Important plot point, important plot point—oh, wait—SPOILER ALERT!
So definitely read this after watching Outlander 204: La Dame Blanche. We all good? Great, let’s get started.
So Outlander always starts with an opening image that hints at what is to come, and this time it’s a man replacing a faulty wheel on a carriage, something that is DEFINITELY going to be important later.
And now we open up in the lovely chess room with its hundreds of books that I would die to read, and Claire is resplendent in this brown thing with the tinted ruffles, ici:
And, of course, drinking glasses of wine, as you do when pregnant.
She suggests the name Lambert for the baby, which is “a wee bit English,” as Jamie says. None of this is terribly important, because the point of the scene is that Claire is about to double over in pain after Monsieur Sly Fox walks by.
I told you bitter cascara would come back!
In the bedroom, nursing a serious case of diarrhea, Claire and Jamie hatch their plan for the dinner party, in which they will have Prince Charles out himself in front of the Duke of Sandringham as a– I believe “delusional popinjay” is the phrase Jamie uses.
Okay, let’s cut to the bedroom (said every Outlander fan, ever).
Side note: Sorry, this is totally unrelated, but I just figured it out—Sam looks like Chris Reeve, my favorite! No wonder I have such a crush on him. Let’s take a quick look:
Did I nail that or what?
Sorry, back to Outlander. Claire tells Jamie that Jack Randall is alive, and she’s terrified that he won’t take it well. But the reaction she gets is perhaps even more unsettling than what she had expected. Any time you’re in the bedroom with your husband and he’s more excited about killing a guy than he is about sleeping with you, it’s bad. It’s just really bad. See, scary look in Jamie’s eyes, below:
Meanwhile… COSTUME WATCH!
Mesdames et messieurs, I present you with this fetching cloak!
Oh my God, the detail in the stitching. I need a moment. Okay, I’m back.
So we’re off to Master Raymond’s to find out about the bitter cascara, and who may have purchased it. In the book, Master Raymond admits that he sold it to a servant knowing it was intended for Claire, and purposely sold bitter cascara instead of Monk’s Hood because, well, he likes Claire and didn’t want her to drop dead. What a mensch!
In the show: “I did not know,” he claims.
No matter, we’re off to the secret “throw some bone fragments onto the zebra skin” room where we learn that Claire will see Frank again. And look how thrilled she looks about that:
And now we visit with my favorite leg waxer, Louise:
Where we discover that 18th century abortions involved taking poison that might kill you. So being a woman has always been a treat, apparently. And of course, Louise does not want to get rid of this baby, because it belongs to her lover.
And now… THEME ALERT… Louise asks:
“How will I raise a child with a man that is not the father?”
And Claire responds: “All that matters is that the child is brought up with love.”
While I personally feel that the language in this scene was a bit too modern, the reintroduction of theme here is lovely and manages to remind us of where we’re headed with Claire.
Okay, so now we’re really getting somewhere. In my article Outlander 2: Written in Diana’s Own Heart’s Blood, I talk about five Dragonfly in Amber moments that absolutely have to be in season two for it to work, because they directly address theme and inform the character arcs of the protagonists. And here we come to the first of those scenes: AKA: “Sweetheart, why do you have a hickey on your thigh?”
What I really love about what they’ve done with this scene is they’ve deftly tied in Jamie’s discovery that Randall is alive (and he will therefore someday get the chance to kill him) with his sexual reawakening. The rift between Jamie and Claire has come directly from his feelings about being raped, and now Claire will help him exorcise some of those demons.
“Tell me, God damn it!” Claire shouts at Jamie, daring him to trust her with his darkest thoughts. And dark they are, indeed, as we learn in this haunting and beautiful bit of dialogue:
“There was this place inside me, a place I think everyone has that they keep to themselves. A fortress… where the most private part of you lives…”
“…But after Wentworth, it was like my fortress had been blown apart. The thing that once lived there was suddenly exposed out in the open, without shelter, without—that’s where I’ve been ever since, Claire. Naked, alone, crying, hiding under a blade of grass.”
Man, that’s some beautiful writing right there. What a great scene.
When Claire goes to him and they finally make love (accompanied by a freakily realistic baby bump. Seriously what is that? CGI?), it’s such a genuine moment of passion between them. Juxtapose this to their first sex scene on the wedding night, and you start to see a picture, fully formed, of a marriage coming to life.
