Season 2 has begun! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode right after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.
I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!
Outlander, episode 205: “Untimely Resurrection”
The official synopsis (via Starz):
Reunited, Jamie and Claire attempt to extinguish the fires; however, Claire is set off on an unexpected change of course. Jamie and Claire’s relationship is put to the ultimate test when the past rears its ugly head.
Major plot points:
- After the disastrous dinner party, Jamie, Murtagh, and Alex were all thrown into the Bastille. Jamie and Murtagh are released right away, but Alex has been accused of raping Mary.
- Claire tends to Mary, who informs her that she and Alex plan to wed. Alex, however, has been discharged from his employment with the Duke of Sandringham because of the scandal.
- Prince Charles has a new scheme for raising money, partnering with the Comte St. Germaine to make a profit from a shipment of port. Jamie and Claire discuss how to interfere.
- Claire knows that Frank’s genealogy chart shows that he is descended from Jonathan Randall and Mary Hawkins, so she realizes that she must prevent Alex and Mary from marrying, or Frank’s existence may be at stake.
- At Versailles, Claire comes face to face with Jonathan Randall, who looks remarkably healthy for a man who’s been trampled by cattle. He is slimy and disgusting and menacing as always, but gets humiliated by King Louis.
- Jamie challenges BJR to a duel, but Claire intervenes, which may be a fatal blow to her relationship with Jamie.
Visually, what a stunner! The scenes at Versailles are color-saturated, with vivid greens and pinks and reds. Everything just pops, and it’s gorgeous. We finally see Claire in her floral brown ensemble that was featured so heavily in the season promos. She’s beautiful in it, of course.
So, another huge episode! Lots of moving pieces!
The episode’s opening scene looks like the morning after a drunken frat party — if only you had calm, quiet servants picking up the mess, the broken dishes, and the ruined furniture.
The title of the previous episode is explained — the attackers ran away shouting about “La Dame Blanche”, who is rumored to be a powerful witch… because Jamie spread that rumor himself. One night in the brothel, tired of fighting off the whores that Charles kept pushing at him, Jamie swore that he couldn’t touch another woman because he’s married to La Dame Blanche, who would certainly curse him somehow if he were unfaithful to her. Claire is horrified, especially in light of her witch trial at Cranesmuir, but Jamie says that it was the best he could come up with as an excuse to remain faithful without seeming unmanly. And anyway, there were drinks involved.
Poor little Mary is sure she’s ruined, but she still has the gumption to write a letter exonerating Alex. Good for Mary! I’m glad Claire is there with her 20th century outlook, so radical for the 1800s. Being raped does not mean Mary is ruined, and she has nothing to be ashamed of. And if the ugly, warty, older man she was engaged to no longer wants her? Well, Mary is probably better off anyway. Claire also assures her that most likely she isn’t pregnant, as Claire doesn’t believe Mary’s attacker had time to “finish”.
Here’s where I became angry — so angry! — with Claire. Mary gives Claire the letter clearing Alex to deliver to the authorities, and Claire hesitates, considering throwing it in the fire. She’s sure that Frank won’t ever be born if BJR and Mary don’t get together, so she needs Alex out of the way. Claire does the right thing and gets Alex released, but then later goes into full meddlesome bitch mode. (My exact notes while watching the episode: “Claire, you interfering bitch!” I stand by it, even a few hours later.) She runs into Alex, and convinces him that he has nothing to offer Mary. He’s jobless, poor, and in ill health. What kind of life would that be for Mary. With the most sympathetic look on her face, Claire gets Alex to agree that Mary would be better off without him. How dare you, Claire???
So, the Versailles scenes. Like I said, absolutely a visual treat. Jamie and Claire are there so that Jamie can help the Duke select a horse, but he seems to be enjoying checking out Jamie a lot more than the horses, and makes one snide, double-edged remark after another.
Meanwhile, Claire is invited for a stroll around the grounds with Annalise, Jamie’s former girlfriend from his young and wild Paris youth. She’s just as obnoxious as a rich and beautiful ex would be, insinuating all sorts of things about the Jamie she knew and how Claire has changed him.
