Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Outlander Season 201, Ep. 3 – “Useful Occupations and Deceptions.”
I am constantly amazed by Outlander’s ability to pack its episodes with content yet never make it feel as if the story is being rushed. This week the Frasers made giant strides in their quest for information, but we also got some subtle storyline building in the growing dissatisfaction within the Fraser marriage.
Claire was forced to come to terms with the fact that, while this espionage was her plan, by virtue of her gender she is unable to actually participate in any useful way to the cause. Relegated to sitting around waiting for a few rushed minutes of conversation with her husband, Claire jumped at the opportunity to put her time to use by helping at a charity hospital.
Meanwhile, Jamie is man born to fight his battles with swords and fists and being forced to fight with lies and secrets doesn’t sit well with him. Add in the fact that he has been spending all of his nights with a man he cannot stand without much to show for his efforts and its no wonder that he resents the fact his wife, whose plan this was from the beginning, isn’t there when he needs her advice.
But the root of all these problems remains that Jamie is still unable to make love to his wife. Claire and Jamie’s relationship began in such a strange fashion, going from friends to spouses to lovers within the course of a few days, that they never truly got to know each other all that well. Their love evolved from lust and any altercation they’ve had previously was solved by sex. Now, without that common ground to return to, they lack the skills necessary to resolve their marital issues.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that, when they finally crack the Jacobite code (with a little help from Mother Hildegard and Johan Sebastian Bach), Claire doesn’t want to ruin the moment of happiness by dropping the bombshell that Blackjack Randall is still alive.
Of course, since they discovered that the Duke of Sandringham is a key investor in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebellion, it’s only a matter of time before Jamie finds out that his tormentor wasn’t crushed to death by cows as we had all hoped. Will he jump at the chance to seek vengeance, as Murtagh suggested, or will it discourage him from returning to Scotland? He already thinks that Randall is dead and he still haunts him. How would killing him now help?
And of course, it has finally dawned on Claire what most of us figured out only a few episodes in; if they do kill Randall before he sires his son, there’s a good chance Frank will never exist. Will Claire sacrifice her future husband for the peace of mind of her current one?
At the moment it seems like that power is firmly in her control. She finally remembered why the name Mary Hawkins sounded so familiar; it appeared in the Randall family tree right next to Jonathan Randall and above the name of their son who should be born within then next year. Currently, Mary is engaged to a Frenchmen, so how exactly does she end up married to an English monster?
The answer may be Claire Fraser. With all the hats Outlander wears, it’s easy to forget that at its heart Outlander is science fiction and in time traveling tales there is no trope more common than the idea that you cannot actually change the future. With all the trouble Claire has gone through to prevent the future she knows, she may in fact be creating it.
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