Great pacing and tone all the way through
Fantastic buildup of tension leading to the final scene.
Well choreographed fight scene with great emotional commitment from Sam and Tobias.
The supporting cast truly shines in this episode.
That startling and odd reconciliation that happened between Jamie and Claire that we didn't see.
Still a few pieces that felt a bit unnecessary (we're looking at you, Mean Girls 1745)
Not giving us any part of the conversation between Jamie & Murtagh's conversation about Claire
Outlander is building on its momentum from last week, and we’re gonna need a minute.
Sometimes you just love a show too hard. Such it is with Outlander. Oh, Outlander. When you’re not so great, we still find something in there we can enjoy, and when you really are great, we feel all the feels. Matthew B. Roberts tugged our heartstrings this week with an episode also decently paced and well directed by Metin Huseyin.
Last week, we were left hanging as Claire begged Jamie for Black Jack’s life and we were kind of appalled. This week Jamie explains himself a little regarding his capitulation to that request and we got a few tender moments between our lovebirds. Claire spends more time at L’Hopital saving the poor. Jamie and Claire come clean to Murtagh (finally!), and enlist his help in foiling Charles “mark me” Stewart’s plan to get cash through the sale of wine with the Comte St. Germain. But since the title of this episode is “Best Laid Schemes”, which comes from Scottish poet Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse”: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley”- we aren’t holding out much hope that ANY plan anyone makes this episode is going to go very well. Finally, because of an unseen (and undoubtedly heinous) event, Jamie decides to break his promise to Claire and duel Black Jack which appears to have disastrous consequences for all involved. What does that spreading blood stain mean? What’s going to happen to Jamie?? And oh man, what about Claire and the baby?? Well, what are we waiting for? Time to get going!
The Duel That Wasn’t
Open on Murtagh gleefully exclaiming that everyone’s favorite sadist, Black Jack, has been released from the Bastille and so the duel can move forward as planned. Unfortunately for him, he isn’t aware that Jamie has promised Claire he won’t kill Black Jack, and he doesn’t really take it well. Maybe he should just go and get Jamie a woman card? Either way, it’s becoming quite clear Murtagh is at the end of his rope with both Jamie and Claire, and it was a wise decision all this comes to a head in this episode. Poor Murtagh. There’s only so much a man can take!
“Your mind changes like a woman in flux.” -Murtagh
Meanwhile, Claire gets a little lesson from the creepy Monsieur Forez (Niall Greig Fulton) about the dangers of dabbling in the dark arts here in France. It was great to see Claire’s worries about being dubbed “La Dame Blanche” followed through here, after all, she was almost burned as a witch in Scotland, and we loved this slight change from the source material (where it’s Jamie who receives this particular warning). And just to clean everything up towards the end, Forez mentions Master Raymond. Is he warning Claire not to associate with Raymond, or telling her to warn him herself? Of course, Claire runs directly to Master Raymond and tells him to flee, because Claire running to help a witch seems to be her cup of tea in season 2 AND season 1, and if they’re looking for heretics and practitioners of the dark arts we might as well put them all in the same place. He agrees to flee and assures her they’ll meet again, “In this life… or another.” And we don’t really think he’s talking about heaven. Who is Master Raymond, and what’s his deal?
A Few Explanations
It’s a few hours later, and Claire is laying out with her feet up. Or… wait. Is Jamie rubbing her feet? Didn’t we end with Jamie’s “Don’t touch me”? Weren’t they… fighting? Over Claire pleading for the life of the sadistic bastard who sexually assaulted Jamie? Are we over that already? Oh, we are? Ok then. It was an odd way to just dive right into the scene, and made us wonder if something wasn’t cut in the middle here? To be fair: They went into an explanation of why Jamie decided to accede to Claire’s request that he spare Jack, and he didn’t do it because Jamie owed Claire a life. FINALLY. Jamie actually remembers the million times he saved her life too, and he points it out and we all screamed that it was ABOUT TIME. Jamie says should everything go pear-shaped, he wants Claire to have someplace to go. And we clearly know things went bad because we’ve seen episode 1. Jamie makes Claire promise she’ll go back if something happens to him, and because we’ve seen her back with Frank, we feel it all. Why are you doing this to us, Outlander? Real tears were shed at this moment.
