All righty, we have two episodes of Outlander to get through, for which I apologize. I don’t even know if anyone cares, but there’s a pandemic, so I’m pressing forward. Also, one of these episodes involves a PLAGUE of sorts. Click here to skip episode 5, if you need or want to, and go straight to 6.
So, first, Episode 5: “Perpetual Adoration.” The framing device of this episode is Future Claire, most likely because the makeup department had an overabundance of heavy eyeliner and needed to burn through it. They smoke up her peepers like a Dogface burning shit in a locust swarm. Wait, sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Claire’s voice-over drones on quasi-poetically about how time is a powerful master, and God is a spider, and a pluck of the web vibrates through time, and you can’t stand against time, TIME, so much time, and then suddenly memory is the devil. That doesn’t make sense because memory is what’s gotten Claire this far — she basically INVENTED PENICILLIN based only on remembering what she’d read about it — but it all builds to this: Claire, in recalling a Scottish man she lost to a rare penicillin allergy, realizes that his death pushed her to take Brianna to England, which is where she learned of Reverend Wakefield’s death, which is what led her to Jamie. We sat through a lot of droning just to get to a conclusion that amounts to, “Hey, so this chain of events happened.”
One good thing does come in this episode: Claire, as I said, finally creates penicillin, and her use of the word “Eureka” both startles and fascinates Marsali, who is like, “Um, okay, EUREKA, sure, Witch Doctor,” but is very cute about it.
Less cute: Roger and Brianna lying in bed, lightly aglow with the marginal satisfaction of average nooky.
was i good?
i mean obvs i am asking for you
because your fun is important
and you had fun then it means i was good
for real was i good
dont think too long
or think longer
whatever it takes for a good yelp review
for the dogface experience
For all my complaints that Roger never asked how it was for her after he claimed her virginity, him lying here now and begging her for compliments is even more excruciating. He then slides straight into self-pity again about how lame Jamie thinks he is, and Brianna tries to tell him that perhaps one reason Jamie sent him back is that Roger is a good communicator. Brianna is apparently a stand-up comedian now, and the idea that Roger is good at handling people is her best joke.
yes i am
what about that time i… hmm
or that thing where i… nope
oh how about… nah
there was that day i called you a… whoops
just recently my big talky plan got one of our men tied up in a… dang
dogface: a life
is a silent film
This turns into Roger musing that universities are springing up already — “Harvard, Mackenzie University…” Brianna giggles that there is no Mackenzie University, and Roger is all, “Ha ha, YET.” Come to Mackenzie University to learn how to grow hair! And beg for compliments! Nil Nisi Mediocritate! Then Brianna sits up and exclaims that this might be a great idea. She could teach math! Because I guess THAT is her area of expertise?!? This show has never made clear what her specialties are and thus instead it has cast her as an artist AND a huntress AND a history buff AND a dabbler in science AND totally chill with living in Olden Times AND I guess into math and everything. And then, right when we think perhaps Roger and Brianna might be embarking on an interest of their own:
imma go militia
bc im obsessed with your da(d)
also college is only fun
if im the smart one
dogface: a life
is a one man show
Meanwhile, in Hillsborough, Jamie meets up with Lt. Knox and learns that Governor Tryon is pardoning all the Regulators — except for Murtagh, of course, who will still be hung in public as an example. (Murtagh: Hung, In Public, is the title of the tawdry Young Murtagh Chronicles that we all need.) Knox will continue the hunt for my beloved, while Jamie and his dudes can go home. I’ve seen both these episodes, so I’m not going to spend too much space griping about having to sit through all this militia-ing only to have it fall apart. Because it doesn’t in the end. The net effect here is, Jamie is required to throw a knife at a WANTED poster of Murtagh and he deliberately misses. IT’S A METAPHOR!
Knox tells him that he found out Murtagh came over from Ardsmuir, and he’s getting the prison roster sent over so he can figure out which of his fellow inmates might be harboring the old rabble-rouser. I have to be honest: I thought they already knew Jamie and Murtagh were close (I mean, they publicly hung out, and Murtagh came to Fraser’s Ridge all the time, and…). I thought that was part of Tryon’s plan all along, and that he was torturing Jamie with requiring him to make the terrible choice between hunting down down his friend and keeping his land and family. I also thought that was why Tryon was so suspicious of Jamie’s inability to find Murtagh before. But… apparently not.