Chills. Tears. Tissues. Claire’s capacity for love, her compassion, her healing abilities– which is, of course, her “thing”– might just be enough to transcend even the horrors that Jamie faces. She is not just “The White Lady,” but La Belle Dame Avec Merci, the beautiful woman with mercy (as opposed to Keats’ beautiful woman without mercy). And that, my friends, is the last super geeky pretentious reference I will make in this article. Promise.
Okay, so now Prince Charles breaks in through the window and we find out—shock of all shocks—Louise is pregnant with his baby! Hmm, this will be a fun reveal at the dinner party.
And not for nothing, I loved this little bit of dialogue:
Claire: “Does this make us bad people?
Jamie: “We’re doing a bad thing, but for a good reason.”
Claire: “Isn’t that what all bad people say?”
Seriously. Anyway, let’s get to this dinner party and—oh, wait.
The gloves, the choker, the layers of silk ruffles. Own it, own it, sashay, sashay. Sorry, moving on.
“Take Murtagh with you,” Jamie says, as Claire heads off to the hospital to reset broken bones, as you do when you’re hosting a dinner party for 30 people that night.
We get some adorableness with Murtagh and Fergus out front, with Murtagh not understanding how someone in love might be crying. In other words, Murtagh is a man.
“A man does not concern himself with the affairs of women.” And yet Murtagh still asks about Suzette. Why do I think that’s the cutest thing ever?
Now we get a lovely view of the wonders of 18th century medicine. (Side note: thank you, doctor who invented the epidural. I don’t know who you are, but you’re wonderful and I love you.) And we meet someone who we should make a mental note of—Monsieur Forez, who, when not helping out at the hospital, is the royal executioner. Hmm. Okay.
Claire needs to hurry up and finish, um, sticking that bone back into that leg and go put on her pretty dress. What do you think, Mother Hildegarde? “You, madame, are a great deal better than nothing.”
And back at the chateau, it’s time for our daily dose of Sandringham! “What a vision of elegance!” he says upon seeing Jamie. That’s one way to describe him.
Some other guests arrive for this party which is still lacking a hostess because of the broken wheel, as previously discussed. And now… uh-oh.
This party is going off the rails. Let’s see how Claire and Mary are doing on their long walk down a dark, deserted alley on the way home. Let’s see– Mary divulges that her true love is Alexander Randall (AKA Jonathan’s not-insane brother). And we’re walking, we’re walking. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?
Oh, Mary. Even when you know this scene is coming, you still somehow hope it will end differently this time. But as we learned in The Outlander Problem: AKA-Why Do We Read Historical Fiction?, we can imagine changing history, but actually doing it is another matter.
Let’s check in on our dinner party, shall we? Oh, shit. The comte is here.
Are you, though, Jamie? Are you really?
And a few more guests arrive, namely:
Personally, I would go for Louise’s husband over Prince Charles. You can’t help but get the feeling that Charles’ halitosis probably gives him brutal breath. But what do I know?
And now Claire and Mary make it back to the house, along with poor Murtagh who, as I’m sure we’ll see in the next episode, is going to have to come to terms with the fact that he let something horrible happen to the ladies on his watch (also one of my Diana’s Heart’s True Blood moments).
And Claire takes charge, insisting that the dinner party progress despite everything. Is she right? Is the dinner party that important? Or will we end up regretting this plan? In any event, Alex Randall goes to babysit Mary while Claire, wearing her “Don’t f’ing try to poison me” necklace, finally shows up to her own party:
And we all sit down to the MOST AWKWARD DINNER EVER. Seriously, this is a stiff group.
Maybe Sandringham can lighten things up with a joke?
Now for some reason, we have some voice over, telling us what we already know: Claire suspects the comte of all this raping and pillaging business. We get a bit from the Prince about how his ascendance to the throne is God’s will (again, we already know that), but okay. He’s the prince. He can say it again if he wants to.
Ooh, and now a fun moment where Prince Charles finds out his mistress is carrying his baby and is going to pass it off as her husband’s. In fairness, he takes this news a bit better than Frank did when he found out essentially the same thing about Claire in episode one.
Although I thought him saying this was quite delicious: “Yes, I believe you are a man in the dark indeed.”
And then Mary comes out screaming, everybody thinks Alex is trying to rape her because he’s the clutziest babysitter ever, and well… let’s all have a drunken fist fight, shall we?
