I’ve decided I have the same beef with Outlander as I do The Crown: The producers are sticking so firmly to the ways they’ve decided the material has to be broken up, that it means we’re rushing through things. For The Crown, they’ve clearly mapped out in advance which years of Elizabeth’s reign will be in which season; for Outlander, it’s clearly one book per season. I understand the logic, but it means that with shorter episode orders, they’re sacrificing real moments for speed. This show should be, I think, a historical soap. It’s got all the potential for JUICY STUFF and it doesn’t really let enough of it breathe (this was my beef with Downton, also; Julian Fellowes never seemed to get that he’d created a great framework for a soap, so he dropped threads left and right). I’m not saying they need to be like Passions and take three weeks to play out one hour, but we can marinate, y’all.

First, we have Brianna. I want to note here that, while I’ve been and will be somewhat harsh on Sophie Skelton’s acting, I thought she was very, very good in this opening scene. She seemed so young and broken and lost, and she was trembling with her whole body; she leapt out of her skin when Lizzy touched her back to try and help her out of her clothes. Washing herself was clearly painful. Credit where credit is due: The natural moments, she doesn’t bring to life as much, but this had to be a very challenging scene and I thought she played the trauma of it very affectingly.

So, you can guess that the episode picks right up with Brianna limping into the room she shares with Lizzy, who is immediately alarmed at Brianna’s bloody nose and shell-shocked, disheveled appearance. And I guess women in this time are not that modest about undressing in front of each other — privacy must be something of a modern concept, although you’d think Brianna would still crave it in that instance — because Brianna disrobes to sponge bathe herself right there at a basin in their room, and Lizzy notices the bruises on her body and telltale blood stains on the back of Brianna’s petticoats. Right where… they would be. Since she was not wearing her petticoats with Roger, and Bonnet rudely noted that she wasn’t a virgin, I am not sure when we’re meant to think she bled on them. It’s not like the body stores up your hymen and then lets it go when it feels like it. Do we think she bled more because Bonnet was so violent with her? I don’t know. I only mention it because it’s clearly putting ideas in Lizzy’s head, which she is going to apply to Roger. The actress playing Lizzy, however, grew on me a lot in this episode. Her worry and fear is palpable. “Did he hurt you?” she whispers when Brianna lowers herself into bed. A tear falls down Brianna’s nose (kudos to Sophie for that one; it’s fat and juicy and comes at the right moment). Lizzy reaches out and lays her open palm on the pillow. “You have my hand here. And my ear, if you need it,” she says, urgently. Brianna can’t bring herself to touch anyone and just whispers brokenly, “Please go to sleep.” A note: I also wish we’d seen a relationship between these two women beforehand, or ANY scene at all in which Brianna was not dismissing Lizzy’s friendship or eye-rolling her.

The existence of Stephen Bonnet, by the way, is classic soap — he connects to Claire and Jamie, to Brianna, and to Roger, with direct lines between Jamie letting him live and all the crap he’s pulled since — and I think he’s handled very well. You get just enough of him to HATE HIS SMUG FACE and to know he’s the illest of ill winds, and it’s stressful wondering when all the dots will connect and when they’ll see him again. He’s like Stefano DiMera from Days of our Lives, but with a ship. Anyway, the next morning Roger bursts into the pub looking for Brianna and finds the devil’s lid instead, chowing down on some breakfast. He cheerfully tells Roger that they’re leaving port, and Roger stops in his tracks.

i sort of thought
im bored of sailing
and my business is ladybusiness
and ladybusiness is here
we cool?

