*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
Here are my reactions to Episode 206, "Best Laid Schemes..."
This episode was excellent, the best one so far this season, IMHO. I loved the emphasis on Jamie and Claire's relationship and their emotional connection to one another, something that has been lacking through much of this season. In this episode, they're back to the Jamie and Claire we know and love from the books, and I was very glad to see it!
The opening bit with the torches being lit reminded me that we've had very few scenes this season that take place outdoors at night.
I liked the opening scene with Jamie and Murtagh. Murtagh's reaction to the news that Jamie has called off the duel seems just right to me.
"Your mind changes like a woman in flux." This is a great line, if rather shocking to 21st-century ears. <g>
Claire, at L'Hôpital des Anges, has a much more visible baby bump than we saw in the last episode. Obviously some time has passed!
M. Forez is very good in this scene. His description of drawing and quartering is taken straight from the book. M. Forez seems quite proud of his skill, and I found his slight smile rather chilling.
Claire moves up those steps to Master Raymond's shop with surprising speed, considering her pregnancy!
"Plucking heretics from the city as one might remove weeds from the garden." - nice imagery there
Master Raymond: "I'm touched by your concern for my welfare."
Claire: "This is what friends do for one another."
Yes! And what a contrast to the coldly manipulative Claire we saw in Episode 205, who attempted to break up the relationship between Alex Randall and Mary Hawkins, despite the fact that Mary is her friend.
I certainly hope Master Raymond doesn't go too far away! Book-readers know that we'll need him pretty soon.
The next scene, with Jamie and Claire, comes straight from the book, and I thought it was really well done, one of the best Jamie-and-Claire scenes so far this season.
"So if anything should happen to me--"
"Don't talk like that!"
"I want there to be a place for you. Someone to care for you. For our bairn. I want it to be a man that loves you."
I love the stricken look on Claire's face when Jamie says, "Promise me that if the time should come, you will go back through the stones. Back to Frank." At that point I started saying, "No. No. NO!!" out loud. (I have the same reaction at this point in the book, too. Every single time.)
After Claire says, "I promise," I love the way Jamie puts his hand over hers, caressing both Claire and their unborn child, and then lays his head down over her belly as she puts her arms around him.
As much as I love the original scene in the book (in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 22, "The Royal Stud"), I think the way they did it here works extremely well. After all that's happened this season to drive Jamie and Claire apart, emotionally, we needed badly to see them together, to know that the bond between them is as strong as ever. Watching the end of this scene brings tears to my eyes, especially knowing what's coming later.
Interesting to see Claire putting her medical knowledge to use in the next scene. I like watching Fergus here:
"You know, the ladies at Maison Elise, they play charades without any clothes on for the clients."
No question about it, this kid has had an unusual upbringing! <g>
"We need to tell him."
"I was just thinking the exact same thing."
I saw this as yet another sign that the Jamie and Claire we know from the books are back, finally! They're working as a team, thinking similar thoughts, and I like the way they hold hands here, reinforcing their emotional connection.
I wish we could have heard some of what Jamie said to Murtagh in the courtyard, but I suppose it would have slowed things down too much. Still, I would like to know what Jamie said to him in Gaelic.
I wasn't expecting Murtagh to hit Jamie, but I liked his explanation for why he did it: "Ye should ha' trusted me with that knowledge from the beginning."
I liked the exchange between Jamie and Claire as they say goodbye in the courtyard:
"You always say that. Mean it this time!"
Considering what happened the last time Claire let him out of her sight for an extended period (when he went off with MacQuarrie and the others from the Watch), she's right to be concerned!
The scene with Claire and Murtagh was good (interesting to see him trying to come to terms with the knowledge that she comes from the future) but I wish it hadn't been so dimly lit. It's hard to make out Murtagh's face in the shadows.
Sending Fergus into the warehouse to plant the spiked wine seemed risky, and I'm glad they got out of there safely.
I liked the fact that they showed Jamie returning home to Claire, if only briefly.
The conversation between Charles Stuart, the Comte St. Germain, and Jamie, was very well done. The Comte is understandably furious. It seemed to me that Jamie is a man caught in a trap ("We require you to transport the wine at once", and the Comte insisting on accompanying him) and trying to put the best face on it that he can.
Murtagh's reaction to dressing up like a French courtier made me giggle.
"Every now and then, it is OK for you to lie to me, you know. Just to put my mind at ease."
"I'll remember that next time."
