For a one brief shining moment, there’s happiness for Jamie and Claire and then, well, perhaps war is inevitable. Or is it? This week’s book reader discussion makes some veiled references to events in Voyager and the most recent books. We don’t spoil anything specific, but the discussion may not make sense if you haven’t read that far yet.
Recap – Episode #208 “The Fox’s Lair”
We’re back in Scotland! Scotland! We’ve got gorgeous scenery and re-vamped opening credits with “The Skye Boat Song” back in English…with a military snare drum in the orchestration. Powerful, yet ominous.
Claire, Jamie, Murtagh and Fergus are all happily living at Lallybroch, Jamie’s family estate in Scotland. King Louis cleared Jamie’s name so he could return home. Bonnie Prince Charlie lost all his funding so he can’t raise an army for The Rising. Mission accomplished!
Jamie’s sister, Jenny, has been minding the farm and followed Claire’s advice about planting these weird things called potatoes. In the future, Claire remembers that there will be famine and crop failure after Culloden so that famine is on the way. By growing this strange new food source, Lallybroch may avoid the worst of it in the coming years. The first crop is quite plentiful, but they don’t quite know what to do with their new spuds.
Lallybroch gets quite a few letters including notes from Louise in France, someone named Jocasta (he! he!) and a letter from Cousin Jared congratulating Jamie on being one of the Scottish chieftains that support would-be King James’ proclamation that he’s the rightful King of England and Scotland.
Bonnie Prince Charlie managed to raise funds and is headed to Scotland to fight for his daddy’s (self-proclaimed King James) right to the throne. Since Jamie is such swell friends with Prince Charlie, Charlie forged Jamie’s signature and made him a traitor to the English crown. Such a swell guy. It was nice for Jamie to NOT be a wanted man for a couple of weeks…
Maybe fate is immutable after all. Everything they earned in France is gone. Claire suggests running away to Ireland or the colonies (aka America). Jamie can’t leave his family and his tenants behind. If they can’t run away, Jamie is determined to change history so that the Jacobites win The Rising.
With the Bonnie Prince on his way, Jamie needs to bring as many men as he can to fight. Murtagh will bring the men of Lallybroch and, at Prince Charlie’s request, Jamie and Claire will ask Jamie’s grandfather, Lord Simon Fraser of Lovat, for additional troops.
Jenny reminds Jamie that Lord Lovat disowned their father when he married their mother, a MacKenzie. Lord Lovat tried to separate them by kidnapping her. Welcome to the family, Ellen MacKenzie!
Jenny and Jamie have only seen Lord Lovat once. Jenny points out that Lord Lovat, also known as the Old Fox, is a slippery dude and tends to favor whatever side will make him the most profit. Since everything is on the line, Jamie is willing to swallow his pride and do whatever it takes to get Lord Lovat’s men to the upcoming battle.
That night, Jamie confesses to Claire that his father was a bastard, literally. His grandmother was a kitchen maid. Jamie apologizes for his tainted bloodline which Claire easily shrugs off. She proves it with some smooches.
Later that night, she finds the bed empty and searches out Jamie. He’s having an earnest chat with his baby niece, Katherine. He needs a quiet moment since they are leaving for war the next day so Claire watches from the shadows. He continues talking to the wee one as Jenny joins Claire in watching. Jenny gets misty about being able to confide in a baby. Speaking of baby, Claire gets misty, too.
The next morning is filled with farewells. Murtagh is taking the men of Lallybroch to rendezvous with Prince Charlie. Jamie and Claire will meet them there after they talk to Lord Lovat. So there are teary goodbyes as Jenny gives Jamie a rosary for good luck.
Fergus rides up on a pony, ready to go to war. Everyone is shutting down that idea until Jamie says it’s fine. Fergus will ride with Murtagh (who’s soooo thrilled with that idea) and then they will keep Fergus out of the thick of battle when the time comes.
Jamie and Claire arrive at the Old Fox’s residence and run into Colum MacKenzie. Colum? Yes, he’s there’s to negotiate with Lord Lovat as well. The last time they saw Colum, he was letting Claire get burned at the stake as a witch so they’re not happy to see him. They catch up on other people they wouldn’t want to see like Laoghaire (who Colum punished for her part in the trials) and Dougal (who is at his own estates since is pro-King James stance makes negotiations difficult).
Lord Lovat finally makes an appearance and insults Jamie for marrying a Sassenach. Jamie fires back that at least he didn’t have to rape a woman to get a wife. Lovat laughs it off and dismisses Claire so the men can talk politics. Claire is so sad to miss out on talking with this charmer…
She walks around the castle and gets stopped by Laoghaire. What? She’s a part of Colum’s traveling entourage. Laoghaire is excited to see Claire and she thinks God brought them together so she could apologize and atone. Claire’s not buying it. Laoghaire set her up to be arrested and then later testified against Claire. Claire vividly rejects her apology. Laoghaire cries.