Claire, meanwhile, is doing tonsil surgery on Kezzie, which looks exactly as fun as you imagine. The good news: He’s not allergic to penicillin, and she scrapes out those tonsils and cauterizes the tissue in about 45 seconds flat. Marsali watches with interest, and Lizzie, with something akin to aroused horror. They are going to do Josiah next. And… that’s that, I guess? Or do we have a raging throat infection coming?
Roger, meanwhile, knocks over a box and stumbles upon something — a phrase that could also probably describe his approach in the bedroom in some ways. He uncovers the gem that Stephen Bonnet gave Brianna in the prison, and recognizes it from an old poker game on Bonnet’s ship. Roger is furious and confronts Brianna. Apparently she told him that she went to watch Bonnet hang that day, but was unaware she’d spoken to him. She explains she only kept the gemstone because it’s their “ticket home,” which is an interesting way to have her talk about it, given that SHE is not the one who’s ever expressed any desire to go back to the seventies. Roger smells a rat because he knows Stephen Bonnet wouldn’t give up a token of wealth idly, so Brianna admits she told him that the baby is his, because he was about to die and she thought he might be comforted to know he was leaving a piece of himself behind. A piece of his nasty, rotting self. She also points out that she was messed up and sad, given that Roger was at that point still owned by a native tribe, and “they were just words.” Roger sneers, “WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES,” which is a totally meaningless objection since he doesn’t even know yet Bonnet is still alive. Also, she is a rape survivor, and you don’t get to use YOUR words to tell her how to process HER trauma, Dogface.
And sure enough, the whole reason Roger is having a snit fit is ME ME ME ME ME: He’s upset because maybe it means Brianna believes the baby IS Bonnet’s and not Roger’s.
do you open your mouth
it never works
so stop it
before she chops us off
and I guess a) it actually mattered to him if Brianna made a mental decision about its paternity, and b) he totally forgot that SHE ALREADY SAID Roger didn’t Mackenzie all up in her Randall that night and so biology suggests him being the father is the most remote possibility. Bri is like, “Uh, how can I ever really know?!?” Roger replies, “YOU TOLD HIM SO. You’ve never said as much to ME.” Oh my God, Roger. Grow up. Stonily, she points out that she didn’t think she needed to make those kinds of assurances with him, and Roger stomps out in a tizzy when she can’t make them now.
you dont understand
because you are not me
what is the pain of rape
compared with when people dont tell you nice things
there is no pain
like sad man pain
no one has ever suffered like poor dogface
Roger goes out hunting, which is a great way for an inept person to work through childish drama, and nearly shoots Claire. She basically tells him that she never once regretted the relationship Brianna built with Frank by thinking he was her father, which is nice for her, but I feel like it’s Brianna’s choice to absolve Claire of that lie? “Sometimes the truth really does hurt,” Claire concludes, and this pushes Roger back to apologize to Brianna for being a total Roger about everything. This is when she tells him Bonnet is still alive, and that an Irishman was sniffing around Jemmy in town. Roger announces that they will leave as soon as Jemmy is better and they’re sure he can go through the stones. Pray tell, what is the test for stone safety? If Dogface can go through, surely any old buzzard can.
Knox and Jamie have one last game of chess, as Knox beams that he’d have been honored and delighted to fight alongside Jamie. He loves Jamie, and Jamie REALLY loves to woo redcoats with drinking and chess. It’s how he made John Grey love him, too. Anyway, right then, Knox takes delivery of the Ardsmuir roster and Jamie confesses that his name is on it. Knox is like, “Ha ha, yes, James Fraser is a common name in Scotland,” and Jamie’s like, “But there is only ONE of Broch Tuarach,” and adds that Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser is his godfather. Knox is then smart enough to realize that Jamie has been responsible for every wrong turn their journey has taken, and denounces him as a treasonous rascal: “What kind of deceitful devil wears the guise of honor?” Jamie says he’s taken his share of licks, with the scars to prove it, but won’t stand by and watch Murtagh cut down simply for trying to protect people whom no one else will. Knox then makes the fatal mistake of announcing to Jamie that he’s doing to call for his arrest, right now, just as soon as he makes it across the room and to the door, which he will then open, as a means to having Jamie arrested, and he’s almost there, just turning his back on Jamie now, almost to the –
Who’ll crush your trifling windpipe
In his chiseled tight headlock?
