This was a strange episode. It tricked me into thinking it would be a relaxing hour of Jamie and Claire bumping into major historical figures and us snickering at Brianna and Roger getting it on, and then at the end it just swung back the hammer and drove it RIGHT into my gut. Because Outlander doesn’t want us to have nice things. Trigger warnings abound.
Let’s start with Jamie and Claire: They’re back in Wilmington, visiting Marsali and Fergus and baby Dawson Laoghaire, forehead status unknown. They’ve also been summoned to the theatre by Governor Tryon, who wants them to meet his second-in-command, a dude named Edmund Fanning (presumably of the Dakota Fannings). It gives them an excuse to snuggle the baby AND conveniently be in the same geographic place as Brianna and/or Roger for optimal reuniting. It also creates a portentous scene between Marsali and Claire: Marsali notes that while she’s deliriously happy and in love with motherhood, she also feels an undercurrent of RAGE at the idea of anyone hurting him, and is certain she would kill anyone who tried. All of this is said with an amazed half-smile, half-wide-eyed surprise, though. Lauren Lyle needs more to do on this show. She gives Marsali a lot of personality that I didn’t expect. All this talking about what being a mother feels like affords Claire the chance to a) remind us all that Marsali (and I THINK Fergus) does not know about Brianna, which will probably lead to headaches once it’s all out in the open; and b) comment that she can at least guess, ahem, that what sucks about parenting is that you cannot protect your children from the world; coupled with her furtive goggling eyes, it suggests that suggest she, too, would SLAY A FOOL if he or she harmed her offspring. Given the end of the episode, then, I’m fairly concerned that either Jamie or Claire is going to murder someone in the relatively near future. Wilmington’s hottest club IS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. It. Has. Everything. Lies! Latent rage! The promise of bloodshed! That thing where you’re pretty sure everything is calm, while an imaginary dagger hovers over your head and the devil tap-dances on your collarbone!
At the theatre, Jamie and Claire are introduced to more people in Wilmington society, among them the aforementioned Edmund Fanning, the Swiss Army Knife of right-hand men, able to do ever so many things in an official capacity — like Hamilton, but without the personal charisma; also his eponymous musical, performed in Gregorian Chant, bombed — which means Jamie or one of his loved ones is very likely to run afoul of him later. Also, we were halfway through this scene when I realized that the actor playing Fanning sincerely might be trying to use an American accent. It is… not working. He takes a half beat too long to get his mouth around all of the words, which is vexing when he’s asked to say things like “strange protrusion” and “paroxysms.”
Who’s prone to oversharing
about his abdominal medical woes?
To be frank, it’s that pseudo-Yank
Edmund Fanning, a boring old schmo.
Fanning, it seems, tripped and fell during a clash with some insurgents and has a protuberance on his abdomen that causes him enormous agony — a story he delivers slowly, and totally deadpan, describing his total agony as simply as if he was saying, “I ate an apple that was only okay.” Claire lights up, because knowing more than all these smug male doctors is clearly one of her favorite hobbies, but the men all chortle her interest away and then banish her to the Island of the Wives. This is when she’s pointed in the direction of George and Martha Washington.
Here comes the Colonel
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
Here comes the Colonel
THE MOMENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
Here comes the Colonel
THE PRIDE OF MOUNT VERNON
I barely even have to rewrite that. Thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda! Sorry I didn’t like Mary Poppins Returns. I did try. Also, this Washington is younger, and so not yet outmanned, outgunned, or outplanned. He’s just sort of a quiet and not particularly charismatic dude with brown hair. Tryon mentions that Washington had surveyed the land that became Fraser’s Ridge — Jamie of course smooches Tryon’s booty for his generosity — and Martha dryly notes that 10,000 acres is an unprecedented haul. “The Governor must be very fond of you,” she says with a twinkle that in present times would suggest that she thinks Tryon is hot for his loins. Tryon says fondly that of course he likes Jamie, because Jamie is an incredibly loyal ally; he’s definitely maximising his chess piece, having already made Jamie wary of joining the regulators, and also, it’s going to be very hard now for Jamie not to do whatever Tryon might demand of him. Which was Claire’s objection to this scheme all along, but Jamie handwaved it and she was all, “Oh well, I am hot for you, so that’s probably the same as trust,” and now they’re headed for a swim in Shit Creek. These two always think they can build a bridge over a problem with ease, and they are ALWAYS WRONG. Learning from your mistakes is boring TV, I guess.
