Welcome back! This week, Claire and Jamie throw a disastrous dinner party, in the hopes that Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC) will make a sufficient arse of himself as to sour the Duke of Sandringham on bankrolling his ill-fated rebellion.
We open on Jamie playing yet another game of chess with the Minister of Finance while Claire looks on, bored. Duverney asks if they’ve given any thought to baby names, and Claire says that if it’s a boy, she’d like to name him Lambert. “It’s a bit…English,” Jamie scoffs, then suggests Dalhousie, after the castle. Your baby names need some work, guys. Le Comte St. Germain shows up and spoils the moment. “He’ll have you in two moves, Fraser.” Duverney is irritated. Jamie, of course, is letting him win. Le Comte turns up his nose, saying that their game is boring. “The outcome is so obvious that I cannot even be bothered watching the rest.” Foreshadowing! Le Comte is not a subtle man. Claire wanders off, annoyed.
Duverney tells Jamie that King Louis is intrigued by the idea of the British aristocracy funding the rebellion, and the idea of the alliance. Across the room, Claire starts convulsing. Jamie reaches her in a flash, picks her up, and whisks her home. Poison?! By the aftertaste, Claire suspects that it was bitter cascara in her wine – unpleasant, but thankfully nonfatal, usually. She rests in bed. She suspects Le Comte, but asks Jamie to distract her with his own chatter. He suggests that they host a dinner party and invite both the Duke of Sandringham and BPC, who have never actually met in person. Jamie hopes that BPC will make a fool of himself and ruin the chances of funding his war with Sandringham’s money.
Claire responds to the plan by finally telling Jamie that Jack Randall (BJR) is alive. Jamie’s reaction surprises her. “This is wonderful news!” All this time, he’d been disappointed that BJR had died, and he had missed it. This way, he can enjoy the spectacle himself, by his own hand. “You can’t go back to Scotland,” Claire warns. Luckily, Jamie isn’t that stupid. It’s a nice moment for Jamie–we can see here that he’s not merely a big dumb puppy that Claire leads around by the nose. He’s a bright, sensitive man with self-control. Jamie leaves the conversation with renewed zeal and hope. Later, Murtagh mentions to Claire that Jamie is especially cheery. Claire says she told him the truth, then teases, “I don’t know what you were so worried about!”
“I could have died! I could have lost my child!”
The next day, Claire storms into Monsieur Raymond’s apothecary shop to demand to whom he sold the bitter cascara. To nobody he recognized, he says. Claire calms down a bit and Raymond takes her to a back room, where he hints that he, too, is a fellow time-traveler. Claire semi-takes the bait and says that she is worried about the future of a friend (Frank.) Raymond casts some chicken bones onto a hide (Yahtzee!) and tells her that she will see Frank again. She is intrigued and doubtful. We, of course, know that she does, based on the first episode of the season. I think that Raymond has connected that Claire is a time-traveler, but that she isn’t quite there with that realization about him, yet. The concept is still too foreign to her, despite having met Geillis last season. They part with Raymond gifting her an opal amulet that changes color in the presence of poison.
Sleep with my husband? Surely you must be joking.
Louise summons Claire to tell her that Louise is pregnant, and bad news–it’s not her husband’s. Louise wants an abortion, and knows that Claire is familiar with such things. “It was not an easy decision, but I have made it.” I love the early pro-choice/feminist nods in this show. Claire, knowing that she doesn’t have any of the proper tools at hand, tells her that such a procedure would be very dangerous, but Louise feels she has no other choice. She wants the baby, but can’t marry her lover. Claire suggests that she just convince her husband that it’s his. “You mean, sleep with my husband? My lover would be furious!” Claire tells her that all that matters is that the baby is brought up with love. Ooh, more Frank foreshadowing from the first episode (we already know that Frank agrees to raise Jamie’s baby with Claire in the future. Let’s hope that Louise’s husband is as gracious?)
“I was trying to hide under a blade of grass…”
Later, Jamie comes home and tries to seduce Claire. She’s into it, until she notices that he has bite marks on his thigh, starting a bitter fight between the two. “Surely, Sassenach, you have heard the term ‘soixante-neuf‘?” Oh, Jamie, you’re not helping your case, here. Jamie assures her that nothing happened at the brothel, but that he was “verra tempted” and “filled with lust.” Shut up, Jamie! Claire is incensed and actually kind of a bitch about it in the sense that she brings up Jamie’s past, but she’s pregnant, so it’s excusable that she’s acting a little nuts. She wants to know why he’s barely touched her in months, but can get excited for a whore. He explains that it’s not that; it’s that ever since she told him that BJR is alive, he’s gotten his mojo back. They finally have a good (if a bit angry and intense) talk about Jamie’s gradual recovery from his assault, and he goes to sleep while she broods. Later, she wakes him up and seduces him. “Come find me, Jamie. Find us.”
“Her pet bites everyone but her…”
The two awake in the night to the noise of someone on the roof. The mysterious stranger barges into their bedroom window. As Jamie pulls a knife on the man, he realizes that it’s none other than BPC, who is soaked and has an injured hand. He asks Claire to look at his hand, asks Jamie for a whiskey, and laments that he has just come from a ruinous meeting with his lover, who has spurned him. The wound on his hand is a monkey bite. Oh, snap! After BPC leaves, Claire and Jamie connect the dots that Louise’s baby belongs to the Prince, and they agree to expose the pregnancy at dinner, ensuring that BPC will fly to pieces. “We’ll use his broken heart to break his bank!” Jamie says. “Does this make us bad people?” Claire wonders. “If we are, it’s for a good cause,” Jamie reassures. Claire pouts. “That’s probably exactly what bad people say.”
