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.
Claire visits Master Raymond to pick up some birth control for Suzette and has a very tense run-in with Comte St. Germain. (Side note: I love how he’s being established as a bad guy when I think he’s had MAYBE 5 lines? Let’s get to it, show.) When Claire confesses to Raymond that she’s felt like she’s lost herself in Paris, he asks if she’s thought about putting her medical knowledge to use. The Charity Hospital always needs volunteers and he senses that Claire may need the hospital as the hospital needs her. You actually SEE the spark light in Claire’s eyes. This. This is what she’s been waiting for. She practically drags Murtagh with her to the hospital, despite his protestations that Jamie won’t like her being there. “He’ll be happy if I’m happy,” she says simply. ONE WOULD THINK.
Claire quickly proves herself to the formidable Mother Hildegard (Madame Maxine herself, Frances de la Tour) by diagnosing a patient with “sugar sickness” aka diabetes. (She does so by tasting urine, which…gross.) In a hospital where the volunteers include the local butcher, a person with Claire’s skills is high in demand. At last, Claire has found a place for herself in Paris.
Meanwhile, a wrench is thrown into Jamie’s plan when he sits down with the Prince and Duvernay. Charles acknowledges Duvernay’s concerns about how expensive wars are. “I would never approach King Louis with empty promises or empty pockets. Rest assured, I have already secured the vast majority of funds for our cause.” Jamie’s face = WUT. A completely broke and fervent Prince Charles is ONE thing but a Prince Charles able to put money where his mouth is tells a COMPLETELY different story. Charles says that he has been meeting in secret with prominent members of the British Aristocracy who believe that James is the rightful king. The aristocrats have already pledged most of the money to fund the rebellion and the amount that King Louis pledges will complete the war chest. Jamie plays off his obvious shock as relief (“Relief and shock”) while he is secretly shitting his pants. Duvernay asks what is in it for France and this is where Charles dangles the golden carrot. If Louis stands with James, they will offer France an alliance with England once James takes the throne. WELL SHIT. Duvernay says he will need proof of the war chest’s funding before he can make any promises, but it appears to be a done deal. Jamie joins them in a celebratory toast but his face is ANYTHING but happy.
Jamie rushes home to discuss these latest developments with Claire…only to find she’s not there. When Claire breezes in a few hours later, gushing about her day, Jamie is PISSED. He questions where she was (“Certainly not Madame Louise’s for tea.”) and when she says the hospital, Jamie’s face changes. Murtagh makes a quick exit, with a quick “I told you so” to Claire. Claire brushes it off and continues to relay the story of the day and how much it meant to her, only pausing when she realizes that Jamie is giving her nothing in return. “I thought you’d be happy for me,” she says with confusion. “Did ye now?” Jamie shoots back. Me: OH NO YOU DIDN’T.
Look, I understand some of Jamie’s concerns. Claire is pregnant. As much as she says she would only treat people with injuries rather than diseases, you NEVER KNOW what could happen in a hospital. Yes, she has her modern immunizations but she could STILL be putting herself at risk. (Add another check in the WHY YOU SHOULD VACCINATE YOUR KIDS column. You never know when they might time travel and that vaccine could save their life.) So why should Claire put herself at risk? For her, the answer is simple. The rewards outweigh the risk. “It has been a long time since I felt useful,” she implores. “I need to feel a sense of accomplishment. I need a purpose.” Claire is not a woman built to sit around and play cards all day. She’s independent and she’s driven and she’s accustomed to WORK. Even when she lived with the clans in Scotland, she was still their healer. She still had a role in the society. She’s not cut out for an ornamental life…and I thought that’s what Jamie loved MOST about her, so it pained me to see him scoff at her need to be useful.
Jamie spits back that he thought their purpose in this “god forsaken city” was stopping Prince Charles and the rebellion. Claire asserts that hasn’t changed and Jamie volleys back that working at the hospital isn’t furthering that cause. It’s AWFUL. “Well, what would you have me do, Jamie? Go to Maison Elise with you and Charles? Or do you want me to run the wine business in your place?” She has a point. She CAN’T go to any of those places, so why does that mean she has to sit around doing nothing with her time? “What I want, when I come home with a problem, is to be able to turn to my wife for help.” Yeah, no. I love you Jamie, but no.
THEN IT GOT WORSE. Claire offered Jamie a GENUINE apology. She knows he has a lot on his shoulders. She would share the burden if she could…but she CAN’T. They don’t live in a world where she can. And that sucks. But to say Claire was “indulging herself” AS HE TAKES HER HANDS OFF HIM? No. Absolutely not. I LOVE Jamie but he’s being a petulant child here and Claire RIGHTFULLY gets defensive. “I was helping people. But yes, that makes me feel good. Gives my day meaning.” Jamie’s all “WHAT ABOUT ME?” and I was basically throwing things at my television at this point. “I spend my days and nights wheedling and flattering a man so I can gain his secrets and undermine his cause. When do I get to feel good? When do I get to find meaning in my day?” Jamie’s frustrations are valid, don’t get me wrong. He’s miserable. He’s not where he wants to be and at this point he’s in too deep to just walk away now. But his misery and Claire’s should not be mutually exclusive. He should be happy that she’s found something that fulfills her but what it really does is just magnify his own misery. Jealousy is not a pretty color on you, James.
