Outlander: The Fox's Lair   Books Included 
May 29, 2016 3:04 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Claire and Jamie attempt to elicit support from Jamie's grandsire, Lord Lovat; Colum MacKenzie arrives with plans of his own; Lord Lovat makes moves to advance his own interests.

Claire hatches a ridonkulous plan...and it kind of works?

Jamie and Claire are happily back at Lallybroch, enjoying peaceful family life in the Fraser family bosom. Prince Charles sends Jamie a letter in which Charles has forged Jamie's signature and attached it to a declaration against King George, so now Jamie is known as a traitor to the crown, and a wanted man...again.

The only thing for it is to win the uprising and place King James on the throne. So Murtagh and his right-hand boy, Fergus, head off with the men of Lallybroch while Jamie and Claire head to Jamie's paternal grandsire, Simon Lovat, aka the Old Fox. He turns out to be a horrible human being who takes wives by rape, treats women like crap, and bullies his son Young Simon. He tells Jamie he will only send troops to Charles if Jamie hands over Lallybroch.

Meanwhile Colum has turned up and wants Lovat and the McKenzies to be neutral, so he works to convince Lovat not to engage. Lovat plays them both, writing up two documents: one giving Jamie troops in return for Lallybroch, the other for the McKenzies and Frasers of Lovat to join in neutrality. Either way Jamie loses.

Claire has been wandering the estate while this was going on and meets up with our friend Laoghaire, who begs forgiveness and wants to make things right between herself, Claire and Jamie. Claire and Jamie are unimpressed. But then Claire realises she can use Young Simon's crush on Laoghaire to make him stand up to his father and join the uprising, so she offers partial forgiveness in return for Laoghaire flirting with Simon Jr (no sex, though!). Young Simon turns out to be a lover of pretty awful poetry though and Laoghaire doesn't seem to get through to him.

Claire also encounters the Old Fox's seer, Maisri, who has seen bad news for Lovat but won't tell him because he will literally kill the messenger. She has seen him standing before an executioner, but she can't say from which side.

When the time comes for Jamie to sign the document, Claire's haphazard planning comes into action. She fakes a vision, telling Lovat that he will be executed, and that the ground will be white with Jacobite roses. Lovat does indeed try to kill the messenger and the crushing Young Simon steps up and tells his Dad that he does want to join the Uprising, while Laoghaire looks on. Hooray Claire, your weird plan sort of worked out!

But alas, Simon Lovat is way too crafty, and comes straight out to say he will remain neutral. He signs the agreement with the McKenzies and Colum smirks.

Jamie and Claire prepare to leave, disappointed. They have no troops for Charles. Then Young Simon rides up to join them. Jamie thanks Laoghaire grudgingly even though Claire hasn't told him what she did. She mutters that one day she will get his forgiveness, and his love, but he doesn't hear her.

As they leave the estate, Lovat men line the roadside. And it turns out Lovat is the craftiest fox ever. He has publicly sworn neutrality, so if the English win, he is legitimately neutral and therefore safe. But his son will leave Lovat troops to the Uprising. If Scotland wins, Lovat can take credit, but if they lose, Young Simon took the soldiers independently. He thanks Claire for her vision, because it made Young Simon stand up to his father in front of an audience.

And they all ride off, and Starz cuts off Claire's final monologue mid-sentence.

A/V Club review: a solid B so far.
There are a few scenes that get dragged too deeply into the specifics of the war and its politics, and there isn’t quite enough Claire in the episode. Still, overall, “The Fox’s Lair” has some fun.
IGN review
But Outlander has been repeatedly reminding its viewers that it's already confirmed the Frasers' failure. The question that remains isn't whether they're able to fix the past, but how do they survive in the future?
posted by tracicle (23 comments total)
I think for me this was the most boring episode to date. Lovat was a great character but it felt so contrived. The scene between Laoghaire and Young Simon was my highlight. When he launches into that awful poetry...it's cringey and adorable and he is so earnest. And she even gave him a keek down her dress!

I have missed Scotland, even if it rained for the entire episode. It matched the mood, especially at the end when they think they are riding away empty-handed. I did laugh out loud when the Old Fox rocks up and explains his plan, although I kind of wish he hadn't explained himself. He's not someone that would explain his thinking, even if he's quite proud of his own scheming.

