Wow, it’s been a week already?!
Time flies when you’re trying to distract yourself until the next Outlander episode… (Not really.) Sorry it’s a day later than I’d promised on Facebook, but I was told I should really watermark my screencaps… Talk about’cher timesink.
Okay, so where were we?
So, like it says on the proverbial tin: Our favorite ‘ship is abroad, housesitting for Cousin Jared in Paris.
Yeah. I know. The chore.
Immediately, we open on the thrilling planes and wild slopes of…
We’re getting what we’ve come to expect from this show… and, for that matter, so is Claire.
There’s plenty of steam, plenty of moaning, and a nice, dreamy haze over the whole scene. We see shots of both O-faces, romantically lit by the collective fire hazard decorating the room, and then…
Yeah. It’s as much a shock to Jamie, too.
He pulls out a dirk — an appropriate bedroom accessory for any self-respecting Scotsman … don’t ask from where — and bathes himself in Randy Randall’s blood.
… Which has absolutely no effect, because the fucker’s a goddamned zombie.
I’m really not kidding. *shudder*
Thankfully — for us, at least — it’s only a dream.
Jamie wakes in a cold sweat, staring unblinking into the dark. As we’re all trying to calm down our racing heartbeats, a hand snakes over his shoulder from behind…
Oh, thank goodness: it’s only Claire, we all realize, after Jamie spends a second jumping out of his own skin.
He sits up, trying not to disturb her. It doesn’t work. She’s obviously been trying to help him with his demons over the last few weeks — and it’s really so much more viscerally-described in the book — and is frustrated by her own lack of effect. He can’t even let her touch him.
He gets up, making an excuse about needing to check over the receipts for Jared, and leaves her alone for the rest of the night. You can’t really blame him: I wouldn’t be able to sleep after sharing a dream-bed with Randy Zombie-Randall, either.
Claire tries to reassure him that BJR is dead. Jamie says he knows, but the unspoken fact that Randall lives on in Jamie’s nightmares is louder than his promise to see her in the morning.
In the morning, Claire is trying to go for a therapeutic constitutional, and instead gets an earful from her long-suffering maid: Le Dame Broch Tuarach just won’t stop picking up after herself! It’s unseemly. It’s not right. Claire merely picking up her own underthings is turning the poor girl into a nervous bloody wreck.
She chases Claire down the stairs, with Claire shooing at her like one would a stray terrier, begging that Claire try to be more slovenly, as befitting one of her station. Feeling sorry for her — and probably realizing that it was the only way she wouldn’t still have the maid attached to her ankle, halfway down the block — Claire lies and claims that she did a shitty job making her own bed this morning: Feel free to go and remake it until you’re blue in the face.
You’d think the poor creature just won the lottery.
Claire thinks she’s finally won her freedom, but no… there’s a carriage waiting to save her the insurmountable toil of walking. Joygasm.
Claire’s internal commentary during the carriage ride reminds us that the French Revolution is still several decades away, as is the construction of the Eiffel Tower — which she’d hoped to visit during World War II, until the Nazis closed it during the occupation.
The snatches of city life we see in her drive-by are beautiful, as is her entrance into the apothecary shop.
We’re now entering my favorite part of Book Two. I love this shop, and the crazy little bastard who runs it:
It’s everyone’s favorite herb-crafting underworld aficionado, Maitre Raymond. Claire’s come to him seeking a cure for what ails Jamie: preferably something to knock his Celtic ass out for eight hours straight.
I don’t remember Delphine — Raymond’s slave shop assistant — from the books, but she’s just as much a lively part of the scene, with her instinctive shuttling of Raymond’s rolling staircase as he whisks bottles off of the shelves.
Quickly realizing that Claire’s discerning ability rises far above that of his usual clientele, Raymond gets straight to work in creating a concoction that is sure to soothe Jamie’s body… if not his soul. In psuedo-idle chit-chat, he asks her about herself, and says that he’s heard her name before. He never forgets a name, especially one uttered so vilely by the Comte St. Germain.
Raymond mentions this recent altercation in the mildest of tones, but Claire’s hackles are instantly raised.
