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Monday, May 2, 2016

Michelle Monkou's Recap of Outlander, Season 2, Episode 4

Outlander Season Two, Episode Four - La Dame Blanche
(See below for links to all recaps)


Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

The action ramped up in this episode after the detailed landscape of Paris life, its key players, and the reason for being in Paris took over the earlier episodes. While this is a not a series of random and frequent deaths or apocalyptic invasion of zombies, there is enough suspense, unexpected results, and sexiness to earn its place on the must-watch TV list.

At the center of it all is Le Comte St. Germain--the pain in the arse.

No other way to put it. He hangs around in each of his scenes with arrows pointing down on him as the "bad" guy. You don't have to guess if he's the cause of the chaos in the episode. He's either the key organizer or knows more than he should about the affairs. And we all know from the beginning of the season that the Frasers had made an enemy. He's being given too many opportunities to harm Claire and the baby. Too many reasons to get a sword through the heart by Jamie. I don't see any signs of his demise, but I do look forward to witnessing it whenever it does play out in the season.

While there are all levels of evil swirling among the men, the women are a force. The fairer and weaker sex have been powerful examples of women in history. Politics, religion, and social constrictions gave some freedoms within a tight box.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
We've got Claire leading the pack in female empowerment with her unusual childhood upbringing, "contemporary" sensibilities and no matter who or what, using her medical skill to be a savior.

Mother Hildegarde who embodies her religion with a lifetime commitment, also has an open heart to see and take the good from everyone, especially in aid for her hospital.

Louise de Rohan faces an untimely pregnancy and the gender and social consequences of following her sexual passion. In a frank discussion, she and Claire reveal to us the options and confines around sexual independence.

And then there is Mary Hawkins, a young girl who will be matched with a much older man, but whose heart comes alive in the blossoming friendship of a man closer to her age. But a sexual assault brings not only pain and shame, but a ruinous cloud over her as a woman who is no longer innocent.

In an episode chock full of pivotal points, the Fraser's meticulously planned dinner party ended with a massive fight. The Frasers could not have foreseen the unfortunate circumstances that brought everyone in the room to see Alex Randall on top of Mary Hawkins. With Jamie and Murtagh fighting side by side, they certainly couldn't have foreseen the fight that escalated and the fallout for such a ruined evening.  Great cliffhanger to keep us on the edge of our seats for the answer to What Now?

Share with me what you thought of Season 2, episode four. While you’re compiling your thoughts, I asked Debra McGill, chairperson of the Cookbook Committee for the Cooklander cook book.


Wow. This episode was CRAZY!! LOL

I don't even know where to begin. 1) How do you measure the villain metric of Comte Germain to Randall? Could they be like evil brothers or is it a matter of separate category of badness?

Debra: We're talking apples and oranges when it comes to Black Jack Randall and the Comte St. Germain.  Very rotten apples and moldy oranges (laughs).  This situation reminds me more of last season when Claire was accused of being a witch than of Black Jack Randall's obsession of owning Jamie Fraser, body and soul.  The Comte St. Germain is extremely angry with Claire publicly announcing his ship had shipmates with smallpox when he could have privately bought off the Harbor Master and made the problem go away. The Harbor Master had no choice but to burn the ship and it's expensive cargo, a year's worth of income for the Comte.  He is out to get even with Claire in whatever way he can.  

Jamie doesn't help matters by calling Claire "La Dame Blanche" to "protect his virtue" from prostitutes when he goes out drinking with Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his cronies.  Jamie considers them men with very loose morals, and Jamie is a very religious, strict one woman man and would never cheat on his marriage.  He pretty much told the other men his wife was a white witch and he doesn't dare cheat on her.  That quickly spreads throughout Paris.  Like many cities and towns, Paris trades on gossip, both in high society and with the servants.   The Comte's first strike at Claire is poisoning her drink while at Versailles.  She becomes violently ill and was in danger of losing her baby.  Also, hurting Claire and/or Jamie in any way is a bonus for the Comte since Jamie's cousin, Jared Fraser, is the Comte's biggest business rival.  There is a rumor the Comte belongs to a Satanic or Cabbalistic Cult and Claire's name has come up many times in prayer to harm her.  