Paris was pretty but unsatisfying. I will miss the clothes, though. We won't see costumes like those for a while.

Oh, and Jamie had a haircut!
posted by tracicle at 3:07 AM on May 29, 2016

I enjoyed Colum's "give me a fucking break," eye roll when Claire was describing her vision. And the Lord Lovat casting is totally perfect. And I'm glad we're back in Scotland and skipped ahead in time a bit to avoid more depressing relationship problems.

But yeah, I agree that somehow the episode fell a bit flat. I really dislike Laoghaire and find it implausible Claire would have accepted her apology and used her as part of the plan. But I guess they had to do something to reconcile her with Jamie a bit, given what happens in the future.
posted by something something at 10:20 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

IIRC Laoghaire tells Jamie in AEitB that she HAD slept with someone at Leoch.

In the books Murtagh carries a lifelong torch for Jamie's mother. What are they planning to do with Suzette and the (prospective )baby?
posted by brujita at 12:05 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Claire's a pragmatic woman. I don't think she really accepted Laoghaire's apology, and certainly she didn't even make the real stab at the pretense of doing so until she'd seen how Young Simon looked at the girl. Then it was to her advantage to leverage Laoghaire's teenage feelings for Jamie (I'm sure she doesn't at all trust that Laoghaire left those behind) and use the girl for her own cause. Claire is, I think, still a bit in French-court-scheming mode.

I say "Ugh, Laoghaire" enough that I'd never make a drinking game of it, but I surprised myself when I said, "Oh, poor Laoghaire" once - when she was earnestly telling Claire of her failed efforts with Young Simon. "Well, he wasna doing much to hold up his end of the conversation! I had to do something!"

Flat as the rest of the episode fell, that scene, for some reason, sent me into gales of giggles. She doesn't know how to do anything without a little bit of teenage girl seduction. And she so genuinely wanted to do well, because she wants Jamie's approval (and love, sigh) so badly. It was at turns very funny and very sad.
posted by angeline at 12:10 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hey, the intro changed again? To include hunks in kilts, charging into battle topless? Huh. I've been dreading the ass-kicking awaiting the Scots in Culloden, but this... changes things, just a little.

And what a pretty fox in the opening shot! I was disappointed to find out the fox whose lair they entered was a lot less appealing. So, Jamie's grandpa is an asshole - who knew? (Except all you guys who've read the books, of course.) Jamie's dad was a penniless bastard, and Lallybroch belonged to Jamie's mum, right? But his Lord...ship? Lordness? Er, the title, Lord Brach Tuarach [sp?], where does that come from?

Anyway, right now I'm thinking that it was a strange choice to start the season with the reveal that the future nevertheless sucks/sucked/will suck/will have sucked (time travel is grammatically terrible!) for Scotland. I guess we'll just watch a season's worth of wasted effort, after which the Highlanders rip off their shirts to fight the Brits, Claire becomes a neat 1950's housewife and Jaime... what, ends up with Laoghaire? I'm starting to suspect that her mutterings about love are some kind of Chekov's romance twist planted in the viewers mind. I hope not, though.

I liked Claire's nude face, messy bun and the earthy woolens. And the rain, and Scotland. The vision thing was an odd gambit, though, as is the whole Dame Blanche card Claire keeps playing. WTF, you barely dodged the inquisition once! Shht! Act pious!
posted by sively at 4:11 PM on May 29, 2016

The intro changes weekly to hint at the episode to come. I only realized a couple of weeks ago myself
posted by peppermind at 4:39 PM on May 29, 2016

The opening song is now all in English.
posted by brujita at 4:49 PM on May 29, 2016

This episode felt like a bit of a letdown after last week's amazingness, but I suppose it had to happen to move the story along. Very pleased that they're back in Scotland!

Simon Lovat was well played.

