Greetings fellow Outlanders! It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, imparting my snarkiness on a weekly episode.
How was your Droughtlander? I hope all went well for you. Had some great things happen but I’m here now, ready for the season to continue.
How about that episode? Clearly season 2 is a whole different world from season 1 and, given the name ‘Not in Scotland Anymore’, the entire episode is centered on the Frasers’ mission, coupled with their fish-out-of-water experiences, viewpoints and reactions. Even the modern woman from the future, Claire is rattled by the things around her, but let me back up here a moment. Look at our heroine: a modern girl from a time more conservative. The world of the 1930s and 40s was depressed and downtrodden; the only hope for a free future was to beat a little dictator with a terrible mustache and even worse tyrannical arm salute. She’s now thrown into a society that puts the excess in excessive…so much so that it’s considered a privilege to watch the constipated King of France try to take a dump (but more on that later). Wardrobes were buttoned up and cleavage was shown only at its bare minimum. And our hero? Scotland is cold and wool was tous les jours (everyday). In Scotland, less (as in clothing, inhibitions, etc.) was certainly a practice that was morally frowned upon.
But less, in the meaning I took above, is certainly NOT normal here in the excessive world of Versailles. Less is encouraged, smiled upon, thrown at the visitor. Less is expected. For JHRC sake, it’s in their tourist’s brochure.
But let’s start at the very beginning. For those of us living vicariously through this book and/or series, the beginning certainly had promise as it looked like the Frasers were starting to get past their traumatic bump in the road. I was watching this episode for the first time at a viewing party on Saturday night. Before the episode began, we started a game that involved passing around a giant summer sausage…
…every time the Frasers got hawt and heavy, whether it be kissing or a visitation by an actual sausage (Fraser, summer or otherwise). The beginning held promise as the sausage began its intrepid route around the room amidst giggles, fanning of faces, the gulping of liquid courage and the stroking of said giant sausage. Then…suddenly… the sausage was dropped amidst gasps of horror and shouts of ‘ewww’… Those scenes were hard to watch so I won’t post a picture.
It would seem Jamie isn’t over Wentworth, and he shouldn’t be. This series is doing a thorough treatment of the lasting effects of BJR’s abuse on James Fraser, a Highland Warrior who hadn’t, before, seemed to take any guff from anyone. Even when BJR first beat him, Jamie was defiant and wouldn’t let him have any power over him. When we first met Jamie, he was holding his dislocated shoulder, and not making much fuss. The infirmed men I’ve known have never been that quiet. They are babies when they’re hurt, the whole lot of them. However, now we see a frailty that a warrior tries hard to keep hidden. He’s not supposed to be human; he’s supposed to be tougher than this. Right? He really is human and the struggle is very real.
The next morning Claire, the feminist forward thinker that she is, sees to dealing with servants who, rather violently, insist on making her life better. This, admittedly, was hard for me to watch as Claire doesn’t quite seem to understand that the poor servant girl lives to take care of those above her. I, myself, can’t understand what the brouhaha is all about. If a servant is clamoring to make my life better by waiting on me hand and foot, I’m not above saying no. I mean, I WANT to understand where Claire is coming from; she certainly didn’t have servants where she comes from, but, really, just let her do her job. It seems to give the girl happiness, and purpose. We see a lot of that stubbornness that makes Claire who she is. Unfortunately, stubbornness ALWAYS comes with its share of downfalls, and Claire simply comes off as rude, and condescending. Compassion, and understanding would probably be much better served in this situation.
As our heroine makes her way through the city, the contrast between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is stark. Only those with money had a carriage; the peasants walked. This beautiful Dior-inspired ensemble is a harsh reminder of the barriers between the groups, and she earns a lot of curious looks as she steps into the apothecary shop.
In the search for a remedy for her husband’s nightmares, Claire goes to Master Raymond’s Apothecary shop.
Remembered fondly in the books as the man with the frog face, and a crocodile hanging in his shop, the scene is set for an interesting alliance down the road. While she calls him out for his hoodwinking of the elite, he calls her out for being more than she presents. He’s always been just a wee bit intuitive and, perhaps, magical, and that is the point, I think. He’s a man of many mysteries, some of which are obvious but some of which aren’t.
While Claire goes to get medicine, her husband, and his godfather decide to use the genteel gardens of Paris to practice their swordplay, and work on his injured hand. Boys will be boys I suppose, though I can’t help but wonder if it’s a deliberate middle finger to the customs of the upper crust. After all, they didn’t HAVE to choose the gardens where women twirl their delicate parasols, and the men make sweeping, grandiose gestures with their walking cane (really, did men NEED those? Or were they as useful as the women’s parasols?).
