Previously on Outlander: Claire and Jamie landed in France and, almost immediately, scored a pretty sweet deal when Jamie’s kinsman offered them a house and a wine business in Paris. He also offered an entree into Jacobite society-in-exile which should serve them well in their harebrained scheme to prevent the entire Jacobite rebellion.
It seems that Claire and Jamie are getting back into the swing of things, sexually speaking, but then suddenly Claire transforms into Randall, a knife appears in Jamie’s hand, and he stabs over and over and over again, spattering himself with blood. And yet Randall still won’t die because he’s the devil.
Jamie wakes from his nightmare, accidentally rousing Claire, who informs us that this is not the first time this has happened. Jamie tells her that Randall showed up again in this dream and she firmly reminds him that Randall is dead. Jamie knows, but he also knows he won’t be getting any more sleep that night. He gets up to go do some work.
The next morning, Claire prepares to go out, trailed through Jared’s enormous house by a maid who frets about Claire’s insistence on making her own bed and folding her own clothes. Claire tells her she’s just not used to servants, although Lallybroch and especially Castle Leoch seemed fairly well staffed. The maid tells Claire that it’s just not the done thing for a lady of her social standing to clean up after herself and Claire impatiently promises to be sloppier. The ridiculous maid falls all over herself groveling and breathlessly thanking Claire for so graciously allowing her to re-make the bed. Seriously? I thought Downton Abbey was bad as far as obsequious servants went, but this is actually cringe-worthy to watch. I half expect the woman to plead with Claire to let her tongue-bathe her shoes.
Claire goes out to the courtyard, informed along the way by a cheerful footman that her carriage is ready and waiting. ‘Of course it is,’ Claire grumbles. I don’t get her problem—does she want to be held up? Does she not want the carriage to be there? These people are just trying to do their jobs, Claire!
Claire VOs that running a great house was proving more complicated than she imagined. Yes, it is a complicated thing, but all we’ve seen of that is the terrible fact that the servants are too good at their jobs, which isn’t a complication, that’s a good thing. Sometimes I feel like she doesn’t want to be pleased.
She sets off, talking about how Paris was still amazing to her and she couldn’t believe that in only 40 years the place would be in the grip of revolution.
Claire arrives at her destination: an apothecary’s shop, and immediately reveals to the apothecary, Master Raymond, that she knows her herbs and healing plants by smell and also knows he’s something of a charlatan, at least with some of his products. Nevertheless, she asks for something to help Jamie sleep. She tells Raymond that Jamie’s suffering nightmares. Seems like she’s giving quite a lot away to a total stranger. You’d think that she would have learned, somewhere along the line, to play things a little close to the vest. Based on the things she reveals, he realises she must be the Madame Fraser he’s heard about from St Germain who, bizarrely, has told this man everything about his encounter with Claire despite the fact that he and Raymond are enemies of some sort. None of that makes sense to me. Who confides or even bitches to someone they consider a rival? And why would Raymond be a rival to someone like St Germain? Is St Germain an apothecary on the side?
Raymond mixes something up for Claire and gives it to her for free, naturally, promising it’ll help Jamie sleep.
Jamie and Murtaugh, meanwhile, are making a spectacle of themselves by practicing swordfighting in a posh park. Expensively dressed French people stop to gawk while Murtaugh puts Jamie through his paces, getting him used to his new sword and the challenges of fighting with a stiff hand. Jamie finally calls time and Murtaugh shouts for all the gawkers to get lost, or he’ll relieve them of their balls. He then turns back to Jamie and complains about how much France sucks and how much he misses the reek of Scottish mud. He even misses Rupert and Angus. Jamie reminds him that they won’t be there forever. Murtaugh suggests they move things along by just assassinating the prince. Jamie’s not interested in that line of work and points out that murdering royalty is serious business.
Jamie arrives home to a letter from Jared that includes an invitation for Jamie to meet with Bonnie Prince Charlie at a whorehouse that evening. Classy! It also strikes me as being very stupid that this letter explicitly states that Charles and Jamie will be meeting to discuss the current political situation in Scotland. I thought Jared said there were plenty of people about trying to undermine the rebellion? Isn’t sending letters like this really risky?
Jamie and Murtaugh present themselves at the appointed place that night. It’s quite high-end, as one would imagine, filled with the great and good of Parisian society and pretty, giggling women. Charles is clearly more interested in the wine and women than in anything else, but before Jamie can get any discussion of substance started, the evening’s entertainment begins. First, the madam comes out and jokingly announces that she’s invited the men’s wives there. Because they’re idiots, they believe her and hustle girls off their laps, etc, but of course their noble wives aren’t there, it’s three of the ladies of the house, playfully wagging fingers at the men and scolding them for being naughty. The madam tells the men that their wives are lonely and unhappy, so why not give them all some lovely dildos? Charles laughs that he loves the French because they’re so wonderfully vulgar. The madam finishes up by saying these delightful items are available for sale or for rent. Rent? …ugh. Charles applauds and Murtaugh grumbles that the French are sodomites who can’t please their women. Charles is all, ‘and you are?’ and Jamie says Murtaugh goes where he goes.
