Episode 208: "The Fox's Lair" (SPOILERS)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
I'll start by talking about the new opening credit sequence.
That's a stunning view of the snow-capped Scottish mountains! I hadn't realized quite how much I'd missed the gorgeous Scottish scenery from Season 1, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it. Notice the car in the foreground. Could those tiny figures walking beside it be Roger and Bree? Intriguing.
I like the bit with the gentleman's hand placing models of the Jacobite forces on a map. And then in the very next shot, we see the actual Jacobite army, as if to remind us that these are real human beings who are in very real danger of dying in this conflict.
Interesting to see Claire driving toward the half-ruined Lallybroch in the next shot. (As for the house itself, I'm not worried. Put a new roof on it, fix it up inside, and it'll be fine, eventually. <g>)
Glad to see a quick glimpse of Claire stitching up a wounded man.
I like the added bits with the rearing horse and the potatoes, and the Jacobite soldiers raising their weapons. And I'll look forward to seeing the men in kilts running across the field, when we get to that point in the show. <g> (Though the thought occurs to me that those bare-chested men must be freezing, considering how cold it is in Scotland most of the time.)
Notice Murtagh in that last shot of the Jacobites, on the left-hand side of the screen, at "Over the sea to Skye."
I'm very much afraid that that brief shot of Jamie and Claire embracing might be from the farewell scenes. I hope I'm wrong, though.
Overall, I liked this new opening sequence, and I'm glad they went back to the original music.
Now, to the episode itself:
I like the opening shot of the fox. It has white hairs on its muzzle; does that mean it's an "Old Fox", like Lord Lovat? That would certainly be appropriate!
I love the quick glimpses of the Scottish scenery as we approach Lallybroch.
The potato harvest sequence is wonderful! Very much as I imagined from the book. I'm glad they included it.
The "mail call" scene that follows is also very well done. I liked Murtagh's line, "I canna believe I've become a farmer." And Jamie's shock at the letter from Charles Stuart was believable, if somewhat muted compared to the book.
I like the next scene, with Jamie and Claire on the hill overlooking Lallybroch, very much. We see a close-up of Jamie's maimed left hand, without a brace, for the first time since Wentworth. Several of the fingers do look a little crooked, though that might be my imagination.
"...and you will be hung as [a traitor], if they catch you." The word is "hanged". <sigh>
Interesting that Jamie, who had to be talked into the idea of trying to stop the Rising, is now attempting to convince Claire that they can still change the future.
"Because of you." This reminds me very strongly of this bit from one of my favorite chapters in THE FIERY CROSS:
"The future can be changed; I do it all the time.”When Jamie is stating his reasons for going to fight, I'm glad he said, "For our family" first.
I rolled away a bit, to look at him.
“I do. Look at Mairi MacNeill. If I hadn’t been there last week, she would have died, and her twins with her. But I was there, and they didn’t."
(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 85, "Hearthfire". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
"Well, I dinna ken who 'they' are, but I'll wager 'they' have never travelled through time."
I like that.
The scene where Jamie announces that they're going to see Lord Lovat is very well done. Jenny and Jamie are a lot of fun to watch when they're arguing! <g>
"Father must be birling in his grave." That's a word I've never heard before, but according to this site, birling is a Scots expression meaning "to spin around, to revolve rapidly".
"He tried to have our mother kidnapped." This bit of backstory is not in the books, but I wouldn't put it past the Old Fox to attempt something like that.
"What would be foolish, Janet, would be to let pride stand in the way of doing whatever I can to save Lallybroch, Scotland, and everything we hold dear." - good line!
I liked the scene that follows, where Jamie admits that his father was a bastard. The dialogue here comes mostly from the book. By the way, in case you don't know, Jamie's paternal grandmother is listed in the OUTLANDISH COMPANION as Davina Porter, which is Diana Gabaldon's way of paying tribute to the very talented narrator of the OUTLANDER audiobooks. <g>
The scene with Jamie talking to the baby is just wonderful, and very much as I always imagined from the book. It's even more poignant now, with the loss of Faith still fresh in all our minds from Episode 207. So sad to think that Jamie will never get to hold any of his children as babies!
If you're wondering why Jamie refers to the baby as "Caitriona", Diana Gabaldon explained it on Compuserve as follows:
The baby's name is Katherine--which is Caitriona in Gaelic.It's not a reference to Caitriona Balfe at all.
