Outlander Episode 206, “Best Laid Schemes…”
Whisky, Rhenish, Tea welcome a Wee Dram and other non- and new-book readers to the party
Tea: My daughter wants to watch with us. Is that okay?
Rhenish: It’s fine with me, but we need to come up with a good nickname.
T: Chip, like from Beauty & the Beast? Or Little Cup of Tea?
R: How about Wee Dram?
Whisky: Perfect — I love it! You came up with our names a few weeks ago. This one fits right in.
Wee Dram: Thanks guys. I don’t know if I’ll have the same kinds of insights you have since you’ve read the all the books and I haven’t yet.
R: Dinna fash, Wee Dram. I think it’s a good thing to have someone here who hasn’t read the books. It’ll be interesting to get your point of view.
W: Yes, and maybe under our influence you’ll become as nerdy as we are. You’ll be in the Facebook groups, listening to the podcasts, and reading the annotated scripts in no time.
WD: (gives suspicious side-eye)
T: Give it time. (winks)
W: So let’s start right at the top. We open looking at Jamie in deep contemplation. Seeing Jamie’s twitching hand is a lovely character detail.
T: Agreed! Although Jamie’s “It’s complicated” line sounded like a modern Facebook status.
W: It’s nice to see a mix of expected and unexpected things in adaptations. So many times in this episode in particular, we are set up to assume disastrous outcomes that do not come to be. It made it really suspenseful — a hard thing to do for an audience familiar with the plot.
R: I really enjoyed watching scene after scene unfold. There were several things that I thought were left out of previous episodes from the book that were worked into this one. I was on the edge of my couch as each one opened, giddy with anticipation.
W: So even the scene with the executioner? The drawing and quartering explanation is so gross.
T: I actually gagged. Hearing him describe that was worse than visual of the pus a few episodes ago.
R: But you remember that the description was far more graphic in the book, right?
WD: (Suppresses a little bile)
R: He left out the the eye popping, the rousing, where to insert the knife, how far to cut, leaving the entrails membrane intact so that you can fling them out into the fire, reaching through the muscle to grab the heart… (glances at Wee Dram) I’ll stop now. Let’s just say that the screen version is better.
W: “Man or woman…” I guess he is warning her that she’s in danger of the king’s dragnet? But then he says that “Master Raymond will be better company?” It felt like it could just as be a throwback to Laoghaire sending Claire to see Geillis. He already knows he’s being watched. Very suspenseful.
R: Does anyone think that Master Raymond will not only pop up again in the future or is from way, way in the future, or maybe even an alien?
WD: (looks a little dubious)
W: A character that Otter Tooth refers to in a future novel, who helped his group pass through the stones, is named Raymond. I haven’t looked into Diana’s commentary far enough to see whether that’s the same Raymond or not.
R: So moving into the foot rub scene, we get the speech that I missed so much last week. THIS is the scene I was waiting for! Originally, it took place during the carriage ride to horse shopping at Versailles, but this was so much more intimate for this emotional scene. I’m starting to trust that, when our characters don’t respond as we expect them to, it might be because that part is being held for a later episode.
T: I loved how Jamie’s explanation started out so matter-of-fact. He’s right — she chose Jamie so Frank is owed no special consideration. Then he ended so sweetly, wanting to be sure Claire would be able to be with someone who loves her. His deep gulp before asking her to promise him? And then to kiss her and the baby? Seriously, the man is perfect.
R: I LOVE Jamie’s explanation and rationalization for sparing BJR for another year AND him calling her out on the “you owe me a life” business. But mostly, it’s Jamie making Claire swear to go back to Frank if anything happens to him that has me swooning. Can you feel the love oozing off the screen?
T: It felt like there was a scene missing before this, though. In the first scene, Jamie was still upset with her. The “of course she has” remark was pretty snide.
W: There was, actually. There is a really intriguing dream sequence that Matthew B. Roberts wrote, with Jamie surveying the moor after the Battle of Culloden. I don’t want to give too much away, but his subconscious helps him reconcile with his decision to spare BJR’s life for the time being. You should read it if you can.
W: As for something less, um, academic. Lemme say that Jamie can sit down in his kilt as much as he wants, whenever he wants.
T: A thousand times yes.
MD: (suppresses a giggle)
R: Yes to Knee Porn! Funny how Jamie is always wearing the kilt now and Murtagh the breeches… Speaking of which, and I know I’m jumping but I can’t resist, who enjoyed watching Suzette play dress up with Murtagh? Curmudgeon Ken doll! It’s okay to clean up once in the while, Murtagh. You looked verra nice… and Suzette agreed!
W: Murtagh’s outfit is reminiscent Claire’s from The Search. I don’t know if there’s anything to be read into that or if I’m trying to hard. Maybe it’s that both of them are costumes?
