Outlander: Useful Occupations and Deceptions

kdlafsfsfsPreviously on Outlander: Claire and Jamie decided to try and derail the Jacobite rebellion, which means subtly trying to cut off its funding via the finance minister. Claire managed to upset a nobleman and found out that Jack Randall isn’t dead.

Claire wakes very early in the morning and meets Jamie just as he’s returning from another evening of enforced partying with Charles Stuart at a whorehouse. Jamie tells her Charles is demanding a meeting with Duverney, which they’ve been putting off for as long as possible. Jamie’s got to rush off to take care of some business, then meet Duverney at Versailles for chess, then meet Charles again. Poor guy must be exhausted. When does he get to sleep? Claire worries a little bit about his lack of rest but he promises to get some shut-eye on the way to the palace. He urges her to go back to bed before she has to meet Louise and other ladies for tea. Claire rolls her eyes at the tedium of these girly get-togethers but Jamie brightsides that she might pick up something useful—you never know! Also, the French aristocracy were some of the most cultured and accomplished people in the world at that time, so although they’re made to seem really boring on this show, hanging out with some of them would probably be fascinating. Hell, they’d be fascinating purely from an anthropological point of view.

On his way out the door, Jamie notices that the little carved snake he’s had since he was a kid is missing. Claire impatiently promises to look for it. You can tell that these domestic matters drive her a little crazy. She watches him go, frowning.

Later, she plays cards with Louise and Mary, who just wears a perpetual frown now. Mary suddenly bursts out that she can’t marry a Frenchman, because she’s heard that Frenchmen put their thing right between a lady’s legs! She can’t fathom an Englishman, or even a Scot, doing such a thing. Louise bursts out laughing and Claire tries not to smile as she gently suggests she and Mary have a little chat at some point. Mary defensively says that men don’t do things like that in Sussex, where she’s from. The mention of her birthplace kicks off a memory for Claire, of Frank showing her the family bible which traces his family line back to Black Jack Randall and his wife…Mary Hawkins.

Claire blanches and quickly gets out of there, realising, in voiceover, that meddling with the life of Jack Randall could eventually erase her 20thcentury husband from existence. This is just occurring to you now, Claire? She’s not terribly genre savvy, is she?

Claire returns home and is annoyed that her maid seems to be shirking her duties. She goes looking for Suzette and finds her in bed with Murtagh. Awkward. Claire quickly withdraws. Murtagh does not.

Later (presumably), Murtagh seeks her out and refuses to apologise for anything, which seems strange and rude. I mean, who storms into someone’s sitting room all, ‘I’m not gonna apologise! I’ll steal your maid away from her work in the middle of the day any time I choose!’ Rude. Claire’s not asking him to be sorry, but suggests he find something more productive to do with his time, since her maid’s now shirking her actual work. He retaliates by reminding her she’s no saint and she snaps at him to mind his own business, which seems reasonable, to be honest. She then apologises for losing her temper and tells him she’s upset because she’s heard that Randall’s still alive. They agree it’s best to keep this from Jamie, because the news will only want him to rush back to Scotland and seek revenge.

Jamie goes to Versailles for a chess game with Duverney, who tells him that their recent wars with Austria have depleted the royal coffers, so Louis is unlikely to get involved in anything else soon. Jamie handidly kicks his ass at the game and they shake over the board. He then asks Duverney to meet with Charles that night and tell him that the funds are not forthcoming. Duverney’s surprised to hear Jamie’s against the rebellion, but Jamie says the country can’t take another failure. Duverney agrees to the meeting, which has, perhaps, been sweetened by the fact it’s taking place at one of his favourite pleasure houses.

Claire goes to Raymond’s to get some birth control for Suzette, but she’s surprised to see the Comte there, chatting with Raymond. The Comte leaves and Claire coldly asks if Raymond’s always so friendly with his enemies. See, Claire, maybe you’ll learn not to trust people so quickly and easily. Raymond says that sometimes you have to work with people you don’t care for, something she should know well.

Inside his shop, she asks for the birth control and checks out his wares, noting he stocks Monk’s Hood, which is a powerful poison that has no medicinal use. Raymond says he has it in his shop for appearances, but those who try to purchase it instead get something that makes the victims sick but leaves no lasting damage. Raymond mixes up the contraceptive and Claire takes the opportunity to admit she’s bored and feels pretty useless. He suggests she volunteer at a charity hospital run by nuns.

