In Outlander Episode 206: BEST LAID SCHEMES all hell breaks loose. Claire becomes a pregnant force to be reckoned with. Hooyah! Murtagh is finally brought into the fold. Yay! The Prince has a meltdown. Boo hoo! The Comte gets sexier and sexier. Yeehaw! Randall is badder than ever. Hiss! And Jamie’s well laid plan is destroyed with one, well-aimed thrust. Kudos!
Written by Matt Roberts and directed by Metin Hüseyin, this episode does well handling one of the most disturbing scenes in Diana Gabaldon‘s Dragonfly in Amber novel. Of course, we’re not actually to that part yet, but I’ve no doubt the producers and writers will continue to handle the subject matter with respect. Each week, the story has unfolded around the Fraser’s tenuous and complicated plan to change the future, alter history, control people’s destinies – especially their own. With masterful writing, directing and acting, we watch it all come crashing down.
When last we saw Jamie (Sam Heughan) in Episode 205: UNTIMELY RESURRECTION, he very menacingly warned Claire not to touch him.
Now the next morning, we find him in the study with Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), building up the courage to tell his godfather there will be no duel with Captain Jack Randall.
Murtagh is none too pleased to hear such news, accusing Jamie of changing his mind like “a woman in flux.” (Hey! I take offense to that. I change my mind every day of the month.)
No explanation. No nothing. Jamie is left standing his ground with little more than “I have my reasons.” Might as well have breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. And he’s gonna need it. Of course, he’s forced to eat alone because Murtagh is now miffed and Claire is off making herself useful with purpose.
At L’Hopital des Anges, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) helps Monsieur Forez (Niall Greig Fulton) prepare a patient for burial. The unfortunate chap on the gurney looks to have been a practice dummy for Forez’s day job. King Louis has summoned the royal executioner to perform a drawing and quartering matinee on a number of dark arts practitioners and their unlucky associates. It’s standing room only.
But before the doctor leaves, he gives a gruesome and detailed description of the procedure. Claire is unfazed. She is a nurse, after all, but she is a bit shaken at the mention of her friend, Master Raymond. Forez seems not to hold anything personal against his “clients,” and leaves her with a veiled warning which she quickly heeds.
Off to warn Master Raymond at his shop (because she learned absolutely nothing from her experience running off to warn Geillis Duncan, being arrested and sham-tried for witchcraft). Prisoners’ hole for two – no waiting! Wonder if the accommodations are better in France than Crainesmuir.
Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) at first pfft’s Claire’s warning. It happens now and again, he assures her. Not this time, Claire insists. It’s different. Well, okay then. Two second later, Raymond promises to leave town – go to his country house emporium somewhere in the country. Geillis he ain’t. He has no lover to sweep in to save him.
Later that night and cozy by the fire, Jamie massages Claire’s tired feet (now this is more like it) and reveals his true reason for promising not to duel with Randall. Their plan to foil Charles’ Jacobite Rebellion seems destined for failure, Jamie says. Making clear he owes Frank nothing, he wants Claire to have a place to flee and a person to care for her and their bairn in the event of his own (certain) demise.
Claire is not happy hearing Jamie’s dark prediction but – she will go on. (Can you hear Rose’s soft voice? Jack. Jack. Jack. Not Black Jack – Titanic Jack. Cue music.) She promises Jamie she’ll return to Frank.
But . . .
Claire’s not ready to give up just yet. There’s still a chance to screw Charles, er, interfere with his wine investment. Plus stick it to St. Germain (a bonus).
Mixing together a bit of essence of rosemary with a dash of bitter cascara, Claire brews a fake smallpox concoction and makes gerbil Jamie drink it. Brush mash of nettles onto his chest et voilà – smallpox!
Hmf. Murtagh doesn’t like this scheme. Better to lob off the Prince’s head and be done with it. And why the heck are they not killing Randall!?
It’s time to tell Murtagh everything, Claire and Jamie decide.
From the window, Claire watches Jamie join Murtagh in the courtyard down below. Murtagh listens to what we cannot hear (but we know the story).
“If you believe yer wife to be a witch, then who am I to contradict you?” he says then belts Jamie on the chin. “But you shoulda trusted me with that knowledge from the beginning.”
What a guy.
Perhaps my favorite scene in this episode is between good guy Murtagh and Claire when he asks her about the rebellion. Jamie must have left that little part out of their discussion, but Murtagh has deduced on his own the rising does not end well for the Jacobites.
As an interesting concept, Murtagh writes down each year of Claire’s life as if trying to make sense of it, grasp the reality of her existence in their world. It brings the two periods together – Claire’s past and Murtagh’s future, although he’ll never live long enough to experience those years personally.
