Previously on Outlander: Claire and Jamie realised their time in Paris was spectacularly disastrous, and since Claire managed to get Jamie a pardon through the French king, they decided to head home to Scotland.
Yes! Scotland! Thank God, because I think we can agree that the French interlude…wasn’t great. Well, aside from the costumes.
Claire and Jamie are back at Lallybroch, where Jenny’s produced another kid (wow, she had those two pretty close together, didn’t she? I mean, Claire and Jamie were only in France for about a year, right?) and the soil is producing potatoes. Lots of them. Good call, Claire. There’s some chat about how to cook them (the housekeeper doesn’t see how they’ll make good porridge) but Claire provides some tips. Ian and Murtagh arrive with the post: a letter for Jamie, a letter for Claire from Louise, and some French novels. If you’re hoping for some fun gossip from Louise, you’re about to be disappointed. Jamie looks at his letter and says something in Gaelic that I’m pretty sure translates to ‘Oh, fuuuuuudge.’ It contains a declaration of the Stuarts’ divine right to the throne of Britain and explicitly names the men in support of said declaration. Jamie’s name is included on the document.
Charles has apparently now landed in Scotland and is gathering his army, and this document has been circulated, so basically Jamie’s screwed.
A little later, Claire and Jamie talk about what to do, now it seems Culloden is inevitable. Claire suggests fleeing to Ireland or the Colonies but Jamie points out that he has family and tenants to consider, and he can’t just leave them to be slaughtered by the English. I’m glad at least one of them is thinking unselfishly and looking at the big picture. Claire tells him—probably unnecessarily—that this document basically brands him as a traitor. Did none of this occur to them when they were getting mixed up in Charles’s rebellion in the first place? It had to have crossed their minds that what they were doing was straight-up treason and could be extremely problematic once they were back on British soil. Even if the rebellion hadn’t happened, I feel like Jamie would have had some ‘splaining to do.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Did neither of them realise their involvement with Charles was straight-up treason? Even if the rebellion hadn’t happened, I feel like Jamie would have had some ‘splaining to do.[/cryout-pullquote]
Since it seems this war’s going ahead, Jamie suggests they do what they can to help the Jacobites win. After all, isn’t screwing around with history what they do now? Claire’s reluctant, but there’s really not much else they can do, and she sure can’t change Jamie’s mind.
Jamie issues some orders to Murtagh to gather the men and meet him in two weeks so they can travel to where Charles is camped. Jamie, meanwhile, will be going to have a chat with Lord Lovat.
Jenny: You’re going to go ask that hateful douchenozzle, lecherous, turncoat cryptkeeper for a favour? Are you high?
Claire: Who’s this, now?
Jenny and Jamie: Our grandfather! None of us get on.
Jamie: He kind of tried to have our mother kidnapped to prevent the marriage. There’s some bad blood, to say the least.
Jenny lectures and cajoles but Jamie says he’s going to do what he needs to to save Scotland and Lallybroch, so he and Claire are off in the morning.
As they get ready for bed, Jamie tells Claire his father was a bastard. In the legal sense, that is. His mother was a kitchen maid, obviously not Lovat’s wife. He apologises for not telling Claire before they were married. Not like there was a lot of time for these sorts of discussions. Claire couldn’t care less.
She wakes in the middle of the night to find Jamie gone. She goes out to the landing and sees him sitting before the fire downstairs, crooning adorably to Jenny’s baby. Claire looks both touched and devastated. Jenny comes out and whispers to Claire that neither Jamie nor the baby could sleep, so he thought they could keep each other company so Jenny and Ian could get some rest. Also, Jamie’s still trying to suck up to her and get out of her bad books for going to see granddad. Jenny muses about how you can talk to infants openly, in a way you can’t talk to other people. It’s the same way mothers talk to them before they’re born, something Claire can now attest to. But fathers need to wait until after the baby arrives to have this experience.
