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 208: “The Fox’s Lair”
The official synopsis (via Starz):
Claire and Jamie call upon Jamie’s grandsire, Lord Lovat, in an attempt to elicit support. However, a visiting Colum MacKenzie has other plans, and Lord Lovat’s manipulations ensure that his own interests will be served.
Major plot points:
- Jamie and Claire return home to Lallybroch.
- Potatoes are very exciting.
- Charles Stuart has forged Jamie’s name on a document supposedly signed by his supporters, so that even unwillingly, Jamie is now a traitor.
- Claire and Jamie realize that the only way to still change the future is to help Charles to win, now that he’s landed on Scottish soil and the rebellion is underway.
- Jamie goes to seek support from his obnoxious grandfather, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat. Ick.
- Laoghaire turns up! Double ick.
- The MacKenzies, led by Colum, are remaining neutral, but Lord Lovat finds a way to play both sides.
Scotland! Scotland! Scotland!
Paris was pretty, but it’s lovely to be back in the Highlands. And I was really pleased with the new opening credits, which drop the French chamber music in favor of a warlike drumbeat and more bagpipes. Glorious.
It’s not clear how much time has passed for Jamie and Claire, but apparently long enough since the Paris trauma for them to have found their way back to a loving, romantic, and intimate relationship. Thank the gods and goddesses — no one likes to see these two at odds.
Claire and Jenny seem reunited as sisters, and there’s briefly peace and harmony at Lallybroch, with Murtagh and Fergus there as part of the family too. Sadly, the calm doesn’t last long, as Jamie is forced into the position of having to either stay and fight for Charles and Scotland, or flee and leave his entire family behind to face the certain destruction following Culloden and the Clearances. Not much of a choice. Jamie can never abandon his people or his home, so despite all of their maneuvering in Paris, Jamie will end up fighting for Charles after all.
Lord Lovat is every bit as slimy as we’d expect. He’s mean to everyone around him and has no respect for women (which is actually putting it mildly — he’s abusive and it’s implied that he’s married at least two of his three wives by force). Lord Lovat (the Old Fox) only acts based on his own gain, so he tries to extort a price from Jamie for his support of Charles — he wants Lallybroch. Ugh, this guy is the worst.
Colum shows up for a visit too, and he wants them all to stay out of the Rising. Claire has an understandably tense reunion with Colum, given that she holds him responsible for her arrest (in season 1) and her trial as a witch.
The biggest surprise of the episode is the appearance of Laoghaire. Book readers know that she isn’t in book 2 at all, so it’s a break from canon to have her appear in this season. She’s come with Colum to Lord Lovat’s castle as Colum’s maid, and while there, she begs Claire for forgiveness, saying that she’s prayed to God, knows she’s done wrong, and repents of her actions toward Claire. Claire refuses to absolve Laoghaire, but ultimately agrees to ask Jamie to think kindly of her again in exchange for Laoghaire playing a role in gaining the support of Young Simon, Lovat’s son and heir.
I can hear the book fans screaming from here! First of all, let’s face it, no one likes Laoghaire. Okay, that’s putting it mildly. People HATE Laoghaire. She’s an awful little wench who almost cost Claire her life. So here’s a big difference: In the books, Claire never tells Jamie about the role Laoghaire played in causing her arrest. In the TV show, Jamie absolutely knows, and both Jamie and Claire blame her for Claire’s near death.
SPOILER FOR BOOK/SEASON 3!!!!
(I know I said already that there would be spoilers, but an extra warning can’t hurt.)
In Voyager, the 3rd book, the big reveal is that Jamie ends up married to Laoghaire during the years after Claire has returned through the stones. (I’m trying to vague things up a bit — it really goes against my nature to be spoilery!). This is super outrageous to Claire (and to readers), because Laoghaire is the evil little twit who almost got Claire dead… but Jamie didn’t know, or else he couldn’t have agreed to the marriage, we’re led to understand.
But now, TV Laoghaire has come and asked for forgiveness, and has made it clear that she still hopes Jamie will love her some day. In the “Inside the Episode” feature afterwards, the director implies that Laoghaire is included here in order to make things that happen later make more sense. I know, I know — readers are probably outraged right about now. But I guess the show’s thinking is that viewers could never accept Jamie marrying Laoghaire later on without at least seeing some act of contrition on her part.
You know what? I’m just not going to worry about it too much. I can’t get too worked up about it. Hopefully, this is the last we’ll see of Laoghaire this season, and now we move on.
I’m super happy to be back in Scotland (obviously)… but I also have to admit that this week’s episode felt a little uneventful after the last few episodes in Paris. While there was political maneuvering and debate in this episode, there was a distinct lack of drama. That’s okay, I suppose — this truly is a bridge episode, moving up from the French court into the second half of this season’s plot, the actual Rising back in Scotland. This episode had to set the scene, get us back to the Highlands, and starting moving the chess pieces around. It did that, and now we’re ready to dive into the more military-focused back half of the season.
Remember, we still need to find out exactly why and how Claire ended up back in the 20th century at the beginning of the season!
Was Jamie holding the baby at Lallybroch not the sweetest and saddest thing? I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for Claire to watch him with a baby in his arms, with their loss still so fresh in their hearts.
And of course, Jamie wearing kilts 24/7 is a win for everyone.