Season Two, Episode Two: “Not in Scotland Anymore”
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Metin Hüseyin
All photos courtesy Starz.
Bonjour, mes amis, and welcome back to Outlander-land!
Today, we’ll be diving into this week’s episode and The Hollywood Reporter’s recent interview with Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies. The interview is a bit spoiler-y, both for this episode and further on in the season. But fear not, I’ll leave it till after the recap so you can avoid it if you’d like.
As you may recall, last week’s episode saw Claire (Caitriona Balfe), Jamie (Sam Heughan), and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) arrive in France, get into a bit of mischief with Le Comte St. Germain, and depart for Paris. This episode opens with Claire and Jamie doing what they do best. Getting it on.
But lest we get too comfortable, Claire suddenly transforms into Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies)! Jamie starts flashing back to his imprisonment in Wentworth Prison. I startle my cats by screaming in terror. Jamie pulls out his dirk and stabs Black Jack until they are both covered in blood.
After what seems like forever, Jamie comes back to reality and we discover that he has been having nightmares and flashbacks for some time. Later in the episode, we see that he can’t be intimate with Claire without flashing back either. He seems to be struggling with some pretty terrible PTSD. Understandably so, given that it’s only been a few months since the most traumatic event in his rather trauma-filled life. It’s all very upsetting.
Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh have been living in the house of Jamie’s wine-selling cousin Jarod for several weeks now. Naturally, much of the episode revolves around their adjustment to Parisian life. Claire, for example, has been deeply offending her maid by doing such shocking things as making her own bed and folding her own clothes.
She escapes the house for a while to visit an apothecary by the name of Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon), whom she impresses with her herbal know-how. Master Raymond impressed me with his fantastic taste in jackets. It turns out that word of Claire’s intervention with the Comte St Germain’s smallpox-ridden sailors has spread. And since Master Raymond is no friend of the Comte’s, he seems quite happy to be friends with her based on this fact alone.
Though we’ve only seen him in this scene so far, Raymond already reminds me of the wand-maker Ollivander from Harry Potter. Wise and helpful but mysterious. While he seems friendly now, his own motivations remain rather clouded. I certainly hope we find out just what happened between him and the Comte to make them enemies.
In the meantime, Jamie and Murtagh have been shocking various Parisians by swordfighting in the public park. Jamie claims their shock is because dueling is outlawed in France and it’s hard to tell training-fighting from angry-fighting. But I think it’s because they’ve never seen such manly specimens as Jamie and Murtagh.
Jamie is frustrated at the slow healing progress of his damaged hand. (Thanks, Obama/Black Jack.) Murtagh is frustrated at being forced to exist in the same place as France. He tries to convince Jamie that the easiest way to stop this rebellion is to kill Bonnie Prince Charlie, the son of British-throne-hopeful James Stuart. Jamie counters that this might make James all the more zealous in his quest for the throne. “Is your longing for home worth the murder of a prince?” he asks. “Duh, dude” Murtagh responds. Or maybe that was just in my head…
Back at the ranch/super fancy house, the trio find out that Cousin Jarod secured a meeting for Jamie with Prince Charles. And it’s at a brothel. How very Parisian.
Later that night, we are introduced to Bonny Prince Charlie himself (played by Andrew Gower). Charles asks for the truth about Scotland and the state of the clans. Jamie tells him that the clans may not be ready to unite behind the Stuart banner for many years yet. Murtagh insists that the Scots will fight but will need more than a noble name to inspire them to charge a Redcoat army.
This is not the truth Charles wanted to hear. We receive an earful about he and his father’s Divine Right to rule. God wants a Catholic king on the throne, he says, and therefore God wants him to unite the clans. He tells Jamie to befriend the French Minister of Finance, Monsieur Duverny, and convince him to fund the Jacobite cause.
In order to do that, Jamie and Claire need an invite into the court at Versailles. Luckily, Claire has made friends with the noble Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermone). Louise is your stereotypical 18th century French noblewoman. That is to say, astoundingly scandalous by English standards. But she does agree to take the Frasers along when she brings her friend’s niece, Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day), to court. Mary herself doesn’t seem too excited about Louise or the court. She’s certainly not excited about her impending arranged marriage to an old, warty man. I hopefully predict her running away with a total hottie by the end of the season.
The Frasers and Murtagh head to court, with Claire in a shockingly low-cut red gown. We’re not five minutes in Versailles before we run into Annalise de Marillac (Margaux Chatelier), an old flame of Jamie’s and now widowed. She offers to get Jamie into the official dressing of King Louis (Lionel Lingelser). Or rather, the pooping of the King. Because that’s what the king is doing when Jamie and Murtagh go to meet him.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all that Outlander is a Very Serious Show, about Very Serious Things. And sometimes poop, apparently.
While Jamie offers King Louis some advice about bowel movements (yes, really), Claire hangs out with a few ladies of court. It seems that all of them have seen Mean Girls and taken Regina George’s behavior as a course in etiquette. Our wonderful Claire can’t even with these people and heads outside for some air.
