Review: Outlander S2 E8

The Fox'x Lair

   Contributed by Julie Chaston

Yes! Outlander is back in Scotland. Gone from the opening titles are the scenes of French extravagance, replaced by glimpses of Scottish countryside and clans at war - and if you pay attention, there’s a couple of hints that we might not be done with the time-travel for this season. Yes, even the titles get me excited. 

Family life at Lallybroch has brought Jamie and Claire back together...they’re now getting lovey-dovey over the prospect of boiling potatoes. Murtagh is there along with young Fergus, life is obviously going well.  At least it is until Jamie receives a letter from his cousin Jared - congratulating him on signing a declaration of support for Prince Charles’ claim to the British throne. Trouble is, Jamie didn’t sign:  it’s a forgery.

But the damage is done - the document has been distributed, thereby publicly branding Jamie as a traitor to the crown. Claire wants to flee, but Jamie refuses to abandon his family, his tenants, or his country. Trying to prevent the uprising from France was disastrous, so Jamie decides they have no choice but to go along - perhaps they can win the war instead. That means a visit to the grandsire Jamie’s never met: Lord Lovat of Fraser - because Prince Deceitful assumes Jamie will have the use of Lovat’s men and weapons.

It’s a pity we didn’t spend longer at Lallybroch, but we were treated to one of the best scenes this season: Jamie with his baby niece, pouring out his feelings in Gaelic - and Claire’s tears as she watches. The loss of Faith is still raw.

Lord Lovat is just as despicable as his reputation, playing both sides of any issue while getting as much as he can out of the deal. He thinks he can get his hands on Lallybroch by agreeing to support Jamie...but Jamie doesn’t go for it. The old man tries a different tact:  unless Jamie hands over the estate, Claire’s honor is at risk. Jamie laughs, bringing up Claire’s “La Dame Blanche” alter ego - something the highly superstitious Lovat doesn’t want any part of.  Of course Jamie plays it up for all it’s worth - his ‘white witch’ is becoming very useful! But Lovat’s still not budging on the war, so Claire comes up with a plan to get his airheaded son ‘Young Simon’ to join them, hoping that will give Lovat no choice but to send troops to protect his son and heir.

Unfortunately, the plan involves Laoghaire (or “Leghair” as she's known in the fandom) who’s there as a maidservant to the visiting Colum. Many viewers deeply resent her, often complaining to the producers and writers for embellishing the character. But that’s the point: we aren’t supposed to like Laoghaire; her purpose is to bring conflict [or at least plant a seed of contention, to possibly be exploited in later seasons...just saying!]

Anyway, her job now is to convince Young Simon (who has a crush on her) to stand up to his father. But the girl seems to think that her boobs are the be all and end all - putting Jamie’s hand on them in season one, and letting Young Simon take a peek at them here, which scared him off. Perhaps we viewers should look upon her as comic relief!

I didn’t want Claire to offer Laoghaire forgiveness in exchange for her help...but of course it was just a means to an end. Claire knows exactly which buttons to push - and if it helps Jamie, so be it. Claire is also a woman of her word, and makes Jamie thank Laoghaire for the assistance [I love that he outright tells the girl he has no idea why he’s doing it!]

Lovat gives Jamie a final choice:  sign Lallybroch over, and he’ll supply the men and weapons for the uprising. Otherwise he’ll align himself with the MacKenzies, signing Colum’s pact of neutrality. But the Frasers have one last ace up their sleeve: as Jamie is about to sign, La Dame Blanche fakes a ‘vision’ (using information from Lovat’s seer) over-acting it for all she’s worth. It’s enough to convince Young Simon to defy his father, aligning himself with Jamie. Angered, Lovat signs Colum’s agreement of neutrality. But in the end, Lovat does send men to fight with his son -  only because he’s figured out that he can still play both sides.

If the last episode was all about Claire, this one was all about Jamie. Now that he’s back in Scotland, we can see the character growth. In season one he was very much a boy trying to find himself. Now he’s definitely a man; a leader. You realize the difference as he talks to his sister, or to Colum or Lovat. Jamie’s almost doing the same as he was in Paris - lying and spinning the truth to get what he needs - but now he’s at home in familiar surroundings, and his confidence is palpable. Sam Heughan hasn’t done anything drastically different, but in a subtle, measured performance by the actor, Jamie has gradually grown up.

There was some social media outcry that this episode was ‘filler’ or that it diverted too far from the ‘real’ storyline (of course everyone has different ideas about what that should be!)  But I really enjoyed it, even more so on subsequent viewings. “The Fox’s Lair” set the focus for the second half of the season, re-introduced us to important places and people, and gave us a quite a few hints about what’s to come!

Julie is a British-Canadian, currently living in Toronto. She enjoys walking, reading, wishes she had a TARDIS & believes aliens are probably already here. When it comes to TV "It's all about the characters!" You can follow her on Twitter @JulieChaston
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