Outlander: Not in Scotland Anymore

"You're going to need a larger fan."

Decadent, profligate, licentious. Could pre-Revolution France be less like the Highlands? I mean, I enjoy visiting friends, but they don't usually have a Brazilian wax in front of me when I come over for tea.

The beautiful Frasers are adjusting to life in Paris, but I couldn't help but notice how uncomfortable they often were in these surroundings. French culture of the day was unabashedly vulgar, at least for the upper class, and so much of this episode emphasized that vulgarity: the wax job, the dildos, slang words for penis, the King on the toilet. And yet, the production values in this series are often insane and have never been more amazing than they were here: Jared Fraser's luxurious house, Madame Elise's brothel, even the park where Jamie sparred with Murtagh. Not to mention that we spent half of this episode at Versailles.

Let's start with the brothel. Cousin Jared managed a written introduction for Jamie to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who hangs out at Madame Elise's. (Let me add that the Bonnie Prince didn't seem all that bonnie in comparison to Jamie Fraser.) The Prince enjoys sleeping with prostitutes and giggled with pleasure at the brothel goings on, especially the assortment of fine dildos. Jamie did his level best to acquaint him with the true state of affairs in Scotland, but Prince Charlie believed that it was God's will that his father sit on the English throne; logic and sense will not deter him. Murtagh has no idea why Jamie and Claire are determined to stop the Rebellion, but he was totally loyal to Jamie to the point of suggesting assassination. Jamie demurred, pointing out that if they killed Prince Charlie, it might not be enough.

Jamie and Murtagh together made me smile. I loved the scene in the park where the two of them were sparring, wrestling, and complaining about France as Murtagh helped Jamie rehabilitate his injured hand, which is now in a leather brace. They both looked so good in their clean new Parisian clothes, too. This was a real costume episode, and the early scenes were only an appetizer.

I'm not into clothes, but I was utterly floored by Claire's incredible red dress. I swear I'm not a prude, but every time we saw the undercurve of Caitriona Balfe's breasts, I wanted to fasten the top together. Jamie felt the same way ("I can see every inch of you, right down to your third rib,") but then he grinned and accepted it, a nice character moment. Jamie treats Claire like a person, not a possession, even though he is indeed possessive.



And every moment at Versailles was amazing. The costumes, the furnishings, the fireworks, all those extras, I can't imagine what this episode must have cost.

But the emphasis was on the action. As instructed by Prince Charlie, Claire and Jamie managed to befriend the Minister of Finance, even after the man assaulted Claire and Jamie pushed him off the walkway into the water. (That was genuinely funny. So was his later attempt to fix his sodden wig.) Later, the King came by with a woman whose dress completely exposed her nipples, and Murtagh's expression made me laugh out loud. He was appalled, but couldn't stop staring.



The King did indeed notice Claire in that dress. In 1744, France was ruled by the young Louis XV, a womanizer with many mistresses. The most famous was Madame de Pompadour, although at this point, he hadn't met her yet.

Unfortunately, it's a small world at King Louis' court, the Frasers ran into the Duke of Sandringham, and Claire got the bad news that Black Jack is alive. What is the date of Black Jack's death, the day Claire whispered in his ear at Wentworth Prison? It was clearly not the day that Jamie escaped and Black Jack ended up under the cattle stampede, because it would have been mentioned. Was this a strong hint that the timeline is not easily changed? Claire must have thought it had, when it had not.

The Duke was very upfront and snide when he was alone with Claire. Maybe, like Black Jack, he sees Claire as a competitor for Jamie's affections. Does the Duke know what happened to Jamie at Wentworth Prison?

More importantly, should Claire tell Jamie that Black Jack is alive? It's the worst possible time for this news, because Jamie is having nightmarish flashbacks to Black Jack, and it has affected their love life. Even her impulsive wax job didn't shock Jamie out of his funk. So much sexiness in this episode, and no sex. Although Jamie and Claire in bed talking about her new lack of hair was pretty funny. "It's more complicated than it looks thatched over." Laugh out loud.

The problems Jamie and Claire are having contribute to an ever present feeling of dread, since we know they will soon be parted by the stones. Can't they be happy together, at least for now? If not now, when?

Bits:

— Claire went to Maitre Raymond's apothecary for a sleeping potion for Jamie. I wanted to look at every object in that shop, and every decoration on Maitre Raymond's waistcoat.



— Claire's new friend Louise de la Tour introduced her to Mary Hawkins, who is supposed to marry an old Vicomte with warts, but apparently prefers Alexander Randall.

— Alexander Randall, the Duke's new secretary, is Black Jack's brother. Alexander has a chronic cough. Consumption?

— When Jamie was in France a few years ago, he apparently had a love affair with a woman named Annalise, now widowed, whom they ran into at Versailles. There must be a story there. "It was just one duel. One very small, insignificant duel."

— Bonnie Prince Charlie hasn't even been to Scotland. That didn't surprise me.

— Tobias Menzies was in this episode for only seconds as the blood-soaked star of Jamie's sex nightmare.

— The Frasers have been in Paris for three months, so it must be autumn of 1744. No scenes in 1948 this time.

— Let me say again how much I enjoyed everything Duncan Lacroix did as Murtagh in this episode. He's becoming one of the highlights of this series for me.

Quotes:

Claire: "Fine. I will endeavor to be sloppier in my personal habits."
Maid: "Oh, Madame, that would make me so happy."
Claire: "I should be gone an hour or two. That should give you plenty of time to strip and remake my bed to your satisfaction."
Maid: "Oh, Madame! You are too kind!"
Claire is finding a houseful of servants uncomfortable.

Raymond: "I see your nose is not purely decorative, Madonna."

Murtagh: "It's the air! Arses and armpits. Too many people."
Jamie: "Scotland doesn't exactly smell like a lady's boudoir."
Murtagh: "Aye, but it's an animal smell. This city reeks of the chamber pot."

Murtagh: "The man is a blockhead, and a dangerous one at that. He'll get us all killed if we don't stop him."
Jamie: "I wouldn't trust the Prince with Lallybroch's vegetable patch, let alone the fate of Scotland."

Louise: "Has no one told you? In Paris, a hairless mount is de rigueur and the men find it absolutely irresistible. It's so warm and so comforting being put on, and so painful when it is pulled off. Such is life."
I loved Claire's expression when Louise opened her legs.

Murtagh: "Only in France does a king need an audience to shite."
Jamie gave the King advice on how to cure his constipation with porridge. A little fiber, my man.

This was a delightful episode, except for the nightmare at the beginning and the bad news at the end. Four out of four large fans,

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

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