Jamie has key points of vulnerability throughout this series: Stripping his back bare to induce fundraising for the rebellion; Opening his heart and "innocence" to Claire; And sharing his deepest wound with Claire. Your thoughts as he finally lets Claire into his darkness.

Debra: In the books, Jamie had several months to heal.  Claire did an awe-inspiring job of putting her life in danger to allow Jamie to act out his anger with Black Jack Randall.  In the series, he's only had a short time to heal so he's certainly not going to get over being raped by Black Jack in that tiny period of time. Claire also brought Jamie back from being suicidal in both the books and in the series, but again, there was more time in the books.  Being that depressed and suicidal, Jamie can't just pop back to being himself. In the series he keeps himself super busy with his cousin Jared's wine and spirits business, socializing with Jacobites to try to stop the upcoming rising that will ruin Scotland for two centuries, hobnobbing with French nobility including King Louis, and keeping Bonnie Prince Charlie company (along with those wanton biting women!).  

Although my heart was breaking for both of them, I had to laugh as we've all had arguments like that with our spouses or significant others. They both were struggling in their own way, trying to do what they thought best for the other. After a terrible argument, Claire begs him to explain to her what he is feeling, what he is going through.  His words are heart-wrenching.  He speaks of how everyone has a small secret place inside of them. A fortress in his soul.  And his fortress had been blown wide open by Randall and his acts of depravity.  Jamie felt like he was naked, trying to hide behind a blade of grass.  Jamie winds up sleeping on the 18th century version of the couch.  Claire later goes to him and plays on the theme of "Come back to me Jamie Fraser" when he has left on trips.  He finally is able to make his way back to Claire, to himself, and to them as one.  It's a beautiful moon-lit scene as they make love, and afterwards Jamie tells Claire that it was a good start.  It was like she had built him a lean-to and he no longer had to hide behind a blade of grass.  He then pats her baby bump and says it's a lean-to with a roof and shelter from the rain.  It was a beautiful scene, taken straight from the book.  Toni Graphia did a wonderful job writing this episode, building on last week's episode written by the fabulous Anne Kenney.  I will say I'm a hopeless romantic and cried, even though I've read the books too many times to count!  Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have certainly brought Claire and Jamie to life for fans like me.

The dinner party was a hot mess--lots of issues escalated, but abruptly stifled. What are you looking forward to seeing/learning in the next episode(s)

Debra: That was quite a dinner party!  I did have some laugh out loud moments, especially from the Duke of Sandringham - "I was so looking forward to dessert" as fists are flying and bodies are flung across the room. That Jamie and Murtagh are quite a pair!  I felt so bad for Mary Hawkins. I saw on Social Media people were disturbed about the rape of Mary Hawkins.  That was tame as compared to what was done to Jamie!  It's historically accurate in that women were marked if they were raped, even though it wasn't their fault.  

It's so important to Claire to protect both Mary Hawkins and Black Jack Randall because they are supposedly the 6th or 7th great grandparents of her husband Frank whom she left in the 1940's.  That sounds bizarre (laughs).  She feels she owes it to Frank since she chose to stay in the 1740's with Jamie.  Claire feels as long as Frank's wedding band is on her finger, Frank will live.  People who haven't read the books will be surprised at how it all turns out.  I hate to sound blood thirsty like Jamie, but I am looking forward to his encounter with Black Jack.  I'm trying to keep this spoiler free as I don't want to ruin any of the surprises Diana Gabaldon has written.  

Please tell us the inspiration for the cookbook--Cooklander To The Stove. Who were involved in its roll out. What charities did you send proceeds. What did it mean for you?

Anna Campbell's cherry almond cookies
Debra: A little over a year ago, I was seeing terrific things being done to raise money for the charities of the various stars.  I've bought a lot of t-shirts, totes, dolls, backpacks, and raffle tickets. Since I've always been a foodie who collects cookbooks, I thought it would be fun to make a cookbook centered on Outlander. I have always collected cookbooks, especially those that come from Churches, Women's Groups, Firehalls, etc.  In other words, tried and true dishes by local people.  I put the word out to a few online friends, who brought in a few other online friends.  I contacted cookbook companies and when I settled on a company I wanted to work with, my committee and I reached out to the Outlander cast, crew, authors I knew, various celebrities, and the people known as the Best Fans Ever.  We have recipes from every continent but the Antarctic.  They are local foods in every way and I have to say from personal experience, delicious!  The first recipe I tried was Lamb Shwarma from actor Tim Downie (Paddington, The King's Speech, Les Miserables, The Toast of London).  