Gabaldon has talked about this being a shark-jumping episode. I assume because of throwing Laoghaire back in the mix to resolve some awkward show-specific situations in order to make a larger book plot point possible later on. But like... it was annoying if you know the book storyline, but I wouldn't call it jumping the shark? It seems like an overreaction by an author annoyed at necessary TV production deviations from her occasionally convoluted writing.
posted by olinerd at 4:55 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Huh, and it also seems odd since at least it was generally related to the plotting in the book. That episode in season 1 where The Watch showed up at Lallybroch and made Jamie and Ian go with them was completely invented.
posted by something something at 5:13 PM on May 29, 2016

It was just the Laoghaire confrontation that she felt jumped the shark - and she realized later she was using the term wrong. She really just felt that the scene, even throttled back as it was in the episode as aired (apparently it was much more intense in early drafts), it wasn't very Claire-like.
posted by angeline at 5:57 PM on May 29, 2016

why is lovat so obsessed with owning lallybroch? i don't remember anything about that from the books but admittedly i did not read them with anything remotely approaching my full attention.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:44 PM on May 30, 2016

It was his before Jamie's parents were married, and was supposed to go back to him if Jamie's mother died without children. Maybe he's pissed that an Englishwoman is now the lady of his former lands.
posted by something something at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2016

Lovat did make something of a play for Lallybroch in the book as I recall, but he didn't kick quite so big a fuss up there as he did in the show. I suspect they did it this way in order to introduce the concept of the deed of sasine, which will become an important point near the end of this season, I think.
posted by angeline at 3:24 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Was Laoghaire involved in the Young Simon thing in the book? I can't remember that part, but it seemed vaguely familiar, at least, the awkward poetry recitation seemed familiar. I didn't enjoy seeing Laoghaire again, but I grudgingly liked that line about Simon not holding up his end of the conversation. Why Ron Moore insists on giving Laoghaire so much screen time in lieu of more Claire and Jamie time being a couple is beyond me.

I actually liked this episode better than most of the France ones, because I felt a lot more Married!Frasers love between Claire and Jamie in this one. They really seemed to be much more connected as a couple. And the haircut! Jamie was looking so good, I wondered if they shot the Lallybroch scenes last season, because he also wasn't as unnecessarily beefy as he had been in Paris. The gratuitous Scottish scenery shots in the beginning were amazing, and I loved the intro song change and the intro sequence change (hadn't noticed that it's been changing this whole time... I think I'm going to really enjoy rewatching the whole season because I'm sure I've missed a ton of details).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:36 PM on May 30, 2016

No, don't believe Laoghaire was involved in the book and I think the poetry thing was new. But yeah, also not sure why she gets so much screen time.
posted by olinerd at 6:49 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Probably some of the reason she gets so much screen time has to do with TV stuff. Nell Hudson is a main cast member this season rather than recurring, which can mean various things but it comes down to they're paying more for her availability, might as well use it to handle some of these little plotty bits rather than pay yet another person who might have to come back several times as these little intrigues play out.

I do also have a strong memory of Young Simon or at least Young Somebody and his Vogon Poetry in one of the earlier books, though, and I can't imagine who else would have been subjected to it.

I have a feeling the phrase Gabaldon wanted was "chewing the scenery", for it was well and truly chomped. But I sort of assumed Claire was deliberately putting some spin on it in order to make a big impression and so it was supposed to be chompy.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:08 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Laoghaire makes me bonkers, and I guess that means Nell Hudson is doing a very good job playing her. There's a part of me that hopes they'll get Nell in to play Marsali when the time comes.
posted by angeline at 4:23 PM on May 31, 2016

Official! Outlander got the pickup for seasons three AND FOUR!

Yessssssss I just finished Drums of Autumn this is great.
posted by angeline at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh yay! I'm excited to see what the show will do with the material in books 3 and 4. There's just one must-have scene for me in book 3, the rest gets so bananas I really don't care whether they go super off-book (if they stick close to the book it will certainly be... interesting).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 1:27 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

All in favor of "I Think We Could Do Without Willoughby" say aye!
posted by angeline at 2:53 PM on June 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

By the way, Gabaldon's lengthy comment on the "Jumping the shark" thing, from her FB page:

A Brief Lesson in Content, Courtesy and Not Jumping to Conclusions…

There was a certain amount of comment prior to Episode 8 about my having referred to a script element as “jumping the shark” and a lot of speculation as to where and what that was. I didn’t want to go into this prior to the episode’s airing, because I didn’t want anyone to be distracted from the virtues of the episode, which was very enjoyable in itself.