When they return from their excursion Claire presents a letter from Cousin Jared. It seems that Prince Charles Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie (anybody else here having trouble describing him as ‘bonnie’?),…would like a confab at the Maison de Madame Elise. Let’s just say it ain’t no hair salon. Claire isn’t that impressed…
…but it’s off to the hoorhouse we go. Oh, pardon me, brothel. After all, We Aren’t in Scotland Anymore (as the title continues to remind us); it seems that, in Paris, harlots, whores, prostitutes, ladies of the night aren’t referred to in such bawdy manner, and that’s one of the main themes of this episode. Dress up the lewdness, the scheming, the bigotry, the utter hypocrisy with money, fripperies or, in the case of the Bonnie Prince Chuckie-Boy (excuse my disrespectfulness there), ‘God’s will’ (that’s rich, coming from a conversation in a hoorhouse), it’s simply ok.
If it comes from an utter fool…with a silver tongue and a large bankroll…he’s still a fool but his foolish words carry some weight. I just wish that the people had seen through him. After all, Chuck didn’t give two figs about the people of Scotland; he simply wanted the title, the power, the prestige, and the all-mighty coin that comes with the job. But hey? Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
So, amidst the half-naked women, the monstrous dildos for buy or rent (do they have a layaway plan? What kind of fines do they charge if you’re late in returning it?), the sudden fear of their wives showing, and just, well, BAD makeup on the hoors, Chuckie waxed poetic about how it was by divine order that he be on the thrown of a country he’s never even set foot in. Jamie and Murtaugh’s pleas for the man-child to think about whether this is truly a good idea fell on deaf ears as Chuckie-boy claimed, over and over, that God demands a Catholic ruler. His obstinence truly puts children to shame.
It’s absolutely clear to the viewer that Jamie isn’t buying anything this man says but, given his aversion to the redcoats and Claire’s pushing him, it’s enough for him to continue trying to reason with this joker. It’s clear Jamie trusts his wife, but I’m wondering if he wishes there was another way around this. I know I would.
Murtagh: “The man is a blockhead, a dangerous one at that.” That he is.
Jamie: “I wouldn’t trust the Prince with Lallybroch’s vegetable patch, let alone the fate of Scotland.” Don’t worry, Jamie, he’d never get his own hands dirty. That’s why he’s ready to send YOU and yours so HE can sit on the throne.
Meanwhile, like the good mother/wife/puppeteer, Claire is encouraging them to not lose heart; they have time to get done what is needed, but first they need to go around the Prince since, well, he’s a blockhead, and decide they need an invitation to the court of Versailles to see the Royal Minister of Finance, Monsieur Joseph Duverney.
Enter…the self-absorbed yet warm and caring woman, Louise de la Tour, Marquise de Rohan. Apparently, she had become a particularly good friend to Claire but, given the fact that the series jumps time like a grasshopper skips the earth, we missed how they first met or even became friends in the first place. The whole effect is jarring, but leads to one of my favorite series of scenes in the entire episode, perhaps in all of the series.
Claire Sermonne, playing Louise, is refreshing, feisty, and she captures the pampered woman to a tee. Poor guy waxing her though…I laughed whenever she slapped him.
My heart went out for little Mary Hawkins; poor girl was taught some pretty embarrassing things that day at Louise’s.
She’s a genuine breath of fresh air, an innocent amongst the jaded. Poor thing, having to wed the older gentleman with all the, um, warts.
That night, after gaining an invitation to Versailles (isn’t THAT a coincidence?), Claire introduces Jamie to a bit of Paris in their bedroom by way of a bikini wax or, as he said, “Your honeypot! It’s bare!” Now his reaction slightly deviates from the book. Normally I don’t mind some deviation; I understand why it has to happen, but this deviation changes a fundamental thing about Jamie that I love. He’s surprised that she did it, sure, but soon becomes sexually bold with her. What I’ve noticed about this series is how quickly Jamie picked up sex, and threw away his inhibitions. I realize he seems to be a quick study, but in the book he is shocked, and surprised that his wife would deforest his favorite honeypot.
In the show, though, he is bold, and the innocence from the book seems is gone. I happen to like Jamie’s innocence because he still displays it, and that’s despite everything that’s happened to him or how old he is. That’s part of his charm. The series has him losing so much of that innocence. It’s a shame, really, and it’s a shame that just as he was really getting into the feel of his wife’s bare honeypot, the trauma of BJR comes back, and he’s unable to complete the task.
