Outlander Recap Season 2 Episode 3

Outlander Recap: The Purpose Driven Wife, Plus: Fergus Enters the Fray

Though their circumstances, carnal endurance and cheekbones suggest otherwise, Outlander‘s Jamie and Claire are, in fact, only human. Isn’t it nice to see, as we do in this week’s episode, that a bit of stress and a lack of sleep make them as susceptible to the same everyday bitchery as the rest of us?

Perhaps my current situation makes me a little sensitive to this kind of thing: Having a 1-year-old daughter offers me many gifts, but an overabundance of patience is not one of them, and my by-all-measures-amazing husband sometimes becomes the unintended target of my exhaustion. So Claire, swanning around Versailles in the type of gown about which they write epic poems? Gorgeous, but unrelatable. Claire, out of sorts and arguing with her man, who could use a nap and a snack himself? THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

This week’s episode also introduces Mother Hildegarde and Fergus, two characters from the book who become rather important as the season (and hopefully the series) continues. Read on for the highlights of “Useful Occupations and Deceptions.”)

L’ACTE D’AMOUR | As the episode opens, we watch what apparently has become a familiar scene at the Frasers’ French home: Jamie runs in after a late night with Charles at the brothel, quickly changes clothing and sets out for a day full of wine-merchanting and uprising-thwarting; Claire, meanwhile, lets on that she’s bored of having tea with Louise and the ladies. But at the moment, a distracted — and departing — Jamie is more concerned with his missing wooden snake keepsake than with his wife’s ennui. (Side note: Thank you, Outlander, for choosing to tell-not-show re: Claire’s morning sickness. That gross rat-stomping scene in the book lives in my memory; no need to see it played out.)

At least at Louise’s that day, there’s some fun to be had at poor Mary’s expense. “I can’t marry a Frenchman!” she blurts out during a game of cards, stymying Claire and Madame de Rohan. Mary haltingly explains that she’s become aware of how French men are in bed… and she’s so inexperienced that she doesn’t realize she’s just describing the basics of intercourse. Of course Claire wouldn’t know what she’s talking about, the younger woman quickly adds. “Your husband’s so gentle and so kind. He doesn’t trouble you in that way.” Um, Mary? There’s a whole episode of this series where all he does is trouble her “in that way.” Not that Claire minds… but that’s beside the point as she gently suggests that she and Mary have a private confab later. “Men don’t do things like that where I come from,” the teen says, embarrassed as Louise replies, “Where is that? The moon?!”

But Mary’s response — she’s from Seaford, England — jogs Claire’s memory of looking at Frank’s family tree during their time in Scotland. And suddenly she realizes that’s why Mary’s name sounded familiar to her: In 1746, Mary Hawkins will marry Jonathan Randall, making her one of Frank’s forebears. The very existence of Claire’s 1940s hubby, she voiceovers, relies on Black Jack staying alive for at least another year, which is yet another reason to keep his non-dead status from Jamie, who’d surely set out to kill him.

ALLIES ONCE MORE | The strain of new information puts our preggo protagonist on edge: After snapping at Murtagh, whom she finds bedding her lady’s maid Suzette, she apologizes and explains everything she’s learned — and why she can’t share the news with Jamie.

She’s a little surprised when he agrees. “You’re keeping a secret to save his life,” Murtagh says, adding that he’ll keep mum, too, in order to prevent Jamie from scooting back to Scotland — where he’s still a wanted man, remember — and winding up dangling from the hangman’s noose. There’s a shade here of the Claire-and-Murtagh-against-the-world that we saw during their traveling performer days last season, and I’m not mad about it.

PARIS MED | Claire crosses paths with Le Comte St. Germain during an outing to Master Raymond’s shop; she’s suspicious that the apothecary would be so cordial to someone he recently called an enemy, but he waves that away, citing business necessities. Claire is there to get birth control for Suzette, likely because the idea of bearded baby Murtaghs harrumphing all over the house doesn’t suit her, but she perks up upon learning of a charity hospital in need of volunteers. (Side note: Pay attention to that bit about bitter cascara, because it’ll become important later on in the season.)

