Maureen Younger talks romance, court gossip and dramatic duels in episode six.
Once more in Outlander Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is her usual brave self, risking her own safety to warn a friend of possible danger, and Jamie (Sam Heughan) shows us yet again why he’s the romantic hero par excellence.
First off, the King’s royal executioner, Monsieur Forez (Niall Greig Fulton), who also has a sideline as a doctor at the charity hospital, seems to be giving Claire a heads-up that the King (Lionel Lingelser) plans to execute practitioners of the dark arts and their associates so that she can warn Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) to get out of town.
However, this being Paris, you can never be sure whether he is doing this from the kindness of his heart, or whether he is setting up Master Raymond and by extension Claire.
True to form, Claire throws caution to the wind and immediately sets off to warn Master Raymond. It seems she is never one to follow Falstaff’s adage that discretion is the better part of valour. Nor does she go on to win any friends when she later interrupts a get-together of society ladies and their frivolous gossiping by telling them a few home truths about the predicament of the Parisian poor.
As for Claire and Jamie’s relationship, they seem to be loved up again which is odd, as by the end of last week’s episode, Jamie was furious with Claire. But now all seems to be forgiven. This is my only quibble with this week: the viewer doesn’t get to see how their relationship gets back on track.
“Black Jack is unable to understand the nature of Claire and Jamie’s relationship because he has no conception of love.”
Presumably time constraints meant there wasn’t time for such a bridging scene. Thus we go from Claire and Jamie at odds with each other in the previous episode to Jamie massaging Claire’s feet in this one. Later on, we even have a touching bedroom scene where Jamie talks to the child in Claire’s womb, followed by Claire and Jamie making love.
What we do learn, however, is the real reason why Jamie agreed to postpone his duel with Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies): he becomes even more loveable – if that’s possible – in the process. It turns out he didn’t agree to Claire’s request because he felt he owed Claire a debt. As he quite rightly points out, he’s saved her life at least as often. The real reason is, in fact, Jamie’s overriding concern for Claire’s welfare should they be unable to stop the Prince (Andrew Gower).
Worried that should the Battle of Culloden be ultimately fought and lost, and were something to happen to him, Jamie wants there to be a place for Claire to be safe with a man to love her and take care of both her and their child. Jamie thus makes Claire promise if the worst does happen, she will go back through the stones and to Frank (Menzies again).
What a man! Yet again Jamie is willing to sacrifice his own peace of mind and his own sense of honour to ensure Claire has an exit strategy. You can see why Claire chose to stay on this side of the stones!
In other news, Jamie finally tells Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) the truth about Claire. Murtagh accepts the news in his usual dour manner. His only gripe seems to be that Jamie took so long to tell him the truth. He then shows his displeasure by slugging Jamie in the jaw with an impressive right hook.
However, rather worryingly for us Outlander fans, Murtagh has to leave him for foreign climes for several weeks. That surely can’t bode well for Jamie’s safety. And sure enough, Murtagh has hardly left for Portugal, when coincidence dictates that Jamie and Black Jack’s paths cross and, much to Claire’s horror, they end up duelling in the Bois de Boulogne after all.
A heavily pregnant Claire then rushes to stop them but can only look on, afraid that any interruption may prove fatal. She is understandably distraught: either way, one of the men in her life will die – Jamie now, or Frank in the future.
And as usual, Outlander gets me thinking. During the duel Black Jack mocks Jamie by asking how Claire managed to forgive him. Surely, Black Jack had assumed his rape and torture of Jamie would sever Claire’s power over Jamie and vice versa. Of course, Black Jack is unable to understand the nature of Claire and Jamie’s relationship because he has no conception of love.
So, in a way, Claire and Jamie have already wreaked their revenge on Black Jack by simply allowing their love to grow despite the long shadow cast over it by his treatment of Jamie: their love for each other proving more than a match for the evil that he personifies.
Though saying that, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling a huge sense of satisfaction when Jamie seemed to score a direct hit at Black Jack’s crown jewels with his sword.
Now this being Outlander, the action doesn’t stop there. Needless to say, further complications arise as men-at-arms appear to arrest Jamie and Black Jack for duelling. Meanwhile Claire is in agony and seems in imminent danger of losing the baby. Jamie, distraught, is unable to go to her, surrounded, as he is, by the men-at-arms.
And sure enough, I can’t wait for next week’s episode, because if there’s one thing Outlander does well, it’s its ability not only to be thought-provoking but to go out with a bang.
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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