Welcome back to our coverage of Outlander season two. Read our past reviews and recaps here.
Jamie was a bit whiny this week on Outlander, huh? Before fans come at me with pitchforks, please let me explain. I watched this episode a few weeks ago, and without looking at my notes or watching it again, there is one thing I remember the most: Claire stubbornly finding something useful to do, and Jamie trying to make her feel bad about that. That’s something I want to focus on this week because I think Claire’s unwavering will to be useful and help is what ultimately drives – not just the character forward – but the series itself.
“Useful Occupations and Deceptions” finds us in the thick of Claire and Jamie’s planning to stop the upcoming Jacobite rebellion. Jamie is busy, running the wine business, meeting with Prince Charles at the local brothel and spending the rest of his time trying to deceit “that loon of a prince.” Then there is Claire, who is bored. Because she’s a woman, she can’t be openly involved in Jamie’s scheming, only being able to stay home and work behind the scenes with him. She is also carrying the HUGE secret that Black Jack Randall is still alive, and she’s afraid to tell Jamie for his reaction will likely be impulsive and put his life at stake. They’re each carrying some heavy and new burdens, but the difference is that Jamie is so busy, there’s not much time to dwell on it, while Claire is stuck at home with not much else to think about other than that. So can you blame her for jumping at the chance to volunteer at a makeshift hospital run by a bunch of nuns?
This part has always been a favorite of mine in the Outlander book series. Claire helping out and forming a friendship with Mother Hildegarde (and Bouton) added a little levity to the story, while also remaining extremely relevant to the core plot. This isn’t just Claire traversing onto something new because she’s bored. This is the moment where she realizes that her calling goes beyond her husband, family and country. This is all about Claire, yet also all about the people around her. I can’t say more about this without dishing out a relatively huge spoiler, but seeing Claire go after her calling, excelling at it, and being rewarded with high regards from stern yet very respected nun is satisfying to any ambitious woman out there, who enjoys Outlander for its strong female lead as much as the swoon-worthy romance.
As for Jamie, I have a ton of sympathy for what his character has been through – which is unfathomably awful. I don’t expect (nor want him) to “get over it” in any way. But I don’t want his trauma to be an excuse for not taking the time to see that his relationship with Claire is spiraling downward. Now, looking back at my notes, I finally begin to see some major steps for them moving forward in terms of healing the divide Black Jack caused in their relationship. So for me to say that he was whiny because Claire wasn’t home when he needed her might be a tad mean, since 1. Jamie got some bad news leading up to that moment and 2. He eventually takes it back when Claire’s new occupation ends up being really important to their cause. However, it’s fair to point out that Claire has a right to do something with her life. They both have to develop a better understanding of what “give and take” means in a relationship. Again, that’s what makes Outlander so enjoyable because Jamie and Claire do feel like a new, real couple, still learning how to be together without compromising their individuality.
A few passing thoughts on this week’s episode…
- Does anyone else keep forgetting Claire is pregnant? I think Claire sometimes forgets too.
- We finally meet Fergus! A book series favorite, I wonder if the TV series will make him as prominent a character.
- Claire remembers that her new friend Mary Hawkins is Frank’s ancestor through a flashforward scene. The season is giving Frank a bigger presence in the past, which should be interesting when it inevitably comes between Jamie and Claire. Not telling Jamie about Black Jack is definitely going to backfire.
- I’m glad to see more of Murtagh this season. His grumpiness adds the right bit of comic relief, even when he’s messing around with the maid.
- Louise is pregnant with Charles’s baby is not surprising at all, given what we know of these characters.
- I envy Jamie’s dashing chess skills.
- LOL at Mother Hildegarde name-dropping Bach like it’s NBD.
What did you enjoy from this week’s episode?
Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.