Previously on Outlander: Claire and Mary were attacked on their way home from the hospital, but the attackers unexpectedly ran off when they recognised Claire. Claire and Jamie planned a dinner party that ended in a brawl that, frankly, seemed too ridiculous for words and may have mostly served to throw Prince Charles together with St Germain, so nice going there, guys.
Servants clean up the wreckage of the party while Claire VOs that the gens d’armes came and arrested pretty much everybody, including Jamie. Jamie makes it home just after daybreak and tells Claire that Duverney came down to the Bastille and got everyone but Alex Randall out, because Alex is still suspected of rape and it may take a good word from Mary herself to get him off the hook. Like that’s really what that poor, poor girl needs right now. Claire asks if Sandringham will vouch for Alex, which just makes me laugh at her continuing naivete. I mean, really, Claire, I know this man as well as you do and I know immediately that not only will Sandringham not stick his neck out for his disgraced employee, he’ll cut him loose immediately. And, indeed, that’s just what he’s done. So, now Alex is in prison and unemployed. And it’s pretty much all thanks to Claire, really, for plunking him down alone at the bedside of a just-raped young woman. Well done, Claire.
Claire apparently has no time to feel badly about any of that, or about Alex’s terrible predicament, because she’s too single-minded for that and starts talking about Charles. Jamie thinks that Sandringham sees Charles for the idiot he is, but Claire reminds him that Charles left with St Germain, so they’re not out of the woods yet. Jamie agrees to send Murtagh to follow St Germain and see what he can find out.
Talk turns to the assault and Claire mentions the ‘Dame Blanche’ moment. Jamie starts acting a little squirrelly and admits he may have mentioned that he was married to La Dame Blanche, who’s basically a mystical witch. He did WHAT? Is he INSANE? Claire says as much, reminding him that not so long ago she was ON TRIAL FOR WITCHCRAFT, for God’s sake. It’s like none of these people have properly functioning memories or something. Jamie defends himself by saying he only mentioned it at Maison Elise in order to get out of having to sleep with any of the women. Alcohol may have been involved. Word got round, apparently. Claire figures this means the assailants are customers at Maison Elise, then, though that’s not necessarily true: they might just know someone who is a customer. Jamie just said this was probably a choice bit of gossip, and gossip doesn’t stop at the door of the place where it begins. Nevertheless, Jamie thinks this a good way to find these attackers.
Later, after a rest, Murtagh reports that St Germain hasn’t been doing anything suspicious lately, but he did find out that several customers at Maison Elise are members of a gang called Les Disciples, who troll the streets looking for easy prey. Ugh. Even more disgusting: the cost of entry to this appalling band of men who deserve to have their balls ripped off very, very slowly is raping a virgin. What the hell is wrong with some people? Jamie sends Murtagh to get some sleep, but first Murtagh admits he feels he failed Jamie by being incapable of defending Claire and Mary. He says he can’t forgive himself for what happened, or what could have happened. Jamie tells him to channel that into his task and keep after St Germain so they can connect him to this odious gang. Murtagh promises to lay vengeance at Jamie’s feet.
Claire goes to see and tend to Mary, who’s happy to see her. Mary says her uncle is refusing to let her out of the house and insists she leave Paris as soon as she recovers. If I were in her position I’d probably want to be out of Paris and never return again.
Mary goes to her desk and fetches a report of the attack that she’s written up for delivery to the authorities at the Bastille. In it, she’s careful to completely exonerate Alex. Wow, that was incredibly proactive of her, considering all she must be going through right now. I mean, all of this happened less than 24 hours ago! Good to know that at least someone here is capable of focussing on more than one thing at a time and fully considering the needs of others. Claire promises to deliver the message and Mary thanks her. Claire asks Mary how she’s feeling and Mary admits she feels ashamed and like she’s a different person who will never be the same. Claire reassures her that she has nothing to be ashamed of, because this is not her fault. I guess things are getting too emotional, because Claire then turns away from Mary and briskly asks how Mary’s feeling physically. Ok, all things considered, Mary responds. She sits down next to Claire, who immediately gets up and moves to the other side of the room to unnecessarily muck about with some herbs. What is wrong with Claire? Can she not take more than a minute to actually try and comfort this young woman who’s just been through an enormous trauma? I know she’s not great with touchy-feely things, but this is just making her seem extremely cold-hearted. I’d wonder if this is her feeling guilty about what happened, but she doesn’t seem to be doing in consciously.
