This Outlander review contains spoilers.
Outlander Season 2, Episode 3
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every fine home must be in want of a pickpocket. So brings about the latest unexpected addition to the Claire and Jamie Fraser found family collective. The husband and wife team have accumulated their own little home within the larger superficial eccentricities of Parisian court culture. They have one another, of course. They have Murtagh. They have lady’s maid Suzette, who Claire looks out for by acquiring birth control. And now they have Fergus, a pickpocket boy who Jamie brings home and hires to steal the Jacobite rebellion-related correspondence of the influential men who frequent Madame Elise’s.
For Claire, that sense of familiarity extends beyond the confines of Jared Fraser’s house (where Claire and Jamie talk about sabotaging the Jacobite rebellion with absolutely no discretion — hopefully, all of their servants are trustworthy). Familarity is not always a person or place, but can be a way of being. For Claire, being a nurse is something she knows and loves, an important part of her identity, something she has been able to hold onto even after traveling 200 years into the past. So, after quickly realizing that a stay-at-home wife and expectant mother is not the role for her, she begins to volunteer at a charity hospital. There, she meets Mother Hildegard, the impressively connected nun who runs the hospital.
At first, Jamie hates the idea of Claire working at the hospital. His anger is part out of concern, but part out of bitterness. After all, it was Claire’s idea to come to France to try to stop the Jacobite rebellion and now he’s the one who has to spend all of his time with the arrogant, ignorant Charles. If Jamie can’t spend his days doing something fulfilling, then why should Claire? It’s easy to see both sides of this argument, a kind of ambiguous perspective that Outlanderdoes so well. Claire shouldn’t have to sit at home all day being “conventional” if it doesn’t make her happy, but Jamie has also been required to do a disproportionate amount of the legwork in their anti-Jacobite rebellion campaign thus far.
In the end, it is the introduction of these new, extended family-like characters into the lives of Jamie and Claire that make them both happier, and inevitably closer. Fergas’ light-fingered efforts garner a piece of music written in code. Mother Hildegarde, a former musical prodigee, is able to decipher the code for Jamie and Claire. Without these two new people in their lives, Jamie and Claire might still be glaring at each from across their too-long dinner table. Instead, they are happy, perhaps for the first time since coming to France. They have a plan, and are making progress.
Of course, that happiness will probably not last given that Claire has yet to tell Jamie that Jack Randall is alive. She does confide in Murtagh, however, and the two commiserate over their worry that, should Jamie find out that Black Jack is still alive, he’ll head back to Scotland for vengeance and get himself killed.
The relationship between Claire and Murtagh is one of my favorites on the show right now. On so many TV series, the kinds of relationships that are represented can be so limited. Murtagh and Claire decided to start caring about one another because they love the same person, but that doesn’t mean their friendship can’t grow beyond that. Murtagh might not know Claire’s reasons for wanting to stop the Jacobite rebellion, but he has put an immense amount of faith in her. Keeping this secret from Jamie will no doubt come back to hurt them both, but it’s still nice to explore the complexities of this found family.
Outside of Claire’s found family, we get to know a little bit more about Mary Hawins. Namely, that no one has given her the birds and the bees talk yet (though Claire seems poised to) and that she is destined to marry Jack Randall, unless Claire’s tinkering with the timeline changes things. This knowledge makes Mary’s concerns about sex totally unfunny. What started as a joke (at least to Louise, who finds pretty much everything funny) becomes imbued with a sense of tragic dramatic irony. Jack Randall has attempted to rape or raped the show’s two main characters, not to mention countless others. He is not a man you want to be married to.
Claire will no doubt fall into a moral conundrum eventually with this. No one deserves to be married to Jack Randall, but Mary is especially sweet. As her friend, Claire would no doubt want to try to prevent this marriage. However, as someone who loves the future Frank Randall, if Claire prevents Mary and Jack from marrying, then Frank will never be born. From the outside, I say screw the future and save poor Mary from a terrible man, if you can. But I’m not a time-traveling nurse stuck in the 18th century, so I’ll try not to judge too harshly either way…