La Dame Blanche
On the morning of their dinner party, there is an explosion at an armory and Claire spends the day at the hospital, promising to be home in time to dress for dinner. Their wagon is broken–sabotaged outside the hospital, actually–so she, Murtagh, and Mary Hawkins decide that they have no choice but to walk home. They’ll be late for dinner, in any case. Meanwhile, Jamie is greeting guests alone and things are already going sideways. The Duke of Sandringham has invited Le Comte St. Germain and his wife, so they scramble to set two more places for the unwanted guests. Louise and her husband have arrived, and BPC nearly comes unglued simply seeing her with another man. He gives her a very creepy and lingering kiss on the hand. Claire and Mary chat on their way home and Mary reveals that she is in love with Alex Randall.
Nearly home, Claire, Mary, and Murtagh are attacked by thugs on the street. Murtagh is knocked out, and Mary is assaulted and raped. Claire is roughed up, but the thugs run away in fear when they get a glimpse of her face. “La Dame Blanche!” Apparently Claire has a rep. Murtagh comes to and they shuttle an unconscious Mary to the house, where Jamie emerges, horrified. He and Murtagh want to take out after the thugs straightaway, but Claire says no; this dinner party is too important. She drugs Mary and tucks her upstairs with Alex Randall to watch over her, then dresses for dinner. “Breathe,” she tells herself before heading downstairs. Jamie, for his part, wants to cancel the dinner and send everybody home because he’s worried about Mary. “No one will want her now that she’s spoiled!” Plus, Mary’s stuffy, warty, French intended husband is downstairs at dinner. “What rubbish,” Claire spits. “This wasn’t her fault.” Yay, feminist Claire.
Dinner for Schmucks
When Claire is introduced to the guests, they all bow but Le Comte, who simply looks shocked. Louise tells Claire that she told her husband that it was his baby by convincing him that he’d gotten drunk one night and come to her bed. “He was mad with joy,” Louise brags. Claire speculates to herself that Le Comte was behind the attack on the street. They all sit down to dinner. Sandringham blusters, boring everybody. Jamie invites BPC to talk about his plans for the rebellion, knowing he will sound crazy. Louise interrupts and begs that they change the subject. They do, and someone asks Sandringham if he has ever been married. He says that he hasn’t found anyone who will put up with him, and BPC remarks drily that women are fickle. Jamie, seeing an opening, lets the cat out of the bag about Louise’s pregnancy and BPC is visibly crestfallen. Does he know it’s his? In any case, a petulant BPC can’t seem to shut up, and insults both Louise and Le Comte.
Louise compliments Claire’s necklace. Claire brushes off the praise, but Le Comte knows exactly what it is and what it is used for. He knows that she’s onto him and sneers that if Claire needs to wear an amulet which detects poison in her own home, perhaps they should all be concerned about the cooking. “Perhaps you should!” Claire snaps.
That’s when things got out of control
As the dinner party spirals into a cacophony of thinly veiled insults, Mary awakens upstairs in a panic. Screaming, she shoves Alex Randall aside and runs down the stairs. Alex gives chase, and the entire dinner party arrives in the parlor as Alex is holding Mary down, trying to calm her. “He’s raping her!” someone shouts, and an enormous fight breaks out. Jamie and Murtagh know the truth, and fight off the guests, protecting Mary and Alex from injury. The Duke is eating up the drama with a spoon. Le Comte, for his part, calls the police. “Summon les gens d’armes.” With the entire party distracted, Fergus helps himself to a sumptuous dinner.
- Murtagh and Fergus have a nice interlude while they’re waiting for Claire outside the hospital. Fergus mentions that Mary Hawkins is in love; he can tell. Murtagh scolds him for involving himself in the affairs of women, then slyly asks whether or not Suzette is in love with anyone. “With anyone who comes through her door!” Fergus laughs. Poor Murtagh.
- Did anyone else notice the creepy eye embroidered on Monsieur Raymond’s waistcoat? The costumes for this show are stupendous.
- Claire is learning a thing or two at the hospital. One of the other volunteers introduces her to a particular kind of grease– “hangman’s grease” –and is asked why it’s called that. “Because it’s made from the rendered fat of hanged criminals.” Turns out, he’s the executioner to the king. At least Mother Hildegarde is warming up. “All of our volunteers are better than nothing. But you, madame, are a great deal better than nothing.”
- I enjoyed the way Jamie held it together when the Duke introduced Alex Randall at dinner. He side-eyed the hell out of him (and how great is the casting? Alex looks so much like he really could be BJR’s brother in real life), but he held it together.
- The Duke of Sandringham is a simpering windbag of a man, but Simon Callow’s performance of him is absolutely fantastic. “What did the dwarf say when he was asked for five shillings? Sorry, I’m a trifle short!”
- We see for a split second that one of the attackers has a large birthmark on his hand. I’ll be curious if that becomes important later.
Join me next week for Episode 5, “Untimely Resurrections.” The aftermath of this ridiculous dinner party can’t be good.