Season Two, Episode Eight: “The Fox’s Lair”
Written by Anne Kenney
Directed by Mike Barker
Hello, hello, my friends, and welcome to another Outlander recap!
First off, allow me to briefly apologize for the lateness of this week’s review. I was rather occupied with Memorial Day festivities and my usual schedule was replaced by filling my stomach with cook-out food. But I did take a brief break from demolishing hot dogs in order to watch this week’s episode. Let’s take a look, shall we?
As you may recall, everything was completely awful last week. In brief:
~ Black Jack Randall is unfortunately still alive and has been sent back to England after Jamie justifiably stabbed him in the crotch.
~ Claire had a miscarriage that resulted in a stillborn daughter. I had a hiccup that resulted in my crying with Claire for half an hour.
~ Claire had a private audience with King Louis to plead for Jamie’s pardon. Louis asked Claire to judge if the Comte St. Germain and Master Raymond were guilty of practicing black magic. Claire tried to save them both but the Comte ended up drinking poison and is now sadly deceased. I have written to Starz, pretending to be his long lost heir, and requested his wardrobe. No answer yet. I will keep you updated.
~ King Louis ended Claire’s private session by shoving his privates at her privates for a bit. It was unpleasant. But he did give Jamie a pardon. The King and I are no longer friends.
~ Magic is real????
~ PROTECT FERGUS 2K16
In this week’s chapter, both the audience and the Frasers have returned to Scotland, which is a cause for much rejoicing. Good-bye to silk gowns and un-fun Kings and hello to emerald highland vistas and be-kilted men!
Seriously, though, the first few minutes of this episode is another of Outlander’s love letters to the Scottish countryside and I am all about it. I am also all about the Fraser Family Farming Fun that has apparently been happening for a few months. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) have returned home to Lallybroch, where Jamie’s sister Jenny the Great and Magnificent (Laura Donnelly) and her husband Ian Murray (Steven Cree) have been planting the foreign and exotic potato. Jamie, Claire, and little Fergus (Romann Berux) are clearly enjoying the peace and quiet and look considerably less miserable than we left them last week.
But since this is Outlander, we can’t stay happy for long. Jamie soon receives a letter with a published list of Jacobite supporters. And his name is on it, forged by stupid Prince Charles (Andrew Gower), who has landed in Scotland and is now stupidly forming his stupid army for his stupid rebellion.
Since this list is being spread around Scotland, it makes Jamie a known traitor to the crown. But while Claire and Jenny are alarmed at this news, Jamie doesn’t seem as troubled as he should be. Indeed, he seems to think that his failure to stop the rebellion means that the Scots could actually win. And Jamie wants to be there if and when that happens.
To fight the British, Jamie needs men to take to Prince Charles. Since Lallybroch is a small holding with few tenants, he decides to go to his grandfather, Lord Lovat (Clive Russell), leader of the Fraser clan, for support. Jenny is less than pleased with this plan:
Jenny: Jamie, did you forget that Grandpa is like, a super terrible person?
Jamie: What? Noooo. I mean. He is. But it’ll be fine. Trust me.
Jenny: I love you but you’re a moron.
As Jamie and Claire prepare to leave for Lord Lovat’s, Fergus appears on a donkey, insisting on coming along. “My place is with you, milord,” he says. “Your place is wrapped up in a fluffy cloud, eating cookies and watching cartoons, my small child,” I whisper, in a completely not-insane fashion. Claire also wants him to stay at home. But Jamie, who clearly doesn’t understand what is and is not appropriate for children, tells Fergus to go with Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and meet up with them later to train for the upcoming war.
Once at Lovat’s castle, Claire and Jamie run into good old Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis), Jamie’s uncle and lord of Castle Leoch. The Frasers are a bit awkward around Colum since he may or may not have let Claire get tried and almost hanged for witchcraft back at Leoch.
Colum is all apologies. He blames the whole thing on Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson). As I’m sure you recall, Laoghaire is the serving girl who was completely in love with Jamie and hated Claire for marrying him. And apparently framed her for witchcraft. Because that seems like a rational response to that situation.
The family reunion is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Lord Lovat himself. The conversation goes something like this:
Jamie: Hello, Grandfather.
Lovat: What up, kid? Long time, no see. Allow me to insult you in every way possible. Your wife is foreign and you’re an idiot.
Lovat: Cool, so we should talk some politics! And by “we”, I mean the men. Because women are stupid. Get out of here, you stupid uterus-owner!
Claire: *clearly contemplating murder* Lol okay bye.
While waiting around for the Manly Men to finish their Manly Talking, Claire runs into a much more humble-looking Laoghaire, who has been sent to help Colum on his travels. She sinks to her knees and begs Claire’s forgiveness for her awful actions. Claire, however, is not in a forgiving mood and throws out a pretty fierce verbal smack-down.
Dinner that night is a tense affair. Jamie tries to convince his fellow Frasers that they should rise up in support of Prince Charles. Colum, on the other hand, wants the Frasers and the MacKenzies to stay neutral, seeing as the French have yet to show any support for Charles. Lovat’s son, Simon (James Parris), tries to show support for Jamie. Lovat humiliates him. Everybody glares at each other. I look back fondly on that one Fraser dinner that ended in a fistfight.
