Outlander’s second week of season two fared much better with me than the first episode. We headed back into the past with Jamie and Claire, who are trying to thwart the Bonnie Prince’s quest for the English throne. Of the two storylines we see playing out thus far, Paris in the 18th century is far more interesting. We know how the larger picture of the doomed Jacobite rebellion ends, but the journey is what makes us care, and this episode gets us back there.
Episode two, titled Not in Scotland Anymore was written by Ira Steven Behr and directed by Metin Hüseyin. We open on a pretty familiar scene after last season, as Jamie and Claire are in bed, having some marital fun. When Claire turns into Black Jack Randall and Jamie repeatedly stabs him, it’s clear that this is a dream. One thing I was really hoping for and am grateful that is happening is the show’s exploration of the aftermath of Randall’s assault on Jamie. I wish more shows would take us through that journey after showing us the trauma. Jamie wakes and leaves their bed and we see that all is not well in the Fraser household. Claire can’t reach Jamie, and this wound isn’t something she can heal. It’s a heartbreaking moment when we see how desperate these two are for each other, and how neither can seem to bridge the gap.
One thing that is completely different this season is the costuming and the entire color palette of the show. It’s 1745 Paris and, while Claire is chafing under running a household, she is looking amazing while doing so. Her poor servants don’t have anything to do (Claire is too tidy and independent for a lady of leisure), as we see when her maid is so desperately happy to strip the bed while the lady of the house heads out to see the sights of Paris. Sadly for the Sassenach, the Eiffel Tower is not one of them, since it won’t be built for another hundred years and the damned Nazis had control of it back when she was in her own time.
Who needs a tall tower, though, when you can see a short man?? Claire heads into an apothecary and we first lay eyes on Master Raymond, a short French flirt who has a fondness for the Madonna (his nickname for the lovely woman with a good nose) and a hatred for the Comte St. Germain. Master Raymond knows Claire’s name already because of her dockside declarations of smallpox and it’s reaffirmed that the Comte is not a happy camper. I really enjoyed Dominique Pinon’s portrayal of Raymond, he had the right manner and attitude, if not quite as frog like as I imagined.
Claire is not the only one chafing under the binds of high society, we see, as Jamie and Murtagh spar in the park, much to the horror of the Parisian populace strolling by. I guess seeing two large Scotsmen battling it out would give you pause, but damn, what a show. The fight has purpose we see, as Murtagh is trying to strengthen his godson’s hand, while also trying to get the hell outta France as soon as possible. He misses home, he misses the smell and the feel. Hell, he even misses Rupert and Angus (I feel you there, Murtagh). Jamie agrees and understands, but their methods of getting home aren’t quite the same: Jamie wants to insinuate himself into the upper echelons of the rebels while Murtagh just wants the kill the prince and get on with it.
I tend to agree with Murtagh on this one, though, after meeting the whiney sop. Jamie is invited to meet the Bonny Prince at a brothel, and happily obliges, which Claire is totally (not) down for. While Jamie is telling Charlie that the Highlanders are “years away” from being ready to fight, and Charles is behaving like a petulant child who lost his favorite toy, the whores are a fun distraction. They bring out dildos and some lightheartedness that is needed after listening to Charles’ whining. It’s clear Murtagh and the prince are not going to be buddies and I’m all in on Team Murtagh here. Jamie’s first attempt at subverting the rebellion doesn’t go so well as he angers Charles, and Murtagh has a nice moment here telling him that most men aren’t willing to bleed and die for someone who has never set foot on Scottish soil, let alone knows the struggle of it’s people. None of that matters, tho, since “God has chosen” Charles to lead the rebellion and put his father back on the throne. I rolled my eyes so hard at this part, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. However, Jamie still gets what he really wanted. Charles asks him to go to Court in his stead to move the cause along and get some money.
