Last Saturday’s episode of Outlander, “Untimely Resurrection,” was jam-packed with plot development, making up lost time in a season that had a slow start. “Untimely Resurrection” featured the return of Black Jack Randall, smarmy as ever, and Claire finally telling Jamie her last juicy secret. Claire and Jamie both suspect St. Germain to be responsible for Mary Hawkins‘s rape but, as a whim of Charles Stuart‘s demanded, Jamie and St. Germain are now the most begrudging of business partners. Mark you?! Mark me!
“Untimely Resurrection” – The Recap
Sword fights and mass arrests have a way of killing a party and the Frasers‘ proved no exception. Jamie, having been released from the Bastille, returns home to find Claire sitting awake next to a dozing Fergus. Jamie explains that Duverney ordered the Captain of the Guard to release them. Unfortunately, Alex Randall is still being held since Mary’s uncle claims to have seen Alex raping her. Alex’s release will require a statement from Mary exonerating him. Claire demands that Jamie help clear Alex’s name and asks if the Duke of Sandringham could help. Jamie explains that the Duke is unlikely to vouch for Alex, having already dismissed him from service in order to avoid having any association with a suspected rapist.
Although Jamie spent the night in jail and his party devolved into a brawl, he’s certain that the Duke of Sandringham must have realized what a weasel Charles Stuart is, and must now be unlikely to fund Stuart’s campaign to claim the British throne. Jamie’s face falls, though, when Claire tells him that during the brawl Stuart left with le Comte St. Germain. Jamie orders Murtagh to investigate the nature of St. Germain’s relationship with Stuart and whether or not St. Germain was involved in the attack on Claire and Mary.
When Jamie asks Claire if she remembers anything from the attack, she describes the attackers as well dressed and having been frightened off by her. She tells Jamie that they apparently confused her for “La Dame Blanche,” whom Murtagh explained to her was some kind of sorceress. Jamie admits his responsibility, telling Claire that he claimed to be married to “La Dame Blanche” one night at the brothel Maison Elise in order to retain his manly reputation in front of Stuart while still turning down the services of one of many prostitutes Stuart had procured. Claire questions Jamie’s wisdom in claiming to be married to a witch, considering what happened to her friend Geillis Duncan, but realizes that her and Mary’s attackers likely frequent Maison Elise. Jamie swears vengeance on whomever was responsible for the attack, suspecting St. Germain.
On what appears to be the next day, Jamie is hard at work looking over a shipment of wine, and Murtagh reports that though it was easy to find St. Germain he hasn’t seen him do anything that could be described as suspicious. Following up on the attackers’ potential connection to Maison Elise, Murtagh has found that several of the brothel’s clients are members of a gang of masked aristocrats calling themselves “Les Disciples.” Murtagh further explains that the initiation into the gang involves raping a virgin, and he apologizes to Jamie for being unable to protect Claire and Mary. Jamie tells Murtagh it wasn’t his fault and orders him to focus on proving St. Germain’s involvement rather than feeling guilty.
Claire checks in on Mary Hawkins who has written a statement about her attack. She is intent upon Alex being released and describes him as a good man. Mary says she feels like a different person and ashamed. Claire ensures Mary she has nothing to be ashamed of and explains to a confused Mary that she’s unlikely to become pregnant since her attacker was pulled off in time. Mary is relieved that she won’t have to wed the wart-faced Vicomte she was betrothed to: he would never accept a “soiled bride.” In fact, she is nearly excited. Now, she says, she and Alex can marry.
Claire’s concerned. If Alex and Mary wed, what will happen to Frank, the eventual offspring of a union between Mary and Black Jack Randall? Claire considers destroying Mary’s statement that exonerates Alex but decides she shouldn’t since keeping Alex in prison can’t guarantee that Mary will wed Black Jack.
Jamie gets a visit at his wine warehouse from Charles Stuart. A typically theatrical Stuart tells Jamie that his mind is clear of its previous “feminine shackles,” and describes his new plan for funding the Jacobite rebellion. His old financiers, he says, have “shown their true colours” but he has another backer offering £10,000 sterling. Confirming Jamie’s suspicions, Stuart says his new backer is le Comte St. Germain. St. Germain wants to purchase a shipment of Spanish wine but is low on funds and in need of a business partner. Stuart will provide half the funds for the purchase of the product and earn £10,000 in profits from the retail of the wine. Stuart admits that £10,000 is not enough to raise an army but expects that it will be enough to start procuring ships, men, and other necessities. Then, after Duverney reports Stuart’s rebellion’s strength to King Louis XV, the King will see that the rebellion is a worthy investment and lend the substantial wealth of his own coffers to the cause.
Stuart goes on to say that he understands that St. Germain doesn’t support the Jacobite uprising but that he is a businessman seeking a good return on his investment. And, to safeguard against any betrayal from St. Germain, Stuart appoints Jamie to be the one in charge of arranging a buyer for the wine shipment; St. Germain and and Jamie will meet at Maison Elise to discuss particulars of the deal, what Stuart describes as “work-men’s concerns.”
In a bit of timeline management from Claire, she convinces Alex that though his engagement to Mary is based on love it is not a sensible thing for either he or Mary to go through with. Alex is freshly unemployed and as sick as ever with whatever horrible 18th-century pulmonary disorder causes him to periodically come close to coughing up both lungs. He is heartbroken but agrees with Claire that Mary deserves better than a sickly husband that may not be able to provide for her. As Claire’s voice-over explains, though, she’s not breaking the young couple up for the sake of either of their happiness, she’s doing it to ensure Frank’s future existence.
