Welcome back to our coverage of Outlander season two. Read our past reviews and recaps here.
I don’t like that one of my favorite shows depicts so much rape. I know that’s putting it bluntly, but it’s genuinely disappointing to see it happen so often. While the show takes steps to depict the violent act with a mix of shock and sensitivity, it still feels unnecessary or at least “too much.” The attack on Mary is difficult to watch, and I suppose not that surprising since it happens in the books.
“La Dame Blanche” is a great episode, tightly plotted and full of simmering tension. But that attack on Mary just looms over the second half of the episode, a dark curtain muddling what could’ve been one of the best ensemble moments of the series. It doesn’t completely ruin it, but the effect it has resonates with Claire, who puts a brave face to deal with the dinner party she’s hosting for high society, and Jamie, who stays silently perplexed by his wife’s stoicism. It eventually leads to huge blowout when a rightfully distraught Mary disrupts the dinner, on top of Claire finally telling Jamie the truth that Black Jack is still alive earlier on in the episode. More on Jamie’s reaction later.
The dinner party is the centerpiece of the episode, maybe even the season as it brings all of the major Paris players into one room. This is when Jamie and Claire have to make a strategic but significant move in their game. They must out Charles as the loon he is in front of the Duke of Sandringham, who is apparently financing the prince’s Jacobite rebellion. It forces them to show their hand to the other players, most of them are oblivious, but nothing gets passed the broody (and likely evil) Comte St. Germain. Talk about two steps forward and one step back.
The road to the dinner party is not without merit. Claire is poisoned by an unknown enemy, although it’s strongly indicated that St. Germain is the culprit. Her and the baby survive, but the fact that someone wants to hurt her puts a burden upon the couple. The near death experience inspires Claire to tell Jamie the truth. Jamie’s reaction to the news was both surprising and unsettling. He is… happy that Black Jack is alive. It’s like a maniacal glee takes over his face, and I’m stunned by the reaction, which I had expected to be sad, depressing, or at least full of anger. Instead, we get a happy, vengeful Jamie who sees this as an opportunity to right what was done to him. Any previous steps toward healing made sort of vanish by this reaction. Jamie can’t move on unless Black Jack is dead – at his hands. We all know that this will prove to be a huge problem for Claire knowing that by killing Black Jack too soon can affect Frank’s existence.
Their intimacy troubles, which I touched upon last week, also come to the forefront. It’s nice to see them finally find a way to connect both emotionally and physically for the first time in a long time. (And yay for Claire continuing her work at the charity hospital, and boo at Jamie for spending way too much time at that brothel – secret mission or not.) This only comes because of the fact that Jamie knows he can exact his revenge. Still, the flood of emotion and tension they’ve each been holding onto comes flowing out. There’s a redemptive quality to their reconnection. It’s tentative and delicate though, but at least it’s back.
In the end, the blatant chess metaphors are thrown out the window, now that the scheming and motives are no longer hidden behind skillful, insidious moves. Things were never simple for Jamie and Claire, and it just got much more complicated.
A few passing thoughts…
What did you enjoy from this week’s episode?
Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.