So Claire travels to L’Hospital des Anges, which is run by a stern nun named Mother Hildegarde, whose pooch Bouton is always at her heels. Mother H. is dismissive of Claire at first, giving her chamberpot duty, but after Claire diagnoses diabetes (by tasting a woman’s urine), the sister starts to look at her with respect. Meanwhile…

IN WHICH JAMIE IS A GRUMP | Through sheer will and chess savvy, Jamie gets French finance minister Duverney to agree to an off-the-books meeting with Prince Charles at the brothel. But things go south when, instead of denying Charles the money he’d need to mount the Jacobite rebellion, Duverney becomes entranced by the idea of brokering an alliance between France and England once Charles’ father becomes king. Even worse, the bonnie prince says he’s got several English aristocrats who are willing to pony up most of the money, meaning his coffers aren’t as empty as Claire and Jamie had hoped.

The whole thing puts Fraser in a terrible mood, which is made worse when he returns home and Claire isn’t there. She eventually does return, bubbling about scrofula this and pee-tasting that, but he immediately snipes at her about how she’s putting the baby at risk. She isn’t doing anything to jeopardize their child, she says, hurt that he’s not excited for her. “I need a purpose,” she argues, adding that her options are limited thanks to her gender, but she’ll help their cause however she can. Jamie coldly responds that one way she could’ve helped was by being home to talk things over with him, but “you were out indulging yourself with poultices and potions.” Dude, those poultice and potions have saved your biscuit on more than one occasion, so how about you simmer down, aye?

Outlander Recap Season 2 Episode 3Moving into the anger stage, Claire counters that she was helping people, and that doing so makes her feel good. “When do I get to feel good?” Jamie growls, and stalks off. From the hallway, Suzette whispers to Murtagh that the Frasers haven’t had a good role in le hay in a while, which likely isn’t helping anything. (Side note: Rewind the scene to watch Claire’s eyeroll — pictured at right — when Murtagh offers his little I-told-you-so. So great.)

INTRODUCING FERGUS | James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fussypants takes his frustration to the brothel, where he drinks and watches a young pickpocket rob the drunken customers of their money and trinkets. It gives Fraser an idea, so he chases the boy into the alley and — after a bit of confusion — offers the “wee fool” a job. “From now on, you’re going to do all your stealing for me,” Jamie informs him, mildly shocked when he realizes the boy lifted the aforementioned wooden snake off him at some time in the recent past.

So he brings the boy home in the early hours of the morning and informs Claire that Fergus — whose real name is Claudel, “but we decided that didna seem very manly” (heh) — will live with them from now on. I remember Claire’s reaction to their new charge as being more genial in the book than it’s portrayed here, but I do think the new treatment works in terms of where the couple is, emotionally, at this point in the series’ narrative: They’re so not on the same page that he alone decides they’re essentially adopting this kid, and the conversation they have about the matter is conducted with each of them in separate rooms. (Nice direction there.)

THE PHONY EXPRESS | Fergus steals letters to and from Prince Charlie, which Jamie, Claire and Murtagh copy and then replace before anyone’s the wiser. Many are in code; one is a piece of music in German, which Jamie takes to Mother Hildegarde for help translating. Thanks to the nun, the Frasers realize that “The key is the key,” and the decoded letter reveals that though Charles exaggerated how much money he has at his disposal, the English conspirators are very real. The missive is signed “S” — “Sandringham!” Mr. and Mrs. Fraser deduce simultaneously; their mission’s first substantive lead becomes cause for celebration and an easing of the tension between them.

But Claire’s faking her merriment, because she knows what will happen next: Jamie will want to meet with the slippery aristocrat to try to convince him not to fund the prince’s foolish war, and that means that Jamie will almost surely meet Alex Randall and learn that Black Jack lives. Murtagh urges his godson’s wife to ‘fess up, but when Jamie returns to the room and asks her what’s going on, Claire wusses out for perhaps the first time since we’ve met her. “I just love seeing you so happy,” she covers, leaving Murtagh to narrow his brows and shake his head in disappointment.

Now it’s yer turn. What did ye think of the episode? Is anyone else wondering how they can work a mustard-colored cape into their spring wardrobe? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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38 Comments
  1. I’ve tried to like Jamie, but I can’t. He gets on my nerves every time. I like Frank so much better!

    • Terri says:

      Did you watch season 1?

    • Anne says:

      Wow, that’s an uncommon opinion. I will admit to having a great deal of sympathy for Frank – seeing him search for Claire last season and then his reactions when she came back…I had a great array of feelings for the guy.
      .
      But Jamie is where it’s at. I adore Jamie.

      • My mom actually agrees with me as in she prefers Frank, but she really likes Jamie, too. I just can’t.

