Outlander presented some risqué content in last Saturday’s episode, “La Dame Blanche,” including a long-awaited sex scene featuring a quite pregnant Claire and a revelation of royal adultery. “La Dame Blanche” also covered some disturbing ground, specifically Mary Hawkins‘s rape at the hands of a Parisian brigand. Also, viewers finally saw Jamie and Claire form a concrete plan on how to discredit Charles Stuart in front of his recently revealed potential financier, the Duke of Sandringham. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan …
“La Dame Blanche” – The Recap
While Duverney and Jamie play Chess, Jamie and Claire discuss which horrible baby name they should foist on their unborn child–Lambert or Dalhousie. Claire’s Parisian nemesis, le Comte St. Germain, saunters up to the match casting mean looks all around and Duverney gets a win for his army of painted wooden figures. Duverney calls it a draw, though, because he believes Jamie’s concentration was thrown off by Claire. Claire takes her leave of the Chess match and grabs a glass of wine proffered by a servant. Claire quickly starts coughing and grabbing at her stomach. Jamie ends his match with Duverney unceremoniously as he rushes to Claire, hoisting her into the air and bustling her off to get medical attention. Nothing is confirmed but St. Germain’s sneer at the departing couple puts the audience’s suspicion squarely on him. It seems St. Germain may still hold a grudge against Claire because of her involvement in the burning of his smallpox-infested ship.
Back at Chez Fraser, Jamie and Claire have a heart-to-heart as she recovers: her poisoning appears to have been non-lethal to both her and her unborn child. Claire suspects St. Germain of the dastardly deed but has no proof. Jamie and Claire’s conversation turns to their ongoing campaign to put an early end to the Jacobite uprising. Jamie repeats his plan of arranging, by way of a dinner party, the introduction of Charles Stuart to his potential financier, the Duke of Sandringham. Jamie insists that Sandringham will withdraw his funding once he realizes what an absolute turd Stuart is–although Jamie uses the word “popinjay.” Claire, though supportive of the idea, is uncomfortable with the plan because she knows that if Sandringham comes to their house he’ll be accompanied by Alex Randall, the younger brother of Jamie’s rapist Black Jack Randall, who will inevitably let slip the fact that his brother is still alive. Knowing she has no other choice, Claire tells Jamie that Black Jack is still alive but Jamie’s reaction is far from what Claire had expected. Jamie now feels he has something to live for, murdering Black Jack Randall. But, much to Claire’s relief, Jamie will not go back to Scotland to do so, where he might be arrested and executed. Jamie’s newfound purpose is a double-edged sword for Claire: Jamie’s mood is improving, but now Claire has to figure out how to ensure that her 20th-century husband Frank doesn’t get snuffed out of existence by Jamie should Jamie murder Black Jack Randall, Frank’s ancestor.
One complication at a time, though: following up on an aftertaste of bitter cascara in her poisoned wine, Claire makes a trip to Master Raymond‘s apothecary shop. She demands to know whether or not Raymond sold the emetic to St. Germain. He replies that he sold the herb in question to a servant he did not recognize, having no idea what it would be used for–even though he explained its use to Claire in the last episode. A quick interruption from Raymond’s servant reminds him that “they” are listening. Opening a concealed door, Raymond asks Claire to accompany him to somewhere more private. The back room of Raymond’s shop proves interesting. Full of dinosaur skulls and other unique items, Raymond describes himself to Claire as a man fascinated by things not of their time. He gives her a pendant with a powerful stone in it, saying it will change colour in the presence of any poison. Raymond further piques Claire’s interest when, after she asks him to tell her if Frank’s existence is in jeopardy, he reads her fortune telling her that she will see Frank again.
Claire also makes a trip to her friend Louise de La Tour‘s house. After sending the ill-fated Mary Hawkins out of the room and reminding her not to put her fingers in the monkey cage lest she be bitten, Louise drops quite a bombshell: she’s been having an affair with and was subsequently impregnated by … someone. Claire suggests that Louise keep the baby and convince her husband, Prince Jules de Rohan, that the baby is his. De La Tour acquiesces but warns that her lover will be furious.
Later, Claire reclines in bed waiting for an errant Jamie. He arrives, much to Claire’s relief, full of ardour and the Frasers can’t keep their hands off each other for the first time in a long time. Claire’s inspection of Jamie’s body, though, uncovers fresh bite marks on both of his thighs. Jamie, though he probably should’ve just taken the night off, explains them by saying that he was just at a brothel and he had the most wonderful time! He tells Claire that after she told him that Black Jack was still alive, he felt good for the first time since his rape and that his trip to the brothel was just a test run to see if the juices had started flowing again. Basically, Jamie just keeps digging himself in deeper, explaining that the bite marks were sustained when he spurned a prostitute who offered him a “soixante-neuf.” And though he refused her, he rrreally wanted herrr! Claire accuses Jamie of needing to work himself up with a whore before lying with his wife and of making her go through her pregnancy alone. Jamie tells Claire that she can’t understand: his soul–which he describes as his fortress of solitude–was destroyed by Randall, and that he’s been exposed ever since, “living under a blade of grass.” He suggests that they sleep in different beds.
