‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 4: “La Dame Blanche”

Cliffhanger! This week’s episode of Outlander left us hanging at a crucial moment: Claire and Jamie’s dinner party ends with fisticuffs, and the threat of gens d’armes. But first, the couple finally rekindle their physical connection.

At the episode’s start, Jamie and Claire visit the Minister of Finance, Duvernay, at Versailles, where they run into St. Germain. Claire becomes ill after taking a sip of wine, which leads her to suspect St. Germain put a bitter herb in her drink to make her sick. She visits Master Raymond to ask if he sold the herb to St. Germain; he tells her he’s not aware of having sold anything to him. But then he reveals a secret back room devoted to “the mystical arts,” and gives her a necklace “for her protection,” which contains a stone that will change color in the presence of poison. (Keep your eye on that necklace!)

Master Raymond senses that something is on Claire’s mind. Earlier, she tells Jamie that Jack Randall is alive, and he reacts not with dread but excitement: “This is wonderful news,” he says, sitting on the edge of their bed. “Why did you wait so long to tell me?” Turns out the thought of being able to watch Jack die gives Jamie a new spark, “something to hold onto. Something to look forward to.” Without naming names or going into details, Claire tells Raymond that she’s worried about Frank; after all, if Jack dies before he weds Mary, Frank Randall will never be born. “I believe his future is in doubt,” she says. But she’s even more worried when Raymond does a bit of black magic and predicts that she will in fact see Frank again.

Side salad: costume designer Terry Dresbach is killing it with Claire’s hood/cape game this season. From last week’s episode, exhibit A:

Claire_yellow

 

And from this week, exhibit B:

Claire_blue

 

Meanwhile, Claire and Jamie devise a plan to invite both Prince Charles and the Duke of Sandringman to their dinner party; they think if the duke sees what a buffoon Charles is, he’ll abandon the idea of a Franco-British alliance. When Claire discovers that Louise is pregnant — and that the father is not her husband, but her lover, Prince Charles himself — she and Jamie decide to invite Louise and her husband as well, in the hopes that Charles will behave badly once he finds out his lover is having another man’s baby.

The plan almost works — Charles does find out about the baby, and he does act like a spoiled, irritable child at the dinner table. But the scheme is derailed when Claire and Mary are attacked in the street on their way to the party, and before Claire can fend him off, one of the attackers rapes Mary. She brings her back, and Jamie warns her to keep her safe upstairs in bed; if anyone finds out she’s been raped, no one will marry her. But when she wakes to find the kind, gentle Alex Randall at her bedside, she’s confused and lashes out, afraid he’s going to hurt her; she runs screaming downstairs, where Alex tries to subdue her. But we’ve all seen Titanic, and we all know how easy it is for old-timey folk to mistake assistance for malice; the guests walk in on Alex pinning down Mary, who’s wearing nothing but a nightgown. Cue the flying fists.

Ah, but what about their erotic rekindling, you ask?! It doesn’t begin well: Jamie comes home after a night at the brothel in a cheerful mood, waking up Claire and climbing on top of her. But she gets angry when she notices bite marks on his thighs, and accuses him of fooling around with whores instead of his own wife. He tries to explain that after hearing that Jack is alive, he’s finally started to “feel like a man again”; that Claire’s news has helped stir up the old feelings again.

At first, she’s not having any of it — she feels alone in her pregnancy, and points out that they’ve barely even talked about the baby. She begs him, “Make me understand.” So he does: in a beautiful speech (the episode was written by Toni Graphia), Jamie explains how he’s felt since his rape at the hands of Jack: “There’s this place inside me, a place I think everyone has, that they keep to themselves. A fortress where the most private part of you lives,” he begins. “After Wentworth it was like my fortress had been blown apart.” He says he’s felt exposed ever since: “Naked. Alone. Trying to hide under a blade of grass.”

He goes to sleep in another room, and later, Claire joins him, where they finally make love. (Only this show could compel me use the phrase “make love.” Touché, Outlander.) But really, on this show, sex is never just sex; it’s not just a joining of two bodies or even a corny “joining of souls” but an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship with your significant other and yourself; a part of your mental health. “I think perhaps you’ve built me a lean-to, at the least,” Jamie tells Claire when they’re lying in bed after. “And a roof to keep out the rain.” Swoon!