Outlander recap: For who could ever learn to love a beast...
Stephen Bonnet is back in this week's episode of Outlander! And while I don’t favor his evil ways, he’s a sight for sore eyes, considering his antics made for one of the most compelling episodes of the season. It’s a swan song for him, but he at least gets to go out with a bang. Literally.
In Wilmington, Bonnet and Forbes are plotting while hanging out at a brothel. Forbes wants Bonnet to lay low and be more discreet, but Bonnet doesn’t roll like that. All Bonnet is concerned about is going to the magistrate to claim Jeremiah as his son. Once he does that, then Jocasta and Duncan will meet with an unlucky accident, and he’ll inherit River Run. Oh, and Forbes will get 20 percent of the inheritance. How convenient.
The Fraser clan is preparing their trap for Bonnet, but Claire frets that Philip Wylie won’t keep his word. The plan requires Ian to disguise himself as Alexander Malcolm, so he dons Western clothing and gets some makeup to cover his facial markings.
Claire makes use of her time in town, asking a glassblower to make the tube she needs to construct a proper syringe. She and Bree run errands, but it feels like someone is watching them.
Jamie, Roger, and Ian prepare to meet Bonnet and his men at Wylie’s Landing in the woods. Roger gives them the dirt on Bonnet’s men, assuring them they won’t be a problem as they work for Bonnet only out of hunger and fear — not any real devotion. Roger tells Jamie when Bonnet comes, he wants to be the one to kill him. Jamie is concerned since Roger has never killed a man. But Roger makes an impassioned speech about how Brianna is his wife and Bonnet is his to take down.
A rowboat arrives, but Bonnet is not there. The sailors declare that they’ve been sent to fetch the goods. Ian balks, insisting that was not the arrangement. The men get suspicious: Where are the barrels of whisky? When they enter the shed where Jamie and Roger are hiding, a fight breaks out and they demand to know where Bonnet is.
Bree and Claire enjoy an afternoon at the seashore. They collect shells and sponges to use for medical tools. Bree admires a pod of whales, enjoying that living in the past gives them the opportunity to see them in the wild before whalers nearly wipe them out. As they race along the shore, Bree reflects on how much she loves Moby Dick.
As Claire gathers shells, Bonnet comes upon her in the sand dunes. After he reveals he saw her and Bree in Wilmington, he then turns on Claire, holding a knife to her throat. Bree runs to them and pulls a gun on Bonnet, but he says he will cut Claire’s throat after the count of three. He promises to let Claire go if Bree comes with him. It’s her and his son that he wants. He knocks Claire and Bree out in a scuffle, and everything goes black.
Claire wakes up to find Bree gone and screams her name. She goes to tell Jamie and Roger the bad news.
Bree is, in fact, now in Bonnet’s clutches and wakes on a couch in his hideaway. He’s laying on the gentleman act pretty thick, pouring her tea. He explains he left Claire on the beach. Though he says he has a chest of toys for their son, Bree insists Roger is the boy’s father. Bonnet says they know the truth that they made him together. He wants to do right by them and be a real dad.
Bonnet forces Bree to go through an elaborate charade of having dinner, wearing a fine gown in some twisted version of Beauty and the Beast. He wants Bree to teach him to be a gentleman. She says he can’t be taught what he needs most: a moral compass. He wants to make sure his son knows how to get on in the world and needs to be a worthy gentleman to do so. Bonnet insists fate has brought them together to be parents to Jeremiah.
Reluctantly, Bree plays along, telling him to get his elbows off the table and that it’s improper for a lady and gentleman to be alone as they are. He wants to know what wealthy people do to pass the time, and she suggests that he could read to her. Bree quickly realizes Bonnet might be illiterate and offers to do the reading herself. Like I said, this is the most f---ed up version of Beauty and the Beast ever.
When Bonnet asks if Jemmy likes it when Bree reads, she waxes poetic about it, explaining how she likes to put herself in another character’s shoes. She uses it as a way to interrogate Bonnet about whether he’s driven by love, money, or revenge. She guesses money, because she doesn’t think he's capable of love and she’s done nothing to invite vengeance.
Bonnet lashes out insisting there’s two sides to every story — and she doesn’t know his. He wants Bree to learn to love him for the sake of their son. He approaches Bree and talks in her ear, getting emotional about how the news of something of him being left on this Earth made him feel. He isn’t doing this for revenge or money, but he needs Bree to teach him how to love. To get Bonnet away from her, she offers to read to him.
