Outlander recap: 'The Bakra'
After a spate of slow-moving episodes that felt like so much narrative water-treading, tonight’s hour felt positively jam-packed with plot. Indeed, “The Bakra” had everything: goats’ blood, errant sapphires, long-lost frenemies, and powdered wigs. Where do we start?
In true Outlander fashion — in which time really is a flat circle — we begin months earlier in the moments following Ian’s capture by the crew of the Bruja. The men contemplate feeding Jamie’s nephew to the pigs but decide to save him for “the Bakra” back in Jamaica, seeing as the Bakra likes young boys. So when the ship finally reaches land, Ian is thrown into a pit with a few other young men to await his fate. He’s told by his new acquaintance Henry that there used to be six of them, but that one by one they were called in to see the Bakra and never returned. So when Ian’s up, he’s obviously nervous. He’s ushered into a room in which he watches a woman emerge from a pool of blood. But it’s no ordinary woman — it’s Geillis Duncan! A blond Geillis Duncan. (Bakra means “white person.”)
“Don’t worry, it’s only goats’ blood,” she tells the dumbfounded teen. “Protein and iron keeps my skin young.”
Geillis washes off and sits with Ian to enjoy a tray of food. Ian tries to ask what has become of the other boys from the pit, but Geillis insists he eat first, plying him with pastries and tea.
As he scarfs down the treats, Geillis inquires about the box (her box) that the men confiscated from Ian. Specifically, she wants to know where the missing sapphire is. Ian says he doesn’t know, but then a curious look crosses his face. Unable to contain himself, he blurts out that maybe his uncle took it. He looks chagrined, but is powerless: Geillis’ tea is actually a truth serum brewed by a witch doctor. So when Geillis then asks who his uncle is, Ian divulges: Jamie Fraser, a name Geillis knows well. And knowing Jamie, she’s certain he (and perhaps that sapphire) will soon turn up in Jamaica.
Ian once more insists that he needs to know about the other boys.
“I have my way with them,” Geillis explains. “Virgins have such power inside them.” And after that, she has no more use for them. Ian points out that he is not a virgin.
“Good,” she answers. “You’ll know what to do then.” (Recap continues on next page)
Here we rejoin Claire and Jamie, who have just arrived in Jamaica. Jamie tells the men to make quick work of unloading the Artemis so it won’t be spotted by Captain Leonard. On the docks he meets Jared’s employee Kenneth MacIver, whose welcome to Jamaica includes an invitation to the governor’s ball that evening. Jamie and Claire demur as they need to focus on finding Ian. MacIver tells them the Bruja came and went about a week ago and suggests they inquire after Ian at the slave market. There, one slave trader tells Jamie that the governor bought the slaves off the Bruja — good thing he and Claire have an invitation to his party.
Claire, meanwhile, has wandered off on her own through the market, viewing the trade with her rightfully disgusted 20th-century perspective. When she comes upon a slave trader attempting to demonstrate his slave’s virility, she loses it and rounds on him with her parasol. Jamie has to jump into the fray to rescue her from the growing melee, and she pleads for Jamie to help the slave. His solution? He buys the man in Claire’s name. When Claire learns of this, she insists they free him, but Jamie warns that it isn’t safe for the man in Jamaica. Claire tells the slave, Temeraire, that they will free him when they can but perhaps in the meantime he can do them a favor and they will be indebted to him. They task him with speaking to the governor’s slaves at the ball, to see if they know Ian’s whereabouts.
And so it is, Claire and a slightly incognito Jamie (that powdered wig!) arrive at the governor’s manse. Within minutes, Claire runs into a familiar face: Archibald Campbell. He and his sister Margaret have been working in Geillis’ employ in Jamaica (though Claire doesn’t know that just yet). The two make pleasantries while Mr. Willoughby and Margaret make some very meaningful eye contact. Jamie, too, finds himself reunited with a man from the past. As it turns out, the governor is none other than Lord John Grey! They exchange a few words before Lord John asks Jamie and Claire to speak in private.
Jamie’s first order of business is to inquire after Willie. Lord John explains that Willie and his wife will be along later in the summer, adding that Willie does, in fact, speak of Jamie from time to time. Jamie seems pleased but says that the only thing that really matters is that Willie is happy. Grey confirms that he is and goes on to explain how he ended up at this post through a series of “promotions.” He then offers to help find Ian any way he can. As he gestures, Jamie catches a glimpse of sparkling blue underneath Grey’s coat. It’s the sapphire Grey confiscated from Jamie while in prison. Grey has kept it all these years to remember their friendship. Claire, no dummy, senses Grey’s deep affection for her husband.
As the trio leave the governor’s quarters, Claire spies Geillis from afar. Or at least she thinks she spies Geillis, considering she thought her to be burned at the stake years before. (Recap continues on next page)
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…” Geillis says as she comes up behind Claire in the courtyard.
Claire’s curious how she’s not, you know, dead. Geillis explains that the authorities waited for her to give birth before trying to burn her alive, and by that time, Geillis was able to convince Dougal to help her escape. She later married a rich plantation owner (yep, sounds like Geillis) and settled in Jamaica as Mistress Abernathy. When Claire tells Geillis of her missing nephew, Geillis too volunteers to help, not divulging that she, of course, has been holding him prisoner. (Or so we assume.)
Back inside, Claire brings Geillis to Jamie, who’s deep in conversation with Lord John. Geillis spies the blue bauble hanging inside his coat, and she knows from whence it came. She hatches a plan with Margaret to read the governor’s fortune, holding Grey’s and the remaining two sapphires in her hand (the required recipe for divining the next king of Scotland, apparently).
“This will bring death,” Margaret warns her brother. “I can feel it.” Archibald insists she do the reading…or else.
Grey, for his part, tries to avoid the situation altogether, but Geillis insists. When Margaret finally has the trio of gems in her hand, she seems possessed, and delivers what sounds to be a dire message about a “Scotsman crown.” Archibald, her translator, tries to make sense of the reading to Geillis. His interpretation: A new king will rise in Scotland when a 200-year-old baby is killed. And if you were about to make a Benjamin Button joke, Geillis beat you to it. (Apparently she was an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan?)
The riddle is of little concern to Claire and Jamie, who have a more important problem to solve: Captain Leonard has just arrived at the ball. They flee the party and rejoin Temeraire outside, who says the governor’s slaves informed him that Ian is at the Abernathys’ (i.e. with Geillis). They make for Rose Hall, promising Temeraire that they will drop him off at a secret settlement with other freed slaves along the way. Which they do, only to be intercepted by Captain Leonard and his men. Jamie is dragged off, all the while yelling for Claire to find young Ian.
She’ll have to go through Geillis Duncan first…