And… SPOILER ALERT. Watch episode 206 before reading this, please.
Let’s dive right in, shall we? This episode is called “Best Laid Schemes,” because Claire and Jamie have quite of few of those here, and we’re going to find out just how well they work. There’s a lot of plot in this episode that might seem a bit confusing to non-book readers, but we’re going to make it a bit clearer for y’all.
We start, as always, with the opening image: A man coiling a rope around a stick to make a torch… and we will find out later why these men on the side of a highway need torches.
But first, let’s take a moment to stare at Jamie’s handsome face:
And why does Jamie look so stressed? Because Black Jack Randall is about to get out of the Bastille and Murtagh wants him to get ready for the duel… you know, the duel that’s not happening because he promised Claire he would wait a year.
Murtagh doesn’t understand the delay, and he throws out one of his classic one-liners:
So now Jamie has a little breakfast and finds out Claire is at the hospital, where she’s being entertained by the charming M. Forez.
Lovely. Claire looks a little nauseas from this conversation, and it’s not just because her pregnancy is finally showing enough that she’s abandoned the corset.
And then we get to the real meat of this scene: Forez’s threat. “Perhaps our friend Master Raymond would be better company.” Uh-oh, that sounds a bit ominous to me. I guess it does to Claire as well, because she goes racing off to see Raymond:
And Raymond explains that when this happened before, people merely had to renounce Satan and everything was cool. But somehow this time, it seems a bit more serious.
I’m gonna step outside the plot for a second here. I have to say, so far this season, so many of the scenes have felt like they were only there to set up some huge thing that’s totally gonna happen… sometime. And while I realize there’s a lot of ‘splaining to do here—Dragonfly in Amber is 900 pages long and they’re trying to sum it up in a handful of episodes—I can’t help but wish we would, well, got on with it a bit.
What do you guys think?
Okay, back to the show, shall we?
Hmm, yes, I smell a THEME ALERT with that one.
This is stressing me out. Let’s get a foot rub:
*What we all imagine pregnancy will be like. Le sigh.
Let’s see, Jamie is talking, but I’m still thinking about sitting in front of a fire with him while he rubs my feet. Sorry—focus, Rebecca! What were we talking about?
Jamie is realizing that the plan to stop Charles and save the Highland clans from perishing at the Battle of Culloden might not work. So here he makes Claire promise him that she’ll go back to Frank if he ends up dead at the bottom of Culloden Moor. And even though we’ve all seen episode 201 at this point, there’s still a little voice in our heads that’s shouting: Hell, no, we won’t go! Ah, hope—you destroyer of souls.
Wait a minute. I thought we were going to talk about “best laid schemes” in this thing. What were those again?
Right, it’s all coming back to me now. So Claire and Jamie explain the plan to Murtagh (and us, because, well, last week was a long time ago and some of us have forgotten):
Claire: If we can get the harbor master at Le Havre to destroy St. Germaine’s warehouse and inventory, like he did with The Patagonia…
Jamie: …Charles will lose his wine and the investment.
Claire: And he’ll go running back to Rome with his tail between his legs.
Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Exposition. So Claire puts together a little witch’s brew—but let’s not call it that, shall we? The vivid description of drawing and quartering is still a bit too fresh in my mind—and poor Jamie is about to spend the night in the outhouse.
And then Jamie and Claire realize what was probably getting obvious—this plan isn’t going to work unless Murtagh knows what the hell they’re talking about.
So… la dee dah, Jamie tells Murtagh about Claire being from the future, Murtagh decks Jamie: “If you believe your wife to be a—a witch… then who am I to contradict you?” And now Murtagh is in the fold.
Okay, on with the action!
Jamie and wee Fergus embark on their journey to trick the comte’s sailors into drinking the poisoned wine, thus sabotaging the sale of the ship’s cargo (and throwing Prince Charlie’s plans to use the money for his war effort out the window). Everybody clear on the plot? We move on.
And now Murtagh is realizing what Claire has known for a couple years at this point:
Okay, so let’s check in with Jamie and Fergus—aha! Success! The poisoned wine is planted, the coats are brushed with nettle juice, and the two ride back home in victory. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?
Let’s take a snuggle break, shall we?
I’m feeling better now. Ready to head to the brothel to find out—shock of all shocks—the “best laid scheme” isn’t going to work out as planned. Why? Because the comte will be damned if another case of small pox is going to derail his business ventures. And frankly, Jamie and Claire probably should have seen this one coming. The comte won’t be had so easily:
Okay, so new plan! Jamie is going to escort the wine shipment to Paris to be sold before the harbor master catches on. No problem. Jamie will simply destroy the shipment on the way and—oh, crap. What’s that you say, comte?