It’s not just any James Fraser;
It’s the Killer of Broch Tuarach.
Kaboom. Jamie pounces on him and successfully suffocates his former semi-friend. He then offers up a meager apology for not affording Knox a soldier’s death — I mean, you could have said that while his ears still worked? — and casually arranges the room to make it look like Knox left his flue closed and accidentally smoked himself to death. Then, Jamie burns the Ardsmuir rolls right there in Knox’s fireplace. I would have pocketed them and burned them somewhere else entirely so that I could be sure they were reduced to ash, leaving no scraps for anyone to find. I guess Jamie hasn’t seen the Ian McKellen/Jane Seymour Scarlet Pimpernel where improperly burnt notes get fished from the fire. People are NOSY, Jamie. They POKE. Jamie then escapes through the window and hides in the shadows as the men smell the smoke and pull a dead Knox out of the door. Fergus appears and points out that it’s Knox who has perished, and Jamie’s like, “Eh, whatever, let’s go.”
As usual, Jamie rides up to Fraser’s Ridge and then pauses to survey all that he has wrested from the Crown and then murdered to protect. He deems it satisfactory! Murder is acceptable! But don’t worry! He killed a dude — which he doesn’t mention, because whatever, add him to the pile — but he saved a kitten and brought it home for Claire, so everything karmically is going to be FINE.
Episode 6: “Better to Marry Than Burn”
I will be very curious to hear from book readers about Jocasta’s backstory. When she was mentioned earlier in the show, her many marriages to a set of brothers was presented sort of jokingly and inconsequentially, and as if they’d all died ignominious deaths; now we get a sadder story from her first marriage, and I wonder how much of this is from Diana Gabaldon, and how much is a creation of the show to enable Jocasta’s emotional confrontation here with Murtagh (who, in Book World, stayed dead and never romanced her, meaning that conversation was never needed).
ANYHOO: We open the hour with younger Auntie Jo traveling by carriage with her husband and 16-year old daughter. They’re stopped and searched by redcoats, and just when they’re about to get along on their way, the daughter trips on a steaming divot and it is not as cute as in Pretty Woman. When a redcoat bends down to help her, he spies a chest hidden so poorly that it’s a marvel none of them noticed it before. It’d be like if you were hunting for a stuffed animal in your room but neglected to look under the bed. A gun battle ensues, and the redcoats die… but so does Jocasta’s daughter, and they take off into the mists while she wails, leaving her dead child behind. Why not take her body and bury it somewhere? It’s not PLEASANT, but… well, whatever. I’m the person who doesn’t understand why Brianna was so easily able to adapt to menstruation without modern convenience, so far be it from me to wonder why anyone doesn’t want to go all Weekend at Bernie’s with their child.
Cut to: Jocasta is about to marry Duncan Innes, a very nice elderly man for whom she neither burns nor yearns. He presents her with a scented pillow bearing the Mackenzie motto and tries to put together some pretty words about unions and rivers and Jocasta is not interested. Ulysses, that velvet-voiced dream, interrupts to tell her that Jamie has arrived to firm up her succession plan for River Run, and she dismisses Innes from her business. This poor dude. Jocasta seems to think she needs the peace and protection of a man in These Changing Times or whatever, but this guy is REALLY old and I feel like he could barely fight off a head cold. I think the show may be glossing over some of the reasons she’d find this match necessary and sensible, as opposed to being a feisty old independent broad.
