Outlander: Vengeance is Mine

"You could be hanged side by side. Soooo romantic."

This episode had two distinct parts, both highlighted by subterfuge. And it featured a bloody, grotesque climax that was also surprisingly comical.

Jamie was still trying to change something in hopes of ultimately changing history. He backed Prince Charles' plan to take London, but the Prince's advisers insisted on doing the math (30,000 redcoats versus 5,000 Scots) and exiled Jamie to Inverness, instead. With no money to provision the soldiers, either. Prince Charles even took Jamie's horse. Clearly, history is strongly resisting every attempt to change it.

After a sneak attack while in transit, Jamie and Claire and all of the supporting characters we care about had to gallop through the woods with the redcoats in hot pursuit, eventually taking refuge in a small church so that Claire could treat Rupert, who was shot in the eye. With her medicine box destroyed, all Claire had as tools were a knife and some whiskey. Ouch. And then the redcoats showed up and surrounded the church, threatening to burn them out.

Of course, Jamie and Claire were both ready to sacrifice themselves for the people they love. Jamie insisted on trading himself for them, even though he knew it would mean execution. But it was Claire who saved the day by reviving her "Englishwoman as hostage" tactic that had worked so well on young Grey.

And it worked again. Claire saved them all.

I've noticed that I keep using the word "wily" while describing our heroes. That, and "courageous." While Jamie was forced to hide and say nothing, his often infuriating uncle Dougal again showed courage as he negotiated with the redcoats for their freedom – even to the point of boasting of his loyalty to King James. Dougal was also the one that saved Rupert during the pursuit. And when Jamie and Murtagh took off afterward to follow and retrieve Claire, Dougal actually said, "Bring our lass back safe." Just as if he and Claire hadn't recently been at each other's throats.



At this point the story shifted to Claire, who was once again "Mistress Beauchamp." In a coincidence to end all coincidences, the redcoats dumped her on the Duke of Sandringham, Mary Hawkins popped up unexpectedly as his barely tolerated goddaughter, and Mary's Parisian attacker Danton was actually working for the Duke.

Let's resolve several dangling plot threads at once, shall we? How efficient of us.

That made it sound like I didn't enjoy the second half of this episode, but I did. I absolutely loved it, and could not stop laughing. Much of that was because of Simon Callow's once again terrific performance as the Duke, who was written out of this series in a most unexpected way.

Ah, the poor Duke. He was suffering so. He only had the services of a cook three days a week, and those pesky redcoats insisted on keeping his mansion surrounded. At first pretending that he wanted Claire's "dashing husband" to rescue him too, the Duke finally revealed his true colors, which were nearly as black as Jack Randall's. He and the Comte were both behind the attack in Paris; while the Comte had Claire's murder in mind, the Duke had downgraded it to rape, and had the gall to demand credit for his benevolence. And of course, the Duke was planning to turn "Red Jamie" over to the British in order to make it appear that he was still loyal to the Crown.

A brief aside, because I so enjoyed the bit about Claire almost literally stumbling over Hugh Munro and later writing a note for Jamie in very bad Gaelic ("She's even misspelled 'help'," said Murtagh). Later, the Duke's messenger rode up and down a very dark road at night looking for "a beggar named Munro." Flat on his back, he said, "Customarily, I'd be given a tip on delivery." Laugh out loud.

Even better, the climax of this episode was practically French farce, albeit deadly rather than bawdy. As the now wigless but still villainous Duke, in the kitchen for a midnight snack, kept trying to worm the details of the Comte's demise out of Claire, one character after another kept barging in through a variety of doors: Mary, Danton, Jamie, Murtagh. Mary recognized Danton and in a surprisingly violent turn, picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed him to death. Finally able to avenge the attack on Mary that had occurred under his protection, Murtagh beheaded the Duke very messily with an axe. (It's sort of amazing that Jamie and Claire didn't kill anyone this time.)



And then Murtagh knelt before Mary and presented her with the Duke's head. "I lay your vengeance at your feet." Mary took the situation calmly. (I'm tempted to say that she kept her head.) She simply said, "I think we'd better go." Understatement seems to be a talent of hers.

This clever, witty episode was written by the author of the Outlander books, Diana Gabaldon. It's a shame she didn't write any other episodes, although that might have been difficult for the writing team. Even though Outlander the series uses most of Gabaldon's plotting and lifts a lot of dialogue intact, things do have to be changed when you're translating something to another medium. It's just the way it is.

Bits:

— The title card vignette featured the valet spraying powder on the Duke's wig, which fell off the table as if it had been beheaded. Too funny.

— It's been months since Prestonpans. How many months?

— Rupert kept mentioning Angus. He misses his best friend.

— Little Fergus came up with a clever idea: that Claire pretend she had fainted so that she wouldn't have to come up with too many lies for the redcoats.

— Mary was again being auctioned off on the marriage mart and mentioned being "soiled goods." I hate that. The Duke's constant disdain for her was funny, though. "Oh, go to bed!"

— In the tiny town, Claire saw a wanted poster with Jamie's face on it.

— Primitive dentistry. Shudder.

— Early in the episode and as Claire was sleeping, Jamie prayed for her in Gaelic. He suspects what is coming.

Quotes:

Rupert: "You big bairn. Angus'd rip that out with his front teeth."
Fergus: "He didn't have front teeth."
Rupert: "He'd have used his gums, then."

Ross: "What happened to him?"
Rupert: "I decided to take a closer look at a musket ball."

Claire: "I'll get you a black eye patch. You'll be like a proper pirate."
Rupert: "Pirates have eye patches?"
Claire: "And peg legs. And a parrot."
Rupert: "What in the name of the wee man are you heaving about?"

Sandringham: "Rescued, did he say? Rescued from what? Rabid bears?"
Claire: "Highlanders."
Sandringham: "Much the same thing."

Murtagh: "So now we're traitors, murderers and horse thieves. Tell me, does it ever occur to you that taking Claire to wife might not have been the wisest thing you ever did?"
Jamie: "No. It doesn't."

Claire: "I was afraid you'd just blurt out my real name."
Sandringham: "The last thing I would do, my dear, is to blurrrrt."

Sandringham: "You must know, you've always known that in my heart, I'm a Jacobite."
Claire: "I'm reasonably sure you don't have a heart."

Sandringham: "My personal favorite has you turning a broomstick into a poisonous serpent and commanding it to attack the Comte, sort of like a latter-day Pharaoh and Moses. Lady Moses, I mean."

An utterly enjoyable episode, one of my favorites this season. Four out of four coincidences,

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

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