Back to IndieWire

Review: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 6, ‘Best Laid Schemes’ Duels to the Death

Review: 'Outlander' Season 2 Episode 6, 'Best Laid Schemes' Duels to the Death

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 5, ‘Untimely Resurrection’: Betting It All on Black Jack

That’s What She Said

“Bad things tend to happen when we’re apart.”

It doesn’t take a time traveling “witch” to deduce that one. Indeed, whenever Claire and Jamie have been separated — for whatever reason—bad things have inevitably followed. Saturday’s episode was no exception. As though this season hasn’t been tumultuous enough for the title characters (you know, setting into a new country, dealing with poisoning, attempted rape and a secret uprising), this week was a rough one for fans. Following up on his promise to not duel Randall, Jamie finally opened up to Claire about why he agreed to stay away from his enemy for another year: So that if anything were to happen to him, Claire could go back to Frank. Viewers who watched the Season 2 premiere know that Frank is indeed alive and well in the future, but Claire had no way of knowing that when she made her ask of Jamie. As far as she was concerned, Jamie’s vow to her was a solid one (is there anyone more of his word than Jamie Fraser?) but by episode’s end it all came crumbling down, as he went to duel the Englishman anyhow.

That’s What He Said

Of course, Claire also had no way of knowing about the events that took place at the brothel while she was on bed rest at the hospital. We’ve increasingly seen the bond between Fergus and Jamie (the boy has become a son of sorts in the Fraser household), which makes what may have happened to him at the hands of Black Jack that much more devastating. The series certainly left the events up to our imagination, but given Randall’s history with rape and his penchant for power, it’s safe to assume that he absolutely assaulted the little boy (or attempted to) and Jamie is now fighting for the kid’s honor. Frank or no Frank, Jamie loves that little boy and won’t let something like that go just because he made a promise to Claire. No parent on the planet would.

Cheese and Baguettes

Claire’s parlor visits with Louise and her friends continue to demonstrate the difference between Claire and her fellow lush ladies. As the women obsessed with all things sex, Claire couldn’t take it anymore and finally asked them if they ever thought about all the poor people they see. Their answer? They should get their husbands to petition the King to have the poor people removed to another part of town. Because of course. Anyhow, the ladies didn’t address the starvation problem, but we’re assuming they’d send them some cake for them to eat, right? No wonder Claire’s only solace is in her work at the hospital.

In fact, she seemed just as uncomfortable in that conversation as Murtagh did in the French clothes. Well, at least we had two fish-out-of-water comedic pieces in this otherwise dark episode.

Babies R Us

Unfortunately, everyone knows that doctors make the worst patients and Claire doesn’t seem to be the exception to that rule. Rather than take it easy and think of her babe, she continued to work amongst the sick until she became one herself with some light bleeding. Although it seemed like nothing to worry about at first, she absolutely pushed herself by rushing to Jamie at the duel. Sure, she didn’t have to watch her second husband die, but Jamie did manage to get quite the jab into Randall’s special regions, potentially killing future Frank. The stress of that, all on top of the existing complications, proved to be too much for the pregnancy, and now both Claire and the baby look to be in jeopardy ahead of next week’s episode.

READ MORE: Listen: Escape to Scotland This Valentine’s Day With Exclusive Song from the ‘Outlander’ Soundtrack

I Put a Spell on You

Before the dramatic climaxes of the episode, future groundwork was being laid for the prosecution of witchcraft and sorcery in France, along with those who conspire with such people. Claire’s coincidental friendship with the executioner at the hospital allowed her to send a warning to Master Raymond, securing their friendship for the better. Unfortunately it also put her in potential harm’s way if she manages to survive her latest tragic health issue. With so many people circling her and wishing her harm, Raymond was probably right in saying she shouldn’t have come.

A Revolutionary Cause

Jamie is taking more risks against Prince Charles, as he and Fergus attempted to stop the shipment of wine with Claire’s smallpox potion. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out the way they expected and the Prince called upon Jamie to become even further involved. Unfortunately for everyone — mostly the Comte — the plan was thwarted a second time when they were robbed. Convenient, sure… but we all know it won’t stop the prince from coming at his rebellion from another angle in the near future. Here’s a thought: In order to get this thing rolling, perhaps he should actually visit Scotland for the first time?

Muttering Murtagh

Finally, after a whole lot of unnecessary anger, Jamie revealed the time-traveling truth to his right-hand man when he and Claire decided it was time to come clean. Really there’s no one else they should trust more, but Murtagh’s reaction of slapping Jamie was a classic one. He obviously doesn’t completely buy the whole time travel thing just yet, but he’s starting to come around, as we saw in his subsequent scene with Claire. But it’s too bad that just when he was brought into the fold he had to leave again. At least this way he hasn’t been arrested with Jamie, we suppose, and can now potentially help the situation rather than hurt it further.

By the Book

At this point in the series several storylines are beginning to meld together in order to keep the narrative straight and moving along at a good pace. That means showcasing things like the robbery or Claire warning Raymond. Those specific moments weren’t necessarily in the books, but the ideas and themes remain the same. As for the actual duel? That played out pretty similarly to how it did in the novel, which means those who have read ahead know about all of the tragedy in store over the next few weeks.  

Grade: A

Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz. Next week: Workers at the hospital fight to save Claire and her unborn baby’s lives.

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,