Welcome back! This week, The Frasers’ welcome return to Scotland is interrupted by a disastrous letter from France, prompting Jamie and Claire to pay a visit to Jamie’s unpleasant grandfather, a.k.a. “The Old Fox.”
We open back at Lallybroch, where everyone is in high spirits. Jamie’s sister, Jenny, has had another baby in their absence. The potatoes that Claire entreated the household to plant are coming in like gangbusters. Wee Fergus is the only one besides Claire who knows how to prepare potatoes: “You boil them, then eat them with salt and butter.”
Traitors to the crown
Ian brings in the mail and there is a letter–a signed pledge of loyalty to Bonnie Prince Charlie, complete with Jamie’s forged signature. Yikes! BPC is in Scotland, amassing his army. As Jenny points out that all of the names on the paper are traitors to the crown, Claire suggests leaving. “We’ll go to Ireland! Or the colonies!” Jamie points out that they have a large family and tenants that they’re responsible for. Seeing no other options, Jamie adopts his original position on the rebellion–what if the Jacobites win? Claire points out that they do not, and Jamie chastises her for having given up on changing the future.
Everybody ought to have a maid
Jamie and Ian make plans which include paying a visit to Lord Lovat, also known as Simon Fraser, Jamie’s grandfather. Jenny is unimpressed because there’s so much bad blood between them, including a failed attempt to have their mother kidnapped because he didn’t want their father to marry her. Jamie argues that regardless of the fact that Grandpa Fraser is a complete ass, they need to talk. Jamie privately explains to Claire that his father was a bastard–the product of Lord Lovat (LL) and a kitchen maid. “Your parentage makes no difference to me,” Claire says. Jamie gives her an affectionate hug. “It should.” It’s good to see the two of them enjoying each other again.
Never is a long time
As Jamie and Claire prepare to leave for Lord Lovat’s castle, Jenny hands Jamie a rosary. “If you don’t come back, I will never forgive you.” Fergus and Murtagh stay behind at Lallybroch. As they ride, Jamie explains that grandpa isn’t just a jerk–he’s infamous, having acquired two of his three wives by “nefarious means” –read: rape.
When they arrive at Lord Lovat’s, they’re surprised to find Colum there. “I’m here to discuss a response to the rebellion with Lord Lovat. As, I assume, are you.” Claire goes straight-up bitch mode and calls Colum out on her arrest for witchcraft. He says that as far as he was concerned, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She points out that she wouldn’t have been, except that his kitchen maid, Laoghaire, sicced the cavalry on her. Colum says that he had Laoghaire beaten for it, and that it was only the pleading of her grandmother, Mrs. Fitz, that saved her from being banished from the castle altogether. He neglects to mention that he’s brought Laoghaire with him on this trip. At least Dougal stayed home!
Sorry, not sorry
Grandpa Fraser shows up and he and Jamie trade some pretty heinous insults. LL insults Jamie and Claire, then dismisses Claire with a sexist remark so that the men can talk politics. He considers Colum a rival. Laoghaire appears outside, surprising Claire. She apologizes for the whole “had you arrested for witchcraft” thing, and Claire’s not having a bar of it. For the second time, she gets her claws out and is pretty ruthless, making Laoghaire cry. “I don’t hate you, I pity you.” She spits at her that Jamie will never love her, and that she doesn’t accept her stupid apology.
Grandpa the opportunist
Claire is allowed to have dinner with the men, and it’s a pretty heated argument about what they should do about the rebellion. Colum won’t support either side, figuring that if he remains neutral, the other clans will follow. LL and Colum don’t trust each other. The merits of fighting for King James or King George are debated. Jamie recognizes that his grandfather doesn’t care about the war one way or the other; he’s interested in what he can get for himself.
Your grandmother was a whore
The next morning, Claire watches LL rough up a woman and toss her into the hall. She rushes over to help, and finds that the woman is a seer who has apparently had a vision that LL didn’t like. The seer takes off in a hurry. As Jamie and his grandfather talk, it becomes clear what LL wants: fealty. He knows that Jamie didn’t pledge his loyalty to Colum. Jamie scoffs and says he won’t be pledging fealty to Grandpa Fraser any time soon, either. LL also wants to destroy Lallybroch. Jamie gets snippy about loyalty, saying that they may not share blood after all. After all, if you had your maid, anybody else could have, as well. LL guffaws. “Implying your own grandmother was a whore to keep what you want? You’re my kin, alright.”
