Outlander: Providence

"Bloody fool."

If there were Outlander-specific awards, this one would win best performance by a guest star. Actually, three guest stars.

I've been lukewarm about Roger's abduction story, but this was where it finally paid off. While the enslaved Roger was at his lowest point, injured and exhausted after his failure at the gauntlet, he was tossed into what he eventually christened the "idiot hut" and the final hours of a fallen French priest named Father Alexandre.

I like Richard Rankin, and I thought he did a terrific job with Roger's "idiot" speech. Of course he would be rethinking the choices he'd made at this point. Brianna initially turned down his proposal back in the twentieth century, but he followed her through space and time anyway. She finally agreed to marry him and he blew it because they got into a huge argument. He later had a chance to escape imprisonment by going through the stones he stumbled upon, but he didn't take that chance because he wouldn't leave her in the eighteenth century. Staying has caused him nothing but grief.

Father Alexandre's story, like Roger's, was also about love gone wrong. When Alexandre was sick, he fell in love with Johiehon, his healer, and betrayed his vows, resulting in a baby. He refused to baptize his own baby because he wasn't in a state of grace. All he would need to do to save his own life is go through the motions, but he would not. So frustrating to the audience as well as to Roger. But it's also understandable that Alexandre's lifetime of beliefs would have forced him into this position.

Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" is an exceptional piece of music. It's undoubtedly been used too much since the movie Platoon, but it fit the overwhelmingly tragic moment that it accompanied – Alexandre suffering horribly on the pyre, and Johiehon walking into the flames to die with her lover. The sorrow and confusion of Kaheroton, the man who was clearly also in love with Johiehon, as he held their baby and watched them burn. It was an emotionally wrenching scene and made me cry.

The point, though, was what this situation did to Roger. He had a moment when he could have escaped, with Alexandre's help and permission, but when he heard Alexandre screaming, he simply couldn't make himself leave. Going back and throwing that barrel of whiskey on the pyre to end Alexandre's suffering was such a courageous thing for Roger to do. Roger told Alexandre to compromise his principles in order to save his life, but Roger couldn't do that very thing himself to save his own; he could very well die for doing this. That doesn't make Roger an idiot. It makes him a very good person.



This was Brianna's episode as well as Roger's. When Lord John told her that Stephen Bonnet had been captured and would hang the following week, Bree decided she had to talk to the man because Jamie's letter advised her to find the grace to forgive. At first objecting, and I certainly get that, Lord John decided to be supportive and help her confront Bonnet.

Is it perverse of me to prefer Bree with Lord John instead of Roger? Yes, he's gay, but so what? I like both Bree and Roger, but I'm having trouble warming to them as a couple. I really loved that, even though he's a British subject and loyal to the Governor, Lord John lied to cover for Fergus because Jamie and his family come first with him. And I especially loved how Bree told John, "You are impossible not to like." He is.

I thought Bree's confrontation with Bonnet was quite effective, especially when she told him that no one would remember or mourn him; after acting like an utter slimeball, Bonnet had second thoughts and it was actually quite human of him to pry that gem out of his mouth and give it to Bree for the baby's support. But Fergus pouring a ring of gunpowder around the prison as they went in reminded me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It gave the escape a bit of a fun lift that poked a pin in the drama.

Of course, Bonnet must have escaped before the building blew up. If you don't see the body, never believe a character is dead.

I enjoyed Marsali's scenes in this episode a lot. I keep expecting her to be like her mother, the despicable Laoghaire, but no. You'd think Marsali wouldn't want her husband Fergus to risk his life trying to break Murtagh out of prison, but instead she not only encouraged it, she drove the getaway wagon. And she expressed admiration for Claire breaking Jamie out of Wentworth, too. I'm glad the writers didn't take the path of least resistance and keep Marsali around specifically to create conflict with Jamie and Claire.

Okay. Speaking of Jamie and Claire, my real problem with this episode, other than the fact that it was an emotional downer, was that it was mostly about Roger and three guest stars. I am invested in this series because of its two leads, and this is not the first episode this season to completely ignore them.

To be fair, though, while Jamie and Claire are only in this episode for about a minute, there are echoes of their story. Like Father Alexandre falling in love with Johiehon, the woman that healed him. And an interesting callback to the witch trial in season one, since Jamie said he would have gone to the stake with Claire if she'd been burned as a witch. Shudder.

Bits:

— The title card vignette was the Indians drinking from that all important barrel of whiskey.

— Can I say that, sadly, Roger doesn't transcend the dirt and injuries like Jamie does?

— I thought the "idiot hut" was such an interesting prison. Big and roomy, lots of light through the leaves and bars. You'd think it would be easy to break out of, but no.

— It occurred to me in the middle that this wasn't our first priest that broke his vows for love. Remember Father Fogden?

— Lord John recognized Fergus. I'm still unclear about whether or not Fergus even knows who Brianna is, but I assume he does.

— Gold acting stars for Richard Rankin (Roger), Yan Tual (Father Alexandre), Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon), and Braeden Clarke (Kaheroton). Honorable mention for Ed Speleers (Bonnet) and Sophie Skelton (Bree).

Quotes:

Lord John: "Your father entrusted me to look after you. I'm not sure that encompasses taking afternoon tea with a murderer."

Fergus: "If only Milord were here."
Marsali: "Claire, too. I ken she risked her life to save his when he was imprisoned at Wentworth."
Fergus: "If they were here, what would they do?"
Marsali: "They'd find a way. And we will, too."

Despite my issues with this episode, it was gut-wrenching and beautifully done. Four out of four barrels of whiskey,

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

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