Outlander: The Fox's Lair

"We know what will happen if the Jacobites lose the war. But what if we win?"

Too much set-up and politics for me, especially with all of those boring, sexist men.

Although this episode succeeds in showing us that Jamie is not like them. He may be an eighteenth century man, but he and Claire don't have an eighteenth century marriage. They are partners. More than once in this episode, they discussed and worked through difficult problems together, taking Claire's knowledge as a time traveler into account.

Honestly, I wish Jamie and Claire could stay at Lallybroch and have babies and raise Fergus and that the Rebellion would never happen, while I'll readily acknowledge that it would make for boring television. It added poignancy to this episode's early scenes at Lallybroch, exemplified by the sweet bit in the middle of the night where Jamie spoke softly in Gaelic to his baby niece, a reminder of the loss of Jamie and Claire's daughter Faith and all that she would ever be. Jamie and Claire want what Jenny and Ian have, but they cannot have it.

Because war is coming, and what happened in France had consequences. Prince Charles felt free to forge Jamie's signature on his declaration of restoration, making Jamie an instant traitor to the crown. Jamie is now boxed in. He and Claire can't stay at Lallybroch, and they can't run off to a new place and leave his family and tenants behind to suffer. Their only honorable choice is to once again try to change history, to make the Rebellion work, to win the war. It's where Jamie's heart is, anyway. He wants to fight for Scotland.

So Jamie and Claire were off to solicit men and arms from Jamie's loathsome grandfather, Lord Simon Fraser of Lovat, the fox of the episode title. A crafty, foul man who gave me new appreciation for Colum MacKenzie, who turned up as if to spark that very comparison.

Was Lovat serious about threatening to have Claire "ravished"? Or was he simply probing at what he thought was Jamie's weakness? I don't think his intentions mattered that much, since Jamie didn't take the bait; instead he cleverly used his grandfather's fear of the supernatural to scare him with La Dame Blanche. I really loved that. It was the best possible way Jamie could protect Claire from harm when he wasn't actually with her.

Just like Dougal MacKenzie, Lovat wanted to take Lallybroch from Jamie. He offered soldiers to Jamie in exchange for the property, and then tried to manipulate him by proposing a neutrality pact with Colum. If Lovat were smart, he'd make Jamie his heir, as Colum had once planned to do, but Lovat isn't as smart as Colum. He's cruel and devious, lacking anything resembling honor, and he underestimates "wummin." Claire outwitted Lovat twice: by faking a vision, and then by using Lovat's son and heir against him. In the end, Lovat decided to sign the neutrality agreement with Colum and send his heir and men to Prince Charles. He is literally playing both sides.



The white witch scene had its comical aspects. Claire saw that Jamie was about to succumb and sign over Lallybroch, so she faked Maisri's vision of an executioner, adding only the white roses that suggested the Stuarts would win. Although what actually turned the tide was Claire using Laoghaire to get young Simon the "smout" to stand up to his father.

(I actually paused to look up what "smout" means. It's a child, or undersized person.)

I don't like characters that exist simply to obsessively love other characters, and Laoghaire being all twelve-steppy and making amends for nearly getting Claire executed wasn't believable. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be. In the end, she said she'll still win Jamie's love, so she hasn't changed a bit. While the scene by the chapel with the Smout was amusing, Laoghaire could have easily been left out of this episode.

One more thing I wanted to mention, and that's despite his more modern inclinations, Jamie still has a lot of the eighteenth century about him. Until now, he had deliberately avoided telling Claire that his father was illegitimate because he thought it would matter to her, and of course, it didn't. Then Sam Heughan took his shirt off, and I stopped taking notes.

Yes, Caitriona Balfe is wonderful as Claire, it is her story we are watching and I daresay the show wouldn't be the same if they'd cast someone else. But Jamie is why this show works. He's the reason Claire chose to stay in this violent, dangerous time period, and Sam Heughan's charm, acting ability and entrancing accent make Claire's love for Jamie believable.



I've been assuming I said this already. But just in case I haven't.

Bits:

— The credits changed. No more French lyrics. Instead, there were war drums, bagpipes, and military scenes.

— I love the little vignettes after the credits. This one was a close-up of a gorgeous fox. Much prettier than Lovat.

— Jamie and Jenny had met their grandfather only once. He actually tried to kidnap Ellen MacKenzie to prevent her marriage to Brian Fraser, who must have been much like his son since he chose Ellen's memory and Lallybroch over being Lovat's heir.

— Dougal MacKenzie is still exiled.

— Claire's advice to plant potatoes worked out. It's funny to realize that they'd have no idea how to prepare them.

— Jamie is no longer wearing the brace on his hand, although his fingers are still stiff.

— Jamie decided that Fergus would come along, instead of staying at Lallybroch. Because Fergus is their child now, not Ian and Jenny's.

— I like Colum in spite of myself. He's a strong leader with a weak body that is clearly killing him. He appeared much frailer than he did only months before.

— Again, where is Geillis? Was she executed? Colum was right there. Why didn't Claire ask him?

Quotes:

Claire: "They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
Jamie: "Well, I do not ken who they are, Sassenach, but I'll wager they have never traveled through time."

Claire: "Take care of your Fraser."
Ian: "Aye. And you yours."

Lovat: "How about this? Lallybroch for your wife's honor."
Jamie: "Go ahead. Try to ravish my wife. And after she's done with you, I'll send in the maid to sweep up your remains."

Claire: "A woman has more to offer a man than her body."

Jamie: "Please tell me I'm nothing like him, Sassenach."
Claire: "I'm afraid I have seen a similarly devious turn of mind."
Jamie: "I might have to rethink our agreement not to lie to one another."

This episode felt odd after so many in France, and I didn't warm to it initially. The second time through, it was easier to pick up on what was good about it. Three out of four wee smouts,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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