Well, this plan is going off the rails, Jamie. (Side note: Anyone else distracted by how none of the clothes quite fit Sam Heughan properly? I’m guessing men didn’t have very developed pec muscles before weightlifting was invented.) Anyway, back to the story:
New plan: Highwaymen (or so the comte will think, anyway) will stop them on their way to Paris! Remember the opening image of the torches being prepared? Now we know why. Again, what could possibly go wrong?
There was something I meant to do before this plan is put into effect. What was it again? Oh, right, sleep with Jamie Fraser. Where was my head?
PS- I don’t know about the rest of you moms out there, but I didn’t lie flat on my back when I was this pregnant. That baby’s right on your spleen at that point. Someone might have suggested rolling Claire over a bit here.
So now we catch up with the girls, having a little wine and kibbutz party, as you do when you’re a woman in 18th century France and you’re filthy, stinking rich. Claire interrupts to talk about dead homeless people and, well, I think we can all imagine how well that goes over.
Poor Claire, stuck at a party with a bunch of shallow lushes when she could be sticking her fingers into the bleeding kidney of a tuberculosis victim.
And we intercut this with the highwaymen scene, which remarkably goes better than planned. Jamie even gets an opportunity to save the comte’s life, thus rendering himself a hero!
And look how happy the comte looks about that:
And Mother Teresa—I mean Claire—goes back to the hospital. Hildegarde is there—our favorite piano-playing nun—and she says:
Claire goes to lie down, and we see that she’s bleeding a bit. And I can tell you for a fact, there’s pretty much no scarier sight when you’re pregnant. But as Hildegarde reassures Claire, it’s actually quite normal and usually doesn’t mean anything serious. Still, excuse me while I drink a bottle of pinot before resuming.
So let’s check back in with Jamie, the prince, and the comte. Sure enough, St. Germaine isn’t really buying that whole “what a coincidence that the highwaymen just happened to be on that road as we were passing” act. I’m starting to think all these “schemes” in question would work a lot better if the comte would do everyone the favor of being an idiot. Tell him, Jamie.
And poor Charles, reduced to a fate worse than not being king of England:
So now it’s time for a little breakfast: roast ham and wine, please. Breakfast of champions, my friends. And Fergus lets us know that Claire slept at the hospital.
Goodness, everything seems to have worked out perfectly! The prince won’t get the money from the wine shipment; the comte can’t prove Jamie had anything to do with the ambush on the road; Claire is resting soundly in the hospital. And the cherry on top? Murtagh gets to sell the wine in Portugal, so the profit won’t even be lost! Time to celebrate!
Wait, why is Murtagh’s girlfriend Suzette here?
Apparently, like all good royalty, Charles doesn’t pay his bills. So Jamie to the rescue.
And if only that were the end of this episode, but alas, there’s more. Because Fergus is alone in the room with Black Jack Randall.
Now for people who didn’t read the books, this scene was probably super confusing. In the book, it’s explained a bit more. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of horrible news, but let’s just say Black Jack Randall alone in a brothel room with a pretty young boy that he’s just caught stealing… it’s not good. And Jamie catches them. And, well…
Everybody clear on why the duel is back on? Great, let’s continue. Off we go to the Bois Bologne—the woods.
And I’m watching this, and I just want to shout at the screen, “Oh, Claire, go home and rest!” But, well, I haven’t figured out that Willy Wonka invention where you transport into the television yet. Been trying all my life, but to no avail.
Claire races to the woods…
And she gets there, doubled over in pain, blood splattering between her legs, just in time to see this:
Kudos, by the way, Ronald Moore and co, for showing us this image which is only explained in retrospect in the book. At least we get that satisfaction.
Or do we? Because the whole point of Jamie not killing Jack Randall yet was so he could still sire the ancestor of Frank. Oh crap, this plan didn’t work at all.
And Claire can only look on, feeling the blood seep out of her, as Jamie calls her name:
And now we must take a moment to look back at episode 201, where Claire first arrives back in the 1940s, pregnant with Jamie’s baby, but not yet showing:
And that gnawing feeling that must have been scratching away at the back of people’s minds who haven’t read the books has finally worked its way to the surface. Namely, if Claire goes back to the future barely pregnant at all, then why do we keep watching her stomach growing throughout this season?
Now in the books, of course, Dragonfly in Amber begins twenty years after these events, when Claire is about 50 and her daughter Bree is 20. So the chronology of it isn’t necessarily as evident. But here, having seen her come back the 20th century barely showing in her pregnancy, we kind of had to see this one coming.
Next week, we’ll find out exactly what’s going to happen with Claire’s pregnancy, and with Jamie and Black Jack Randall. But for now, I’m just going to leave us with something beautiful to think about. Because I kind of need it right now:
I hope so, Jamie. I really hope so.
Interested in reading more about Outlander? Check out all the articles under the “Outlander” tag on our home page: Novel2Screen.net
Or just follow this blog. 🙂