Episode #204: LA DAME BLANCHE is a treat for book lovers, showcasing several favorite scenes straight from the novel – Jamie’s “blade of grass” monologue being the most noteworthy. The moment he finds out Randall is still alive, the energy of the show changes dramatically. The isolation and gloominess subside. Even Murtagh recognizes the change.
Written by Toni Graphia (who also wrote the wonderful THE WATCH and THE DEVIL’S MARK) and directed by Douglas Mackinnon, this episode feels more like the novel than any this season. The scenes and dialogue dance off the pages of Diana Gabaldon‘s Dragonfly in Amber so perfectly, it’s impossible not to make the comparison. But I won’t get carried away. A lot happens in this episode, so let’s not dilly or dally.
We find ourselves back in the Theological Hall Library of Strahov Monastery where Claire (Caitriona Balfe) joins Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Duverney (Marc Duret) in a game of chess and name-that-baby. Of course, they only discuss boy names because . . . pfft . . . why bother with girl names? Lambert is quickly vetoed by Jamie. Sorry, Uncle Lambert.
Claire doesn’t get the chance to veto Dalhousie because the Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber) joins the party. He has no suggestion for the baby’s name but offers a snide comment regarding Jamie’s play then slithers off.
“Too many distractions,” Duverney says.
Hmf. Claire takes the hint and begs pardon, leaving the men to their game and plot talk.
Enter random palace waiter with a tray and one glass of rosy wine – vintage, Méfiant 1738.
Claire takes the glass, takes a swing and . . .
dainty cough . . . dainty cough. She doubles over in pain.
Jamie (swashbuckler style) races to her side and whisks her into his arms.
The Comte watches the entire incident with his usual smug expression, or is there something else hidden behind those handsome grey eyes? Perhaps this is simply the most exciting thing to happen in what looks to be a rather boring place to hang out – unless you’re a chess addict. Isn’t there a fencing or tennis match to attend? Perhaps an orgy room somewhere in the palace to join in on? Why not read a book from the 16,000 on display? Anyone?
Later that evening . . .
Alone in their bedroom, which hasn’t seen any real action since the Frasers’ arrival in Paris, Jamie is the first to suspect St. Germain of poisoning Claire. He’ll make the Comte suffer, he growls. (Jamie has a lot of pent up sexual frustration and needs an outlet.)
Claire eggs him on for a bit, offering good money to watch him pummel the handsomeness out of St. Germain. But her tummy requires a distraction. She asks him to tell her about the latest dish from Duverney. Glad she asked, Jamie reveals the King is intrigued with the idea of a Franco-British alliance.
“Poo poo,” Claire says. “Ne-e-e-e-ver gonna happen.” Not in Jamie’s lifetime, anypoo.
Encouraged, Jamie puts his thinking cap on and suggests they host a dinner party to get the two biggest windbags he’s ever met (both of whom can’t seem to stop caressing his cheek) to take stock of one another – tête à tête., but not so private. Although they aren’t sure both egos will fit at the dinner table, Claire thinks it’s worth a shot. But, oh oh . . . the Duke’s +1 will surely be cutie-pie Alex. Time to spill the beans.
“Black Jack Randall is alive and well,” she tells Jamie. “The dirty bastard used his connection with the devil to bring himself back to life.” (Really, it’s all Murtagh’s fault for not sticking a knife through his gourd (Walking Dead-style) just to make sure he was actually dead. I mean, he didn’t even check for a pulse. Given Murtagh’s knife fetish, I’m shocked.)
Claire braces herself for Jamie’s explosion which comes out in the form of a devilish smile and a look toward heaven because he’s silently thanking all the angels up there for giving him a second chance to skewer someone he should have killed a lo-o-o-o-ng time ago.
Jamie is giddy with thoughts of bloody murder. He could have been imagining Randall’s death over and over this entire time; why did Claire wait so long to tell him?
Murtagh catches Jamie’s giddiness the next morning, greeting Claire in the hall with a big grin – or maybe he was coming from Suzette’s room . . .