The scene where Jamie and Claire prepare to leave Lallybroch is not in the book, but I think it's terrific! I wonder if we'll see that rosary again in a future episode.
"Is that not what you told me, milady, that I will always have a home with you?"
"Yes, of course. But sometimes--"
"He's right. His place is no here, without us, nor in France on his own."
I love that! And I like the way Jamie refers to Murtagh as Fergus's "commanding officer".
I was totally not expecting Colum to be the one to greet Jamie and Claire on their arrival at Beaufort Castle! That came as a shock. Colum looks older than he did in Season 1, but he is still a formidable presence.
I liked the way Claire snatches her hand back from Colum's.
"It was my impression that you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." If he's sincere (and I'm not sure he is), then he has definitely changed his attitude since the witch-trial. And he actually had Laoghaire beaten for her role in getting Claire arrested for witchcraft? That surprised me.
Clive Russell is fabulous as Lord Lovat, the "Old Fox". The casting people continue to do a phenomenal job!
"Enough breath wasted on a woman. Leave us." I thought that was awfully curt of Lord Lovat. What happened to the famed Highland hospitality? Notice the glance Claire gives Jamie, and his very slight nod in return, indicating that she shouldn't make an issue of it. I love the fact that Jamie and Claire are back to the point in their relationship where they can read each other's subtle non-verbal cues like that.
What the hell is Laoghaire doing there?!? I wasn't expecting that at all, and I don't like it one bit. :-(
"My grandmother sent me along to wash [Colum's] laundry and help wherever I'm needed." No, I don't like this, at all.
When Laoghaire dropped to her knees to apologize, my first thought was that Book Claire would have reacted with embarrassment and tried to make her stand up. But TV Claire just stands there, staring at her.
God brought them together? Um, no, I really don't think so! Put the blame where it belongs, with Anne Kenney or whoever on the writing team came up with the idea for this plotline.
"How often have I thought about what I would do whenever I saw you again? I have fantasized all manner of violent acts that I would subject you to."
I really, really don't like this! It's wildly out of character, IMHO. It makes Claire look like a vengeful person, bitter and vindictive, fixated on this one incident from her past. In the book, by contrast, Claire puts Laoghaire pretty much out of her mind as soon as she recovers from the trauma of the witch-trial, and gets on with her life.
I kept thinking, "Come on, Claire, you're better than this!" And I was reminded instantly of one other time we've seen a character in the OUTLANDER books thinking similar thoughts: Lord John at Ardsmuir, imagining what he might do to Jamie as punishment for humiliating him at Prestonpans:
It had been visions of revenge that kept him tossing in his bed as the window lightened and the rain pattered on the sill; thoughts of Fraser confined to a tiny cell of freezing stone, kept naked through the winter nights, fed on slops, stripped and flogged in the courtyard of the prison. All that arrogant power humbled, reduced to groveling misery, dependent solely on his word for a moment’s relief.The difference being that Lord John imagined those things only in the privacy of his own thoughts. Claire said them out loud to Laoghaire's face, which seems to me to be much worse. It's unnecessarily cruel and mean-spirited, and the fact that Claire says that she pities Laoghaire doesn't make up for that.
Yes, he thought all those things, imagined them in vivid detail, reveled in them. He heard Fraser beg for mercy, imagined himself disdaining, haughty. He thought these things, and the spiked object turned over in his guts, piercing him with self-disgust.
(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Honor's Prisoner". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I liked Jamie's reaction: "You're more forgiving than I am, Sassenach. I wouldna give that brazen besom the time of day."
I thought it was interesting, during the dinner scene, to hear the men speak of "the French" in such scornful tones, considering that we've just spent half the season in Paris.
"Cullions" is a new word to me. But as for "men who would sell their own grandmothers for half that amount", my thought was that it takes one to know one! Lord Lovat seems perfectly capable of doing such a thing.
Young Simon really does seem like a "mealy-mouthed wee smout". (I love that line. <g>) He comes across as a wimp, unable to stand up to his father, wilting at the first sign of Lovat's displeasure. Where is that famed Fraser stubbornness? Unlike the Young Simon in the book, who was eager to go to war, the young man we see here does not seem to have any clear motivations at all, at least none that I could see, and that made it easy for his father to dominate him.
