GAISEADH TIGHINN!! (That’s Scottish Gaelic for SPOILERS COMING because we’re back in Scotland!!) So you all know the drill. Watch episode 208, “The Fox’s Lair” before reading this, please!
Hot on the heels of the news that Starz is moving Outlander and other original programming to Sunday nights (click here to read more), we’re going—wait, what’s that you say? You hadn’t heard? Pardon me. Apparently Starz Chief Executive Chris Albrecht got the memo that Saturday is not a “serious” night on which to air the kinds of shows that win big, shiny Game-of-Thrones-colored statuettes. And Chris has decided that—if you’ll pardon the expression—he’s ready to piss with the big boys. So everything’s going to Sunday. Personally, doesn’t really affect me. I watch it on the Starz app anyway. But a lot of people’s DVRs are going to be awfully full come summer. (Seriously there’s, like, five other nights in a week still, right?)
Anyway, moving on—let’s talk about episode 208!
So right off the bat, the “Previously On” tells me that Laoghaire is coming back—a girl whose personality is as impossible to take as her name is to spell.
Opening image: A fox, of course. Well, that makes sense. Let’s find out what kind of “sly fox” we’re going to be dealing with in this thing, shall we?
But first—aw, beautiful Scotland! Can we just enjoy these images for a moment?
Okay, I’m good.
Claire tells us in voiceover what we’re doing here: “We returned to heal in the peace of the Scottish Highlands.” Makes sense to me. And we’ve got Lallybroch and Jenny and her new baby and potatoes and, ooh, Jamie and Claire kissing like newlyweds… look at this, it’s like a Black-Plague-free Renaissance painting:
And now—WHAT THE WHAT?
We’re already doing the letter bit? Wow, moving right ahead in the plot here, Ron Moore and Co. No dilly-dallying for us. Jamie gets the letter, learning the Prince Charles has forged his name on a declaration of war against the British throne, and Plan B is officially put into action. You know, the Plan B that totally didn’t exist ten seconds ago but now they better think of something quick.
And in the words of Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes of Mice and Men…” Wait a minute, this sounds familiar. Didn’t Jamie and Claire have “schemes” before that didn’t turn out so well? Are we really going to try to change history again?
PS, costume alert: I’m loving Claire’s sweater vest here. (And that Jamie got a haircut.)
“Have you given up trying to change the future then, Sassenach?” asks Jamie. I actually like that she suggests running away, even going to the Colonies—ahem—but that Jamie is the one to say no. He realizes they have only one course of action and encourages her to “fight… for our family… and for Scotland.”
So now we know who the “Old Fox” is—Jamie and Jenny’s grandsire Lord Lovat, who’s apparently a royal SOB. We’ll find out more about him in a bit, but first…
Sorry, Jamie, were you saying something? Don’t take off your shirt if you want me to pay attention. Blah, blah, blah, my grandmother was a maid, my father’s a bastard. That’s all very interesting.
And now… oh God, I can’t even. Now we get this:
As Anne Kenney admits in the commentary, Sam holding a baby is just “catnip.” You’re making my ovaries swell here, Outlander! However, this scene is not just here to make me want another baby. It’s here as a poignant and rather devastating reminder of Jamie and Claire’s loss.
Jenny comes and talks about the incredible connection you have with your child, and how you can tell them anything and they’ll listen, and how amazing it is and—oh hey, here’s an idea: maybe don’t tell a woman who just had a miscarriage how awesome it is to have a baby? Just thinking out loud here.
But she has a point at the end, talking about all the things that might happen with the baby in your arms, and how you “weep, not knowing which ones will come to pass.” THEME ALERT.
Anyway, moving on.
Wee Fergus is sent off to prepare for war with “General” Murtagh, and we’re off on a horseback ride that should seriously be included in the Scottish Tourist Board’s advertising campaign. Look at this!
Wow, it’s so weird that we’re already at Lord Lovat’s castle. This happens so much later in the book. (Read on at the bottom for spoilerific predictions on this theme.)
Okay, so we get to the castle and—ooh, look who’s here. Toulouse-Lautrec! I mean, Uncle Colum.