Jamie has grabbed Mr. Forbes — aka Pippin, last seen in the scene where Stephen Bonnet was betting on ladyfights and cutting a dude’s face off — and they witness Auntie Jo making Jemmy the heir of River Run. Later, Jamie gazes mournfully upon the revelers and pouts, “It should have been Murtagh. Instead, here I am rubbing shoulders with the very souls who’d see him dead.” This is true, but also, Murtagh has been breaking all their laws and tarring and feathering them? I thought the show was building toward Jamie’s frustration with Murtagh’s refusal to lie low and his brutal tactics — I am very frustrated by them; I would like to sit him down and have a talk — but it seems to have abandoned that feeling.
Jamie, John Grey, and Claire then have to go socialize. First stop is Tryon, whom we learn might be leaving to take a governorship in New York. Jamie mentions his pardoning of the Hillsborough regulators, but Tryon laughs and reveals that was all a sham — the pardons were a false comfort because of the passage of the Riot Act, which bans gatherings of more than ten men (this wedding apparently excepted) because “if men cannot gather, then they cannot conspire.” Just wait until they get Zoom, sir. Later in the hour, Tryon tells Jamie that blah blah blah I seriously cannot keep track of the whipsawing of the militia/regulators stuff, but I THINK the pardon lure didn’t work and so they’re back to having a war with the regulators after all. The militia is BACK ON, after being off, and I find all this process ever so tedious.
Tyron’s wife is a big ol’ sly gossip — I might love her? — and takes Claire off to whisper barbed somethings into her ear, particularly about Philip Wylie. We met him in this Season 4 dinner scene; I remember nothing about him at all except his pretensions, and he’s even worse now, powdered up to the heavens because he’s spent a bunch of time in France. Mrs. Tryon whispers that he’s a gambler: “I find it very beguiling watching men gamble away their fortunes,” she says, drily, noting that he’s become a rake and a dandy. Wylie is basically our comic relief segment. He minces around ponderously and sets his wig for Claire. She tries to avoid him — via a brief detour eavesdropping on some women discussing one Dr. Rawlings’s teachings about avoiding getting pregnant — but he is slithery and he is horny and a total buffoon, and he eventually backs Claire into a corner and brags up his connections in Wilmington who can procure for her anything she desires. Claire twigs to something he’s saying and plays along, flirting a little, engaging in conversation about her two wedding rings — which he eyes covetously — and getting him to admit that Stephen Bonnet is his man. I’m going to skip a lot of the boring details: This ends with him pawing at Claire in the stables and her shoving him away so hard that he lands in a pile of shit, right as Jamie enters. As Wylie staggers off, all wounded pride and screeching curse words and having made an enemy of Jamie, Claire angrily tells Jamie that she was close to getting them in the same room as Bonnet. Jamie The World’s Worst Planner decides to fix this. How? He skips in and tells Wylie they should settle this whole issue at the whist table. Somehow this turns into, if he wins, he gets Wylie’s horse, and if he loses, Wylie gets Claire’s gold wedding ring — the one from Frank. When Claire hears this, she is incandescent and rips off Jamie’s ring, telling him that if he loses then he might as well take them both. She is pretty sure none of this is about wanting to avenge Brianna and that it has everything to do with dumb macho pride. Jamie is, in many ways, the human embodiment of dumb macho pride, so she’s correct there.
Their story ends with Jamie drunkenly finding Claire in the stables — why is she spending so much time petting Wylie’s prize horse? — and telling her that he won the whist game. She is super unimpressed, still, and they have a sneering fight about, yes, dumb macho pride and white male rage, until he tries to put her in her place by reminding her she’s “still just a woman,” and she slaps him clean across the face. This is how you know they’re about to have sex. Because Jamie never seems to suffer the consequences of his sexism. Remember when he spanked her? They had rage sex after that, too. Here, they poke at each other and huff and puff and circle each other and then Jamie raises his eyebrows and Claire gets super turned on, so Jamie throws her up against the wall and orders, “Watch me as I take you,” or something equally cringey. And she does. And so do we, in one agonizingly awkward and unappealing sex scene. For a show that has a reputation for being good at this, Outlander is so BAD AT THIS sometimes. Poor Caitriona Balfe has to act really excited about a) being heaved up against a wall while her legs are wrapped around Jamie, and b) craning her neck so she can watch his member at work. It’s also a terrible power play and I wish she’d walked away from the whole thing and left his balls blue as the Scottish flag. Instead, they cuddle afterward while she nurses a bruised back, and she forgives him of everything, and Jamie tells her — I think — that Wylie gets to keep the horse in exchange for arranging a meeting between Bonnet and a Mr. Alexander Malcolm, purveyor of fine whiskey. I just feel like this is, as usual, a terrible plan full of holes. Jamie also admits to wanting to kill Bonnet just so he can see it done, and know it to be final, and Claire is like, “… Yeah, that’s fine with me actually.” Then she says, for the benefit of the gods, that Stephen Bonnet will never take anything from them again. Narrator: He almost definitely will.