The name is obvious in some ways.  Cooklander is obviously a play on Outlander.  In the books and in the series, the clan cry for the McKenzies (Jamie Fraser's maternal side of the family) is Tulach Ard!  It's Scots Gaelic for a mountain in the McKenzie heartland of Kintail.  With the Scots Brogue, it sounds like the Warriors are crying "To the Car" so it's a running joke on Social Media.  Our one cookbook committee member Bev came up with Cooklander, and I came up with To the Stove.  We thought it was a winner!  We recently had a presence in the NYC Tartan Week Parade with Sam Heughan as Grand Marshall.  Complete with a banner, Cooklander ladies, led by our Cooklander member Jenny, were wearing winter coats, aprons, and carrying wooden spoons and umbrellas, and they marched down Fifth Avenue.  It's a day they will remember and it gave us great exposure!

The artwork was done by amateurs, but as far as I'm concerned, they are pros.  The first thing people notice is how beautiful the cookbook is, and that's due to the insanely talented women who did our photos.  All of the people who worked on the cookbook voted to only be known by their twitter names.  Since it was my idea, I put my real name and home address out there, and bought a separate cellphone just for people to call Cooklander: To the Stove! I have a sponsor who bought 3000 cookbooks so we could get them at a cheaper rate.  I have a very good friend who is known as @Boutan_Barks on Twitter, and we call her Bouts.  She's my partner in this venture as she does the computer work, keeps up the website, sets up the printing labels.  I print out the labels, keep records of what and how many were sent to whom, and my husband packs up the boxes and mails them.

We do this for three charities advocated by Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser), Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), and Diana Gabaldon (Author of the Outlander Series).  Once all 3000 cookbooks are sold, we will be able to pay back our sponsor and have $15,000 to give to each charity.  The charities are as follows:

World Child Cancer  (@WChildCancer & worldchildcancer.org) offers hope to children with cancer in some of the world's poorest countries.  Caitriona Balfe is a patron of World Child Cancer.

NPH USA (@NPHUSA & nphusa.org) is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America and the Carribean.  It is one of many charities supported by Diana Gabaldon.

Bloodwise (@bloodwise_uk & Bloodwise.org.uk) has been beating blood cancer since 1960.  Their research is shared with others around the world.  This is one of many charities advocated by Sam Heughan.

Anyone interested in knowing more about Cooklander: To the Stove! should go to www.cooklander.com.  

With my involvement with different people on Twitter, I became friends with Tim Downie, as mentioned above.  Tim and a couple of others I know are Ambassadors for a wonderful organization called Blue Sky Autism Project (@EarlyASD & http://www.earlyinterventionscotland.org/)   They are self funded as Scotland doesn't have any state aid for autism.  I have been collecting items to be raffled through rafflecopter some time over the summer.  But first, I would like to give our garage back to my husband by selling all of the Cooklander books!

My Weekly Recaps
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4


Michelle Monkou writes for Harlequin Kimani, Evernight Publishing, and her indie pursuits with Stella Maris Publishing. Michelle’s website is michellemonkou.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook.
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4 comments:

Sarah Raplee said...

What an amazing episode! I laughed and cried.

I love the Cooklander project! Off to order my copy now!

Courtney Pierce said...

Great post today! Who wouldn't want to DVR every episode to see more than once. After I read your review, I have to go back and see them again. It's like watching that episode with commentary.

Diana McCollum said...

Great blog post! and the Cooklander sounds like a very interesting cookbook.

Sharon said...

Love the blog post! The Episode was wonderful...lots of laughs.

Cooklander is a great cook book. I too collect recipes and this book has so many delicious ones...I've made quite a few! Great project for a great cause!