Previously on Outlander, “Best Laid Schemes”
1954 Boston shows Claire and a little ginger girl thumbing through a book of birds, which is super confusing because a) Claire is in 1954, which is almost a decade after she left Frank for 1700s Scotland, and b) last time we saw her, she was in the middle of a miscarriage. Did she save the baby? When did she travel back to the 20th century? Who is this kid?
We’ll never know (at least not in this episode), because that was just a flashback. Claire has been taken to Mother Hildegard, who has to break it to her that Claire’s baby was stillborn after some pretty graphic surgery sequences. It’s Outlander, so graphic never comes as a surprise, but Monsieur Forez was covered up to his elbows in Claire’s blood. He saves Claire from the birthing, but can’t keep away the major infection that follows. Luckily, Master Raymond is close by; he sneaks into her ward at night (because he’s on the lam, with all that devil worshipping he’s being charged with) and really does get elbows deep into Claire to pull out her infected placenta.
So, Claire’s body is on the mend, but her soul is clearly still bruised. She spends weeks in the hospital, mourning her little girl and blaming Jamie, when finally Fergus comes to claim her and beg her to come home. Since Jamie is still in the Bastille, arrested for dueling, no one is running the house or taking care of this poor urchin that they also sort of adopted. Claire wanders the hallways of her house at night, weeping like a ghost on a Scottish moor, when she realizes that Fergus is crying in his sleep, too. With a little coercion, he finally tells Claire the truth: Fergus went to the brothel with Jamie that night and found himself alone in a room with Black Jack Randall.
Did I say Outlander is never surprisingly graphic? Oh, was I wrong. It’s nothing compared to Black Jack raping Jamie, or even Black Jack raping Claire–wait, why the hell is this guy still alive?–but even without the actual rape scene, seeing a young boy be thrown down onto a bed is stomach-churning. Jamie heard Fergus’ screams, came to his rescue, and almost beat Black Jack to a bloody pulp, but instead challenged him a duel. Fergus is the reason Jamie “broke” his promise to Claire; not because he didn’t love her, but because when you let a bad man live, he continues to do bad things. Promise or no promise, that’s just simple math.
Armed with the truth, and maybe (hopefully?) a small parcel of guilt, Claire asks Mother Hildegard to help her seek an audience with the king, even though it means she’ll have to sleep with him to get a favor. King Louis, who is not on this show nearly enough, is my new very favorite character ever and I’d like him to be in everything. Not the actor; the actual character. He’s manipulative and self-serving and just the most regally boushie frat-boy of a king, and I love him. He plies Claire with hot chocolate and oranges–who says a king can’t be romantic? Or at least polite?–while he listens to her beg for Jamie’s life, and agrees to release her husband in exchange for a favor. Not that favor, though. He wants her, the great La Dame Blanche, to be a judge of character in his private witch-hunting trial.
It’s an unfortunate coincidence that Master Raymond, who didn’t leave the city because he was busy saving Claire’s life, is one of the men on trial. The other is the one and only Comte St Germain, who is clearly a villain in his own right but maybe doesn’t deserve to die. Claire tries to save them both by telling the king that every man has darkness in his soul, but when that explanation bores him she agrees that she will poison both men to find out which one is pure. Using Master Raymond’s faux poison–the same poison he sold to the Comte that found its way into her drink–she lets both men drink in turn, but sneaky Master Raymond slips a real poison into the cup and the Comte has no choice but to accept his fate. He doesn’t have to do it with grace, though, and makes sure Claire knows that he knows that he’ll see her in hell.
Turns out King Louis also wants that other favor; kings probably get to call in more than one favor all the time. With three or four quick thrusts in Claire’s general pelvic direction, he releases Jamie from the Bastille and gives him the general royal pardon. This means they can go back to Scotland!
When Jamie finally arrives home, Claire is waiting for him and she’s still pretty pissed, although it might be because of his facial hair. I am 100% here for a dashing ginger with a beard (cough, Prince Harry, cough), but that is not a look Jamie needs to get attached to and we need not ever speak of it again.
Truthfully, both sides are remorseful; Jamie explains why he had to break the promise (although technically Randall survived the duel, but now may not be the time to bring that up), and Claire explains how much she hates him. Hated him, but now blames herself, because she asked him to promise the impossible, and then she had to lose her baby girl and sleep with a king to set it right. Jamie is weirdly unperturbed by Claire’s sexy rescue, then sort of passive-aggressively declares them even: now they’ve both slept with someone to save the other. She tells him all about cradling their still-born baby, who Mother Hildegard secretly baptized and named Faith, and how the formerly vapid, but now upstanding, friend Louise helped her release her grief so their baby could be buried. They visit the grave together on what I can only assume is their way out of France and back to Scotland.
Outlander S2E7 = 8.1/10