Outlander: The Bakra

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world."

An episode full of ghosts, old friends and old enemies, prophecies and utter craziness.

The exposition-heavy opener showed Ian's kidnapping off Silkie Island in "First Wife" and his arrival in Jamaica as a prisoner of the Bakra, who turned out to be our old time traveling friend Geillis doing a scene from True Blood. True goat's blood, anyway. Our favorite husband-murdering witch currently likes to sacrifice teenage boys and used the eighteenth century witch doctor version of sodium pentothal on Ian. And that was all before the credits. Are we all caught up now?

Jamie, Claire and their entourage arrived in eighteenth century Jamaica, where rum drinks with paper umbrellas are not yet a thing – but slavery is. Is there any way they could have shown that slave market scene, all those poor souls whose uncles aren't out looking for them, without it being horribly upsetting? I'm sure Claire knew intellectually what was coming, but knowing it and seeing it are two different things and I wasn't surprised that she completely lost it and attacked the auctioneer with her parasol. And at least eighteenth century Jamie was in complete agreement with Claire about freeing Temeraire as soon as they could.

The swanky reception for the new governor felt like we were suddenly back at Versailles. Masquerading as two innocuous goodlooking couples with a conversation piece in the form of Yi Tien Cho in tow and Temeraire as a spy behind the scenes, Jamie and Claire with newlyweds Fergus and Marsali immediately ran into Archibald Campbell, and note how Claire didn't actually introduce Jamie to him. Those old curly wigs cover a lot of sins as well as red hair.

But that wig didn't keep the new governor from recognizing Jamie, and the shock on Lord John's face was just priceless. So was the huge sapphire he was wearing on his watch fob "to remember our friendship." Tell me another one, Lord John. The tension-laden romantic rival subtext between Claire and Lord John was nearly all unspoken, although Claire did say calmly that she and Jamie were back together and you can't have him. Well, she didn't say that last part, but it was implied.



Right after Jamie saw Lord John across a crowded room, he told Claire, "Perhaps it's because of you coming through the stones – the ghosts that keep coming into our lives, drawn to us the way we are drawn to each other." What else could possibly explain so many coincidences? Crowned by Geillis Duncan Abernathy, also at the ball, sipping champagne and plotting away?

While Geillis did save Claire from the pyre way back when (and herself as well), she is still killing off males left and right and is still obsessed with the rise of a Scottish king. She practically ripped Jamie's sapphire off Lord John's watch fob in order for Margaret Campbell to do a reading... which was that the Scottish king would rise after the death of a child that is two hundred years old on the day of its birth. That has to be Brianna, since she was conceived in 1746 and born in 1948. Fortunately, Geillis doesn't know who Brianna is, even though they once met in 1968.

So Jamie and Claire dashed off to rescue Ian from Geillis's estate, Rose Hall, but didn't get away in time. Because we didn't have quite enough returning guest stars, Captain Leonard turned up to arrest Jamie, leaving Claire behind to find Ian.

But of course, Jamie is a very dear friend of the new governor, now isn't he?

Bits:

— Always thinking, Jamie decided to hide the Artemis in a "wee cove" somewhere so that Captain Leonard won't easily find it.

— Yi Tien Cho and Margaret Campbell connected at the ball, and she saw him as a man, a "rare soul," not a conversation piece. I'm thinking Yi Tien Cho would be a lot better for Margaret than her terrible brother who beats and drugs her.

— Geillis is looking pretty good. The blood baths seem to be working. She is now Mistress Abernathy of Rose Hall. Any relation to Joe Abernathy, Claire's medical partner?



— Dougal MacKenzie was the one that hid the treasure box on Silkie Island. That explained how Geillis knew about it. But why did she wait twenty years to retrieve it?

— Lord John's wife Isobel and Jamie's son Willie will be coming in the summer. Bet we'll see them in season four.

— It's been awhile, but I remember that Marsali brought a trunk of Claire's old clothes from Paris along when she boarded the ship. Those clothes just came in handy.

