'Outlander' season 2, episode 8: Welcome home, Claire and Jamie!
Well, fellow Outlander book fans. This episode was probably the hardest to swallow in rewrites and edits. This whole time I've held onto faith that the story would stay the course Diana Gabaldon set, but now too many chess pieces have been rearranged.
Hear me out, though. Television shows need satisfying intrigue to keep going. Viewers also need constant backstory to give context to lots of incoming and outgoing characters. And so far, Outlander has been successful in that. But the show has taken out many of the quiet moments that shape our beloved characters. However, I'm sure we'll get to the same ending.
You have to admit, "The Fox's Lair" was a fine hour of television, though. So let's recap:
Jamie is pardoned and is sent back home to Scotland. Lallybroch welcomes the couple home; where life has been pretty much the same. Jamie's sister Jenny and her husband have welcomed a second child; and the potato crop that Claire suggested last season is successful.
Their happy homecoming soon comes to end when they receive a letter. It bears the crest of the Royal House of Stuart. Jamie and Claire thought their efforts in Paris were enough to thwart the rebellion. Charles Stuart had no money after the wine debacle; and no one of importance was taking him seriously. But as soon he gets knocked down, Charles gets back up again. It seems he has the support he needs; and he's forged Jamie's signature on the document for everyone to see. Now, there is no getting out of it: Jamie has to fight with Charles. Fight for the Highland life; fight to save the clans and life as they know it.
Claire tries to wrap her mind around it. Jamie is now branded as a traitor to the British. She argues that she knows the result and it's not worth it; but Jamie says the thing we've all been thinking. Haven't they been trying to change the future the whole time?
After all the drama these two have endured the it makes sense these characters now want to fight back. Claire throws out the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — but, aye, says Jamie. They haven't traveled through time.
So here we go, again.
Now that we're back in Scotland, we need to be reminded about our some Fraser and MacKenzie family history. Jamie's grandfather is Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat. Jamie's father is Lord Lovat's illegitimate son, Brian Fraser. He marries Ellen MacKenzie, and her brothers are Colum and Dougal, characters from last season.
"I should have told you before we wed," says Jamie, distracting the news by taking off his shirt. Sigh, but we don't get to see anything else. Instead, we see Jamie cuddling his niece. I'll take it. With Louise de Rohan out of Claire's life, it's nice to see her bond with Jenny in this moment.
The book includes lots more detail about the mundane life at Lallybroch as Claire and Jamie settle into the routine. Remember, this is Jamie's childhood home, and being a man, he's supposed to be running the estate. Jenny has been doing a fine job in his absence, though.
So here's where the show totally goes off book.
The Lallybroch men — Jamie, Murtagh, Ian (Jenny's husband) — think it's a good idea to go to Jamie's grandfather's estate, Beaufort Castle, and get his and his clan's support for the rebellion. So our couple goes there alone, galloping to the Scottish melodies we've missed so much.
Much of this episode is Claire and Jamie manipulating others to get the end result they want: an army to fight with the rebellion so they can win the Battle of Culloden. So here's a quick rundown of events:
As soon as they get to Castle Beaufort, they meet with Colum MacKenzie first. He's also there to discuss the rebellion, but to make sure Lord Lovat doesn't help the cause. Jamie and Colum both want to save the clans, but they just have a different plan to do that.
Chieftan of the clan Fraser, Lord Lovat, a beastly womanizer, plays both sides cunningly. They call him the "Old Fox." Duh. At one point he offers an army to Jamie in exchange for Claire. Even Jamie chuckles a little bit. Lol. Was this scene supposed to be as funny as it was?
Ultimately, he just wants ownership of Jamie's home, Lallybroch. Colum wants the clans to remain neutral, given the last two uprisings failed miserably. But they both know that the smaller clans will follow whatever Lovat decides to do.
Lovat is a paranoid man. His seer, Maisy, sees his death by an executioner, but withholds the information for fear of her own life. Claire ends up getting this out of her, and uses this information to stop Jamie from signing Lallybroch away.
After some swift games from Claire, involving Laoghaire, Young Simon, Lord Lovat's son, stands up to his father and says it's his, and their, duty to fight with Charles Stuart. (Just me, or is Young Simon's wig absolutely terrible? I'm reminded of Prince Herbert in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) His dad is all like "Yeah whatever, let's just stay out of it. Good luck." So the Frasers and the Mackenzies leave it at that.
But wait, Lord Lovat is too old and canny to walk away with nothing. He'll join the rebellion after all. The whole time he's been finding ways to cover his own backside if the authorities ever question his motives. He just figures he has more to gain fighting. I see where Jamie gets his clever scheming abilities.
Book readers: In fear of spoiling future episodes, I can't explain just how much has been rewritten now. But we've skipped over a lot of character developments and plot lines. Here's hoping we return to form next week.