Claire isn’t quite ready to forgive him yet for his part in the witch trial, but he’s quick to assert that Laoghaire did that all on her own, and she’s since been chastened for it. We’ll see.
But first, let’s meet the Sly Fox himself, Lord Lovat.
Wow, charming dude. And I thought my family reunions were awkward.
So anyway, Claire gets kicked out of the “man meeting.” What should a girl do with herself with some time to kill? Doo doo doo, going to explore the castle and… bitch!
Come on, Claire! Push her off the balcony! Quick before Jamie sees her!
Or just say this:
Oh, fine, take the high road. I would have pushed her, but that’s me.
So now we have a quick fireside chat with Jamie, who is utterly unimpressed that Laoghaire is there, and tells Claire she can totally come to dinner (so long as she doesn’t speak). Ah, sexism, you’re so cute.
Okay, on to dinner. Jamie is giving it his all to convince the clan leaders to join the war: “We must band together under the true king, James… and we must win.”
I have to say, I’m getting a serious “Red Wedding” vibe from this dinner. Check your neighbors to make sure they’re not wearing chain mail.
The men seem greatly discouraged to hear that the French have not yet committed to Charles, and they’re not sending more troops up north to fight in Scotland either. Good luck with this argument, Jamie. I gotta say, I’m not sure I would go for it if I didn’t have a time traveling wife sitting next to me telling me what the odds were.
Now Cousin Simon tries to stand up and “act like a man” by declaring that the British see Prince Charles as a real threat, which is a positive sign that the rebellion stands a chance.
But Lord Lovat makes the rather devastating observation that the 30,000 pounds the Brits have offered for Prince Charles’ capture could simply bribe all the Highlanders to not fight in the first place.
Then he humiliates him further by ordering him a glass of milk, while fondling his would-be girlfriend in front of him.
Anybody feeling lost here?
I know this is a bit confusing. Five minutes ago, Claire and Jamie were trying to stop the rebellion from happening in the first place, and now they’re trying to make sure it happens—but with enough troops and weapons to win this time. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
But now Cheekbones has realized something: His grandfather hasn’t said “no” to the war…
Anyway, walking down the hall and—oh, crap, a woman just got thrown in front of us. This place is harsh for women, huh? Meet Maisri. Who’s Maisri?
Ah, nice to meet her. Good casting, by the way. She looks like they airlifted her out of the Old Globe production of Macbeth.
And in Lovat’s office, we find out exactly what he’s up to:
But that would mean that Lovat would get what he really always wanted—Lallybroch. Don’t do it, Jamie! He’ll piss on all the potato crops!
And then Lovat makes the fatal mistake of threatening to have Claire raped if Jamie says no, which gives us a lovely opportunity for Jamie to bring up the “White Witch” stuff again, knowing it will stick in his grandfather’s ribs in just the right way.
“Go ahead,” he says, “try to ravish my wife. And after she’s done with you, I’ll send the maid to sweep up your remains.” Nice! And then he smashes the bottle in the fire, just to prove the point. That ought to scare him.
Let’s catch up with Laoghaire, shall we? See how that little minx is doing:
We’re just going to pretend for a second that that’s not super creepy, and have a little chat with our new BFF.
PS: I love that Claire is schooling Laoghaire on how to manipulate men. This is, after all, how women bond, is it not?
Okay, enough about Laoghaire’s “maidenhead” for a moment. Let’s go back inside and talk about war some more, shall we?
And while Colum may have a very good point with that, we all know where this is going at this point. And I’m afraid that train may have left the station.
Let’s go for a walk with Cousin Redhead.
Lah dee dah, pretending we want to see the church and—oh, look who just happens to be standing right here at this exact moment. What are you doing here, Laoghaire?
This was very smart of the writers, by the way, to put Laoghaire back in the story at this point. Anne Kenney explains why she’s here in the commentary (and I discuss it below), but it really moves this part of the story forward. Anyway, that’s not important right now. Laoghaire gets stuck with Simon while Claire goes to the church.
Oh, good, Boil Toil And Trouble is back.
So Maisri tells Claire about her visions, and how she saw Lovat being struck down by an executioner. Unfortunately, she doesn’t mention whether the Grim Reaper in question worked for George or James, and that would be super good to know right about now.
