Tuesday, May 10, 2016

“Time Heals All Wounds - or does it?” A recap of Season 2 episode 5 by your Aussie blogging lass

OutlanderHomepage Originals By Susie Brown

Uh-oh. The elaborate strings are back. As Raya Yarbrough’s vocals fade out at the start of the episode, the Skye Boat melody is taken up by the strings. The last time they appeared, the episode that followed dealt with deception and unease. Already it seems, the hints are here - it will only be a matter of time before something goes wrong. Indeed,
 the concept of time immediately makes its presence felt, in the form of a loudly ticking clock that is heard throughout the opening scene. 

As the servants clear up the carnage from the dinner party - straightening furniture, picking up strewn flowers and righting overturned vases, Claire stands alone. 
Her voiceover brings the viewer up to date. The gendarmes, sent for by the Comte St Germain amidst the chaos of the fight, had arrived and carted everyone off to the Bastilles, even though, as Claire states, it had all been a misunderstanding. Alex Randall had not been assaulting Mary, while Jamie and Murtagh had done nothing at all, save defend the tragic couple from attack.

Soon enough, Jamie’s footsteps are heard echoing through the corridor. He finds Claire on the chaise lounge, next to a sleeping Fergus, who has been keeping watch with her throughout the night.
Jamie compliments Fergus on guarding his mistress and gathers the boy up into his arms. Claire and Jamie share a tender kiss and we get a glimpse of what parenthood for them could look like - with tired smiles and affectionate touches as they carry a sleeping child to bed. It is a comforting image. Yet all the while, the clock is ticking in the background...

Shortly afterwards, Jamie relates what has happened to him, telling Claire that Duverney had arrived at the Bastille and demanded his release. He asks if Claire is all right and she replies, “Yes, we’re fine, now that you’re home.” It is another nod to their impending parenthood, accompanied by Claire’s protective gesture of rubbing her belly. Murtagh has also been released, Jamie says, but Alex Randall has not been so lucky.  Mary’s uncle has accused him of attacking his niece, a charge that can only been refuted by Mary herself. Claire says that they must help Alex, adding that he is not like his brother, Black Jack, but the look on Jamie’s face indicates that he is not as convinced of this as she. Claire asks if the Duke of Sandringham will vouch for his secretary, but is told that the Duke has already dismissed Alex from his service, due to the public scandal. The only positive that has come from the dinner is the fact that Sandringham seems to have recognised Charles Stuart for “the poor investment that he is.” On learning that Charles actually left the dinner with St Germain, Jamie remarks that no good can come of the pairing. He decides to have Murtagh follow St Germain, to see if there is any evidence to suggest that the Comte planned the attack on Claire and Mary. 

The conversation then turns to the events in the alley, with Jamie asking if Claire can remember anything else about the attack itself. Claire describes the attackers as being both well dressed and well spoken, remarking that rather than her having to escape, the attackers had fled when they had seen her face, calling her La Dame Blanche, which she understands from Fergus is a type of sorceress. 
This leads Jamie to rather shamefacedly admit that he may have been responsible for giving her this title, as a tactic for avoiding the unwanted attentions of the ladies at Maison Elise. Claire is irritated, remembering all too clearly the witch accusations at Crainesmuir. The fact remains though, that this narrows the pool of suspects to customers at Maison Elise and that if the identity of the men can be discovered, then a link with St Germain may result. The scene ends with the two in a comfortable embrace, 
Jamie saying that all he wishes for after the long night is for Claire to lay in his arms. 

Next, we see the wine business’ quarters for the first time, as a kilted Jamie takes charge of the latest shipment. Murtagh reports the results of his tracking of St Germain, which are disappointing. Nothing suspicious has been noted, although while at Maison Elise, he has heard of a gang called “Les Disciples”. The gang is made up of aristocrats who prowl the streets in search of young women, with membership to the gang granted by way of “a maidenhead”. This would explain the glee of the attacker who had proclaimed Mary to be a virgin. 