Indeed: Later, Forbes appears with Bonnet, clearly in Bonnet’s confidence now. He tells Stephen that Jocasta Innes has just made Bonnet’s child the sole heir of River Run, and Bonnet licks his chops.
MEANWHILE: Roger and Brianna skip the wedding because Jemmy has a cold. And this, naturally, is when a plague of locusts sweeps the area. Everyone at Fraser’s Ridge is like, “Well, better burn the fields, then,” and Roger points out that if the wind changes it’ll reduce all their houses to ash. But Dogface doesn’t have any better ideas, so he just stands around and Dogfaces for a while, until the sight of a smoking campfire CONVENIENTLY reminds him of some story his dad told him about locusts in the American West being smoked out before they could land. So he and Brianna get everyone to make, essentially, flaming buckets of poo, or something, which they can use to make smoke pyramids? And just in the nick of time: Right as the smoke is pluming, the plague arrives, and flies right by without bothering anyone. Everyone celebrates that Roger is not as stupid as previously believed.
you will not believe it
i have triumphed
i am not a piece of shit
i merely know how to use one
AND THEN FINALLY: Murtagh. Yes, Murtagh.
There once was a wily old cad
Whose timing her makes me SO MAD.
You can’t go regulate
And then show up this late
And expect Auntie Jo to be GLAD.
The last time we saw him, he and Jocasta were basking in the afterglow, and he refused to beg her not to marry Duncan Innes. Imagine her surprise, then, when Ulysses lets him into her private quarters and he promptly begs her not to marry Duncan Innes. She cannot believe his crappy man timing, and may I say: AMEN, JOCASTA. MURTAGH FITZGIBBONS, YOU HAD HOW LONG TO COME TO THIS CONCLUSION? He sheepishly says he didn’t think she’s accept the man, which also goes to show that while he has eyes HE CANNOT TRULY SEE. He’d like Jocasta to wait for him. Unfortunately, he’s still a wanted man, and Murtagh’s only response to that impracticality is, “Well, for now.” But the two of them cannot resist making out heavily, until Jocasta pushes him away and tells him that Duncan Innes is the right partner for her because his only cause in life is loving her. She tells him the story of her lost child: It seems she didn’t know her husband had stolen that Stuart gold, and when they left their child’s corpse by the side of that road, it was to settle in River Run. “And now I sit in my palace made from the gold that took her from me,” she sniffles, confessing that she thinks the fire that took her sight was karmic punishment.
Then she levels him with: “Hector believed in the cause and like you he believed he could change the world, and I lost everything because of it.” Murtagh’s best answer is, “I’m not Hector,” and then promises not to risk her happiness, which is completely unrealistic because HE IS STILL A WANTED MAN and he also has no intention of not regulating. As Warren G can tell you, it’s hard to give up. Jocasta tells our shared beloved that she promised herself she’d never give her heart to another man who’d so easily give his life for something else, and Murtagh tells her that he will always love her and that he wishes he’d had the courage to say it sooner. After he leaves, Jocasta breaks down into heaving sobs. Oh, Murtagh, why do you have to be so beautiful and so cruel and so foxy and so DAFT? Couldn’t you have given up tarring and feathering, and lived as her toy boy in a shed for the rest of your life? WOULD THAT BE SO HARD? PUN INTENDED I GUESS?!?
Next week’s episode is called “The Ballad of Roger Mac.” Don’t bite my titles, Outlander!