Claire has other plans, though. Shortly after he leaves, she goes to the room Jamie is sleeping in and the two engage in a bit of steamy silicone-simulated pregnancy coitus. The much-anticipated event complete, Jamie and Claire bask in the afterglow and Jamie tells Claire that her affection and understanding have improved his soul’s living situation from that of living under a blade of grass to that of living in a roofed-in lean-to. The bliss is short-lived, though. Jamie hears a knocking noise, jumps out of bed, and before long locates Charles Stuart banging on their bedroom window trying to get inside.
Stuart, after demanding whisky and medical attention for his hand, describes his ordeal: he had to escape from his Lady’s house after she spurned him, which caused a great deal of noise and nearly alerted her husband. During Stuart’s escape, as he says, he was bitten on the hand by his Lady’s pet. Claire asks him if this pet was a monkey. When Stuart replies that it was, Claire’s suspicions are confirmed: Louise de La Tour is having an affair with Charles Stuart. The Royal Boo-Boo bandaged, the Frasers hatch a Mean Girls type plot to have Stuart, Sandringham, de La Tour, and her husband all come to the same dinner party in hopes that Stuart will make an ass of himself in front of Sandringham.
A caption informs the audience that an apparently uneventful week has passed: it is the day of the dinner party. Claire, unwelcome in the kitchen during the preparations, takes Mary Hawkins to L’Hopital des Anges and the two witness some 18th-century medicine in action. The two volunteer nurses see some unlikely acupuncture in action, get dead people’s lard on their hands, and eventually make their way back to their carriage. Unfortunately, the carriage is broken and the two must walk home. Luckily they have Murtagh there to escort them. On their walk, Mary reveals to Claire that she is in love with Alex Randall but their camaraderie is interrupted by two brigands who knock Murtagh unconscious and hold Claire back as one of them rapes Mary. As Claire struggles with the brigand holding her, he recognizes her and shouts out, “La Dame Blanche!” He runs off shouting this at his partner who Claire pulls off of Mary, but before Murtagh can regain consciousness and give him a proper Scottish thrashing the brigand escapes.
Jamie’s anxiety level climbs as the guests arrive for the dinner party with no sign of Claire. To his relief, though, once de La Tour and her husband arrive a servant informs Jamie that Claire and Mary have returned. On learning that Mary was raped, Jamie swears to hunt down and kill whomever did it. Claire, though, doesn’t let him leave saying that tonight is too important. They take Mary upstairs and put her to bed, leaving her in the care of her love Alex Randall, who arrived at the Frasers’ with the Duke of Sandringham.
A quick change and a private suggestion to Jamie that le Comte St. Germain may have been responsible for hers and Mary’s attack later, a cool-as-a-cucumber Claire is downstairs eating dinner with her sundry guests, one of whom is none other than le Comte St. Germain. Claire and St. Germain exchange words about her pendant–the same one given her by Raymond–and Claire ends the conversation with a thinly veiled threat to poison him. This tense exchange is followed by a few more of the same type between Charles Stuart and Louise de La Tour, being goaded on by Jamie. Giving Stuart ample opportunity to make an ass of himself in front of Sandringham, he almost does but is stopped by the timely screams of a very much awake Mary Hawkins who, still in shock, believes that Alex Randall is also trying to rape her.
The supposition of rape is shared by several of the guests when they walk in on Alex straddling a prostrate Mary on the sitting room floor. Although he is only trying to restrain her in an attempt to keep her from running around the house in her nighty, dinner guests suspect him of more malicious intent. Swords and daggers are drawn, punches and elbows are thrown, and St. Germain suggests to Stuart that they retire to less dangerous surroundings. As Jamie and Murtagh use every non-lethal weapon at their disposal to beat the dinner guests into submission, le Comte and the Pretender to the Throne disappear to discuss the future of the Jacobite uprising.
“La Dame Blanche” – My Critique
“La Dame Blanche” was undoubtedly my favourite Season Two episode of Outlander so far because, unlike the other three it developed the plot and the characters rather than simply the setting. “La Dame Blanche” involved a number of intriguing plot developments, such as: Claire and Jamie formulating a plan on how to discredit Charles Stuart, the revelation of Charles Stuart and Louise de La Tour’s affair, the revelation of de La Tour’s pregnancy, Claire’s revelation to Jamie that Black Jack Randall is still alive, and Mary Hawkins’s rape. It seems that the writers figured that the audience now understands that the show is set in France and have decided that they can resume plot development.
I was interested to learn that Master Raymond may be more than he appears: his statement in “La Dame Blanche” that he is interested in things not of their time suggests that he may know of Claire’s untimely origin.
I was also happy that “La Dame Blanche” included Claire’s telling Jamie that Black Jack is still alive. It’s infuriating when lies like these bog down a show’s plot development in order to intensify the audience’s level of suspense. There need to be believable reasons for characters to lie to each other in any TV show, movie, or play. Otherwise, these kinds of lies stand out for audiences, who don’t understand why a character would keep such secrets. “La Dame Blanche” avoided this well: when Claire understood it was impossible to keep the truth from Jamie any longer, she told him that Black Jack was still alive. Of course, Claire didn’t give up all her secrets in “La Dame Blanche,” and I don’t blame her. I imagine that “I’m married to your rapist’s grandson in the future,” probably wouldn’t go over well.