Welcome back! This week, Claire and Jamie try to pick up the pieces after their horrendous dinner party, Jamie forms unlikely alliances with the Duke of Sandringham and Le Comte St. Germain, and Black Jack Randall makes an untimely appearance.
We open on the clearing of the dinner party after the brawl and Claire’s voiceover explaining that it was an unmitigated disaster. After Le Comte called the police, everyone was immediately arrested and taken to The Bastille. The Count, of course, escaped with Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC.) Claire and Fergus wait up all night for Jamie to return. When he does, he explains that Duverney arranged for all of them to be released, except for Alex Randall. Too many people believed that they saw Alex attacking Mary, so his release will be contingent on Mary’s say-so. Claire wonders if perhaps the Duke of Sandringham, as Alex’s boss, will vouch for his integrity. Unfortunately, the Duke doesn’t give a crap about Alex and has already fired him.
Claire recalls some of the details of the attack to Jamie. She remembers that the attackers were well-dressed, and had aristocratic speech. She tells of her escape and mentions that she was saved from the rape because one of the attackers recognized her as La Dame Blanche. Jamie looks sheepish and admits that he started the rumor about her himself – rather than look like less of a man for turning down the ladies at the brothel, he told his companions that he was married to La Dame Blanche. Claire rolls her eyes. “So, you’d rather have everyone believe that your wife is a witch?” “Well, there might have been drinking involved,” says Jamie. At least his lie seems to have spared her a physical attack, although I can’t help but think that this will come back to bite them in the ass. Claire puts together that her attackers must have been brothel frequenters. Meanwhile, Murtagh confesses to Jamie his shame that he was unable to protect Claire, and that he has heard rumors about a gang roaming the streets and attacking women. Jamie reassures Murtagh, then tells him to keep after Le Comte, so that they can tie him to the gang.
“I don’t think he…finished.”
Claire visits Mary in order to give her a physical examination. Mary has written a letter to the Bastille which she hopes will exonerate Alex, and asks Claire to see it delivered. As they chat, Mary reveals that she feels broken, contaminated, and ashamed in the wake of her rape. Claire reassures her that it wasn’t her fault in a nice recurrence of feminist Claire. Mary wonders if she will have a baby, and Claire says that she doesn’t think so. The good news for Mary is that since she is “spoiled”, she is now out of her awful marriage contract to the warty older aristocrat. She announces her intention to marry Alex Randall instead. Claire panics. Mary isn’t supposed to wed Alex, she’s supposed to marry Jack! (BJR.) Claire leaves wondering if she should dispose of the letter exonerating Alex, then thinks perhaps she should just try to convince him not to go through with the wedding.
Don’t go breaking my heart
Claire frees Alex from the Bastille, then uses every dirty trick in the book to get him to call off the wedding; starting by breaking the news to Alex that the Duke of Sandringham has fired him as his secretary. Alex is shocked and has a coughing fit, and Claire questions his weak health. She hints that Mary deserves better than a sickly husband. Alex kind of agrees, and Claire takes the opportunity to twist the knife by telling him that being married to man who is roaming the countryside, looking for a new job with his tarnished reputation, is no future for poor Mary. Alex finally concedes, thinking he’s being honorable by letting her go such that someone else can provide for her future better than he may be able to manage. “She will be devastated,” Alex says, sadly. This is where Claire loses me a little for the first – but not the last – time in this episode. I understand that she wants (needs?) for Frank to exist in the future, but she’s literally trying to ensure that a rape victim be married to a known, violent, serial rapist. Uncool, Claire. Uncool.
“I share your disdain for our partnership.”
Jamie meets with BPC, who has big news – his investors have all but pulled out. Hurrah! Jamie’s plan to reveal the Prince as an idiot to the Duke of Sandringham must have worked! Unfortunately, BPC won’t be dissuaded so easily. He announces that he has $10,000 pounds sterling coming from Le Comte. Say what? As it turns out, Le Comte needs a business partner to get back on his feet after the smallpox incident, for which Claire was responsible. That’s where Jamie comes in – Le Comte has plans to buy a shipment of Madeira wine, and BPC suggests to him that he use Jamie to sell it. He is, after all, in the wine business. They plan to use the profits to fund the Jacobite rebellion. “Good news, indeed,” Jamie says through gritted teeth. BPC tells Jamie that he has arranged a meeting at the brothel between Jamie and Le Comte, and that he doesn’t wish to be involved in the business side of things. Jamie hates the idea of partnering with Le Comte, and says as much. BPC says that he doesn’t put much stock in rumors, and points out that there are lots of silly rumors floating around about Jamie’s own wife. He pushes Jamie to take the job and keep an eye on the Count.
Jamie and the Count share a tense drink and not-so-veiled threats. The Count begins by referencing Claire’s “callous attempt to ruin me,” and Jamie basically tells Le Comte that he can’t stand him. He adds, “My wife has been poisoned and attacked in the street, and if I find the man responsible…” The Count dismisses him entirely. “Your personal life is of no interest to me. I share your distaste for our partnership.” Fair enough. The terms of the deal are struck, and Le Comte flounces out without finishing his drink. Jamie explains the plan to Claire when he gets home, and the two make plans to “taint” the shipment (i.e., another smallpox scare, real or not), such that nobody can profit and thereby funnel money into the rebellion.