“Promise me, if the time should come, you will go back through the stones. Back to Frank.” -Jamie
Murtagh says what we ALL want to say, and that’s why can’t we mark Charles Stewart’s throat with some Sweeney Todd throat slitting and move on? Claire insists we can’t do that, and instead we’ve got Claire’s ridiculous master plan, where she makes Jamie pretty sick. Murtagh, however, is still down with the Sweeney Todd plan, and despite Jamie’s clearly upset stomach it’s obvious they’re going to have to confess all to Murtagh. Which Jamie does, though we don’t see it, we get it in montage form. Disappointing, and they could’ve easily dumped a later scene to accommodate a little more dialogue in this scene (more on that later). Murtagh takes it surprisingly well given that he’s been told that for all intents and purposes, Claire IS basically a witch who can tell the future. A scene following this with Murtagh and Claire was pretty lovely as well. You really get the sense of the great burden knowing the future is for Claire, and it was beautifully played by Caitriona Balfe and Duncan Lacroix. And for a few minutes, Jamie and Murtagh are bros again, Claire and Jamie are back together and in love, Fergus is adorable and everything is right with the world. So pretty soon everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket, basically.
Le Comte de Sexy
We’re going to start this section with a bold statement: Every time Stanley Weber appears on screen, we love him more. Stanley has spoken time and again about how he doesn’t really see Le Comte as a villain, but a man who is merely reacting to what’s going on around him. And we really see it. He’s been wonderful in all the other episodes he appears in, he so consistently brings it, but in 2×06 we finally see what he’s been saying all along- how much of a villain is the Comte, really? The Frasers have done some pretty heinous things to him, after all. I hope they know how lucky they are on Outlander. The supporting cast is brilliant. Back to business. Le Comte sees right through the sickness of his crew, unlike Charles, and isn’t inclined to trust anything that Jamie does. That’s fine since the next scene sees the Frasers modifying their plan to include highway robbery and gave us a brief respite and a few moments to laugh, which was good because pretty soon we were crying again.
“If I get caught, be so kind as to kill me. I refuse to be hanged in this rig out.” -Murtagh
We’re back to Jamie & Claire, lying in bed together later, and it’s just nice to see these two finding their way back to each other in a peaceful moment of domesticity. When you consider episode 1, how Claire is through the stones, with no baby, scenes like this hurt. Jamie speaking to his unborn child, talking about how he and Claire will always find a way back to each other was at least a two tissue moment.
At the beginning of this review we talked about a scene we could do without, and thus, we arrive. While Claire waits for Jamie to return from making Murtagh a highwayman, she does what makes total sense- despite her advanced pregnancy and her extreme worry for her husband, she goes to Louise’s house to make small talk. We love Claire Sermonne and she’s as good as she ever was, but our problem with this scene was Claire. Not merely content with stopping Charles Stewart and the Jacobite rebellion, Claire decides to go full throttle and stop the French Revolution as well. Stop talking, Claire. It was like someone took a clock and said, “Shoot! It’s been an entire twenty minutes since Claire opened her big mouth! Quick! Someone write a scene!” Even if the costumes were great and the other actors fine, we’re kind of surprised nobody said, “Let them eat cake!” Claire flees to the hospital, where she seems to be bleeding an awful lot for Mother Hildegarde (Frances de la Tour) to be so calm. Maybe she’s trying not to worry her?