In the morning, everyone bids Claire and Jamie farewell. Jenny gives Jamie the same rosary she gave Ian to keep him safe when he went to France. Fergus tries to come along, but Jamie decides he should go with Murtagh instead. He warns the kid to do as he’s told and Fergus nods. Jenny hugs Claire and warns her to watch out for the grandsire.
On the ride to Beaufort Castle, Jamie tells Claire about his grandfather. Lovat tends to change allegiances easily, and he’s gone through three wives, two apparently acquired through nefarious means.
Claire and Jamie are shown into the castle’s sitting room and left to wait. They do not expect to be joined by Colum, who limps in and says he arrived this morning, to discuss a response to this rebellion, just like them. He tells Claire he’s happy to see her well, but she snaps that she finds that hard to believe, considering his kitchen maid set her up to be tried for witchcraft. Colum says he had no notion of that, had the girl beaten and would have thrown her out of Leoch if not for the intervention of Mrs Fitz, who promised to make the girl behave. Jamie asks if Dougal’s around and Colum says it’s best that Dougal remain on his estate for now.
Lovat comes in to sneer at Jamie for marrying an Englishwoman, but Jamie gives almost as good as he gets, so Lovat laughs and tells Claire to get lost so the men can talk politics.
Claire checks out the castle while she waits, and while she’s overlooking the courtyard, who should come along but Laoghaire. This girl’s got some nerve. Laoghaire explains that she was sent along with Dougal to help with the laundry. Well, that’s convenient and also makes absolutely no sense. They’d have their own servants and laundrymaids at this castle, and while it would be sensible for Colum to bring along a man to act as valet and to help him get around when necessary, what good would this slip of a girl be?
Well, it’s provided a contrived method of getting these two together so Laoghaire can tell Claire, on her knees, that she’s changed and really sorry and to get right with God she needs Claire’s forgiveness. Claire’s like, ‘yeah, that’s not happening. You suck. Also: Jamie will never, ever love you. Now get lost.’
Claire tells Jamie about the meeting and says she does feel lighter now she’s given the girl a piece of her mind. Jamie says he wouldn’t have even given the child the time of day. Claire asks if she’ll be allowed at dinner that night. She will, but only if she remains silent. She pouts about that.
Over dinner, Jamie makes a speech about how this is their last chance to save their clans, lands, and way of life. Colum tells everyone that Jamie’s a close friend of Charles, which is lucky, because maybe Jamie can fill them in on how much support the French are willing to give? Jamie says their support has come through engaging the British army in Flanders, thus reducing troop numbers at home. He adds that Charles is sure the French will commit further to the cause but Lovat murmurs the French aren’t very reliable allies.
Lovat’s son, who looks to be in his late teens, is checking out Laoghaire, and suddenly gets up and announces he’s heard the British have offered £30,000 for the capture of Charles, which suggests they consider him a real threat. Lovat says that there are plenty of men whom Charles is counting on who would sell their own grandmothers for half that, so maybe we shouldn’t get too excited. Thirty grand or less could therefore nip the rebellion in the bud, and that’s far less than it would cost to wage a war. Lovat tells his son to sit himself down, then grabs Laoghaire and tells her to get more wine, and a glass of milk for the boy. Everyone titters, Claire looks a little sorry for young master Lovat.
After dinner, Claire says it seemed to her like Colum was trying to use Jamie to convince Lovat not to join the rebellion. Jamie agrees, adding that the last rebellions failed, and Colum won’t want to support another. He’ll favour neutrality, and if enough big names follow that particular lead the rebellion will collapse. Unfortunately, Colum can’t come right out and say that, because Lovat doesn’t trust Colum. Jamie decides he needs to have a word with Lovat by himself, without Colum hanging around, and then talks about what a shame it is that young Lovat, Simon, is so timid, because he might be able to help persuade his dad. I kind of doubt that, Jamie. Lovat clearly has no respect for his own kid. Jamie muses that Lovat could have just said ‘no’ to them that day, but he didn’t, so he figures Lovat is after something.
The next day, Claire witnesses Lovat throwing an old woman out into the hall and yelling at her for keeping something from him. Once he leaves, Claire goes to help the woman, who tells Claire she’s Lovat’s seer, Maisri. She then hauls ass out of there, because she’s sensible.
