A few months have passed between the events of last week’s episode and this week’s instalment, which sees the return of the Duke of Sandringham and Mary — and solves the mystery of exactly who ordered the attack on Mary and Claire in Paris. But I’m getting, ahem, ahead of myself….
The Jacobite army is moving south, having successfully occupied Manchester. Now, they’re camped in Northern England, awaiting orders from Prince Charles, who is eager to continue on their path and take London. Jamie agrees — he and Claire figure if they can get that far, they might have a chance of changing history — but his generals don’t want to take the risk of running into one of three British armies than stand between them and London: The British troops are 30,000 strong to the Jacobites’ 5,000 men.
Jamie informs his men they’ll set off for Lallybroch for the winter, but their plans change when Quartermaster O’Sullivan commands them to go to Inverness. Jamie, Claire, Murtagh, and the other Highlanders head north; camping out by a stream, they’re attacked by a group of British soldiers. They jump on their horses and flee, pursued by the Redcoats — one of whom shoots poor Rupert in the eye. Dougal manages to jump onto his horse mid-ride and save him from falling off. The clan manages to shake off the soldiers and takes refuge in a church, where Claire takes a knife and pries the bullet out of Rupert’s eye socket before sewing it up. Handy, that one!
But later that night, a group of British soldiers finds them and threatens to set fire to the church’s thatch roof if they don’t come out. The Scots are outnumbered, and although Jamie offers to turn himself in to save the others, Dougal shoots the idea down — they can’t afford to lose him.
Claire’s got a better idea. She starts to scream: “Help! Save me, I’m a British subject!” The only way to ensure everyone stays alive is to use her as a bargaining chip. Jamie refuses — “Never” — but the others admit she’s right; they won’t burn down the church with her inside. Claire raises her voice, crying, “Am I not Lady Broch Tuarach? Are these men not my responsibility too?” Dougal goes out to arrange the deal with the Brits: The Redcoats will take Claire to the nearest garrison and, unbeknownst to them, Jamie and Murtagh will meet her there. “We will find each other,” she tells Jamie before she leaves. “Trust in that.” (“When you find her,” Rupert instructs Jamie and Murtagh, “give her a wink for me.”)
Claire and the Redcoats stop for the night in a small village; in the morning, she wakes to the news that the soldiers are taking her not to the nearest garrison, but to nearby Belmont, a house owned by a rich man who will surely give her refuge. She manages to slip the information to Hugh Munro, a beggar and friend of Jamie’s who followed Claire to the village. “Belmont it is,” she says within earshot of Hugh.
When she arrives at Belmont, though, she discovers it’s not quite the refuge she was promised: The estate is home to the Duke of Sandringham. He doesn’t blow her cover when she’s introduced as “Mrs. Beauchamp,” and when the two sit down to dinner, he informs her Redcoats doubt his loyalties to the British and have thus surrounded his estate. He says he wants to be rescued, too: “In my heart, I’m a Jacobite.”
He knows someone who can slip notes past the soldiers, so he has Claire write a letter to Jamie on the condition that he be taken to a “safe haven.” She agrees, but writes the note in Gaelic to protect its contents from British eyes; the letter reaches Hugh, and he delivers it to Jamie and Murtagh (who aren’t too impressed with Claire’s Gaelic; “She’s even misspelled ‘help,'” Murtagh notes).
Then, to Claire’s surprise, Mary emerges — apparently she’s the Duke’s goddaughter, and he’s about to marry her off to a British loyalist so his own patriotism won’t be in doubt. But wait, there’s more! Claire recognizes a birthmark on the hand of the duke’s valet, Danton, and gets a flashback to the Paris attack. It turns out it was the Duke of Sandringham who arranged the attack on behalf of the Comte St. Germain, to whom he owed money; St. Germain wanted Claire dead, but he didn’t want to go that far, so he compromised. “I managed to persuade Monsieur Le Comte that simply having you raped was sufficient revenge for the loss of his goods,” Sandringham tells Claire. “You should really be very grateful to me.”
Finally, he reveals that his plan to run away with Claire and Jamie was just a trap so he could capture “Red Jamie,” turn him over to the British, and prove himself loyal to the crown once and for all: “You could be hanged side by side. So romantic.”
Sandringham instructs Danton to lock Claire in her room, but Mary lets her out, begging her to take her along when Jamie comes to rescue her. Claire tries to go out through the kitchen, but she encounters the duke having a bedtime snack. Mary soon follows, feigning hunger; when the duke sends her to bed, she sneaks outside and finds Hugh. “Tell Jamie it’s a trap!” she instructs.
Jamie bursts into the kitchen, followed soon after by Murtagh. Claire tells them Sandringham is responsible for the Paris attack, and while Jamie has the duke by the throat, Mary snatches a kitchen knife and plunges it into Danton’s back, killing him.
Not to be outdone, Murtagh grabs an axe and slashes Sandringham’s throat, hacking away until he’s decapitated. He picks up the duke’s head, dripping with blood, and, kneeling, presents it to Mary and Claire: “I lay your vengeance at your feet.”
Mary looks down at the head, then back up at Murtagh. “I think we’d better go.”