Later with Murtagh and Claire, we learn that Jamie doesn’t hold the prince in the same regard and wouldn’t trust him with a vegetable patch, let alone the revolution, and our trio of troublemakers decide the best way to stop the fight is to stop the money. With the plan set, Claire heads off to see a friend that can get her into Versailles: Louise de Rohan. Now Louise is my kinda lady. When we meet her, she is nearly naked (an open robe, for modesty) and getting all her business waxed. She also has a monkey, which frankly makes me hate her a little because I’ve always wanted a monkey and will never get one. Contrasted to the vivacious Louise, we also meet the quiet, plain Mary Hawkins, who is staying with Louise until she is married off to an old man chosen for her by her father. Louise, between slapping her wax man and chatting, invites them both to Versailles and the cogs start to turn.
Later that night, Claire tries to seduce Jamie with her smooth legs and “bare honeypot” and nearly succeeds before flashbacks stop Jamie. I won’t lie, I was hoping for more of the shocked horror we saw in the books for this scene. It’s not a spoiler to say the words “plucked chicken” come up and it was always a favorite scene for me. TV Jamie is a bit more mellow than Book Jamie and I’m hoping that changes as we move along.
The reaction to Claire’s infamous red dress was more along the lines of what I would expect from a fiery tempered Scotsman, but still pretty subdued as he assures Claire that he can see straight down to her third rib, but it’s cool, she’s got a fan. I love this dress. It’s so simple and sexy and I won’t be surprised if we see some modern ones modeled after it soon enough.
We get to Versailles and Jamie is immediately set upon by a very friendly Frenchwoman named Annalise de Marillac, who for good reason, has fond memories of Jamie, who fought “one, tiny duel” on her behalf. Claire’s face and Jamie’s uncomfortable awkwardness here kill me as he tries to dig himself out of this hole. But hey, it’s worth it, since it gets him an audience with King Louis and Annalise shuffles him off. Frankly, I’d have been cool with waiting to see him though, since his audience right now includes watching the poor man try and take a shit in front of a bunch of noble sycophants. It’s an entertaining scene in which we get more Sassy Murtagh, and Jamie offers his advice to eat parritch every morning to “keep things moving.” He’s laughed at at first, but hey, he’s not the one who can’t shit, and thankfully we, unlike Louis’ bowels, get movin’ along.
The ladies have more fun talking about nicknames for dick, and that’s a conversation I can get behind, but soon Claire’s attention drifts to a smiling Mary and the young man she’s talking to. Claire decides to take a stroll while Louise finds the Minister of Finance (whom Claire and Jamie have been wanting to meet) Duverney and tells him her “friend in the Red Dress” wants to meet him, and a very excited money man scurries after Claire. Clearly, no one told Claire that taking a stroll and wanting to meet a man meant you want to have your toes sucked because she is somehow surprised that Duverney thinks she’s looking for a tryst, rather than a chat. It’s all good though, as Jamie comes along and just pushes the guy in the stream before knowing who the dude molesting his wife is. I gotta say, I laughed out loud, rewound, and laughed again at that part.
Thankfully, I am not the only one who can laugh it off, as the Frasers and Duverney make friends. While the three are making merry, King Louis strolls by and we get to see a couple things: Louis likes what he sees when looking at Claire; and that Claire’s dress is downright modest when compared to his companion’s, who just has the boobs on full display.
All’s not rosy at the party, however, and we see the Duke of Sandringham has shown up and Jamie has to stop Murtagh from killing him on the spot. Sandringham is making no friends, but says Jack Randall insisted he give him the letter exonerating Jamie of any wrongdoing. Considering how much Randall likes to fuck folks up, I can’t really say I blame him. While Claire and Sandringham are bickering, and Jamie and Murtagh are anywhere but near Sandringham, the young man Mary was talking to comes to speak with the Duke. The young man is ill, and we also find out that his name is Alexander Randall, and that his big brother Jack is very very much alive. The episode closes as both the literal and figurative fireworks are about to begin.
Stitch in Time: Every time Murtagh was on the screen, pissing and moaning about the French. I love me some grumpy men and he was especially sassy this week.
What did you think? Are you liking Paris? Does this new cast of characters interest you, or like Murtagh, are you longing for the Scottish countryside?