This episode is a curiosity, as if it felt it HAD to deal with this one tangent in the story, and made half-assed attempts to layer in other beats around it. The effect is of another hour that stops all momentum in its tracks.

We open with Claire tending to her mold, and trying to explain to Marsali how she knows any of this without actually saying she’s a time-traveler. Honestly, though, Marsali once thought Claire was a witch, so I feel like she might actually get it if Claire tells her she used to live in the 1970s and then popped through some magical stones. She’s open to it, is what I’m saying. As it is, Claire attributes all of it half-truthfully to Boston, and an amused and skeptical Marsali notes, “They seem to have all sorts of newfangled ideas there.” Claire’s voice-over pops up — always unnecessary, and always sleepy; Caitriona has so many strengths and this is not one of them — to remind us all that she is tempting fate, willing the future to hurry up, “daring history to try and stop me.” This is all so muddled. She’s challenging both the future and history at once? It sounds exhausting. At this point, I just want Outlander to become about all these people settling in a clearing around the U.S. stones and zipping back and forth at will, on grocery runs, to the drugstore, to have flings with sexy clean showered people from the 1970s… “Be right back; gotta pick Jemmy up from school and then bring him back in time for the militia meeting.”

Jamie rides home at dawn, sadly not in a metaphorical wang-bang kind of way. He merely stares at Claire’s sleeping body and then does a sign of the cross and thanks the Lord, the sound of which wakes her up. There is a lot of gazing and urgent whispering, as he explains that — OOPS — all that Fiery Cross showmanship has backfired:

So Claire, it turns out I’m a prat
Once again, my big plan has gone splat.
Because I thumped my chest
And said, “Fight at my behest,”
Now they’re all going to die in combat.

Lieutenant Knox wants him to raise a militia, and he knows Jamie has one at his disposal, so basically all these people he HOPED would back him during the actual Revolution are now going to get slaughtered by a bunch of angry Scots who might have a legitimate gripe (if a problematic way of expressing it). Claire insists she has to come along because he’ll need a healer, on account of how the regulators will probably disembowel everyone and at the very least she could sew some people’s intestines back where they belong. Tidiness, you know.

Jamie grabs Fergus and tells him to take dictation for an ad to post in town. First Claire is inventing penicillin early, and now Jamie is inventing Craigslist. WHAT’S NEXT? Tinder? Also, why is this only Fergus’s third line all season? I guess this show realizes we like Fergus but hasn’t thought of anything for him to DO yet, so the job of “run inside Claire’s office and grab some scrap” goes to the adorable Cesar Domboy just so we can LOOK at him. I approve. But they make a big point of him doing this while Claire’s back is turned, and him taking a piece of paper that has scribbles on one side, so… are we to assume he took an IMPORTANT piece of paper, which she won’t notice is gone? The answer is: I DON’T KNOW because, as I said, this week grinds to a complete halt in a moment.

Fergus’s next job is Bring Jamie a Letter He Will Tuck In His Pocket Ominously. Mission accomplished; he’s done for the day. Claire tells Marsali to keep practicing her stitching, using pig flesh, and to watch the mold under the microscope to see if it matches the drawings Claire left her. One of which Fergus may have used. As Claire looks around her, she muses to Brianna that the vibe reminds her of when she bid Frank adieu at the train station when the war started. Brianna is like, “Oh, pish, there isn’t going to be a war.” Which is all very well and good if she knows this from existing history, but now there are meddlers afoot, so WHO KNOWS.

Also, Dogface is there.

well yes hi
off i go to war
i have a few things to–

Sorry, we’re busy. After a bit of time on the road, Team Fraser sets up camp in the forest for the night, and Jamie pulls over Claire to tell her that Mystery Letter is from John Grey, and it whispered sweet nothings confirming that Stephen Bonnet walks among the living in Wilmington. Neither thinks Brianna is aware, but both worry Bonnet will have revenge on his mind.

Also, Dogface practices riding his horse.

do you see
how i am not bad anymore
watch as i–

Nope, no time, gotta press on to the giant plot rock that’s going to drop from the sky onto our episode. Martin, he of the impressive eyebrows who is too cute to survive much longer in this tertiary role, drags over a ragamuffin by the scruff of his neck who has stolen some provisions. Claire recognizes him as Josiah, the hunter boy who made Lizzie drool a lake. EXCEPT: It’s not, because Jamie has found actual Josiah. Turns out he’s got an identical twin named Keziah, and if you tell Lizzie, the vapors WILL cause her to expire on the spot with a loud wheeze.