Jamie and Washington compare military histories a bit, and when Washington admits he’s not familiar with Culloden because he spent his boyhood in Virginia, Claire excitedly burbles, “Yes, chopping down cherry trees,” and they look at her with confusion, as if she’s a stalker. Quickly she stammers, “… is … what… a young boy… would do. Figure of speech.” I laughed. Claire is very excited to whisper to Jamie that G-Dubs going to be the first leader of America — as a president, not as a king — and then chases that with the wish that Brianna could meet him, because she’d have a hundred questions. This version of Brianna seems incurious at best, besides which we’ve never seen that much evidence of her being an avid reader or studier of anything related to anything, so pardon me while I issue a mighty HARRUMPH.
Jamie does learn from Governor Tryon that there’s a spy in Murtagh’s midst. Tryon is whining that the regulators — by the way, earlier he made a big show of not wanting to call them that, and yet he still is — don’t want to see their taxes apportioned for the construction of his palace. It’s such an absurdly privileged peacocking statement. Jamie just listens as Tryon brags that his men are going to put on a good show that night: They not only know of a plan afoot to rob some official stagecoaches, and plan to thwart it, but they know Murtagh is the instigator of the regulators. Jamie has to figure out a way to warn his friend, so he pretends he’s interested in riding out to help Tryon’s men, but Tryon says no. So when he notices Fanning grabbing at his stomach, Jamie pretends to twitch hard enough that it makes things absolutely worse and Claire — diagnosing this as a hernia caused by shifting intestines — has no choice but to turn this joint into a literal operating theatre. This provides Jamie cover to sneak out and catch a ride with Bored Washington, who is heading back to town because he’s and Martha think the play sucks. (Jamie pretends he’s going to get Claire’s surgical tools, which is not a GREAT lie given that she’s already inside cutting Fanning open, but whatever, it works.)
Hilariously, Fanning’s doctors arrive just as Claire is finishing, and Tryon gives her a glowing endorsement — while the doctors just sputter, “All he needed was tobacco smoke up through the rear!” Jamie turns up at the last second and no one was the wiser about his absence. Meanwhile, at the site of the planned robbery, Murtagh is about to greenlight it when Fergus leaps out of the shadows. Jamie apparently got to him in Wilmington and had Fergus travel the rest of the way to warn off Murtagh — which works. I can’t tell if Murtagh is genuinely annoyed that Jamie didn’t deliver the message in person, or if he’s just teasing, but he does seem amused that Jamie is busy at the theatre instead. At least he is delighted to recognize Fergus, although it’s all under the cover of darkness and it’s quick and there is not NEARLY as much manly hugging as I would have liked. In fact, there is none. NONE.
Everything is great, until word of the aborted robbery gets back to Tryon. Now he knows that HE has a traitor in his midst who tipped off the regulators, and no one can think who it might be… until someone points out that George and Martha Washington skipped out of the play early and do not have an alibi. “Never trust a Virginian,” spits Tryon. “Washington’s day will come.” I sense a potential aberration in history: If they grow suspicious of George, or arrest him or in some other way try to pin this on him, it could affect his ascent to the presidency. Imagine the ripples it’s already creating, although this show only seems concerned with the big waves rather than the butterfly effect. Case in point: I started wondering how them obtaining Fraser’s Ridge might’ve had a slow but sure effect on the development of that area that could be felt hundreds of years in the future, but no one else seems to care that much. I guess when you’re stuck being a time-traveler, you have to accept that you will leave SOME footprints. Or, they could go back and live in the 1970s, and Claire could teach Jamie how to have sex in a shower. I’m just saying. Anyway, in some ways, this show is not that different than Legends of Tomorrow, and would in fact benefit from a bit more Beebo and the occasional exploding unicorn.
Speaking of exploding unicorns…
Roger’s and Brianna’s Story
We open with Roger moping around Wilmington, toting his sketch of Brianna and sneering at the shop window of the printer who smudged the date on the page with Claire’s and Jamie’s obituary on it. He gets caught, obviously, and that’s how he ends up bumping into Fergus — who apparently works there, which makes me wonder if Fergus would’ve been the person on duty that day who made the mistake. But, who cares, because Jamie and Claire are not dying in a fire.
It’s only Book Four.
Just non-fatal suffering
on the docket now.