They are not. Bonnet lays on the Irish charm and says he can’t imagine Roger was going to leave his job before it was complete, which is ironic because it turns out that’s what Roger did with Brianna too HEY-YO but I’m getting ahead of myself. Roger somehow thought that telling his captain he only needed to get as far as Wilmington would be the end of their contract, and Bonnet thought telling Roger, “That’s one of our ports of call,” was a good indicator that Roger would be continuing on to Philadelphia with them. I don’t get why Bonnet even cares: He didn’t hire Roger because he was down a man, or anything — he took perverse pity on Rog, and flipped a coin — so it’s not like Hatman necessarily needs the body on board. Plus he’d save money by not paying Roger at the end. And there is no way Roger, who I seriously doubt had ever been on a boat before, was super useful. I honestly think Bonnet is just doing it to mess with him, because he knows Roger is there for a lady, and Bonnet sucks and is spiteful. Who knows, but either way, Bonnet threatens to have Roger’s limb cut off if he backs out on the job, and so Roger leaves with them under duress. He calls to the barkeep to tell Brianna he asked after him. If he’d said, “Tell the lady I’m sailing to Philadelphia and then coming back,” that would have been super helpful. TOO HELPFUL, and thus, it does not happen.

Upstairs, Brianna has slept in, and is now frantic about getting packed and the eff out of Wilmington. Lizzy wants her to relax, but Brianna will not; she wants Cross Creek and she wants it now. Downstairs, she asks the barkeep if he’s seen Roger, and the guy says yes and that he asked after her before leaving with the crew of the Gloriana. Bree runs to the harbor and the ship is gone, and she assumes it went back to Scotland. She sadly touches the bracelet and recites the poem inside: “I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.” What the hell kind of romantic thing is that? It basically stems from a French version of the old “S/he loves me, s/he loves me not” game, and I feel like that is a terrible gift to give a person as a mark of your affection.


Ah, but then, a stroke of luck that is made for TV: Lizzy, who until now doesn’t seem like she’s conversed with anyone in possibly her entire life, trots up with gossip she got by making small talk with random Scottish people in the street. Brianna warns her not to run because it isn’t lady like, which… since when is Bree the decorum police? Luckily, Lizzy doesn’t care; she’s too excited for etiquette.

Dearest mistress, I’ve learnt something new
You’ll never believe that it’s true
It seems your mom and dad
Aren’t at home in their pad.
They’re HERE because Contrivance loves you.

Of course, she doesn’t put it that plainly. Instead, she begins a hella-meandering tale of her chit-chat and learning that there was a woman who cut a man open at the theatre, and she’s married to this dude who’s doing fine for himself, yada yada yada she finally gets to the point: Jamie is in town, and he’s right in that building around the corner. Given the urgency, you’d think she’d open with, “Ten seconds ago your dad was ten feet away; go find him before he goes somewhere else,” but whatever. Lizzy is new to dialogue, and exposition. There’s a learning curve.

So of course Brianna trots off to find Jamie, and he’s gone “round the back” of wherever he was, and… y’all, he’s having a whizz. Of all the ways Outlander could’ve had Brianna stumble across Jamie, they chose to make her approach him while he’s peeing against the side of a building.

Hello sir, it seems urine luck.
Please, sir, once you finish and tuck,
Take a look at my hair:
I’m your firstborn and heir.
Shake the drops and be thunderstruck.

I understand that in olden times, and even in current times, men urinate outside. But there are a hundred banal choices that do not involve Brianna advancing slowly upon her father as he relieves himself against a wall, and I wish one of them had been made.

The moment is quick, although I caught myself holding my breath, because I like Jamie and Sam. He catches her watching and, suspicious as to why this needs to happen while his schlong is emptying itself, asks what she wants. “You,” she blurts. He gives her a polite smile and closes up and walks past her, noting that he’s married. She stops him and he repeats it — a point for fidelity! — then moves along again, so she asks if she’s Jamie Fraser. He turns, curious, until she introduces herself as his daughter. He does a very subtle double-take, and then slowly moves toward her. “Is it true?” he whispers. She grins, “Can’t you tell?” And then we cut back to Jamie and his eyes are full of water, as are hers (Sam and Sophie play very well off each other here). “Aye. I can,” he says, gazing at her in loving astonishment before noting that he never actually allowed himself to think of her as anything other than a baby. He cooes some Gaelic sweet-nothings at her and lightly strokes her face, and she starts sobbing and throws herself at his chest.

Oh, Jamie, I never thought we’d meet.
Certainly not as you peed in the street.
But please don’t stroke my face
‘Til you’ve washed off the trace
Of your leaking and dripping man-meat. 

