Another week, another solid episode of Outlander. I’m really enjoying this season, and while last week had some grander moments and more humour, this week was a necessary step forward in the plot and in highlighting the cracks that have appeared in Jamie and Claire’s relationship.
We start the episode with Jamie returning home in the early hours of the morning, after another late night with Prince Charlie. There’s no time to relax though, let alone sleep he explains to Claire, listing all of the meetings and business he has to attend to in the day. Claire’s day meanwhile, is tea with Louise and Mary. How exciting. “I would not want to be late for tea”, a clearly exasperated Claire says before Jamie rushes off.
At tea, Mary Hawkings blurts out that she can’t marry a Frenchman because of what they do in bed, a comment Louise finds hilarious. Poor Mary is clearly not educated at all with anything to do with sex, and before Claire can educate her Mary insists men don’t do that where she’s from, “And where is that, the moon?” Louise responds. I love her. However Mary’s reply that she’s from Seaford in Sussex causes Claire to flashback to her time with Frank to which it is revealed that Jack Randall marries Mary Hawkins. I doubt a bit that Claire’s memory is that good that she can recall a family tree her and Frank were looking at, but it’s important information. Claire realises that Randall will have to stay alive for at least another year to marry Mary, otherwise Frank will cease to exist. It’s another reason not to tell Jamie that Randall lives, otherwise she risks Jamie killing him before his marriage to Mary. After catching Murtagh in bed with her maid Suzette, Murtaugh tries to talk to her before she snaps at him. Claire apologizes “I’m not myself” she says, before revealing to Murtaugh that Randall is alive. Murtaugh agrees with her not to tell Jamie, knowing he would go to Scotland to kill him, a place where he is still a wanted man.
Jamie is playing chess with the Minister of Finance, and manages to convince him to unofficially meet Prince Charlie in a brothel to discuss the rebellion. Claire goes to see Master Raymond to get a contraceptive for Suzette where she sees Master Raymond being friendly with his supposed enemy Comte St Germain. He and Claire share a frosty exchange before he departs, but when Claire questions Raymond he brushes her off. Claire tells him how she feels she’s become more conventional ,clearly restricted in the eighteenth century. Master Raymond informs her she could be needed at a charity hospital that relies on volunteers for help, a suggestion Claire eagerly takes up.
Claire arrives at L’Hopital des Anges and is introduced to Mother Hildegarde, who clearly doesn’t think much of a wealthy woman offering her services. That is until Claire diagnoses a woman by actually tasting her urine and releasing she has ‘sugar sickness’ known to us as diabetes. Claire earns Mother Hildegarde’s respect and gets asked to help dress wounds, a step up from clearing chamber pots I suppose. It’s easy to see why Claire is so eager to get stuck into some practical work, I’m glad the show is again reflecting the limited options women had in the eighteenth century. They couldn’t work, couldn’t be key players in politics and were simply restricted to being wives and mothers, and attending social occasions. It’s no surprise Claire is so stifled. These are themes the show has explored before, but the limitations Claire has to manage now are even more evident, at least in Scotland she was a healer, and then led the rescue mission for Jamie. Now her and Jamie have to move in different circles, Jamie being left to deal with the major political players and their plots, Claire left to having tea and hoping some useful information turns up, waiting for Jamie to come home and tell her what he’s done.
Meanwhile while Claire is finding a new purpose, Jamie finds his being stalled. While meeting with Prince Charlie and the Minister for Finance, Prince Charlie reveals he has secured a large majority of the funds he needs from English aristocrats, proposing to Duverney that with France’s help once his father is restored to the throne, England and France can engage in an alliance, news he had not informed Jamie about. Jamie looks defeated, his plan failing. He returns home in a bad mood, only to find that Claire’s still out.
When Claire returns she’s ecstatic, brightly telling Jamie about her accomplishments of the day, telling him about Mother Hildegarde, clearly pleased with her new-found purpose. Jamie however, isn’t. He claims Claire hasn’t thought of the risks to the baby, an accusation she quickly rebukes, explaining she’ll only treat wounded patients, and ones with diseases she can’t catch. Jamie still isn’t convinced,telling her it’s not worth the risk.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt useful. I need to feel a sense of accomplishment. I need a purpose.” Claire reveals.
“How will lancing boils and tasting urine help us to save Scotland?” Jamie bitterly responds. Jamie informs her of the progress Charlie has made, and how he’s keeping secrets from him now. Claire soothes Jamie, acknowledging that Jamie carries this burden because of her, yet reassuring him that she will do whatever he needs. To me this was a completely fair apology, one that should have been accepted.
Jamie’s doesn’t seem to think so.”So I believed. So I came home looking for you. Instead, you were out indulging yourself with poultices and potions.” This was incredibly unfair, all Claire was doing was helping people,becoming useful, Claire acknowledging, that yes, it does make her feel good to have a meaning to her day. The pressure and the exhaustion has clearly gotten to Jamie, his reply “When do I get to feel good? When do I get to find meaning in my day?” making it clear how their plans in Paris are causing Claire and Jamie to be pushed apart.
A sulking Jamie retreats back to the brothel, drowning his sorrows until he notices a boy pick pocketing . Once he approaches him, the boy runs and a chase ensues. Once Jamie catches him, the boy makes the mistake of calling Jamie an English bastard.”First of all, I’m a dirty Scottish bastard” Jamie replies before telling the boy he wishes to hire him.
Claire wakes up to find the boy in the house, confused as to what the hell he’s doing there. Jamie enters and informs her his name is Fergus, he’s staying with them, and is hired to steal Prince Charlie’s letters and return them before he realises so Jamie can find out about the funding for the rebellion and other secrets Charles keeps from him. This whole scene is shot very well, emphasising the growing rift between husband and wife and how they are no longer on the same page.
While decoding some of Prince Charlie’s letters, Jamie finds one that is written as a piece of music. An earlier comment of Claire’s that Mother Hildegarde is a musical prodigy leads him straight to the hospital to seek assistance. Claire and Mother Hildegarde have diagnosed a patient with the help of an incredibly cute dog, who I hope we’ll see more of.
Mother Hildegarde helps them identify what’s puzzling about the music piece, the keys in the piece being the key to decode Charles’s correspondence. They learn that Charles has raised 40,000 so far, a large size but not enough to fund the rebellion, exaggerating earlier to Duverney about how much he had raised. However they learn that Sandringham is helping fund the rebellion, playing both sides. Jamie is thrilled, claiming he can arrange and meeting and convince him not to invest the rebellion.
Claire and Murtagh however, know the truth about Randall. Which Jamie will discover once he meets with Sandringham, therefore Murtagh tells Claire to break the news to Jamie. However, just as she is about to Jamie gives a toast in her honour and all she can respond is “I just love seeing you so happy”.
Again the production and costume design on the show continues to be excellent, and I seriously need the soundtrack for this season already, the music has been brilliant this season.
Until next week,