La Dame Blanche rides again
Grandpa is still pretty bitter about Lallybroch– “He [Jamie’s father] chose her, and that place, over me” –and attempts to strike another bargain. “Lallybroch, or your wife’s honor.” He basically wants to arrange to have Claire gang-raped for his own amusement, by him and a bunch of his men. Jamie tells him good luck with that, and pulls the witch card again with regard to Claire. Really, Jamie? Again? LL is superstitious, however, and Jamie’s flair for the dramatic manages to scare Lord Lovat off of assaulting Claire. Apparently, there’s a fine line between being witchy enough to be burned at the stake, and just witchy enough to avoid being sexually assaulted at every turn.
Claire and Jamie think that perhaps the way to convince LL to do what they want will be through his son, young Simon. Unfortunately, Simon is a bit of a goofy milquetoast, so Claire suggests that they entreat Laoghaire, upon whom he has a crush, to flirt with him and boost his confidence. Claire goes to fill Laoghaire in on the plan and finds her sniffing Jamie’s laundry. Ugh! Claire manipulates Laoghaire into believing that if she goes ahead with the plan that she might be able to earn Jamie’s forgiveness. Fat chance of that! Meanwhile, Jamie fills Colum in on what happens during the rebellion, and Colum thinks he’s nuts–obviously nobody can know what will happen. Jamie, of course, can’t mention how he knows what he knows. Colum pleads: “Do not trade your home for a war you cannot win.” Jamie minces words a little. “I promise I will do as I must to save the things you and I hold most dear.”
Claire throws Simon and Laoghaire together on a walk, then excuses herself to the chapel on the castle’s land. The seer is inside, and Claire asks her what she saw–LL’s death at the hands of an executioner. Claire asks if everything she predicts comes true. She replies that it does, unless someone does something to change it. Unfortunately, she can’t remember if the executioner in her vision works for King James or King George, so Claire can’t figure out to whose crown LL will become a traitor.
“What’ll it be, obstacle?”
As they arrive back at the castle, LL has drawn up contracts, and plays Jamie against Colum. Either Jamie signs over Lallybroch, thereby ensuring his grandfather’s support in the rebellion, or LL will sign the other contract, pledging neutrality and an alliance with Colum. Jamie will either lose his home, or his army. Jamie is about to sign the contract when Claire bursts in, claiming to have a vision. She repeats what the seer told Grandpa Fraser, putting on quite a show. LL is furious and is about to stab Claire, when young Simon miraculously finds his courage and stops him. Simon says he’ll fight. LL scoffs at the very idea, then signs the neutrality contract with Colum.
Changing the future
As they all prepare to leave, Colum pleads with Jamie to just go home. Claire asks Jamie to thank Laoghaire. For what, he has no idea. He does so, badly, and Laoghaire says that she hopes that she can one day earn his forgiveness. He turns his back on her and leaves. “And, your love,” she whispers under her breath. Give it up, girl! As Jamie and Claire ride away, a battalion of LL’s men turn up, pledging their support for the rebellion. Grandpa Fraser reckons that if he supports the rebellion with men, he’s not a traitor to the Jacobites, and if it all goes sideways, his signature on the neutrality pledge will save him from being a traitor to the crown. Ugly vision of the future thwarted! Or, so he believes, anyway.
- It’s good to see Jamie back in his highlander garb. He was certainly handsome as a Parisian gentleman, but there’s something about a man in a kilt, am I right?
- It was such a heartbreaker to watch Claire awaken in the middle of the night to find Jamie rocking Jenny’s baby.
- Unless it takes a very long time to get back to the Scottish highlands from Paris, or Jamie and Claire spent longer there after Claire’s miscarriage than I thought, they’re taking some liberties with the “Jenny had a second baby while they were gone” timeline. There simply hasn’t been enough time for Jenny to have conceived and given birth. I’m measuring time by Claire’s truncated pregnancy–she left for Paris a little pregnant, and Jenny wasn’t.
- I’m no fan of Laoghaire, but I did chuckle when she lamented to a frustrated Claire that she’d tried to flirt with Simon; indicating that she’d shown him her goods. Way to keep it classy, Laoghaire.
Join me next week for Episode 9, “Je Suis Prest,” as the rebellion begins to take shape.
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.