Claire gathers Murtagh and goes to the hospital, leaving him at the carriage. He warns her that Jamie won’t like this, but she’s not all that concerned with what Jamie will or will not like at the moment. She goes inside and is shown around by one of the nuns, who points out some of the other volunteers, none of whom are actual doctors but are, instead, medical dilettantes. One man is a butcher, so he deals with the muscles and bones. You get the idea. Claire notes the presence of a little terrier, Bouton and comments on it, because she hasn’t yet heard how useful canine therapy is. They find the nun in charge, Hildegarde, who eyes this expensively dressed lady, smirks, and tells the nun to find something for Claire to do.

Claire is put to work emptying bedpans and such, which she does, because she knows how hazing works. She notices one patient, a very pale woman with a small vial of urine beside her bed. Claire smells the vial, then dips her finger into it and tastes it. Well, that’s certainly commitment to one’s chosen field. And hey, it’s not like she’s pregnant and living in a time before antibiotics or modern medicines or anything, because those conditions would make tasting a sick person’s urine a rather poor choice. Certainly a risky one. Sister Hildegarde sees her do this and asks if she can diagnose the woman. Claire asks the patient some questions and determines she has diabetes, and that it’s fatal. Not much they could do about that back then, I guess. Hildegarde admits she’s never seen a woman who knew anything about urinoscopy and then sends Claire to deal with a scrofula case.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s at the brothel, where a young boy is bussing tables and pickpocketing the clientele. Duverney tells Charles that they just don’t have the cash to fund his rebellion right now. Charles says he doesn’t need the full amount—he’s already secured the majority of funds for the cause from wealthy English donors. Duverney and Jamie are both surprised to hear that. Charles mistakes Jamie’s silence for astonishment and relief and Jamie lies that that’s totally what he feels. Duverney congratulates Charles on this accomplishment and asks what France would get out of helping the rebellion. Charles says that Britain and France would be allies, naturally, and two major empires allied would pretty much run the world as most people knew it back then. Duverney promises to speak to the king once he’s seen proof of these funds. Charles promises to show it to him and proposes a toast. Jamie tries to look happy.

Later, he heads home, calling for Claire, needing to hash this out with someone, but she’s not home. He waits and waits for her, trying to get work done, looking more and more agitated. She finally returns, excitedly telling him all about the great day she had, lancing boils and treating scrofula. He is not amused, especially since he’s apparently had at least a couple of hours to get good and annoyed. He gives her some attitude, and then when he hears she was at a charity hospital all day he gets pretty mad, though he keeps it in check and just gets rather quiet and frosty and says he’s not delighted to hear his pregnant wife is running around with poor, diseased people. Claire promises she’s only treating injuries and diseases she knows she can’t catch (um, except scrofula is closely connected to TB, which makes her treating that a really terrible idea) and the reason she’s doing this is because she needs some purpose in her life. He snaps that they have a purpose: stopping a rebellion. She points out that she doesn’t get to have much of an active role in that, so what’s she supposed to do? He says he wants to be able to know she’ll be there when he has a problem that needs discussing. He tells her about Charles’s claim about the money and Charles’s offer of an alliance between Britain and France. Claire says that such a thing is impossible; that Britain and France wouldn’t be allies for more than a century. Well, yes, Claire, in your version of the world that’s true, because the rebellion failed. Jamie admits he doesn’t know what to do about all this. Claire apologises for putting all of this on his shoulders and promises to help him in any way she can. He refuses to be appeased and accuses her of going out and indulging herself. Look, Jamie, I get that you’re annoyed, and I understand that a lot of it is because you feel (rightly) that you’re doing all the heavy lifting here, but it’s only falling on you because Claire can’t do anything. She would if she could, but she can’t, and if she just sits around playing cards all day, she’s going to go insane and be miserable. Volunteering at a charity hospital is hardly ‘indulging’ oneself, so dial it back just a bit, ok? I’m sure you will once you’ve had time to cool down, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Claire pretty much says as much and Jamie complains that he doesn’t get to do anything that makes him feel good the way her volunteering does. All he does is stuff that he hates. He stomps out and Murtagh and Suzette gossip about the state of the Fraser marriage. Suzette tells her boyfriend that their bosses aren’t having sex, which is not good.