Lady Louise sees M. Duverney (Marc Duret), the Minister of Finance. Recalling Claire’s stated interest in making his acquaintance, she tells him that Madame Fraser super wants to jump his bones and sends him out into the gardens after her. Because in Versailles, the primary purpose of friends seems to be to facilitate infidelity.
Duverney finds Claire on a bridge and, for some reason, assumes the fastest way to her heart is through her feet. Claire is not into this. Jamie is also not into this and throws Duverney into the pond below them. Luckily, he agrees to not be offended if the Frasers agree to keep his indiscretion from his wife and invites Jamie to chill with him sometime.
Murtagh then spots our old friend, the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow). Jamie barely restrains him from murdering the duplicitous Duke, much to my disappointment. (A brief reminder: the Duke had agreed to put in a note of good word for Jamie with King George. He then gave that note to Black Jack, who burned it in front of Jamie’s face. We don’t like him.)
After a tense face off, Jamie and Murtagh head back to Duverney. Claire unfortunately but impressively restrains herself from tells Sandringham what a scum sucker he is. She does lowkey threaten to out him as a Jacobite if he makes the wrong move.
We then meet Sandringham’s secretary, Alexander Randall. The brother of Black Jack. Who is apparently alive?!?!?!?
Claire is now faced with a dilemma. Does she tell Jamie and risk his need for revenge overcoming their mission to save Scotland? Does she keep it from him and risk damaging their relationship with the secret? Should I travel back in time and throw Black Jack down a well myself? (Yes, the answer is yes.)
This episode is all about adjusting the Frasers and, by extension, the audience to the strange world of France’s upper class. Nothing will be straightforward here. Whereas Season One was essentially a mission of survival for both Claire and Jamie, their goal now is far more complex, though no less urgent.
Jamie is beginning to understand this, as we see in his discussion with Murtagh. Murtagh longs for the purity of Scottish culture and prefers the directness of killing Prince Charles. Jamie “counters action with logic”, as Murtagh puts it, when he explains why martial tactics are of little use in their situation. This stands in contrast with Season One, which frequently used direct action to solve problems. Randall wants Claire? Marry her to Jamie. Randall’s kidnapped Claire? Go get her back. We need to stop the Jacobite rebellion? That’s a little more complicated and Jamie now knows it.
I particularly enjoyed the meeting between Prince Charles, Jamie, and Murtagh, which shows an interesting dynamic between truth and untruth. Charles asks for the truth and Jamie gives it to him. It is true that the clans aren’t yet ready to unite. And it is true, as Murtagh says, that the Scots won’t rise up just because an essentially foreign king tells them to. Yet even as they tell the truth, Jamie and Murtagh are being dishonest in their pretend support for Charles. And even though he asked for truth, Charles doesn’t accept the reality of the situation. He has his own truth, which says that God wills it and therefore it must be so.
Murtagh seems to be coming into his own this season and I’m very excited to see more from him. Duncan Lacroix does an excellent job of showing Murtagh’s conflicting emotions through subtle facial expressions, particularly in his scene with Prince Charles. Even as he speaks lovingly of his homeland, the audience can see his reluctance to speak with Charles on false pretenses. And his concern that Charles prefers blind faith to pragmatic realism. It will be interesting to see how well he can hold it together around the Prince, considering Murtagh’s obvious dislike for him.
A brief note on the costumes: Paris is a far swankier locale than Castle Leoch and that is amply reflected in the yards of silk and barrels of jewels on its wealthier inhabitants. Claire, meanwhile, stands out in her relatively sleek and plainly cut attire, which is clearly inspired by the post-war New Look of Christian Dior. Costume designer Terry Dresbach dives into Claire’s new look on her blog, An 18th Century Life. And special shout-out goes to Lauren Stowell at American Duchess for her fabulous Pompadour shoe, featured in the opening credits.
And now, my friends, we move on to a brief discussion of The Hollywood Reporter’s interview of Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies. Expect spoilers, all ye who enter here.
Much of the conversation revolved around the developing rift between Claire and Jamie, particularly now since Claire and Murtagh will decide not to tell Jamie that Black Jack still lives. “I think her fear is that he will suddenly run back to Scotland and try and kill him or do something really rash,” says Balfe, “But there’s a lot of secrets and a lot of distance between both of them and here is another piece of information or another event that drives a wedge between the couple again.”
Jamie will, however, eventually discover the truth and thus his unconventional road to healing. According to Heughan, “without spoiling it, the only way he’s cured is with Black Jack himself. The fact that Black Jack is still alive will give Jamie hope again. That gives him the power to once again take control of his destiny and of his life…It’s strange that the salvation of Jamie comes in the form of the very thing that injured him.”
Menzies, meanwhile, is looking forward to Frank Randall’s role in upcoming episodes, “[Show creator] Ron [Moore] added more of Frank in this season than what is in the book. I think it’s a really good addition to the season, not just because I can play this other side more but because of what it adds to the story. There’s a lot of crunchy good stuff to dramatize in both of these relationships.”
Check out the full interview in The Hollywood Reporter.
Outlander airs on Starz at 9/8c. Check out past episodes on the Starz website.
And feel free to check out our previous coverage of Outlander while you’re contemplating ways of murdering Black Jack Randall! Or come talk to me about it on Twitter. I’m all ears.