Outlander: Best Laid Schemes...   Books Included 
May 15, 2016 4:17 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Jamie and Claire use Claire's medical knowledge to come up with a scheme to stop a deal which could fill the war chest; Claire learns Jamie has gone back on his word.

Claire and Jamie are seemingly okay again after the events of the previous episode. Jamie explains to Claire that he agreed to letting Frank live (by not duelling with BJR) only because he wants Claire to return to Frank if things go awry. He wants her to go to someone who loves her and who will care for her and the baby. Claire promises that if Jamie tells her to go back to Frank, she will.

Meanwhile Claire, Jamie, Murtagh and Fergus are working on a concoction to fake smallpox on St Germain's wine shipment -- if smallpox is discovered on board, the wine must be destroyed and Prince Charles doesn't get his funding from the cargo or from the French banks.

More meanwhile, Claire receives a veiled warning from M. Forez the executioner. It is dangerous to be associated with the dark arts in Paris. Claire goes immediately to Master Raymond and warns him to leave Paris. Master Raymond agrees, and says they will meet again in this life, or another. So mysterious!

The smallpox doesn't work out, as St Germain's employees put the "afflicted" men in hiding so they aren't investigated. Jamie and Murtagh go to Plan B, an armed holdup on the road from Le Havre to Paris. It works and the wine is stolen, and St Germain suspects Jamie had a hand in it. Jamie continues to appear fiercely loyal to Prince Charles, who is now on the verge of a breakdown at the thought of having to flee to Poland. Poor Poland.

Somewhere in there, Jamie tells Murtagh all about Claire's time travelling and why he can't duel with BJR. Murtagh's eyebrows go up and down several times and then he punches Jamie in the face in a loving familial way for not telling him sooner. He sympathises with Claire, for being burdened with such knowledge. All is well.

Claire goes off to the hospital and is clearly uncomfortably pregnant. She is getting wobbly when Mother Hildegarde stops her and notices she is bleeding, and sends her to rest, staying the night at the hospital. Fergus brings Jamie the message, and since there's no peace for the wicked, Jamie and Fergus are called out again because Prince Charles is refusing to pay his debt at Madame Elise's and she has called for the gendarme.

While Jamie is sorting things out, Fergus goes off to steal some stuff, as you do, and gets caught redhanded in one room, where a familiar red coat is hanging from a hook. Next thing you know Jamie and BJR are duelling in the forest! Claire comes home, looking exhausted and draggled, and immediately takes off in a carriage to the forest, where she goes into early labour, blood everywhere, while Jamie and Randall try to kill each other in front of her.

Long story short: Jamie stabs BJR in the groin, the gendarme arrive because duelling is illegal, Claire is unconscious in a big puddle of blood, and Jamie is powerless to do anything to help her.

A/V Club review: B+
They may have (somehow) been able to overcome their tension in “Untimely Resurrection,” but there are too many forces now driving a wedge between Claire and Jamie. They’re now faced with far more issues than just stopping a rebellion. Outlander has always been a story about survival and sacrifice, and “Best Laid Schemes” sharpens the scope of that theme, making it more personal and intimate.
IGN review
...while those big moments at the end of the episode were impactful and well-executed -- I especially appreciated the way that the action cut away from the Fergus/Black Jack scene, ratcheting up the tension, and the sense of doom surrounding Claire -- the episode as a whole felt off. This season is more direct in its storytelling, but there are these episodes that just feel largely like set up for what's to come instead of direct impact to the here and now.
posted by tracicle (17 comments total)
A big departure in the wine shipment storyline from the books, but one which works. The book idea was always pretty far-fetched. But now I wonder what will happen with the men who do supposedly have smallpox when their symptoms suddenly vanish. Surely St Germain will suspect Jamie is conning him even more? And how does Murtagh get the wine to Portugal? Wouldn't he sail it out of Le Havre and be spotted there?

The sudden inexplicable reparation of Jamie and Claire's relationship is discussed in the A/V review. It is weird that we went from "Don't touch me" because I'm so angry that you would ask me to let my worst enemy live when I have a prime opportunity to see him dead, to "Aw your poor footsies". And presumably since he continues their discussion by segueing into making her promise to go back to Frank, not much time has passed since the argument.

Aside from that, Murtagh and his eyebrows do a fine job in this episode! I love him. His disgust with the frippery of French clothing is hilarious and his little smirk when Suzette takes him away to undress is hysterical. We need the light moments given the final scene.

I am dying to know more about Master Raymond. I have a feeling DG has mentioned before that she might write a side-book about him. That was a long time ago, though. Everything he says has an extra meaning behind it, or an air of knowing. I wonder where he will go when he leaves Paris.
posted by tracicle at 4:23 AM on May 15, 2016

This episode stressed me out so much, knowing everything that was coming. Sigh.

Fergus is just an awesome little guy. "I'll go with you. To guard your right side." Aw, sweetie.
posted by olinerd at 5:02 AM on May 15, 2016

My friend and I were trying to remember whether Murtagh ever learns the truth about Claire in the book? He doesn't, does he? I had my copy of DIA out but since his role is a bit more expanded in the show I had trouble finding all his scenes to check.
posted by olinerd at 5:03 AM on May 15, 2016

I can't remember. I want to say he does, but it's at Lallybroch? But maybe then I'm thinking of Ian.
posted by tracicle at 5:12 AM on May 15, 2016

I appreciated the scene they added with Claire trying to get the aristocratic ladies to help the less fortunate, and the ladies instead all agreed that the poor should just be, you know, moved! Then we do not have to see them!

