attack on his wife, and they have a sneer-off in Madame Elise’s. What a lovely threatening scene, with Jamie not feeling the need to be politically correct! When Le Comte brings Claire’s inadvertent role in the destruction of his ship, in his deceptively quiet voice, Jamie responds, “Let me make this clear. Someone tried to poison her. Attacked her on the street. Raped her friend. My memory is as long as yours. When I find the man responsible, he’ll die a very slow and very painful death.” Watch Le Comte’s face – It’s brief, but this hits the mark – Jamie’s not a man to screw with.
You like how they’re thinking about getting out of it? Faking smallpox? Hmmm. We’ll have to see how this turns out! (Yeah, we think we know, but we don’t always – since this is, yes, say it with me, an adaptation!) Again, this is another instance where Jamie has been minimized by the show – in the book, this was his idea. I’d really like to see Jamie return to the intelligent, rational, exciting man we all fell in love with in the books. This is not the Claire show – it should be the Jamie AND Claire show, equal partners, even though it’s often told from her viewpoint.
Alex and Mary have both had their plans upset. Mary doesn’t know that Alex has been fired by the Duke, and tells Claire that they plan to get married. Mary’s the only person in this episode whose derailed plans are really for the better – “Now I don’t have to marry that awful man, the Vicomte,” she tells Claire with a sigh of relief. That’s the only really good thing to come out of the attack – didn’t you feel for her? I mean, my hubby’s moles are bad enough, but I picked him.
But Claire, who has been shown in this adaptation to be a meddling auld besom, can’t leave it at that. (Don’t yell at me, I liked this scene. And I like that phrase, and that’s who she is.) It’s finally hit her that Frank’s actual existence is in danger, and she feels the need to prevent a marriage between nice Alex Randall and sweet Mary Hawkins. Frankly, I’d rather have her marry Vicomte Warty than be touched by Black Jack, but apparently that hasn’t occurred to Claire. Sure, she’s too sweet and pretty for the Vicomte, but at least his warts are on the outside. It’s fine to give her up to BJR, who has warts all over his soul? And she talks Alex into giving up his dream of marrying little Mary, out of consideration for her youth and expected lifestyle. Nooooo, it’s so Frank will be born. Little does she know, you can’t really change the future!
Do you think Jamie realized that the Duke never really looked at the horses Jamie examined? He’s long been aware of the Duke’s interest in more than his lovely mind, and doesn’t seem overly bothered by it, so this was fun to watch them seemingly discussing the same thing, but not at all really! There was some wicked subtext going on there, as they walked around the beautiful animals. The Duke was looking at our Jamie like he was the horseflesh the Duke would prefer to be purchasing. I’m a little worried for the actual horses the Duke buys.
On the bright side, oh, the Versailles scenes! (I realize this wasn’t really Versailles, get with the program.) Claire was wearing my – and Ron Moore’s – favorite dress, the gorgeously embroidered “dressage dress.” Compared with Annalise de Marillac, who was supposed to be a beauty, Claire looked exotic and fabulous. The hat was amazing, the colors were amazing… I loved the way Claire bristled as Annalise recounted “James” as she knew him. “But of course, when I knew him, he was a boy… you have turned him into a man,” she finally concedes.
And then – so beautifully done – the confrontation with Black Jack Randall! This wasn’t at all the way I thought it would go – and I loved the way it was done. Instead of coming at her furious for having stolen his prize, he’s returned to the BJR of “The Garrison Commander” – rational in a twisted way, able to turn a thought to his advantage. And he’s stunned – and thrilled to his core – that Jamie is nearby. I can imagine that he’s been fixated on Jamie in a way that nobody has ever caught him. You can’t call it love – he’s too bound up in his own needs to actually love someone, but he’s obsessed. “This is unbelievable,” he hisses to Claire. “The fates are with us now. Setting off seemingly divergent paths that somehow converge, in the most unlikely of places.” You can see Claire’s panic as he holds her closer to him than she is anywhere near comfortable with – anything closer than several countries between them would be too close. And then, the King.
This was my favorite scene so far this season, the exchange between imperious, regally cruel Louis and bug-under-his-feet Randall. He looked every inch an 18th century monarch, behaved like someone who has no doubt that they’ll get their way every time. Flawlessly polite and considerate to Claire, he picked up on her antipathy to Randall and treated him like the slime he quickly determined him to be, without knowing quite why. The camera picked up his slightly confused expressions, and his small but so important gestures of approval, dismissal, courtliness. The King knew exactly what he expected Randall to do when he told him to beg – sure, he was telling him to beg the Duke for Alex’s position back, but he wanted to bring Randall to his knees in front of Claire and Jamie – not knowing why they wanted him there, but quite willing to humiliate him. And Jamie’s little conversation – “I heard you had an unfortunate encounter with … sheep, was it?” when Black Jack had trouble rising from kneeling – was perfect. Yes, the King was still in the dark, and slightly confused, and maybe even a little uncomfortable, but happy to play along. Yes, I loved this scene.
Life doesn’t go smoothly for the Frasers – just as they’re seeming to get their relationship back together, Jamie challenges Randall to an illegal duel, something that’s been mentioned several times. Claire sidesteps and gets Randall tossed in jail, swearing out an obviously false charge against him. And she again puts her own needs and feelings before Jamie’s – she’s removed any obstacle, she thinks, to Randall getting his hands on Mary, for Frank’s sake, and she extracts a promise from Jamie to postpone the duel for a year so Frank’s ancestor can at least be conceived, she believes. There’s nothing about this behavior that says to me “I’ve chosen you, you come first” – I understand where she’s coming from, barely, but having changed her own path to stay with the man she’s picked, she seems to be doing more at this point to endanger that relationship in order to save the man she left than she’s doing to help Jamie continue to put his pieces back together. Guilt for having left? Panic? Whatever it is, Sam Heughan’s portrayal at this point, furious, impotent, fragile – was amazing. “God, Claire. You’d stop me from claiming vengeance on a man who made me play his hoor. A man that lived inside my nightmares and in our bed. Who almost drove me to take my own life. I’m a man of honor. I pay my debts. So tell me now, is that what you’re asking of me, to pay you with the life of Black Jack Randall?” You want to scream out at her, “change your mind! Jamie comes first!” But she won’t get that. So their precious, hard-won peace is once again fractured. “Don’t you touch me,” he says to her, and we cry with him.
To learn more about the gift Jamie gives to Claire, read this Wikipedia article on Apostle spoons. I don’t quite get this yet – I’m assuming this will have some significance later on in the season, and not just be something that’s been thrown in – “hey guys, look at this cool info I found! How can we use this?” But it was a beautiful gesture, one that underscored their return to a loving relationship.
And Access Hollywood released a fun Interview with Lionel Lingelser, who portrays King Louis XV:
Read Ron Moore’s Twitter Q&A from last night here
Would you like to see more Twitter Q&As? I’ve transcribed all of them, and you can find the links in the
Notes section of our Outlander Facebook page.
Follow me on Twitter: @OutlanderTIBS, @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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