At the Maison Elise, Jamie and St. Germain’s meeting goes about the way one would expect. The two make thinly veiled threats to each other, St. Germain tells Jamie to contact him once he has a buyer. Le Comte leaves his unfinished glass of wine and tosses some coins on the table … nice guy!
Back at Chez Fraser, Claire and Jamie cook up a scheme to use certain herbs to make it look like St. Germain’s ship is again infected with smallpox. St. Germain’s shipment of Spanish wine, which Stuart plans to have Jamie sell for £10,000, will have to be destroyed along with his ship. This way Stuart will lose money on his business venture. No money, no rebellion, no Battle of Culloden, no death to Highland culture.
During a short lull in the scheming, Jamie presents Claire with an heirloom set of Apostle spoons for the baby. Claire wonders if she’ll be a good mother having no real firsthand experience of her own. Jamie reassures her that she’ll learn what she needs to in time.
The next day Claire and Jamie are at the Royal stables holding court with King Louis XV. Jamie has come to help the Duke of Sandringham check out a team of horses he is thinking of purchasing. The Duke tells Jamie he was sad to hear of Jamie’s brief imprisonment but says that the dinner party gave him a chance to evaluate Charles Stuart. Describing him as an “utter ass,” the Duke wonders how Jamie could be such a bad judge of character. Jamie brushes the Duke’s comment off by saying that he agrees with the Duke’s assessment of Stuart but believes that Charles Stuart’s father, James III, is the true King of Britain. The Duke, under the pretense of discussing horses with Jamie, describes himself as a man who likes options.
While Jamie and Sandringham discuss “horses,” Claire and Annalise walk through the gardens. Annalise comments that Claire has made Jamie into a man and then notices a different man staring at Claire. When Claire turns around she’s greeted by a very familiar face … it’s Frank and he’s traveled back in time to the 18th centu–oh sh*t, that’s not Frank, it’s Black Jack Randall! After a tense greeting, Claire tells Annalise that she isn’t feeling well and, before Claire can stop her, Annalise runs off to get Jamie. Claire tells Black Jack he should leave lest Jamie cut his throat but Randall reminds Claire that drawing a sword in the presence of the King is punishable by death.
Randall waxes poetic, remarking on the unbelievable chain of disconnected events that have brought them together at King Louis XV’s court. As Claire makes an attempt to leave, Randall grabs her arm and says, “The King, ” Claire replies, “F*ck the King,” realizing her mistake when Randall performs a very respectful bow to someone behind her, the King. Luckily, King Louis doesn’t appear to have noticed Claire’s treasonous words and, instead of upbraiding her he makes a few Royal jabs at Randall’s expense.
Jamie arrives at Claire’s side and, after a Jamie and Randall exchange some very tense banter, the King, happy to embarrass a Redcoat, convinces Randall to beg on his knees for his brother Alex’s reappointment to the Duke of Sandringham’s service. At Claire’s request, she and Jamie are excused from His Royal company but after the King has left Jamie returns to Randall and challenges him to a duel.
Jamie seems pretty pleased with himself while he and Claire ride home in their carriage. As soon as they arrive at their destination and Jamie is inside, Claire has the driver take her to the Bastille. Later we see Jamie and Murtagh discussing the particulars of the duel when Claire walks in. She tells the two Scots that Randall is in the Bastille, having sworn an accusation against Randall for the attack on her and Mary. She reminds Jamie and Murtagh that dueling is illegal in France but when Murtagh says they won’t be caught Claire orders him out of the room.
With Murtagh gone, Claire lays all of her cards on the table: Frank, she tells Jamie, is the great-great-great-great grandson of Black Jack Randall and Mary Hawkins. If Jamie kills Black Jack, Frank will never be born. Claire begs Jamie to let Randall live for a year in hopes that Black Jack will assure his line in that time. Jamie refuses, though, saying Claire is asking too much. He tells her to choose, either allow him to kill Randall now or kill him on the spot. Out of options, Claire demands that Jamie repay his life-debt to her by sparing Black Jack. Jamie, a man of honour, cannot refuse and agrees to spare Randall for a year. Claire tries to comfort Jamie but he demands not to be touched. These time flings are complicated!
“Untimely Resurrection” – My Critique
Things are moving along now! After a very slow start to Season 2 that seemed only concerned with repeatedly showing the audience that Outlander is now set in France, plot developments were flying off the shelves in “Untimely Resurrection.” Since any story is only as good as its villain, I was happy to see that the untimely resurrection referred to in this episode’s title was Black Jack Randall’s. And, since I was so wrapped up in determining St. Germain’s guilt for Claire and Mary’s attack, I didn’t consider that Randall would be returning so quickly. “Untimely Resurrection” played up the idea of St. Germain as the new villain so much that I figured Black Jack might not make a return appearance for a while.
It was also interesting to watch Claire take a more active role in manipulating the timeline in “Untimely Resurrection.” Her insistence on ensuring Frank’s future existence has already led her to make a couple of morally questionable decisions. “Untimely Resurrection” showed Claire, claiming she was acting out of concern for Mary’s well-being, insist that Alex break off his engagement to Mary. Since it’s doubtful that marrying a serial rapist like Black Jack will work out well for Mary, it’s pretty obvious that Claire is only concerned with preserving Frank’s place in history. The same is true of the deal Claire makes with Jamie in “Untimely Resurrection.” Preserving Black Jack’s life serves no other purpose than to keep Frank alive. Beyond “Untimely Resurrection,” I look forward to seeing how many lives Claire is willing to endanger in the 18th century in order to ensure Frank’s existence in the 20th.