While the Mean Girls party is going on, the raid is successfully carried off. (Though does anyone believe the Comte bought Murtagh’s French accent? He’s not dumb!) Jamie even peppers a little reality into the scene by saving the Comte and letting Murtagh clock him in the face for the second time this episode. All of this makes for a very serious testosterone party later on as le Comte, Jamie and Charlie debrief. While Charles makes excuses for Jamie, the Comte is having none of it, and there’s tension, and French exclamations, and accusations, and these two really try their level best to out “man” each other. Wonder how long it took them to perfect that simultaneous stand-off? Do you think it was maybe a happy accident and Metin Huyesin took a leap from his director’s chair and shouted, “YES! PERFECT! PRINT!” And they called it a day? The Comte St. Germain knows he’s been tricked by the Frasers, for the second time, and he has no proof. Have we mentioned before we love Stanley Weber? We love his intensity, his chemistry with Sam, and his commitment to not just play a cartoon mustache-twirling villain. We’ll be over here in a corner watching this scene over and over again, thanks. Prince Charles just doesn’t want to live in Poland, and it struck us (not for the first time) does it ever occur to Jamie that the meddling that he and Claire do contributes to them losing?
It all Unravels
Earlier in this episode, we saw hints of Jamie as a potential father, but really, he already is a father, to Fergus. And while Fergus has been palling around with Murtagh for a bit this season, it’s really about time he connected with Jamie. Romann Berrux has been quite the little charmer this season, and so it was all the more nerve-wracking when you see him accompany Jamie to Madame Elise’s (does ANYTHING involving Prince Charles happen anywhere OTHER than this one particular whorehouse?) and see Black Jack’s scarlet coat hanging on the coat rack. Another genius stroke was to have Fergus go into the room and try to steal lavender oil (what mad genius was responsible for this???), which figured so heavily in Jamie’s torture at the hands of Black Jack and just added to the anxiety of an already crazy tense situation . When the door closes, what??? What happened??
“I am sorry. I must. -J”
Claire returns home and after some exposition from Suzette rushes off to the Bois de Bologne to stop Jamie from dueling- but she’s too late. We hear the clash of swords and are treated to a brilliantly choreographed bit of sword play that kept the action driving forward until the end of the episode. Black Jack’s taunting (“How did she forgive you?” was so loathsome), and watching Claire struggling in the fact of what is clearly a crisis in her pregnancy until Jamie finally wounds Jack in a place where we wonder about Frank’s future survival even if he should live. The blood from Claire, the blood from Jack as the gendarmes arrive, and the end of the episode punctuated by screams of “Claire!” and “Jamie!” was an excellent cliffhanger. Obviously, fans of the books know the “why” and “how” of this situation, but watching it come to life was exceptional.
There were a few moments requiring a tissue (alright, or two, don’t judge), and this episode really built on the strengths of the last. Roberts and Huyesin managed to really hit the right tone for the whole episode and there was a great balance of action, intrigue, drama, light moments and cover-your-eyes-but-don’t-dare-look-away moments. Even if Claire still had a groan-worthy moment or two, this episode really held our attention all the way through and has us craving next week. Was Black Jack actually gelded? Will Claire lose the baby? And how will Jamie get out of trouble for illegally dueling in Paris? We can’t wait to find out.
Questions, Comments & Concerns
- Would it be possible for Romann Berrux to be any cuter?
- Was anyone else overwhelmed by all the jawlines in the Comte/Jamie confrontation scenes? We needed a fan for the hot flashes.
- We’re definitely joining you on using “Mark Me” as a drinking game. Slainte, Charlie.
- The Comte/Jamie simul-stand: Was it rehearsed or a stroke of luck? We want your thoughts.
- Was Mother Hildegarde just trying to make Claire feel better or was all that blood really nothing to worry about? Because it was at her ankle and that just looked bad.
- What sort of dastardly thing is the Comte planning, because he’s quite smart and surely must know he’s being tricked.
- Does anyone think Murtagh’s accent fooled the Comte for a moment?
- Were you disappointed not to hear at least part of Jamie’s explanation for Claire and the two of them trying to change the future?
Outlander Review 2×06 “Best Laid Schemes”