Murtagh is obviously troubled, finally confessing to Jamie that he cannot forgive himself for the attack in the alley, stating that he has failed his godson because he did not protect Claire, the unborn child and Mary, after Jamie had entrusted them all to his care. Jamie’s reassurance is swift, albeit with a slight initial hesitation, reminding his godfather that he had been outmanned. Murtagh remains horrified by what could have happened, prompting Jamie to entrust him with a further task: to keep after St Germain and bring proof that the Comte is connected to the gang. This reinvigorates Murtagh’s purpose, the older man promising to lay just vengeance at Jamie’s feet.  This scene occurs differently to the book, but the same message is conveyed - Murtagh will stop at nothing to keep Jamie and his family safe and will exact vengeance on anyone who threatens them. Jamie’s solemn nod deepens the importance of this promise and the strength of the bond that exists between the two men. 

Meanwhile, Claire calls on Mary Hawkins, finding the young girl locked away from prying eyes by her overly protective family. Admitted to her room on the pretext of giving Mary a full medical examination, Claire learns that Mary is confined to the house and that once she has recovered, she must leave Paris. Mary has written a letter to the authorities at the Bastille, providing details of the attack and exonerating Alex. She begs Claire to deliver it for her, saying that Alex is a good man with a kind heart. Claire promises to see it delivered and talk turns to Mary’s recovery. 

With a haunted look that displays all too clearly the loss of the innocent young girl that she was - and perhaps in a parallel to the conversation that Jamie had with Claire at the end of season 1 - Mary tells Claire that she feels ashamed, like a different person who will never be the same again. The older woman hurries to tell her that the attack was not her fault, but Mary’s demeanour doesn’t change. Physically though, she is recovering: the bleeding has stopped and Claire has brought herbs to help with discomfort. Mary asks if she is going to have a baby and we see a look cross Claire’s face. She knows from Frank’s family tree that Mary will indeed have a baby in the future, one fathered by none other than Black Jack Randall and this knowledge seems to unnerve her momentarily. She soon regains her composure though, reassuring Mary that she wouldn’t be pregnant, given her attacker’s inability to “finish”. Mary states how grateful she is for all that Claire has done for her, remarking that at least now she can’t be forced to marry the dreadful Viscomte, who would never take “a soiled bride.” In an attempt to cheer the stricken young women, Claire deems her too pretty and sweet to marry a warty old man. It is a comment that indeed results in a small smile from Mary, who then tells Claire that once Alex is released the two plan to marry. It is news that disturbs Claire greatly,as she actively begins to worry about the future of Frank. If Mary and Alex marry, instead of Mary and Jack, how could Frank be born?

At the house, we see Claire wrestling with her conscience, sorely tempted to throw Mary’s letter into the fire. Knowing that this would be an act that would condemn Alex Randall to prison, Claire is unable to do so, not without being completely certain that such an action would ensure Frank’s existence.

Back at the wine business, Charles Stuart appears to talk to Jamie. He has rid himself of the “female haze that clouded his mind” and is fully committed to the Jacobite cause once again. While the English supporters have withdrawn their support, Charles has joined forces with the Comte St Germain, securing a bank loan that will enable the financially reduced Comte to purchase a case of Portuguese Madeira. Once sold, says Charles, the resulting profit will be used to start securing ships and weapons, which will in turn lead King Louis to provide the remaining funds. 
In Charles’ mind, it is only a matter of time before he can deliver the throne of Britain to his father. Jamie tries to dissuade Charles from associating with the Comte, citing rumours of heretical circles and demonic rituals. The prince dismisses this though, saying that he pays those rumours no more heed than the ones circulating about Claire. In a final twist, Charles informs Jamie that he has arranged for Jamie himself to be the one to sell the wine to the Comte, so that he can complete the transaction and keep an eye of St Germain at the same time. Reluctantly, Jamie joins Charles in a toast to the future, when the rightful King will sit on the throne once more. The Prince is once again in control - and the ominous music builds!