Later . . . at Master Raymond’s Magical Emporium where anyone with money can buy poison, Claire quite accusingly tells Master Raymond she was poisoned with bitter cascara. Did he sell it to St. Germain (because murderers never hide their identity when purchasing a murder weapon)?
Nah. He only sold it to a servant he’s ne-e-e-ever seen before, but he swears he didn’t think the servant had anything against Claire because the subject didn’t come up during their transaction. He was sure they meant to poison someone else.
Prying eyes send them into Master Raymond’s back room where Claire is fascinated by his collection of rare skulls and such. It seems Master Raymond is fascinated by things not of this time. Hint. Hint. Wink. Wink. Claire’s been here before with Geillis, questioning her origins. She should just wear a T-shirt that says “I’m from the future, Motherf*ckers. Back off.”
Instead, she smiles coyly and changes the subject because she’s actually come to him on real business. With Jamie’s bloodlust for Randall, she’s worried about Frank. Is his existence in danger? And we get into that crazy time travel paradox of – if Frank is never born, how will she marry him and end up in Scotland where she’ll goes through the stones and meet the real man of her dreams?
Master Raymond breaks out the zebra hide. He uses it to impress all the ladies. Claire throws some sheep knuckles on the hide and . . . Voila! There’s no need to worry. She’ll see Frank again.
Oops. Claire’s worried about Frank’s destiny, but she doesn’t want to see him again. Poor Frank. Enough about him. Master Raymond gives Claire a magical stone to protect her from poison. A magical dagger might be more useful.
Claire has a busy day ahead and pushes on to Louise’s parlor o’ fun. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Louise’s latest toy thrills Mary, but Claire has more important things to do than stand around a cuckoo clock.
“Off with you, silly goose.” Louise sends Mary off to feed her monkey. (No, that’s not a euphemism. Mary wouldn’t know the euphemism anyway, or what a euphemism is.) Don’t let the monkey bite. (Still not a euphemism.) The big girls need to talk, and why is Mary there anyway?
It seems Louise is a harlot who’s not only taken on a lover but has gotten herself in a family way. Unfortunately, because she’s too busy sleeping with her secret lover, she hasn’t had time to sleep with her husband. He’ll never believe she’s twelve months pregnant. She needs to get rid of the evidence.
Hmm. Claire’s willing to help although she thinks it a better plan to fool the husband into raising another man’s child. After all, as long as the child is brought up with love, it’s all that matters. Hint. Hint. Wink. Wink. Claire hasn’t seen Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly, so she doesn’t know. Don’t tell her. Let it be a surprise. Even after her visit with Master Raymond, she hasn’t put it all together yet.
Time for the good stuff . . .
Jamie joins Claire in the bedroom, still giddy with last evening’s news. He’s home early and ready to work off some sexual energy. (This is where a kilt would come in rather handy in the dark.) Pants off. Shirt half off. Whoa, Nelly! What the hell is on his thighs? (It wasn’t me!) Claire finds bite marks – a matching set.
It seems Jamie is acquainted with a brunette whore (only one?) with very sharp teeth who has a penchant for soixante-neuf. What Jamie must endure for Prince and country.
But nothing happened. So says the man with the bite marks. Oh, he was tempted and filled with lust and let himself get bitten, but nothing else happened beyond that. Whew! That’s good to know.
This is good news, Jamie tells Claire. He can actually think about sex with a woman without bloody Randall’s face popping in to ruin the experience, but . . . the mood is gone now.
All joking aside, this is a major breakthrough along Jamie’s character arc. To be honest, it threw me the first time I watched it. I felt it was a bit too 180 degrees. (Much like Thomas Barrow’s character near the end of Downton Abbey. Hope I don’t ruin that for anyone.) But upon further reflection, I realized it was the only – and best – way to get Jamie over the hump. While he is in no way completely “cured,” he’s finally on his way to a real recovery. It’s not often we read or watch a story dealing with a man’s psychological and physical restoration from a brutal and emotional assault. It’s the ultimate conflict which forces the character not only to deal with those around him, but pits him against his inner turmoil. Jamie will never be the same “innocent” man he once was, but he will be stronger and even more tolerant – for the most part. I won’t rehash Jamie’s beautiful speech, taken directly from the novel. It’s something to be watched and appreciated for the performances, writing and directing.