W: And speaking of masquerades, seeing Claire’s pride in her smallpox simulation efforts is sort of fun, plus it was great set up for Murtagh’s disgust with it all.
W: Won’t you wonder, anytime Claire uses ointments in the future, whether it’s hangman’s grease?
R: If it comes from Forez we will!
W: I loved that Jamie pretty much presents himself to be punished for withholding the information from Murtagh.
T: The courtyard scene was perfect. Seeing Jamie tell Murtagh but only hearing a few words until the conclusion was a nice touch. Overall, Murtagh handled the reveal much better than Frank did.
W: After that, Murtagh’s writing of the years makes an interesting visual, but it’s a little silly. What was he reasoning out with the writing?
T: Not only that, but he is not one to do much writing at all, so that made it especially unusual. Unless he had to see it to believe it?
W: So sweet, not only that Murtagh so quickly and fully accepts Claire’s story, but that he sympathizes with the burden of it.
W: Another setup of a possibly bad outcome — Fergus’ sneaking into the wine warehouse. Doing the mixing out in the open could have just as easily gone wrong. And here I thought that we’d avoided putting Fergus in peril.
R: He’s fine for now. And after Jamie returns home unscathed, learns that the smallpox caper was a success with a visit to Maison Elise, and Murtagh’s costume-fitting, we come to one of the most precious passages from the novel.
T: Seeing Jamie talk to the child was lobbied for by Diana, and the actors took up the cause. There are a lot of intimate moments like that in the books that can’t all be included, so it’s nice to get at least one.
MD: I’m not getting a lot done this summer with all the reading I’ll be doing, I’m guessing.
W, R & T: (all exchange knowing looks, remembering what it’s like to read the series the first time… sighs)
W: A quick nod to the gossip scene… meh.
T: It did serve to demonstrate how very out of place Claire is feeling.
R: And it echoes the scene in the book in which Claire finds out about Jamie going off to the Bois de Boulogne by way of overhearing them gossiping in her parlor.
W: And it motivates her to go to the Hospital, so I guess it serves that purpose, too. Meanwhile, the ambush is successful and the three men retire to Maison Elise once again, this time to bicker about how Les Disciples knew of the route and how the wine might be recovered. I’m guessing that the Compte suspects an ambush because he has ties to Les Disciples and would know of their plans?
R: It takes one to know one—and the Compte would know!
W: “Mark me, I will take my own life if I am forced to live in God-forsaken Poland.” Wow.
T: Loud cheers from everyone in Poland!
R: And then he starts crying?!?! What a baby! Exiled to some other country’s royal court no doubt. Are we sure we want him to ever to king? I think I’d vote for Dougal over Bonnie Prince Charlie.
T: So on to the next morning and the breakfast conversation between Jamie and Fergus. Be still my heart! Fergus “allowed” Claire to stay at the hospital? 😍
R: Fergus was so cute throughout the episode and we really get to see him acting like an ordinary kid and Jamie and Claire scolding him as if he were their son. So touching! And then we watch Jamie and Fergus go to Madame Elise’s and get a rather heavy-handed indication that Something Bad Happens between Fergus and a “Man in a Redcoat.” Claire, and thus our readers, do not have this knowledge at this point.
MD: I don’t know. It was pretty clear to me. I don’t know the extent of what happened, but Claire wouldn’t have at this point, either. I think it worked really well. It was suspenseful, almost more intense to imagine what could have happened.
T: We have a Sassenach in the making, my friends!
W: Cut to Claire returning home. Man, she’s a wreck.
R: I know she doesn’t have any other choice, but as a healer, what in the world is she thinking taking a ragged carriage ride to the forest and into danger?
T: I didn’t know quite what to expect for the duel, but it certainly looked real and vicious. I was in tears at the end.
R: I thought Jamie said that he could kill BJR quite easily. This sure looked like a well-matched struggle. I would have liked to have seen BJR struggle a bit more. And this brings us to the third Thing That Cannot Be Unseen this season. Did we need to see blood spurting out from under Claire’s dress? I think not.
W: I guess we can’t be left wondering whether she’s simply fainting from shock or something even more disastrous.
R: On the other hand, the blood spurting out of BJR privates was a welcome sight. Nice touch, Jamie! I’m also glad that he didn’t hack his hair off before the duel, like he did in the book.
T: Did he? I’d forgotten all about that.
R: He did. The reason he lost the duel over Annalise was because his hair became loose and got in his eyes.
W: As it is, we’re left with Jamie’s vindication in the very same moment as the most tragic event in his life to this point. I’m absolutely overwhelmed.
WD: It’s hard to imagine it’s going to get any more intense than this.
T: Oh, just wait, my dear. Just wait.
All images courtesy of Starz, via Outlander-Online