Poor Brianna has had a LOT happen to her. I suspect her joy here is as much relief that she’s completed her mission, and has found a safe harbor, as any clear feelings about meeting her father. Jamie pulls back and wipes her face with his pee hand one more time, then realizes she hasn’t seen Claire yet. “She’ll be mad with joy,” he beams.

And indeed: Claire exits a store and hears Jamie call out, “Sassenach.” She turns, sees Bree, and drops her basket as the breath leaves her body. Brianna runs to her and they hug so tightly, as Claire tries and fails to find any words at all to say. She’s just sort of sputtering. It’s very well done. Y’all know I admire Caitriona as an actress, and I think she does yeoman’s work trying to forge a believable connection between her Claire and Sophie’s Brianna.

Blessedly, Brianna does not tarry in delivering her message. Claire is like, “Hmm, we die in a fire?” Jamie looks at the obituary copy she brought, and curses the printer and the smudged date as an “unforgivable mistake.” So many people have slagged off that printer. They’ve said as many bad words about him as they have about Stephen Bonnet. SURELY this will connect to Fergus somehow; otherwise, why are they banging on about this dude?

And then guess who trots over?


I have to say, I was quite delighted to see Ian’s goobery cheery countenance. He’s also the best kind of character because he doesn’t demand any explanations about anything, so there’s no repeating information we already know. Claire offers to tell him the whole story and he’s like, “Meh!”


They scoop up Lizzy and take the boat back to wherever. She sits up with Ian in the front and dribbles — out loud — “SO. HANDSOME.” As if she simply cannot contain herself. Ian doesn’t even for one second assume she’s talking about him, instead patting Rollo on the head and saying, “ISN’T HE?” Sweet, oblivious Ian. Lizzy’s instant interest in him AND inability to stop from purring that compliment at him feels a LITTLE off for someone as restrained as she’s been, but I suppose it’s true that we are only just getting to know her. Maybe Lizzy is cuckoo for boys. Maybe she’d a huge Justin Bieber fan, and be one of those people who gets into Internet fights about when his career peaked or whether it even has yet, and the dating habits of various One Direction members.


On the boat, Claire gets more of the Roger story. Brianna seems tired and low-energy in an actual deliberate way this time — which is appropriate — and she tells Claire that they were hand-fast but then had a huge argument and that he shoved back off to Scotland. She’s sad. Then Brianna says how much she’s missed Claire, which I suppose could be true even though I never got the sense that they had real conversations prior to the reveal about Jamie. They hug.

Next, the legend of the Bad Hatter grows. Ian tells Brianna all about the chill he gets down his back when they pass the site of the robbery at the hands of Stephen Bonnet (he throws in the name in a very conversationally unnatural way, presumably so that Brianna will now know the identity of her rapist). He starts going into all the detail about how the Murderous Millinery hexed them with his Irish charm, and then there was throat-slitting right before Claire’s eyes, and the stealing of the wedding ring… Brianna may have majored in history but she’s no slouch at math, so she does the calculation here and realizes she and Claire have been terrorized by the same person. Brianna fudges that her breathless reaction was from Ian’s vivid description. “You needn’t worry. I’m sure it is only in our nightmares he can trouble us now,” Ian says, comfortingly, which of course does no good at all, the poor kid. Brianna pulls out the ring so that we know she still has it, then shoves it deep into her pocket.

Jamie and Claire conclude that Brianna is just openly broken-hearted about Roger and that time will heal it. Then they discuss how to handle the fire news. Claire suggests making sure they’re gone every year on the Sunday before January 21st, turning it into a family holiday or something, but Jamie correctly points out that changing history has never worked out so neatly for them (besides which, though they don’t note this, Brianna’s presence has already set it on a new course, even if they do nothing).