Sadly, Jamie decides to sleep alone and retires to what will forever be known as the Blue Room. But Claire feels like crap now, making a big deal out of a few, piddly bite marks on a man with a tortured soul who reached out to her and had his manhood, er, hands slapped away.
I wanted to make a joke about first-time sex with the baby watching, but . . . oh, I just did. Big sigh. Claire is back in Jamie’s lap, reenacting one of my favorite love scenes from Season 1, Episode 107: The Wedding after Jamie gives Claire his mother’s pearls. This time, the gift is much more substantial from her to him. Darn. She should have worn the pearls!
Their romantic cuddling session, with tender talk about Claire replacing Jamie’s shattered shelter by building him a lean-to, is interrupted by loud noises from above. Jamie grabs his shirt and a knife from the next room – he learned his lesson from their last bout of make up sex – and leaves the Blue Room to investigate.
He finds a drippy – and also wet – Prince standing outside a window. Personally, I find it difficult to believe the Prince has the dexterity to climb onto anything other than a throne.
The Prince is soggy, teary and bloody, his hand hastily bandaged. He orders first aid and a whiskey. It seems the Prince was forced to flee from his lover when said lover’s husband returned home early. They were in the middle of a heated argument, his lover in the middle of dumping him for no good reason he can see. Let me give a rundown of why I’d dump him . . . no time. The Prince is determined to win her back. God is testing him with fickle lovers and biting monkeys.
Claire and Jamie share some midnight wine over which they discuss the revelation Charlie and Louise are an item – perfect for each other, other than the fact Louise is married. The wheels start turning. The Rebellion. The Duke. The Prince. Louise. Surely, if they’re all put into the same room, the Prince’s love sickness will wreck havoc on his finances once Sandringham sees what a nut he is. Have they already forgotten what a delusional nut the Duke is? Point of fact, the Duke and the Prince are more perfect for each other than anyone.
The day of the big dinner party arrives. Claire has an errand to run but will only be a jiff, she promises. (Apparently, Jamie’s not making her feel useful or keeping her occupied enough.) At the hospital despite sending Murtagh and Fergus along to keep Claire on a tight schedule and despite Murtagh and Fergus are hanging outside the entire time, they both somehow manage to miss the saboteur tinkering with their carriage. Claire tells the gang they’ll have to hoof it. Am I supposed to believe there’s not a single hirable carriage in the vicinity?
Meanwhile, Jamie is forced to greet their guests on his own, starting with the Duke and . . . dum dum dum . . . Young Alex Randall who happens to be Mary’s handsome, intelligent and eloquent secret pen pal, she tells Claire as they walk through the now dark streets of Paris. She’s in love with the better half of the Randall family. Jamie looks a little less in love with Alex when they meet, tensing his shoulders and putting on a fixed smile. The Duke feigns suddenly remembering Jamie’s association with Captain Randall (the dirty fink – Sandringham, not Jack. Dirty fink is too good for Jack).
One by one, Jamie greets his guests from the Prince (who arrives stag) to party crasher St. Germain (with his vacuous trophy wife) and finally Louise (with her equally vacuous husband) who says nothing while the Prince leaves enough DNA on Louise’s hand to impregnate her a second time.
Unfortunately, while Louise’s hand is being assaulted with saliva and the Prince’s soppy lips, Murtagh, Claire and Mary are being assaulted for real. No one comes to Claire’s call for help as poor Mary is turned into spinster material and Murtagh is outnumbered and knocked unconscious. Two of the four masked brigands turn their attention on Claire before realizing they have “Le Dame Blanche” in their midst – whatever that means. It seems St. Germain didn’t tell them exactly who they’d be attacking, er, I mean, whoever hired these guys . . . They run screaming from the scene.
Jumping to the chase, the gang arrives home and are greeted by a ready-to-rumble Jamie. Damn the party. He wants to crack some heads. Murtagh’s ready to get some payback. Play it cool, Claire says. Tonight is too important to start a rumble.
