Season Two, Episode Six: “Best Laid Schemes…”
Written by Matthew B. Roberts
Directed by Metin Hüseyin
All photos courtesy Starz.
Greetings and salutations, fellow Outlander fans! It looks like another episode of our favorite time-traveling drama has come along and suckerpunched us in the face, much to our delight. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Last week, we dealt with the fallout from the Comte St. Germain’s attack on Claire, Murtagh, and Mary Hawkins. Claire helped free Alex Randall from prison after he was mistakenly accused of assaulting Mary. She then convinced him to break up with Mary in order to ensure her husband Frank’s future existence. She ignored my furious sputtering.
Prince Charles cooked a plan that involved Jamie and the Comte teaming up to sell a shipment of wine and raise a pile of cash for the Jacobite cause. It’s hard to tell who was less enthusiastic about this plan- Jamie or the Comte.
Claire and Jamie ran into Black Jack Randall while strolling the gardens of Versailles. And then they all ran into King Louis. King Louis humiliates Jack Randall. Jamie then challenges him to duel. Claire, however, is still set on saving Frank’s existence. She makes Jamie swear to avoid killing Randall for one year. And while he agrees, Jamie is none too pleased.
That brings us up to Episode Six, “The Best Laid Schemes…”. As we open, Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) informs Jamie (Sam Heughan) that Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) has been released from the Bastille prison. “This means we get to go kill him dead now, right, broseph?” he asks Jamie. “Not so much, brochacho,” Jamie responds. Murtagh is not amused at this.
A now obviously pregnant Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie decide that it’s time to bring Murtagh in on the whole “Claire is from the future” thing. Jamie takes him out into the courtyard and puts it all on the table. Murtagh is surprisingly okay with Claire being a magical time traveler. He is not as okay with the fact that the Frasers didn’t trust him with this knowledge sooner. But with one swift punch to Jamie’s jaw, all is forgiven.
While working her rounds at the hospital, Claire has a delightful chat with the Royal Executioner Monsieur Forez (Niall Greig Fulton), who volunteers as a doctor in his spare time. Forez says King Louis is rounding up a pack of suspected magic users and he wants Forez to draw and quarter them, an awful process which Forez describes in loving detail.
Claire heads off to warn Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) who, as we all know, owns a pretty sweet Room of Magical Things. Touched by her show of friendship, Raymond promises to vacate Paris posthaste.
Later that night, Jamie and Claire share a rare calm moment in front of the fire. Jamie says that he is sparing Randall not out of any particular concern for Frank himself but because he wants Claire to have a place to run to should anything happen to him. He knows that Frank loves Claire and will look after her and their child. I would call this foreshadowing but we already know that Claire ends up with Frank later in the season so I guess this is….backshadowing? Yeah, sure, backshadowing.
The next day sees Claire whipping up a batch of fake smallpox and testing it on Jamie as Murtagh and sassy scamp Fergus (Romann Berrux) look on. As you may recall from way back in Episode One, Claire found a very real outbreak of smallpox on one of the Comte’s ships, prompting the Harbormaster to burn the ship and its cargo (and prompting the Comte to hate the Frasers).
Now, Team Fraser is planning to use the fake smallpox on the Comte’s sailors. When the Harbormaster suspects another outbreak, he will have no choice but to burn another of the Comte’s ships and with it the shipment of wine that Prince Charles wants to use to fund his rebellion.
Because Claire is a brilliant and beautiful unicorn, her concoction proves quite effective. So Jamie and Fergus set off for Le Havre. Once there, Fergus sneaks into the warehouse, switching out wine for Fake Smallpox Potion and dusting the men’s coats with stinging nettles. Because that seems like an appropriate thing to ask of a child. Sabotage: Fun for the Whole Family!
Not long after, Jamie is summoned to Prince Charles’ (Andrew Gower) side. With him is the Comte (Stanley Weber), making the most disgusted of faces.
Prince Charles: Omg, Jamie-pie, our sailors are sick and now our wine is going to be burned!
Jamie: Oh, wow. That’s like…so weird! And unexpected! Just totally unexpected.
Comte: *casts hella mad stinkeye*
Prince Charles: You should go get the wine and sneak it into the city.
Prince Charles: You seem unconvinced. Allow me to stroke your face and talk about what a patriot you are.
Jamie: Okay, yes, sure, fine, I’ll take the wine in, whatever you want. Just please stop stroking my face.
Comte: *continues stinkeye* I’m coming with you. To keep you company/murder you if anything goes wrong/maybe feed you to a bear.
Prince: Omg, I love you bros so much. So much love in this room right now.
Me: Well, poop.
Never fear, though. The Frasers have another plan. This one involves dressing Murtagh up in fancy noble clothes, hiring some brigands, and staging an attack on Jamie and the Comte as they roll through the woods. All in all, this works out pretty well. Bonus points for Murtagh looking highly uncomfortable in his new duds.