Murtagh, who apparently axed the mole that ruined his plan, is hiding out at Fraser’s Ridge so that Governor Tryon won’t arrest him or hurt a hair on his saucy silver head. He does get his foxy socks knocked off when he is introduced to Brianna. No one tells her that Murtagh knows the whole story, but he beams at her and says, “What took you so long, lass?” Over dinner, she relays that she met Old Ian, and there’s some joking about getting names of all Jenny’s children straight, when Brianna mentions that she’s still trying to memorize who Fergus and Marsali are. This is when it occurred to me that Jamie and Claire could’ve introduced them. I assume they were already planning to leave, or were on a schedule, and that explains why they didn’t think, “Oh, hey, Fergus and Marsali are basically like our children — let’s pop ’round the corner and blow their minds!” Or maybe they didn’t want to explain it. Exposition takes awhile and we’re still dealing with Lizzy’s attempts. Murtagh and Jamie trade stories about his youth to make Brianna laugh, and she never once mentions Laoghaire, which honestly is perhaps the second or third thing I would have said: “I met your crackpot ex-wife, who was actually very loving to me until she found out I’m the daughter of a witch she tried to burn. FYI, send more cash.” Claire also tells her that she met George Washington, and Bree is like, “Neat. I’m tired.” So much for that curiosity.

Apparently, because I guess the show needs Lizzy off camera or isolated for a while, she suddenly might have malaria. So she’s off in her shelter drinking fancy teas when Brianna drops the bomb on Claire that Frank found the obituary and had sort of shown it to her, or not prevented her from seeing it, but that she’d ignored it (girl, NO WAY were you a history scholar). “He knew you came back to Jamie,” Bree says. Claire purses her lips. “He was an astute man,” she says. No, he was a man with eyeballs who read words on a page. Astuteness has nothing to do with it. Brianna says she, like Frank, can see why Claire had to come back to him, which doesn’t ring true enough because we’ve barely seen her process the two of them together. There were maybe two moments that COULD apply, but they weren’t significant enough, nor played as such. We need a Feelings Montage of her, say, rounding a corner and catching Jamie and Claire flirting, or futzing with her mother’s herbs inside and glancing out the window and seeing Claire and Jamie kiss each other and stare into each other’s eyes. You know, all the stuff they did when they first moved to Fraser’s Ridge and it was so relaxing for us all. Bree never saw Claire do that with Frank. These are all interesting emotional conflicts, and honestly, we should be TAKING OUR FREAKING TIME WITH THEM. Brianna still has loyalties to Frank, after all. Maybe she thinks Jamie urinates like a douchelord. Maybe she thinks he smells or is rude. I don’t know. Let’s learn, y’all.

Claire tries to get Brianna to open up to her about Roger, or whatever, and Brianna nervously knocks over a basket and fidgets and trembles a little. So she lets it go. But now we DO get a very very short and hurried montage of Brianna helping out at Fraser’s Ridge and churning butter and chillin’ at the river lifting buckets with Murtagh, all while also staring dead-eyed into middle distance when she thinks no one is looking. I would write a poem about it, but I already know why, and it’s not good. And then we land on Jamie and Brianna practicing shooting, which fulfills some of what I asked for, but not entirely — and I honestly sort of think it needed to come earlier? She’s a better shot than Jamie, and when he asks where she learned this, Brianna says, “My father.” Jamie flinches a tiny tiny bit and says, “Frank.” Only then does Brianna seem to react to what she said, but they power forward as Bree explains that Frank and Bree would go camping and he taught her to shoot. Again, these would have been good Frank flashback memories to give her when they brought back Tobias Menzies; apparently the book does a better job connecting the dots between What Frank Knows and how he raises Brianna. In the show’s universe, it’s laughable to think Frank did ANY of this with Brianna — we just knew him as a thick-spectacled sadsack, really — and it would’ve added lots of neat shades to his character if we’d found out that, for one example, he hated all these things and was terrible at them, so while some dads stayed up putting together bikes at Christmas, he’d stay up reading about how to camp.

Notes: I have many.
Regrets: I hope EPs have some.
Missed potential: tons.

And, end of scene. Seriously. We next cut to Jamie’s homespun distillery, or whatever it is, as he explains that farmers from the ridge provide the barley and help distribute the booze they’re making. Again, folks have noted that the books are VERY good about how all this develops, and I miss that type of thing in the show. It’s one reason I like the fifth Harry Potter book so much. I enjoy its length, I like the complicated feelings and how she wasn’t afraid to make Harry have unflattering reactions to things, and I love all the world-building details. So, I would have watched a bunch more episodes about the growth of Fraser’s Ridge, and I actually feel super unstuck in time right now with it all happening in the blink of an eye. Some of these payoffs would have been a lot more satisfying if we really felt how long in coming they were.