The scene between Jamie and Lord Lovat is just wonderful! Tense and very well-acted. It's such a pleasure to watch these two stubborn, strong-willed, intelligent men go at it. <g> And it occurs to me that Jamie's prior dealings with his uncles and with the Comte St. Germain were good practice for this particular confrontation. The contrast between Jamie and Young Simon really could not be greater, IMHO.
I liked Jamie's reaction when Lovat called his mother a whore.
"And he chose her memory, and that place--"
He sounds incredulous at that rejection, and it's clear he's still bitter about it, even after all these years.
"Lallybroch, for your wife's honor."
Most of this part comes straight from the book, and I'm delighted that they were able to include so much of it. I loved the way the flames shot up when Jamie tossed the drink into the fire -- a very dramatic, and visually stunning, way to end the scene. Great job!
"You can't be seriously thinking about giving him what he wants!" My thoughts exactly. I'm amazed that Jamie would even consider it.
I really disliked this next part. The whole idea of using Laoghaire to boost Young Simon's confidence, with the goal that somehow this would enable him to stand up to his father, is both preposterous and contrived, IMHO.
"I'll not give up my maidenhead for you."
Well, no, she won't; according to what Laoghaire told Jamie in AN ECHO IN THE BONE (chapter 78, "Old Debts"), she lost her virginity to a man named John Robert MacLeod shortly after Jamie and Claire were married, but apparently the writers didn't know that. (See, there is a reason Diana Gabaldon calls me "Nitpicker-in-Chief". The TV series needs one, too, if you ask me. <g>)
Watching the scene with Jamie and Colum, I couldn't help thinking that Colum's argument sounded pretty convincing.
"My husband confided in me that his father sometimes exposed him to public scorn, to make him a better leader of men."
Book-readers will remember what Claire is referring to here, but I wonder what the TV viewers who have not read the books will make of this comment.
I have zero interest in Laoghaire's flirting with Young Simon, or vice versa. To me, it's just boring, and a waste of screen time.
I liked Claire's encounter with Maisri the seer, and I was happy to see that so much of this scene from the book made it into the show.
"It seems I canna get the men from Lovat without giving him my lands, so unless you're planning on declaring yourself a visitor from the future, describing what will happen if we dinna fight and win, I dinna see that I have much choice." Good line, though the implications of what he's saying are very disturbing.
The deed of sassine was a good idea, guaranteed to get the attention of most of the book fans, even if it has no particular significance yet to TV viewers who haven't read DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. It certainly grabbed my attention in a hurry!
So Jamie came within a heartbeat of signing away his family's land, his inheritance, and the future of all of the people at Lallybroch -- including Jenny and Ian and their family? I really, really don't like this! I don't believe for a moment that he would have done that. The Jamie we know from the books would have come up with another solution, some way out of the trap.
But he didn't, and so it falls to Claire to save the day (and Lallybroch) with her impersonation of a seer and her powers as La Dame Blanche.
When Lord Lovat rushed at Claire with his dirk, I thought immediately of Dougal and the scene in the attic of Culloden House. I hope they don't change the later scene on the grounds that it's too reminiscent of this one.
So in the end, Young Simon is the one who stops his father's attack on Claire, saying, "You and MacKenzie are fearful old men, and you're wrong. My cousin is right."
"Cousin" is not strictly accurate -- Young Simon is actually Jamie's "half-uncle" -- but it's close enough, especially when you consider that he is younger than Jamie.
I liked Colum's last line: "I think it's a blessing his mother didna live to see what a reckless fool she spawned." It seems to me that Colum should know a lot about reckless fools, given how close he is to his brother Dougal. <g>
And again we have yet another contrived scene with Laoghaire, obviously designed solely to set things up so that it's at least theoretically possible that Jamie might have a relationship with her many years later.
So Lord Lovat showed up at the troops' rendezvous point at the last minute, just in time to belittle his son in public yet again. How annoying! Let the young man have his moment, out of his father's shadow for once! Lovat's brief visit seemed to serve no purpose except to explain to Jamie and Claire that he would end up on the winning side of the war no matter what, and to make it clear that he still wanted Lallybroch.
And so, at the end, Jamie and Claire ride off to war together.
I enjoyed many parts of this episode, but it had some serious flaws. I had a strong negative reaction to the whole Laoghaire subplot, and I think on subsequent viewings I will be very tempted to fast-forward through all the Laoghaire scenes. I just don't think it was necessary to bring her back at all in Season 2, let alone to give her a major role in this episode.
I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 209.
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
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith
Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.