She carefully asks whether the shopkeeper and the count are friends. Raymond cynically replies that they couldn’t be more the opposite. Therefore, given the Frasers’ recent induction into the ranks of the count’s social hit list, that must make Claire — by extension — Master Raymond’s newest bosom buddy.
Hurray friends! (At least friends get a five-finger discount on the first batch of hand-pressed narcoleptic powder.)
Meanwhile, in another part of town…
Jamie and Murtagh are entertaining the locals, who politely beg to differ on the suitability thereof. The prim-and-proper Parisians all stop and stare, standing around like a displaced gaggle of put-out geese, as two barbarian warriors publicly go at each other like they’ve each laid claim to the last available bannock.
It’s scuffling for a good cause, though: Murtagh’s toughening Jamie’s weakened hand, the Scottish way.
He almost spears Jamie through the heart. All in good fun.
Taking a breather, they notice the nosy crowd gathering, and Murtagh’s got some choice words to say on the matter.
It’s a good time for a rest, while Jamie massages the battle ache from his leather-strapped left hand. Murtagh’s still not happy with the smell. It’s not fish anymore; Paris “reeks of the chamberpot”. (This is particularly funny a few scenes later.) Murtagh’s desperately homesick for good ol’ Scottish mud, and wonders that Jamie isn’t climbing the walls more at home.
They both discuss the political maneuvering ahead of them: Murtagh’s in favor of just offing the young pretender-prince and having done with it. Jamie can see the logic, but argues back that it’d probably just piss off Old James even more.
Fine, Murtagh says. Kill him in the face, too.
Jamie balks at the idea of regicide (no matter how technical) and distracts Murtagh by offering him some dirt dentures.
Back at Chateau Fraser…
Cousin Jared has finally come through: not only does Jamie get a Jacobite meeting, but he gets to meet Prince Charles himself.
The meeting just so happens to be in a brothel. No big.
Jamie takes Murtagh with him, of course, and it’s so cute to see the little scruffball dressed to the nines the way he is throughout this episode.
You can really tell that Diana and the show’s set designers really did their homework from start to finish: Everyone thinks of historical whorehouses as a seedy affair, filthy, etc. And yes, there’s a reason they call Syphilis “the French disease”, but in order to get it, you had to abide by a certain dress code.
Especially if your wingman looked like this:
The evening starts with Jamie giving the wine-guzzling prince a generous amount of sneaky side-eye and bland commentary. He’s just getting ready to suggest that Charles tell them why the hell, with all due respect, he wanted to meet him in Paris’ best little whorehouse, when the mistress of said whorehouse begins her floor show.
It’s a heart-clutching moment for the assembled men, at first: she claims that their wives are waiting in the wings to scold them! (They’re three more whores, dressed like city housewives out to shop… who each got half the skirt torn off exiting the carriage.) The “wives” are disappointed, much to the gathered hilarity, and the house madam brazenly suggests that they occupy their newfound time with…
Charles is positively enraptured by the polished, hand-carved “sausages” (for sale or rent, the madam assures us!) and wraps himself up in the sales experience before the girls eventually wander off. He remarks that, were he married, he’d buy all three selections: “for variety”.
Murtagh’s less subterfuge-y about his opinion of the French sexual appetite, which the prince comments on: “I don’t recall having asked for your opinion, let alone your presence.” I get the feeling there’s no buddy comedy in the offing between these two. Call me wrong…
Between girl-ogling — which is actually kept to a (relatively) respectable minimum at first; the whores are all decently covered, bless their tarnished little hearts — the prince demands that at least one person in his retinue wipe the brown off his nose long enough to tell him the truth: Are the Scottish clans finally ready to unite beneath his battle standard?
Jamie sacks up and bellies right up to the bar on this one: No, sire. There’s no way in hell. Trying to take Scotland with the Highland clans would be like herding rabid, feral cats through an outdoor obstacle course. After you got them to agree to wander in (almost) the same direction. Respectfully.
This news does not go over well with the prince, who feels divinely-charged with the duty of usurping the British throne. (“He [Hanover] usurped it first!”)
The news isn’t such that Charles has been forced to hear before, from any of his toadies, and he says it’s surprising talk to hear from Jamie, who claims to be a Jacobite.
