Last week, Claire and Jamie finally broke through their troubles in the bedroom; but the return of Black Jack Randall casts a pall over their rekindled heat.
Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh are on the hunt for Mary’s attacker following last week’s assault and rape — Alex Randall is still in prison, and Claire tells Jamie they have to help him. “He’s not his brother,” she reminds him. Murtagh finds out from a “wench” at the Maison Elise that a gang of aristocrats frequents the brothel, and they’re known to roam the streets searching for women to attack. A “maidenhead” is the way into a gang, and Murtagh recalls that Mary was a virgin before she was raped.
Claire visits Mary, who tells her she feels “ashamed. Like I’m a different person now. And I’ll never be the same.” At least now she won’t have to marry the ugly old viscount to whom she was betrothed, but Mary’s insistence on marrying Alex once he’s out of prison worries Claire. She gives Claire a letter explaining Alex’s innocence, but Claire’s torn on whether to help him or leave him in prison — if Alex weds Mary, she can’t wed Jack, and Frank will never be born. Eventually, she does help get Alex released, but she warns him that since he’s lost his place in the king’s service, he won’t be able to give Mary a good life. He agrees to back off.
Meanwhile, Princes Charles tells Jamie good news: He’s arranged a bank loan for St. Germain to procure a shipment of Portuguese wine; once it’s sold, he’ll have money, “enough to begin securing ships, weapons, fighting men for our holy course.” Charles has set up a meeting between St. Germain and Jamie, whom he instructs to work with St. Germain to sell the wine. When they meet at Maison Elise (which is used so frequently as a meeting spot it might as well be Starbucks), it’s clear neither wants to work with the other; St. Germain says he’ll do all the work to ship the wine, and wait for Jamie to procure buyers. Now, Jamie and Claire have to find a way to taint the shipment before it’s sold.
But the real focus of “Untimely Resurrection” is the reemergence of Jack Randall. Claire spies him first, at Versailles, on a walk through the gardens with Jamie’s former crush, Annalise. He approaches from behind, in slow motion, in his red coat and tricorn hat. Claire tries to excuse herself by saying she’s sick, but that only makes things worse: Annalise leaves to get Jamie. Left alone, Jack points out that Jamie can’t draw his sword in the presence of a king, which is punishable by death, and invites Claire to marvel at the coincidence of their meeting in such an unlikely place. “The fates are toying with us now,” he muses, blocking her path and grabbing her arm as she tries to walk away. “The king,” he begins. “Fuck the king,” she whispers fiercely — and then Jack bows, and she turns around to see King Louis XV.
She introduces Jack to the king, and then Jamie strolls up to the scene. It’s a brilliant move to put Jack’s first encounter with Claire and Jamie in such a public place, and in front of the king, no less — they can’t say what they really mean, veiling their threats and insults and building up tension. When Jack’s injuries are brought up, Jamie teases, “I heard you had an unfortunate encounter with some sheep, was it?” “Cattle, actually,” Jack replies.
Jack informs the group that he’s in Paris to help his brother, and asks the king to reconsider his decision to release Alex from his service. “Perhaps you should beg,” Louis replies. “On your knees.” Baffled, Jack objects, but Louis insists, again, “on your knees.” I love the sexual overtone of that request, and the quick cut to a smirking Jamie, who looks rather pleased at this turn of events. Jack obeys, and the king starts to laugh. “Not now! You English are so literal.” As the crowd laughs, Claire excuses herself, and she and Jamie begin to leave.
But Jamie turns back and exchanges words with Jack, which we don’t hear but only see from Claire’s perspective. Jamie informs her he’s challenged Jack to a duel; they return home, Jamie looking satisfied, Claire looking very worried. Later that night, while Murtagh and Jamie discuss the terms of the duel, she bursts into the room and says, “There won’t be any duel. Randall is locked away in the Bastille.” She explains that she lied and told the authorities that Jack was responsible for Mary’s attack; she knows he’ll be released soon enough, and she can just say she was mistaken, but her goal is to prevent Jamie from going through with the duel — duelling is outlawed in France, and even if he wins he could end up in prison, leaving Claire and their baby alone.
Jamie is not happy. “You gave me a gift, Claire, when you told me Randall was alive…Now I claim that gift.” Finally (after shooing Murtagh out of the room), she tells him the truth: “If you kill Randall now, then Frank — he won’t be born,” she says through tears. “He must exist. He’s part of the future.” “I thought we were here to change the future,” Jamie shoots back. She begs him to delay for another year, until Mary and Jack are wed and Frank’s ancestor is born. For Jamie, this is a huge sacrifice — “Must I bear everyone’s weakness?” he asks. But Claire reminds Jamie that she owes him: “I’ve saved your life not once, but twice,” she says. “You owe me a life.”
“You’d stop me taking vengeance on the man who made me play his whore?” Jamie asks in disbelief. But he resigns himself, and agrees to wait a year before trying to kill Jack. It’s a smart move plot-wise: a deadline builds tension. And the decision has clearly compromised Claire and Jack’s newly rekindled spark. “Don’t touch me,” Jamie says, and the episode ends with a wide shot of the two of them on separate sides of the room.