Hey fans! Funny story. I really thought I had posted this earlier. Apparently in a fit of post-episode sobbing I forgot to click publish and never posted it. If you are reading this, you have survived the tumultuous episode, Best Laid Schemes. Claire, Jamie, Murtagh and Fergus all have an eventful episode to say the least. Promises are made and broken, plans are made and ruined, and secrets are kept and revealed. Based on the abrupt end to the action in this episode, next week looks to be just as traumatic. For now we will just run down some of the biggest points from this one. There is a lot to cover, so feel free to start a conversation in the comments if you think I have skipped anything crucial.
- We start the episode with Jamie informing Murtagh that he no longer plans to duel Randall. Murtagh is understandably upset at the news. He loves Jamie so much it is clear he wants Black Jack dead more than anyone, save Jamie himself. He also is incredibly hurt that Jamie will not give him a reason other than, “because I said so.” This leads to Jamie and Claire deciding further in the episode to choose to fill their right hand man in on everything. Claire, Culloden, all of it. I loved seeing him hear the information. I thought it was a great choice to watch most of the scene with Claire looking out a window. We don’t need to hear it all again, but it was a treat to watch Duncan Lacroix absorb the info and punctuate it with that punch!
- I was very happy to see them strengthening the Fergus relationship in this episode. By allowing us to spend more time with him, the writers quickly tied the ties that bind him to both Claire and Jamie. His constant concern for the both of them was as endearing as could be. It was bone chilling to watch him explore within Maison Elise and to see him happen into the room with the red English soldier’s coat ominously hanging. I really liked that viewers were clued in to the motivation for the duel before it happened. In the book you don’t find out until much later. It would be very alienating to television viewers though to have Jamie suddenly dueling Randall for no reason.
- We also see Claire being tipped off by her hospital co-worker, who just happens to be an executioner by day, that the King has ordered the rounding up and execution of anyone suspected in dabbling in the dark arts, as well as their acquaintances. After a delightfully gruesome description of the process involved in drawing and quartering, Monsieur Forez makes a very direct point of name dropping Master Raymond. Claire runs to him and warns him to flee. After initially brushing the rumors off, he agrees to get out of there, saying he will meet Claire again, “in this life or another.” I can’t help but think he means, “this time period or another.” Based on the look on her face, I think Claire feels that way too.
- Before racing to the final scenes, the episode centers on a plot to foil the rebellion and St. Germaine in one fell swoop! First they try to imitate smallpox and get the shipment ruined, but when our favorite glaring Frenchman catches wind of the situation, they shift to highway robbery courtesy of Murtagh. Jamie plays the hero to avoid suspicion. It works with Charlie, not so much with St. Germaine. Shout out to Andrew Gowan for a very realistic meltdown as the Prince sees his chances of glory slipping away. In the aftermath of this we discover Murtagh will be gone for a month or two to dispose of the wine. Which means he will be gone and unable to prevent or help in the aftermath of the tragedies to come.
- I cannot remember the last time I have so dreaded the final five minutes of any show. Jamie and Fergus get word over breakfast that Madame Elise is demanding someone cover Charlie’s tab or else she will call the cops. Let him go to jail! Then he can’t lead an army! Come on! Jamie disagrees with me and thinks it is better to settle up and keep investigative eyes away from the recent business dealings, so he and Fergus head off to the brothel. Claire, who had some bleeding the previous day, returns home from resting at the hospital on Mother Hildegarde’s orders. Suzette tells her that Jamie got into a fight with an English officer at the brothel, and Claire finds a note from Jamie that simply says, “I am sorry I must.” Knowing this means he is dueling Randall, she rushes to the woods, looking worse for wear by the minute. You can tell she is in physical pain from the pregnancy troubles on top of her stress. It is a great time to have Claire’s voice over step back in. The duel is ferocious and intense, with moments we could easily see either man winning. In the space of about 20 seconds we see blood gushing under Claire’s skirt, Jamie’s sword pierces Black Jack in the groin, and the guard shows up to arrest the duelers. The grief in Sam Heughan’s voice as he sees Claire on the ground is bone chilling. The last thing we see is our favorite couple calling to each other before Claire lapses out of consciousness.
The very considerate people at Starz show the “next on Outlander” segment immediately, reassuring us that our leading lady will survive to next week. It will be a rough one to watch. Keep the tissues close. We are still less than halfway through the season. I must say I forgot how quickly the punches come in this story. Since we know that Claire is pregnant when she returns through the stones, and we are uncertain of Black Jack’s fate, I wonder if the next episode might jump between storylines and time periods again. I would be surprised if we don’t see Frank again until the finale. Though with so much happening in the past it will be hard to step away.