Jamie, possibly realizing that he’s in danger of losing Charles’ ear — and therefore the opportunity to lead his invasion campaign toward doom — hurries to reassure the skeevy little shit that he’s a loyal hater of anyone south of Hadrian’s Wall, as is only right and proper.
He asks the prince if he would rather if Jamie whispered “honeyed” words in his ear… words which would lead the campaign to disaster. Ha. He cites the 1715 uprising fiasco, and Charles insists that he’s nothing like Lord Marl, who lacked a certain level of battle acumen in Charles’ estimation.
He goes on to rage that God demands a Catholic ass on the throne.
Murtagh promptly dissolves into a poetic (for him) soliloquy on the lack of satisfaction that ass poses to give the Scottish people.
Their disapproval bounces off the side of Charlie’s head like a paper spitball.
He appoints Jamie his Chief Intriguer of Things at Court. Battles cost money, and since Charles is not “officially” in France (Louis doesn’t want another English war… just yet.), that leaves Jamie to do the messy buttering up of Parisian officials.
Jamie is put in the impossible position of having to agree to do the one thing that he probably shouldn’t be agreeing to do in order to keep in the prince’s good graces. The trouble is, this is an actually useful thing that he’s promised to do, and could undermine the whole “Change the Future” drive Claire’s got going on.
As Charles staggers off to bed one or two less-discriminating women of the night, Murtagh asks again whether it’s too late to just kill the little bastard and quit Paris altogether.
Jamie looks to be seriously considering the option.
Back at home, Claire congratulates the men as they’re trying to sober the hell up: Good job kissing the most uselessly-syphilitic ass north of Italy!
Murtagh announces to Claire that the prince has the IQ of a cement block, and Jamie agrees that Broch Tuarach would starve to death if Charles were made gardener.
Jamie bemoans the messy agreement he stumbled into back at the whorehouse, but Claire’s a bit more optimistic: if brothels are where rebellions begin, then the French court is where they’ll die.
But first, they still need invitations.
Luckily for Jamie, Claire’s been making friends with the local queen Mean Girl.
Louise de la Tour is just as perfectly flaky on the screen as she is on the page. We meet her — all of her — in the middle of a home waxing treatment. The man ripping out her hair takes repeated slaps and punches, and in turn he gets to fondle the results. Because France.
Claire busies herself during this by flirting with a caged monkey — who seems nearly as traumatized by the experience as the 15-year-old who’s staying with Louise: an English girl by the name of Mary Hawkins.
Readers will jump up and down in anticipation here, but she’s perfectly mousy in her initial entrance. Louise shrieks for her to come and be polite, in the presence of her denuded ladyparts, and Mary looks like she’s facing down a firing squad.
Under Louise’s impatient prompting, Mary introduces herself to Claire. Claire comments that she recognizes the name, but can’t place it. And then they descend into discussion about why Mary’s in town: She’s to be married off to French nobility… warts and all.
Rather than look as offended by the idea of a February-December match as she comes across in the book, Claire instead gives Mary a pitying, “Lie-back-and-think-of-well-you-know” sort of look.
Louise doesn’t understand why Mary’s so ready to be drawn-and-quartered: she’s going to be rich, dammit! This calls for some celebratory leg-hair removal!
Mary reacts to the offer much as you’d expect.
Louise tells Claire that she’s happy to invite the Frasers to Versailles… if Claire will play chaperone to the wallflower so Louise doesn’t have to. Claire thinks that sounds easy enough, and — promising to refer Claire to the best dressmaker in town — Louise victoriously rests on her laurels, spreading them wide.
The idea of waxing all that pesky hair from sexy places appeals to Claire’s inner modern woman. She comes home with a surprise and a spring in her step.
She slips into bed and sidles up to Jamie, who sleepily responds as dutifully as possible… and then notices that something is amiss, south of the border.
Claire is infinitely entertained by his shock and horror: “Your honeypot! It’s bare!”
Her shaving her legs is “bad enough”, says Jamie… but to shave everywhere just doesna bear thinkin’ about. Claire’s of the opinion he’s thought long enough.
Despite his hesitation, the newness excites Jamie and he starts in with joyful effort.