Anyway, Roger obviously doesn’t know Fergus from his own good sense, never having met either one. So it’s just a passing encounter. Roger flashes the sketch and asks him if he’s seen Brianna. He hasn’t; no one has. Roger at least figured out what ship she came in on, but her trail has gone cold — which surprises me, actually, given that she’s speaking in a distinctively American accent (not that they’d define it in those terms yet) that has a much fuller and more distinct sound than any of the others around it, especially given how many people here are English or Scottish. She would stand out naturally. Indeed, it takes Roger about sixty more seconds of screen time to arrive in a bar, tip back a pint, and then casually overhear Brianna making inquiries about passage to Cross Creek. “It’s you,” she breathes, hugging him tightly, while the entire pub watches with great interest in all the public body-smooshing. And of course, when she finally gathers herself and is like, “WAIT A MINUTE, why are you here,” he replies, “I came for you. RISKED LIFE AND LIMB, I MIGHT ADD,” which is the most Roger thing ever.
i came for you
at great personal peril
just so you know
i am not keeping score
but it’s roger 4335, brianna 1
and i don’t know what the 1 was
im just being nice
because im nice
love me pls
Next, Roger plan-shames Brianna for this whole thing, which is not useful, and they bicker a bit about why she didn’t tell him. Brianna claims she didn’t know where they stood after the last time they talked, and Roger cannot believe this. Neither can I, but the problem is, Roger cannot fathom that she would be unclear on his feelings, and I think SHE is trying to say, “I didn’t know if we were still friends given that you once said I am a faithless dirty hussy.” Roger is great at missing the point, which bodes poorly for Brianna’s G-spot.
Roger realizes people are listening in, so he drags Brianna outside. Her seemingly very dull charge, Elizabeth — the book readers call her Lizzy but we haven’t gotten there yet — watches through the window as Brianna and Roger have a heated chat on the street in which he explains about Gail and Inverness. “You saw my letter,” Brianna says. “OF COURSE,” Roger says, grabbing her roughly, which is not a believable piece of blocking for this moment and only happens because Elizabeth is spying and they need this conversation to look violent to her. I assume this is supposed to lead to a big misunderstanding vis a vis Roger, Elizabeth, and the catastrophe that happens later. Also, it’s a bad sign that Roger’s and Brianna’s simple interactions could look to an outsider like he’s abusing her. Sigh. But then Brianna ruins everything by hissing to Roger that she just didn’t know how to tell him that she loves him. Whaaaaaat? Somewhere on a remote island, on Father Fogden’s Goat Farm, a sassy coconut is sitting up on a shelf going, “EVEN I DON’T BELIEVE THAT, AND I HAVEN’T LAID EYES ON EITHER OF YOU AND AM STUCK IN A HUT WITH A MADMAN WHO THINKS I’M PEOPLE.” I miss you, Coco. Claire should’ve shoved you in her bag.
Anyhow, so suddenly Brianna loves Roger, even though he cast her aside as a harlot and she should have more self-esteem than that. (Yes, yes, I know, it’s the ’70s, but even when these books were written there was a more modern and refreshing approach available, although I assume many of the flaws in this pairing are also due to the show deeply abridging the source material.) Roger is thrilled.
someone loves me
do you mean like comfy love
or the naked kind
lets find a sex yurt
Roger drags Brianna off in a horny frenzy, which the watching Elizabeth finds very seedy indeed, and it does look like he’s jerking her around physically. Roger needs to rethink himself. He pulls Brianna into a collection of sheds that look like an 18th century Motel 6. I sincerely have no idea if he just pulled her into some random workshop, or if this is the place he’s staying while he’s in town; Roger never explains, and no one ever barges in, so I assume it’s Chez Wakefield, but it LOOKS a whole lot like someone’s place of work.
The entire scene that follows is just pure insanity. No, I am not going to stop watching this show just because I think all this stuff is poorly done; I find it relaxing to watch a show that makes me laugh, even unintentionally. (I would be MORE likely to quit because of the ending.) Brianna pulls away from Roger’s hungry mouth to remind him that he said they shouldn’t get it on until they’re engaged.
damn damn damn
you really did it this time roger
thanks for blocking me
really appreciate it
remind me to invert myself sometime
just to hurt you as you hurt me
Roger is like, “Oh, right, all of you or none at all,” and he has not changed his mind. So, no apology for what he said, and nor does she ask for one. Instead, Brianna ACCEPTS THIS OFFER, partly on the grounds that he time-traveled for her, which goes to show the size of the gesture that was apparently required to make her want to marry Roger. This is TERRIBLE because it basically sets the precedent — for Roger, at least — that Roger is in the moral right, and that eventually Brianna will stop trying to know her own mind and own her own choices and just go along with his. I am PROFOUNDLY not into this. Roger is, though. He doesn’t seem to care that it took being abandoned in an unfriendly time period, and scared and alone and frustrated, to want to marry him.
