Heads roll (literally!) when Claire is held captive by the Duke

By Amy Wilkinson
June 18, 2016 at 12:43 AM EDT
Credit: Steffan Hill/Starz
S2 E11

“Tell me, does it ever occur to you that taking Claire to wife might not have been the wisest thing you ever did?”

You can hardly blame Murtagh for asking such a question of Jamie, especially given that the pair are crouched in the dark of the Scottish countryside, eyeing horses to purloin in order to rescue said wife. But Jamie has clearly never had such a thought. After all, he’s risked as much for Claire as she’s risked for him — and “Vengeance Is Mine” is a perfect example of that give and take.

The hour opens with the Jacobite army encamped in Northern England, having taken the garrison at Carlisle and occupied Manchester. London is just a five-days’ march away, and Bonnie Prince Charlie is practically salivating.

“All we have to do is reach out and take it,” he tells his commanders. They’re dubious. Jamie — hoping he can change the history books by convincing the Prince to indeed march on London — stands by the exiled monarch.

“If we turn back now all hope that currently resides in the hearts of our supporters will be full of doubt and fear,” he tells the assembled. And, yet, no one joins his cause.

Dejected, he returns to Claire outside, who’s created a makeshift dental office to administer to the cavities of soldiers and their families. Jamie promises his men he’ll see them home safely to Lallybroch. Is this an empty promise, or will his words ring true? Regardless, he offers Claire a special pledge — he’ll get her home safe no matter what happens. But which home?

The next day, the couple get an unexpected visitor: Dougal! He’s come with orders from the Prince’s generals that Jamie and his men are to ride ahead to Inverness. (Translation: Dougal and Jamie are both being exiled now thanks to Jamie’s sway over Charles.) And seeing as the Prince has already left (with Jamie’s horse!), the Scot can’t even plead his case. So they take their marching orders and…march. But while on the road resting, the group is set upon by British soldiers firing their muskets. They narrowly escape — though not unscathed. Rupert takes a bullet to the eye. (This guy really can’t catch a break, can he?) They find shelter in a church so Claire can dislodge the metal from his eye before it shifts into his brain. Claire’s surgery is successful, but it’s not long before the British Army tracks them down, commanding them out or else they’ll set the thatched roof on fire and smoke them out. But our heroine has a (familiar) plan: She pretends to be the men’s hostage, screaming for help. (The soldiers would never harm an Englishwoman.)

Dougal plays negotiator: He goes out to meet the Red Coats, offering them Claire and the laying down of their weapons in exchange for their safe departure. The soldier in charge agrees. Now, given that Jamie is a wanted man who probably shouldn’t be seen by anyone in the King’s army, Dougal is the one left to a carry a swooning Claire out to the waiting troops. But before crossing the threshold, the men make plans to rendezvous with Claire later at the Hazelmere garrison, as that’s where the British will likely drop her off (since it’s the closest army outpost). Seeing as it’s late, though, the Red Coats pull over at a pub for the night. Outside, Claire sees a familiar face: the beggar Hugh Munro.

That happenstance comes in handy the following day when Claire learns she is being taken to Belmont — not Hazelmere like they’d predicted. She smartly (sneakily) passes the message on to Hugh so he can pass it on to Jamie.

NEXT: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

When Claire arrives at Belmont, another familiar face greets her: the Duke of Sandringham! He doesn’t bust Claire’s cover (she’s been using her maiden name Beauchamp) and welcomes her into his home.

“I need a drink,” the Duke says when the soldiers depart.

Over dinner, Claire asks why the Duke kept her secret. Of course, his answer is very self-serving. Suspicions of his Jacobite allegiance continue to swirl and he’s being watched by the British. So, basically, he wants to be rescued when Claire is rescued. He strikes a deal with Claire: In exchange for helping her get a note to Jamie warning of the Red Coats outside, she must promise he’ll be delivered to a safe haven. Claire sends a note to Jamie (via Munro, via the Duke’s man) in rusty Gaelic.

It’s not long before yet another acquaintance makes herself known: It’s Mary Hawkins. She’s apparently the Duke’s goddaughter and has been staying with him in anticipation of being married off to Mr. Granger. (No doubt an older man of questionable looks.) Claire agrees to speak to the Duke about the match on Mary’s behalf.

Meanwhile, Claire’s missive changes hands: from the Duke’s man to Hugh to, finally, Jamie. But, as Claire discovers, it’s all a trap. The tip-off: Claire notices the tell-tale birthmark of Mary’s rapist on the hand of the Duke’s servant. Chillingly, the Duke had concocted the attack in Paris at the Comte’s request. You see, the Duke owed him some money, so in lieu of actual currency, the Duke offered to have Claire raped. Lovely. And perhaps even more shocking? The Duke wants Claire’s gratitude for it!

“You could have so easily been dead by now,” he says of the original plan to have Claire murdered.

If the Duke’s current scheme comes to fruition, she very well could be executed still. The Red Coats outside the estate know that not only is Claire the wife of “Red Jamie,” but that the fugitive is due at the Duke’s door any time now.

“You can be hanged side-by-side,” the Duke purrs. “So romantic.”

Claire is unceremoniously locked in her room, but through the window she makes out the figure of Hugh sneaking into the back garden. If only she can warn him to warn Jamie! Enter Mary Hawkins, who comes into the chamber unbidden. When Claire beseeches her help, though, Mary blanches. She’s not made of tough enough stuff. So Claire storms past her and runs downstairs to deliver the message herself. Except she’s intercepted by the Duke, who’s having a late-night snack in the kitchen.

Ultimately, though, Mary works up her courage and makes a run for the front door. She’s met by a soldier who’s clobbered in the head by Hugh, allowing Mary to deliver her warning before she is discovered by the servant and dragged to the kitchen. They’re not there long when Jamie and Murtagh appear. And that’s when things get bloody. Mary eyes a knife lying around and grabs it, plunging it into her rapist’s abdomen. (Who knew she had it in her?) But that’s just the beginning. When the men learn it was the Duke who orchestrated the attack on Claire and Mary in Paris, they exact their punishment. Murtagh takes an ax to the Duke, chopping his head clean off.

He presents the head to Mary: “I kept my word,” he says. “I lay your vengeance at your feet.”

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Weigh in below, and be sure to tune in to Outlander Live on SiriusXM 105 for a deep dive into “Vengeance Is Mine” with Lynette Rice and me.

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