[Trigger warning for mention/discussion of trauma from rape and torture]
So, guys. Are you watching Outlander? If yes, GOOD! If not…why!?! Get on that immediately. I’ll wait.
Caught up? Good. On with the review…
This episode opens with Jaime and Claire in a tender, sexy scene that really is typical Outlander. Yay, Jaime’s over some of his trauma from what Black Jack did!
Whoops. Fake out. Claire turns into Jack Randall. Jaime draws a knife and stabs him many many times until there’s blood everywhere and he’s really most sincerely dead.
Jaime then wakes up sweating and terrified. Claire tries to soothe him, but it’s clear he’s still deeply haunted by what happened. If you haven’t watched season 1, I’ll be covering these events in my weekly recaps, so stay tuned. But suffice it to say, Jack Randall is a horrible human being and what he did to Jaime is truly despicable. But I’m very glad to see the show exploring Jaime’s lingering PTSD. He went through a terrible trauma; that doesn’t just go away.
Jaime is invited to meet with Prince Charles (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in a brothel. He takes Murtagh with him, and wow. There’s not a single naked human being. No naked dudes. No naked ladies. There are scantily-clad ladies (showing their KNEES!), and they do a presentation about how the men can please their wives by buying dildos the brothel sells. Well that’s. Different. Anyway the reason I’m focusing on this is because some shows could take notes from this: you can show a brothel without it being an excuse to flash boobs.
Jaime and Murtagh aren’t terribly impressed with the Prince. He’s a fool, and he’s never even been to Scotland. They tell him the Clans aren’t ready to unite under his banner, and at first he’s angry. He says it’s God’s will that a Catholic King sit the English throne, and that King should be he. Finally he decides to send Jaime to court to meet the minister of finance; as a prince-in-exile, he can’t be received by the King, but Jaime can.
Claire goes to see a French friend she’s made. The lady is getting her legs waxed, and her, uh, more delicate areas, but even then: no actual nudity. Wow. It’s amazing what happens when a show isn’t catering to the male gaze.
Claire decides to go wild and get waxed too, and that night in bed Jaime is surprised. “Your honeypot! It’s bare!” At first it seems like they’ll finally get back to *ahem* marital relations, but he has another flash of Jack Randall. Things quickly come to a halt, and Claire assures him it’s okay. “We can just sleep,” she says. He nods, looking shellshocked, and lies down beside her.
The episode jumps a few weeks to the night of the party at Versailles. Jaime and Murtagh are looking spiffy (though Jaime chides Murtagh for not washing his knees), but Claire steals the show when she makes her entrance. If you’ve been following any of Outlander’s press for season 2, you’ve heard of and/or seen the infamous red dress.
It was a show-stopper, lemme tell you. Jaime was scandalized. “I can see down to yer navel!” he says. Then, “Christ, Sassenach! First your honeypot and now this!”
She assures him all is well, and while he’s still grumpy he quits complaining and they go to the party. Jaime is introduced to Louis XV, who is…um…trying to poop. He’s having some bowel issues. Jaime recommends he eat some porridge, which the King at first dismisses as “peasant food,” but later seems amenable to trying.
Meanwhile Claire is introduced to the Minister of Finance, who totally misreads the situation and thinks she’s looking for a clandestine encounter. Jaime pushes him in the pond, but after they all apologize and seem to be getting along famously.
Murtagh sees the Duke of Sandringham and is ready to run him through until Jaime stops him. He warns that it’s death to pull a weapon in the King’s presence, and that’s literally the only thing that keeps Murtagh from killing him then and there.
The Duke, you might remember, is Jack Randall’s patron, and everyone blames him for Jaime’s capture and torture at Randall’s hands. The Duke is his usual fawning self, but after Claire sends Jaime and Murtagh away he turns shrewd and cagey. He introduces his secretary, Jack Randall’s little brother, to Claire, and he drops a bombshell: Randall isn’t dead.
Not only is that terrible news for Jaime personally, but also Sandringham now knows where they are and can tip Randall off to their location. While he certainly doesn’t have any power in France, it’s still dangerous knowledge, especially since dueling is outlawed in France and Jaime would want to kill him at first sight.
Claire knows she has to tell Jaime, but how? She worries what the news will do to him, but she realizes she has no choice. The episode ends on this ominous note, and as usual with Outlander, I was yelling at the screen, “THAT’S ALL!?!”
Gosh, honestly what an awesome show. The transition from Scotland to France could have been a rocky mess, but instead it’s worked flawlessly so far. The costumes are ridiculous, the sets are perfect, and all the new actors fit in seamlessly. It’s a delight to watch Murtagh do his “fish out of water” routine, especially when confronted with the King’s mistress’ nipples hanging out of her dress (nsfw pic at the link! but also a great interview with the costume designer).
Like I mentioned above, I’m so glad they’re still exploring Jaime’s trauma and his PTSD. Unlike other shows (y’all know which show I mean, right?) that treat rape like it’s something “empowering” or, maybe worse, no big deal and easily gotten past, Outlander is exploring not only Jaime’s physical wounds, but his mental ones as well. He’s not the same man he was before Jack Randall, and that’s a good thing.
I’m looking forward to more in France with Jaime and Claire. It doesn’t hurt that I’m kind of in love with this era of French history, and the show is doing such a wonderful job of recreating it that I’m all heart eyes. Claire, in voiceover, talks about the wonders of Paris in 1745. She’d only visited the city once, after the war, and for anyone who knows the history of Paris…wow! What a difference! The city was completely reborn after Baron Haussmann destroyed most of medieval Paris (the city Claire would have seen in 1745) and replaced it with new, modern Paris—the city we know today.
Okay, I digress, but I’m an art history nerd who loves Paris. Forgive me.
Another great episode. We’re only 2 eps into the second season, but so far, so good.
Episode grade: A. Intrigue, amazing costumes, comedy of manners, a constipated King, a French brothel that sells dildos: what more could you want??
Images curtesy of Starz