We return to Outlander with the episode Best Laid Schemes, with Murtagh happily planning a duel now that Jack Randall is out of the Bastille. His plotting is all for naught, however, when Jamie tells Murtagh that the duel is off. For reasons. For some reason Jamie and Claire still think Murtagh can’t be trusted with the truth of why he’s basically committing treason, even if he can be trusted to help. It’s a frustrating part of this season, mainly because it’s clear that the tensions between the Frasers and Murtagh are unsustainable. Murtagh leaves, disgusted with Jamie and his seeming lack of convictions, and then we find a very pregnant Claire at the hospital, preparing a body for burial. She is relieving Monsieur Forez, the Royal Executioner, who decides to give Claire (and by extension, us) a little lesson about the Traitor’s Death. King Louis is on a hunt for those practicing the dark arts, and Forez needs to prepare himself for multiple executions. He’s very good at what he does, and takes pride in it. We can see this by the way he explains drawing and quartering someone, and the skill it takes to keep them alive as long as possible. He makes sure to tell Claire to say “hello” to Master Raymond after his lesson. Claire rushes to warn her friend to leave town and goes Full Ghost Whoopie on him (“Girl, you in danger.”). After some initial reluctance, Master Raymond agrees to leave Paris until things have calmed down and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Master Raymond is one of the highlights of season two for me; he lends an air of mystery and intrigue that is always welcome.
Next we see Jamie giving Claire a foot rub, which is what I wish my husband would do when he’s pissed off at me, but that is beside the point. He tells Claire that the actual reason he agreed to put off killing Jack was so that, should anything happen to him, he wanted somewhere for Claire to go. He makes her promise to go back, should they not prevail and/or he dies. He’s completely right in his opinion that he doesn’t owe Frank anything. There can’t be three people in this marriage, and the lengths Claire is willing to go to (break Mary and Alex’s hearts, allow her friend to marry a sadistic monster, allow said sadistic monster to live and torment other people for one second longer) to protect Frank is borderline unforgivable. I would not be rubbing her feet, is all I’m saying. I love Claire Fraser, but this has always been the most frustrating part of her personality. Is there a limit to the suffering she’s willing to allow to happen to keep Frank in existence? Because, once she knows about Jack, she is allowing it.
Onwards to the next plot to keep that 10k pounds out of Prince Charles’ hands. Time to fake smallpox!! Jamie gets to be the poor guinea pig while Claire mixes potions and dabs him with nettle leaf juice to imitate the symptoms (blisters, cramping, fever, blood in urine). The plan is to get St. Germaine’s employees at his wine cellar to drink that nasty concoction, thereby requiring the warehouse and all the wine in it to be destroyed. Jamie is in for a fun night, and Murtagh is not impressed. He still doesn’t understand why they have to have this subterfuge and can’t just kill Charles outright. Fergus is paying as much attention as any 10 year old boy would, while being adorable. As always. I love Fergus.
After Murtagh leaves, Jamie and Claire FINALLY decide that maybe it’s time to let the man know why he’s risking his life and freedom to thwart the independance of his people. Jamie goes out and tells Murtagh everything. Murtagh takes it all at Jamie’s word. I’ve seen some people rolling their eyes at this happening not once, but twice, but when you trust and love someone as completely as Jamie does Claire, and Murtagh does Jamie, you trust them and take it on faith. This doesn’t stop Murtagh from clocking Jamie, though. It’s well deserved; he should have trusted Murtagh from the start. This also gives Murtagh a new respect for Claire and the burden of knowledge she carries, which can’t be an easy thing.
Jamie and Fergus head out to play saboteur for a few days. Fergus is small and sneaky enough that getting the wine bottles for the crew to drink and painting the nettle juice in the jackets is almost too easy. They get home and a few days later, Jamie is called to the Maison Elise, Charles and St Germaine tell him about the sick workmen, but assure him that they’re hidden away. Jamie has to move the wine so they don’t lose their investment, and St. Germaine insists on going, too. He doesn’t trust Jamie, and who can blame him? I mean yeah, St. Germaine’s an asshole, but he’s not a dumb one. Claire already cost him a shit ton of money, and it’s not as if Jamie is on the up and up here. So they decide to go together.