Quotes:

Jamie: "Do I look like a Scottish provocateur?"
Marsali: "No. You look like a dandy."
Fergus: "No, ma cherie. He looks like a Frenchman."
Willoughby: "The same thing."

Jamie: "Look at you. You could be back at Versailles."
Claire: "That was a very long time ago."
No, it wasn't! It was just last season!

Jamie: "When does it end? The slave trade?"
Claire: "Not for another seventy years in the British Empire, and a hundred in America."

Claire: (looking at Fergus and Marsali) "Do you remember when we were like that, so obvious in public?"
Jamie: "Aye. Couldn't keep your hands off me. 'Course, you were holding on from the back of a horse for most of the time, so it couldn't be helped."

Geillis: "They let me hold him, and he was as warm as his father's balls."
Geez, Geillis.

Claire: "You were there?"
Geillis: "Aye. Wouldn't have missed it. No one gets to witness their own funeral, let alone their own execution."

Lord John: (re: Geillis) "She's a touch strange, isn't she?"
Claire: "You have no idea."

Archibald Campbell: "So then, a new king will rise in Scotland upon the death of a child that is two hundred years old on the day of its birth."
Geillis: "A two hundred year old baby? Do you think I'm an idiot? I brought you here to tell me when it will happen, and instead you give me the bloody case of Benjamin Button."

I almost feel like I have to apologize for enjoying this episode, but I did. Three out of four twentieth century movie and book references,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

4 comments:

ChrisB said...

You know those dreams where everyone you know is in the same place interacting with each other? You wake up shaking your head and wondering what the hell you are meant to take from it all? I had a similar reaction to this episode. Could we possibly have fit in any more secondary characters?

But, I enjoyed this episode a lot as well. Loved the return of Geillis in the blood bath. Watching Ian being both repulsed and turned on made me smile.

All acting chops, however, to David Berry who plays Lord John. The look on his face when he is introduced to Claire is one thing, but what was heartbreaking was when he takes Jamie and Claire to his office. Without being completely aware of what he is doing, he moves to hug Jamie, but catches himself just in time. Then, all Jamie wants to talk about is Willie which is just another twist of the knife. All of this pain and loss is conveyed through Berry's eyes and micro expressions. Astonishing acting.

magritte said...

Honestly, I found tthis the best episode of season 3. It was so full of surprises. I just about flipped when I heard Geillis' voice and saw her emerge from the blood bath--what an entrance! And somehow, the grand reunion of so many characters worked for me, not only because I love this big grand balls, like the Versailles episodes in season 2. For the past three seasons, Claire and Jamie have been crossing and recrossing the paths of Geillis, Margaret, Jack Randall, the Duke of Sandringham, John Gray etc., and in earlier episodes, it just seemed like an outrageous level of coincidence. But for these characters to come together in the other hemisphere, and for the three sapphires to come together as well implies supernatural predestination and that changes my whole sense of the story.

To me the season has seemed a bit rudderless. The first half was a run through of Claire's (rather dull) life with Frank and Jamie's (rather traumatic interim), then no sooner had Claire & Jamie been reunited than they go off on this search for Young Ian. What seemed like a clunky and absurdly contrived series of plot devices now appears to be the machinations of fate. It makes the whole season work better for me.

On a side note, the name of the Portuguese vessel that kidnapped Young Ian sounded like it might by etymologically related to the spanish bruja (witch).

Josie Kafka said...

WTF?!

I've only watched 3 minutes of this episode and my jaw has already hit the floor. Geillis. Bathing in blood.

Wow.

You were right, Billie, in your review of the previous episode. There's no way to pigeon-hole this show.

No. Way. At. All.

Josie Kafka said...

Okay, so it was goat's blood. That's better, I suppose, although the priest from the previous episode would be horrified.

At least now we know what Outlander isn't showing: that Claire and Jamie regularly bathe in goat's blood.

It's the only explanation for how they, like Geillis, do not look 20 years older than they did in Season Three. I'm glad they cut those scenes, though I'm sure they're on the bonus features.