You know what they say: Into each drama, some rain must fall. And such was the case — both literally and figuratively — for this week’s Outlander episode, “The Fox’s Lair.” Literally because, well, we’re back in Scotland and that’s just what happens there. Figuratively because, well, this episode was slow-moving and — dare I say? — a little dull. But that’s the nature of the episodic beast. Some episodes’ purpose is simply to bridge the narrative gap from one plotline to another. So maybe we can dispatch with this particular episode rather quickly?
As I mentioned, Claire and Jamie have made their way back to Scotland (and Lallybroch) to reunite with Jamie’s sister, Jenny, and her husband, Ian. And with the day’s post comes some rather unfortunate news: Not only has Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland with an army, but Jamie’s signature has been forged onto a document petitioning on behalf of the Stewart crown. So as much as Jamie and Claire had hoped they foiled the Jacobite uprising, it appears they, in fact, did not.
“It’s all coming to pass, isn’t it?” Claire worriedly wonders aloud. She suggests they flee to Ireland or the Colonies, but Jamie is resolute. He believes in Claire’s power to change the future (she did stanch a smallpox outbreak in Paris and convince Louise to bear Prince Charles’ baby, so…), so he wants to fight for his home and his family.
Jamie has an errand to run before joining the Prince and his troops, though: He’s off to see his grandfather, Lord Lovat — a scoundrel whom he’s never really met or gotten to know — in order to get his men to join the rebellion. (It’s here that Jamie reveals a family secret to Claire: His father is actually a bastard, as Lord Lovat impregnated a kitchen maid. It’s pretty adorable how Jamie fears Claire will think the worse of him for it.)
So the two depart the next day for their journey, with plans to meet up with Murtagh and Fergus after. When they arrive at Lord Lovat’s they’re greeting by an unexpected (yet all-too-familiar) face. It’s Colum MacKenzie, and despite his distrust of Lovat, he has also come hoping to secure an alliance. Oh! And look! Another unexpected face. It’s Laoghaire! She has accompanied Colum on his journey, and unsurprisingly, Claire is not pleased to see her, given that their last encounter led to Claire being tried for witchcraft. Claire unloads on Laoghaire. And, you know, it actually does make her feel better.
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At dinner that night, Jamie lays out his plans to his grandfather and Colum, but they’re dubious of Prince Charles’ chances given that France has yet to pledge support.
“We will welcome the French support when it comes, but we don’t need it!” Jamie declares. His kin Simon (the son of Lord Lovat) pipes up in support of Jamie, but he’s quickly chastised by his father. (Simon, it seems, is not the most confident, assured of men.)
NEXT: La Dame Blanche returns [pagebreak]
Jamie realizes that Lovat’s indecision is rooted in something: He deduces that his grandfather wants something in exchange for his support. And it doesn’t take Jamie too long to figure out just what that is: It’s Lallybroch. And if Jamie won’t give him Lallybroch, he’ll take Claire’s virtue instead.
“Go ahead, try to ravish my wife,” Jamie dares him. “After she’s done with you, I’ll send in the maid to sweep up your remains.”
This may be my favorite line of the series, thus far.
In a further attempt to intimidate Lovat, Jamie tells him that Claire is — you guessed it — La Dame Blanche! So handy that rumor is. Given the lord’s belief in the supernatural, he does seem ever so slightly kowtowed by this.
Claire has another idea about how to convince Lovat: She wants to use his son Simon. All she has to do is get him to stand up to his father. How exactly? By boosting his confidence. He’s clearly crushing on Laoghaire, so if the lass pays him a bit of womanly attention, he might just feel manly enough to do something. Except, well, that plan doesn’t go super well. After reciting a few lines of poetry to Laoghaire, Simon eventually scampers off. Meanwhile, Claire wanders alone into the chapel and stumbles upon Lovat’s seer, whom she saw earlier in the episode being very poorly treated by the lord. Apparently it was all owing to her most recent vision: Lovat’s head being axed off by an executioner. (A traitor’s death, as it were.) But the seer was unable to tell Lovat which side required his death.
With neither Jamie nor Claire’s machinations succeeding, Jamie is left to do what he must: Sign a document giving Lovat ownership of Lallybroch in exchange for his men joining the fight. But Claire has one more trick up her sleeve: Just as Jamie is about to sign, she causes a commotion, citing a vision. She repeats to Lovat the same vision that his own seer revealed. But she says she sees white roses in it — the sign of the Jacobites. As Lovat lunges to slash Claire’s throat, son Simon intercedes. He not only stops the knife but declares his loyalty to King James. He will fight on his behalf even if his father does not. None of this convinces Lovat, though — he declares neutrality and signs Colum’s document.
But as Claire and Jamie and Simon ride away the next day, a group of men are waiting for them at the castle’s gates. They’re Lovat’s men. They will ride with Simon. If the Jacobites win, Lovat will declare it a victory on behalf of him and his heir. If the Jacobites lose, he will disown his son and say that he ran off with the men of his own accord.
Crazy like a fox.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Tell me below, and be sure to tune in to Outlander Live on SiriusXM 105 for a deep dive into “The Fox’s Lair” with myself and Lynette Rice as hosts.