But I thought I’d take a moment now to explain just _how_ all that speculation came about. It might be enlightening to some of you with less experience in the Ways of The Internet.

Now, I love to explain things to people (you may have noticed) and share experiences and perceptions. Working with and on the show has been a fascinating experience, and one I know many fans are deeply interested in. Ergo, I’m always willing to explain or discuss things about the show that aren’t confidential or spoilers.

I first came online in 1985, long before the internet as we now know it existed. I was doing a software review for Byte magazine, who provided me with a trial membership to something called Compuserve, so I could include mention of the software’s “online Support Forum” (this being the coolest, sexiest thing anyone ever thought of at the time….). I wrote the review, and while poking around Compuserve, stumbled into a group called the Literary Forum—basically, a 24-hour cocktail party of people discussing books (and for someone with two full-time jobs and three children under six, the ideal social life).

I signed up with Compuserve and have basically regarded the Forum (in its various iterations) as my electronic hangout ever since. For quite a long time, Compuserve was a members-only place; you had to subscribe to get in (it didn’t cost anything, but you did need to be a real person with a real name—not an avatar, a handle or anything of that sort). This meant that it was also a pretty private place, with a relatively small population.

Well, the Internet evolved, and so did Compuserve. It’s open to the web now, like everything else, and has grown somewhat in size. At the same time, the forum (now called the Books and Writers Community) has kept its character as a place where well-organized discussions and conversations take place. We actually have rules of civil discourse, and while discussions are honest and occasionally heated, we rarely have trolls and when they appear, they don’t last long.

So, naturally when the show became a reality three years ago (that’s when the contracts for it were signed), people in my folder on Books and Writers started asking questions about it, which I’ve answered and discussed as I could, ever since.

Since I was writing an episode for this season—my first foray into scriptwriting—naturally people were interested in that; the nuts and bolts of the scripting process, my own feelings about it, the how and why of the show’s content, and so on. So, I explained how the Writers Room works, and the collective/collaborative nature of the material that ends up in scripts, what happens to them then, and so on.

Someone asked if I always agreed with things that were done on the show (because _they_ sure didn’t!), and I explained (not for the first time) about adaptation, how I regard the process, why I’m fine for the most part with changes made for television, why you _can’t_ do some things that the books do, and you _can_ do some things the books can’t, and so on. I said that of course there were some things I didn’t agree with, but that when they occurred, I’d mention them to Ron and Maril and the scripwriters, we’d discuss them and usually something could be worked out.

Someone asked, did some things _not_ work out, did they ever do stuff I really didn’t like? I said—quite casually—sure, that’s bound to happen and it’s not a big deal. But I added (since it was fresh in my mind) that they had insisted on doing one thing that I’d told them I thought was “jumping the shark”—adding that they’d _laughed_ when I said that. (I was actually _in_ the Writers Room at the time.)

Now, a brief digression—I don’t actually watch television. (I love TV; it’s just too addictive for me to watch anything on a regular basis and still get enough work done. And I do watch the show’s daily footage, which takes up any time I _might_ spend on regular TV.)

After a major book or other project is finished, I’ll take a few weeks and binge-watch a show, a couple of episodes a night. But I don’t watch television the way most people do, and frankly, while I did know the term “jumping the shark” and what it referred to (the incident with Fonzie and Happy Days), I’d always taken it in the sense of “something exaggerated and/or strikingly unlikely in context—something that goes too far or is inappropriate.”
One of my more culturally-informed offspring, hearing about the subsequent controversy, told me kindly that I should really have referred to what the writers had in mind as “screwing the pooch,” as “jumping the shark” had to do with some outre move introduced to get eyeballs for a failing show—which was clearly not the case here (Outlander’s overall ratings have put it at #1 on the Neilson Twitter list more than once, and it’s Starz’s lead show). I have no idea whether that’s right, either, but I really don’t use that kind of language…

Still, that’s what I said, and no harm done, though a few of the people I was talking to naturally wanted to know _what_ this striking element might be. I said that I wasn’t going to say more about it, because—spoilers aside (and I don’t give away things ahead of time) people being as variable in their tastes and responses as they are—probably not everyone would see the element in the same light I did, and I didn’t want to influence anyone’s response ahead of their actually seeing the episode in question.

