Hello, everyone! On a scale of misty-eyed (1) to hysteric sobbing (10), last week’s Outlander episode was a solid 6. With “The Fox’s Lair,” the writers focus on Scottish capers and high schoolish theatricals to take us to level negative 15 sadness. I like being on level 6 sadness as much as the next emo kid, but I can respect a show that prioritizes balance over melodrama.
After a time jump of several months, “The Fox’s Lair” picks back up at Lallybroch, where Jamie and Claire, having conveniently smoothed over their distress, are living a quiet life of domesticity. If Outlander had been given more than 13 episodes, I could criticize them for skipping over the messy emotional consequences of losing baby Faith, but with the amount of time they were given to show such a large story, it makes perfect sense to skip over all that stuff for some fun Jamie adventures. And in fact, the writers managed to wrap all of that hidden grief into a small, tender scene that once again showcases Outlander’s strength of showing rather than telling. Watching Jamie rock her baby to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, Jenny explains to Claire that it’s easier to tell your troubles to a baby than to a real person, which, if you think about it, is pretty sad. But also understandable, since I tell my troubles to my cat and she is smarter than a baby.
Jamie has resorted to talking to a baby because that stupid mofo of a royal Prince Charlie signed Jamie’s name on a published list of Jacobite supporters who promised to send troops to the war effort. Charlie is such a fool that he should’ve drowned in wine by now, but unfortunately, he is still alive to make Jamie’s life hell.
Little deliberation follows before Jamie decides that in order to get troops to support Charlie, he must visit his grandfather Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat of Beaufort Castle, also known as the Auld Fox. I know that just last episode the Frasers will still trying to thwart Charlie’s plans, but after breathing in the clear, cold air of Scotland, they realize that they spent six months over a futile, idiotic plan and decide that if they can’t stop Charlie, they might as well help him win the bluidy war.
We get some wonderful denunciations of the Auld Fox, who apparently stole two of his wives and had bastard children with several extra women. He’s also been a turncoat for both the British and the Scottish, making sure to choose the winning side at each encounter. When he meets Claire, he insults Jamie for marrying a Sassenach, then tells Claire to leave because she’s already talked more than a woman should. Note that she said one sentence. The Auld Fox is a gem.
Jamie wants to convince the Auld Fox to support the Jacobite cause, while Colum, the lord of the Mackenzies and Jamie’s uncle, wants Lord Lovat to keep the Fraser’s neutral. And to make matters even more complicated, Colum brought Laoghaire with him to Beaufort, most likely to throw both Claire and Jamie off-balance. If you watched last season, you already have a dark opinion of Laoghaire, but if you’re unfamiliar with her story, I’ll break it down: she’s a seventeen year old girl who had a crush on Jamie, and after he married Claire, she got jealous and lured Claire into a witch trial, which almost got Claire killed. She’s a devious lil ho.
Laoghaire was nowhere to be found in this scene in the novel, which makes me wonder why they brought her into a conflict she had no place in. My best guess is that she was written into this season to remind everyone of her character when she shows up next season. It wasn’t necessarily a bad choice to write her in, but it was odd. With Laoghaire “desperate” for Jamie’s forgiveness, Claire decides to barter Jamie’s forgiveness so that Laoghaire will use her allure to convince Young Simon, the Auld Fox’s son, into supporting the Jacobite cause. This goes over pretty well. Laoghaire may be a murderous bitch, but makes those boys jump.
But the Auld Fox won’t budge. If he’s to support the Jacobites, then he wants something in return: Lallybroch. The fact that Jamie is even willing to consider giving away his ancestral home shows how deeply he cares about the fate of his men and Scotland. The writers have developed his characterization past that of a rugged sex-idol, which is basically what he was until the third Outlander book. I like seeing Jamie in the role of laird rather than schemer because it’s far truer to his character and more believable.
Fortunately, Claire meets Maisri, Lord Lovat’s seer, who reveals that the Auld Fox is terrified of dying, so terrified that Maisri would rather face a beating than reveal to him that she foresaw his death. Jamie and Claire use this to their advantage in a spectacularly cheesy display of Claire’s La Dame Blanche “powers” by faking a vision that foretells Lord Lovat being executed by the Jacobites as a traitor when they win the war. This scares Lord Lovat enough to convince him to support Jamie, but since he’s a pretty crafty dude, he signs Colum’s neutrality pact and then he secretly sends troops to Jamie, but under the name of his son Young Simon. That way, he can win with both sides.
Now that they have sufficient troops, the war has really begun. Though the first half of the season was dark, I think that the second half, with Culloden, is a far greater tragedy. Next episode looks like it will be another amuse-bouche, with lots of militia training and the re-introduction of Jamie’s loyal band of friends. However, with only four episodes after that, shit’s going to get real. I’m so excited I could slap a Leery!
But how does it compare to the book? Everything is, how you say, by the book, except for the introduction of Laoghaire to Beaufort castle. In the novel, Jamie doesn’t find out that Laoghaire was the one responsible for sending Claire to a witch trial until the end of the third book. If he did, it would’ve made certain future events (COUGH COUGH I CAN’T TELL YOU) less plausible. We shall see how they work around this. Good news is, Outlander has been renewed for two more seasons, which means that the never ending pirate saga that is Voyager will be realized! Hurrah!