Recap on Steroids Episode 206 Best Laid Schemes
Written by Matthew B. Roberts
Directed by Metin Huseyin
The podcast for this episode was narrated by showrunner Ronald D. Moore (RDM) and executive producer/episode writer Matt Roberts.
The title card for the episode was a series of torches which would not be familiar to people until seeing where they fit in the episode.
The deleted scenes from this episode are great. You can find them on the DVD and BluRay which can be purchased at our Shop Outlander Amazon shop. You can also see them on the Outlander America YouTube Channel here.
As we noted in our recap for episode 205, originally episodes 205 and 206 were supposed to be together at some point but it became clear that it was too much for one hour. Matt Roberts notes that their stories play longer than other television shows that he and RDM have worked on together.
The original script called for a dream sequence that turns into a nightmare for Jamie. In it, Claire chooses Frank over Jamie but the face of Black Jack (similar to Frank’s, of course) haunts him. When the camera in the actual episode catches up to him, he is still a bit shaken by that dream. The dream sequence was actually never filmed, even though Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies were actually looking forward to filming it. Matt said it also served as a way for Jamie to make peace with his promise to Claire to wait a year.
Murtagh walks in to tell Jamie that the duel with BJR will take place in two days but Jamie, strumming his fingers on the desk in his usual way, must tell Murtagh that the duel is off. Murtagh leaves in disgust.
Claire is at the hospital assisting Monsieur Forez with cleaning a deceased patient. Forez tells her he has been called to perform his “day job” as the Royal Executioner. The King is not pleased with practice of the Dark Arts and so this prisoner will not just be hanged, he will be drawn and quartered while still alive. He hints that this is what happens to both those involved in dark magic but also to traitors. RDM commented that the scene creeps him out and he always wanted to cut it. The scene was actually much longer in the original version. I personally think it goes on too long even with the editing. Forez hints to Claire that her friend Master Raymond is in danger.
Claire excuses herself and hurries off to Master Raymond’s to warn him. There were two versions of this script; one had it already trashed by the King’s men and the other, as filmed, with the men not yet arriving. Matt noted that it would have been crazy for Jon Gary Steele’s set design team to trash it and then have to put it together again. There are so many small details in that shop.
Later that evening, Claire is being a good husband rubbing his pregnant wife’s feet. RDM and Matt note that this is something every husband should learn. Jamie brings up the fact that he did not agree to wait a year to kill BJR because she had saved Jamie’s life twice. He reminds her, quite correctly, that he’s saved her life just as much. He also reminds her that he owes Frank nothing as Claire had a choice and she chose Jamie. He told her that he delayed to keep Frank alive because of Charles Edward Stuart.
Claire is confused but Jamie explains that even though Charles is a bit crazy and not very bright, there is something about his passion that will make men follow him-even to their death at Culloden. Jamie, with great sadness in his eyes, asks Claire to promise him that if they get to that point that she will go back through the stones to Frank so that their child will be safe. Matt Roberts said that he personally would find that something difficult to ask and accept. So would Frank, Matt. So would Frank.
Matt felt the promise scene is one of the most important scenes of the season.
Matt and RDM got into a discussion about the fact that both Frank and Jamie are valid partners for Claire. If Claire had never met Jamie, she would have been fine with Frank. I disagree. She was never her whole self with Frank. I think this may be something that can only be understood by a woman. Matt did comment that Claire and Jamie are soulmates and you can’t unring the Jamie bell. (Not to be confused with violinist Jamie Bell.) Yes, and Frank could never be her soulmate.
The next scene in the book was where Jamie accompanies Murtagh to Portugal to buy the wine before Comte could raise money for the prince. Murtagh was supposed to fake smallpox but with Jamie’s chronic seasickness, he ends up looking like he has it. RDM said it would have been a fun scene to shoot but sea battles are difficult to set up and film and it wasn’t worth it for one scene. As we know, they will be relocating the set to South Africa to film the last third of Voyager on ships.