Anyway, we’ll file that story away for when we need it in a minute. In the meantime…
Oh, Laoghaire, you stupid little slut. Can’t you do anything right? Let’s go talk to Jamie, who’s back with his beloved horses.
I already told you, Jamie. We don’t know that. And it’s time to make a decision about that neutrality pact your grandpa keeps threatening to sign with the Mackenzies—you know, the one that would keep both major clans out of the war and leave you holding your own (if you’ll pardon the expression) when the British come.
Oh, this is too hard! Just sign it, Jamie. Or don’t sign it. Or—I don’t know. I would be the suckiest 18th century Scottish lord! I can’t make up my mind! If only a glass of wine would suddenly crash to the ground and–
Excuse me? Pray tell, Claire. What do you see?
“I saw you… standing in bright sunlight. There was a man behind you. He was wearing a black hood. Shadow of an ax across your face.”
Oh, this is getting good. I love it when Claire does her “crazy white witch” routine!
I think we’ve firmly established at this point that we don’t know the answer to that one, haven’t we?
Claire, change the subject. “The ground was covered in white roses!” Ooh, that’s the symbol of the Jacobites!
And then Lovat almost stabs Claire in the throat—but wait! It’s cousin Simon to the rescue.
“You and McKenzie are fearful old men. And you’re wrong. I will fight for King James. I will fight to change the White Lady’s vision, even if you will not.”
Nice job, cousin Simon!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Lovat signs the neutrality agreement, and it looks like all this rigmarole was for nothing. This plan officially sucks.
And Jamie: “I told you, uncle, I canna’ do that.”
I’m so depressed by this, I almost don’t even care about this fetching serape Claire is wearing:
And now, as if this weren’t all awkward enough, Claire sends Jamie to thank Laoghaire. Why? He doesn’t know yet. But he does it.
And off we go for a lovely ride… in the freezing, driving rain. Yeah, maybe the Scottish Tourism Board should skip this bit.
But before we get very far—what’s this I see?
Yay! Scottish men! I love Scottish men. Now all we need are about 50,000 more and we might just stand a chance in this whole “defeating the British” thing. And why are these Scottish men here? Oh, because Lovat is totally full of shit. He was using Colum and the neutrality act to cover his bases in case the British win. He intended to fight the whole time.
And Jamie asks Claire to tell him he’s nothing like his grandfather. “I’m afraid I have seen a similarly devious turn of mind,” she responds. And his last line, a classic:
And that’s where we leave off for the week. Next week, who’s up for fighting the Redcoats?
Before signing off, I’d like to thank our friends at I Love Outlander for all their support. Let’s support them back (and do ourselves a little favor while we’re at it), by getting ourselves some gorgeous “Outlander”-themed jewelry from their site! Here I am wearing their absolutely beautiful “Bone of my Bone” necklace:
Here’s another view of the necklace:
I seriously haven’t taken it off since I got it. I love that it not only reminds me of Outlander, but of my kids. Thank you, I Love Outlander! Here’s a link to that site: Sassenach Jewelry
*AND MY PREDICTIONS:
All right, guys. So Anne Kenney reminds us in the commentary that Laoghaire isn’t in the book at this point, which is of course true. But she said it was important to bring her back now because of “some stuff that’s coming up, which wouldn’t have made any sense otherwise.” And I gotta say, just thinking ahead here for a moment, the fact that we’re already visiting Lord Lovat, which doesn’t happen till, like, the 80% point of Dragonfly in Amber (so, you know, page 800 or so)… compounded with the “casting notice that shook the world,” which I discuss at length in my article Outlander Season 2: WTF Bree!—all of this is spelling out to me that we’re going skip ahead pretty quickly here.
We’re only on episode eight of this season. There’s 13 total. It looks like next week is a lot of the “fighting the British” stuff which is the finale of Dragonfly. So what’s going to happen for the four remaining episodes? Um, I’m not a mind reader. But I’m guessing there’s going to be a very tall redheaded girl spending some time on our screens in the future… and maybe a little more time-travel.
What do you guys think?
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