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‘Outlander' season 2, episode 4: Good people doing bad things

Claire's face is all of us at a dinner party.

Starz

Claire's face is all of us at a dinner party.

30

April

What begins with yet another game of chess ends in a violent dinner party. This episode of Outlander titled "Le Dame Blanche" shows strains in the Fraser marriage come to a head, as other characters get hurt in the couple's devious plots.

Jamie is still cosying up to France money man, Mr. Duverney. While Jamie and Claire talk baby names (please not Delouise), Comte St. Germain moseys over, looking like a villain straight out of a Disney movie. He delivers some nasty lines like "Neener neener, I know who's going to win, you guys are idiots." It seems he's talking not just about this game of chess, I suspect.

Jamie runs over to Claire, whose wine was poisoned with bitter cascara (a really nasty laxative). They suspect it's Comte St. Germain's doing, but they agree it's probably best not to kill him without proof. Instead, they plan to host a dinner party for the Duke of Sandringham and Prince Charles Stuart, setting up the perfect stage to cause a stir in the Jacobite rebellion plans. I've seen enough episodes of television that dinner parties are always filled with thrilling drama.

Claire picks this moment to tell Jamie that Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall is alive. His reaction is ... well, interesting. He's happy? Apparently he's been feeling mad FOMO, not being able to witness/be part of Black Jack's death. Jamie seems to be rejuvenated.

As soon as Claire is feeling better, she puts on a gorgeous dress and stomps to the apothecary to ask about the poison. But Mr. Raymond is quick to tell her that he has no idea. Instead, he brings her to the back room to show off his bone and skull collection. As soon as I thought Claire was silly for believing this magic, I remember that she's a time traveller.

Mr. Raymond gives her a necklace to detect poison. As she's holding it up, our eyes are drawn to her two hands, and her two wedding rings. If Jamie succeeds in killing Black Jack, one of those rings should disappear.

Claire's next stop: her bestie's, Louise de Rohan, who is in quite a pickle. She's pregnant with another man's baby. Yes, she's married, but I guess we should have assumed she's not waxing for her husband. Claire tells Louise to sleep with her husband, so he thinks it's his baby. "But how will I raise a child with a man who's not the father?" This is an exact question Claire will also face.

Jamie and Prince Charles have also become besties. They frequently drink and womanize, and one night Jamie comes home with bite marks on this thighs, as you do. Okay, so Jamie hasn't been womanizing. But, this forces Claire and Jamie to confront their divided marriage. Since Wentworth prison, Claire and Jamie's sexual relationship hasn't been resolved. And that's completely understandable, but Claire finally lets down her guard to explain how alone she feels as she tiptoes around Jamie's trauma. They realize how alone they've both felt by not addressing these issues together. Jamie and Claire work because of their shared vulnerability and honesty. So when they finally come together later that night, it's one of the most authentically exposed sex scenes in the show's history.

Just as the two share in post-coital glow, Prince Charles breaks into their house, with a monkey bite. Oh, he's the one who got Louise pregnant. The Frasers use this knowledge to their advantage and invite her to the dinner party, too. Woof.

At least the Frasers are self-aware in their cunning plots. "Does this make us bad people?" asks Claire. "The way I see, we're doing a bad thing for a good reason," answers Jamie. "Isn't that what all bad people say?" Yes, Claire.

The day of the dinner party, Claire heads to the hospital. It's always nice to check in with Mother Hildegarde and Bouton, even if I have to witness broken bones. And who doesn't adore the little Fergus, who is a very intuitive pickpocket.

Claire and Mary Hawkins are running late, as expected. All our chess pieces have arrived for dinner: Alexander Randall, the Duke of Sandringham, Prince Charles Stuart, Louise de Rohan and her husband, and Comte St. Germain. The gang's all here!

Murtagh, Claire and Mary walk home, and Mary confesses her new love: Alexander Randall. Black Jack's brother and the duke's assistant. But the three are attacked. Mary is assaulted and raped, but the sight of Claire's face scares the men and they run off. "Le Dame Blanche! Le Dame Blanche!" It seems Claire has a fortunate reputation.

Once they get home, they bring Mary upstairs. Now that she's no longer a virgin, Mary will face a spinster life, says Jamie. Claire is horrified, but she's got a dinner party with a rowdy guest list downstairs. Jamie presents Claire, and everyone bows except Comte St. Germain, who is 5 years old. Claire quickly catches up with Louise who says she's convinced her joyous husband that the baby is his. That was a close one.

Our dinner party starts with talk of religion and politics. And a dad joke. As expected, Prince Charles loses his cool when Jamie announces Louise's pregnancy. As he toasts the couple, you can tell he's internally screaming. This actor is absolutely great at playing a conceited coward. But also at this table: Mary Hawkins' uncle and her age-inappropriate fiancé.

Meanwhile, Alex, sits by Mary's side as she lays unconscious after her attack. But when she wakes up, she runs away in terror. He chases her into a living room, tackles her, trying to calm her down. Everyone comes to see what's causing all this commotion and it looks as if Alex is assaulting her. As Mary's men fight Jamie and Murtagh, both Prince Charles and Comte St. Germain seem to establish a little bond. Uh oh.

The only person this dinner party worked out for is Fergus, who gladly finished off everyone's plates.

For book readers

This episode roughly follows chapters 16-18, but expands and embellishes a lot of the story to work in some of the stuff they've missed. A notable rewrite has been the friendship between Claire and Louise. Book Claire has always known about Louise's affair with Prince Charles.

But perhaps the biggest change has been Claire, and her marriage to Jamie. TV Claire and Book Claire have always had their differences. TV Claire is a little more defiant. Last episode, instead of waiting for Jamie's permission to work at the hospital, she just goes ahead as she pleases. This episode, during the bedroom scene, it seems TV Claire is unaware of Jamie's demons from Wentworth prison. Both TV and the book use sex to ease tension and bring the two back together, but the television series has exaggerated the divide and stress their marriage is under in that moment. Diana Gabaldon's story is much more nuanced and detailed, and readers have already picked up on what was said during the bedroom scene on the show. So they're not necessarily different takes on the storyline, the show just gives this plot a tighter edit.

The same can be said about the Black Jack reveal to Jamie. In the book, they both see Alexander, his brother, at Versailles. Claire and Jamie both come to the conclusion that Black Jack can't be alive, and they move on. Book Claire doesn't keep information from Jamie for long. Our book couple seems to work together a little more, Book Claire letting Jamie take the lead.

[Last modified: Saturday, April 30, 2016 11:10pm]

    

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