Another week, another episode of Outlander. And, as I predicted, it seems as though the bulk of the show will be set in the 18th century and will focus on Jamie and Claire‘s efforts to put an end to the Jacobite uprising. Claire’s relatively stable life in the 20th century will likely be revealed to the audience in snippets few and far between over the remainder of the season. It’s likely, then, that there won’t be too much discussion of time travel or other standard fantasy/science fiction fare in the second season of Outlander. Instead, the show will probably revert back to its first season format, that of historical fiction melodrama. It is possible, of course, that Claire and company may meet other time travelers along the way: last season Claire met the ill-fated Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) who had traveled to the 18th century from the 1960s. Enough speculation, though, on with the recap …
“Not in Scotland Anymore” – The Recap
“Not in Scotland Anymore” began with a relatively familiar scene: Jamie and Claire engaged in connubial bliss. Their passion is interrupted abruptly, though, when Claire turns into “Black Jack” Randall (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Jamie in a fit of rage stabs Randall repeatedly but Randall doesn’t die. Instead, Jamie wakes up from his night terror, startling a sleeping Claire. Jamie says that he won’t be able to fall asleep again that night. While Jamie battles his inner demons, though, Claire is busy learning the ins and outs of running an 18th century household in France.
“Not in Scotland Anymore” worked to situate Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh in their new surroudings. One strong element in this episode was making Jamie and Murtagh seem more out of place in France than Claire. Claire’s unflappable 20th-century nature and comparative worldliness makes her seem more fashionable and more intimidating than the two Scotsmen. That being said, Claire’s decidedly modern approach to housekeeping isn’t making her servants happy: in one scene, Claire’s chambermaid makes her promise to stop making her own bed.
Having been called out for her domestic improprieties by her maid, Claire decides to do what she knows best and takes a carriage to the local apothecary shop. After a brief discussion of her credentials and identity, the apothecary, Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon), admits to knowing the name “Claire Fraser” and having heard of her involvement in the burning of St. Germain’s ship. Raymond claims that he is no friend of St. Germain and that any enemy of St. Germain’s is a friend of his. He warmly provides Claire with a gift of the herbs she needs to make a sleeping potion for Jamie.
Jamie, meanwhile, is attempting to ensure that he sleeps through the night in a different way. He and Murtagh, both longing for their home, engage in Highland training and strengthening exercises. Jamie still hasn’t regained the full use of one of his hands after his torture by “Black Jack” Randall. The two draw quite a crowd of nosy onlookers during their practice duel, but these quickly disperse after a few prophetic words from Murtagh involving the fate of each person’s balls should they continue to gawk. As the crowd disperses, the two Highlanders discuss how they can go about stopping the Jacobite uprising. Murtagh suggests murdering Charles Stuart, the Pretender to the English Throne and figurehead of the uprising. Jamie rejects this idea, though, reminding Murtagh that Charles’s father, the deposed King James, would likely take up the Jacobite Cause to avenge his son’s murder. Murtagh wants action but Jamie wants a plan.
Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh, perplexed as to what this plan should entail, happily receive a letter from Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) requesting that Jamie meet with him concerning the willingness of the Scottish tribes to engage in a war with England on his behalf. Jamie and Murtagh meet the “Bonnie Prince” in a bordello and while the three talk it becomes apparent that Charles is little more than a petulant boy who wants his throne back. Jamie tries to convince the Pretender to the Throne that the Scottish tribes are in disarray, unable to agree on “the colour of the sky.”
Stuart, though, takes no heed of Jamie’s warning saying that his own divine right is undeniable. He is convinced that the Scottish tribes will unite around him because he is an extension of God’s divine will. In addition to not heeding any of Jamie’s advice, Charles charges him with the task of meeting with the French Finance Minister at King Louis XV’s Court to soften him up to the Jacobite Cause. Their meeting over, Charles takes his leave of the two Scots in order to pursue his favourite pastime, whoring–truly, a sage and holy man. Murtagh reminds Jamie that it’s not too late to kill him.
