Outlander: Down the Rabbit Hole

Jamie and Claire were not in this episode. That could actually serve as an eight-word mini-review.

Brianna arrived in the eighteenth century and almost immediately discovered that a walking tour of Scotland in winter mightn't have been the best of ideas. What if she had broken that ankle instead of spraining it? She probably would have died of exposure. (And now I'm remembering Claire wandering about on that Caribbean island nearly dying of thirst.)

If Brianna hadn't been found unconscious on the road and taken in by the kindly, generous Laoghaire... really? I kept thinking, of all the gin joints. Fate keeps throwing these characters together.

It was almost touching how sweet and rational Laoghaire could be, right up until she found out who that strange redhead really was. Laoghaire's face when Brianna said her mother was Claire Fraser was just priceless. Gold acting stars for Nell Hudson, who must find it challenging to play such a despised character. Thinking quickly before spilling her hand, Laoghaire did her level best to verbally poison Brianna against Jamie, telling her that Jamie had rejected Claire because she was pregnant, a scene that felt particularly menacing since Laoghaire was holding a knife at the time. And then Laoghaire topped it off by threatening to have Brianna charged with witchcraft, as Claire had been, a move that was thankfully foiled by little Joanie.

Much of the fun of this episode was "if only they knew." Especially Brianna and Joanie, who looked disturbingly like sisters, talking about their father and stepfather without realizing they were both discussing Jamie. I also liked the parallel scenes where adult Brianna overheard Laoghaire and Ian arguing, layered with flashbacks of young Brianna overhearing Frank and Claire arguing. Interestingly, both of those arguments were also about Jamie.

What didn't work in this episode, other than the lack of our main characters, was the sad lack of Jenny Murray. Imagine Jenny's reaction to meeting Jamie's daughter for the first time! Unfortunately, we have to imagine it, because we're never going to see it. This was, of course, a casting issue, but even though Steven Cree is always wonderful as Ian, the absence of Laura Donnelly was sorely felt.

Sadly, the wonderful Tobias Menzies returning as Frank Randall wasn't much in the way of compensation. It was nice to see Brianna's memories of Frank – it made sense that she'd be thinking of the father that raised her when she was on her way to meet her biological father for the first time. And I'll admit that Brianna seeing Frank's ghost on the dock smiling at her in approval actually choked me up a bit.



But for me, the most interesting scene in this episode by far was Frank getting drunk after reading Jamie and Claire's obituary in the Wilmington Gazette. What a jaw-dropping bit of time travel paradox that was. Did Frank finally decide to divorce Claire because he saw the obit and realized she would eventually go back to Jamie? Did their argument about him taking Brianna to England cause Frank's car accident... that ultimately led to Claire going back to Jamie? Brianna saw the obit but had no idea what it was. It almost felt like the unknowing Brianna was looking at an unexploded bomb.

Why didn't Frank show that obit to Claire back in 1966? Maybe he intended to, but the accident prevented it. Could that have been fate taking a hand? It was also remarkably creepy that Brianna could easily have been in the car with Frank, that she could have died with him. I can't imagine what that would have done to Claire.

Meanwhile, Roger, beardless and in a terrible pair of loose capris, went through the stones and wound up crewing for Stephen Bonnet. And I just realized something. Brianna went through the stones and wound up under Laoghaire's power; Roger went through the stones and wound up under Stephen Bonnet's power. That's a lot of coincidence going on there. Unless it was fate. Or was it just bad luck? Stephen Bonnet believes in fate and luck, possibly because his own fate was decided by the toss of a shilling. That was an interesting story about Bonnet almost winding up as a sacrifice in the foundation of the building he was working on.



Much like Laoghaire, Bonnet didn't seem like a bad guy at all – at first. He was even kind to a passenger's fretting baby, rubbing whiskey on its gums. In the next scene, Bonnet was tossing a little girl overboard to her death because she had a rash. (A parallel to the disease-ridden HMS Porpoise, although the captain of that ship didn't stoop to such measures.) Would the child have died anyway? Would she have infected most of the ship? Is that any excuse? Of course not.

Bonnet's obsession with luck nearly killed Roger. Or maybe it saved him; maybe if Bonnet hadn't been ruled by the toss of the shilling, he would have killed Roger outright. Of course, Morag MacKenzie and her baby Jemmy had to be ancestors of Roger's, and if he hadn't saved that baby, okay, parallel to Jack and Frank Randall. Or maybe that wasn't obvious and I'm just assuming everyone picked up on that.

Stephen Bonnet was wearing Claire's Lallybroch ring. It was directly in front of Roger's face not once, but three times. I kept expecting Roger to notice it.

Will Roger arrive in the Colonies before Brianna?

Bits:

— The title card showed Brianna making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the trip. Claire did that in the third Outlander book, Voyager, when she went back to find Jamie.

— Brianna took on Lizzie as a servant because of her father's hard luck story.

— Child actress Gemma Fray played Brianna here as well as in season three's "All Debts Paid."

— Yet another rabbit. Lots of rabbit symbolism in the third and fourth seasons.

— It's interesting that both Brianna and Roger have two fathers and two last names: Brianna Randall, Brianna Fraser, Roger Wakefield, Roger MacKenzie.

— Fiona took Roger to the stones, but couldn't hear them herself. No time traveling for Fiona.



— Tobias Menzies' credit was at the end, of course.

— Brianna is now wearing one of Claire's coats. I liked her very sixties woven handbag. And in a clever move, Roger removed the pom pom from his stocking cap.

— In this week's hair report, Brianna can't straighten her hair anymore. I thought it looked much better.

Quotes:

Laoghaire: "There was a time when my last husband would have done anything for me. When I was a young lass, he took a beating for me. And he would steal kisses from me whenever he had the chance. He loved me once. Until he was bewitched by another woman."

(This is Jamie from Laoghaire's perspective. We can see why she thinks they had this great love affair, while Jamie sees it differently.)

Brianna: "There's going to be a fire."
Laoghaire: "How would you ken such a thing?"

(Seriously, Bree. What were you thinking, telling Laoghaire something like that? Claire never would have. And she was still tried for witchcraft.)

Joanie: "You're a kind soul. It's not your fault your mother is a witch."

This was Sophie Skelton's episode, and she did well, but the lack of our lead characters was sorely felt. Two out of four removed pom poms,

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

1 comment:

Josie Kafka said...

I really enjoyed this episode, although I don't understand how Brianna got so lost. Did she not bring a compass?!

Laoghaire, however, needs to get over herself. Like, now.