'Outlander' season 2, episode 2: One cunning couple
France is looking good on our Frasers. And I'm not just talking about that red dress. Our power couple has everyone in France drooling over them, and unknowingly helping them in their cause to change history.
Last season, Claire was very reactionary to her surroundings. But after she chose not to go back through the stones to Frank in the 20th century, our heroine has her control back. And she's making that known. Alongside her husband Jamie, she is on a mission to change history. But each tale of time travel carries its own rules about how to rewrite the past. How much control do they really have? It seems this season of Outlander will explore that idea.
It was a bold move in the beginning of this season to essentially tell us that their plan doesn't work. The Battle of Culloden ends with the same result, and Claire leaves Jamie to go back to the 20th century. So even though we know a result, let's have some fun watching their cunning schemes in 18th century France, starting with this second episode, titled "Not in Scotland Anymore."
We open in bed. This is a romance, after all. Jamie is still struggling to connect with Claire because of the vile torture from Black Jack Randall still lingers. Physical wounds are one thing, but to completely demolish a pretty strong bond between Claire and Jamie is just revolting.
And, of course, Claire doesn't like having servants. But she looks absolutely lovely.
If you're unaware of Tom and Lorenzo, please start following their blog. This season of Outlander, just like they did with Mad Men, they explore each episode's costume choices and discuss how it represents the scene, and the story.
Thank you, Claire Voiceover, for our weekly history lesson. I probably should have paid more attention in AP European History in 10th grade, but now I have Claire to help me out.
Claire finds her way to the local apothecary where she meets Master Raymond. They get along, and she tells him she's a healer, and it seems she's got a traveling reputation. Master Raymond has also made an enemy of the Comte St. Germain. It seems Raymond will make a good connection while the Frasers are in the city.
Meanwhile, Jamie and Murtagh, his grumpy godfather, are playing with their swords. "Go away! Or I'll rip your balls off!" That Murtagh is very polite. He's unimpressed with Parisian life and prefers the "Scottish mud." And, thanks guys, for reminding us about the bearded mud buds, Angus and Rupert. Blessed.
Murtagh has a plan. He thinks killing the Charles Stuart, a.k.a. "Bonnie Prince Charlie," the Catholic monarch in exile, would be the easiest and best solution to stopping the bloody Jacobite rebellion. Cutting the head of the snake comes with a price, Jamie reminds him. Luckily, Jared helps Jamie get an in with his friend, the prince, at a brothel no less.
And because this is a family newspaper blog, I can't exactly go into what happens at this brothel, other than it was "wonderfully vulgar." Jamie and a skeptical Murtagh try to cunningly thwart the beginning of Charles' rebellion efforts by saying the Clans don't have the tenacity to fight the British. But the prince is not having it. He has a divine right to the throne. Well, you can't argue with God.
Back in Fireside Fraser Manor, Claire is sporting the most luscious robe as she praises her two men's work. She agrees that they need to go to Versailles to make sure no one funds this rebellion.
And this is where we meet The Real Housewife of Versailles, Louise de Rohan. And she's getting waxed while saying things like: "The bite of a man is desirable. But the bite of a monkey ... not so much." "Such a bother." "Ignorant child, must I drop my robe and show you what naked means?" Her teenage niece Mary Hawkins walks in. Claire knows her, but can't place her. Interesting. In between some conversation about an old man Mary has to marry, Louise screams with the pull of each wax strip. Ultimately, Louise invites Claire to court.
But obviously, Claire got a little something extra out of her visit with Louise de Rohan. Her honeypot was cleaned up, for lack of better words. Jamie seems conflicted that she "rid herself of such a lovely forest." That is both hilarious and romantic. But as soon as it gets hot and heavy, Jamie still can't rid those horrific images out of his head.
It's the day they go to court, and Claire presents herself like Rachael Leigh Cook in She's All That, slowly coming down the stairs in a stunning red dress. Jamie does not want her to go out in public, but you can't stop A Lady In Red.
"You're going to need a larger fan." LOL
And here's where the costuming goes insane.
Lots of shenanigans happen at court: Jamie's long lost almost-love, Annalise de Marillac, makes Claire jealous; boobs; the King tries to take a public poo (and Murtagh is all of us); boobs; D jokes; Claire thwarts another rape attempt; Duverney a wig over a fire; the King arrives; nipples; the King throws a shady look to Claire; Murtagh falls in love with those nipples; the Frasers see a shady man from their past: The Duke of Sandringham, an English man from last season who is secretly on the Jacobite side.
But probably the biggest OMG moment was meeting Black Jack's brother, Alexander, who was perfectly cast. And we learn that Jonathan "Black Jack" is alive. The jolt of the fireworks perfectly encapsulate Claire's shock to this news. Will she tell Jamie?
And if you're not following @OutlanderStarz on Twitter, you absolutely must. They post lots of great gifs from each episode live.
For book readers
This episode was quite a re-edit from the book's story, although it included all the major plot points going forward. As quick as I am to dislike it, I have to remind myself that this book has a lot of chess pieces that need to be put into place. And, actually, the Paris schemes is only part of the long book! We've still got a long way to go to end up where the book starts, in 1968. I remember skimming through Part One of the book because I desperately wanted to get back to Jamie. It just took awhile for the story to come full circle, and it seems Ronald D. Moore is just helping us through that circle in a different way. New characters are coming into the plot earlier, but they're still the same characters. I wouldn't get too caught up in that.
But what has been frustratingly different is the Fraser marriage. Yes, the two of them are still reeling from Black Jack's lingering terror. But other things come up that seem to be brushed aside on screen. Claire's reaction to Jamie's brothel trip is taken much more seriously. Hopefully as Jamie gains more of a friendship with Charles, we'll see more of Claire's jealousy and bitter humor. As the two of them infiltrate Jacobite plans, the only thing they know to be true is their marriage, but that also carries its own weight. This episode didn't focus on that too much, but I expect that to come.
Also, the show hasn't mentioned her pregnancy in the 18th century this season. Hm.