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Review: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 3, ‘Useful Occupations and Deceptions’: Finding Meaning in France

Review: 'Outlander' Season 2 Episode 3, 'Useful Occupations and Deceptions': Finding Meaning in France

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 2, ‘Not in Scotland Anymore’: Frogs and Princes

That’s What She Said

Leaving Claire last week in Versailles, she had just learned the awful truth that Black Jack Randall was indeed alive and well after making a miraculous recovery at the prison. This week she spent much of her time grappling with that secret and whether she should tell Jamie, eventually confiding in Murtagh instead. Together they confirmed Jamie would only rush to his own death in vengeance if he learned the truth, and so Claire opted to hold back from Jamie, creating even more tension between the lovebirds. Unfortunately, while she was dealing with that little secret, she also made several key observations of her own, including the fact that her new friend Mary Hawkins would eventually become Frank’s grandmother. With all that on her mind and more, it seemed she could no longer handle the idle French lady devices of socializing and parties and decided to add some meaning back into her life. Fair enough, considering this is a character who has been on the go ever since she was a little girl—the settling down and being a good wife lifestyle has never been for her. Unfortunately, Jamie didn’t seem to see it that way and it only added to their overall issues, proving that maybe Paris isn’t the romantic place it’s rumored to be after all.

That’s What He Said

For his part, Jamie has been extremely committed to the cause of stopping Prince Charles’ rebellion based on Claire’s words alone. His strict booze, brothel and chess regimen may have sounded lovely at the outset, but has obviously began taking a toll on him thanks to many sleepless (and apparently sexless) nights. His frustration at Claire making her own career decisions may have seemed unfair, but given everything he has put on the line for her and this cause, it’s also understandable. On the other side of the equation this season has been a great opportunity to showcase Jamie’s mental strengths alongside his physical ones. In the first season his farming skills and ability to connect with nature through the horses and so forth was an important part of grounding him and allowing Claire to fall for him. This season, thanks to his chess mastery, and ability to decipher codes and riddles while hobnobbing with renowned politicians, proves he’s more than just another pretty face with a heart of gold.

Cheese and Baguettes

Poor Mary Hawkins. The fact that she believed it was only Frenchmen who wanted to put their “things” in between their wives’ legs just goes to show you how innocent young English women could be raised to be. No wonder they were so afraid of marriage… or shocked when it came to the French people’s openness regarding sex.

Bloody Randall

Now that viewers are also privy to Mary’s importance to the story of Frank, it shifts the view of Black Jack’s eventual fate. Although it’s clear that even though Randall remains a hidden enemy who could pop up at any given moment, it will be important to Claire that he remain alive for at least another year. Otherwise, how could Frank ever come into existence?

A Revolutionary Cause

Prince Charles continued to mount his case with the Italians, English and Frenchmen alike when he began spouting promises of financial backing at the brothel to the French finance minister. The news clearly came as an unpleasant shock to Jamie, who decided with that such an untruthful leader at the helm it was time for him to find his own ways of spying on the Bonnie Prince. Enter wee little Fergus, a pickpocket who grew up at the brothel. Now that he’s working for Jamie, getting access to the communications between Charles and his father will allow Jamie to be one step ahead of the Prince, but also puts everyone involved in an even more dangerous situation than they were in before.

READ MORE: ‘Outlander’ Season 2: How Designers Nailed The Glam 18th Century Paris Look

Puttering With Potions

The return of Master Raymond was a short-lived one this week, as his main purpose was to spout the importance of French poisons and customs, while giving Claire the idea to volunteer at the L’Hopital des Anges—a charitable hospital where butchers came to volunteer as doctors. Obviously that poison bit was thrown in there for a reason, meaning that the main characters will have to be careful in the coming weeks, with so many dinner parties to attend.

Mother May I

Let’s give a shout-out to some bang-on casting in the form of Frances De La Tour’s Mother Hildegard, shall we? As the strict German musician and main nun at the hospital, she was an actual tour de force, bringing the right amount of sternness and good sense to the role. (As an added bonus, Bouton the dog was just as well cast.) No wonder she’s friends with Bach.

Muttering Murtagh

As it turns out, Claire isn’t the only one wishing she had a little more to do in Paris, given Murtagh’s penchant for rolling with the help in bed. Outside of the house, though, he knows enough not to defy Claire when she’s being headstrong, and their scenes together make for some great exposition in terms of revealing more about Jamie’s character. They’re a fun duo to watch given their differences, and it helps solidify the three law-breakers together as a unit while out in France. Here’s hoping for more of that, especially now that they both harbor the secret of Jack’s non-death. With Jamie aiming to set up some meetings with the Duke of Sandringham (whom we now know is an actual financial backer in the Prince Charles’s hopeful war), it’s only a matter of time before he learns the truth about the man who still torments him in his dreams.

By the Book

Although there are several main differences between the second tome and the second season of the show, the series is doing a great job of wading through a lot of the expositional material the novel could have perhaps done without. By diving into the actual story and hitting the major plot points it’s been fairly accurate so far, although fans are surely missing out on all the explicit sex scenes present in the book. Although Claire and Jamie certainly had their share of disagreements while in Paris, getting busy between the sheets wasn’t one of them. (He also hated her wax job in the books, but seemed to love it last week when they did eventually get close to getting it on.) Also, whatever happened to Mary helping out at the hospital too? Perhaps viewers are able to deduce that Claire isn’t your typical lady, but that chapter in which she and Mary stuck it out through a handful of lady volunteers was a telling one indeed—not just for Claire, but for Mary, who has appeared as anything but strong-willed so far in the series.

Grade: A-

Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz. Next week: The dinner parties continue alongside Jamie and Claire’s intimacy issues.

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