This is one of numerous times in the episode that he’s unable to follow through. I absolutely agree that they are doing the right thing by addressing the trauma, but how about in a way where it doesn’t feel like it’s bogging down the story? By constantly going back to the trauma we know, and are fully conscious that he’s dealing with. There’s a difference of glossing over it (not addressing it at all) and using the trauma effectively throughout the episode. I feel like the constant reminder is being forced on us. We don’t need to see several attempts at lovemaking to realize what he’s dealing with. This is a visual medium, perhaps we can have more subtly without sacrificing the rhythm of the episode?
Anyway, they make their way to Versailles and…out comes THE Red Dress.
“Are…you…mad woman? I can see every inch of you, right down to your third rib.” Oh Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. Remember you’re…
Poor, poor Jamie. He doesn’t know what to do, and it’s quite adorable. It’s clear he can’t make her change, she’s so proud of the dress she helped design, but dear heavens, he doesn’t want to share her. In resignation he sighs, and lets her have her way, much to the amusement of Murtagh.
With the help of CGI, we get a lavish party, complete with powdered wigs, large jewelry and, oh yes, the nipple dress. Of course, since the picture has been posted so many places I won’t share it again. You know which dress I mean.
But, don’t get Claire Fraser wrong, she’s there on a mission. Just when we think that, maybe, this will be all work and nothing interesting, a woman exclaiming something in French nearly tackles Jamie to the ground.
Seems our hunky virgin had his eye on someone before meeting Claire, and it would seem that this virgin had dueled for her heart. The awkward explanation is wonderful in its uncomfortableness. Hmmm…Claire’s hubby surprises her everyday.
Who knew witnessing the dressing of the King meant watching him attempt to take a dump? I hear it’s a privilege.
Of course, given that nowadays some spouses can’t be in the same bathroom as their significant other is sitting on the throne, kind of puts a wrench in the whole openness in marriage, doesn’t it? But boy, is it a good thing Jamie’s there to recommend the parritch. We all need a bit of roughage.
Once again I look to Murtagh for comic relief: “Only in France does the king need an audience to take a shite.” I’m really quite surprised the men weren’t taking bets on when the king will ‘shite’. It’s kind of disappointing, really. I would’ve loved to have seen who won.
Who do I spy over there with little Mary Hawkins? He doesn’t look old…or warty…
As Claire leaves to take the air (not that I blame her…those bitties who were talking smack about her needed to be thumped across the visage) Louise finds just the man they are looking for, Duverney. When she tells him that the woman in the red dress is looking for him, he perks up like a kid in front of a candy store, wipes the drool from his chin, and rushes out of the ballroom. After all, I’m sure he’s anxious to inspect her stunning pair of…um…earrings. He finds her sitting in a rather large gazebo.
I’m surprised she was able to resist him. After all, the first words he speaks to her are that her prayers have been answered now that he was there. I don’t know why Claire was appalled; what self-respecting woman wouldn’t find that charming? I mean, look at him! Rawr!
As he leans into her breasts, he says, “Instead, let me worship at your…” looks down… “…feet.”
“Come to me, my little mouse. Let me hear you…. SQUEAK!”
I mean, come on ladies, who wouldn’t want to hear THAT from the guy kneeling at your feet?
Apparently Jamie didn’t take a liking to it, because he pushed the unsuspecting French Don Juan into the drink, causing him to lose his rather impressive wig in the process. They make their apologies in front of the fire, and I realized that Pepe, without the wig, is quite a nice looking fellow. Shame he’s a creeper.
Just when they kissed, and made up with Pepe, the Duke of Sandringham arrives to spoil everyone’s night. Of course he’s just so happy to see Jamie, though the sentiment is hardly returned. It’s clear he can’t escape the Frasers or Murtagh. Needless to say the Frasers just want to get out of there, but yet one more surprise turns up.
Holy Steaming Bowl of Bran-Filled Parritch Batman! It’s Black Jack’s younger brother, Alexander!! Well, isn’t this just a happy coincidence? As one should never, EVER, attend a party without bringing a gift first, he informs Claire that…you got it, his brother is still alive. Needless to say, she didn’t like her gift.
Now becomes the dilemma, tell her husband that his abuser is alive or let him find out for himself?
Why can’t the Frasers just have a nice, quiet life?