[SPOILER WARNING: Episode 'The Fox's Lair' of Outlander is discussed here. Turn back if you don't want it to be spoiled for you]
After a devastating episode last week, #OutlanderSeason2 brings us back home to Scotland in its episode 'The Fox's Lair'. France - and Paris - came bursting in as a force of nature, but it seems we've seen the last of it, unless they decide to give us some flashbacks this season. Now, it's all about Scotland, Prince Charlie's Jacobite rebellion and the future of the Clans.
Though the recent past events still taint Claire's and Jamie's present, they brought two things back from France with them: Wee Fergus and La Dame Blanche. Let's delve into the top 6 moments in 'The Fox's Lair'.
A Letter From Paris
Oh, Charles Stuart, you con, you!
Apparently, there's some time skip from last week's episode, when 'The Fox's Lair' starts. We see Claire and Jamie back home and settled in, until a letter arrives from his cousin Jared, congratulating Jamie for taking a stand and publicly supporting the Stuart claim to the Scottish throne.
Only he didn't.
Enclosed to Jared's letter, Jamie finds a declaration of intention, signed - or with forged signatures - by some highly respected Highland Lairds. James's name is, of course, among those supporters and, since the pledge has been distributed widely, it means Jamie is once more a traitor in the eyes of the English crown. So that one-night stand Claire just had with the King of France - the one that rendered a royal pardon for James - was completely useless after all.
The Old Fox Himself
Back in Season 1, when we first met Jamie Fraser, he was hiding in Castle Leoch, the MacKenzie Keep. He couldn't wear his tartan colors or even bear his own name, as the English were looking for him. Although it's been a while since he finally took on the mantle of Laird of Lallybroch, it's also been some time since we've been presented with Clan politics of any kind.
With the introduction of Jamie's grandsire, Laird Lovat, we get to, not only experience the Highland Clan feuds, but also to find out some more about Jamie's parentage and lineage. His father Simon Fraser took a MacKenzie for his wife, much to the displeasure of his father and Laird. Simon was a bastard son of Laird Lovat, which means that Jamie and his sister Jenny aren't legitimate Frasers themselves.
The point is, when Jamie decides to go to Beaumont Castle, the Frasers of Lovat seat, to convince his grandfather to support Charles Stuart, he ends up biting more than he can chew. Upon his and Claire's arrival at the castle, Jamie finds Collum MacKenzie is already there, trying to get Lord Lovat to remain neutral in the rebellion. The price Lord Lovat demands for sending the Lovat Frasers into war is Lallybroch, Jamie's and Jenny's family lands and tenants.
Young Simon Fraser, The Fox's Son
If you take your history lessons from Outlander alone, it would seem there were only weaklings and effeminate characters, apart from Jamie Fraser himself. The real Simon Fraser, Jamie's cousin - and later Lord Lovat himself - was known to be as cunning and forceful as his father, the Fox. In the show, however, he's depicted as being weak and submissive, not respected by his father or the clan.
He needs to be made to step up to the plate by - an unfortunately recently returned - Laoghaire, who Simon seems to fancy. Convinced by Claire, she's enlisted to give Simon the boost he needs to stand up to his father and earn not his respect, but his soldiers. The plan does go according to plan, but Simon 'The Fox' Fraser refuses to send his man into battle. It's only at the end of the episode that we see how the old man acquired the moniker 'Fox' - when he covers all his basis by signing a neutrality agreement with Collum MacKenzie, while sending men to accompany his son in the war.
A 'Changed' Laoghaire MacKenzie
This makes into the top moments because of the plot ahead, more than for what was shown us in this episode. So if you do not wish to be spoiled, skip to number five on the list.
Laoghaire had been absent from Outlander since the Cranesmuir Witch trial, when she was the one responsible to have Claire and Geillies Duncan imprisoned and later accused of witchcraft. Laoghaire has always been madly in love with James Fraser and, although this episode leads us to believe she's actually changed, she still desires him. She tries to convince Claire that she's a different woman now and that she's been trying to do what's right in the eyes of God, but Claire is having none of it. She tells Laoghaire how she's dreamed of stepping on the girl's ashes - like Laoghaire promised to do with Claire's ashes, before Jamie rescued his wife in Cranesmuir.
In truth, this was a set up for future events, when Claire travels forward in time to Frank and Laoghaire finally gets what she so long has wanted, by marrying Jamie eventually. Her last line to Jamie in this episode "I hope one day you forgive me...and love me", is a nice nod to Arnold Schwarzenegger's "I'll be back".
Seers, The White Lady And Highland Lore
This is something writer Diana Gabaldon masters absolutely. She interweaves magical elements to lore and the story in a way that makes it all seem plausible and real. I loved it when the old Fox was threatening to have Claire's 'honor' taken by his men, and Jamie simply smiled and said "Go ahead. After she's done with you I'll send a maid in to clear what's left of you off the floor". Once more, the idea that Claire is this magical creature - which she actually is - plays a part in saving both her and Jamie - this time the Jacobite cause also - from what would otherwise be disastrous situations.
'The Fox's Lair' also brings Maisri to the fold, a seer for the Frasers of Lovat. I might be wrong here, but in the book, Maisri was much younger than they portrayed her in the show, which bummed me a bit. What she says to Claire back in that chapel will come back more than once, as will Maisri, for that matter. Though it is not explained, Maisri's powers might come from the same source as 1948 Reverend Wakefield's druid housemaid, Mrs. Graham.
Home To Lallybrooch
Oh, Lallybrooch, I've missed you!
Hearing Claire ask Jamie to take her back home to Scotland in last week's episode, gave me hope to see Jenny and her family again. Although we do see her - and her recently increased number of bairns - we spend much too little time with the Frasers in Lallybrooch.
We do get to see a couple of interesting moments, though. For instance, young Fergus slowly earns his place in the household, and by Murtagh's side, by deciding he should fight beside Jamie in the war. There's also the outcome of last season's advice that Claire gave Jenny about the potatoes. We see the first crop and it's a very successful one. I did miss the part from the book when they all gather around a fire at night - the Frasers and the Lallybrooch tenants alike - to try out the novelty while sharing stories. Flashback, anyone?
In the most endearing moment of the episode, Claire wakes up to an empty bed, only to find Jamie cradling his youngest nephew in his arms. The scene is deeply emotional for Claire - as for all of us - because it so closely related to their lost child, and the fact that Claire will never have the chance to see Jamie with their baby in his arms.
BONUS The Opening Credits
Finally, a bow to Bear McCreary for the amazing work done with the score in the opening credits. Last season, 'The Boat Song' featured in the credits had all Scottish music elements, while in the first half of this second season it had French elements and it was even sung partially in French. This week, Bear lost the French lyrics and fused the song with war drums sounds for the Culloden drama to come. Simply amazing!
Next week's episode, 'Je Suis Prest', is named for the Fraser motto and it promises the first hints of war, both the Jacobite and the personal battles kind.
Outlander airs every Saturday, on Starz.