Perhaps instead of “Best Laid Schemes” producers should have considered the title “A Whole Lot of Foreshadowing” for this episode, because in addition to the titular plot — thwarting Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wine-importing endeavor with the Comte St. Germain — several major upcoming moments were set in motion.
The episode opens with Jamie telling Murtagh that there will not, in fact, be a duel with Randall. Jamie will honor his promise to Claire. (Or will he?) Meanwhile, Claire’s at the hospital preparing a body for burial so that the acting physician, Monsieur Forez (a.k.a. the king’s hangman), can return to his regular post (a.k.a. executing people). He tells Claire he won’t be using the rope, though — no, he’ll be drawing and quartering his prisoners, a ghastly technique he describes to Claire in menacing detail. And said dead men walking? They’re “practitioners of the dark arts and those who associate with them,” he explains in a knowing tone. Seeing Claire’s pained reaction, he then off-handedly makes reference to their friend Master Raymond being potentially better company. Claire doesn’t need Forez to be any more explicit — she runs off to Master Raymond’s to warn him of the king’s (literal) witch hunt. After some convincing on Claire’s part, Master Raymond promises to leave town at once. (But given what I said up top about foreshadowing, you can bet we haven’t seen the last of him…)
Back at home, while kindly rubbing his pregnant wife’s feet, Jamie makes clear that he didn’t cancel his duel with Black Jack because, in Claire’s words, he owes her a life. No, he did it for Claire’s future. You see, he wants there to be a place for Claire if anything happens to him during the Battle of Culloden. He makes her promise she’ll go back through the stones to the future if anything happens to him.
“I promise,” she says.
Claire and Jamie aren’t the only ones to have a candid conversation about the future (and the past) this week. With Murtagh increasingly frustrated over the ambiguity of their plans, the couple finally decide it’s time to clue him in. So Jamie tells him everything: How Claire is from the future. How she knows the outcome of the battle to come.
“If you believe your wife to be a witch, then who am I to contradict you?” Murtagh says, before landing a mean punch on Jamie’s beautiful face. “But you shoulda trusted me with that knowledge from the beginning.”
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