Jamie goes back to the brothel to get drunk. While he’s there he sees that young busboy pickpocketing and goes to confront him. The boy flees, naturally, and Jamie gives chase through the streets and buildings of Paris. When he finally catches the boy, he offers him a job, threatening to tell the madam of the whorehouse that the kid was thieving if he doesn’t accept. The kid takes him up on the offer, of course. While literally shaking the kid down, Jamie also finds his missing wooden snake.

Claire is awakened by sounds in her dining room and goes to find the kid there, eating a chicken leg. He compliments her breasts and she demands to know who the hell he is. Murtagh comes in, followed by Jamie, who sends the boy off for a bath and bed before telling Claire that the kid’s name is now Fergus (not his original name, obviously) and Jamie’s hired him to steal letters from Charles so they can see who’s writing to the prince and what they’re saying. Claire, sounding a little surprised, tells Jamie that’s actually a good plan.

Fergus starts pilfering letters, handing them to Murtagh, who delivers them to Jamie, when Jamie’s not busy out with Charles, clearly being bored out of his mind. Claire continues volunteering at the hospital and begins to admire Hildegarde.

Jamie and Murtagh copy the letters before sending them back to Charles’s lodgings so they won’t be missed. Murtagh notes that clearly others are reading these letters—the seals have been removed multiple times. Jamie’s not at all surprised. Jamie notes that most of the letters are in code, but luckily his upbringing in the rural Scottish highlands in the early 18th century included lessons in codebreaking, so no problems there! Murtagh asks why one of the letters includes a piece of music. Jamie’s not sure and they wonder if it’s another code. Murtagh recommends getting a music expert to take a look at it and see if there’s anything funny going on.

Guess who happens to be a musical prodigy? Sister Hildegarde! Convenient! Jamie goes to the hospital to find her and is a little thrown, for some reason, to see Claire there. She and Hildegarde are finishing up with a patient who had a secondary infection that was sniffed out by the dog, because dogs are awesome.

Hildegarde takes a look at the piece of music and says it reminds her of something that her acquiaintence, Monsieur Bach, sent her. Claire asks if she means Johann Sebastian Bach and Hildegarde shrugs that he’s a nice guy but will never amount to much. She fetches the piece of music in question and says that what Jamie brought her is a clumsy imitation, but they keep changing the key for no reason at all. So, just to catch us all up–Claire just so happens to be volunteering with a musical prodigy who also just so happens to be friends with the original composer of this particular piece of music, which (it seems from Hildegarde’s comments) was not very widely known or circulated in Europe at this time. Convenient!

Back home, Jamie swiftly decodes letters, using the music as his key. The letters reveal that Charles only has three partners in England who, together, can guarantee £40,000. Quite a sum back then, but not enough to fund a whole war, as Jamie notes. The letter continues that the writer will be back in Paris at the end of the month to solidify arrangements. The letter’s signed ‘S’, and I’m going to assume it’s because they’re all pretty sleep deprived that they have to stop and puzzle out who S probably is. Sandringham, obviously. Jamie wonders if they can convince Sandringham the rebellion is a bad investment. He’s jubilant that things are moving forward and goes to get some wine to celebrate while Claire and Murtagh stress out about Jamie possibly finding out about Randall being alive, if he starts getting chummy with Sandringham. Jamie returns and they all put on happy faces as Jamie raises a glass to his wife, who’s always there when he needs her. Claire drinks her wine and tries to look happy. She very nearly tells Jamie everything, which, at this point, is probably the best policy, but chickens out at the last moment. Oh, Claire.



One thought on “Outlander: Useful Occupations and Deceptions

  1. Later (presumably), Murtagh seeks her out and refuses to apologise for anything, which seems strange and rude. I mean, who storms into someone’s sitting room all, ‘I’m not gonna apologise! I’ll steal your maid away from her work in the middle of the day any time I choose!’ Rude. Claire’s not asking him to be sorry, but suggests he find something more productive to do with his time, since her maid’s now shirking her actual work. He retaliates by reminding her she’s no saint and she snaps at him to mind his own business, which seems reasonable, to be honest. She then apologises for losing her temper and tells him she’s upset because she’s heard that Randall’s still alive. They agree it’s best to keep this from Jamie, because the news will only want him to rush back to Scotland and seek revenge.

    This scene makes no sense to me. I find it a bit anachronistic.

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