Instead, they wrote in the scene where Claire uses a mixture to fake smallpox on a reluctant Jamie. Fergus is adorable in this scene as he is totally not paying attention to “mom” and she knows it. Murtagh thinks it is charades and games and does not get why these continue to play them. Fergus and Murtagh leave while Jamie wishes Claire had some Pepto from the 20th century. They both realize that it is time to tell Murtagh the whole truth about Claire and what she knows about the devastation that awaits the Scots.
Out in the courtyard, a pissed off Murtagh is pacing and a still queasy Jamie begins to tell him the truth in Gaelic in case they are overheard. The editing here is smart and does not recount things the audience already knows. I always found it strange that after Jamie tells him the story in Gaelic for privacy, Murtagh responds about Claire being a witch in English. But in true Murtagh form, he immediately believes Jamie but punishes him for his lack of trust with a good hook to the jaw. (Or, as Matt says “ a Murtagh reaction”.) All is well with the two of them as Claire watches through the upstairs window.
RDM commented that Jamie and Claire are the ultimate power couple and when they team up, their strengths complement each other.
Claire sends Fergus and Jamie on their way to spike the wine with her fake smallpox concoction with another cute exchange with Fergus. I really like how they made their relationship closer, quicker in this season.
Claire returns to the living room where Murtagh is still absorbing the news about Claire being from the future. RDM suggested this scene and at first, Matt struggled with writing it. He felt by having Murtagh write down all the years of Claire’s 20th century life, it would be real to him. Murtagh asks Claire if she knows what will happen to them individually and she does not. Murtagh correctly recognizes this knowledge as a burden for Claire.
We are treated with a nice montage of Jamie and Fergus riding to Le Havre. These were all filmed as second unit footage, directed by Matt. They arrive at the distillery in Le Havre which is actually a real distillery in Scotland known as Deanston Distillery. Fergus spikes the wine and paints the mashed nettles inside their clothing. A longer, deleted scene shows Fergus was nearly caught.
A tired Jamie returns as Claire awakens to ask him how it went. Matt commented that he loves that the writers are given the freedom to write in humor as that is just as integral to who Jamie and Claire are as their intimacy. Jamie jokes about their skills in creating havoc. He collapses into bed while completing a few barrel roll kisses with Claire.
Back at the brothel, an angry Comte is discussing what to do next with the Bonnie Prince and he’s pissed at Jamie for being late. (Hey le Dude-he was up all night creating pestilence on your ship.) Charles decides to have Jamie drive another shipment himself but the Comte doesn’t trust Jamie and says he will join him. This of course, throws yet another monkey wrench in to Jamie’s plans.
So, plan B (or is that C) is hatched with a fake heist to be initiated by a “French” Murtagh. Jamie and Claire (who suddenly looks like she’s having triplets) watch as Suzette dresses him in hose and satin finery. Claire is concerned that this plan is dangerous to which Jamie replies “Tis”.
Claire, hearkening back to the wedding pledge about secrets but no lies, tells him that it is OK to lie to her every once in awhile. Matt liked this because he felt this was their married couple private joke. Murtagh is not pleased and asks them not to let him hang in this outfit, which Suzette helpfully offers to get him out of. IYKWIMAITYD
Once again hats off to Duncan Lacroix who was the perfect supporting actor in Season 3 but for some reason can’t even get Starz support for awards because his name doesn’t end with Menzies.
Later that evening, the ovary popping scene, I mean a lovely scene with Jamie and Claire in bed and bonding over their unborn baby. Jamie feels his child kick for the first time and speaks to him/her about how he canna wait to meet them. Sweetness turns to passion and an unsure new father-to-be worries that he might poke the kid in the head but Claire assures him this is not the case. They begin to make love as we fade to black (the scorn of Season 2 sex…)
This incredibly lovely and hot at the same time scene was added late. Matt felt it was important as it is the first time they are a family. RDM was opposed to it but now realizes it was important but not for the reason you might think. He realized that they must reconnect after last week’s fight before breaking them up again coming up. Yes, technically you are right Ron but once again you are thinking about plot rather than character. Please try to think about it the other way around.