Anyhoo, Brianna asks Ian if he’s been called “Young Ian” all his life — although I don’t think anyone has called him that in this episode at all — and he grins that it was “Wee Ian” when he was a kid. Brianna says, “Everyone always calls me Bree,” and that WHOLE exchange was just so that Murtagh can hear it and make a veiled reference to what a bree is Scottish slang. Later, Jamie tells Claire that it means “a disturbance,” of a sort, and Claire scoffs that they wouldn’t just tell her. Jamie is sad that Brianna is upset about Roger, and Claire says Brianna also just doesn’t want to upset Jamie with talk of Frank, which… I don’t know about that? “I’ve watched the two of you the last few weeks tiptoeing around talking about Frank,” she says. I wish we had watched the two of them for the last few weeks. Claire suggests a hunting field trip for bonding purposes, and Jamie evidently decides this is something he should do right away, and goes to wake her up rather than just planning it with her on the morrow. He goes into her room and sees her sleeping with a little smile on her face, and he gets all misty and paternal… and then wakes her up. I was hoping she’d throw a tantrum so that he could get a sense of what it’s like to have a teenager, but no dice.

Instead, they go… bee hunting. Yes, bee hunting. Which is really just tracking bees to their hive so they can grab it and have honey back at the ranch. So we do get a little bonding here, but… a very very little. Sophie is still playing Brianna as very flat, which MIGHT be due to the trauma and the twist that’s coming, but it’s hard to tell. She does ask Jamie to tell her what the words meant that he said to her when he saw her — they meant, “My darling, my blessing.” She is pleased. Later, the two of them curl up near a fallen tree, and we get clubbed over the head with the metaphor here: They will relocate the bees while they sleep, and when Brianna wonders if they won’t notice they’re not in their rightful place, Jamie says there’s nothing they can do about it: “They’ve no means to find their way back… they’ll be content in their new home.” She gets the message. “I have a home,” she says. Jamie insists he doesn’t want to replace Frank, and that he knows Frank was a good man. Brianna confesses to feeling disloyal even being with Jamie, which is… not something we have seen evidence of at all, even in her low-energy behaviors (for the viewer, those read like post-traumatic stress). Jamie lays it on thick: He’s grateful to Frank for standing tall by Claire and by Brianna, and for raising her right, but that he can’t deny being delighted that she’s come into his life. He scoots in and hugs her and says that she’s more than his flesh and blood; she’s his heart and soul as well. There’s a whole convo about him calling her “Bree,” which I will yada-yada, and then Brianna wonders what to call him. “You can call me… Da,” he says. This… is not what I was expecting. He went STRAIGHT to the “dad” card. Brianna has referred to Frank as her father, and expressed torn loyalties, and we’re meant to think this is all very complicated. So I assumed Jamie would be like, “I love you, and want you to take your time with all this, so call me Jamie for as long as you need to” — at which point we’d then set the table for a moment where she does spontaneously call him Dad, or “Da,” and his heart would fill to bursting, and they’d be close and happy before she learns of his forthcoming mistake. JUST A SUGGESTION. I mean, I’ve mentioned I love soaps, right?

Jamie comes home and crows to Claire that she called him “Da.” Which is not what happened at all. She repeated the word “Da” when he suggested she use it, just to ask if it was Gaelic. If she’s started calling him that for real and in earnest, can we not hear it? At any rate, they hang out and eat their honey, and then Jamie spends a sleepless night fretting that she’s going to go back to the 1970s and leave him even sadder at her absence than before. Claire says that Brianna belongs in her own time, a safer time, one with more opportunities. Personally, I think they should move back to Scotland and set up shop near the stones so that they can pop through and spend the holidays together. Maybe if Claire and Jamie build an Inn, Brianna will find it there in her own time and can manage it, and it will become like The Lake House, where they can leave each other messages in a hollow tree.