And then the ghost of Zombie Randall comes back.
He freezes above Claire, and you can practically hear the record scratch.
She sighs and, rather than try and push him into going through with anything, suggests they just go to sleep.
Two weeks later…
Jamie and Murtagh are having an Odd Couple moment at the foot of the grand staircase: Jamie says that Murtagh could at least have bothered to wash his knees. Murtagh indignantly claims that he did.
Both of them stop to collect their jaws from the floor when Claire comes down.
It’s not only daring in color, but — as Jamie comments — you can see right down to Claire’s third rib. Therefore, by the grace and stiffness of bodice fabric, go her breasts. Jamie’s lost for most of the words he used to know.
He’s not so happy that Murtagh’s noticed, though. That snaps him out of it.
He comes charging up to meet Claire, insisting that she’s not decent to be seen in public. Claire protests that she helped to design the dress, herself. Jamie’s not very surprised by this, but believes that there should be a certain limit to her batshittery: “First your honeypot, and now this?”
Claire thinks he’s adorable. We think she’s adorable.
He lets her out of the house (hurrah!) under the dubious coverage of a fan.
Louise gives them a grand tour of the palace common areas, dropping aristocratic names like rose petals ahead of a budding bride. They get maybe fifteen steps before Jamie’s Parisian past comes back to haunt them.
Annalise de Marillac comes hurtling out of the fringe, attaching herself to Jamie with such fervor that you’d think he’d rolled in catnip and chocolate before arrival. At first pleasantly surprised to see the ex from his wanton younger years, our man Fraser quickly realizes the precariousness of his current position.
Louise is thoroughly entertained, and chalks it up as commonplace personal intrigue — to be catalogued for future use — while Mary simply looks startled.
Claire is Medusa’s sarcastic sister.
Jamie isn’t in the mood for a good story, but that doesn’t stop the gushing Annalise: Claire is just so lucky to have a big, strapping, virile hunk o’ lunk like this guy… and how many bodies did he step over to get her into bed, exactly?
Claire primly replies that she didn’t put a carnage price tag on their relationship. So there.
Unruffled, Annalise spills about how that’s not the Jamie she knew…
Jamie looks about ready to eat a gun. Anyone’s. It doesn’t matter whose. If Claire would just stop looking at him like that…
Oh, and lest I overlook Murtagh, whose reaction is pure gold:
The tension is entirely on Jamie… and then, eventually, Claire, as every Frenchperson involved is just fine with Jamie’s ex-girlfriend dry-humping him next to the dance floor.
Annalise insists that Jamie allow her to escort him to meet King Louis, who is still “getting dressed.” (He’s royal. This takes an itinerary.) Louise says that there’s no way in hell that Jamie should miss that, and Claire’s not about to let him go off with Annalise by himself. She sends Murtagh trailing after.
Murtagh: “Oh. Joy.”
Annalise isn’t allowed to go in with Jamie and Murtagh: men only.
We soon find out why.
The two of them have to fight through a standing-room-only crowd, loudly discussing matters of state and religion with a still-unrevealed-yet-important-sounding person.
Bodies shift as our boys elbow their way to the front, and daaaaaaammmmmmn.
The king’s not getting dressed. The king is constipated. And because this is France, all of the men at Court have jostled and fought to cheer on the Royal Poo.
Jamie watches this drawn out lack-of-shit show for a few minutes, and then boldly suggests that His Indisposed Highness hoover a week’s worth of porridge to clear up his colon trouble. Ask any Scotsman, after they’ve resurfaced.
Meanwhile, Claire is trying to make friends with these men’s dubiously better halves. Gossip abounds, mostly about the men (not invited to the Royal Relieving) and their members — for better or worse.
They ask Claire what sort of words the English use to describe male genitalia. She hesitates to answer at first, but then awkwardly lists the ones she knows by heart. This produces a scathing French review of the English language… “no offense.”
Louise distracts Claire by pointing out some new drama brewing on the horizon.
Mary’s finally found a reason not to hang herself, in the form of a mysterious blond man, smartly dressed. (Those of you who’ve read the books: hush.)