Jamie gets some time alone with Lovat, who starts off insulting Jamie’s mother, which does not go over well, but Jamie manages to remain fairly civil. Lovat tells Jamie he once intended to make Jamie’s father his heir, but Jamie’s father outrageously chose Lallybroch over what Lovat had to offer. Lovat asks if it’s true that Jamie hasn’t pledged fealty to Colum and Jamie figures that’s what Lovat’s after: his fealty. Lovat says he’s more interested in what comes with that fealty: Lallybroch. Jamie refuses to give him anything. Lovat says that, if Jamie won’t give him Lallybroch in return for men for Charles, then maybe he’ll hand the place over in return for Claire’s honour. So, basically either Jamie gives the old man Lallybroch or Claire gets raped? WTF?
Jamie smirks and tells the man to go ahead and try and have his way with Claire and they’ll send in a maid to sweep up the remains afterwards. Lovat says there are plenty of others in the castle who’d be happy to take on the challenge. Jamie pulls out the convenient ‘La Dame Blanche’ lie and Lovat, well, blanches. Jamie paints a very vivid picture of what would happen to any man who tried to assault her, starting with his privates blasting like a frostbitten apple, and finishing with spending eternity in hell. Lovat seems cowed, for now.
Later, Jamie checks in with Claire and tells her that, while his grandfather has a healthy respect for the supernatural, she may want to watch her back whenever Jamie’s not around. Claire’s already fed up with all this nonsense and suggests they start working on Simon, to see if they can get him on their side and give him a spine of some sort. Jamie thinks that’ll take more time than they have. Ah, but we have Plot Contrivance Girl to help us!
Yes, that’s right, it’s time to loop Laoghaire back into the plot. Claire finds her creepily sniffing Jamie’s shirt and offers up a way to earn the forgiveness of both Claire and Jamie: help them bring Simon around. Laoghaire thinks they mean she needs to sleep with the guy and she’s not at all ok with that but Claire reassures her no sex will be necessary.
Jamie’s next stop: Colum, so he can try and talk him out of his neutrality. Colum reminds him that the other risings failed for the same reason this will: they had no outside support. He does, rather naively, think that once this rebellion fails too the British will just go back to leaving Scotland alone. Third time’s the, well, not the charm here, Colum. He thinks Lovat will go along with neutrality, if he weren’t so intent on getting Lallybroch. Colum urges Jamie not to trade his home for a war he can’t possibly win. He asks Jamie to promise not to pursue this further, but Jamie can’t swear to that.
Claire grabs Simon and has him escort her to the chapel. Along the way they just so happen to meet with Laoghaire. Claire slips away to visit the chapel on their own, leaving Simon alone with his crush. They talk about the weather, and then he starts talking poetry, full recitation and everything. Laoghaire cuts him off and suggests they just…talk.
Inside the chapel, Claire finds Maisri lighting candles. Maisri’s nervous, because the tenants don’t like having someone like her in the house of God, but she finds it soothing there. She mentions the Dame Blanche rumour about Claire and Claire confirms it and starts getting the woman talking. Maisri tells her that Lovat’s, unsurprisingly, harsh and beats her when she sees things he doesn’t like. So, why doesn’t she just stop telling him about the bad visions? Self-preservation, lady! Claire asks if her visions always come true and Maisri says they mostly do, though sometimes a small intervention can change things. She once saw a village boy, drowned, in a vision and told someone about it, so they sabotaged the boy’s boat and he didn’t die.
Claire asks the woman what she saw in Lovat’s study and Maisri tells her she basically saw Lovat’s execution. Claire asks why Maisri didn’t tell him this. Claire, are you not paying attention? She just told you why not! Maisri says that he might have just killed her. Very possibly.
Claire goes outside and finds Laoghaire, who tells her that Simon took off after she gave him a glimpse of boob. Claire rolls her eyes at having to deal with these amateurs.