        • Anne says:

          That’s fascinating. What is it about him that you prefer? I’m not trolling, I’m genuinely curious (and I’m not a diehard so I can’t be offended haha)

          • Maddie says:

            I’m an avid book reader and do not understand why they have changed Jamie’s character so much – even in season one. He is sulky, petulant and I also feel that the essence of Claire and Jamie’s relationship is missing. It took me 3 viewings of season one before I could watch and appreciate the show on its own merits. The acting, costuming and production values are incredible but, for me, TV Jamie is a shadow of book Jamie.

        • Ange says:

          I like Frank too.

    • Maddie says:

      I would recommend reading the books. Jamie is a different character, more mature and not as petulant.

      • Winter says:

        In many ways true but he didn’t want her at the hospital in the book either. Even going so far as to ask what she would do if he forbid her to do it. that is actually one of my favorite moments in the book where she says ARE you forbidding me while admitting she had no idea what she would do other than maybe burning down the house.

        But I agree they are missing something in the translation of Jamie I would like to see him appear more savvy in the political dealings.

        • Maddie says:

          You are right, and it reinforces my point; in the book it was a discussion and after Jamie had thought about Claire’s argument he reluctantly agreed but the show omits this. I enjoy the show but wish they had not made the decision to alter his character so much.

    • chicagoshari44 says:

      Then I think you may be falling prey to the Ronald D. Moore plot. Frank was pretty much a non entity in the books. He was there primarily to set up the conflict Claire has in making the huge decision to go home or stay in the 18th century with the love of her life, soulmate, Jamie Fraser. Claire and Frank barely lived together before war separated them. After the war they had problems reconnecting, thus the trip to Scotland. When she comes back through the stones as we saw in way too much detail in season 2, she tells frank point blankly that she loves someone else and married him and that she no longer loves him in that way. It does not bode well for their 2-th century marriage. Sounds like you are a series watcher rather than a book reader. That’s okay. The television series has played up Frank. I had no problem at all with Claire’s choice in the book. It was so blatantly obvious whom she belonged with for her lifetime. Frank was esoteric and stuffy, more interested in history and his exploration of the past than his wife. Even last season, much of the time Claire spent with Frank before going through the stones and meeting Jamie wasn’t as detailed in the book as the television series. So now we have more of a Frank vs Jamie dilemma for Claire than I think ever was the objective of the books. Many of Jamie’s great lines that show his strengths have been relegated to other characters in the television series. My only criticism of the series. Personally, I love Jamie and more specifically, I love the way Sam Heughan portrays Jamie. But I think the show runner has set up this difference in alliance for just these conversations. The books leave no doubt. We have hundreds and hundreds of Frank free pages in the books. In the television series this season we have yet to have an episode without Tobias Menzies making an appearace as either Frank or Black Jack.

      • Yes, I’m a series watcher, not a book reader (not necessarily a true statement for every book, but for this one in particular), but this makes little difference. I’ve watched series based on books I’ve fervorously devoured (like Rizzoli & Isles) and the tv characters and book characters, as well as the plot are separate entities. Studying intersemiotic translations in college was the best thing for me as a reader, tv and movie watcher, as we deeply explored every adaptation for itself, having its own life and not having to be a faithful copy of the original. Maybe I’d love book Jamie if I ever took the time to read it (which won’t happen for a while as I’m doing my Masters), but I don’t like tv Jamie. I think he’s a petulant child. I like Frank. I really like Tobias Menzies. I think Sam Heughan’s a very good actor, but his character doesn’t appeal to be. People are different :)

        • chicagoshari44 says:

          Yes, I agree with that. I actually saw the television show first and fell in love with the character of Jamie and then with the relationship between Jamie and Claire. I read all 8 books between the end of season 1 and beginning of season 2; adventures of Jamie and Claire from post Culloden Scotland to the American Revolutonary War. Really wonderful books if you like history, adventure, and a bit of time travel thrown in. But primarily, for me, they are love stories and this great love that transcends time between Jamie and Claire. I see changes in the character from book to series, but still adore Jamie. I don’t see him as petulant at all. Nor do I see him as childlike. I think this season Claire is treating him like a child though. One of the things I liked best about episode 3 is that he is standing up for himself a bit and making decisions like hiring Fergus without her. They need to reestablish the balance in their relationship, post Black Jack, and that is kind of what they are doing. As Caitriona Balfe has said in interview, the love between Frank and Claire was one of teacher to student. It was not an equal relationship in terms of power. The relationship between Jamie and Claire is one of equal partners both passionate, intelligent and resourceful. I like that description.