Mary asks if she’s going to have a baby, sounding and looking terrified, which is completely reasonable. Claire finally goes and sits with her and says she probably won’t, because her attacker didn’t have a chance to finish, not that that necessarily matters. Mary seriously reaches for a silver lining and says that, at least now she won’t have to marry that vicomte she didn’t like. She can marry Alex instead! Claire seems startled to hear that this relationship has gone so far and suddenly starts to wonder what will become of rank if Mary doesn’t marry Jack Randall? She’s just NOW considering this?
Honestly, though, she may have already destroyed that version of the timeline. If she hadn’t decided to walk home that night, presumably Mary wouldn’t have been raped. Would Jack be willing to take a non-virgin bride? I kind of doubt it—most men of the time wouldn’t have, unless they were marrying a widow or there was a considerable dowry in play, which doesn’t appear to be the case here. So, actually, the damage may have already been done. And if Frank never exists, then he doesn’t marry 20th century Claire and she has no reason to visit the standing stones, so…what does that mean for her presence here, even?
Mary seals the letter and gives it to Claire, who hesitates on her way out of the house and considers burning it. Claire! Do not let that poor young man rot in prison to try and ensure the existence of someone whose existence may have already been eliminated! Think of someone else, not just what YOU want. Apparently she hears me screaming at the screen, because she doesn’t go through with it, realising that destroying the letter won’t ensure Frank’s existence anyway. Not that realising that will stop her from meddling further.
Charles goes to visit Jamie and tells him that the investors have dropped out, but it’s ok, because he’s about to come into possession of £10,000. That’s…less than the £40,000 he just lost, so I’m not sure why he’s so jubilant. He’s getting the money from St Germain, who needs a business partner so he can buy a large shipment of Madeira. Charles has secured a bank loan (using what collateral?) to cover the cost of half the shipment, and once the wine is sold, they’ll make a healthy profit. Jamie points out that it’s not enough to outfit an army. Charles knows but says it’s a start, so they can begin gathering ships and men, and it’s also something for Duverney to show off to the king. With French money, they’ll unite the clans and retake the throne. Hasn’t Jamie already told him that the clans aren’t ready to unite for anything?
Jamie warns him that St Germain has been said to move in heretical circles and engage in demonic rituals. Whether or not that’s true, it’s a good tactic to take with someone as religiously inclined as Charles. But Charles dismisses that as rumour and innuendo. He asks Jamie to act as the broker for the wine and has arranged for him and St Germain to have a sit-down at Maison Elise to discuss the matter.
Alex has been released and takes a walk with Claire, thanking her for delivering Mary’s letter. Claire brings up his and Mary’s plans to marry and delicately asks him how he plans to provide for a wife, now he has no job. He falls into a coughing fit and she notes that he’s not well and that Mary will spend their marriage playing nurse. She urges Alex to consider the kind of life he’s offering Mary, telling him that travelling between cities and living a hand-to-mouth existence isn’t what’s best for Mary. He realises she’s right and says he loves her enough to let her have the future she deserves. Claire agrees that Mary will be devastated, but she’ll move on in time. Says you, Claire. Alex thanks Claire for being such a good, caring friend to Mary, because he has no idea that what Claire is actually doing is ensuring that poor, sweet, fragile, traumatised girl will be tied to a violent, sadistic, hateful, ruthless homosexual for the rest of her life. I throw up in my mouth a little. Claire watches him walk away and keeps telling us that this is for Frank’s sake. Do any of us really care, any more? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m way less invested in Frank these days, even though he’s a nice guy and all, and mostly just disgusted at Claire and her endless, thoughtless, selfish machinations. She’s all worried about the effect two teenagers will have on the historical timeline, but not the massive ramifications that derailing the rebellion will have?
At Maison Elise, Jamie refuses the offer of female companionship and clears the air with St Germain. They agree they hate each other and don’t want to work together, but money talks. After some talk about Claire and how Jamie plans to slowly and painfully kill whomever poisoned and attacked her, they get down to business. St Germain will fetch the shipment and keep it in his warehouse until Jamie has the buyers in place. Once he has them, he’s to contact St Germain. Meeting adjourned. I wish the meetings I wound up in were this quick.