Back at the house that night, Claire finds Jamie in the stables, grooming the horses to soothe his mind. He admits he had no luck with Colum and she says she didn’t get anywhere with Simon, but she did find out what Maisri saw. When he hears of it, Jamie asks if this executioner was working for King George or King James. Nobody knows. Claire wants to pull out of all this and just send the men from Lallybroch to Charles, but Jamie says he can’t go with such a tiny force, because they’ll all be defeated for sure.
Lovat summons everyone and shows a neutrality pact he’s had drawn up, between the MacKenzies and the Frasers. A deed assigning Lallybroch to Lovat has also been drawn up, and if Jamie signs it, he’ll get his men for King James. If he doesn’t sign it, Lovat will sign the neutrality pact. Colum urges Jamie not to do anything stupid. Jamie hesitates, then says he’ll sign, to ensure the future of his people and his family.
As he puts pen to paper, however, Claire suddenly pretends to have a vision. Colum dismisses this as a fakeout, but Lovat believes it. Simon looks nervous and keeps glancing at Laoghaire. Claire describes Maisri’s vision, adding that the ground was covered in white roses, the symbol of the Jacobites, and just as Masiri feared, Lovat goes to attack her. But then! Simon intervenes, staying his father’s knife-wielding hand and accusing his father and Colum of being fearful old men who won’t stand up for their country. Simon declares he’ll fight for James, even if his father will not. Lovat goes to his desk and declares he’ll remain neutral in the war. Well, at least Jamie’s got one extra man to bring with him.
The next morning, Claire and Jamie prepare to leave, accompanied by Simon, who tries not to look terrified. Jamie tells the boy he’s proud of how he acted the night before. Simon goes to wait for them outside the gate. Jamie takes the opportunity to go talk to Colum, who urges Jamie to go back to his home and family. Colum low-blows that it’s a good thing Jamie’s mother didn’t live to see her son become a reckless fool. Jamie helps his uncle into the carriage.
Claire spots Laoghaire packing and tells Jamie that he needs to go thank the girl. Jamie can’t imagine what he’s thanking her for, and instead of explaining anything, Claire just tells him to do it. So, he does and Laoghaire practically glows and says she hopes she can one day earn his forgiveness. As he walks away, she murmurs, ‘and your love.’ Oh, you poor, deluded girl.
As they ride away from the castle, A whole bunch of Highlanders appear on a ridge ahead of Jamie’s party. He gestures for everyone to hold up and Simon notes that these are his father’s men. Lovat comes cantering towards them and tells his son to go see to his men. Aww, that’s…touching, in a way. But Lovat’s exploiting a hell of a loophole: if his heir fights, Lovat will get credit from the Stuarts for supporting them in case of a win, but if the Stuarts lose, Lovat can just say he had nothing to do with the boy’s decision to fight and avoid being executed for treason. Presumably, his son will not escape so easily. That’s less touching. But canny, I have to admit. Lovat thanks Claire, telling her he couldn’t have gotten all this without her. Jamie points out he hasn’t gotten Lallybroch. ‘Not yet,’ the old man growls.
So, here’s the thing: Claire and Jamie figured the only way forward was to ensure the rebellion succeeded, so once all the talk of neutrality came up, why didn’t they see that as another opportunity to collapse the rebellion before it began? Colum himself said that the thing would implode if enough of the clans stayed out of it. Are these two just so tunnel-visioned that, once they’ve decided on a course of action, they simply can’t imagine going another route? Because that’s not good in people who are in positions of power. It seems to be that if Jamie had let Lovat and Colum agree to neutrality, let Simon alone, and perhaps pretended to be persuaded to remain neutral himself, they could have gone quite a way towards nipping this thing in the bud. Hell, if he’d just come forward at that dinner and said that he didn’t know anything about promised French support and, in fact, was quite certain it didn’t exist and that he knew for sure that the money Charles was going to use to pay his army had been lost, they might have persuaded some other clans to remain hands-off as well. Which would probably be a better outcome (certainly for the people Claire immediately cares about) then grabbing an army of tenants and marching off to face what was, at that time, the best army in the world.