Saturday, May 14, 2016

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Claire and Jamie Attempt to Foil Prince Charles' Latest Plan in 'Best Laid Schemes...'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 2.06 "Best Laid Schemes..."

Jamie and Claire use Claire's medical knowledge to devise a scheme to stop a deal which could fill the war chest. When Claire learns Jamie has gone back on his word, the couple is met with dire consequences.

Claire's knowledge of the future has given this season a main narrative and story to keep Claire and Jamie busy. She has no big understanding of the mechanics of time traveling or the effects her presence in 1745 will have on the timeline. And yet, she's called to action to help preserve the future of Scotland because it is something she has become passionate about through her marriage to Jamie. This has been a rocky season for the two of them. They have been united in this mission. But so much has threatened to tear them apart. Their emotions and stubbornness easily get the better of them on a number of occasions. That has created a number of issues on this mission in Paris. But now, it's starting to feel like the main Paris story is coming to a close. Claire and Jamie's efforts to stop Prince Charles' rebellion may be starting to have an effect. And yet, now is also the time where the two of them are most personally devastated by each other's actions and the cruel twist of fate.

It was so destructive in the conclusion to last week's episode when Claire forced Jamie not to kill Black Jack for another year. She needed to make sure that Frank's lineage would stay intact. She never once mentions how Frank's presence leads her to Scotland and to Jamie in the first place. She's simply trying to protect a man who is completely innocent in all of this. But to Jamie, it's this horrifying betrayal that rocks him to his core. He needs to take his vengeance against Black Jack for what he did to him. He has gotten stronger once more and is willing and able to kill the man. That would bring him so much glory and pleasure right now. And yet, he can't. Claire keeps him from doing so. She manipulated the situation to ensure that he wouldn't. But now, Jamie needs to find his own rationalization for needing to wait in order to protect a man he does not know.

It turns out that Jamie's desire for Claire to be happy outweighs his need to get revenge on Black Jack. He cares so deeply for her. He has been willing to risk his life in order to help her change the future. He is going against his beliefs in order to lie, scheme and manipulate Prince Charles and his rebellion that will turn disastrous. But he also recognizes that he is the reason why she has found comfort in this time period. They have both rescued each other from perilous situations many times over the course of the series. Their bond is so strong. And yet, this isn't a life she should continue living if something should happen to him. She should have the ability to be happy. That's a much easier prospect in the time she comes from. Frank is an innocent man who loves her. Claire chose to stay and be with Jamie. But Jamie recognizes just how important Frank really is in this situation. He needs him alive so that there can always be happiness in Claire's future. Plus, the audience already has the knowledge that Claire will one day return to the 1940s. This episode is setting up why that would happen. So, does that mean that something horrible is about to happen to Jamie? Only time will tell but things don't look good right now.

So, Jamie agrees to Claire's demands not to duel Black Jack. He is sacrificing his needs for her. So instead, he once again dives into the main mission with Prince Charles. The Prince is still very adamant about finding funds for his war with England. He has been so determined. He fully believes that God is on his side and that he'll be victorious in this endeavor. He has experienced a number of setbacks so far because of Jamie and Claire. But he is still not dissuaded from doing what he believes needs to be done. He simply finds a new way to raise funds. That leads to a partnership between St. Germain and Jamie with a very lucrative wine deal. The trio don't like each other but need to deal with each other throughout this episode. Claire has concocted a way to make it look like the ship's crew have gotten smallpox - which would lead to the destruction of the cargo once more. But that isn't enough to stop this endeavor. Jamie has to take things a step further. He and Murtagh arrange for the transportation of the wine to be interrupted by bandits. It's a plan that could go wrong any number of ways. So many guns are in play during that confrontation. And yet, it works. The deal has gone through and Prince Charles has finally been defeated. He's horrified by what his future holds for him if he isn't successful in this endeavor. And now, it truly seems like this storyline is reaching its conclusion.

However, there is still so much uncertainty and danger for Claire and Jamie in Paris. This episode doesn't hold back on the joys and devastation they've experienced in this city. They finally agree that it's time to tell Murtagh the truth about Claire. His only reaction is being upset at them for not telling him sooner. This story helps provide a rationalization for every strange thing the two of them have done this season. Murtagh was lost and angry after Jamie chose not to fight Black Jack. But now, he is once again on their side. And yet, he's not there for them when they really need it at episode's end. Claire and Jamie are communicating with each other again. They are an effective team. They may have finally been successful with stopping Charles' rebellion. But even that victory doesn't last long. It's once again because of the complication Black Jack's presence in Paris has on them. Jamie is more than willing to focus his strength and efforts on St. Germain and Charles. It's a way to distract him from his nemesis being in the same city as him. But Jamie isn't able to avoid Black Jack forever - which has some possibly lethal consequences later on.

Jamie gave Claire his word that he would not fight Black Jack to the death. He was forced into saying it last week. But now, he truly means it. And yet, his emotions get the better of him when Fergus wonders around the brothel and quickly runs into trouble with Black Jack. Jamie's need to protect this boy from evil once again fills him with anger and animosity towards this man. He completely forgets about what he told Claire and decides to fight Black Jack. This is what he personally needs. He may mean well when he tells Claire that he won't fight. But this is a very personal and emotional issue for him. So, he acts impulsively and leaves Claire to watch in horror. It's an even more painful experience for Claire because she's starting to have some difficulties with her pregnancy. She's very far long now. The baby is kicking and the two have enjoyed the miracle that is growing inside of her. But Claire has started bleeding erratically as well. It was enough for Mother Hildegarde to be concerned. And now, it could have life changing consequences for Claire. She's in so much pain but still flees the city to stop Jamie before he kills Black Jack. And yet, she's too late. One of her lovers is going to die right before her eyes. All she can do is watch. It's a really brutal final sequence for the episode. And it ends with all three characters facing major peril for the future. Claire passes out from all of the blood loss and could be losing her baby. Jamie manages to stab Black Jack in the groin which causes him to bleed out as well. And Jamie finds himself arrested for illegally dueling in France. So even if Claire survives this ordeal, she will once again need to save Jamie's life. It's a tense tease for next week's episode where anything could happen to these characters.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Best Laid Schemes..." was written by Matthew B. Roberts and Metin Hüseyin.
  • Prince Charles accepts the misfortunes of the wine deal as a way of God saying not to move forward with this plan. However, St. Germain looks at it more suspiciously as someone interfering to keep Charles from being successful.
  • Claire's pregnancy issues were a little rushed towards the end of this episode. The baby is perfect fine and kicking early on. And then, she escapes to the hospital where Mother Hildegarde forces her to take a break. It's only then she notices the blood. She says it's normal but it's clearly not just a few moments later when Claire is running towards Jamie.
  • Claire also warns Master Raymond that King Louis is really cracking down on anyone caught practicing the dark arts in Paris. It's suspicious because the doctor/executioner is the one to tell Claire about this.
  • Even if Claire loses her baby, Jamie and her are still going to be parental figures to Fergus. They have him caught up in this mission to stop Charles' rebellion. And he's pretty good at sneaking in and out of places without being noticed. Though he has been getting distracted more and more lately.
  • Claire really felt out of place with Louise and her friends who just wanted to gossip about the love affairs of others. Claire brings a valid point up about the city's poor. And yet, she's the only one to take it seriously.