Lizzy tries to prod Brianna about her nightmares and crying jags, but Brianna waves it off, and Lizzy lets her — because Lizzy is all kinds of excited to go off on an outing with Ian. Bree goes off to find some herbs with Claire, and Claire tells her that she knows what’s bothering her is bigger than just Roger. “I wondered if you could still do that,” Bree says, referring to a mother-daughter clairvoyance that I SINCERELY DO NOT BELIEVE they ever had in the past. “I was hoping you still could.” Claire takes her hand, stares right into her face, thinks for a second, and says, “How far along are you?” Brianna’s relief says it all. The poor kid is pregnant. See? SOAP OPERA. Well, if it were a soap, she’d be pregnant with twins, and one of them would come out with a blonde ponytail and an Irish accent, and the other with a beard and a morose countenance, but close enough.

Claire immediately jumps to why she and Roger didn’t use protection, and Bree gives a great “I didn’t think I’d need to pack CONDOMS” response. But there’s more: Bree struggles with putting this into words, but basically, Roger never left a deposit in the Bank of Randall. “The withdrawal method,” Claire nods. Which means the baby “might” (her word) belong to Brianna’s rapist, an event she haltingly confesses to Claire amid a lot of self-flagellation about whether she fought him enough. Claire refuses to let her blame herself and is horrified to learn it all happened on the same freaking night. Claire delicately tells Jamie later.

For his part, Roger the Fertilization Dodger is in Philly, collecting his pay from Bonnet, which he asks for in gemstone form rather than in coins (because obviously Bonnet has a bunch of gems lying on the table he’s using to distribute cash wages). Now Roger has his ticket back through the stones, but first, he’s decided to get himself a horse and find Fraser’s Ridge.

i just
i mean
we are hand-married
and sex-married
and i just thought
we could do it again
im so brave see
so much riding
and sailing
u dont know my pain

But it’s bad luck for ol’ Rog, as Lizzy sees him scanning around trying to sort out where he is, and she freaks out. So, right as Claire discovers her wedding ring in Bree’s things and extracts the truth about her rapist, Lizzy and Ian are dashing off to Jamie to tell him that Evil Lurks Around The Shrubberies. Bree makes Claire promise not to tell Jamie, because she knows he’ll never forgive himself the Bonnet connection; Lizzy is making that promise totally irrelevant by pointing the finger at Roger, and taking an agonizingly long time to give Jamie LOTS OF DETAILS about how she’s come to believe the stranger on the house raped Bree: how she saw them through the window; how he and Bree got close and were arguing; how he grabbed her; how he tugged her away; how Bree came back in the wee hours with bruises on her body, a bloody nose, and blood on her petticoats; and how… well. “I could smell him on her. His… SEED,” Lizzy says.

Hurry please Mr. Fraser, there’s no time
This man’s done a dangerous crime.
Go as fast as you can
After that awful man
But first let me take ten minutes to tell you exactly what I know, and why, and how, and with some uncomfortable details, meted out with zero efficiency and thus affording plenty of getaway space to that ruinous slime.


I have to give Lizzy credit: She could barely choke out the words “man of wanton morals” when she saw Roger in the last episode, and here she is telling Jamie all about the smell of semen, and the fact that she knows Brianna was a virgin when she was taken. That is a lot of personal growth. It is also a lot of very sensitive personal information that she has now told two dudes, and even though her intentions were good, she could’ve done it in about half the time and with a bit less color. However: Is it weird that I kind of want Ian and Bree to have a conversation about the shit they both went through? It would be nice to think Ian getting kidnapped by a blood-bathing sex monster is something he could turn into a positive advice-giving experience.

And so it comes to pass that Roger gets the punch in the face that many of us have thought he had coming, but for entirely different reasons. In fact, he gets more than one; Jamie serves him an entire three-foot knuckle sandwich from Subway.

How does this taste, eh?
Eat fresh, you mother f**cker!
Bacon costs extra.

I mean, Jamie pounds his face into hamburger meat. He only stops because Ian rides up and alerts him to someone coming. They hide Roger’s unconscious body and then Jamie tells Ian to get rid of him.

No Ian, you’re no killer.
Just throw him in the chiller.

It is going to be mighty awkward when all this comes out next week. Thanksgiving at the Frasers may never be the same.

Tags: Outlander