The exposition: Both boys were indentured to a Mr. Beardsley from a young age — their parents and sisters died on the boat en route to America — and have been woefully mistreated there. Josiah escaped and promised to come back for Kez once he was settled, and he did, but Kez is so starving that he couldn’t resist dipping into Fraser stash. I’m unclear whether Josiah was traveling with them as part of this idiot militia, and Kez was just stalking along with him, or what. The point is: Jamie wants to buy them — and then free them — so he and Claire stomp off to Beardsley Manor to do just that. But first, he tells Roger to take Team Fraser to Brownsville and fill his book with names of volunteers.

at last
my time to shi–

Thanks, Dogface, but we’re moving along. Jamie and Claire arrive at the ramshackle home of the Beardsleys, where Mrs. Beardsley, a young redhead, gruffly shrugs that her husband is dead and they can take the boys and she doesn’t care, and slams the door in their faces. Claire is like, “Great, awesome, let’s go, this place SUCKS,” but Jamie is afraid she’ll change her mind. And, what, come after them, despite not knowing who he is or where he lives, and having no horse or buggy? What’s she going to do, self-power a wheelbarrow so she can track his scent and get back what’s hers?

But, we still have half an hour to go here, so Jamie doubles back and insists upon Mrs. B finding the papers. This time, she lets them in without protest, which is… inconsistent? Jamie leaves his rifle by the door, a move that I am astonished did not backfire on him in multiple ways, and he and Claire trudge into the grim and grimy house. There are bizarre tally marks carved into the doorframe, goats milling around pointlessly, and an obvious stench, as both Claire and Jamie cover their mouths. As they stand in the reeking dining room, I kept waiting for Nagini to burst out of her body and attack. She doesn’t, but we’ll call the woman Bathilda anyway. Bathilda is rummaging around half-heartedly for the boys’ papers while Jamie goes… I don’t even know… and that’s when Claire notices something dripping from above and a curious lump in the ceiling. Claire really should have brought her 1970s sensibilities to this. SURELY she has seen a horror movie. OBVIOUSLY this woman was hiding something, and from the smell, OBVIOUSLY it was the rotting body of her husband. Can’t you summon the future to catch up with you in these situations, Claire?

Sure enough, upstairs, Mr. Bathilda Bagshot is lying in his own filth, his desiccated body bleeding and rank, but not yet lifeless. He’s only MOSTLY dead, which, as any trained medical professional can tell you, means slightly alive. Claire has never met a project she didn’t want to Miracle Max the SHIT out of, so she drags the dude downstairs and glares at Bathilda in judgment while laying out the Crypt Keeper on the dining table. Here is where we’re treated to a gag-worthy shot of maggots suckling on his open sores, which Claire says is a blessing because it’s kept them clean. Well. Thanks. I am NOT coming to supper at your house, Bathilda. Godric’s Hollow is the WORST and my Yelp review will read accordingly.

Unfriendly locals, reeks of human remains, maggots, interior goats. Nice native foliage. One star. Would return if dying.

Apparently Bathilda has been torturing the Crypt Keeper to near-death, then feeding him so he can feel the agony for a while before doing it again. Claire pieces together that he had a stroke — an “apoplexy,” in the parlance of this time — and Bathilda confirms that she couldn’t move him but neither did she want to SAVE him, so she just left him up there and then had her whole “die slowly in a pile of rot” idea. Which was not a bad plan, as plans go — Jamie should take notes — because no one would have known, had the boys not escaped and found a benevolent landlord. The only real flaw is having to live in a place that smells like when the fridge breaks at your butcher shop, and I guess also the torture/killing part. Claire pulls Jamie aside and starts yammering about how to save his life, do surgery, cut off a charred and infected and infested limb. etc. Jamie privately wonders if Claire has a hero complex, and Bathilda takes matters into her own hands and tries to choke the sunken pile of bones that was once her husband. Jamie stops her, and in the ensuing tussle, Bathilda hits the wall and a gush of water comes out from between her legs. BAIRN AHOY.

