Outlander: The Fox's Lair

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A note on spoilers: Please be aware that while I work diligently to avoid extensive spoilers in my recaps, these entries will discuss each episode's plot and may include key details from the show's first season as well as the books on which both seasons are based.

"We returned to heal in the peace of the Scottish Highlands. Jamie's sister, Jenny, and her husband, Ian, had had another baby while we were in Paris. Their welcome and the daily routines of Lallybroch worked like a tonic on our battered souls." Claire (Outlander, The Fox's Lair)

After a lavish sojourn amid the excess and treachery of Louis XV’s Paris, Outlander returns to its roots in the Scottish Highlands as we begin a new chapter of the series. The Fox’s Lair, written by Anne Kenney, finds Claire and Jamie in the solace of home as they return to Lallybroch and their family. From the expansive views across the glorious wilds of Scotland to the return of familiar faces, the audience feels just as much shrouded in the comforts of home as do the dauntless Frasers. The decadent trappings of Parisian high fashion are abandoned in favor, once again, of the practical scarves and hand-warmers that delighted the audience’s knitting contingency last season. (Among the fresh covetable knits is an especially charming cowl tunic worn by Fergus.) Once again, the magic of Scotland enfolds us in all its romantic enchantment and natural beauty.

"We know what will happen if the Jacobites lose the war, but...but what if they win?" "They don’t! It’s the verdict of history." "Have ye given up trying to change the future, then, Sassenach?" Jamie and Claire (Outlander, The Fox's Lair)

Jamie and Fergus in Outlander | © Starz
Jamie and Fergus in Outlander | © Starz

“A tonic on our battered souls,” Claire describes their hard-won homecoming, and indeed the warmth of this return provides a much-needed balm to the spirits of viewers whose Fraser-loving hearts were broken in last week’s pivotal and poignant Faith. No scene quite warms our spirits so much as an interlude that finds a reunited Claire and Jenny (Laura Donnelly) glimpsing Jamie unseen at Lallybroch on a night when sleeplessness affords the Highlander a few quiet moments with his infant niece. While the scene offers what might have been for Claire and Jamie, once again left suffering at the hands of Jack Randall, it becomes a moment of significant restoration for the Frasers. The convergence of gentle emotional performances, beautiful set design, and heartwarming direction from Mike Baker give viewers one of those most beloved scenes that are so unique to Outlander: a sense of inhabiting the very heart of a story.

"A man has to wait until the child’s born, and then they hold their bairn and feel all the things that might be and all the things that might never be...and weep, not knowing which ones will come to pass." Jenny (Outlander, The Fox's Lair)

As we’ve come to expect, of course, the nurturing calm does not last very long. Even from across the great distance from Scotland to France, Charles Stuart has a way of ensnaring Jamie and Claire in his dangerous web as he continues his agenda for the British throne. When the Stuart prince forges Jamie’s signature on a published propaganda document, Jamie becomes tied to the Jacobite cause with no other choice but to throw his support behind the uprising in the hope of once again altering the course of history, this time by winning the defining battle of Culloden rather than stopping it altogether. With Murtagh and a supporting Fergus off to rally Lallybroch’s men, Jamie and Claire venture to Beauford Castle, the home of Lord Lovat, Jamie’s grandsire and the very head of Clan Fraser.

"They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." "Well, I dinnae ken who ‘they’ are, Sassenach, but I’ll wager ‘they’ have never travelled through time." Claire and Jamie (Outlander, The Fox's Lair)

Claire and Jamie in Outlander | © Starz
Claire and Jamie in Outlander | © Starz

Whatever genial family sentiment Claire might expect to find in Lord Lovat, played with fierce aplomb by Clive Russell, she is unlikely to find it in the crude, self-serving malcontent she soon discovers him to be. With his insults to her and his mistreatment of his seer, Maisri (Maureen Beatie), as her only introduction, Claire makes quick work of Lord Lovat’s character. Although she is dismissed by Lovat from any involvement in the Fraser dealings and political conversations, Claire finds plenty to keep her busy when unexpected visitors at Beauford Castle test her mettle: first MacKenzie chief Colum (Gary Lewis), and then the seemingly reformed Laoghire (Nell Hudson), whose obsession with Jamie nearly cost Claire her life. In much the same way as the MacKenzie fortress of season one, Beauford Castle hides mystery and deceit around its every corner. What follows is an engrossing battle of political wits as the future of Highland life hangs in the balance.

"Please, tell me I’m nothing like him, Sassenach." "I’m afraid I have seen a similarly devious turn of mind." "I might have to rethink our agreement not to lie to one another." Jamie and Claire (Outlander, The Fox's Lair)

While familiar faces return to Outlander for the season's Scottish homecoming, new characters are also introduced, among them Young Simon (James Parris), Jamie’s cousin and Lovat’s belittled heir. More vigorous of heart than he is of speech, Young Simon is living very much in Lovat’s shadow when Claire and Jamie first set their sights on him as a potential motivator in the plot to convince Lovat to lend his support to the Stuart cause. Colum MacKenzie, however, is on hand to keep Lovat on his own preferred side of neutrality by any means necessary.

As a taut family drama unfolds amid the new environs of Beauford Castle, nestled in the familiar and much beloved wilds of Outlander’s beguiling Scotland, the Frasers ultimately find themselves on a path to change the future once again. With the heartbreak of Paris behind us, the audience shares a fresh breath and a revival of spirit with Claire and Jamie: whatever happens, we’ve come home.