The scene that follows is one solely written for the tv series and is one of the more disturbing scenes of the season to date. Alex Randall and Claire are walking in the garden, Alex expressing his gratitude to Claire for assisting in his release from the Bastille. They discuss his plan to wed Mary and Claire expresses her concern at Alex’s ability to find employment now that he has been dismissed from the Duke’s service. This leads to a debilitating coughing fit which takes Alex a few moments to recover from. Claire seizes on this too, suggesting that Mary would be robbed of her youth playing nurse to him and that Alex should consider the type of life he can offer her and set aside his feelings. 

Obviously distressed, Alex agrees: he loves Mary enough to want her to have the future she deserves. Claire tells him that while Mary loves Alex very much she will move on. Alex thanks her for her candour, remarking that Mary is fortunate to have Claire as a friend. He bows and takes his leave, whereupon Claire’s voiceover states that it broke her heart to break his in this way. She admits to robbing the young couple of happiness, but sees herself as having no other choice. The evidence from the 1940s links Mary to Black Jack, not to Alex and as Frank’s music begins to play softly in the background, Claire states that Alex and Mary simply cannot be, for Frank’s sake. Despite this, it is a disturbing betrayal. Claire knows Alex to be a good man and she is well aware of his brother’s sadistic cruelty. Earlier, she had declared Mary to be too pretty and sweet for the warty old Viscomte, to say nothing of her wish to see Mary’s attackers brought to justice, yet she is now prepared to see Mary at the mercy of Black Jack, whose penchant for torture she knows intimately. This scene further highlights the fact that actions can have very serious consequences. It is indeed “untimely” - Frank’s future may well depend on these actions in the past, but it will come at the cost of two innocent souls.

At Maison Elise, Jamie and the Comte conduct an icy conversation in two separate languages- Jamie refusing to speak French and the Comte refusing to speak English. Yet both men understand each other perfectly well. Neither wish to be doing business with the other and issue their own warnings: the Comte will not forget Claire’s attempt to “ruin” him, while Jamie promises vengeance on those who poisoned and attacked Claire. 
After telling Jamie that he is not interested in his personal affairs, the Comte states his intention to procure the shipment of wine himself, telling Jamie to contact him when the buyers are in place. With a disdainful sneer he tosses coins on the table and leaves.

Jamie updates Claire that evening, remarking that if the wine venture is successful, Charles is likely to gain the needed funds and set sail for Scotland. Claire replies that this means they must ensure that Charles never gets his hands on the money and that the shipment must be destroyed. Jamie’s joke that perhaps the Comte could bring in another ship with smallpox leads Claire to think of a plan whereby herbs could be used to produce the appearance of smallpox amongst the crew, leading ultimately to the destruction of the cargo. She plans to investigate this the following day, but Jamie reminds her that they are due at the Royal Stables, as he had agreed to assist the Duke of Sandringham in the purchase of some horses. Claire is unimpressed, saying that Jamie doesn’t owe the Duke any favours, but he responds that he also doesn’t want to court any disfavour. Rising, he goes to collect a box from the desk that he presents to Claire, saying that he had been waiting for a good time to surprise her.

She opens the box to find a set of 12 apostle spoons, that had been passed down through his family. Jenny has sent them over from Lallybroch at his request for a christening gift, stating her own excitement at the pregnancy. Obviously moved, Claire shows her vulnerability, wondering tearfully if she will be a good mother. She only has a vague memory of her own mother and has nothing really to guide her. Jamie reassures her, saying that what she doesn’t know, they will learn together. For the first time this season, they say the 3 simple words to each other: I love you, with Jamie adding the Mo nighean donn term of endearment. It is a beautiful moment, and gorgeously acted by Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. 

The splendour of the Royal Stables is breathtaking - kudos to the designers of this scene. Elegantly dressed people are wandering around the grounds, but disturbingly, the elaborate music has begun in earnest. It heralds unpleasantness - and indeed, it appears quickly, in the form of Sandringham. 
With Claire feigning illness after his greeting, Jamie and the Duke get down to the business of the day, choosing horses while the Duke gossips about recent events, branding Charles Stuart an “utter ass”. Jamie continues to remark on the horses, but maintains his supposed Jacobite allegiance, commenting that while he also sees the prince for what he is, the Prince’s father is the true King. Meantime, Claire listens to gossip of a different sort, while on a walk through the garden with Jamie’s ex-girlfriend, Annalise. 