          • I don’t feel like that. I see it the complete opposite (and we all who studied literary theory know that the intent of the message is irrelevant — how the reader (or viewer) perceives it is the real message), I see Claire and Frank as equal partners, and I see her with Jamie as she always superior, smarter, more independent and him having a hard time accepting that. Also, I’m not in it for the romance. I’m possibly the only person who reads romance novels (or watches romance shows) for the actual plot. I honestly couldn’t care less about them together. I want to see her traveling through time and discovering people, helping them, coming back and forth and the repercussions of it. Romance will always be secondary to me in any story.

          • sixela872 says:

            Show-Jamie is a manchild, which is a shame because then he’s not seen as equal to Claire. Book-Frank is actually the one who had a hard time seeing and accepting Claire for who she was, which is a big reason she found home in the 18th century. Lots of adventure to come (assuming they stick to those parts of the storyline).

      • Maddie says:

        Well put.

  2. Imagecrafters says:

    I enjoyed tonight. My husband likes the intrigue. I’m watching and waiting for the mystical stuff with Master Raymond. Hard swing Jamie and Claire at odds.

  3. MLPR says:

    I’m really trying to enjoy Season 2, but I just can’t. I hate that we have to watch all the politics in Paris and it’s basically all for nothing since they don’t change the outcome of the war. I just don’t get it. I feel like I’m wasting my time, but I know they won’t be in Paris for long, so I’m sticking it out, I guess.

    • Anne says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one! I wasn’t looking forward to the move to Paris and the season thus far has been kinda dull. And you’re right, knowing it does nothing to affect the future makes it feel even less interesting. Im excited for when they’ll be done this arch.

    • Razberry says:

      I agree, but expected that to be the case as I found book 2 to be the slowest of the series for the same reason. What is keeping me going is not only the eventual move back to Scotland but the other characters in Paris such as Fergus and Mary that play important roles later. I wish they would spend less time on the politics though. How many more episodes before they leave Paris?

      • Zoe says:

        Episode 7 is titled “Faith” and episode 8 “The Fox’s Lair”…so I assume they will move to Scotland in episode 7.

    • SM says:

      I actually think it’s important to the series overall as Claire eventually learns she can’t change history with her knowledge.

  4. Terri says:

    Love Mother Hildegard and Fergus! Especially love Murtagh and how the writers expanded his role. Glad they included Bouton, but miss the scene when Jamie encounters the dog for the first time. Also miss the “verra large sausage” scene. No disrespect to the other writers, but Anne K. definitely knows how to write scenes for Claire and Jamie. I hope she wrote the episodes with the emotional wallops.

    • Collette says:

      Ugh. Meeting Bouton and the sausage were two of the lighter moments I’m missing as well. I’m ready for the move back to Scotland in hopes the writers will reconnect with the source material and the little details that really add so much to the overall series.

      I haven’t paid much attention to who writes which episodes… is there a noticeable difference?

  5. Kelly says:

    My new band name: Bearded Baby Murtaghs.

  6. ninergrl6 says:

    Tonight’s episode was really slow until the introduction of Fergus. Maybe that’s because I knew what was going to happen from reading the books, or maybe it’s just the pace of the Paris stuff in general. After last week’s episode covered so much ground in terms of plot and new characters and still maintained several humorous moments, this week’s episode felt flat and, dare I say it, boring.

  7. Mary Marais says:

    I agree. It’s so disappointing. There is absolutely no sexual tension between Jamie and Claire in the show or when they are interviewed. That’s what made Season 1 so good.

  8. Christine M says:

    I can put up with a slower episode but the character development that it’s showing is not only interesting, but vital to the story of these people. That’s what I’ve always loved about Gabaldon’s writing, she makes her characters so real.
    I also have been enjoying Duncan Lacroix’s portrayal of Murtagh. It seems the producers have expanded it a bit from the books, and he’s just great. Loved his line about Prince Charlie “The man’s a block head!” He always makes me laugh.
    For Newlanders, don’t give up on this season. SO much more to come!

  9. Clare Curry says:

    I loved the episode. The friction between Jamie and Claire has added a new dimension to the show.

