Outlander: Untimely Resurrection

"The fates are toying with us now."

Are they ever.

The debacle of the Fraser dinner party wasn't enough to stop the Bonnie Prince, who promptly allied with the villainous St. Germain to sell a shipment of madeira with a huge profit margin. Jamie was going, hey, I heard about St. Germain and his demonic rituals, but the Prince responded, hey, just rumors. Like the ones about your wife, la Dame Blanche.

Jamie's confession to Claire that he was behind the "white witch" rumor was genuinely funny, and not that surprising. Jamie knows he is married to a time traveler with advanced medical knowledge; Claire actually is a white witch, for all intents and purposes. And Jamie's mistake in starting that rumor may have saved her from serious harm at the hands of "Les Disciples." (Let's hope Claire won't end up the defendant in another witch trial because of it.)

But then we had another "Are we bad people" moment when Claire came up with the idea of faking another smallpox outbreak to foil the Prince and St. Germain. How far is all this supposed to go? How can Jamie and Claire continue to do such terrible things, even with the noble purpose of saving so many lives? That dilemma was the core of this episode, and specifically in the person of Frank Randall. Claire had to break Mary's and Alex's hearts, for Frank's sake. And then she had to take the chance for revenge away from Jamie, for Frank's sake.

Mary Hawkins is a sweetie. Like Jamie, she has been raped and her life ruined, but she was calmer and stronger than anyone could have expected. At least she probably isn't pregnant, since the "disciple" was interrupted. And now she won't have to marry that wartfest of a Vicomte, which is actually a good thing.

But what are the rules here? I never once thought that Claire would burn Mary's letter to the Bastille and condemn the innocent Alex Randall to prison, but the way she talked Alex out of marrying Mary was just so wrong. Black Jack Randall is a sadistic rapist, and Mary was just raped. Making certain that Mary marries Black Jack is not just morally gray – it's as black as his name.

Which brings us to that electrifying scene at Versailles when Jack Randall showed up, as we knew he eventually would, staring at Claire with utter shock on his face. Claire was so angry and upset that she could barely contain herself, while Randall looked utterly delighted at the prospect of seeing his beloved Jamie again.



While the dialogue was marvelous, the body language during this extended encounter was just fascinating to watch. Jamie and Randall bantered about sheep and cows while looking at the King, not at each other. Then Claire took Jamie's arm and the two of them turned to face Randall together. At different points, Randall put his hands on both Claire and Jamie, as if he still had power over them.

But it was actually King Louis that had the power here. He knew something was up when he interrupted Randall arguing with Claire and grabbing her arm, and he chose to take sides with the Frasers. Does the King like Claire? Was he motivated by simple distaste for a British soldier? Whatever the reason, the King made Jack Randall look like a fool, ridiculing his French, making him go down on his knees and then acting as if Randall had misunderstood the order, outright laughing at him. The disbelief on Randall's face was priceless; even Jamie was deeply amused. It must have helped Jamie keep his composure, to control what he had to be feeling.

Gold acting stars for all three of our leading actors. That long, tense scene was absolutely marvelous, beautifully done, disturbing but oddly delicious because Jamie and Claire came out on top. At least until Jamie challenged Randall to a duel, because of course he did.



And that segued directly into a most difficult marital conversation at home. For the second time in this episode, Claire was struggling with the paradox of time travel, torn between her two husbands. If Jamie and Randall duel, one of them will almost certainly die. If that happens, Claire will either lose her first husband, or her second.

At a loss for what to do, Claire echoed Randall, who had just told Jamie he owed him a death – Claire told Jamie that he owed her his life, and demanded he call it off. This was simply too much to ask of Jamie, who felt violated all over again. He ultimately agreed to postpone the duel but was so enraged and hurt that he told Claire not to touch him.

My head was with Claire, but my heart was with Jamie. Part of me wanted Frank Randall to go hang. Why is Frank's life more important than Jamie taking his much deserved revenge on Black Jack, something he desperately needs to feel whole again? For that matter, why is Frank's life more important than that of Mary Hawkins?

There's no real answer to this question, and this episode didn't even try to give us one.

Bits:

— The opener showed us that Jamie and Claire have become genuinely fond of little Fergus, who insisted on staying up all night with Claire waiting for Jamie to come home.

— Jamie was arrested when he hadn't done anything wrong. That happens to him a lot. Fortunately, his chess buddy Duverney came through for him this time.

— Apostle spoons. Not your typical baby gift, but an heirloom, like Ellen's pearls. I was happy to hear Jamie mention Jenny. I miss Jenny.

— Claire is worried she won't be a good mother. A reminder that both Claire and Jamie grew up without their mothers.

— Jamie's old flame Annalise finally had a purpose in the story; she knew Jamie as a teen when he was an impulsive, dueling fool. Jamie most certainly isn't a headstrong boy anymore.

— While St. Germain is no Black Jack Randall, he's convincingly villainous and it feels like he's capable of anything. Jamie promised St. Germain a long and painful death, and he did it with a smile over a drink.

— I was reminded of the immortals on Highlander who cannot fight on holy ground. No one can draw a sword in the presence of the King, so Randall and Claire, and then Randall and Jamie, could only duel with words. A perfect plot device.

— Costumes. Utterly glorious costumes again.

— And I have to praise all the performances again, and not just that breathtaking encounter at Versailles and the argument at home. Jamie always appears totally happy to do Prince Charlie's bidding, while Sam Heughan's micro expressions convey what Jamie is really thinking. And Caitriona Balfe also skillfully showed us how conflicted Claire was during her difficult conversation with Alex.

Quotes:

Jamie: "Charles was pushing yet more trollops into my lap. I wanted to stay true to you but not appear unmanly."
Claire: "And so calling your wife a witch was your best idea? After everything that happened in Cranesmuir?"
Jamie: "Now, there may have been a fair amount of drinking involved."

Randall: "This is... unbelievable. The fates are toying with us now, setting our feet on seemingly divergent paths that still somehow converge in the most unlikely of places."
Claire: "Get out of my way."
Randall: "Claire, surely you of all people can step outside the passions of the moment and appreciate the sublime preposterousness of a universe that would guide us to a meeting at the French court."
Claire: "Let go of me!"
Randall: "The King?"
Claire: "Fuck the King!"
And oops, there's the King. What timing.



King Louis: (to Randall) "We hope your affection for carnage does not ultimately prove fatal for you."
No foreshadowing there, huh?

Jamie: "Are you well, Captain?"
Randall: "Very well, sir. Thank you."
Jamie: "I hear you had an unfortunate encounter with some sheep, was it?"
Randall: "Cattle, actually."

Jamie: "I challenged him to a duel, and he accepted. He said he owed me a death."

An emotional and deeply dramatic episode, a prime example of why I find this series so compelling. Four out of four red coats, or possibly awkward encounters at Versailles,

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

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