Last week, we saw the incredibly selfish lengths Claire was willing to go to make sure Frank stays alive in her future. It was so very frustrating, because Frank is dreary and Jamie is dreamy. We also saw the similarly selfless lengths Jamie was willing to go to appease his wife. One of the great miracles of this show is how this couple manages to stay together in the face of steadily escalating trauma. Yes, relationships are hard—but they needn’t be this hard. Is the passion between them worth the price they pay from one week to the next?
That question only gets harder to defend in this week’s episode, “Best Laid Schemes.” As it opens, Jamie tells Murtagh that the duel isn’t happening. When Murtagh, understandably furious, asks why, Jamie remains cagey, angering Murtagh further. Per usual, Murtagh is the one person who has his head on his shoulders and knows what’s best—and so, of course, is ignored. Outlander‘s greatest strength, at times, is showing us that common sense has no place in certain kinds of storytelling.
Meanwhile, Claire is at the hospital, chatting with the king’s executioner—who’s a volunteer there, naturally. They chat about the pleasures of drawing and quartering; the executioner is quite thorough in his description of what that kind of execution does to the human body. (Let’s take yet another moment to appreciate the relative civility of the 21st century.) The king, the executioner says, is looking to rid Paris of practitioners of the dark arts, and Claire may want to warn her friend Master Raymond.
Back at home, Jamie gives his very pregnant wife a foot rub in front of the fire. If this is what holding a grudge looks like, he is terrible at it. He asks Claire to promise that, should something happen to him, she’ll return to the stones and go back to Frank. Claire promises, because she remains the woman who gets to have her cake and eat it too. To be clear, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s about time a woman got to be the alpha and the omega of a television show. It’s just that Claire could probably stand to share some of her cake sometimes. (Perhaps my wanting that is the patriarchy speaking. Alas.)
The three musketeers still have some work to do, though, in stopping the wine shipment from getting into Charles Stuart’s hands. Claire sets to mixing various herbs and potions to mimic the symptoms of smallpox, with Jamie as guinea pig; before long, he’s nauseated and his chest is red. Murtagh, however, is not impressed—in fact, he storms out in protest of the “trickery.” Jamie catches up to him in the courtyard, and finally tells Murtagh the truth about the whole time-travel thing. It’s nice to see Murtagh finally get the trust he deserves, but the fact that yet another person accepts Claire’s time-travel story wholesale makes me wonder how democracy ever managed to overtake monarchy.
It’s nice to see Murtagh finally get the trust he deserves, but the fact that yet another person accepts Claire’s time-travel story wholesale makes me wonder how democracy ever managed to overtake monarchy.
Sabotage ahoy! Jamie and Fergus set off to poison St. Germain’s men, while Claire and Murtagh bond over the burden she carries. As hot and gallant as Jamie is, I can’t deny that Murtagh also receives a fair portion of my love and lust. (I’m saying, the man knows how to wear a kilt.) The scheme works, and Charles Stuart asks Jamie to transport the wine. St. Germain, as suspicious as he is terrible, decides to go along to protect his investment.
How to get around such an annoying roadblock? Planning to hijack the shipment on the road, of course. Claire’s not altogether happy about it, which’ll happen when a control freak sees someone else’s plan set in motion. Thankfully, while they’re in bed later, Claire and Jamie share a sweet moment when the baby kicks. And then they share an even sweeter—and sweatier—moment. Nothing’s a stronger aphrodisiac, it seems, than a baby’s kicking.
Later, over tea and gossip with the ladies of leisure at Louise’s house, Claire starts talking about the poor and how they, as people of means, should do something about it. (My, how her social conscience fluctuates.) One of the women suggests that their husbands protest the king, and for one brief, innocent moment you think, they’re getting it!—but what she really means is they should ask the king to move the poor to the crappier parts of Paris so the wealthy don’t have to be bothered by the huddled masses. Aristocratic indifference: popular in any century!
To cleanse her conscience, Claire pays another visit to the hospital, where Mother Superior tells her she needs to rest. Claire is bleeding a bit, but the nun assures her it’s normal and puts her to bed. When Jamie gets home from his successful caper, Claire is nowhere to be found, but before he can relax, he’s called back to Maison Elise; petulant Charles has racked up a huge bill and refuses to pay.
While Jamie settles business, Fergus snoops around…and what do we spy in the corner of the room, but Black Jack Randall’s jacket! Watching this, I admit that my stomach turned; given the show’s—and yes, canonists, the books’—penchant for repulsive violence, it wasn’t hard to imagine what was about to go down, despite the scene cutting away.
Claire is very, very disappointed that Jamie has broken his promise to her. Yes, Claire, by all means, make this about you.
When Claire returns home from the hospital, the staff are all acting strange. She learns that Jamie is in the woods, about to throw down with Randall. Even though she’s exhausted and super pregnant, she rushes off to … well, who knows what she plans to do, but she is very, very disappointed that Jamie has broken his promise to her. Yes, Claire, by all means, make this about you.
Rushing to the woods, Claire finds Jamie and Randall swordfighting. (And not in the fun fanfic way, either.) Yet Claire’s worry is actually which of her husbands will die: Jamie or, by virtue of Black Jack’s death precluding any descendants, Frank. Girl, really? REALLY? Not to worry; Jamie drives his sword into Randall’s groin, which is excellent and fitting and just.
Gendarmes show up, arrests are made. Jamie is distraught when he sees Claire in distress, begging to be taken to the hospital. He can’t get to her, and Claire still thinks he betrayed her, and basically, everything is terrible. Yet again, it’s hard to see how anything will ever be OK between them ever again. But of course, that’s what makes this show so watchable and infuriating in equal parts. Claire and Jamie have this sexy, passionate relationship full of True Love—but also have to fight for that relationship every damn day.