Previously on Outlander, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’
Claire and Jamie have jumped feet first into running Jared’s household and business; Jared must also employ a dressmaker, since Claire has all manner of new clothes this episode. To kill some of her spare time she goes slumming and ends up at Master Raymond’s Apothecary shop, where the little gnome of a man admits that her reputation precedes her (from the nasty Comte Saint Germain) but that she can already count him as her friend and dealer.
She also has another new friend, Louise de Rohan, a silly, flirty, frivolous aristo-girlfriend who is probably not at all a time-traveling witch like her last BFF. Louise likes to spend her time getting French Brazilians and hanging out at Versaille, both of which she convinces Claire she needs to do ASAP.
Jamie and his Murtaugh-shaped shadow spend their time buttering up to Bonnie Prince Charlie, the official worst new character of the show. He’s sniveling and whiny and has a mouth that looks like it needs a good smack, and also he’s rude to Murtaugh, which has gotten lesser men shived. He is not at all interested in Jamie and Murtaugh’s sound political advise, but instead employs Jamie to take up with the Minister of Finance on his behalf. It’s hard to start a war when your pockets are empty, and if Jamie surreptitiously plays his cards right, he can prevent Chuck from getting one bloody cent.
At Versaille, Jamie runs into an ex-girlfriend Annalise, who introduces him to the King. Or rather, gets him into the crowded room where King Louis cannot take a shit (for reasons other than the 18 people watching him) and ingratiates himself when he recommends a little fiber for the royal diet. Apparently peasants have no trouble shitting. Claire finds that her spectacular third-rib bearing red dress might have created more of a stir than she had planned, and discovers that the man who has muffled himself in her cleavage is the very Minister of Finance they’ve been looking for. Too bad she didn’t discover it before Jamie threw him in the pond for molesting his wife, but everyone has a good laugh about it later. I guess it’s hard to stay mad at the guy who you’re trying to secretly talk out of donating money to finance a war you don’t want to happen in the first place.
Not everything at the King’s party is wine and roses, though. The Duke of Sandringham makes an appearance, much to the Fraser’s dismay, and he and Claire go nose to nose. But that’s not even the worst of it: he introduces his Secretary, one Alex Randall, who seems like a really good kid except that he is the brother of James Randall, currently still living Captain in the British Army. Black Jack Randall is still alive?! This could get awkward when Claire has to tell Jamie that those nightmares he’s been having could actually come true.
So. Many. New. Characters–this episode was like a yearbook for season 2. We’ll have to put them all on a first name basis to keep them straight. The Frasers aren’t wasting any time meeting people, although not one of them really feels quite like a friend just yet. Raymond is probably an ally, but he’s also in league of sorts with Saint Germain, so nothing good is going to come of that friendship. Claire should probably already see that, right? She used to be good at reading these situations. Louise is adorable and vapid, just the right kind of girl to kill lots of time (and money) with. The pet monkey is just a bonus. That Bonnie Prince Charlie, though. I hope he’s the character we’re supposed to hate, because just seeing his self-righteous sneer induces a sort of rage. And sweet little Alex Randall, who clearly is got the good non-sadistic genes in that family. He’s going to be super embarrassed when he finds out what his brother has been up to!
If you tell me I have to watch a show set in 17th century Paris, this is everything I want: it’s rich and lush and lavish, overly sexual that it’s past the point of hilarious. I want enormous dresses and decorated hair and gilded fountains, and this episode delivered. It’s early for a 10/10 on costumes, but the last half hour really set a high bar for the rest of the season. Claire’s almost-scandalous red dress is over the top, and that’s not even the dress everyone is talking about
It’s interesting that Claire’s clothes are smooth and sleek and unadorned; they’re beautiful, obviously, but simple in comparison to the frilly, flowery dresses the other ladies wear. She may be walking around Paris, but she’s still as sensibly dressed as a time-traveling modern woman can make herself. Except for those red shoes, but that only proves that even the most sensible woman has a weakness for strappy heels. Meek little Mary Hawkins also opts for a more plainly designed gown, although that’s more to showcase how young and out of place she is at the French court. If she comes out of her shell at all, I bet she’ll end up in some flashier clothing, especially if Louise has anything to do with it.
Outlander S2E2 = 8/10