Charles asks the men what the state of affairs is in Scotland—are the clans prepared to rise to his cause? Jamie honestly tells him the clans really don’t get along and he doubts they’re willing to band together against the British just now. Charles helps himself to more wine and pouts that nobody else has told him this and that’s just defeatist talk. Jamie assures him he hates the English as much as any man can, but Charles wanted the truth and that’s what Jamie gave him. Charles stubbornly says that a Catholic king should sit on the English throne. Jamie agrees but says that wishing such is no match for the British army. He reminds Charles of how poorly the last rebellion went and Charles says that he won’t repeat those mistakes. Murtaugh asks Charles if he’s ever been to Scotland and Charles admits he has not. Murtaugh tells him that Scotland’s beautiful but its people don’t like outsiders and are unlikely to fight to put a slightly more sympathetic bum on the English throne. Jamie adds that Charles has now heard the truth from two loyal Scots. Charles says that only God’s truth matters and it’s God’s will that he unite the clans and be their beacon of light. In the face of this sort of zealotry, Jamie looks a little nervous.
Charles says their cause will succeed, but first they need to scare up money. He asks Jamie to approach the finance minister at court (which Charles can’t visit) and try to secure funding. This seems like quite an important job; wouldn’t Charles want to entrust it to someone he’s known for more than half an hour? Jared made it sound like there was a pretty tight-knit band of devoted Jacobites in Parisian high society, so why would Charles want Jamie to do this? Why not someone else who might have better connections or better knowledge of the court and its workings? Jamie’s never even been invited to court!
Despite the craziness and unlikelihood of all this, Jamie takes on the task. Relieved of that burden, Charles takes off to find a girl. Murtaugh asks Jamie, in Gaelic, if he’s sure he doesn’t just want to slit this idiot’s throat. Jamie looks like he might be considering it.
Back home, the men report to Claire that Charles is a moron and can’t be trusted with anything. And they doubt he’ll be dissuaded from this cause, so Claire suggests they just make sure his funding doesn’t go through.
CVO tells us they needed to get an invitation to Versailles, so she goes to see her friend, Louis the Marquise, whom we meet while she’s having a wax. She whines about how much it hurts and then calls in a young woman named Mary, whom she’s chaperoning around Paris. A girl in her mid-teens comes in, dressed in her shift, looking uncomfortable. Louise tells the girl to loosen up, then introduces the girl to Claire. Mary’s English, and her name—Mary Hawkins—rings a bell with Claire, though she can’t quite place it. Claire kindly asks her what she’s doing in Paris and Louise says she’s going to marry a wealthy widower. She can’t think why a girl who’s about to have tons of money is so sulky about it. It’s probably because the man is covered in boils and considerably older than she is. Mary tries to escape but Louise keeps her from going, because the girl needs some hair removed, to remain fashionable. Louise tells Claire that the three of them will go to Versailles together. Claire asks if she can bring Jamie and Louise says she can, if she must, though she’ll have more fun without him. She plunks down on her chaise lounge and spreads her legs to get her Brazilian, while Claire and Mary look on and flinch.
That night, Claire gets into bed with Jamie (and I find myself wondering why she doesn’t look even the teensiest bit pregnant, despite the fact that she’s got to be at least a few months along). She kisses his hand and guides it down between her legs for a little surprise. He asks what she’s done to herself. Apparently she availed herself of the services of Louise’s waxer. Jamie’s not so sure he likes this but tries to get in the mood. And it seems to be working, for a bit, but then he flashes back to Randall briefly and realises he’s not quite ready for this. Claire immediately realises what’s up and reassures him it’s ok and they should just get some sleep.
Two weeks later, everyone’s getting ready to go to court. Jamie and Murtaugh are all dressed up and Claire’s coming down the stairs in some pretty amazing shoes. Her dress, on the other hand, is so anachronistic it just strikes me as being completely odd. It’s even anachronistic for the 1940s, it looks like some sort of Dior haute couture from now. It’s short, for one thing—baring her ankles, which was definitely a no-no as far as court dress goes. It’s a striking colour—crimson—but completely unadorned and the front is slit almost down to her navel. The French were pretty loose about some things, but this dress would not have flown at court at all. And I’m not really sure what she’s going for here, aside from making herself stand out and get noticed. Is she also trying to send the message that she’s available? Because at this time, that’s what a dress like this would have signified to a lot of people. I’m not trying to slut-shame or anything—girl should wear what she wants—I’m just saying that at this time, a certain type of woman wore a gown that colour baring that much skin, and it wasn’t a respectable lady trying to be taken seriously.
Jamie’s as thrown by this as he was by the wax job and says this may be a bit much, but this is Claire we’re talking about, and once her mind’s made up, she’s not going to listen to anyone else, even if they are speaking sense.
