It’s about to get all spoilery up in here, sassenachs. If you haven’t watched the newest episode of Outlander, “The Fox’s Lair,” avert your eyes now and do not travel through the stones.
Did ye think returning to Scotland would make for an easier life for Jamie and Claire? Then ye’d be dreaming. Their happy reunion with Ian and Jenny lasted about a second. I counted. We spent enough time with the couple at Lallybroch at the outset of “The Fox’s Lair” to establish a few key points: the potato crop is being all bountiful and stuff, Jamie is processing his own pain about losing Faith, and Jamie’s signature is on a list of supporters of Prince Charles–which means he’s officially an enemy of the crown and can be executed. Needless to day, Jamie’s signature was forged. Doh.
The revelation puts the time at Jenny’s to an end. It’s unfortunate because Jenny is such a force of nature and delight to spend time with. She brings out a completely different side of Jamie because she speaks to him without restraint. Case in point: When Jamie says he wants to visit their grandsire Simon Lovat for assistance, Jenny has no qualms about telling him the many reasons why it’s a terrible idea to trust him. Like Rumplestiltskin, Lovat apparently always extracts a price for anything he does.
But does Jamie listen? Nope. Before we get to his and Claire’s time with the cantankerous and rather awful Lord Lovat, let’s touch on an important subject. Where’s the onscreen sex? The story thus far in season two of Outlander hasn’t allowed much room for pleasure, to be sure, but just when we were getting to the juicy stuff in this episode, the camera cut away. I’m not complaining because I’m all about the smut (though I do appreciate it), but because this series has handled sex from the woman’s perspective so wonderfully and so free of taboo nonsense in the past–it’s an element of the show, and it’s one I’m missing.
Anyway. Lord Lovat. Here’s a shocker: Jenny was right. Lord Lovat proved himself to be rude, unsavory, lewd, manipulative–pick a negative description and he could probably wear it easily. Lovat isn’t the sort of man who bends his will easily. On top of the Lovat problem, Colum happened to also be at the castle looking for Lovat’s help. Things between the Frasers and Colum are on rocky ground since the last time Jamie and Claire saw Colum he was allowing Claire to be executed on charges of witchcraft. Fun, right?
Oh, it gets better. Colum has Laoghaire with him. She was the one behind the witchcraft accusations leveled at Claire; she went after Claire because of her love for Jamie. She’s still head over heels for the Scotsman too. I’m impressed with how Claire showed restraint and didn’t injure Laoghaire even a little. In fact, Claire displayed restraint throughout the episode. It’s still 18th-century Scotland, women aren’t exactly seen as equals, and it’s a status quo Claire still wrestles with. Did you see the look she gave Lovat when he dismissed her from the room so he could talk politics with Jamie and Colum?
Those politics dominated much of the episode. Colum brought the proposal of neutrality to the table. His reasoning was if both his clan and the Lovats stayed out of the fray, the Jacobite rebellion would lose a sizable chunk of their fighting force and then dissolve into nothing. The rebellion would be over. That’s what Claire and Jamie went to France for, so it was intriguing to see a solution thrown in front of their faces in Scotland almost immediately after they arrived. It sort of emphasized the futility of their actions in France, and that makes the hell they experienced there worse.
While Colum pushed neutrality, Jamie asked for Lovat to support Prince Charles. Remember what Jenny said about Lovat always asking for something in return? He tried his darnedest to get Jamie to pledge his fealty to him and hand over the keys to Lallybroch. We saw Lovat wants Lallybroch so badly he’s willing to sign the neutrality pact with Colum if only Jamie would give in. It was a difficult position for Jamie and he almost caved, but Claire intervened and saved the day.
Though she nearly died in season one because people believed her to be a witch, Claire has embraced her La Dame Blanche status now. She’s owning it and using the paranoia of others to her advantage. It’s risky for her to do so because gathering a mob to stand against her wouldn’t be so hard to do, but Claire’s bold. She pretended to have a vision–one she borrowed from Lovat’s seer–about Lovat being executed.
Her dramatics were enough to inspire Lovat’s son and heir to speak up in support of King James. Lord Lovat changed his tune and went with neutrality. Or did he? He’s a crafty old fox (hence the title of the episode) and he wasted no time finding a loophole.
One final note: It’s lovely to be back in Scotland. Like, literally. The countryside is gorgeous and open in ways the French court can never be. Green rolling hills and wool dresses might not be as opulent as tapestry covered walls and silk gowns, but they win my heart any day.
What do you think about Jamie and Claire’s return to Scotland? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.