Episode four gives Maureen Younger a few lessons in what goes in the 18th century.
You have to admire Outlander’s scriptwriters, who must have one hell of a job fitting all the various storylines into 13 episodes while still making it watchable.
This week, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) finally have sex, Louise (Claire Sermonne) reveals she’s pregnant and in an unexpected twist Mary (Rosie Day) is raped.
As for the politics, Claire and Jamie decide the best way to thwart the possible alliance between Prince Charles (Andrew Gower) and Sandringham (Simon Callow) is to host a dinner for them both and have Charles expose himself for the delusional idiot he is.
Considering what a buffoon Charles is, it does seem an excellent plan. When they later realise Charles is the father of Louise’s baby, they decide to also invite Louise and her husband and drop the bombshell about the baby, using Charles’ reaction to deter Sandringham.
Claire is now obliged to tell Jamie about Black Jack being alive. Unexpectedly, Jamie is elated at the news, realising he can now look forward to killing him. It seems a weight has been lifted from him and we immediately have a glimpse of the old Jamie again – thank goodness.
In other news Claire is poisoned at Versailles, possibly at the instigation of Saint Germain (Stanley Weber), and later learns – much to her astonishment – from Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) and his reading of sheep knuckles (yes, that’s right) that she’ll see Frank again.
“It would seem admitting you got the bites while a prostitute was attempting to have a 69 with you, and that you were filled with lust at the time isn’t the best way to calm down an irate wife.”
Meanwhile, Louise has problems of her own when she admits to Claire she is pregnant by her lover. And it may say something about the mores of the 18th century that Louise seems more horrified at the thought of sleeping with her husband to trick him into thinking the child is his than obtaining an abortion from Claire. But she needs to do something, otherwise she risks arrest for adultery or being sent to a convent.
Claire reassures her that it doesn’t matter if her husband is not the real father. All that matters is that the child is brought up with love – little knowing that will be the fate for her future child with Jamie.
As for Jamie, he is back to his old self – keen to sleep with Claire. Sadly his ardour is frustrated when Claire notices a couple of bite marks on his thighs. What follows next is a great scene that shows even fantasy males of Jamie’s ilk can do that great male trick of digging a hole for themselves and steadily digging it deeper and deeper, as they try to explain themselves.
It would seem admitting you got the bites while a prostitute was attempting to have a 69 with you, and that you were filled with lust at the time isn’t the best way to calm down an irate wife. Needless to say Claire and Jamie have words, with both opening up about their feelings.
Jamie explains that since Wentworth Prison he has felt naked and exposed. Previously when he tried to have sex with Claire, he was haunted by the past. Now that revenge is a possibility, he feels like a man again and can allow his feelings full rein. Claire puts this to the test and they end up making love.
Then the day of the big dinner arrives and with their wagon out of action, Claire, Mary and Murtagh are walking back home when they are attacked. With Murtagh out cold, Mary is raped but the men flee when they recognise Claire, calling her La Dame Blanche and yelling they should run to save their souls.
“It may say something about the mores of the 18th century that Louise seems more horrified at the thought of sleeping with her husband to trick him into thinking the child is his than obtaining an abortion from Claire.”
Meanwhile Jamie is holding the fort and has to put up with the obnoxious Sandringham, who not only relishes introducing Alex Randall (Laurence Dobiesz) to him but to top it all has invited Saint Germain to the dinner. Claire finally arrives and we have another glimpse into the mores of 18th–century society when Jamie tells Claire they have to keep Mary’s rape a secret: if people know Mary is no longer a maid, her reputation will be ruined.
Leaving Alex Randall to look after Mary, Claire attends the dinner, where it’s clear Sandringham and Charles are not natural bedfellows, the former frivolous while the latter is sanctimonious. When Charles hears Louise is pregnant, he duly becomes petulant, and it looks as if Claire and Jamie’s plan is working.
Of course, as we know, nothing goes that smoothly for Claire and Jamie. Mary awakes and in her confusion thinks Alex is attacking her. She runs, starts screaming, Alex tries to comfort her but to the assembled guests it looks as if he is assailing her. Some of the guests try to attack Alex but Jamie, with Murtagh by his side, makes short shrift of them while Saint Germain calls for the men-at-arms to arrive.
So, a third of the way though Season two, a lot of questions remain. Who is behind the attacks against Claire? Who is la Dame Blanche? What will happen to Mary? If she’s in love with Alex and he with her, how does she end up marrying his older brother, Jack? And the biggest mystery of all – why would a woman like Louise take Charles as a lover?
But at least the Jamie of yore seems to be back and Claire and Jamie have found each other again. Let’s just hope it lasts!
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A London-Scottish, multi-lingual, much-travelled stand up comic working on the mainstream, urban and gay comedy circuits, actor and writer. www.maureenyounger.com @MaureenYounger