“The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” It’s a quote from a poem by Robert Frost, and it’s where episode 6 takes its well-earned name. “Best Laid Schemes” opens with a pensive Jamie fretting over his promise to Claire to not duel with Randall, and ends with a very angry Jamie breaking that promise. In between, there are plans to draw and quarter (complete with descriptions), plans to create illusions of illness, plans to pay debts, and plans to save the lives of loved ones. As with just about every other plan ever made on Outlander, all of these go off-track rather quickly.
Skin score: 8/10. The ending to episode 5 had Jamie and Claire facing yet another rift in their relationship after Claire exacts a life debt from Jamie. However, the duo seem to be back on good terms this episode, at least until Jamie ruins a fireside moment with talk of death and Frank. He explains that he agreed to spare Randall’s life for a year so that Claire and the baby would have Frank to return to if Jamie is destined to die at Culloden Moor. Based on episode 1 of this season, it seems like that prophesy and promise is going to come true. It’s a heartbreaking scene, but it does set Jamie and Claire back on the path to at least temporary happiness.
Sword score: 10/10. This episode strikes the perfect balance between battles of wits and battles of swords. Claire develops a concoction that, when combined with a mash of stinging nettles on the skin, will create the illusion of smallpox in the drinker. Jamie and wee Fergus spike two bottles of wine at St. Germain’s warehouse. The plan would have worked perfectly, if the Comte wasn’t such a man of quick action. He hides the men away and he and Charles demand Jamie move the wine before the harbormaster can discover the illness and destroy the warehouse. This turns into another plan, in which Murtagh hires a group of ruffians to commit highway robbery. It all pans out about as well as expected, with the Comte suspicious and Charles in tears. Just when it seems as though all will end semi-well, Jamie gets into a fight with Randall at Maison Elise and the duel challenge is fulfilled. Somehow, Fergus is involved, but it’s unclear what the boy’s fate is, as he’s not present at the duel. Naturally, Claire finds out, races to the site, and promptly goes into labor right as the gen d’arms arrive and arrest Jamie. Randall ends the duel alive as well, but his wound may ensure that Frank doesn’t exist after all.
Final score: 9/10. An action-packed episode full of plans gone awry that undoubtedly leaves viewers desperate for the next one. Will Claire and her baby survive? Will Jamie be pardoned by the King or sent to the hangman? Will Murtagh arrive home from Portugal in time to save the day? And what happened to wee Fergus? With 13 episodes total in season 2, the midpoint has been reached. Viewers ought to be prepared to get answers, but also to have a lot more questions.
Kade is often described as, “here just a minute ago” and can often be found just around the corner from where you’d expect. Approaching is not encouraged, unless you come with a strong wifi connection and a nice charcuterie board with gluten-free breads.