With exquisite politeness, Annalise annoys Claire by talking of her own time with Jamie, when he was direct, honest and simple. She remarks that Claire has turned him into a man of business and politics. Claire replies that he is still Jamie, who will never lose sight of who he is at heart. Annalise argues the point, saying that her Jamie was impulsive and headstrong and that while he still may possess this quality, Claire has turned the boy into a man. At this point, Annalise notices a different man striding towards them, one who she says is showing a particular interest in Claire.

Claire turns, just as Jack Randall comes into view. He walks over and utters one word of greeting: “Claire.” It is chilling, as it is delivered in Frank’s tone of voice. It is also the first time that Black Jack has used her first name, almost as if, in his twisted mind, the events of Wentworth have put them on intimate first name terms. 

By contrast, he makes an elaborate introduction to Annalise, speaking in French and bowing low, an action that is obviously difficult for him. Annalise replies in English, asking if he is in some discomfort, to which he replies, with a long look at Claire, that he met with an accident some time ago. Abruptly turning away from him, Claire tells Annalise that she is unwell, prompting the other woman to offer to get her husband for her. Claire says that this is unnecessary, but it is too late. Randall has heard. “Jamie,” he says. “He’s here?” Instantly, Black Jack is back in control: circling Claire, all the while speaking of how the universe had set them on seemingly divergent paths, yet leading them to meet at the French court. 

He refuses to let Claire pass him, but breaks off his conversation with a sudden,  “The King.” Claire responds with a profanity, realising all too late, courtesy of Black Jack’s elaborate bow and mocking glance, that she has just sworn in the presence of King Louis.

It is where Randall’s control ends, however. In a delicious scene, expertly delivered by Lionel Lingelser as Louis, Randall is mocked by the King and his courtiers. Whilst complimenting Claire and stating his pleasure at seeing her again, the King switches to English when speaking to Black Jack, intimating that the latter’s French is not good enough to continue the conversation in the King’s tongue. He follows this with a veiled insult of Jack’s uniform and comments on the English army’s penchant for “slaughtering each other.” 
Louis asks Claire if she and Black Jack are friends, musing aloud how their acquaintance would be viewed by her Scottish warrior husband. 
At this, Jamie appears, causing Black Jack to briefly touch his hand to the sword on his hip. But Jamie manages to keep himself in check, greeting the King and conducting a stilted but charged conversation with Black Jack, where he asks after the latter’s health. Fearing Jamie’s ability to keep this up for long, Claire pulls Jamie close to her and asks Black Jack what he is doing in France.
This is the one time we see a glimmer of humanity in Jack Randall. He states that he has come on a mission of mercy: to convince the Duke to reinstate his brother into his service.

King Louis responds that perhaps Black Jack should beg the Duke, on his knees. Unsure as to whether the King is asking him to beg immediately, Randall does just that, kneeling before the King. This earns him an immediate mocking reaction from the King and his entourage, Louis branding the English as being “so literal.” 

Jamie also, can barely contain his delight at seeing Randall so obviously humiliated. Claire asks for permission to retire, as she is feeling unwell, leading Louis to dismiss both her and Jamie. After they have walked away, Louis then tells Black Jack to rise also, so that he doesn’t stain his “pretty britches”. 

As they walk, Jamie asks Claire if she is really unwell. Once she admits that she had merely wanted them to get away, Jamie strides straight back towards where Black Jack is standing. 
Claire watches tensely, seeing Randall lay a hand on Jamie’s chest, before the men bow formally to one another. When Jamie returns to Claire, he is holding his excitement in check, telling Claire that he has challenged Randall to a duel which Black Jack has accepted, telling Jamie that he “owes me a death.”

As soon as they arrive home, Jamie sends Fergus in search of Murtagh, proclaiming the day to be a grand one. But instead of getting out of the carriage, Claire demands that the coachmen drive her to the Bastille, with all due haste. The reason for this soon becomes clear. 

