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Outlander: Mercy Shall Follow Me

"Will you teach me how to love?"

For awhile, I almost believed him.

Gold acting stars for Edward Speleers in this episode, Stephen Bonnet's swan song. I thought for awhile that Brianna's act of compassion at the jail last season had actually had a positive effect on him; it was somewhat poignant that no one had ever done anything like that for him before. It did appear that he truly wanted to better himself for the sake of his son. But no.

The kidnapped Bree was clever to play along, pretending that she could help him become a gentleman and a parent, that she could indeed teach him how to love. Maybe a bit too clever in her choice of fake reading material, perhaps. And she made the mistake of thinking him stupid because he couldn't read. Bree thought Bonnet might actually give her a kiss and let her leave, trusting her to return with Jemmy, but Bonnet never saw Bree as a person. A man that could sell a woman for six pounds has no heart or conscience.

In a little tribute to Gavin Hayes, Jamie told Bonnet that the last face he saw wouldn't be that of a friend. Stephen Bonnet didn't deserve Bree's mercy, but she gave it to him – although note that she also let him suffer long hours of torture first, waiting for the tide to rise and cover his face, the drowning death that had terrified him in nightmares his entire life.

I couldn't help thinking that this would teach the men of the Ridge not to leave the women behind when they go do important man things. Look what could have happened to Bree because Bonnet divided and conquered. It was just horrifying that Bonnet might indeed have succeeded in taking custody of Jemmy away from Bree because eighteenth century women had no rights. It also seemed fitting that it was a prostitute's humanity, and Claire's kindness to her, that saved the day.

Meanwhile in Cross Creek, Forbes the lawyer, who had told Bonnet to lay low, did the opposite – losing first his temper and then his life. I thought at first that Jocasta was actually baiting Forbes, but if she had, she wouldn't have been alone with him. No, Jocasta was just being generous toward her kin, arranging to give them all a bit of money while she was still living. And of course, Ulysses rushed to her aid and killed Forbes. In that last moment when he thought her dead, Ulysses called her "Jocasta," not "Mistress." He loves her. Of course he does.

Unfortunately, this will almost certainly have repercussions for Ulysses. I'm remembering what happened to Rufus.

Book versus series

Where to begin?

There are sections near the end of books five and six with Bonnet; I think it was smart of the series to skip over five and go right for six. Bonnet didn't try that hard to be a gentleman and he wasn't after River Run – he was after the French gold. Bonnet's execution was the same and Bree did indeed mercy kill Bonnet so that he wouldn't drown. Eppie was indeed the way Bree was saved. Jamie and Claire did visit the madam Mistress Sylvie, but for another reason. Ulysses did kill an associate of Bonnet's that attacked Jocasta, but it wasn't Forbes. If I remember correctly, Forbes lived, but to punish him for what he did, Ian cut off his ear in a very Mohawk sort of way.


— The title card vignette was a cobbler adding a lift to Eppie's shoe.

— Jamie and Roger have definitely made strides in their relationship. It was nice to see.

— Great use of Moby Dick, which was first published in 1851. Claire and Bree on the beach watching the whales was a nice touch, too. A bit sad.

Ocracoke, North Carolina, was indeed a haven for pirates back then.

— Ian got to masquerade as "Alexander Malcolm." Yeah, that bald head didn't look conspicuous at all.

— Claire is having the glass barrel of a syringe made.

— Claire mentioned to Bree that Jamie has nine lives. I remember something specific in the book series about that.


Jamie: "Bonnet's only a man."
Claire: "And nothing more."

Jamie: "What do you ken about them [Bonnet's sailors] from your voyage?"
Roger: "They sail with him like they eat scorpion fish, only when they're hungry and have no other options."

Bonnet: "What I need is something I can't buy."
Bree: "A moral compass?"
Good one, Bree.

Bonnet: "What, the monster prevails?"