For one moment, his face radiates hope they’ll be able to stop the rebellion because she knows what happens, but Claire’s teary eyes nix that false hope. Even she seems more uncertain every day.
On the road to Le Havre, Jamie and Fergus (Romann Berrux) ride to St. Germain’s warehouse and enact their foolproof smallpox scheme. Fergus sneaks in and out, unseen, and leaves the doped bottles. Brushes the mash of nettles onto the workers’ jackets, then he and Jamie ride back to Fort Fraser.
Good news! The plan works. Jamie is quickly summoned to Maison Elise where he finds both Prince Charles (Andrew Gower) and St. Germain (Stanley Weber) in dire distress. (Is there any other kind?) St. Germain has secreted the sick men away in a hotel. Not sure why he hasn’t done away with the evidence yet. Maybe the guy does have a heart to go with those dreamy eyes. But I digress . . .
Charles bids Jamie transport the wine from Le Havre to his own warehouse. The Comte stalks back and forth, not happy with having to entrust their valuable cargo into Jamie’s unreliable (and treacherous) hands. And why can’t the Comte transport it himself anyway?
Jamie hides his giddiness and agrees to transport the wine for le cause! St. Germain stops him on the way out and insists he will accompany the shipment. Oh, goodie. Buddy road trip.
Time for another Foolproof Fraser Plan. Murtagh, dressed as a member of Les Disciples, will rob the shipment on the road with the help of a gang of hired thugs, then sell the wine elsewhere. Ever see that episode of M*A*S*H – For Want of a Boot – where Hawkeye masterminds a complex plan involving one favor after another in order to acquire a new pair of boots? Yeah, the Fraser plan is turning into something just like that.
And there’s always time for a little tenderness . . . Jamie and Claire in bed and baby makes three. He/she is kicking up a storm. A Fraser indeed. Jamie canna wait to meet sweet . . . oh, yeah . . . they still haven’t picked out any girl names. Lamberta? Never mind. Claire and Jamie are back in good graces with each other and want to fit in as much sex as they can before the wee bairn makes an appearance.
The next evening . . .
Much like Scarlett O’Hare hanging out with Melanie Wilkes and her bitchy sister-in-law while the guys go around to clear the woods where Scarlett was attacked and really had no business riding by herself, Claire hangs out with Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermonne) and her bitchy friends while Jamie and Murtagh orchestrate the robbing of the wine shipment. The women gossip up a storm about this servant and that, who’s doing who and who doesn’t know it.
Bored now. Claire is worried about her boys and bored listening to the inanity. She passed by a woman and child in the street, their deceased bodies left lying in the road. Doesn’t that bother anyone?
Shock and awe. How dare the indigent leave their dead bodies in their neighborhood, the women agree. Someone should speak to the King about keeping the riff raff in their own part of town.
Good idea, new girl Claire!
On the road from Le Havre, Jamie and St. Germain run into a fake band of Les Disciples carrying out a fake robbery on the heels of the fake small pox scheme – for want of a better future . . .
Ring leader Murtagh takes the lead and faces off against the stubborn Comte. Jamie hadn’t counted on that and fake saves his enemy du jour . . .
. . . before receiving a not-so-fake knock on the noggin, compliments of Murtagh. Godfather is having fun knocking Jamie around this episode.
Claire abandons the hens at Louise’s pecking party and heads back to . . .
. . . L’Hopital des Anges to erase the last wasted hour (and get her mind off the caper). By the way, Claire really needs to find some new friends.
As usual, the nurse in her overdoes it to the point of worrying Mother Hildegarde (Frances De La Tour) who orders the ready-to-deliver-any-moment Claire straight to bed for the night. Oh, yeah. And spotting is absolutely necessary. Nothing to worry about. No siree. Mother Hildegarde is concerned about something else completely unrelated, so pay no attention to the frown.
In a private salon at Maison Elise, Jamie pretends to despair the loss with the Prince while the Comte, who is mightily suspicious of the entire incident, broods and is perhaps a little disgusted by the Prince’s pouting.
Poor Charlie whines about months of sacrifices. What sacrifices exactly? £20 bottles of wine as opposed to £1000 bottles of wine? Cheap, crusty whores as opposed to swan-encrusted whores? He’s ready to kill himself rather than return to Rome or, Heaven forbid, exile himself to Poland. Oh, whoa is the Prince. Jamie can barely keep himself from giggling.
St. Germain knows Jamie is behind the entire thing and nearly chest butts him in the salon.
But the Prince stands up for Jamie before breaking into royal sobs. Gosh. I feel sorry for the guy now.
