Outlander recap: The Adventures of Brianna and Roger
Brianna has successfully made it to the past, which is a very cold and snowy Scottish Highlands. She has a map, a path drawn from Craigh na Dun to the nearest harbor, but little else to guide her. Spotting a road in the distance, she begins to sprint toward it, but she slips, twists her ankle, and spills some things from her rucksack, including a red velvet bag that looks a lot like Jamie’s mother’s pearls (which she used to get through the stones in the books). Bree’s spill is worse than it looks, and soon she’s trying to ice down her ankle in a freezing stream and struggling to limp down the road.
We cut back to that same road in 1971, where Roger and Fiona are driving in a black VW bug to take him to Craigh na Dun to attempt to follow Bree through the stones. Roger is kitted out in clothes from the past, including a cravat and SAY IT AIN’T SO, he has shaved. RIP Roger’s glorious beard. To be honest, I’m taking this loss harder than most of the character deaths on this show.
He muses about time being a concept or measure more than a reality. Fiona retorts she hopes time travel is a reality for his sake or he’ll have shaved his beard for nothing. PREACH FIONA. He has money, a map, a compass, a knife, and a gemstone to help him pass through. As he approaches the stones, they buzz loudly, calling him with their sound and after hugging Fiona goodbye, he walks to them and presses his hands against them.
Bree is not faring well in the past. She uses a box of matches to light a fire in the woods and eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she packed in her bag as she settles in for a freezing night in the woods. The next day she spots fire from a chimney and tries to limp towards the house, but she collapses, unable to put weight on her foot. She falls into a state of unconsciousness and remembers another time she fell asleep when her beloved father Frank carried her in from the car. Oh, hai, Tobias Menzies, it’s nice to see you again.
While unconscious, Bree’s discovered by Laoghaire (boo! hiss!) and her remaining daughter Joan. She is being fed and well-cared for in a bed, but Laoghaire wants to know more about Bree’s strange accent (because the standard American accent as we know now did not exist then). Bree explains her parents are in the Americas and she wants to go to them, which prompts Laoghaire to reveal her eldest daughter is in North Carolina.
Bree wakes in the night to hear Ian Murray and Laoghaire arguing. Per usual, Laoghaire is angry that Jamie has not sent enough money back to support her, but refuses Ian’s offer to help. (Laoghaire is a total conniving bitch, but let’s be honest, being a woman with few opportunities to make money and a family to support was not easy — you can’t blame her). Bree remembers another late-night argument she once overheard between her mother and Frank. Ian wants to know who she is, and recognizes her as an outlander by the sound of her voice.
At last, Bree is well enough to get out of bed. She goes to help Joanie and Laoghaire in the garden. Laoghaire offers Bree Marsali’s clothes to keep her warm on her voyage. As Bree braids flowers into Joanie’s hair, the two girls discuss their absent and adopted fathers. Joanie astutely says her surrogate dad didn’t love Laoghaire as much as her mother loved him, and Bree explains it was the same between her mother and Frank.
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This prompts another flash from Bree’s memories — late one night she stormed into Frank’s office while he was quite drunk. He has research from a colleague in Scotland on his desk — it’s the obituary reporting Claire and Jamie’s death by fire in the Carolinas. Bree pushes to know more about the research and why it’s bothering him, but he won’t tell her. He sends her home promising that she’ll understand someday.
Bree and Laoghaire bond more, still not having bothered to ever mention the names of their shared relatives. Laoghaire waxes poetic about Jamie, remembering how he took a beating for her as a girl and insisting he loved her once until he was bewitched by another woman. She says they used to all sit as a family around the fire and read stories from the Bible — Brianna asks to hear one, Joanie’s favorite, the story of Naomi and Ruth. Lest you think they picked a random Bible story, they did not — Naomi is Ruth’s mother-in-law, but Ruth is blessed for her devotion and kindness to Naomi in times of tragedy. Sound a little like Bree and Laoghaire’s situation? At least thus far?
Getting back to Roger, he’s arrived safely at a port and is immediately seeking passage on the ship in the harbor, the Gloriana. He’s not wasting any time going after Bree in the Americas assuming she’ll have made straight for North Carolina. The captain of the Gloriana is none other than Stephen Bonnet, looking more piratical than ever, and he insists the ship is full. Roger begs, explaining he needs to find his lass (awwww) and even offers to come aboard as a member of the crew. Bonnet isn’t convinced Roger is suited for hard labor (fair), but Roger persists until Bonnet tosses a coin to make his decision. Roger, who now gives his surname as Mackenzie, is welcomed aboard with a promise of being able to leave the ship once they reach Wilmington. There are four ports before that though.
Bree tells Laoghaire she’s almost well enough to travel again and even charms Joanie by singing a snatch of “San Francisco” (which funnily enough was famously performed by a man named Scott McKenzie, hah!). This prompts Laoghaire to reminisce about wearing flowers in her hair at Lallybroch, and Bree reveals her mother’s family is from Lallybroch. At last, Laoghaire asks the name of Brianna’s mother and when she says “Claire Fraser,” Laoghaire shudders. She asks a lot of questions about Frank Randall and what a good man he must’ve been for raising Brianna as his own.