And then, the big moment — Black Jack Randall appears, and the scene between him and Claire is amazing and horrible. Claire’s face shows so much — horror and disgust and absolute fear. She does NOT want Jamie to see him, so of course Annalise goes scurrying off to find Jamie. BJR is practically licking his lips at the prospect of seeing Jamie again. Not a shred of remorse for what he’s done — he sees this accidental encounter as destiny, a sign that fate keeps bringing the three of them into each others’ orbits.
There’s a fabulous bit when the King and his entourage come upon Claire and BJR mid-argument. Despite BJR’s elegant bow and manners, he’s ridiculed by the King and his flunkies, while Claire is treated with admiration and respect. Ha! I can’t think of any other circumstance where BJR would tolerate the humiliation, but he’d be dead — really dead — if he dared do anything in the presence of the King but take whatever is handed out.
Finally, Jamie sees BJR, and once the King is out of earshot, challenges him to a duel, which Randall accepts. Back home, Jamie is delighted. He’ll finally get his vengeance on the person who came so close to destroying him. Basically, Jamie sees it as a way to reclaim his manhood.
Claire is distraught. First off, dueling is illegal, and if Jamie is caught, he’ll be thrown into the Bastille for a good long while. Not to worry, Murtagh insists, he’ll have Jamie’s back and will make sure that doesn’t happen.
Unable to deter Jamie, Claire rushes out, then comes back to inform him that the duel won’t be happening. She’s sworn to the police that BJR is the man who attacked her and Mary, and he’s now being held in the Bastille.
Jamie and Claire have their most impassioned confrontation yet. He doesn’t understand how she can do this to him, when she knows how badly he needs to kill BJR in order to finally feel like himself again. Claire tearily confesses that it’s all for Frank. She needs BJR alive for at least one more year so that he can father the child who is Frank’s ancestor.
Jamie agrees to wait one year… but is shaking with rage and betrayal. Claire’s demand may have just put the nail in the coffin for their relationship.
Wow. The ending scene is so intense that it’s hard to imagine Jamie and Claire being okay after this. She seems to have utterly shaken Jamie’s trust. He told her she had to choose Frank or him, and she chose Frank. Ultimately, she invoked his debt to her — she’s saved his life, and he owes her a life in return, and it’s Frank’s life she’s choosing as repayment. As a man of honor, Jamie has no choice but to accept the terms.
But it kills him inside — you can see it on his face, the rage and helplessness he feels. Once again, BJR is in his life and he’s unable to do what he needs to do to defend himself.
Ugh, I just wanted to shake Claire.
Of course, at this point in the story, Claire doesn’t have the benefit of the knowledge that readers of the series have, which is that events which are part of the historical record will happen no matter what. It gets into the circular nature of the time travel dilemma, which generally makes my brain hurt. But we know that Claire and Jamie’s machinations to try to stop Culloden will fail. Culloden is a fixed point in history, and it will happen one way or the other.
If she’d had that knowledge at this point, perhaps Claire might have realized that Frank’s existence would happen, with or without her interference. Again, book readers already know how, but seeing this disturbing scene between Claire and Jamie really drove home the awfulness of Claire’s actions. She needs to tend to Jamie! I know she feels horrible guilt over Frank, but she chose Jamie and needs to do what’s right for Jamie.
Claire insisting on protecting BJR for the sake of Frank’s future just makes me crazy. Plus, if she’d stopped to think about it, there’s the circular factor that seems to make Frank’s life inevitable. Claire came through the stones because she was in Scotland because she was married to Frank… so if there’s no Frank in the future, then there’s no reason for Claire to have been at the stones, so she wouldn’t be standing in the room with Jamie at that moment. Right?
Ouch. There goes my brain again.
I did love seeing how the King literally brought BJR to his knees. I wasn’t much of a fan of Louis when we first met him (sitting on the “throne” — not a good look for any man), but I was cheering “vive le roi!” during this scene.
The preview for the next episode shows Jamie and Claire back to full-on scheming as a team, which was a weird juxtaposition with the closing scene of the episode. Let us have a bit of worry about the state of the relationship, okay?
And one final comment — it’s nice to see Jamie back in a kilt!