What does it take to stop a rebellion? A lot of listening, a lot of trips to Madame Elise’s brothel and some unlikely help from a nun, a pickpocket and Johann Sebastian Bach!
Recap – Episode #203 “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”
Claire and Jamie are well into a routine at this point – Jamie spends his days playing chess with Duverney, the French Minister of Finance, and the evenings with Bonnie Prince Charlie at the brothel. Claire is feeling restless with a much slower schedule of gossip and turning the house upside down hunting down Sawny, Jamie’s lost snake toy that his dead brother carved for him as a kid.
Nevertheless, Claire heads out for her part in the plot – listening for useful information amidst all the gossip at her afternoon salon with Louise and Mary.
Mary is freaked out about her upcoming nuptials to, of all things, a Frenchman who will want to do…things to her in bed. (Louise can’t control her laughter.) Mary believes that Englishmen and even a Scot would never trouble a lady…in that way. It’s not how things are done back in Sussex!
Sussex? Suddenly Claire remembers where she’s heard the name Mary Hawkins before! Frank talked about his family tree which went back to Jonathan Wolverton Randall (aka the cursed Black Jack)who married Mary Hawkins. That’s right. Claire is sitting with Frank’s great-great-great-great grandmother. Oh yeah, Frank…
Claire realizes she almost killed Frank when they tried to kill Black Jack in Wentworth Prison with all the wooly cows. Agh!! Ah the consequences of time travel! There’s no way she can play cards anymore so she takes off home.
Domestic matters send her to her lady’s maid chambers where Suzette is enjoying the company of…Murtagh?!?! Claire beats a hasty retreat.
Murtagh manages to pull on some pants and goes to make sure Claire’s not upset. She snaps at him and then apologizes and confesses she’s on edge since she learned that Black Jack is alive. Murtagh agrees that they shouldn’t tell Jamie since Jamie would immediately head to Scotland to seek his revenge. Only, Jamie would likely get arrested and hanged since he’s a wanted man. Nope, the pair agrees that they should lie to Jamie to save his life. Then they awkwardly pat each other on the arms to seal the pact. Murtagh heads upstairs to finish up things with the maid.
Meanwhile, in a gloriously golden library, Jamie is playing chess with Duverney. Jamie trounces him again and makes a request: Prince Charlie really wants a meeting with Duverney so Jamie wants them to meet, but for Duverney to turn down Charlie’s request for financial support. Duverney is open to the meeting, but he’s worried that a meeting in a brothel won’t go over well with his notoriously short-tempered wife. Covertly conspiring an uprising with a foreign sovereign is not as scary as his wife’s temper…
Claire decides to get her maid some birth control if she’s going to continue to make the beast with two backs with Murtagh, so she stops by Master Raymond’s. He’s finishing up some business with the sneering Comte St. Germain who is also in Paris. The Comte hasn’t forgotten or forgiven Claire for inadvertently getting his cargo and ship burned to prevent the spread of smallpox. Claire wonders why Raymond is talking with his self-professed enemy and he mutters something about mutual interests.
Raymond is a curious businessman who knows his stuff, but has a conscious. He has poisons in his shop, but sells people fake stuff so they can’t actually kill. His compassion extends to finding Claire something to do since she’s clearly feeling at loose ends. He suggests visiting a charity hospital where they rely on medical volunteers to treat their patients.
She immediately grabs Murtagh for an escort and heads to the hospital teaming with poor sick folks. Murtagh doesn’t like this and thinks Jamie won’t either. Regardless, Claire heads inside and needs to demonstrate her skills to be taken seriously. At first Mother Hildegarde (and her adorably scruffy dog Bouton) assigns Claire to more menial tasks like changing bedpans. Then she sees Claire tasting one patient’s urine (!!!!!!!) and she diagnoses the patient as diabetic. That matches their specialist’s diagnosis so she gives Claire more challenging work. Scabs and pus?!?! O happy day! Lead the way, Mother Hildegarde!
Meanwhile, Jamie is in a brothel. It’s the big meeting with Prince Charlie and Duverney. Prince Charlie breaks the news that a bunch of English big wigs WANT the rebellion and have sunk large funds into Charlie’s war chest. He just needs a bit more l’argent from the French to close the gap. Quelle suprise, Jamie!
In return for topping off his war budget, Charlie offers France an alliance with Britain. Back in those days, those two were always at each other’s throats so this change in power would shift world politics. Suddenly Duverney is interested in more than their waitress’ cleavage. He agrees to approach King Louis. Yikes!!
Jamie needs to talk this out with Claire, but she’s not home. He does not like this. He waits several hours, stewing in his frustration when she returns, energized by her day of do-gooding. He’s not happy to hear his pregnant wife spent the day at a charity hospital and she wasn’t around when he expected her to be. This is 1748, so, yeah, Jamie is not happy with the idea of a dual-career household.
He updates her on the night’s developments. Bonnie Prince Charlie is keeping secrets from Jamie and that makes it hard for them to stop the rebellion. Jamie is feeling the pressure and Claire’s diversion doesn’t seem to be on board with that agenda. Brrr! Feel the chill in the air!
Jamie storms back to Madame Elise’s to drink away his anger. He notices that one of the child servants is helping himself to various coins and trinkets out of the pockets of the drunk patrons. Jamie decides to have a chat with the rascal who resists at first. Jamie discovers that this lad with the light fingers snatched Sawny and offers him a job.
