***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 5, Episode 2, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross follow. Spoilers***
Jumping right into the action with Murtagh and his Regulators (sounds like an 80s band), we can’t help but wince — alongside Jamie when he surveys the damage — as North Carolina officials are brutally tarred and feathered. Though Murtagh answers their cries for mercy with a turnabout-is-fair-play mentality, it’s difficult to feel aligned with such violence …no matter how good he looks in a bonnet.
Not far behind, Jamie and Leftenant Knox feel out each others’ sympathies (not as sordid as it sounds) and seemingly find common ground, until they reach the Regulator-ed town where three of the perpetrators have been captured. Holding his breath to see if his godfather is among the prisoners, Jamie is afforded a short-lived sigh until Knox loses his temper and kills mouthy Ethan (Josh Whitelaw).
In the interest of saving as many lives as he can, Jamie frees the remaining two men, who quickly report back to camp and rightfully question Jamie’s — and Murtagh’s — loyalties.
Speaking of life-saving, after witnessing Mr. Farrish’s preventable appendicitis-related death, Claire realizes his dead body could be a good resource for both herself and a new assistant recruit. In one of the hour’s finest scenes, Marsali has a gloriously appropriate reaction (“Was my mother right?” “I’m not a witch”) to Claire’s secret autopsy …
though it’s clear the younger Mrs. Fraser is intrigued by the offer of a new career. Bree, however, has a less certain opinion of her mother’s untimely research. Concerned by Claire’s increasingly bold (albeit protective) measures — “What if it messes with cosmic balance or breaks some rule of space and time?” —
Brianna still realizes Claire makes valid points. In a separate conversation with Bree’s “poor shot” husband, Claire worries over the thought of little Jem scraping his knee and developing an infection they have no treatment for, a very real concern now that a certain young Fraser-MacKenzie is off and running.
The sweetness of Brianna and Roger sharing joy over their son is offset by their memories of her vile attacker who, as we were informed last week, is still alive — not only in Bree’s dark and pained sketches. If we needed any reminders of how crude and warped Stephen Bonnet truly is, no time was wasted in the telling. A nasty swordfight that leaves his foe alive and maimed reveals the cartoonish villain’s motives and sends a chill down our collective spines. Evil is coming for the Frasers sooner than anyone thinks.
The performances this hour were all-around great, from Sam Heughan’s playful banter with Michael D. Xavier (Knox) to Caitriona Balfe with … well, everyone. Her scenes opposite Sophie Skelton, Lauren Lyle and Richard Rankin were all equally moving in different ways and again, I have to compliment on how far she’s come as an actress (this is why I continue to hold hope for Skelton, who is still working her way through some emotions). I particularly loved the conversations Claire and Bree had about to what extent any of them should affect the timeline they’re in. There’s, of course, an argument for each of their concerns and as Claire mentioned, whether or not they have intentions, every little thing is altered by their presence.
Like Bree, I’m not a fan of blood and gore but still, Marsali carefully carving an animal was very well-done (the autopsy, less so) and a great illustration of why Claire would (off-book) bring in her daughter-in-law as an assistant. Mad props to Lauren Lyle for her facial reactions to the autopsy.
Back to Jamie and Knox — their conversation and almost camaraderie despite a mutual distrust felt so natural. They reminded me of the chemistry between Jamie and David Berry’s Lord John Grey.
Bree teaching Roger to shoot showed off a) how naturally charismatic Richard Rankin is and b) that Sophie Skelton does have her moments. The pair had a few excellent scenes together and with each episode, we can see the chemistry working itself out.
What fun, too, when Claire examined a hopeful Roger’s eyes (“Try something that doesn’t move”), only to help him discover he’s simply …
And yes, Tufty Fluffytail (and the club) is a real thing.
I did not at all enjoy the tarring and feathering and it’s difficult to see past that sort of torture. But, I will watch soulful Murtagh defending his godson all.day.long.
Ah, the good old days, when Mercury — poison — was misused as medicine. Calomel powder and Blue Mass pills both contained Mercury, which helped hasten Mr. Farrish’s demise. I like Claire’s idea of Dr. Rawlings’ (the man whose medical bag she now uses) Tips for Preventative Healthcare, though it seems as if the locals may not heed them.
I think the writers are doing a good job of mixing in a few small off-book twists, especially with this round of the Gabaldon outings, one of her …shall we say, less exhilarating books? So far, I like how they’re handling jazzing up events and making it feel like there’s a lot going on. I’m sure we’ll keep up the “You want to go back” drama throughout the season as well, and that maintains tension between all the Frasers, even aside from impending war and the threat of Stephen Bonnet.
I don’t like him, but Ed Speeler’s Bonnet is duly creepy. Of course, no matter what the writers say, he’ll never attain Tobias Menzies’ Captain Jack levels.
I’m delighted the writers are (apparently) not keeping Jamie and Claire apart for too long — that’s never a good thing. As Knox acknowledged, Jamie needs more men and so, Colonel Fraser practically ran off to gather his militia (and presumably a kiss or more from his wife).
As Claire mentioned to Roger, it could be tomorrow or a year from now — wonder when we’ll find out whether Jemmy can hear those stones (***Book Spoiler: He can. Book Spoiler***).
If you didn’t catch it, the Regulator’s watchword was Caisteal Dhuni (Castle Dounie).
Roger was singing Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a bullfrog) to Jemmy.