Since the “too good to be true” plan didn’t work out, they decide that the “desperate last minute” plan to have Murtagh and some highwaymen ambush the caravan and steal the wine will work better. Claire thinks the plan is too risky. Murtagh’s only issue with it is that he has to wear French clothes and he hates them. Murtagh looks like my three year old when I pick her clothes in the morning. It’s adorable and endearing, as I love grumpy old men.
That night, Claire and Jamie have a nice moment, and Jamie talks to her belly while Claire frets that “bad things happen when [they’re] apart.” Bad things tend to happen when you’re sneaking around, subverting the plans of kings and princes, together or not. Jamie talking to the baby was sweet and heartbreaking in hindsight, when he tells the bump he “canna wait to meet you.” The next day Claire is chatting with Louise and some other ladies, who are gossiping about affairs and other silliness and Claire just can’t take it anymore. These women are frivolous. They are shallow. So she finally speaks up, saying that something needs to be done about the starving and the poor. The ladies agree enthusiastically, saying they should have their husbands petition the King….to have those inconvenient poor and sick moved to a different part of town so they don’t have to see them. Claire leaves and I can’t blame her. The women go right back to gossiping, thinking Claire is just sensitive from hormones.
Later, while Jamie and St. Germaine are transporting the wine, they’re ambushed by Murtagh & Co. St. Germaine refuses to get off the wagon, so Jamie “saves” him from getting shot, and, to make it more convincing, has Murtagh knock him out. Success! The wine and Murtagh are of to Portugal to unload the ill gotten gains. Later at the Maison Elise, Charles is devastated, St. Germaine is pissed and suspicious, and Jamie is…well, bleeding. Without the funds, Charles can’t reclaim the throne. Meanwhile, Claire is working harder than ever at the hospital, and has to stay the night. Mother Hildegard insists, and she’s not one to be crossed. When Claire lays down, it’s noticed that she is bleeding a little, but is told that it’s nothing to be concerned with.
While Jamie is sitting down for a bite to eat with Fergus, Suzette (the ladies’ maid) comes in to tell him that Charles needs him at Maison Elise again. The Prince has run up quite the debt and is refusing to pay. Jamie and Fergus head off to bail out Charles. Being the whiny little toolbag’s friend must be exhausting. While Jamie is smoothing things over for Charles, Fergus wanders the rooms and halls. It’s with dread and horror that we watch Fergus snoop through a room with a red coat hanging…that feeling only grows when an unknown person catches the young boy and closes the door. It’s a great directorial choice and gives us the understanding without showing.
When Claire comes home, the staff won’t make eye contact with her, and are acting strange. Jamie is nowhere to be found, and Suzette finally ‘fesses up that he challenged an English officer he fought with at the brothel to a duel, and thus Claire panics. He left her a note saying only “I’m sorry. I must.” and she’s off to stop him. What follows is one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the season. Claire races to stop Jamie, and is in clear pain and distress as the carriage races to the forest.
She finally gets to them only to realize that it’s too late. They’ve already begun, and to yell for him now could be a fatal distraction for Jamie. It’s an intense fight that includes Jack biting Jamie and verbally taunting him (“How could she forgive you?! HOW?!”). While they are fighting, Claire appears to miscarry their baby. Jamie stabs Jack right in the peen, and I inwardly cheer, since I think that might be a fate worse than death for Jack Randall. Soon after though, Claire screams for Jamie, and the police come and arrest him. Claire begs to be taken to the hospital before she passes out, Jamie screaming her name helplessly.
Bannocks: 4.5/5 There was a LOT happening in this episode, but the episode did not feel overstuffed. There are comparisons to the book for a few parts that I can’t help but make, but none of which are negative.
Stitch in Time: Claire’s apparent miscarriage and Jamie’s cries for her while being arrested is probably is the scene such a taut, heartbreaking scene that it’s what stuck with me the most this week..