Meanwhile, Roger is trying to convince a truculent woman that she should donate her children to the militia. “Poor men must bleed for a rich man’s gold. And always will,” she sneers. Roger promises them pay, and swears he’ll bring her children home safely, which is the stupidest and worst bargain you can ever make — it’s like when an intern on Grey’s Anatomy tells someone their sick relative absolutely for sure will survive — and the woman smells that rat, but lends out her children anyway.

ive done it jamie
ive helped
ive got you two whole human people 
ive stepped into the light
ive promised them life
will you love me like a son now
ive done it now jamie
ive erred
ive promised them life
i should have stayed out of the light
now you will never–

Sit down, Dogface, we’re done with you for today. Back in Godric’s Hollow, Bathilda delivers her baby on the floor, and as Jamie cuddles it, he asks Claire to come see. She peers at the child and murmurs, “It would appear the baby’s father is black.” Bathilda screeches with joy and shouts, “She isn’t his. You hear that, you old bastard? She isn’t yours.” Then, we get a close-up shot of the dude’s dying, twitching eyeballs and then we are inside his head, seeing a blurry Jamie, hearing her voice echoing strangely. Seriously, did the director of this episode secretly wish to be a horror auteur?

The exposition fairy plugs her nose and perches in Bathilda’s cottage so that we can learn she is the FIFTH Mrs. Crypt Keeper, after he killed the others in succession when they failed to give him a child. Claire promises that they will carry his carcass to town — with WHAT explanation for his condition, or how you found him, Claire?!? — so that Bathilda can live in this house with her baby and be free and happy. Bathilda does not seem that hot for this place, especially now that the ceiling has been bled through and she’s been letting goats chill out all over it. I mean, it’s a fixer-upper, but Claire can’t bring HGTV back in time with her because it hadn’t been invented yet in her era. Claire’s big solution to this empty, wounded woman’s issues is, “Oh, but you’re a MOTHER now,” and Bathilda snorts, “Having a baby doesn’t make me a mother any more than sleeping in a stable makes someone a horse.”

Later, Claire wonders to Jamie, “What kind of world is this to bring a baby into?” Jamie replies, “The only world.” (Also, it’s a world you are choosing to stay in, Claire, so…) Claire sighs that no, it isn’t, and that she’d actually very much like Roger and Brianna to take Jemmy and hustle back to their own time, where it’s safer and where there is medicine and where people can die from drunk driving (my point being, while there are practical advantages, Claire IS somewhat romanticizing the general safety of the world). But Jamie doesn’t want them to be without their own flesh and blood. Jamie is going to lose that battle.

Then, GUESS WHAT: Claire and Jamie fall asleep. They have a rifle and a pistol between them for the stealing, and are in a stranger’s house, but whatever, sure, nobody stand guard. They wake up to the sounds of the baby girl crying, and when Claire picks her up, the papers for Josiah and Keziah are underneath her and Bathilda is nowhere to be seen. Of course not. Once Nagini leaves, her body disintegrates. Everyone knows that. Claire realizes that Bathilda is never coming back, and cuddles the baby, who is — it must be said — DELICIOUS.

Jamie, meanwhile, has seen that it is stupid madness to bring this husk of a man to town for medical procedures that probably won’t do anything for him. He leans in and asks the Crypt Keeper to blink once if he wants to die now. He does. Then Jamie says, well, actually, maybe sending a soul to hell would not be fun, so could the Crypt Keeper just blink once to confirm that he’ll pray for forgiveness? The Crypt Keeper is like, “OMG yes here I blinked just do it already.” So Jamie cocks the pistol and shoots him. Just like that. On the dining table. This place is going to smell even worse, NOBODY is going to clean that up, and then what? Wolves, I guess. Carnivorous wolves.

Jamie is gloomy, though, and not because he is concerned about how to Lysol someone’s brains out of a wood floor. It turns out his father died of apoplexy, and he never thought to ask Jenny if he suffered first. “She would have told you,” Claire avers. Jamie isn’t so sure, and then makes Claire promise to put a bullet in his brain if he should ever suffer the same fate of being trapped in a useless body. Claire nods, and we end the episode on THAT super cheerful note. At least the baby remains adorable, but… why did we come here, again, at the expense of the other characters? Like the resurgent John Quincy Myers, whose return was so brief that I forgot it happened until just now? Or Brianna and Marsali, and Fergus, and…

i just
it would be cool to spend more time with me
i have so much to–

Never mind.

Tags: Outlander