(Viewers at home cheer!)
Jamie and Claire head off to dinner which is heavy with politics. Jamie gives a rousing speech about rallying behind King James. Colum coaxes Jamie into admitting the French aren’t committed to backing him. Colum wants Lovat to stay neutral, like the MacKenzies.
Jamie is still steaming mad at Laoghaire so even though she’s one of the servers at dinner, he ignores her. She watches him and misses out on Young Simon, Lord Lovat’s heir, watching her. But everyone looks at Young Simon when he blurts out that the English see Charlie as a threat because they have a big reward for him. Old Simon points out the reward is meant to stop the battle before it starts which will save a lot of money for them. It’s clear Old Simon doesn’t think much about his son and heir.
The next day, Claire witnesses Old Simon tossing a woman out if his study. She’s Maisri, Lord Lovat’s seer. Seer, huh? Hmm….
Jamie has private chat with Old Simon. Since the Old Fox didn’t outright reject supporting the rebellion, Jamie’s guessing that he wants to negotiate for something. Old Simon is bitter that Jamie’s father rejected him twice, even when he was prepared to make him his heir. Lovat wants Jamie to pledge his loyalty and give him Lallybroch. Jamie rejects that idea with colorful suggestions. Lord Lovat suggests he’ll rape Claire and let the castle take their turn at her. Jamie laughs and says she’s La Dame Blanche so go ahead. (Hey, that nickname is awfully handy!) Jamie declares that any man who rapes her will have his manly parts shrivel and his soul will burn. Old Simon thinks twice…
Since Jamie can’t reason with Old Simon, he chats with Colum. Jamie says being neutral will be seen as being a traitor so the MacKenzies need to pick a side. Colum says that rebellions in Scotland don’t work without outside support. Without France’s full commitment, this one won’t work either. (It’s hard to argue with that.) Colum is hoping that if the MacKenzies and the Frasers are neutral, Prince Charlie can’t raise enough people to form a proper army and poof! No rebellion! Yeah, history says that won’t work either.
Claire and Jamie chat and she suggests getting Young Simon to join the rebellion. If he goes to battle, that will force the old man to send troops to protect his heir. Jamie thinks it’s a decent idea, but Young Simon is so weak-willed, he wouldn’t stand up to his angry dad. Claire thinks she may have a way to boost his confidence.
Claire seeks out Laoghaire who is hanging up the wet laundry and stopping to smell Jamie’s shirt. (Since it’s just been washed, I think it smells like soap.) Laoghaire is pouting that Jamie ignored her. Um, what did you expect, Laoghaire?
Claire offers to get Jamie to forgive her (with the caveat that he’ll never love her). Claire wants Laoghaire to coax Young Simon into declaring for King James. Laoghaire protests that she won’t sleep with him and Claire tells her there are other ways to deal with men.
Claire takes Young Simon on a walk and, oh, they just happen to bump into Laoghaire. She leaves the couple alone for some awkward small talk about mushrooms and bad poetry. Ye gads! Laoghaire has some work to do.
Claire bumps into Maisri and she asks about her visions. Most of Maisri’s visions come true, but sometimes people could use the information and change their outcome. Ah, hope! Maisri’s latest vision had Old Simon in the shadow of an executioner’s axe. Unfortunately, Maisri didn’t say if it was the executioner worked for the (English) King George or King James which would reveal who would win the upcoming battle. Lord Lovat hates bad news so he tossed her out since she wouldn’t tell him her vision. She didn’t fancy him shooting the messenger.
Old Simon gathers the men around to witness his ultimatum for Jamie: Sign over Lallybroch to get troops or Lord Lovat will sign the neutrality agreement with Colum MacKenzie. Gulp.
Signing away Lallybroch would likely save more people so Jamie is about to sign away his home when Claire begins to fake a vision. She’s La Dame Blanche, right?
She collapses and describes Maisri’s vision and adds that the executioner works for King James. Old Simon is upset and pulls a knife to stab the bearer of bad news when Young Simon stops him. (He found his spine!) He declares himself for King James. Yes, the plan is working!
In response, Old Simon signs the neutrality pact. No, the plan is dead! Sigh!
Young Simon departs with Jamie and Claire to head to battle. It’s just the three of them and the Lallybroch men. This won’t look good with Prince Charles.
Before they go, Claire directs Jamie to say thanks to Laoghaire. Reluctantly, he goes over and says “thanks, though I don’t know for what.” It’s not the reunion Laoghaire was hoping for, but she takes it. She still wishes for his forgiveness (and love). Keep waiting, girlie…
On the road, Jamie, Claire and Young Simon run into a troop of Lovat’s men. The Old Fox comes by and basically says the neutrality pact will cover his butt with the English, but he’s sending men with Young Simon in case the Jacobites win. If the Jacobites lose, he’ll claim it was his son that’s the traitor and he’s innocent. Yep, he’s having his cake and eating it, too.