Bonnet: "The sea. It comes for me. Darkness closes in. I cannot move. No one comes. No one ever comes."
Bree: "It's only a dream."
Bonnet: "So you don't think any less of me for telling you?"
Bree: "No. I could never think any less of you."
Another good one, Bree.

Roger: "Brianna, was that mercy? Or was it to make sure he's dead?"
No answer. I think it was both.

I was glad to see Bonnet go. Three out of four scorpion fish,

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


  1. I was relieved to get rid of Bonnet. I like the actor but the character was just unpleasant, not really an enjoyable antagonist. I'm glad the show didn't drag it out all through season six! Shame Pippin was so nasty though! Thank goodness for Ulysses, and thank goodness for his sake Jocasta wasn't dead. Still totally shipping those two.

  2. Josie "Not a Pirate Fan" KafkaFriday, May 22, 2020 at 2:02:00 AM EDT

    I thought at first that Jocasta was actually baiting Forbes, but if she had, she wouldn't have been alone with him.

    Psychic link intact.

    Ocracoke, North Carolina, was indeed a haven for pirates back then.

    I always think pirates sound cool, and then I think a bit more about what they did--and how they were people like Bonnet--and I realize they're assholes.

    I blame The Princess Bride, making the Dread Pirate Roberts such a cool guy.

    JUliette, I was also quite relieved to get rid of Bonnet. The actor did a great job of making him despicable.

  3. Here are my notes on the podcast for "Mercy Shall Follow Me," episode 5x10. Commentary was by showrunner Matt Roberts, again alone in his home office because of the pandemic. For me, the best part of this one was Roberts saying he'd be very surprised if season six is the end of Outlander. He should know, right?

    They always drink alcohol during these podcasts. This time Roberts was drinking Sassenach whiskey made by some guy called Sam Heughan.

    When they were breaking the season, the writers decided to finish the Bonnet story so they moved it up from book six. Ed Speleers and Sophie Skelton had to find the right balance and they did an excellent job. Bree has to figure out what is going on and use her intellect to get out of the situation. Bonnet had to start out charming and try to convince Bree he was sincere. Bree tries to use Jemmy on Bonnet to see if he had a heart, and he doesn't.

    They spent a lot of time on the scene where Bonnet told Bree about his drowning dream. It made Bonnet vulnerable which is why later on he snapped back to form; couldn't handle being vulnerable. Roberts really loved the "moral compass" line as well as "I couldn't think any less of you" -- went right past Bonnet but the audience got it. The scene where Bree had to make herself kiss Bonnet was like Claire with the King of France -- there was no way she could make Bonnet believe she really wanted to kiss him. The audience can decide for themselves why Bree killed Bonnet in the end.

    Roberts liked the dynamic of the Eppie/Bree scene where Bree was desperate while Eppie was casual and calculating about what she could get out of this situation. Leah Shine (Eppie) really did shine, very likeable.

    Ed Speleers and Billy Boyd are fantastic actors and gave subtle differences in their performances in every take. They also really liked Chris Donald as Philip Wylie and wanted to bring him back.

    Production notes:

    Bonnet's house doesn't exist; they did a drone shot and added the house and ocean. The Bonnet house interiors were on set. They found a building by a pond for the warehouse, had to paint it and put a roof on it. They found a beach in Scotland that looked like North Carolina; it was a couple of hours away.

    There was a dead whale scene in the book but people interacting with a visual effects dead whale would have driven costs way up so they decided to do visual effects living whale instead.

    When they have a fight scene, the stunt team works through it, each of them playing a character. Then the actors watch the stunt team do it. Then you get to a location and everything changes and you have to make adjustments. They had to reshoot the fight on the beach and it all matched up the second time, weather and tide, etc.

    The River Run interiors are in the same spot where they had the Boston apartment and the great hall at Leoch.

    Roberts loved how Forbes came in and started planning what he was going to take for himself from River Run, and the disgust on his face as Jocasta is talking about giving away her money. One of their odder staff meetings was deciding how Forbes would try to kill Jocasta.


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