The next night, Jamie is brooding in the brothel when he spies a young pickpocket. He watches with interest as little Gavroche (come ON, I’m going to call him that even if that not his name. He may look easy pickings but he’s got some bite…) makes a clean sweep of the place. Something sparks in Jamie’s eyes and he chases the boy out of the club, finally pinning him down and emptying his pockets. Gavroche threatens him at first but Jamie isn’t bothered. “I want to offer you a job, wee fool.” Later that night, Claire stumbles upon Gavroche in her dining room. She’s like “WTF is going on” but Jamie sets
Gavroche Fergus up in a guest room. “We need information that I cannot get directly from The Prince. Information that comes in the form of letters from his father, from other potential financiers, and most importantly, from these wealthy Englishmen, if they do even exist…we copy them, and then he puts them back before anyone notices they’ve gone missing.” Claire is like “Huh. That’s a good plan, boo.” Jamie is like “I know” and then bids Claire good night. So there is still a good deal of tension between them but it has eased just the slightest bit. Plus, now they get to play practice parents with Fergus.
They fall into a new routine. Fergus steals letters and Jamie works at decoding them, trying to deduce whether or not Prince Charles is bullshitting about his wealthy English patrons. Most of the letters Jamie steals are filled with family gossip and don’t offer much in the way of information. There is one letter that sticks out however because it’s simply a piece of music. It’s also in German even though it was sent from England. Jamie KNOWS there is something important here…but he can’t translate it. Murtagh gently tells him that there is someone who can…but he’s not going to like it.
At the hospital, Claire continues to work closely with Mother Hildegard and her disease sniffing dog, Bouton. (This is why I love Claire: even after that awful confrontation with Jamie, she’s still working at the hospital. Stand your ground, Gurl.) Hildegard uses Bouton to sniff out a wound that appears to be healed but actually isn’t. Claire steps into handle it once Bouton diagnoses the problem spot and I could tell you what happened except I couldn’t watch because it was TOO GROSS. Jamie shows up and I genuinely hope he saw his wife being a BAD ASS so he would know that she’s not just indulging herself.
It turns out Mother Hildegard can read music, so Jamie asks her if she can deduce if there is anything off about the composition. She hesitates, asking them if what they are doing is illegal. (She KNOWS it is right?) What happens next is so important because despite the tension between them, Claire and Jamie share a look. Suddenly they are on the same page again and present a united front to Mother Hildegard. “I can assure you if my husband is asking it’s for a good reason,” she says decisively. Now THIS is more like it in regards to the sexy spy game. A united front, the Frasers working together…this is what I want to see. So it turns out that Hildegard is buddies with one Johan Sebastian Bach. (“I’m surprised you’ve heard of him.”) Jamie’s composition is a clumsy version of the “Goldberg Variations” and it changes keys for no apparent musical reason. The key of the music is the key of the code.
At home, Jamie cracks the code. The English conspirators are real and have thus far pledged 40,000 pounds to Charles’ cause. It’s a lot…but not nearly enough to fund a war. So Charles was fudging a bit in his conversation with Duvernay but Jamie fears that even that amount will be enough to convince Duvernay to fund the rebellion. The letter ends by the writer saying that he will back in Paris at the end of the month and looks forward to solidfying the arrangement in person. Then it’s signed with a simple “S”. Then everything clicks. It’s the Duke of Sandrigham and he’s playing both sides. Jamie basically does a happy dance because finally finally FINALLY they have gotten somewhere. He runs off to get some celebratory whiskey whilst Claire and Murtagh stand there with looks of dread on their faces.
Because, you see, if Jamie sits down with Sandringham, he’s GOING to meet Alex Randall. And then he’s going to find out that Blackjack is alive and that Claire has KNOWN he’s alive and hasn’t told him. Basically, there is no possible way this is going to end well. Claire either lets him find out by surprise (possibly letting Sandringham tell him that she’s known all along) or she completely destroys the bit of peace and trust that they’ve restored in the joyfulness of cracking the code together. She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. Jamie comes back in with the booze and immediately senses that something’s up. “What is it Sassenach,” he asks. Claire pauses and you see her having the argument with herself about what to do. Claire takes a breath and for a split second it looks like she’s going to tell him. “I just like seeing you so happy.” She gives Murtagh a look over Jamie’s shoulder. yeah. THIS IS TOTALLY GOING TO BE FINE.
Swoon Worthy Jamie Fraser Moment of the Week
Okay, so Jamie was a bit of a dick this week. So no swoony moments but I AM going to go with the moment that made me almost spit out my wine.
- CLAIRE’S YELLOW DRESS AND CAPE. I swear to God if this show doesn’t win every costuming award on the planet, there is no justice in the world.
- Jamie is not the only one spying on Prince Charles’ correspondance, as Murtagh releases that the letters have been opened and resealed several times.
- “Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?” “You said the same thing to Suzette. That doesn’t make me feel very special.” I LOVE GAVROCHE/FERGUS.
How did you feel about Jamie’s behavior this week? Let us know in the comments.