Duty done. Jamie returns home to find Claire is still at L’Hopital, resting under Fergus’ orders.
Before they can finish breakfast, Jamie is once again summoned to the Prince’s aid who is refusing to pay for his cheap, crusty whores at the salon where Jamie left him only an hour ago.
Wait for me here, Jamie tells Fergus at the door, while he attends to business. Like every woman in every movie who is told to “wait here,” Fergus wanders off down the hallway, checking for unlocked doors. He hasn’t stolen anything in a while and is out of practice.
Finally, he finds an open bedroom and enters. He pays no attention to the bright, red uniform jacket hanging on the rack by the rumpled bed. Instead he pockets a bottle of perfume before turning around toward the shadowy figure behind him. I know you’re not a bunch of dummies watching this show or reading this blog, so I’ll just say it. Yes, it’s Black Jack Randall. And yes, something bad happens. And no, I don’t need to see it.
Claire returns home later that afternoon to find the servants nervous and unable to meet her eye. Where’s Jamie? she asks Suzette (Adrienne-Marie Zitt). Umm . . . no one wants to answer that question.
Suzette crumbles, beginning with the least important detail – Jamie is at the Bois de Boulogne – leading up to the most important – Jamie got into a fight with an English officer at the brothel.
Everything falls into place when Claire finds Jamie’s note, complete with a fancy flourish. Really?
There’s no stopping pregnant Claire. She orders her carriage and rushes to the Bois de Boulogne to stop Jamie from dueling with Randall.
She arrives too late and is forced to watch and wait. Who will survive – Jamie or Frank? As if . . .
The duel is intense and everything I hoped it would be, both men releasing their obvious rage. Jack Randall’s (Tobias Menzies) rage seems to come from the side of jealousy.
“How did she forgive you?” he asks Jamie. “Huh?”
All of his work that night at Wentworth was for naught. He thought he’d won, broken Jamie and taken him from Claire. Reflecting back on his smile in the garden when seeing Claire for the first time makes me wonder if he honestly thought Jamie belonged to him more than Claire. He couldn’t be more wrong.
All Randall’s work that night at Wentworth turned out for naught. He thought he’d won, broken Jamie and taken him from Claire. Reflecting back on his smile in the garden, he seems now to have held that very belief as a truth – as if he honestly thought Jamie belonged more to him than Claire. But he couldn’t be more wrong, he soon learns at the point of Jamie’s sword.
Jamie is feral. Finally free to exact his vengeance, utterly oblivious to Claire’s distress on the sidelines.
Tragedy strikes the Frasers as Claire falls to the ground, grasping her belly, blood flowing down her legs. She watches Jamie skewer Randall between the legs, like a hot dog on a stick. (Too soon?) Jamie sees Claire too late as the gens d’arme arrive to arrest him.
Will Murtagh be angry he missed Randall being skewered in the nuts? Did Jamie just kill Frank? Will Mother Hildegarde save Claire’s baby? Will we ever find out what happened to Fergus? Can St. Germain get any hotter kicking over more furniture?
Find out next week in another disturbing and exciting episode of Outlander.
BEST LAID SCHEMES is the best of the worst, meaning the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . until they don’t. Oh, what an episode. The Frasers have been walking a tightrope between two centuries which was bound to snap, and boy, does it snap, crack and pop!
The duel on the Bois de Bologna is one of the scenes I’ve most looked forward to this season, and it certainly did not disappoint. Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies look magnificent together, clashing swords and grinding their teeth. Tobias is barely in the episode but he surely leaves his mark. Caitriona Balfe‘s performance on the sidelines is also simply heartbreaking.
At the beginning of the season, my eyes were distracted by the luscious costumes and brilliant sets. In an episode like this, it’s all about the characters. Intentional or not, Jamie and Claire’s surroundings and wardrobe seem much more subdued than usual, as if not wanting to distract us from the drama. Of course, the one bright pop on screen is Randall’s jacket hanging in the brothel. It’s all much appreciated.
The beautiful lighting in this episode is reminiscent of Episode 113: THE WATCH. The softness between Jamie and Claire when they decide to tell Murtagh the truth of Claire’s origins is much like that during their last scene together before his capture and their reunion at Wentworth. Hmm.
Each episode brings us closer to that moment in the print shop. Don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s primarily what I most want to witness. If you’ve never read the novel(s), I can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself. It’s perhaps the most climatic moment in all the novels. Agree or not. It is for me.
Outlander Episode 207: FAITH premieres on Starz on Saturday, 21 May 2016 in the U.S.
For more goodness on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Ep. 206: BEST LAID SCHEMES