They look so cute together. We can’t see who he is just yet, but there’s still about twelve minutes left in the episode.
Claire needs to come up for air, and steps out to take a walk around the palace grounds. In her absence, Louise beelines in on a drunken, official-looking man in a grey wig. It’s Joseph Duverny: the Minister of Finance, and the man whom Charles tasked Jamie with buddying up to.
Louise does what all good friends do: she sets Claire up to be sexually assaulted by claiming that Claire is “most anxious” to meet him. She probably doesn’t do it on purpose, but the fact that he’s drunk and she’s being a coquettish sex-kitten during the pitch doesn’t do Claire any favors.
So Claire has finally taken a load off, sitting in a picturesque little nook on a footbridge outside the palace, when Liberace’s less-smooth ancestor comes rollin’ up like:
After slurred introductions, Claire attempts to properly greet Monsieur Duverny, but he pushes her back down to sit. He clearly has the wrong idea, and doesn’t give her much chance to protest before attacking… her feet.
Jamie thinks so, too, and hurls Monsieur Footweasel into the river before Claire can stop him.
They hurry the soggy little sexball inside and dry him off by a roaring fire. His wig has officially given up the will to live.
He’s profuse in his apologies — as you would be, when the angry husband outclasses you by two head and a half — and wonders if there’s any service he can render to make up for his error in judgment. Jamie coyly says he only wants a friend. The minister is sold after Murtagh pimps out Jamie’s chess playing skills.
Interrupted by royal fanfare, they stop and turn to see the king and his mistress coming around the corner. He’s come to dress Duverny down for being sopping wet: “Please conduct your bathing rituals in private.” — That’s rich, coming from you, sir.
The public humiliation is made more manageable by the presence of the royal mistress’ breasts, barely held in by swan-shaped piercings. Ouch. Pretty, but ouch.
In the book, Claire is so overwhelmed by the woman’s swan-pierced nipples that she stumbles gasping and red-faced from the room.
Show!Claire is much more composed.
Murtagh, less so.
He’s not exactly unencouraged.
It’s historically accurate, too.
Jamie stops him before he can get himself into trouble, though.
He doesn’t mourn the loss for long, as something catches his eye and makes him see red.
Charging across the room, Murtagh nearly draws his sword and gets himself guillotined before Jamie stops him.
None other than the sleazy Duke of Sandringham.
He’s “pleasantly surprised” to see Jamie and Claire alive and well, and claims to regret the situation that Black Jack “forced” him into… That pardon was really a sure thing, right up until BJR forced him to hand it over, really it was.
Nobody’s buying it, least of all Murtagh.
But they’re playing the long game, and Randall’s been dealt with. Also, Sandringham is a prominent English Jacobite. The friends you find among your enemies…
To avoid bloodshed in general, Claire suggests that Jamie take Murtagh to get a drink with their new friend — ahem — the Minister of Finance. Wonder how big the dent in the floor’s gonna be from that name drop, Claire.
Sandringham acidly comments that she hasn’t lost her touch for cultivating allies in high places. Then his aide shows up, and it’s the young man who was flirting with Mary. He’s got a terrible cough, but seems friendly enough. There’s something familiar about him though…
Claire thinks so, too, but can’t quite put her finger on it.
Sensing that she’s near the edge of a psychological precipice, the duke does the gentlemanly thing and gives her a good shove: It’s none other than Black Jack Randall’s younger brother, Alex. (There are layers to this creep factor, if you’ve read the books.)
Claire does her best to look less like a deer in front of a van while they continue the small talk, during which Sandringham has one more bomb to drop: Jonathan Randall isn’t as dead as hoped and generally prayed for.
This hits Claire like a ton of bricks, and she barely makes it out of the room.
Black Jack Randall is alive. It’s not bad enough that Jamie’s barely hanging onto his sanity by his remaining working fingers, but that BJR is still alive and mending from the cattle incident…
She’s freaking out about what Jamie will do if he finds out, and vice versa.
This internal agonizing obviously calls for spectacular fireworks.
I’m sorry it took so long, and that it was so long… but worth it, right?
Comments below. Use ’em to tell me what you thought of this week’s episode! Did you think it matched up to the book? What changes could you have lived without?