While the boys are out enacting fiendish capers, Claire is hanging out with Louise (Claire Sermonne) and various other high class ladies. The topic of the day? Who is boning whom and where. Because this is Paris and it is apparently super boring and tres passé to just sleep with your spouse. Claire, who has more important things on her mind, finally bursts out, “Do any of you even care that there’s a ton of poor people starving and dying in the streets?” “Omg, right?” the ladies reply, “It’s totes a drag. We should get the king to like…put them somewhere else, you know?”
Being rather unsatisfied with this answer, Claire heads to the hospital. But it’s not long before Mother Hildegarde (Frances de la Tour) sees her exhaustion and commands her to sleep there for the night.
Jamie and the Comte, meanwhile, have returned to Prince Charles, who now has the saddest of faces.
Comte: I’m just saying I think it’s a pretty big coincidence that these robbers knew exactly where we were and when we would be there.
Jamie: What are you implying there, friend?
Comte: Oh I don’t know, buddy, may that you’re a traitor McTraitorface?
Jamie: Bring it on, pal!
Prince Charles: Omg, brosicles, please stop, I just can’t even right now. What if I have to go live in Poland? If I have to go live in Poland, I WILL KILL MYSELF.
Jamie leaves the Prince’s pity party and heads home to eat some breakfast with Fergus. Fergus continues to be highly adorable. He clearly sees himself as Jamie’s right hand man now that Murtagh has headed to Portugal to sell his “stolen” wine. So when Jamie is summoned, yet again, to Prince Charles at the brothel, Fergus naturally goes along.
As Jamie negotiates with the Madame (it seems the Prince has left without paying his large bill), Fergus is up to his old trick of rummaging through rooms for things to steal. But the first room he wanders into has a very familiar red coat hanging in it. Our poor baby Fergus isn’t there long before someone shuts the door, locking both of them inside.
As I worry for little Fergus’ safety, Claire comes home and finds the servants acting strangely. She finally gets out of her maid that Jamie was seen re-challenging Jack Randall to a duel. The two of them were last seen heading out into the woods to fight it out away from the King’s soldiers.
Claire, who is clearly in pain, rushes out and arrives just in time to see Jamie and Jack’s fight in full swing. Jamie manages to stab Jack right between the legs as Claire collapses to the ground, apparently miscarrying. The King’s soldiers appear to take Jamie and Jack into custody, Claire passes out, and I start muttered a choice string of swear words in the general direction of the Outlander writers’ room.
Pros of this episode:
~ Fergus has gotten more screentime today than he has in any episode yet and he is an absolute scene stealer. He presents an interesting balance between youthful innocence and sly street smarts. It’s clear that he’s been on his own for a while and that he had to learn to look out for himself. But his fierce loyalty to Claire and Jamie shows that he is still a child, searching for parents to provide for and approve of him. Romann Berrux does an excellent job of portraying this even in the brief scenes we’ve had so far.
~ Murtagh the Magnificent continues to delight. As regular readers know, I am a huge fan of honesty between my favorite characters so I am very happy to see Murtagh brought into the Time Travelling Inner Circle. His touching scene with Claire, where he acknowledges the burden of her foreknowledge, shows that he really is a man of deep thought and feeling behind that gruff exterior.
~ Team Fraser pulling off some serious Comte-foiling shenanigans was also highly enjoyable. When everyone is on the same page, they really are unstoppable.
~ Claire finally looking actually pregnant while wearing day clothes. It was really strange to see her go from prominent baby bump to completely flat when she’s out and about. I know 18th century corsets (properly termed “stays”) shaped the wearer’s body but not enough to hide a woman in her third trimester. I know it seems like a minor quibble but it’s about continuity, people!
Cons of this episode:
~ Last week, King Louis made a complete idiot out of Black Jack Randall. This made him my friend. Now, he has come out against magic users, brawling at dinner parties, and duels that kill Jack Randall. This means that we are no longer friends, since Louis apparently hates any and all fun that is not Louis walking around Versailles with a topless lady.
~ Monsieur Forez, the Royal Executioner. Don’t get me wrong, Niall Greig Fulton did an admirable job being a super creepy dude. But he did such a good job that I am going to have nightmares. So that’s kind of a con.
~ Jamie has now betrayed Claire by fighting Jack Randall. I am convinced he did so because Jack has done something awful to Fergus. But I suspect Claire won’t be able to completely understand that if she’s convinced that Frank has now disappeared from this dimension. I still maintain my skepticism of her logic. I am also skeptical that Jack is actually dead. He seems like far too influential a villain to be killed off with such little pomp and circumstance. And there’s also the tiny fact that Frank clearly does still exist, since we saw him in the season premiere.
~ WHERE IS FERGUS????????????
Dear Starz, Please note that if Fergus is dead, I will personally riot. Yours truly, Allison.
Look’s like that’s a wrap for this week, folks! Tune in next week to find out Jack’s ultimate fate and maybe also see a one woman riot.
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.