Some ominous words from the comte to the prince: “Don’t trouble yourself, I will take care of it.” Oh, I’m sure you will, Comte. I’m sure you will.
And as Claire holds poor trembling Mary, we cut to the pièce de résistance– Fergus sitting at the empty dinner table and finishing all the wine. God, I love this kid.
Overall, an episode that was pretty true to the source material, and finally began to give us some real development in the relationship between Claire and Jamie. Because frankly, international intrigue and espionage aside, we watch this show for them, don’t we? And the beating heart of the story will always be the love affair between these two (somewhat doomed) souls, defying all the odds to be with each other.
Personally, I’m enjoying this season, but I’m itching for some Scotland right about now. How about you guys?
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8 thoughts on “Outlander 204: La Belle Dame Avec Merci”
I’m itching for more Scotland also. I find the costuming for France to be very distracting from the story. Also maybe it’s me, (I really like the older Jamie) but I’m finding Jamie a bit juvenile and selfish in this season. In the books, he doesnt come across as self-centered, and we meet him in his forties, he is much more calm and reflective… The character just matured so beautifully in the later books, that looking back on the first books he is so impulsive and reactive. Did/does anyone else see or feel this? Am I crazy?
I love Jamie at every age – but there is definitely a pre-Culloden vs a post-Culloden difference if that is what you mean? One thing that I really love about the young Jamie is how even amid the impulsive, sometimes too passionate, less mature things he does – there are those moments of such raw wisdom and maturity of a much older man. I feel like that is what makes him such a special character. Like when he made the decision to bring Claire back to the Stones on the way to Lallybroch; that was such an unselfish, loving act. And the way he was able to walk away from her the way he did – well beyond his years!! Gotta love that man!!!
Love your recap! I am loving Season 2 but I’m not sure anything can ever be better then Season 1; not sure if it’s Scotland that makes the difference or the fact that I was able to binge watch Season 1, so there was that continuity that is lacking when you have to “wait” every week!
I am a longtime Chris Reeve fan and an even bigger Jamie fan – but the only resemblance I see is that they are both hot men! I don’t think they look alike though; maybe they have that same “look in their eye” if that makes any sense 🙂
Just a very small correction to your opening lines……the carriage wheel scene at the very beginning of the episode. What is actually shown is the wheel pin being taken OUT so that the wheel is not secure. Which explains why Claire and Mary have to walk and therefore be accessible to the assailants.
Ooh, good catch!
I love your review and the humor in it. I love the show. Thought episode 4 was good. Loved the fortress scene. Sam Heughan is a God. Loved the tender love scene. Loved the scene between Murtagh and Fergus. Hated the blood and guts of the hospital scene but understand the purpose of it. Just close my eyes. In your review the last two paragraphs completely hit home with me. All the rest is interesting, but the show rests on the able shoulders of Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe making that love that transcends time and distance believable. Thank God they are getting back to that. Knowing what is ahead, I am very anxious for an announcement that we will have a Season 3 to make things right again.
Love your recap on this episode. I couldn’t stop laughing, though at how bad the dinner went. But overall, this episode made me want to keep reading the second book.
I was kinda thinking the same about the carriage too!
I agree that a Season 3 is absolutely necessary! Otherwise, I hope that the showrunners filmed two different endings to address the possibility that there might not be a season 3. The first book — and most of the rest of the books — ended on a satisfying note. But, Dragonfly in Amber didn’t. There was clearly a cliffhanger — drawing people to read Voyager.
As for Jaime’s moments of immaturity in the first two books, I would point out that he is a very young man! When book 1 opens, he had just turned 22. He’s not even 25 at the Battle of Culloden. He behaves the way any young man his age would behave. As some have pointed out, he has plenty of moments when he’s more mature than most his age, but he is still a very young man!
And, I absolutely love the way they are handling this season. To be honest, I had trouble getting through the beginning of the French portion of Dragonfly in Amber. I loved the rest of the book, but I found the sections that covered episodes 2 & 3 somewhat tedious. Personally, I feel that showrunners did a great job with them. And, I love how they are fleshing out Frank in the show. Claire loved Frank! She was very conflicted about her decision. You don’t necessarily understand why in the books. But, you can see why in the show. Even Dianne G has said repeatedly that Frank is a great job. Great job!