I guess I will stay.
omg what it worked
What else can I say?
omg what IT WORKED
This journey has been…
my erection can begin?!?
A giant turd.
“i love you” is the part i heard
To marriage I said no no no no.
sure great now lets go
But you’re here now, and I’m here, and all.
my solder stands a half a foot tall
These weeks have made my bar super low
im hearing that you think i’m a dynamo
You’re the only guy at the ball
she’s so deep in my thrall
You’re the first friendly face
she craves my man embrace
That I’ve seen in this place
i’m gonna get to third base
The options look grim
yep, our passion’s undimmed
no upgrades around
ol’ roger’s gettin’ down
I’m sure you’ll do fine fine fine
sausage for dinner, come dine
At least for this specific point in time
yay you’re totally mine
So I guess I will stay
youve made my day
Mostly ’cause yooooou’re riiiiight here.
Roger then gets all het up about logistics — I can relate — and frets that they don’t have a ring. Brianna says she’s got the bracelet he gave her, and he realizes she used that as the gem to pass through the stones. He’s flattered, I think, but I look at that and think, “Okay, she thought that stone was expendable.” Then somehow this jumps all the way to the two of them doing a ceremonial hand-fasting. First: Brianna’s father is a historian and SUPPOSEDLY she’s been studying that at Harvard, and yet Roger still mansplains to her what that is. I wish she’d cut him off, like, “I KNOW, I know, it’s a binding promise from olden times when there weren’t ministers around every corner.” Second, I mistyped that somehow the first time as “hand-farting,” and as much as I am not a fan of fart jokes, I would have dearly loved for Roger to have misunderstood the term and performed what he believed to be a magical mystical ritual that involved blowing raspberries into each other’s cupped palms. Instead, sadly, they kneel in front of the fireplace and bind their hands, and recite some vows — Roger, of course, knows some by memory and Brianna, of course, stumbles over them, because Roger is That Guy and I guess Brianna doesn’t get to know anything — and BOOM, they are clear to bone down.
Which they do. Very slowly, and with lots of breast. There are numerous slow pans up and down Brianna’s naked chest, and lots of nipple close-ups, as Roger just looks agape and kisses her stomach a bunch.
are you there god?
it’s me, rogret
i am getting
my emotional period
While Roger is carrying Brianna to a bunch of furry blankets on the floor — ownership and origin unknown — Elizabeth asks around after her missing mistress, and no one has seen her since she left with Roger, whom she refers to as “the man of wanton morals.” Oh, Roger. You in danger, girl.
Roger and Brianna are a poor substitute for Jamie and Claire in the sex-scene department. This is her first time, and Roger is appropriately worshipful, but these aren’t two people who have a ton of heat between them and so it’s more of a Can We Just Get On With This kind of moment for me as a viewer. Especially because Roger is TERRIBLE at sex talk. “If I take you now, it’s for always,” sounds like a threat, and later he takes a trip down south by noting that he’s always wondered what color her hair is down there. NEVER buy a book of sex advice from this person. It reads like it’s a journal he wrote when he was 13, and called it Dr. Booty Will See You Now.
if i take you now it’s for always
hey, girl, i’ve always wondered about your pubic hair
sometimes i think about what your diameter is
god, holes are so neat, huh?
and other pillow talk from roger wakefield, booty md
yours for 19.99 plus shipping and expert handling
the doctor is in baby
First, Roger, lying naked atop your aroused hand-fasted, hand-farted lady love is a really manipulative time to make her promise that this is forever. Her, “Yes, please YES,” feels more like, “GET ON WITH IT,” than, “I love you to infinity and my answer would be the same even if we were not turned on and naked.” Naturally, she has one moment of pain, and then she thrashes around in ecstasy, because TV virgins sadly aren’t ever allowed to be like, “Well, that was a lot of buildup for nothing.” Roger then decides to stop so that this moment lasts longer for him, which is also definitely a SUPER considerate thing to do to a woman when it’s her first time and you are not using any lube and she’s basically using a canal and some muscles that have lain dormant forever. Also, if I may be explicit for a second, Roger has just burst her seal — we basically saw her body react to the piercing, for a split second — and then he pulls out and decides to go down on her instead. Don’t… we think she is probably bleeding? I mean, she’s NOT, per this episode, but… We’re meant to think that this is Roger putting her pleasure first, but in realistic life terms that MIGHT not be the moment to satiate your curiosity about her pubic hair (I still cannot believe he used that as sexy talk).