An utter arse
The next day, Jamie meets with the Duke of Sandringham in the court of Versailles. The Duke wants to use Jamie’s expertise in judging horses to purchase some for his own stables. The Duke gushes over the two of them, and mentions what a “lovely dinner” it was. What a dick! Claire excuses herself. The Duke is onto Jamie and mentions BPC. “He’s an utter arse,” the Duke declares. Then he questions Jamie’s loyalty to the Prince. “How is it that you’re such a wonderful judge of horses and such a poor judge of character?” “I see the Prince for what he is,” Jamie says, tight-lipped.
We meet again…
Meanwhile, Claire has been spotted by Annaliese – Jamie’s ex – and whisked off for a walk in the gardens. Annaliese is laying it on pretty thick about what Jamie was like as a boy – “impulsive, headstrong” – and Claire is distracted and annoyed. Annaliese points out a man who appears to be “quite taken” with Claire and is staring at her from across the courtyard. It’s none other than (dun dun dun!) Jack Randall. Of course, he approaches them. Claire is tense as hell and tries to excuse herself after the polite introductions are made, but Randall grabs her arm. “Jamie. He’s here? Where?” Randall isn’t even trying to hide his creepiness. Claire tries to break free of his grasp and he squeezes tighter, sneering something about displeasing the king. “Fuck the king,” Claire spits. Oops, the King is right behind me, isn’t he.
“Perhaps you should beg.”
King Louis interrupts the two with his entourage. He snidely “welcomes” Randall and flatters Claire. As they chit-chat, the King digs at BJR and his minions titter. Randall tells the King “As a soldier of many years, I prefer war to politics. At least in war, you know who your enemies are.” Jamie arrives on the scene and whoa, you can cut the tension with a knife. Jamie holds it together, and jibes Randall about the “accident”. The King is visibly weirded out by the whole exchange, and Claire snaps at Randall “Why are you here?” Randall says it’s to ask the Duke to reconsider firing Alex. In a hilariously awkward scene, The King smirks “perhaps you should beg. On your knees.” We get it, Sandringham likes the fellas. Unfortunately, Randall takes him literally and drops to his knees before Louis. “Not now, you English asshole,” the King snorts. Louis and his entourage snicker derisively. Claire asks if she may be excused, and the King agrees. Jamie leaves with her, then suddenly runs after BJR. Claire panics.
A duel thwarted
Jamie reveals to Claire that he has challenged BJR to a duel, and Randall has accepted. Jamie is giddy at the idea of being able to kill his tormentor, and Murtagh is already coaching him. Claire secretly scoots to the Bastille. When she comes back, she announces that there won’t be any duel, because she’s had Randall arrested for the attack upon Mary and herself. Jamie is furious. In her second turn at being manipulative as hell in this episode, she tries to spin it like she’s buying Jamie time to cool his head. When that doesn’t work, she says that dueling is outlawed in France, and he’ll be arrested and possibly killed, and he’s going to be a father now and should think about the baby. “You gave me a gift when you told me that Randall was still alive,” Jamie says. “Now I claim that gift.” Claire pulls out the big guns and comes clean about Frank. “He must exist,” she pleads. Jamie is sullen, then angry. He doesn’t give a shit about Claire’s future husband, and rightfully so.
Jamie pulls a knife and tells her that if she cannot allow him to kill Randall, then she must kill him (Jamie) herself, right now. “One year,” she begs. “You owe me a life.” In a hail Mary pass, she points out that she has saved Jamie’s life twice, and that he is in her debt. He is livid. “Are you asking me to repay you with the life of Jack Randall?” “Yes,” she says. Yikes. As Jamie is a man who always repays his debts, he considers for a moment, then kisses his blade and agrees to one year and not a single day more. Claire moves towards hugging him in relief. “Don’t touch me,” he hisses. Oh, Claire. How could you ask something like that?
- How adorable was Jamie carrying a sleeping Fergus to bed? “Ye did well, lad, guarding your mistress.”
- I’m glad that the show touched on Mary’s feelings about her attack, and didn’t gloss over the aftermath of her rape. They’ve done so well chronicling Jamie’s recovery that I didn’t want them to make him the focus in the belief that they’ve handled his attack so well that they don’t need to bother with anyone else’s. I’m glad that there’s no double standard here, except possibly with Claire. Since the show’s inception, we’ve seen Claire attacked by BJR more than once, groped by Dougal, and attacked to the point of rape (it’s unclear if the rape was completed) by two English soldiers. When does Claire get to have feelings about her own violations?
- Jamie surprises Claire with a set of apostle spoons for the baby. Historically, they were dying out in popularity by this time as a baptismal gift for godchildren, but some families continued the tradition well into the 20th century. Claire wonders if she’ll be a good mother, and laments that she can’t remember her own. Jamie is adorably reassuring. “What ye don’t ken, ye’ll learn. We’ll learn. Together.”
- How creepy was it when we watched from a distance as Jamie challenged Randall, and we see BJR lovingly touch the spot on Jamie’s chest where he thinks Jamie still wears the brand that Jack scarred him with? Shudder! I’d have wanted to kill that sonofabitch then and there.
Join me next week for Episode 5, “Best Laid Schemes.” where Claire and Jamie set about destroying Le Comte’s shipment of wine.