Claire wakes up in the middle of the night to a crashing noise. She finds the boy in the dining room. He attempts to sweet talk her by complimenting her on bosom. (Yep, he was raised in a brothel.)
Jamie explains that the boy, that he’s named Fergus, is a new employee. They need information so he plans to have Fergus steal letters from important people. They’ll copy them and then Fergus will return them before they know they’re missing.
Fergus’ nimble self opens up new information streams, but they are coded. One letter from England contains German sheet music which is just too weird. Murtagh knows someone who knows both music and German who may be able to figure it out – Mother Hildegarde.
Claire is working regularly at the hospital with Mother Hildegarde and, occasionally, Bouton whose keen nose can smell hidden infection. Thank God for cute dogs to balance out the gross puss scenes!
Jamie reluctantly shows up at the hospital to ask his favor about the sheet music. Mother Hildegarde knows something is up with this request, but complies anyway. It’s a musical phrase and variations. Mother Hildegarde realizes it’s similar to some stuff her friend Johann Sebastian Bach writes. Yeah, sure. He’s my BFF, too.
She compares them and sees that the letter version is similar except for some changes in the musical key. Ah ha! These differences are secret decoder ring for the message.
The decoded message verifies the support of a handful of English lords, a treasury of 40,000 pounds and the signature of the Duke of Sandringham. Sandringham! He’s a double agent. If Charlie wins, he invested in the prince and will therefore come out on top. If Charlie loses, he’s still a peer of the English realm and no one knows he was a traitor. There’s a very tricky brain underneath that big curly wig.
Now they know the source of Charlie’s money, our heroes just need to talk Sandringham out of supporting Charlie and the rebellion will collapse. Yeah! Now they have a plan for the endgame!
Murtagh and Claire are worried since they will have to deal with Sandringham (and his secretary, Alex Randall) and that means Jamie is bound to find out that Black Jack is alive. Now is a good time to tell him before someone else does. Right?
But Claire sees the joy on Jamie’s face and the frosty gap between them is gone. She can’t bear to reveal the secret, to Murtagh’s disappointment. Yes, she’ll drink some stranger’s urine, but she can’t reveal the truth to Jamie just yet.
Reflection – what did we think?
Erica: This was a nice reminder that, as forward-thinking as Jamie is, he is still a man of his time. He doesn’t like it when the little woman isn’t at home waiting for him when he comes home from the brothel.
Alicia: LOL…truth. It was a scene that had my hackles rising as a modern woman but I was trying to see from his perspective, too. I mean the stress is definitely starting to takes its toll.
Erica: It’s kind of an unhappy episode in some ways. It’s hard to watch Claire and Jamie so unhappy with each other.
Alicia: Mmm…I wouldn’t say unhappy so much as realistically frustrating. I mean everything about this episode rings honest in a relationship, especially one like Claire and Jamie have had. Imprisonments, rapes, tortures, espionage, spying, time travel…most marriages have their ups and downs but this one…yeesh!
Erica: We got to see more sides of Murtagh this episode! For as much time as he’s spent with Claire (including their weeks on the road as a traveling song and dance duo), they are still so stiff with each other. He’s just not the warm and fuzzy type. Speaking of fuzzy, just how adorable is Bouton? I just want to frolic with him – but not in a dirty, charity hospital surrounded by pus.
Alicia: Bouton!!! I don’t know who’s more adorable, Bouton or Fergus. Or Jamie when he’s happy 😛 I love Mother Hildegarde as well. That scene about Bach…LOL. Oh, Claire. You almost gave yourself away.
—–BOOK READERS DISCUSSION – (Spoiler Alert!!)———————————
Erica: Fergus! Mother Hildegarde! Bouton! Ah, so many characters making their entrance in this episode. We haven’t seen too much of them so far, but they all seem to be en pointe with their literary counterparts. I did picture Fergus a bit younger though.
Alicia: Well two things that are difficult to work with – animals and children – so I get aging him up a bit. I do love their Mother Hildegarde and Bouton. It’s wonderful to see them ‘in the flesh.’
Erica: I think Frances de la Tour will be great in the more meaty scenes coming up. It’s always hard to tell with the kids, but Roman Berrux was cute in his attempt to charm Claire.
Alicia: I’m still trying to adjust to all the changes they’re making: I mean Claire and Jamie at odds – sort of – and not being intimate with each other yet, Jamie not meeting Alex Randall at the same time as Claire, having Jamie be so unhappy about Claire at the hospital, etc. However, I do like the way they worked those things around to show the stress they’re putting themselves under. I don’t mind the changes…just find them interesting.
Erica: I’m guessing it’s to build up to the big Faith shake-up which is probably going to devastate. Is anyone really prepared for that?!?!
—–END OF BOOK READER DISCUSSION ——————————————————
Want a peek at what’s up for next week? Here’s Starz’s official description of next week’s episode!
Episode 204: “LA dame blanche”
Claire and Jamie throw an elaborate dinner party intended to derail investors in Prince Charles’ war effort. Meanwhile, Claire’s revelation that Jack Randall is alive sparks Jamie in an unexpected way as he and Claire struggle to regain their physical intimacy
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