Jamie reports back to Claire, saying he’s sure Charles will sail for Scotland as soon as he has this cash. I’m really confused here: the English investors they had offered up £40K, right? And now he’s lost them? Or has he only lost Sandringham? Because if that £40K wasn’t enough for Charles to set sail, then how is a quarter of that suddenly enough? They’re totally right that £10,000, even back then, wouldn’t be enough to gather, equip, and provision an army for a sustained march through enemy territory. It wouldn’t be nearly enough. How is this even an issue? Also, Jamie has it in his power to wreck this deal: he’s the one brokering the sale, which means he could, to some extent, control the cashflow or even make the deal not happen at all. He could just ‘not manage to get buyers’ or line buyers up who won’t pay as much as Charles and St Germain are expecting Now, they might just go through another buyer then, but that would take time and effort on their part, buying Jamie more time to scupper the whole thing.
But because these two are absolutely terrible at this, they don’t consider that, they live in the now, and all they can think of is that Charles must never, ever get his hands on that cash, and the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to see to it the shipment is destroyed. And their plan to accomplish this is to somehow slip the crew herbs that will make it look like they have smallpox. Then the ship will have to be destroyed, the wine along with it!
Yes, this absurd, convoluted, impossible-to-carry-out plot is the best they can come up with to ensure this deal doesn’t happen. I can think of several reasons, off the top of my head, that it’s awful, starting with: how are you going to slip these magical herbs (which I’m pretty sure don’t actually exist in the real world) to multiple members of the crew without them noticing? And even if you do manage to get that bit to work, how are you going to ensure that the harbour master isn’t just paid off to look the other way, as he nearly was before? Is Claire going to be standing on the docks to start screaming ‘Smallpox! Smallpox!’ as soon as the ship lands? Is it really a good idea for her to make an even bigger enemy of St Germain and to turn Charles against her? My God, these two are such idiotic planners it’s like watching Wyle E Coyote trying to outwit the Road Runner.
Jamie reminds Claire that they have to go visit the royal stables the next day, to help Sandringham pick out a team of horses. Claire grumps that he doesn’t owe the man any favours and Jamie reminds her that it’s a poor time for them to be making more enemies, especially unnecessarily.
He then presents her with a gift: a set of Apostle spoons in a box. They’re a christening gift for the baby. Claire seems touched, especially when she hears they’ve been in his family for years and he had Jenny send them along. Aww. Claire admits she worries she won’t be good at being a mother, having had no experience herself and few memories of her own mother. Judging from her lack of nurturing or empathy towards Mary this episode, I’d say she does have a bit of work to do. Jamie reassures her they’ll learn how to do this together, which is really how parenthood works. It’s all instinct, and you figure it out as you go.
Versailles. People and horses parade. Claire’s wearing an amazing dress. Sandringham greets her and Jamie effusively and Claire quickly excuses herself so the boys can check out the horses.
Jamie’s ex, Annelise, finds Claire and invites her for a walk in the garden. Claire accepts, mostly because she has no choice, though she doesn’t seem delighted.
Sandringham tells Jamie that he took the measure of Charles and thinks he’s an ass. He’s surprised that Jamie’s such a good judge of horseflesh but a poor judge of men. Well, they are two very different things, Sandringham. It’s kind of like saying someone has a good eye for paintings but lousy taste in dogs. Jamie admits he sees the prince for what he is, but his father is the true king, and you can’t argue with that. Sandringham agrees.
Annelise asks if life was ‘simpler’ in Scotland. Claire responds that the intrigues between the clans can rival that which goes on at Versailles. Annelise says that Jaime was never made for intrigue. At least, he wasn’t back when she was with him. But now he’s a man of business and politics, just like all the others. She sighs that it saddens her to see him like that. She misses the impulsive and headstrong Jamie. Claire says that he still is. Annelise notes that there’s a man staring at them, especially Claire. Claire turns to look and sees…
She blanches. He slow-mos their way and greets her by name. Claire can’t hide her terror. He introduces himself to Annelise, who responds in kind and notes him momentarily wincing in pain. He explains that he met with an accident some time ago. Claire tries to excuse herself, claiming to feel unwell, but Annelise just goes to fetch Jamie, leaving Claire alone with Randall. Randall’s pleased to hear that Jamie’s there. Claire tells him to get lost, because Jamie will surely kill him as soon as he sees him. Randall says that doing so would be suicidal, since drawing a blade in the presence of the king is punishable by death. He marvels at how the fates seem to keep throwing the two of them together. Yes, that does seem remarkable, doesn’t it?