They arrive at Versailles, which is filled with chattering, be-silked aristocrats. Louise tells Claire she knows all the noble families, so if there’s anyone she wants to meet… Claire asks to meet Duvarney, the finance minister. Louise doesn’t think much of him.
A young woman comes out of nowhere and throws her arms around Jamie. He takes a second to recover, then recognises her. Her name’s Annalise. They embrace in the manner of old friends and then Jamie remembers himself and introduces her to Claire. Annalise congratulates them on the marriage and tells Claire that back in the day, he really enjoyed duelling. Jamie tries to downplay it and says that Annelise wound up marrying his opponent. Louse breaks in that that’s totally romantic, but Annelise flatly says the guy died of smallpox. The swift collapse of Louise’s smile is kind of hilarious. Annelise offers to take Jamie to the king’s bedroom so Jamie can witness the dressing of the monarch, which was a grand affair. Claire allows it, as long as Murtaugh goes along.
Jamie and Murtaugh arrive at the king’s room and find him on the throne. No, not that throne, the throne. The kind you make deposits in. And because he’s a French king, it looks like a throne-throne. But though he has everything he could possibly want, the king apparently does not have the ability to poo. Jamie asks one official to introduce him, because he can help the king. The official acquiesces.
Jamie: Sire, you seriously need more fibre in your diet. May I suggest a nice, healthy bowl of porridge for breakfast every morning?
Louis: What the hell is this ‘porridge’ you speak of?
Jamie: Breakfast of champions! Seriously, work that into your rotation and you’ll be moving those bowels before you can say ‘oh, shit!’
Claire is bored. The ladies are gossiping about sex. One of them asks Claire what English ladies call a penis. Claire gets uncharacteristically prissy and says she’s heard it referred to as ‘Peter.’ The ladies are as non-plussed as I am, so Claire attempts to up her game by offering up ‘prick.’ Claire can throw around the word ‘fuck’ like a sailor, but apparently sexual slang is not her forte. The ladies think the English really need to work on their dirty talk. Louise notices Mary flirting with a young man and seems to approve, because this is France and French people are all about sex, all the time. This show is rapidly descending into caricature and it bores me.
Claire leaves to get some air and Louise spots Duverney and tells him that her friend, Claire, has been most anxious to meet him. He seems quite pleased to hear that. She points him in the direction Claire went and offers to introduce him, but he says he wants to handle this himself.
Claire makes her way to a bridge over a lake and sits down to catch her breath. She barely has a chance before Duverney presents himself in the smarmiest way possible. She tries to go fetch Jamie, but he pushes her back down onto the chair and starts making out with her foot, and then gropes and propositions her. I think we’re supposed to find this funny, but it’s sexual assault, so I don’t. Jamie arrives, takes one look, and pushes the guy off the bridge. Claire tells him that was the minister of finance. Jamie grumbles that he knew that dress would bring them grief, as they watch Duverney drag himself out of the lake.
He dries off in front of the fire and grovellingly apologises for his ‘beastly’ behaviour. Again, I find it unlikely that he would be the one apologising, having been tossed in the lake after being led to believe (by Louise, I should point out) that Claire was sexually interested in him. And like I said, though, that dress…sends a certain message, so although he did not behave as a gentleman, certainly, his confusion is a little bit understandable.
Whatever. Jamie and Claire accept his apology and Duvarney offers to do something for them in return. How convenient! Jamie says the man’s friendship is all they want. He readily offers it and invites Jamie to a game of chess.
The king comes in, accompanied by his mistress, who’s wearing a dress with boob cutouts, and teases Duvarney about his recent swim. The king then eyes Claire, tells Jamie he’ll give the porridge a try, and goes on his way. Murtaugh can’t help but stare at the mistress’s boob display.
But then he gets distracted by the sight of the Duke of Sandringham and rushes to go take revenge for his treachery. Jamie stays Murtaugh’s hand and Sandringham cheerfully greets both Jamie and Claire, who do not return the greeting so warmly. Sandringham says he’s sorry about the whole petition thing, but Randall got in the way. Jamie agrees to put it behind him and bilks him for some extra money on a case of rare port Sandringham wants. Claire sends Jamie away to chat with Duvarney, and once they’re alone, Sandringham notes that Claire’s characteristically already making friends in high places. He also notes that Scotland must not be safe for Claire or Jamie just now. Claire says it’s uncomfortable for Sandringham as well, as he’s a Jacobite supporter.
Sandringham’s secretary—the very young man who was earlier talking to Mary Hawkins—arrives to tell Sandringham the fireworks are about to begin. And how. This young man? Alexander Randall, the younger brother of Jack Randall who, as it turns out, is not dead at all. Double tap, people! Never assume your enemy’s dead after just one shot! Always make sure the job’s done thoroughly!
Claire, naturally, is horrified to hear of Randall’s continued existence. As he leaves, Sandringham gives her a wry and knowing look. He’s a slippery one. CVO wonders how Jamie will react when he hears that Randall’s alive and wonders if she should even tell him, worrying that his need for revenge will override his focus on derailing the rebellion.