Claire, intent upon getting Jamie into Court in order to butter up the French Finance Minister, pays a visit to her friend Louise de La Tour (Claire Sermonne) in the middle of a very revealing waxing session. Claire is able to secure an invitation to Court and also meet Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day), a young woman de La Tour is chaperoning before she gets married off to a much older man with warts on his face. Claire remembers the name “Mary Hawkins” from somewhere but can’t quite put her finger on where.
That night Claire reveals not only the fact that she secured an invitation to King Louis’s Court for Jamie, herself, and Murtagh but also the fact that, after being inspired by de La Tour, she is now hairless below the waist. Jamie is quite intrigued and it seems for a few moments that Claire’s change of grooming may just be the change the Frasers need to get their sex life started again. That hope is short-lived, though. After just a bit of kissing, Jamie experiences flashbacks to his brutal rape at the hands of “Black Jack” Randall, making Claire’s painful sacrifice a source of frustration more than anything else.
So it’s off to the Court of King Louis XV for Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh. Claire meets some resistance on her way out the door, though, because of her dress’s plunging neckline. Jamie is concerned that Claire’s dress will be considered scandalous but Claire’s tenacity wins the day and the three set off in their carriage.
The zany action starts pretty quickly at Court. The French Finance Minister, Joseph Duverney (Marc Duret), under a false impression from Louise de La Tour, believes that Claire is sexually interested in him. After a pronounced rebuff from Claire and a toss in the river from Jamie, though, this misunderstanding is quickly set straight. Luckily, Duverney wants to keep the whole misunderstanding a secret from his own wife and seeks, ironically, to ingratiate himself to Jamie.
The audience was also subject to one of the strangest bits featured on Outlander so far, namely Jamie’s witnessing of King Louis XV’s “dressing,” which involved not only the King’s getting dressed but also his trying to take a Royal Crap. The King’s advisors, all gathered around the “throne,” offer advice, “Relax!” “Bear down!” Jamie’s advice, though, seems to be the key: eat porridge. This odd scene allowed Jamie to ingratiate himself with King Louis XV (Lionel Lingelser) and offer some comic relief, but over the top doesn’t even begin to describe it.
“Not in Scotland Anymore” offered one final bit of drama when Claire and company ran into the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow), whom they met last season in an attempt to file a complaint against “Black Jack” Randall. He apologizes for his inability to have the complaint filed, telling the three that Randall had prevented him. In an attempt to keep things civil, Claire suggests that Murtagh and Jamie go and talk with Duverney: the Duke remarks that Claire is adept at finding powerful allies through any means and introduces her to his attendant Alexander Randall, brother of “Black Jack.” Aside from Claire’s conflicting feelings about Alex’s courtship of the young Mary Hawkins, Claire also learns from Alex that his brother is still alive, having only suffered some minor injuries during their last en-cow-nter in season one. “Not in Scotland Anymore” ends with Claire trying to decide whether or not to tell Jamie of this news.
“Not in Scotland Anymore” – My Critique
“Not in Scotland Anymore” helped get a couple of balls rolling in terms of the plot but did so in a drawn-out way. The majority of the episode dealt in character development and setting up Outlander’s new setting. I think it’s good that the audience sees some of the effects of Jamie’s PTSD, not glossing over the long-term effects of rape in order to keep the show’s titillation factor up.
I was also happy to learn that “Black Jack” Randall, the real villain of the show, wasn’t unceremoniously trampled by a herd of cattle. A story is only as good as its villain is awful and conniving, and you can’t get much worse than “Black Jack.”
I was a bit distracted by the opulence of King Louis XV’s Court. And, though I imagine that “Not in Scotland Anymore” showed a relatively accurate depiction of a typical night there, this was such an active setting that it took over. The scene depicting the Royal Constipation was as ridiculous as I hope the show gets. The historical accuracy of having to witness a monarch trying to take a dump notwithstanding, this was a bit too much comic relief for me, reminding me of the nigh-unwatchable first-season episode that depicted Claire roaming the Scottish countryside singing her own version of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” set to traditional Scottish folk lyrics in order to locate a kidnapped Jamie.