Ok, now they have a bunch more men for King James. Will that be enough to turn the war?
Reflection – what did we think?
Erica: These people were waaaaayyyyyyy too happy at the start of the episode. You know something is on its way! I wish we had a little bit more happy time, but there’s a lot of war ahead!
Alicia: Right? Although I will say the show feels more ‘at home’ now. Sam is even playing Jamie in a more settled way. As lovely as Paris was, the Scottish vistas are just breathtaking. Also…how adorable was wee Fergus on that tiny pony?!?!?!?!
Erica: I’m not sure who was cuter: Roman or the pony! How many villains can we have in one episode? Colum, Laoghaire and now Lord Lovat who was as repulsive as you can make him. (Nice job, Clive Russell!)
Alicia: Oh…Clive Russell did a fantastic job! Laoghaire…ugh. Colum…yeah he’s a ‘villain’ but I can’t dislike him as much as I should. I mean, yes, he didn’t do anything to stop Claire from being burned, but at the same time this is a man fighting for his clan, his family and his country – in the only way he can see. Doesn’t mean I’m Team Colum, but my dislike of him doesn’t run as deep as it does for Laoghaire.
Erica: True, true, true. But Colum is just as devious as Old Simon, just a bit more civil. Claire is back from France and immediately has some fabulous knitwear in Scotland. Everything is more grey and muddy, but she’s still well-dressed!
Alicia: As amazing as the costumes were in Paris, there’s nothing like seeing these men back in their kilts. I’m not being all – rawr men in kilts! – I honestly mean it adds to the sense of coming home this episode and how much they are back in their element.
—–BOOK READERS DISCUSSION – (SPOILER ALERT!!!)———————————
Alicia: If I’m remembering correctly, I think Lord Lovat actually has Young Simon beat Jamie up or something along those lines at some point. I don’t quite remember Young Simon being so mouse-like, but it’s been awhile since I read the book so I may be wrong.
Erica: Is it terrible that I don’t remember the details either? For books that I love, I try not to read them too often because then I just have them memorized and it’s hard to experience the books when my mind is spitting out what’s happening. It looks like the show is doing some streamlining here, but the TV Young Simon is definitely not being up TV Jamie anytime soon.
Alicia: Also, I remember something about him sending troops and claiming Lallybroch’s men as his as well in a letter to Prince Charles without Jamie knowing so that whoever wins he can lay claim to Jamie’s ancestral lands. Either way he’s a cunning bastard and you hate and admire the Old Fox for his craftiness. Mostly hate 😛
Erica: That was such a WTF moment in the books, I think we may still see that in an upcoming episode. It feels like they would end an episode with this news.
Alicia: OH HOW I HATE LAOGHAIRE! ACK! Why add her in? I was comfortable not seeing her for at least this entire season. Why bring her and Colum to Lord Lovat’s? And what about the meeting with Claire and Colum later after some of the battles? That I do remember and that he mentions Laoghaire (who’s married to a MacKenzie) and asking Claire if she wants her punished. Either way, knowing what happens in the future books, seeing Jamie anywhere near her makes my blood boil at them both. This is nothing against the actors, because they are doing a fantastic job at these characters, but this is coming from a book lover. She makes me want to reach through the screen and just give her a sound thrashing. My hatred knows no bounds with that one. It’s something I’ve still never forgiven Jenny (and to some extent Jamie) for and anyone who’s read the books knows what I’m saying.
Erica: It was one way to show people that Scotland is just as dangerous a place as ever, I suppose. I’m wondering if the show is trying to build some sympathy for Laoghaire for just that reason — so people won’t take it out on Jenny and Jamie later. I loved the shout-out to Aunt Jocasta! That’s the second time they’ve mentioned her in passing if you recall the montage of Jamie discussing the family tree the night of the wedding. Also, check out the description for next week’s episode – our first glimpse of John Grey!!
Alicia: Lord John Grey! As much as I get angry at the thought of Laoghaire, I am equally as thrilled with the thought of Lord Grey. Is that kind of twisted, book readers? That I get mad about the one and not the other? You know what I’m saying if you’ve read the last couple of books…
Erica: Well, John is a good guy. Complex, interesting and has his own series of books!
—–END OF BOOK READER DISCUSSION ——————————————————
Here’s a sneak peek at next week’s episode with Starz’s official description:
Episode 209 – “JE SUIS PREST”
Claire and Jamie reunite with the Lallybroch and MacKenzie men as they train for war. Jamie’s power struggles with Dougal and Claire’s personal battle with her memories of WWII weigh upon them, but new, helpful information comes to light when a young Englishman named William Grey pays a surprise visit to their camp.
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