Synopsis of 2×04: Claire and Jamie throw a dinner party to turn investors away from Prince Charles’ war effort; Jamie is shocked after Claire reveals that Jack Randall is alive.
The intrigue continues as the episode opens with Claire standing by watching while Jamie plays chess against Duverney. Everything seems to be going okay until Claire spots the Comte de St. Germaine at the salon. Shortly after this Claire drinks some wine and starts gasping and coughing like she’s been poisoned. At home, she realizes that the poison she tasted was something that Master Raymond sold.
In talking about their plans, Jamie suggests hosting a dinner for the prince and Duke of Sandringham, where Jamie and Claire and maneuver the conversation to work in their favor. Cautious about inviting the duke, Claire comes clean about Randall and the fact that he is still alive. Instead of being upset, Jamie seems to be overjoyed with the news. Having been plagued by Randall’s face for months, he is all too happy at the prospect that Randall is alive and for the chance to get to watch him die when they next meet.
Suspecting St. Germaine of poisoning her using Raymond’s medicine, she goes to confront the apothecary. Raymond admits that he did sell the poison, although it was to an unidentified servant. He then guides Claire to the back of the shop where he presents some sheep knuckles that look like they’re marked with runes. Plagued by the question of Frank’s destiny now that she is aware Mary Hawkins is his direct ancestor, she asks Raymond about Frank.
The knuckles read that she will see Frank again, which is something we already knew would happen from the opening episode of the season. Raymond also seems to hint at the fact that he knows she’s a time traveler. He is reminiscent of Geilis from Season One, in that he is also a seemingly chaotic character and unpredictable, but a potential ally of Claire’s. He also gifts her a stone that will tell her when she is in the presence of poison because of her recent brush with it.
“La Dame Blanche” is also an episode filled with baby talk. Claire and Jamie consider names for their children, both coming up with names that the other rejects. Meanwhile, Claire finds out that Louise is pregnant. Lousie is desperate for an abortion since the child is her lover’s. Claire convinces her to figure out a way to make her husband believe the baby is his, since Louise does not want an abortion. Louise mentions not being able to raise a child with a man who is not the child’s father, which throws a parallel into Claire’s future where we know Frank must now raise Jamie’s child as his own.
After the revelation that Randall is still alive, Jamie comes home from the brothel to Claire in a good mood. The two of them have barely been intimate since Jamie’s rape, but for once, he seems ready to have sex again. It all comes to a screeching halt when Claire finds some pretty big hickeys on his thighs.
The two launch into an argument about their married life, and the breach between them since Randall. Despite the fact that they are entrenched in this political life, the two of them have been very separated. Not only does Claire lament the fact that they haven’t had sex, but she feels like she’s had to bear the burden of the raising a child alone.
Meanwhile, Jamie has felt completely vulnerable and exposed since Randall’s rape. He feels like Randall has torn apart his very soul, describing it like having nowhere to hide except behind a blade of grass. With their insecurities out, Jamie and Claire are able to come to a mutual understanding. Jamie goes to sleep on the couch, but Claire comes to him and they reconcile their relationship.
Yay for sexy times! Though they don’t really get to have a nice night’s rest afterwards, since Jamie hears someone clunking around on their roof. Surprisingly, the prince comes bursting in through their window. After being spurned by his lover, he has come to hide out at Jamie’s for the night. When Claire realizes that his mistress is Louise, and therefore that Louise is pregnant with Prince Charles’s baby, Jamie and Claire decide to come up with another scheme.
Not only will they invite the duke to the dinner, but they will also invite Louise and her husband. The arrival of his mistress, plus the revelation about their baby will push the already fragile Charles to becoming unhinged. It’s a devious plan, one that puts Louise’s reputation in possible jeopardy. It’s interesing that Claire and Jamie acknowledge that this plan does seem to make them bad people. They are willing to potentially sacrifice Louise and her baby’s future in order to stop the rebellion.
The day of the party arrives. Claire leaves in the morning for the hospital with Mary Hawkins and Fergus and Murtagh, promising to come home in time to dress and greet their guests. While at the hospital, Fergus and Murtagh have a hilarious conversation about women. Murtagh may have a life time of adult experience, but growing up in the brothel has taught him a fair amount about reading women. He insightfully surmises that Mary is in love with someone. This is only confirmed later by Claire, who finds out that Mary and Alex Sandringham have been keeping a correspondence with one another.
Preparing to go home, Murtagh tells Claire that the carriage is broken and will take a while to fix. With the dinner party coming up in a few hours, they have no choice but to walk home. They send Fergus ahead to tell Jamie the bad news. The carriage is undoubtedly sabotaged, as Claire, Murtagh, and Mary walk home they are accosted by brigands. They knock out Murtagh and overpower Claire and Mary. Mary is raped. When the men turn to Claire, they are alarmed and run away from her calling her La Dame Blanche.
With Mary in her arms and an injured Murtagh, they make it back to the home where Jamie has been entertaining the guests alone. Mary’s in a bad condition, but they aren’t able to call for a doctor since without her virtue she could basically end up a spinster for the rest of her life. It doesn’t help that her father and her betrothed are both at the party. Passed out from shock, they put Mary upstairs, where Alex has come to comfort her after coming upon them in the courtyard.
Meanwhile, Jamie has spent the night greeting the guests. Sandringham arrives and meets the Prince. Louise and her husband also arrive, and there’s a really awkward moment where the Prince pretty much makes out with her hand for a good minute. Sandringham, being the asshole that he is, invites the Comte de St. Germain and his wife.
The dinner is a disaster. Sandringham and Charles are clearly unfit as allies, and this works to Claire and Jamie’s advantage. Charles’s catholicism clashes with Sandringham’s protestant leanings and his crude humor. Jamie congratulates Louise on her child, after Louise reveals to Claire that her husband has taken the bait about the child. This catches the Prince’s attention.
Unfortunately the dinner doesn’t go as planned as Mary wakes up upstairs and panics when she sees Alex, still in shock from the rape. Unable to keep her in the room, she runs through the house screaming and Alex foolishly tries to help her. They are caught rolling on the ground, and as the dinner party comes upon them it is instantly misconstrued as rape. Mary’s father and betrothed draw swords and threaten Alex’s life, while Jamie and Murtagh are forced to fight them off while trying to explain the situation. Worst of all, St. Germain lures Charles away and Sandringham leaves.
The episode ends during the brawl, with uncertainty in the air. While a lot of Claire and Jamie’s seeds have been planted, St. Germain seems to be the snake in the grass. It seems very likely that he was the one who both poisoned Claire and orchestrated the sabotage of her return back to the home. If that’s the case, he is also working with Sandringham, and indirectly contributed to Mary’s rape.
What’s also interesting is Claire’s reputation as the mysterious La Dame Blanche, that scares away even the most bloodthirsty of brigands. Her interactions with the hospital patients and with Master Raymond are highlights of the episode for me. In many ways, both Claire and Jamie are much more interesting characters apart than they are together.
Also, more snaps for the awesome costume design crew for Outlander, who are the real MVPs of this show. As much as I love the music, the new opening credits continue to make me cringe every time I hear the out-of-place French mixed in.
I’ll be interested to see where Claire and Jamie’s plan leads them, since we know from the first episode that Culloden is still a failed revolution and despite their schemes, nothing has changed.