So…imagine my surprise, a couple of weeks later, to find that a Scottish newspaper (with a website and Twitter feed) had published an article in which “Outlander Author Denounces “Shark Jumping” in Show” – or something similar. This headline was followed by an article in which I reportedly “announced,” “insisted,” “asserted,” (and other silly verbs) my objections to this unspecified shark-jumping.

Now—having been online since 1985, I understand very well how the internet works. It’s All About Content, because that’s all there _is_. Consequently, bloggers and news outlets are in a constant competition to grab (or make up) anything that looks faintly like “content.”

I’ve pretty much _been_ “content” for the last ten years or so, and this perception of my online value kind of sky-rocketed with the advent of the TV show. This is all well and good; the content business works (generally) to the benefit of both sides. The media gets the content that makes people look at their ad-clogged sites, and the actual creator of said content gets free exposure for whatever their product or association is.

I’m accustomed to having anything I say in public online picked up and repeated in all kinds of quarters. Usually this is fine; sometimes it leads to careless (or silly, or unscrupulous) misquotings and misunderstandings, but I have a website, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page, and can always post a clarification—which is what _this_ is.
Quoting something I’ve said is fine. Deliberately misrepresenting something I’ve said (as in making it appear that I “went public” with my thoughts on shark-jumping, and went so far as to give this publication an interview in order to say so)…not so much.

God knows, I don’t expect them to ask my permission to use anything—but for something this noticeable, I think it’s a trifle discourteous to neither inform me that they were using it, or ask me for my own comments.

I was mulling over what I might say to the news outlet in question (you’ll notice that I don’t name them)—I wanted to make it clear that I didn’t like what they’d done, but acknowledge that it’s good for both sides if we maintain a good working relationship, and suggest ways in which this might be improved—when I got an email from an editor at this publication, with whom I'm familiar:

Hi Diana
Hope you are well. I have been alerted to the chat thread about your 'jump the shark' comments and the story [news outlet] carried yesterday which has gathered some interest.
The original version of this story actually came from [unscrupulous blogger whose name I won’t mention because damned if I’ll give them any exposure] _who contacted us and asked us to carry our own version with links back to their original story_ - which we did ( see below for the source they sent us).
We don't monitor the many Outlander chat forums (and also don't want you to think we are stalking you!!) however we are always grateful when a fan group alert us to a potential story.
Although it does look like this one has backfired if your comments have been used out of context.
Should I explain myself on the AOL forum?
Hope it hasn't caused you too much upset.
Many thanks

This was very thoughtful of the editor, and I’ll chat with them and get things on a better footing for future stories that might emerge (as in, “if you get a good story, ask me if I actually said it, and chances are good you’ll get a better one”).

But I did want to point out to all and sundry that if you _ever_ see a headline or article stating vehemently that I “revealed” something (especially in the UK press, whose style this frequently is)…I probably didn’t say it, and/or I sure didn’t say it to _them_. (Especially if the article is posted with a particularly unflattering photo. )
posted by olinerd at 6:23 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

it was annoying if you know the book storyline, but I wouldn't call it jumping the shark?

The real problem I see here is that the later Laoghaire storyline is only possible because Jamie doesn't actually know the extent of what she did to Claire. With him being aware of everything, it makes that later storyline way more of a betrayal. And at the same time, being "I'll totally forgive you" reduces the power of that betrayal for Claire. So it's kind of a bad idea all around.
posted by corb at 2:59 PM on June 8, 2016

I'm not sure how well Claire's going to get on with the whole Jacobite history re-writing thing - but she is doing wonderful services to the 18th century potato industry. I predict hash browns and crisps (first actual recording 1822) before too long.
posted by rongorongo at 12:28 AM on August 21, 2016

« Older Movie: X-Men: Apocalypse...   |  Podcast: Sampler: #16 'Yikes!'... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments