Original Airdate: May 7, 2016
This episode picks up just a few hours after the disastrous dinner party of last week. Jamie has just gotten back from the Bastille — a fortress in France that was used as a prison. Jamie and Claire start to piece together what they know about the attack on Claire and Mary, and Murtagh brings back some valuable information to add: notably, that the attackers were members of a gang called Les Disciples. To get into the gang, you have to take a woman’s maidenhead — by force if need be, apparently.
Claire and Jamie also figure out why the men ran away from Claire after calling her La Dame Blanche. Jamie accidentally started the rumor he was married to a witch to keep the women away from him at the brothel he frequents with Prince Charles. Not Jamie’s brightest move, considering his wife was almost burned at the stake after she was accused of being a witch not too long ago. This is great gossip, of course, so this rumor spreads from the brothel to the streets, and even into Les Disciples. What’s unclear to me is how they knew Claire by sight, and why they decided to attack her in the first place if they were afraid of La Dame Blanche, who is a mythical sorceress. And if they didn’t see the women before they attacked — well, that seems like a poor strategy for a criminal to use. Especially since a way into the gang is to take a woman’s virginity. If they didn’t know who they were attacking, how would they know she was a virgin?
So some of the attack is still not quite hanging together for me, but maybe I’m being too picky; I’ll move on. Speaking of, Mary is also trying to move on — from the horrible thing that happened to her. Her life is significantly changed. One thing that is sort of odd to me is that her life plans are changed more by the false assumption that Alex raped her than her actual rape, which no one knew about. But I guess it’s all out of the bag after Alex and Jamie were taken to the Bastille and tried to explain what really happened, so maybe people do know that Mary was really raped? Though you’d think that they would try to keep that a secret for the same reasons they didn’t want to tell anyone about it last week. They could easily say that Mary and Claire were mugged and leave the rape out of the reports.
Anyway, what I really want to focus on is the lovely scene between Mary and Claire. It was really touching to see Claire check in on Mary, and it was heartbreaking to see Mary say she felt ashamed and that she would never be the same, before asking Claire if she was going to have a baby. I think this scene was really great, and it focused a lot on the consequences of the attack physically, emotionally, and socially for Mary. She is no longer betrothed to her old, gross fiancé, and her uncle is making her leave France once she’s recovered. The rape changed Mary’s entire life, and it changed her forever. And it’s great to see the show acknowledge that.
This scene between Mary and Claire makes Claire’s betrayal to Mary sting all the more. Mary gives Claire a written account of the attack to deliver to the Bastille to help clear Alex Randall’s name. When Claire realizes that Mary and Alex are in love and plan to marry, she worries that she has jeopardized Frank, who is a future descendant of Mary and Black Jack Randall, not Mary and Alex Randall. She contemplates burning Mary’s letter, and she goes to Alex to convince him not to marry Mary.
Alex listens to Claire’s concerns and tells her that he loves Mary enough not to condemn her to a life of penury and nursing his illness. So he says he won’t marry her, and he leaves Claire, looking heartbroken himself. I was hoping that Alex was just telling Claire what she wanted to hear before eloping with Mary and leaving Claire behind forever, but Mary’s sweetheart is likely telling Claire the truth. If someone who cared about Mary raised concerns to him, Alex would likely listen to those concerns.
Claire pretended to be Mary’s friend just to throw her under the bus for an uncertain future. (It’s almost as if Claire hasn’t read any stories about time travel, and how messing with the past is always a bad idea!) Claire has no idea what the future holds for Mary, but she is willing to destroy Mary’s happiness to try to get what she wants — even though Claire’s involvement is likely what changed the future for Mary to begin with. She knows Alex is ill, so what if he dies before he and Mary have a child, or any other numerous scenarios that could happen that still results in Frank being born way down the line? Claire is meddling for selfish reasons, and the fact that she is pushing a young, innocent girl into the arms of someone as terrible as Black Jack Randall is really despicable, no matter the reasons for it. I’m starting to think Claire and Jamie should never have come to Paris, and instead just gone away and lived out their lives with each other far away from the politics of France.
Since they couldn’t stay away, they are now deep in the middle of a web of lies and tricks they can’t get out of. If Claire’s morals are getting murkier, it’s no wonder that evil found her again in the form of Black Jack Randall. BJR is back, running into Claire and Jamie in Versailles — which is pretty brilliant since neither of them can draw their swords at Versailles without being sentenced to death for drawing a weapon in the presence of the king.
When Jamie challenges BJR to a duel at a later time, Claire realizes once again that Frank’s future is in danger, so she pulls another selfish trick and makes a false accusation against BJR that gets him thrown in the Bastille long enough to talk Jamie out of fighting him. She pleads with Jamie to spare BJR’s life so that Frank can be born in the future, which is really honestly a terrible thing to ask of Jamie, even if it’s true. In a heartbreaking line, Jamie asks Claire if he must bear everyone’s weakness and not have any of his own.
Claire and Jamie — okay, mostly Claire — are starting to cross lines they can’t come back from on their quest to change the future. Because of the reveal from the beginning of the season, we know that it’s all fruitless, and their moral descent is for nothing. Claire has to ask herself how far she’s willing to go to change the future, even if it haunts her past.
Un Petit Mot:
- Where can I get some of Claire’s robes? Plus her floral and goldenrod outfit is one of the best ever on the show. It was so gorgeous.
- Claire seems weirdly okay with Jamie planning murderous revenge. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of her plans, that is.
- I love that Jamie and the Comte St. Germain refuse to speak each other’s languages. St. Germain speaks in French to Jamie, and Jamie speaks English to him. They understand each other, but they are not going to relate on anything, not even the language they use in conversation.
- The scene where BJR, Jamie, and Claire reunite was wonderfully acted. All three of them tried to keep their cool in front of the king but were clearly fighting many different impulses.
- The last scene of Jamie and Claire was quite beautiful and made them look so isolated and alone.