That evening, Jamie and Murtagh are discussing the particulars of the duel. Murtagh reminds Jamie to be careful, as Randall is able to choose the weapon and even though this is likely to be swords rather than pistols, the captain is an expert swordsman and cannot be underestimated. Jamie is ready for action, flexing his injured fingers as he speaks. Suddenly Claire appears in the doorway and announces that there will be no duel, as Randall is in the Bastille. Claire says that she has made accusations that Black Jack was the one who attacked herself and Mary. 
While she knows that he won’t be held for long, Claire had wanted time to make Jamie see sense. She tells Jamie that dueling is outlawed in France and that if he’s caught he will find himself in the Bastille, compelling him to think of her and the baby. Murtagh tries to assure her that they won’t be caught, but Claire asks him to leave, saying that it is a matter between Jamie and her.

The final few minutes of the episode are some of the most powerful ever seen on television and are exquisitely acted by both Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. Jamie begins by reminding Claire that she had given him a gift by telling him that Randall was alive and that he intends to claim the gift. Claire responds, saying that he can’t kill Randall now, because if he does, then Frank will not be born. She explains the link between Mary Hawkins and Black Jack and the child that they are meant to have, a baby that will be Frank’s direct ancestor. If Jamie kills Randall before the child is conceived, he will in effect, kill Frank too. 

Claire implores Jamie, telling him through her tears that Frank must exist, as he is part of the future. Jamie’s reply is grim, telling her that he thought they were there to change the future. 

Claire’s pleas become more desperate. Frank is an innocent man, she tells him, who has harmed neither of them. Jamie’s reactions become more angry. He tells Claire that he can bear a lot, but why should he bear everyone’s weakness, without being allowed his own? Jamie can’t believe that Claire will ask him to spare Randall’s life, when she alone saw precisely what Black Jack had done to him. Claire begs for a delay, just long enough for the child to be conceived, but Jamie refuses, saying that she must choose, as he will not live while Randall does. 
He places his dagger into Claire’s hand, aiming the point at his heart. If she won’t allow Jamie to kill Black Jack, then she must kill Jamie herself. Again, Claire begs for a delay: a year, so that the child may be conceived. Throwing away the knife, she says that Jamie owes her that much. Desperate now, she plays her final card: saying that she has saved Jamie’s life not once, but twice and he owes her a life. 

The look that Jamie gives Claire is so full of anger, betrayal and hurt that it actually takes your breath away. This is the first time that there is no hint of affection evident anywhere on Jamie’s face. It is a masterclass of acting by Sam Heughan, that only intensifies and it is hard to imagine that the actor will not be rewarded with some award nominations for this scene alone. Jamie’s voice is choked, his eyes bright with unshed tears and he turns away. He cannot believe, he says, that Claire will deny him vengeance of the man that made him play his whore; the man who lived in his nightmares and in their bed, the man who almost drove him to suicide. But as a man of honour who pays his debts, he asks her to confirm what she is asking of him: will she claim the debt in the form of Jack Randall’s life? 
Through her tears and quickened breaths, Claire does so. Bitterly, Jamie nods. With a look of barely contained fury, he picks up his sword, kisses it and returns it to its scabbard near the fire, saying “A year. Not one day more.” Relieved, Claire reaches for him but he jerks backwards, hissing, “Do not touch me.” The episode ends with the couple at opposite ends of the room, but the distance between them is now unmeasurable. 

When interviewed about this episode, Sam Heughan stated that it touches on the theme that all actions have consequences. Claire’s actions in this episode may well have ripples throughout time, but in her quest to save the innocent Frank in the future, she has betrayed others in her present, destroying not only Mary and Alex’s relationship, but potentially shattering her own, just as it was returning to the affectionate partnership of old. Randall has reappeared between Jamie and Claire, but without some of his all consuming power from season 1. While his resurrection was indeed bad timing, it remains to be seen whether it is Claire herself, not Black Jack, who has been the ultimate destroyer of Jamie and Claire’s love. 

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a teacher librarian and writer who lives in Australia. Her heart was pounding for the last half of the episode and, even though she knew what was coming, the brilliance of the acting took her breath away. 

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