Caitriona's face just so clearly said, "Right, I made an effort, but now I think I'm okay with the tumbrels coming for you." She has such a wonderfully expressive face. Plus I thought that was a nice way to follow up on Murtagh's statement that he thought the burden of history must be a heavy one for Claire.

And then she goes to the hospital to work and Mother Hildegarde finds her bleeding. This again doesn't happen in the book, but I find myself pretty all right with that, I think it was a good, clever way of compressing and consolidating the story (and you get more use of Frances de la Tour which is no bad thing).

In general I think the show does a fairly deft job of condensing and fat-trimming. The departures from the book keep book-readers on their toes, while still furthering the story and pushing it towards its big climaxes. It's a different path that still feels authentic to the story. This episode deviated heavily from the book but still got to where it needed to go, I liked that.

We have a LOT of book left, though, and I think only seven episodes? They're going to have to get a lot more ruthless with the fillet knives.
posted by angeline at 5:33 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

DG has posted at least one excerpt from her Raymond book on social media...and SPOILER

has let readers know that he's an ancestor of both Geillis and Claire. I think he's also closely related to Hector McEwan from Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
posted by brujita at 7:27 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was riveted the entire episode, even though (or maybe because) I knew what was coming.

I'm close to positive they never tell Murtagh in the book. They tell Young Ian at one point, but other than that nobody until Written in My Own Heart's Blood. I think it's hard to avoid telling him in the show world, though, because he seems a much more prominent character than in Dragonfly in Amber.
posted by something something at 9:47 AM on May 15, 2016

Yes, Murtagh is about indispensable in the show, and fleshed out to be a very observant and suspicious character, and of course stubborn. They really couldn't NOT tell someone at this point (too many balls in the air), and I think he was a good choice to tell. He is Jamie's right hand man and shadow, after all.

I think they did tell him in the book that they were going to try to stop the Jacobites, and he just sort of went with it because he trusts Jamie to know what he's doing. But they didn't tell him of Claire's time travel, I'm just about positive of that.
posted by angeline at 12:02 PM on May 15, 2016

i remain constantly annoyed that at no point does anyone mention that if frank never exists in the future then why is claire going to be in scotland to come back to the past in the first place

why haven't claire and jamie addressed this very basic problem of time travel to my satisfaction, this is an outrage
posted by poffin boffin at 2:02 PM on May 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

I love time travels confessions so much, and I really would have loved to hear what Jamie told Murtagh instead of just a montage, but I also get that it would have to be a longer conversation than the show had time for. I really liked the small scene between Claire and Murtagh later. Their friendship is so sweet. And yeah, I agree with you guys that they never tell Murtagh in the book. Young Ian is the first person they ever tell. Then it seems like they go bananas and tell more people, but I could be mis-remembering?

The number of times Prince Charlie says "mark me" in conversation is hilarious.

The pacing of this episode felt weird. Also, this is a book thing that I hope isn't a spoiler for the show, but.... hadn't Dougal arrived in Paris by now in the book? I keep expecting to see him pop up inconveniently.

Did Jamie's note to Claire have his cut-off hair with it? I can't remember now if he had short hair for the duel, I've been so looking forward to when they can finally cut his hair to hopefully get back to early season 1 hair.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:55 PM on May 15, 2016

Yeah, Dougal is around by this point in the book, trying to cozy up to the Bonnie Prince.

And I think Jamie cut his hair for the first duel challenge? Maybe not. But yes, she was supposed to find his braid.
posted by olinerd at 7:20 PM on May 15, 2016

Have they gone into the story of the duel, though, where Jamie got hurt because of his flopsy hair? Because if they haven't then that'll probably have been a plot point they trimmed out.
posted by angeline at 8:25 PM on May 15, 2016

Don't think so. I guess we're doomed to long hair forever.
posted by olinerd at 9:16 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think there is hope, I think that when they go back to Scotland he could cut it off because he won't have to try to conform to French court standards anymore and wear it in a queue. He's going back to face battle, maybe he'd cut it off for that.
posted by angeline at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, there's a chance Jamie will cut off the unflattering hair? Please let it be so.

I thought the plan with the fake smallpox was a bit stupid to begin with, since they'd already seen first hand that St. Germain is not deterred by the risk of spreading an epidemic. In the very first episode he tried to hide the afflicted sailors and quelle surprise, that's what he does now, too, only this time succesfully. Not really thinking this through, Claire and Jamie...

And ugh, I hope they're not going to show us what BJR did to Fergus that made Jamie break his promise.

I miss Scotland, all the riding on horses with the wind in their hair, tartans flapping and mountains looming. France is a too frilly and finicky for my taste. I prefer Gaelic growling and waulking urine-soaked wool.

Btw, am I the only one who finds Prince Charlie's mouth both really annoying and impossible the ignore? Like it needs a bit of punching? The whole pouty, spoiled, slightly lispy thing - it's driving me to distraction. Come to think of it, the actor is quite well cast.
posted by sively at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

No. I want to punch the Bonnie Prince pretty much always, except for when he plops out the words "mark me" at which time I dream of stuffing him like a pâte goose.

I do love Andrew Gower though, he was a neurotic delight in the last season of the UK "Being Human".
posted by angeline at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am posting from the future to ask if Jamie and Claire are supposed to be absolutely terrible at thwarting the Jacobites? Why do they refuse to kill Charles Stuart? Seriously just kill Charles Stuart, guys. I have spent the last six episodes telling them to kill Charles Stuart.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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