Claire sees an opiated Mary to bed, leaving Alex at her side so she can wake up later, panic at sight of him, overpower his eloquence, run from the room, wrestle with him in the parlor, interrupt the dinner party, cause a huge fight to break out and get Jamie in trouble with the gens d’armes. Oops. I just jumped to the end. Let’s back up.
Claire and Jamie’s plan unfolds as expected. Sandringham is as obnoxious as they expected him to be, nearly deflating all hopes of a Franco-British alliance. The Prince talks about God’s plans for his truly, uniting the clans and restoring Catholicism to Britain.
Boring. Louise is bored five seconds into the conversation. She wants to talk about the opera. But Jamie wants to talk about babies.
“Say . . . aren’t you and your husband expecting?” he asks with the innocence of a babe himself.
Louise stammers and smiles and holds back from saying, “Frankly, it’s none of your friggin’ business, but thanks for bringing up the baby in front of my boyfriend.”
Devious Jamie watches the Prince’s expression plummet into his plate of peaches. Whether he knows or thinks the baby is his remains uncertain. Either she’s having his kid with her husband, or she cheated on him with her husband. It sucks to be the Prince.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, the air is much thicker. The Comte can’t keep his eyes off Claire. If I were his wife, I’d have kicked him in the shins (or the nuts) more than once, but she seems too dense to notice her husband’s obsession. Jeez, the man really holds a grudge. Get over it already.
“That’s a beautiful stone you wear around your neck, Madame,” the Comtesse says, sure that must be what keeps drawing her husband’s eye.
Claire dreamily fingers the bauble. “This old thing? Why I only wear it when I’m around your husband. Oops. Did I say that out loud?”
This is where the Comte would twirl his handle bar mustache. Instead, he makes eating a grape tomato look pornographic. The Comte knows Claire knows he tried to poison her and now knows she knows he knows that she knows. The only one who doesn’t know what’s going on is the Comtesse, but she is one lucky lady going home with him tonight . . . unless she knows something we don’t know.
And now we’re back to Mary and Alex, grappling with each other in the parlor.
Jamie arrives first with Mary’s uncle and fiancé close behind. Assumptions are made and accusations thrown, along with a cheap shot to Jamie’s jaw. Murtagh enters, still raw from being jumped. No questions asked, he draws a blade. Jamie intervenes.
The Prince, the Duke and the Comte enter the room. (Tell me that’s not the first line of a joke.) The Duke wants to know if dessert will be served during or after the ruckus but doesn’t stay around to find out. The Prince wants everyone to be civil but is willing to abandon Jamie for the company of the Comte because no one is listening to him. The Comte sees an opportunity to be a dick (again) and goes with it.
Will Mary ever marry? Will Claire ever be rid of the Comte? Will Murtagh finally get to kill someone? Will the Duke ever get his (just) dessert? Will the Prince ever grow a pair? Will the gen d’armes ever arrest someone for the assault on Mary? Will the Comtesse get lucky tonight?
For the answers to most . . . okay, some of these questions, tune in next week for the next nail-biting episode of Outlander.
There was very little about this episode I didn’t like, once I put my book prejudices aside. It was one of the best paced episodes of the entire series so far with a perfect mixture of drama, action, romance and, yes, sex. If I had to pick something, I’d say . . . I would love for Black Jack to have crashed the dinner party or entered at the end. Have no idea how or why he’d be there, but it would have been priceless seeing him top the evening off. That’s just me. I can’t get enough of the man who dwells in darkness. What makes this man so warped? We may never know.
LA DAME BLANCHE is certainly a juicy episode filled with new plot developments revealed, secret romances divulged, a romance revitalized, more than a few clashes and an adorable Fergus as the perfect sidekick to Murtagh. With nine episodes still to go, this episode is “marked” as a high point. I can’t wait to see what the Outlander gang does to top it.
Outlander Episode #205: UNTIMELY RESOLUTIONS premieres on Starz on Saturday, 7 May 2016 in the U.S.
For more goodies on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 36 Looks from Outlander Episode #204: LA DAME BLANCHE