Last week picked up where we left off: With the dinner party. It was a few hours later, though, and Jamie, Alex, and all the other men fighting had been brought to the Bastille. There had been a misunderstanding, but it was getting sorted out by Duverney for Jamie and the rest, except for poor Alex, who was accused of actually raping Mary (not an unreasonable conclusion, given the position in which they were found). He wouldn’t be released without the word of Mary herself. Well, from prison, anyway. The Duke had no qualms releasing him from his position as secretary.
Jamie returns home in the wee hours to see that not only Claire, but also Fergus had waited up for him. After taking Fergus to bed, Jamie and Claire discuss the evening’s events. Overall, dinner was a disaster, even to the Highlanders, who like a good brawl, but it may not have been wasted. Hopefully Sandringham has seen the error of his ways and found Charles to be a bad investment, thus stopping the Jacobite Uprising before it begins. The downside, though, is that Charles left with Comte St Germaine, AKA Monsieur Douchebag. At this point, hearing optimism from Jamie and Claire about their plans is a mix of sad and amusing, since they literally never go according to plan, but tonight there are more pressing matters.
Claire recounts her attack for Jamie, and mentions that her assailants had aristocratic speech and called her “La Dame Blanche” before they fled for their souls. Jamie gives a slight chuckle before confessing that he was actually the one to give her the nickname, in order to stay true to her whilst still appearing manly in the whorehouse. Now, I found this hilarious but i can understand how after being tried and convicted as a witch Claire doesn’t see the humor in it.
The next day, while Jamie is running the day to day aspects of the wine business that Jared left in his safekeeping, Murtagh tells him what he knows. The gang is a bunch of aristocratic assholes who like to terrorize the streets of Paris. The entry fee? A maidenhead. Murtagh feels that he’s failed Jamie by allowing the attack to happen, and, while I get it, I agree with Jamie that he was outmanned. Jamie tells him that if he wants to make recompense and get vengeance, the best way to do so is to find the men who did it and find the link between them and the Comte, who Jamie and Claire are sure is somehow involved.
Claire sneaks a visit to Mary, who isn’t allowed to leave her house… that is, until she is healed up and can be shipped away. Mary is ashamed and feels like a different person. I know that she isn’t a main character, but I’m glad we spent some time with her recovery. Maybe not as much as we should, but at the same time, we’re dealing pretty heavily in the repercussions of Jamie’s rape and torture, I’m not sure if we could handle another story that is so heartbreaking.
There is a tiny silver lining though: Mary is most likely (we know 100% not) pregnant, and the ogre her uncle was forcing her to marry no longer wants her, which leaves her free to marry Alex as soon as she gets him released from prison. After Mary gives her the letter that will set Alex free, Claire has a low moment. She wonders whether she is capable of condemning Alex, who is innocent, to save Frank. We know from last week that Mary marries Black Jack, and Claire feels an obligation to protect that union and make sure Frank exists. I mean… I get it, but letting Alex rot in the Bastille is pretty damned shady.
Both the Frasers are having a busy day, as we see Prince Charles swing by Jamie’s for a chat. Apparently his investors were “shortsighted fools” who decided their money best spent elsewhere, but that’s okay! Charles has wine money, thanks to Jamie and the Comte! Charles can get ten thousand pounds sterling for wine procured and shipped by Jamie and the Comte, all Jamie has to do is work with an enemy. And keep an eye on him for Charles, who gives zero fucks about the details, but set up a meeting for Jamie and The Comte at Maison Elise to discuss the “working man’s” details. The meeting is awkward and full of veiled threats. Comte St Germaine wants as little to do with the Frasers as they want with him. But it’s agreed that Jamie will procure the buyers, and Germaine will handle the shipment. Thus, with one final dick move of splashing his coins, The Comte leaves.
Claire proves herself mostly worthy of my admiration by not letting Alex, who is very ill, rot in the notorious 18th century French prison, but then tells him that Mary deserves better than being his nursemaid and that he should dump her “for her own good” which annoys me. I understand where she is coming from, but Alex is truly good, and she would rather condemn her friend to marriage to a sadistic tyrant than allow a love match between a poor man and a “ruined” girl, and that hurts my romantic heart.
Claire and Jamie try to hash out a way to disrupt the shipment of wine, and oh man, wouldn’t it be convenient if there was another case of smallpox onboard? That sparks an idea they decided to think more about later, as Jamie has to go help the Duke of Sandringham pick out horseflesh. I like seeing these exchanges, because, while neither Claire nor Jamie is a fan of the Duke, the need to keep him on their side as much as possible. While Jamie helps Sandringham, and tries to get his measure of Charles (who is an utter ass, according to the Duke), Claire bumps into Annalise.And together, they bump into Jack Randall. Obviously nothing could make being forced to take a pleasant stroll with your husband’s ex better than bumping into the man who nearly destroyed your husband and marriage.
Jack seems much more pleased to see Claire than she is to see him, and why wouldn’t he be? He thinks he’s won. Last he saw Jamie, he was a broken shell of a man. Randall thinks it’s fate that they met again. “In all the gin joints, etc etc.” Claire tries to get away by claiming she’s ill (this is the go-to excuse for all pregnant women) but Annalise offers to get Jamie instead and is gone before Claire can stop her. While Claire and Jack are quietly having it out, King Louis comes upon them. He mocks Jack, which is fun to watch. Seeing BJR having to get on his knees and beg for his brother’s job must be so satisfying for Claire and Jamie, who has arrived. The exchange between Jamie and Jack is awkward and stilted, since they have to be pleasant in front of the King, but, as soon as they are dismissed, Jamie challenges Jack to duel, which he accepts (“I owe you a death”). Jamie is pumped for the confrontation, and he and Murtagh are later discussing strategy, when Claire comes in to tell them she’s gotten Jack jailed in the Bastille. No duel for Jamie.
What follows after Murtagh leaves is one of the best scenes between Claire and Jamie to date. He can’t kill Jack yet, Claire insists, because Frank will never exist if he does. Poor Jamie. To have the gift of vengeance dangled before him only to have it snatched away. To have to live in the same world as his tormentor to save the life of someone he can’t and will never know. Sam Heughan gets all the awards for this scene. Claire demands that Jamie spare Jack for one year, as a repayment of his debt to her. One life.
Bannocks 4.5 not a lot of action, but the pieces are falling into place, and bringing Tobias Menzies raises the stakes quite a bit.
Stitch in time: Jamie and Claire’s fight. The chemistry between Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe is amazing, and it shows here. Close second is BJR being mocked and humiliated by the King, though.