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Outlander: Temperance

"I will have a whole man or none at all."

Outlander occasionally makes me cry, but rarely twice in the same episode.

The fact that Fergus was born in a brothel really hasn't been addressed, except for his talent for picking pockets and the occasional naughty comment. His disturbing story about the "Master of Mushrooms" and body parts being sold for divination absolutely got to me. Gold acting stars for C├ęsar Domboy, who gave a wrenching performance first with Claire, and later in the episode when Jamie interrupted his suicide attempt.

Much like Jamie, Fergus is chained to gender roles, not surprising for an eighteenth century man. He sees himself as useless because he has difficulty protecting and providing for his family with only one hand. His experiences in the brothel as a child and knowing that he cannot care for his new son forever was the last straw. When it was Jamie who was faced with losing his leg, he also had difficulty accepting his own worth outside of providing for his family. I loved that, when Jamie saw his adopted son facing the same thing, he told Fergus that he was of value just by being himself.

The opening scene was shocking, with tiny Henri-Christian in a basket floating down the river rapids. (I liked how they just jumped in, pun intended.) For a moment, I genuinely believed the baby would die. It was so smart of Roger to baptize Henri-Christian in front of those boys, telling them that the baby belonged to the Lord. Jamie's punishment with the hot poker was also shocking but just as smart, forcing the boys to actually touch the baby and see for themselves that he wasn't a demon.


Jamie's tender rescue of his adopted son was a deliberate contrast to Tom Christie's treatment of Malva. It even seemed at first that Tom really wasn't such a bad guy at all. He refused to subscribe to superstition about Henri-Christian, told Claire during their midnight chat that he didn't believe her to be a witch, and even admitted that Jamie had shown exceptional courage back at Ardsmuir. It was even difficult not to feel sympathy for Tom's agony while Claire operated on his hand, despite his stubbornness in refusing to try her new ether. No witch's potion for him.

The book discussion made Tom seem more human, too. Ardsmuir changed his mind about his late wife's love of fiction, since Jamie relating what happened in novels distracted the men from their suffering. Maybe Claire should have loaned him something a bit less raucous than Tom Jones.

It is also becoming obvious that Tom has a soft spot for Claire. He asked her why she doesn't cover her hair, and observed that she had a lot of it. How about that revelation that Malva's mother was hung as a witch? She wasn't a healer like Claire, was she?

The timing of Tom's imprisonment at Ardsmuir suggests strongly that Malva is not his natural child. And yet, he brought her up and provided for her. Is it possible that Tom truly believes that beating Malva will save her immortal soul, that it's not just a combination of misogyny and cruelty?


Finally, are Malva and Ian becoming a couple? It was bold of her to touch his facial tatts and ask if he was a Christian. She seemed to be even more interested in him when he told her he had land. I wouldn't blame Malva at all if she wanted to marry just to get the hell away from Tom, and Ian is young, strong, healthy and a sweetie, not to mention the beloved nephew of the Ridge's laird. She could do a lot worse, couldn't she?

But was she flirting with Jamie, too?

Bits:

— The post-credit scene was the poker being placed in the fire. Ominous out of context.

— The suicide attempt overshadowed Marsali's confession that she had killed Lionel, right before she dumped water on Fergus' head and threw him out. A little parallel baptism in this episode of Fergus and his son. I love stuff like that.

— Sadly, Claire was flashing back to Lionel again.

— I love Adso scenes. I talk to my cats, too. Doesn't everyone? I also loved the scene with Amy McCallum and the frog in the milk. Laugh out loud.

— The Quarter Day scene reminded me of the one at Lallybroch back in season one. I think they even used the same music.

— Jamie and Claire exchanged a glance when Claire called Tom a masochist. A little callback to when Claire called Jamie a sadist, terms that weren't in use at that time.

Love the composition of this photo

— Bree suggested setting up Lizzie with Evan Lindsey, but Roger said that she liked the Beardsley twins.

— Bree improved Marsali's spinning wheel.

— In the final scene, Major MacDonald arrived with guns for the Cherokee and a newspaper with an article about the Boston Tea Party, which took place December 16, 1773.

— No "Book versus Series" section again, since everything that happened in this episode came from A Breath of Snow and Ashes, right down to the wooden toy cars called "vrooms."

Quotes:

Brianna: "I wonder if Roger is having any luck rounding up the boys from this morning."
Marsali: "I'm not sure what good it'll do. It's the parents who need thrashing."
Truer words, Marsali.

Malva: "As I used to say when my father would ask me what I must do to avoid the fiery pits of hell, 'Be sure to eat well and take good care not to die.'"
Which made me think of Jane Eyre, who said, "I must keep in good health and not die." Except it won't be published until 1847. One of my favorite books.

What do you all think? The Fergus content in particular was so good that it made me want to give this episode four out of four vrooms,

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

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