Monday, May 30, 2016

Outlander 2x08 Review: “The Fox’s Lair” (Old Habits Die Hard) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

“The Fox’s Lair”
Original Airdate: May 28, 2016

Claire and Jamie are back in Scotland, enjoying the calm domestic life, which of course can’t last for long. The two easily slip back into their old life and back into their old ways.

The Fraser family — including Jenny, Jenny’s husband, Murtagh, and Fergus, who did come back with Jamie and Claire — looks like they truly enjoy each other’s company as they harvest some very large potatoes. Jenny and the cook are unfamiliar with the spud, so Claire and Fergus tell them how they are cooked. Fergus’ way is my favorite: baked, with some butter and salt. Claire and Jamie share an adorable kiss after he needles Claire about her cooking abilities, and that’s how you know it’s all going to go downhill quickly. When the mail comes in, Jamie finds out that his cousin in Paris forged his signature on a document that supports Charles Stewart’s divine right to the British throne, making Jamie a traitor to the crown.

When talking over their options, Claire and Jamie decide they can’t run away. The only option they can live with is to stay and fight for Prince Charles because if they can’t stop the uprising, they can at least try to win it. This is not exactly a twist, since it would be very unlike Jamie and Claire to leave their family and community to be annihilated without at least trying to help, and I am not looking forward to the pain and suffering that I know will come for Jamie and Claire.

To give themselves their best shot at winning this war, Jamie decides he needs to ask for help from his grandfather. (I am definitely going to start calling all grandpas “grandsires” from now on.) His grandfather, Lord Lovat, is a monster, willing to do anything to get what he wants, including threaten to rape his grandson’s wife. Even Claire and Jamie, who are experts now at political maneuvering, can’t keep up with Lord Lovat’s manipulation.

The political calculations in this episode were not my favorite. Tough to follow and mostly dependent on despicable people, it felt like Jamie and Claire were in back in Paris trying to change the outcome of a war. After everything they’ve been through, Claire and Jamie easily fall into their old tricks and it’s tiresome to watch. It’s a familiar story now: Claire is threatened with rape, Jamie tells people Claire is a witch to scare people into leaving them alone, Jamie and Claire attend a disastrous dinner where they try to manipulate everyone into doing what they want.

Claire did show that she learned to leave some things up to Jamie’s discretion, especially when it comes to his family. When she first visited the Frasers, Claire’s outspokenness got her and Jamie into trouble. But this visit to Jamie’s family, Claire leaves the room when Jamie asks her to and she keeps silent at dinner. It’s frustrating to be subject to the kind of sexism where women are considered decoration at the dinner table, but it’s smart political tactics to sit back and observe and allow Jamie to lead discussions with his grandfather.

By staying out of Lord Lovat’s way, Claire is able to help put together a plan. Laoghaire — another unwelcome blast from the past – has traveled with Colum Mackenzie to Lord Lovat’s unofficial war conference. Colum is on the opposite side of Jamie and wants Lord Lovat to sign a pact of neutrality rather than support the rebellion. Lord Lovat’s son Simon is infatuated with Laoghaire, and Claire convinces Laoghaire to help build Simon’s confidence. With some newfound gusto, Claire hopes Simon will stand up with his father and convince him to send men to fight for Prince Charles.

While working on this plan, which seems iffy at best, Claire also learns that Lord Lovat’s seer has had a vision of Lord Lovat facing an executioner. But who holds the axe — the British or the Jacobites — is unclear.

When Claire’s plan of confidence-by-seduction doesn’t work, Jamie thinks he will need to sign over Lollybroch to get Lord Lovat to agree to send men to the cause. In a Hail Mary pass, Claire interrupts Jamie and pretends to have the same vision the seer told her about. Only Claire changes the outcome to look like the Jacobites are executing Lord Lovat. Lord Lovat gets predictably angry and heads toward Claire with a knife in his hand – only to be stopped by his son. Simon declares his father and Colum to be old fearful men, and he says he will fight with Jamie because it’s the right thing to do. It looks like his newfound confidence did something after all.

After this display, Lord Lovat still decides to sign the neutrality agreement. However, he also decides to send men with Jamie and Simon. By doing both, Lord Lovat thinks he has both sides covered no matter who wins the war.

This episode moved Jamie and Claire toward the inevitable war between the British and the clans, but it was more full of plot mechanics than real emotion. And honestly, if I never see Laoghaire again it will be too soon. I don’t get why she’s still obsessed with Jamie, and I don’t much like this one dimensional character.

Un Petit Mot:
  • I suppose I should change the title of this section now that Claire and Jamie aren’t in France anymore. 
  • I guess Jamie and Claire are just leaning into Claire being a witch now. 
  • Claire and Jamie are now convincing people to fight in the rebellion, which in itself could change the course of history and lead the rebellion to actually happen. Maybe if they had sat this one out, it would have fallen apart before it got going. Time travel! It’s tricky!
  • Simon was a delightful doofus, and Laoghaire should get some points for not running away when Simon started reciting poetry at her. 
  • “My grandfather is not opposed to decoration at the dinner table, as long as the decoration doesn’t speak.”


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