THEN, in the afterglow, Brianna worries that she didn’t do any of it well enough because Roger is just lying there like he’s been cracked over the head with a frying pan. He tries to explain that this is a compliment. No, Roger, a compliment is when you put words together and then say them, out loud, from your mouth, to a person so that they will feel appreciated and admired. Also, please note that he never asks Brianna if she enjoyed it; all he wants to know is whether it hurt in that first moment.
for the sex
i feel great
and i feel great about what i did
you should also feel great about what i did
because i liked it
did it hurt you for that quick moment,
before i did greatness?
Yes, Roger, it hurt like a bitch.
But then it instantly scratched a deep itch.
For you see, on TV,
hymens don’t get to be
Aught less than a momentary glitch.
So we’ll carry on pretending it was hot,
and that you didn’t milk it a lot.
But, psst, that small quake?
Yeah, boy, that was fake.
So keep hunting to plot my G-spot.
does the g
stand for great
like the thing i just did?
No, my dear Rog, wrong again.
You’re not skilled with wee pelvic friend.
But again, in fiction,
this shit’s always a benediction;
God forbid I not bow down and commend.
I know this is a lot of poetry, but it’s going to get serious later so I have to get my verse in while I can. Brianna declares she’s never been this happy in her whole life, and so off she goes to give Roger the thank-you present of a mighty blowie.
When we rejoin them in Afterglow Round II, Brianna has just told Roger about the obituary and is discussing how frustrated she is by not knowing when, exactly, the fire is to happen so that she knows how urgent her journey is or isn’t. Roger agrees that he was tempted tell off the printer for smudging the date when he met him, and Brianna slowly realizes that Roger already knew. I get frustrated with shows whose characters do not explain things in the best possible way, and Roger falls victim to that here: He admits that he chose not to tell Brianna about the fire because he’d only just found out they were alive, and he didn’t want to break her heart, especially since by 1971 they were dead either way. But he does not tell her that he’d had a change of heart, and that it was when he called to tell her the truth that Gail told him about Brianna’s trip to Inverness. Am I interpreting that scene correctly? I did see it as Roger feeling so guilty about the lie of omission that he was calling to deliver the gut punch, and I think him admitting to this — as opposed to, “I wanted to tell you but chose not to, full stop” — would have helped.
Alas, instead, these two dissolve into one of their nasty fights. They have gotten married after spending about six days total in each other’s presence, at least two of which were spent ALSO arguing, so clearly they do not have any clue how to resolve conflict together. Brianna is furious that Roger discussed all this with Inverness Fiona, even though Fiona already knew, and feels like she had both her agency and some time denied her. She’s right. Especially because Roger is like, “She’d been dead for 200 years. What could you do?” and Brianna is like, “UM THIS RIGHT HERE.” Roger tells her they shouldn’t be the arbiters of who lives and dies. “I would never have done that to you Roger. How dare you take that choice away from me,” she spits. And, I’m pleased to say, she takes his argument about wanting to protect her and correctly flips it into, “No, you wanted me to be happy so I’d marry you.” He doesn’t deny that. “Pardon me for wanting you to be my wife,” he says, brattily. “Which, by the way, you are now, so maybe it’s time you listened to me.” Brianna rightly bristles at this sexist bullshit, and then Roger jumps straight to self-pity about how he nearly died following her. She points out he wasn’t supposed to; he sneers, that, yes, he was just supposed to sit around and then get a letter that he’d have read after she was dead, maybe, or just stuck. “Maybe I should just go back,” he spits. Like warring ten year-olds, they’re like, “FINE, GO.” “I WILL.” “GREAT.” “IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?” “MAYBE.”
AND THERE’S MORE. Roger throws Brianna’s last night with Frank in her face, likening her regret over her angry last words to her father to this situation, and accusing her of pushing people away. What? Roger, you’re talking some nonsense shit right now.
i rocked her world
and im so brave
wtf is up with her
opinions are exhausting
“SCREW YOU,” she screams. “I was just a child.” (I mean… you were at least 18 if not 20, and you’re like 22 or 23 now, but okay.) Roger tells her she’s still acting like one, and then there’s more, “OKAY THEN I’M OUT.” “GREAT, GO.” “I AM SURELY GOING RIGHT THIS SECOND.” “NO ONE’S STOPPING YOU.” “FINE THEN.” Roger. ROGER. We had just gotten somewhere. We had just worked out that Long Hair, Short Stubble was your best incarnation. But you remain an embarrassment, and if that means you’re an accurate reflection of the ’70s, well, GOOD FOR YOU, but it’s unpleasant to see that Brianna always comes out the wrong end of these fights: She’s made to feel like a brat, she’s the one who befalls a horrible fate after Roger leaves, and she’s the one who’s going to have to want him back and pretend he didn’t act this way. Dollars to donuts he’ll never see his error and apologize. I wish Claire would come out of the darkness and ACTUALLY clobber him with a frying pan.