Claire tries to move past him but be blocks her path, inviting her to enjoy the craziness of all this. He grabs her arm and notifies her that the King is near. He bows low and she turns and curtsies, then presents Randall. Louis welcomes him to Versailles and the king’s companions snigger over Randall’s poor French pronunciation. Louis praises Randall’s uniform but notes that the Britons are far too fond of killing each other, and he hopes that doesn’t end fatally for Randall. FORESHADOWING, PEOPLE! MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MISS IT! SUBTLE!
Jamie approaches and does not instantly slaughter Randall, though Randall clearly expects it and defensively wraps a hand around the handle of his sword. Jamie greets Randall very politely and asks after his health. Randall says he’s much recovered, though he finds it difficult sometimes to get out of bed on cold mornings. Jamie reassures him it’s supposed to be warm in Paris all week. So Randall shouldn’t have any trouble making it to their duel. Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Claire interrupts to ask Randall what he’s doing in Paris. Randall explains that he’s there to ask Sandringham to unfire his little brother. Louis suggests begging and then actually forces Randall to get down on his knees before him. Practice makes perfect. Claire tries not to show how delighted she is by this show. Louis giggles at Randall, and so does Jamie. Louis says he didn’t mean for him to get on his knees right now—but heavens, the English are so literal!
Claire tells Louis she’s not feeling well and asks for leave to retire. He willingly grants it, telling Jamie he may go as well. As they leave, Jamie asks Claire to wait just a moment, then goes to have a word with Randall. Claire watches them talk from a distance and sees Randall lay a hand briefly on Jamie’s shoulder. The two men bow to each other and Jamie rejoins her and informs his wife that he challenged Randall to a duel and he accepted.
They return home, Jamie all excited and happy. He goes to have a talk with Murtagh while Claire tells the coachman to take her to the Bastille immediately.
Murtagh explains to Jamie that Randall gets to select the weapons, as he’s the one who’s been challenged. They’re hoping for swords, and Jamie’s fairly sure that’s what Randall will go for, because he’ll want to be up close and looking Jamie in the eye. Murtagh warns Jamie not to underestimate Randall’s skills.
Claire appears and reports that Randall is locked up in the Bastille. She swore an accusation that he was the man who attacked her and Mary. What? How on earth did that even fly—he wouldn’t even have been in the country then! Come to think of it, how did he get there so quickly? The attack and Alex’s subsequent arrest only happened a few days ago, right? Unless he was convalescing in the south, it would have taken Randall longer than that to get to Paris, especially because he would have had to wait for word of his brother’s firing to come to him by letter in the first place. It’s not like Alex could just send him a text message!
Jamie tells her that swearing a false charge is really, really stupid but she shrugs that she’ll just say she was mistaken. In the meantime, though, she’s hoping to bring Jamie to his senses. She reminds him that duelling is outlawed in France and he could be imprisoned if caught. Murtagh promises Jamie won’t get caught and Claire snaps at him to get lost so she can talk to her husband.
Jamie pouts that she gave him a gift when she told him Randall was alive and now he’s claiming that gift. Claire tells him that he can’t kill Randall, because if he does Frank will never exist. So, it’s not actually about concern for Jamie’s freedom and safety, it’s about Frank: the husband she chose not to return to. She insists that Frank has to exist, because it’s part of the future. Yeah, the only part you seem to care about, Claire! A lot of things are part of the future and you’re happily messing with them! Jamie reminds her that their whole plan is to change the future and Claire weeps and says that Frank’s innocent in all this and Jamie can’t kill an innocent man. What about Mary? She’s innocent in all this too, and you don’t seem in the least concerned about her future.
Jamie, understandably, is fairly enraged by all this. Claire begs him just to delay this revenge for a year. She seems convinced that by the end of that year the child will be conceived. After that, she promises to help Jamie kill the man herself. ‘You owe me a life,’ she tells him, after saying that she’s saved his life twice. He’s also saved your life several times, Claire. When does he get to play that card? Jamie doesn’t seem to like having their relationship boiled down to a debt situation, but he’s a man of honour and pays his debts. He asks if this is what she really wants: for him to pay her with the life of Jack Randall. She says yes. He kisses his sword and puts it down next to the bed, tightly agreeing to wait a year. Claire reaches out for him and he angrily tells her not to touch him. Wow, look at that, Claire, your actions have consequences! Consequences you may not like! Amazing!