Outlander Season 2, Episode 3
“Useful Occupations and Deceptions”
Posted by Kim
It’s nice to romanticize the idea of time travel and what it would be like to live in a world defined by grandeur, chivalry, and glittering ball gowns. For a woman though, the reality is much different. Yeah, we may still have to deal with rampant sexism and being objectified today, but we can also get an education, pursue a career, and have a say in who we marry. Those ladies back in the 1700’s? Not so much. They may have beautiful clothes but they are also limited to being sequestered away, spending their days playing cards in salons or having music lessons. This may sound fun for a little while but any modern woman would probably be tearing her hair out from boredom in a matter of days. This is the harsh reality that Claire faces in “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”.
Yes, the sparkle has faded from life in gay Paree and the unfamiliarity of this world is starting to weigh on both Claire and Jamie. (How much does Jamie miss his kilt, you guys? I bet it’s a lot.) Jamie is spending his days running Jared’s wine business, his afternoons playing chess with Duvernay, and his nights with Bonny Prince Charlie at the Maison Elise. He and Claire are like ships in the night (“You keep passing me byyyyy, just wasting tiiiiiiiime…”) and clearly have been for a while, which is troubling for two reasons. One, they still haven’t been able to reconnect in the bedroom. Two, Claire hasn’t been able to find a way to tell him that Blackjack Randall is very much not dead. (How DO you bring that up?) But most importantly, they aren’t able to communicate and realize that they are very much on the same page in regards to their frustration with their lives at the moment. It was SO WEIRD to see Jamie and Claire basically talking like they were roommates instead of husband and wife. I hated that it felt like they were talking but not LISTENING to each other. They are both so focused on their own worlds right now that they aren’t hearing that they are both unhappy. (“Give my regards to your ladies at tea.” “They’re not my ladies.”) Ugh. Someone lock these two in a bedroom until they get back on the same page, please and thank you.
Over tea, Mary reveals just how clueless she is in the ways of sex when she exclaims that she can’t marry a Frenchman. “My maid said that a…a Frenchman’s “thing,” you know, they put it right between a lady’s legs. I mean, right up inside her.” HA. Louise’s reaction is priceless as she exclaims “NO!” with faux-shock. (Claire Sermonne is SO GOOD and proves that a good actor only needs one scene to make a hell of an impression. She’s my favorite.) Despite Louise’s laughter, Mary (bless her heart) KEEPS GOING as she turns to Claire declaring that surely a man like Jamie would never make her endure something like that. Claire puts on her best “Oh honey” face saying, “Mary, I believe we need to have a little talk.” (Yeah you do.) Mary finally says that Men just don’t do things like that where she comes from (spoiler alert: they do.). Claire inquires just where that is (Louise: The moon) and Mary replies that she’s from Sussex. Suddenly it all clicks for Claire in regards to just how she knows the name Mary Hawkins…and it’s not good news. We flashback to Claire and Frank going over the Randall family tree. It turns out Mary Hawkins won’t be marrying a Frenchman after all…because she marries one Captain Jonathan Randall. It’s like a giant bucket of ice water is poured over Claire in that moment as she realizes JUST how much she is playing with timelines here. If Jonathan Randall doesn’t stay alive long enough to marry and knock up Mary Hawkins, she’ll be erasing Frank from the future. Where is Doc Brown to explain the rules of time travel when you need him?
Understandably, Claire is in a foul mood when she gets home and it only gets worse when she finds her maid Suzette mid-shag with Murtagh. (Can we take a moment to appreciate that Suzette still managed to curtsey to Claire whilst riding him. That’s a quality maid, y’all.) Murtagh, bless him, actually has the stones to call Claire out on her reaction, essentially asking her when she became such a prude. Ouch. That one hits Claire below the belt and she lashes out at him.
Murtagh has the nerve to look like Claire kicked his puppy prompting Claire to immediately apologize. She’s not angry at him, she’s angry and frustrated at everything right now, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She admits that she hasn’t been herself and Murtagh agrees. This is not who she is. Sensing an opportunity to unburden herself, she confesses the reason that she’s been on edge: Blackjack Randall is alive and she doesn’t know what the hell to do about it. Murtagh doesn’t believe her at first, claiming that he SAW Randall bleeding out on the floors of the prison. He asks if Claire has told Jamie, she says now, and suddenly he understands just how much of a burden she’s been carrying. How DO you tell your husband that the monster he thought was slain still exists? Murtagh’s advice? Don’t tell him. He fears that if Jamie knew Randall was alive, that he would go running back to Scotland seeking his vengeance, which would ultimately cost him his life. “But I’m living a lie,” Claire states and THAT is everything that is going wrong between Jamie and Claire right now. There’s this GIANT elephant in the room and it’s suffocating Claire. But perhaps now that she’s shared her burden, things will be better. Murtagh has Jamie’s best interests at heart and for now, he feels that ignorance is bliss. “You’re keeping a secret to save his life and if it keeps the lad from running off in a blind fury only to meet his maker at the end of a rope, I’ll be keeping that secret with ye.” That reasoning is enough to satisfy Claire for the moment.
Jamie keeps trying to talk politics with Duvernay over their chess date but he refuses, stating he is only there to play chess. “What is politics,” Jamie says, moving a piece on the board. “But chess on a grand scale?” WELL PLAYED, SIR. I mean, Jamie would know. He’s playing the long game right now, subtly trying to play both Duvernay and the Prince without making his true intentions known. Much to Duvernay’s amused annoyance, Jamie takes the game. “You know, James,” he teases. “If you desire my help, it would not be a bad idea to lose a game once in a while.” Jamie replies that he respects Duvernay too much for that and he’s playing him SO WELL. The easiest way to look like you don’t have an agenda is not blowing smoke up someone’s ass. Jamie commands respect because he makes it clear he’s not here to kiss ass. That way, it looks like everything that happens comes about organically, rather than overtly steered in that direction. It’s a brilliant game but an exhausting one. Duvernay finally agrees to meet with the Prince in an unofficial capacity at Maison Elise. Duvernay is hesitant to go there because his wife will have his head but Jamie just smirks. “You can honestly tell her you’re out with me…playing chess.” Again. Well played, sir.