  10. chicagoshari44 says:

    This was a really great, detailed recap. I love the series and enjoyed episode three. Some of my favorite scenes were Jamie confronting young Fergus. Seeing the way Jamie is trying to find himself after the torture and rape of season 1. Since we did not have the catharsis and healing before going to Paris as we did in the book, we have to watch him struggle through the aftermath of the trauma. It is very interesting to me to see him come back little by little. Last week we saw his wit and humor re-emerge. We saw that he was intuitive and intelligent in the ways he dealt with King Louis, Prince Charles, and the Minister of Finance. This week we see him reasserting himself in his relationship with Claire as well as taking over the plotting by hiring Fergus. I think we have to remember that in the 18th century, women didn’t work outside of their homes. Married women were not out on the streets in the middle of the night in a very dangerous Paris. There are going to be times when Claire’s 20th century sensibilities will come into conflict with Jamie’s 18th century expectations. They are not connecting right now and this was a key example of how far apart they have grown. Claire was extremely inconsiderate of her husband. He had no idea where she was. Don’t forget he sees himself as her protector. Remember the wedding vow? He could do nothing but wait. On top of that he had some extremely unsettling news and the first person he wanted to talk to about it was Claire. I think we have to cut him a little slack for being upset. Murtagh accompanied her to the hospital and waits for her all afternoon and evening to bring her home. Maybe she could have sent Murtagh with word of her whereabouts for Jamie. But no. She was so filled with her own sense of importance and need to feel useful, that she forgot about whom she was married to and what he would be thinking and feeling. So I felt his anger was justified. I did like the final scene where they seem to be connecting a bit, particularly when they both figured out that S was for Sandringham at the same moment. And I loved his subtle apology in acknowledging that his wife is always there when he needs her. Loved Murtagh. Loved Mother Hildegarde and Bouton. Such a rich tapestry of characters and events.

    • Julia says:

      The series has lost me already, unfortunately. The key to my enjoyment of the characters in the book was Jamie/Claire relationship: soulmates who heal each other, who wither when they cannot be together. They have petty arguments in the book, but their foundation is that they take refuge in one another, and that their relationship is incomparable to any other relationship they have in their lives. Ron Moore has forced Frank into a relationship where he did not exist, which changes Claire and her reactions to Jamie, which in turn changes the very reason I became an Outlander fan: Jamie and Claire against the world. If there is no Jamie-and-Claire, there’s no “real” Outlander there for me to watch and enjoy. I never would have become a Jamie fan with just the TV series, and I am not a fan of the series now that Jamie is a whole other person.

  11. I really miss Jamie’s humor. In the book there are numerous times when his humor comes through even the darkest of times. In season one the humor was there. Even though season 2 deals with the aftermath of Jamie’s encounter with Black Jack, the TV episodes could have used the scenes like Jamie’s meeting with the dog, Boutin, at the hospital and the sausage scene as written in the book. I think that the lack of sex between Jamie and Claire is also an unforgivable change from the book where one of the most endearing scene’s is when Jamie is determined not to have sex with Claire during her pregnancy and Claire is having none of that! Yes there are dark times in the book where Jamie won’t touch her but also other funny times when he is drunk and doesn’t even remember having sex with her twice! I think they have lost the essence of Jamie!

    • Julia says:

      Excellent point, I agree with Jamie’s loss of humor.

      The key is the missing “healing” from the abbey. Jamie is propelled towards his healing thanks to Claire’s night of ‘therapy’ at the abbey, and therefore can find his sense of humor more quickly in the book. Without that key scene in the series, Jamie is still grappling with beginning his healing, and so is a completely different Jamie.

    • Maddie says:

      Sam plays Jamie so well. I think it is such a shame that the show-runners made the strange choice to make such fundamental changes to Jamie’s character and not include some of the pivotal moments – the wedding ring, Jamie knowing that Laoghaire set Claire up etc. But I will continue to watch and try to bury my frustrations lol.

  12. Michelle says:

    I cannot even begin to express my dissatisfaction with season 2. First, I will write that 201 was excellent. The acting was superb. I am haunted by Claire’s face as she watches Frank burn her clothes and looks up to the sky. You can see in her eyes that she is heartbroken and deeply missing Jamie. The acting is spot on. Then it’s all downhill from there. Who ever is doing the writing has completely lost the relationship between Claire and Jamie. It is not there. With or without PTSD this is not the Jamie Frasier from the book. The way he storms out to sleep alone, ignores her, and has distanced himself is not true to character. Jamie’s sense of humor even during his recovery was always there in the books. Things must change for tv but not the main characters core personalities. The way he treats her and their interactions is where the draw is. Take that away and it is not Outlander. It reminds me more of my man-infant ex husband if anything. I don’t know what to call this. I have decided to treat this as a “side” piece to Outlander on level with the silly Graphic Novel with its horrid illustrations. I adore Sam and Jamie/Claire still but only through tv season 1 , and the books. Many loving writings and moments lost to Kings poo, maids I want to smack, and brothels. Please.