Bree remembers visiting Frank the morning after his drunken pity party, bringing him cream tea. Frank gets my favorite line of the episode here, pronouncing, “There is nothing that a good cup of tea and a scone can’t fix.” Have truer words ever been spoken? I don’t know why this is a magic cure for whatever ails you, but I promise it works. Frank broaches the question of the possibility of Bree studying abroad.
Back in the past, Laoghaire tells Brianna that Jamie left Claire because he didn’t want a baby. “I only hope he doesn’t turn you away a second time,” she simpers. THE LYING BITCH. Bree forges ahead insisting she has to go prevent her parents’ deaths by fire. This revelation makes Laoghaire go full Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, accusing Brianna of being a witch just like her mother. Bree realizes its Laoghaire who tried to have her mother killed for witchcraft at Cransmuir 20 years ago and launches on Laoghaire, telling her Jamie never loved her. It’s the wrong thing to say because now Laoghaire locks her in her room like the evil stepmother in Cinderella and promises to have her arrested for witchcraft.
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Once more, we return to Bree’s memories — her father is waiting in a car in Cambridge late one night. He has been offered a position at Cambridge and he wants Bree to go with him. He reveals he and Claire are getting divorced. He’s come straight to tell Bree this after Claire and he made the decision to end things. But what about their plan to go to Harvard together and share an office? “1000 years ago, your mother and I had a plan as well, but sometimes life takes unexpected turns and when it does, you know what we do? We soldier on,” Frank replies. Bree is upset and says she has to go. Then, we see Bree standing at Frank’s grave wondering if he’d still be alive if she stayed with him that night and agreed to go to England. It turns out this was the night he got in the car accident and died. She promises to soldier on, telling Frank he’s her hero.
Roger is settling into ship’s life, complete with a very unfortunate ponytail and some five o’clock shadow. Please grow back Roger’s beard, oh please oh please oh please. He helps a mother comfort her crying child. This tender moment is interrupted by Bonnet creepily taking the baby and quieting its cries with some whiskey on its gums.
Later that night, Roger is awoken by the sounds of a woman screaming. He runs in to find Bonnet clutching a young girl who he says has smallpox and wants to throw overboard. Roger tries to intervene, but Bonnet throws the child out the ship’s window without a second thought to try to prevent the spread of disease onboard. The child’s mother jumps after her. Roger is horrified, but Bonnet tells his crew to round-up anyone who seems ill to be disposed of. Roger goes to the woman and her crying child he met earlier — the baby isn’t ill, he just has a fever because he is teething. Roger pledges to help protect them and bring them food and drink. Her name is Morag Mackenzie, and Roger realizes he’s met one of his long-lost relatives.
Bree is trying to break out of Laoghaire’s house when Joanie comes to set her free and takes her to Lallybroch in a wagon. She wants Bree to ask Jamie to come home. Brianna meets her Uncle Ian, who instantly recognizes her as Jamie’s daughter by her hair and Claire’s eyes. He’s overjoyed to actually meet Jamie’s child, but Jenny is unfortunately away helping deliver one of her grandchildren. Ian helps prepare Brianna to make her sea voyage giving her money for safe passage and a trunk of Claire’s old clothes. He tells her to ask after Aunt Jocasta and River Run — she’ll know where to find Claire and Jamie.
Roger sneaks Morag and her child rations, but he is caught by Bonnet. In a move straight from the Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men school of villainy, Bonnet takes out a coin to flip for Roger’s life. He tells a story of working on a crew when he was 17 and being hated by the other men. Those men flipped for his life to determine if he’d be a sacrifice for the foundation of the house they were building. They knocked him unconscious and left the shilling in his pocket — it had landed heads. Bonnet makes him the same promise — heads you live, tails you die — for stealing rations. Thankfully, it’s heads and beardless Roger will live another day.
Ian Murray has taken Bree to port to catch a ship to America. He asks only that she ask young Ian to write to him and Jenny more often. He assures her that Jamie will be so happy to meet her. Bree goes into a tavern to buy her passage, but she is stopped by Joseph Wemyss, who begs Bree to buy his daughter Lizzie as an indentured servant to prevent her from being contracted to another man as a concubine. Bree can’t resist helping the girl and buys passage for two on the Phillip Alonzo. They walk to the edge of the dock and as they turn to go, Bree imagines she sees Frank watching her and nodding at her, giving her his blessing as she soldiers on.
What did you think Sassenachs? Were Tobias Menzies and Ed Speelers performances the highlight of the week for you? They were for me — Menzies constantly lends Frank a humanity and gentleness he simply lacks on the page. Sound off in the comments below or hit me up @themaureenlee.
Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in the Starz series.