I’m not going to lie; the next chunk of the episode kind of went over my head. There was a lot of talk about clan politics and who can and cannot do what. But I will do my best to summarize:
Jamie: Hey Colum, I can’t tell you how, but I know that we can win. Just trust me. I super know for super sure we can win.
Colum: I love you but you’re a moron. Please promise me you will not do this thing.
Jamie: Okay, I promise…
Jamie: THAT I WILL DO THIS THING SO HARD.
Jamie: Lovat, give me men.
Lovat: Give me Lallybroch.
Jamie: What? No.
Lovat: Fine, let me have sex with your wife.
Me: WHY DOES EVERYONE ALWAYS WANT TO RAPE EVERYONE ON THIS SHOW?
Jamie: Lol, she’d kill you. She’s totes a witch and she’d send your soul to hell.
Jamie: Claire, my grandfather wants to rape you. But it’s cool, I told him you’re a witch! He’s like, totally freaked out by magic. Maybe we can use that to get him to help us?
Claire: I love you but you’re an idiot.
Because Jamie is a loveable idiot, Claire comes up with the much safer plan of getting Laoghaire to sweet talk Simon Lovat into standing up to his father and taking the Fraser men to support Prince Charles. Good job, Claire.
Simon is very much into Laoghaire and decides that the best way to show that is to awkwardly quote poetry to her. Claire leaves him to it and wanders into the chapel, where she meets Maisri (Maureen Beattie), a wild-haired woman who sees visions of the future. Her last vision showed Lovat being executed but by who, King George or Charles Stuart, she couldn’t tell.
Meanwhile, Laoghaire has scared off Simon by showing him boobs, so that plan is sunk. Jamie decides that his only choice now is to hand Lallybroch over to Lord Lovat. He ignores my angry yelling about how we should have killed Prince Charles like, five episodes ago.
But just as Jamie is about to sign Lallybroch over, Claire puts on some serious Dame Blanche theatrics. She repeats Maisri’s vision and embellishes a bit, insinuating that Prince Charles will kill Lovat for not supporting the Stuarts. Lovat decides to kill Claire for saying this (again, because that seems like a rational reaction to that situation) but is stopped by his son Simon. Simon declares his support for the Jacobites but it isn’t enough to stop Lovat from signing a neutrality pact with Colum.
Yet the next morning, as Claire, Jamie, and Simon head out to meet up with Charles’ forces, Lovat appears with his men. Simon is to lead his men, he says, thus proving Fraser loyalty to the Stuarts. If the Stuarts lose, he’ll say that his son took his men without his consent. Thus, Jamie has his Fraser forces and Lord Lovat maintains his Complete Ass reputation. Win-win for everyone!
Pros of This Episode:
~ We’re back in Scotland! While Paris was fun (apart from all the times it wasn’t), roughly 15% of my love for the show rests entirely in the long, sweeping shots of the Highlands and the costumes that come with it. There’s a reason that Outlander-themed knitwear is responsible for roughly a third of Etsy’s revenue.
~ Jenny Fraser. She’s just the best. She’s all, “don’t be an idiot, Jamie” and “I’m not gonna put up with any of this Redcoat BS, Outlander writers.” And I’m all, “Can you be my sister for real, Jenny Fraser?”
~ We saw both Jamie and Claire smile more than once which is a serious improvement on last week.
~ Fergus looks generally happy.
~ FERGUS HAS A PET DONKEY.
~ Much more bagpipe music now that we are back in Scotland.
~ Did I mention all the knitwear in the costumes?
~ Most of the pros of this episode revolve around the fact that we are now in Scotland.
Cons of This Episode:
~ Much of the clan politics going on was incomprehensible. And it’s not just because we’re back to everyone speaking in heavy Scottish accents. The dialogue often felt like information being dumped in the audience’s lap rather than it being naturally revealed or explained. It’s clear that this is a bridge episode between the two halves of the season, meant to reintroduce us to Scotland and put everyone on the path to the Battle of Culloden. Everything was decently clear by the end but I found myself tuning out here and there in the middle. Considering how well Outlander usually handles exposition, this was surprising and a bit disappointing.
~ Despite her modest clothes and cap, Laoghaire is still a bit unstable. She’s still sniffing Jamie’s shirt and whispering about how she yearns for his love as he walks away. I know you’re a teenager, girl, but you need to cool it. You tried to get his wife hanged as a witch. I don’t think he’s ever going to like you.
~ Jamie making all kinds of questionable decisions. Taking Fergus to war. Playing up Claire’s magical reputation. And on that note…
~ Both Jamie and Claire keeping up the whole Dame Blanche business. Do they not remember the last time Scottish people thought Claire had magic? You can talk all you want about “white magic” and “black magic” but this witch thing is going to come back to bite us.
~ Also this whole “supporting Prince Charles” thing. That will also come back to bite us. Probably in the next few episodes.
And that about does it for this week. I’m going to go cram leftover corn-on-the-cob into my face. Until next time, my friends!
Not enough to tide you over till next week? Feel free to check out our other Outlander coverage! Or head over to the official Outlander website for clips, full episodes, and behind the scenes goodies.
Outlander airs every Saturday 9/8c on Starz.