"If I do happen to be caught, would you be so kind as to kill me? I refuse to be hanged in this rig-out." Another good line from Murtagh, and I liked the maid Suzette's reaction.
The scene with Jamie and Claire lying in bed, talking about the baby, is just wonderful! For those of you who don't know, Diana Gabaldon suggested this scene (see her comments on Compuserve here), and Sam and Caitriona were able to convince the production team to get it added to this episode.
"Bad things tend to happen when we're apart."
"And we find a way back to each other."
Yes, indeed, on both counts!
"It's your father. I canna wait to meet you." Awwwwww! This is a terrific scene, and far more poignant for those of us who've read the books than for the TV viewers. Thanks to Diana for suggesting it, and to Sam and Cait for using their influence to get it filmed.
The attack by the highwaymen took me by surprise, and I found it very difficult to follow the action in the dark. It took me three or more viewings of this scene to be able to tell that the leader of the highwaymen was Murtagh in disguise.
In the scene with Claire and the chattering French ladies, I was struck by how alone and out of place she felt, and it reminded me of the scene around the campfire in Episode 105 ("Rent"), where Claire is excluded from their Gaelic conversation and feeling very much alone.
Her comments about doing something for the less fortunate inhabitants of the city were entirely in character, IMHO, but the reaction of the ladies just emphasized how very different Claire is from the rest of them. I'm not surprised that she decided she just couldn't take it anymore, and fled to L'Hôpital, the one place where she could be of use.
The scene with Claire and Mother Hildegarde was excellent. I love the way even Claire's stubbornness is no match for Mother Hildegarde! <g>
So Les Disciples don't just roam the streets attacking women, they also ambush unsuspecting travelers? (At least according to Charles Stuart.)
I didn't like the Comte saying, "Eh, VOUS!" as though Jamie was a servant or someone completely beneath his notice. (I don't think Jamie liked it much, either.) But it was completely in character.
I was surprised that Charles Stuart actually started to cry at the thought of going to live in "godforsaken Poland", presumably with his mother's relatives.
I liked the scene with Jamie and Fergus. Romann Berrux continues to do an excellent job, totally convincing as Fergus.
"Then I shall come with you. To guard your right." Awwww!
When Jamie and Fergus arrive at the brothel, Jamie says, "Attends-moi ici." (Wait for me here.) If only Fergus had listened to him! But of course, Fergus grew up in this place; he has no reason to be afraid or to think he might be in danger.
I don't often comment on the directing in these episodes, but in this scene I thought it was really well done. The sight of that red coat made my insides clench with dread, knowing what's coming next. Ditto for the sound of the door closing, and Fergus looking up in surprise. We don't need to see BJR standing in the doorway to know that he's there, and it's all too obvious what's about to happen. This is a great example of how a little restraint goes a long way toward heightening suspense and dramatic tension.
Meanwhile, back at Jared's house, Claire notices that Jamie has left his hand brace on their bed. I think that's significant. Jamie didn't want or need any reminders of physical weakness, let alone of Wentworth, interfering with his total concentration on the coming confrontation with Randall. In the book, Jamie cuts his hair very short just before the duel so it won't get in his eyes. The motivations are similar, but I actually find I like the TV version better.
The note from Jamie is exactly as in the book: "I am sorry. I must. J."
The whole sequence leading up to the duel is very much as I always imagined from the book. Caitriona is really good here, showing both Claire's emotional distress and her increasing physical pain, fighting down her own discomfort in the urgent need to get to Jamie before it's too late.
I liked the voiceover, which is based on these lines from the book:
I stood stock-still, watching. I had come through the fading night to find this, to stop them. And having found them, now I could not intervene, for fear of causing a fatal interruption. All I could do was wait, to see which of my men would die.Both Sam and Tobias did a great job with the duel. That must have been a difficult scene to film! Even in the middle of a life-and-death struggle, BJR can't resist taunting Jamie: "How did she forgive you?"
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "The Bois de Boulogne". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And BJR gets what he deserves, at long last! ("It's a hell of a place to be wounded," as Jamie tells Claire in the book, later.)
The scene as Claire collapses and Jamie is surrounded by the soldiers is very well done. I liked Jamie's soundless scream at the very end. It's emotionally intense and absolutely riveting, the perfect place to end this episode.
I give this episode two enthusiastic thumbs up!! Kudos to Matt Roberts for another wonderful script. Can't wait for next week! <g>
I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 207.
Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:
Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.