The men leave for their little fake heist while Claire visits Louise. She can’t get into the conversation of simple and vain aristocratic women while she is so preoccupied but then chooses to try to plant the seed of sympathy for the poor into their minds. After all, as RDM reminds us, these rich French women are doomed. They, of course, don’t get it and she leaves to get away from their foolishness.
In the woods, the wagons led by Jamie and Comte drive straight into Le Murtagh the French highwayman. (Note back to title card here as they have torches in the wagons.) Murtagh points his gun at Le Comte who is all, I’m not backing down and so Jamie pretends to save him by jumping onto Le Murtagh. Jamie gives Murtagh the subtle hint to play it up by knocking him out.
Claire left Louise’s for the hospital where she attends to patients while Fergus plays with Bouton, the amazing diagnosis dog. She is obviously feeling tired and Mother Hildegarde tells her to lie down. They both notice the blood on her leg and Mother H. lies to her and tells her it is normal. Matt Roberts used to be an EMT and has delivered babies before so he knows that Claire, as a combat nurse, may not have recognized any symptoms of problems since soldiers don’t have babies. Mother Hildegarde convinces Claire to stay the night and Fergus returns home to let Jamie know.
Le Comte and Jamie return to the brothel to break the bad news to the prince. Comte does not trust Jamie over this but the smart plan to have Le Murtagh gun butt Jamie convinces Charles that he is just unlucky. The Prince is upset and worries that he will have to return to his mother’s native Poland in disgrace.
Jamie returns home to grab some dinner from the buffet just as Fergus returns from the hospital to tell him that Milady will be staying the night. They begin to share a meal and here you can see, as Matt tells us, that Fergus has a bad case of hero worship. Suzette interrupts to tell them that the Prince is drunk and causing trouble at the brothel so Jamie must go to calm things down. Fergus accompanies him to “guard his right” which are shades of Jamie’s soldiering time fighting with Ian. Matt admits he likes to throw in nuggets like that.
At the brothel, Fergus wonders around and sees some perfume in a room that he plans to steal for Claire. But, creepy central because you can see the redcoat hanging on a hook in the room. (They originally had it on the bed but it looked like a blanket so they re-shot the scene.) Fergus looks afraid as a shadow looms. (Oh RDM, if only you had left it there…)
Claire returns in the morning to find Jamie gone but his brace remains. (In the book, of course, he cuts his hair to keep it out of his eyes but TV Jamie has hair that is not quite as long as book Jamie.) She is finally able to scare it out of Suzette that he has gone to duel with the Englishman. Claire is beginning to experience a lot of discomfort but she tells Magnus to get her the carriage. He insists that she cannot go alone and accompanies her.
The carriage storms out of the courtyard (and if you watch it, the back wheel actually fishtails in a rather dangerous way with Cait in it!) Claire is upset and worried. She touches her gold wedding ring wondering if Frank will die if Jamie kills BJR. She goes back and forth with worry, anger and labor pains.
The duel was filmed in Glasgow’s version of NY’s Central Park and they had trouble keeping cameras away but they really didn’t want to have too much come out early as spoilers. You can hear the clash of swords before you see them. Claire makes her way to the clearing, in obvious pain. She knows she can’t scream out to distract either man.
Sam and Tobias rehearsed for a few days and performed the duel scene a few times. Matt commented that they really got a workout! Claire watches in horror before a very big pain comes and blood drains from her body. She begins to collapse just as Jamie stabs BJR in the groin and falls backwards. The filming here is top notch as the French police ride in on horseback and chaos ensues. Claire screams for Jamie and he forgets all else except the fact that she is lying there in her own blood.
Magnus helps her up to begin to take her home but she has presence of mind enough to tell him to take her to Mother Hildegarde or she knows she will die. (Cut dialogue here is bystanders commenting that she’s going to die.)
The camera takes us from Claire, to a passed out (dead?) BJR to Jamie’s anguish at not being able to go to her as he is swarmed by guards. Matt said they talked about who to end on and they end on Claire passing out in Magnus’ arms.
All is not good for the Fraser’s at this point.
Picture Sources: Starz, ScreenersTV and Heroes & Heartbreakers