Brianna dresses herself as she cries, set to the sad violins of broken virginity. And this is where things get really awful in a sincere way.
On her way back to the pub — she must be staying in one of the rooms above? — Brianna comes upon Stephen Bonnet playing cards with his lads. He is wagering some silver, and as she passes he grabs her skirt and says, “Blow on it my darlin’. Perhaps you’ll change my luck.” She recognizes the ring as Claire’s wedding band from Jamie, and gives him just enough information that he is immediately aware that she’s desperate to get it. Brianna asks if Claire was alive when he took it, although that doesn’t make any sense to me, because Brianna KNOWS Claire is alive because Claire dies in the fire later. (Maybe she thinks… the fire already happened?) Bonnet blithely says she was well when he left, and then casually implies he might’ve gotten frisky with her: “My time with the lady was short… but pleasant,” he says, as his lads chortle. Bonnet skeezily offers to let her return the ring to Claire, pretending to be an absolute model of reasonableness. “You’ll sell it to me?” she asks, naively. “Come now. I never haggle in public,” he winks. “This lot will learn my tricks.” Ed Speelers is truly outstanding in this part. He’s SO CLEARLY EVIL, and yet you can see why a naive person would be taken in by the accent and the over-the-top wit. So, Brianna follows him into a back room — BAD IDEA; apparently the educators at 60s high schools needed to stress this point a bit harder — and of course, when she offers him money, he immediately makes clear that he intends to take it in trade. Sex trade. Horrified, she tries to run, and he slaps her; she falls and tries to claw her way out of the room, and as he pulls her back toward him, he removes her boots and hurls them out the door before he slams it.
We don’t see the rape. It sounds like the showrunners are aware that people are frustrated with the amount of rape in the books, even if it’s supposedly period-accurate, and that they also wanted to balance the effect it has on Brianna with not wanting to be gratuitous (and being unable to erase it from the narrative, given that it’s apparently key to the coming plot)(potential murder, potential pregnancy, etc). And so, rather keep the camera on Brianna and watch her be abused and violated, they make this into a piece about all the nasty shitty enablers who were sitting in that pub listening to her scream and doing absolutely nothing. All their eyes flicker to the door. Many of them exchange knowing, amused looks. One barkeep even takes the strewn boots and gently straightens them up, placing them neatly by the door, as the sounds of violence and helplessness echo throughout the room. I kept wishing Elizabeth or Roger or Fergus or Jamie or ANYONE would happen to walk in and intervene, but they do not. Nobody does. It’s very interesting to wonder how this pre-production conversation might’ve happened, and how this scene might’ve been shot, if it aired several years ago. Because while it’s not that they’re minimizing Brianna’s pain, it comes off like a statement about rape culture and its roots, and the ways people can be rapists without actually committing the rape — all things that have of course always been relevant, but the volume has been turned up on these issues, particularly in 2017 and 2018. Presenting Brianna’s rape this way feels like drawing a direct line between these jackholes and all the people who knew about Harvey, and Les, and all the rest, and did nothing because it was easier. It’s still stomach-churning to watch, but not in a way that risks being torture porn or inadvertently fetishizing the violent visuals. We still get a clear sense of her trauma, but I liked that they found a way to convey the horrors of it that didn’t require us to be in the room.
When it’s over, Brianna is bruised and bloodied and shaky, collecting herself very slowly and tentatively. Bonnet — after of course noting that she’s not a virgin; thanks, asshat — snaps back into his slick, oily demeanor: “I pay for my pleasures. I’m an honest man, for a pirate,” he says, making sure she takes the ring. She speaks not a word to him; she simply walks out, bends slowly to take her boots in the now-empty bar, and walks as if catatonic up the stairs to her room — straight past the bartender who is calmly cleaning up his glassware. Look, I may not buy Brianna and Roger, but Brianna does, and so she went from ultimate joy to ultimate trauma in the course of about two hours. And nobody cared. There is no music; it’s silent, and it’s deadly, and it’s terribly, terribly sad.