Synopsis of 2×08: Claire and Jamie attempt to elicit support from Jamie’s grandsire, Lord Lovat; Colum MacKenzie arrives with plans of his own; Lord Lovat makes moves to advance his own interests.
After a largely unsuccessful trip to Paris that ended disastrously, Jamie and Claire return back to Scotland having said goodbye to their daughter, Faith. Last week’s episode was a season high point, and it’s only realistic that “The Fox’s Lair” doesn’t hit nearly all the same marks as “Faith” does. With the return of to the highlands comes the return to political subterfuge, and sometimes when it comes to clan politics, it can be a little clunky.
Coming back to Scotland, we find Jamie and Claire back at Lallybroch with Murtagh and Jenny and Ian and Fergus. The whole family is back together and the old title song is back! (God, how I loathed the French title song.) With their return, they also hear news that Charles has come to Scotland with an army to petition for the throne. He has forged Jamie’s signature and now Jamie is labeled as a traitor to the British.
Although Claire is ready to run, Jamie is resolute. He decides to fight in Culloden, hopeful that they can still change the results of the battle. Before he can join the troops, he needs to gain more men for the cause and that requires speaking to his grandfather, Lord Lovat. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, is no cupcake. He’s a scoundrel in every way; Jamie’s father was his bastard and he kidnapped Jamie’s mother in order to prevent her from marrying his son. And when we meet him, the man lives up to our expectations of him and more.
When they arrive at Lovat’s castle they see a familiar face, Colum Mackenzie! Despite Colum’s rivalry with Lovat, it seems he’s here to arrange a secret truce and alliance between the two clans. He’s also brought with him a seemingly reformed Laoghaire, who is thoroughly apologetic to Claire but doesn’t seem to have shaken her crush on Jamie. Claire also meets Maisri, Lovat’s seer, and it is revealed that Lovat is very superstitious.
The political intrigue in the episode is hard to follow at times, but Claire and Jamie concoct a plant in order to get Lovat’s men to come with him and not give up Lallybroch in exchange. Lovat is unwilling to give Jamie support without Lallybroch, and if Jamie won’t give up the land Lovat suggest taking Claire. Jamie scoffs in his face, “After she’s done with you, I’ll send in the maid to sweep up your remains.” However when Lovat makes more serious threats, Jamie brings in her title of La Dame Blanche, and given Lovat’s superstitiousness he is visibly disturbed by this.
In order to force Lovat’s hand, Claire and Jamie decide to try and use Lovat’s son Simon against him, and use that to force Lovat’s hand to protect his heir. Making Simon stand up for himself is easier said than done, the guy is soft-spoken and cowers in the presence of his father. They attempt to make Laoghaire, who Simon clearly favors, inspire courage in him, but the plan fails when he runs off after she pushes him a little too hard.
Meanwhile Claire has met Maisri officially, and learns that the seer has had a vision of Lovat getting his head cut off by an executioner as a traitor. It’s unclear which side he has betrayed, but this information proves useful for Claire when both Jamie and Claire’s separate plans have failed. When Jamie is ready to sign over Lallybroch to Lovat, Claire dramatically sweeps in with a reiteration of Maisri’s vision and this time adds that there are white roses on the ground, the symbol of the Stuart Crown.
When Lovat turns against Claire, Simon steps in. He declares his loyalty to Jamie. Although he has stood up to his father, Lovat is unmoved. He signs Colum’s contract for neutrality and it seems like all hope is lost. Colum, on his part, seems to see the detriment of the oncoming rebellion and warns Jamie about it. Despite his grey morals in the past, he seems to be the level-headed one when compared to Lovat’s wildly unpredictable schemes.
The next morning, they set off leaving Lovat behind but the Fox has one last trick up his sleeve. Simon arrives with Lovat’s men, and they agree to ride with them. Lovat appears and declares that if the Jacobites win, this will work in his favor. If they lose then he will put the blame on his son and be free of the blame. This man is as cold-blooded as they come.
Finally free of Lovat and his slippery ways, they head towards Culloden with Lovat’s men in tow.