She picks up The Art of Husbandry, but she begins to recite Moby Dick to him from memory. Because apparently Bree has memorized this entire tome, which may be the single most impressive thing about her. Like, who does that? At one point, I could recite the entire first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, but that’s like it. Bree, my appreciation of you rose exponentially during this episode.
Anyway, Bonnet is very into the story and pleased to learn his son likes tales of the sea. Time passes, and he wants to know the end of the story and whether Ahab gets the whale. He is, of course, rooting for Ahab to get his revenge and slaughter the whale. But Bree almost gleefully tells him that the whale prevails and Ahab is drowned. Bonnet is horrified that the monster wins, but Bree points out it depends who you think is the monster.
This leads Bonnet to open up about his nightmares, explaining that the sea calls to him. His recurring dream is that the darkness of the water closes in over him, and no one ever comes to save him. Bonnet begs her not to think less of him for telling her his nightmare, but she astutely points out she could never think less of him (never mind that’s because she already holds the lowest possible opinion).
Bonnet wants to know if Jeremiah gets scared, and she says he needs his mother. Bonnet reveals that he had no mother or father, but was an orphan. He is moved to tears and begs Bree to show him how to comfort their son. She explains she goes to Jemmy and takes him in her arms and holds him until he feels safe. Bonnet takes advantage of this, taking her in his arms and asking her to teach him. She withdraws, insisting a lady would say good night now and go to bed alone. Surprisingly, he assents and walks out.
The next morning they share breakfast again, and Bonnet continues his flights of fancy. She tells him she needs to go and fetch Jeremiah. She feeds him a story about not being sure how her family will react, explaining it would be prudent for her to go. She even tells him fate would bring her back to him.
Bonnet seems to buy it for a time, relishing that it’s what they both want. He wonders if he and Bree should spend more time together first to bond. But she insists she misses Jemmy and wants Bonnet to meet him. The sooner she leaves, the sooner she can return. She tells him that while she’s gone he should go to Wilmington and find them a place to live.
He wants to seal their promise with a kiss, and though it pains her, she relents and kisses him. It looks like a perfectly chaste kiss to me, but that's somehow not good enough for Bonnet. He immediately gets angry, saying he doesn’t need to be taught to kiss and his is lacking. He hoped Bree was being truthful, but let his feelings cloud his judgment. The last time he made this mistake he was a young workman, believing the other men liked him. Instead, they got him drunk and left him for dead.
He tells Bree he’s going to show her what she’s missing and goes to his female servant, who is also a girl from the brothel. He pulls down her bodice and immediately starts ravishing her in front of Bree. Bree is horrified, the moment triggering an episode of PTSD, remembering her rape. The woman offers to let Bonnet watch her and Bree for a few more coins. Instead, he goes to fetch the woman’s money with instructions for her to watch Bree.
Bree uses her to find out where they are, on an island called Okracoke. Bree tells her she’s being held against her will. The woman advises her not to cross Bonnet, but Bree offers her wedding ring and begs her to get word to Roger and Jamie in Wilmington. The woman is afraid of Bonnet, however, and rejects Bree’s plea.
Roger accosts Wylie in the street and holds him at knifepoint in an alley, demanding to know where Bonnet is. Wylie says he doesn’t know and that Bonnet made his life a misery, blackmailing him. But with a little more pointy persuasion, Wylie tells them to look for information at Mistress Sylvie’s.
Back at River Run, Jocasta is eagerly awaiting a visit from Forbes. Forbes is clearly bored to be there, and he’s perturbed to learn that he’s been summoned to help Jocasta draw up legal paperwork to bestow monetary gifts on her family. Forbes gets increasingly angry as she enumerates the amounts, and when she decides to give money to Lizzie, he snaps. He grabs a pillow and begins to suffocate her, angry that Jocasta is robbing him of his share in her fortune – you know the percentage he expects after Bonnet accomplishes his plan. Ulysses comes in just in time and breaks Forbes’ neck, saving Jocasta.
Jamie and Claire go to the brothel, wanting to question the women about Bonnet. The girl Bree saw on the island is there, but denies any knowledge of Bonnet. Claire diagnoses her hip and back pain. She says the girls legs are uneven, and that she needs a lift on one of her shoes to adjust it and reduce her pain. Claire makes a contribution for her to be able to afford shoes, saying she helps when someone needs help. This prompts the girl to give her information on Bonnet.
Back on the island, Bonnet has decided to sell Bree to one Captain Howard. He smells her and feels her up. Bonnet even wrenches her head back to force her to show her teeth, but she bites the Captain’s finger. But the Captain is excited by the prospect of breaking a wild mare. He offers six pounds for her, and Bonnet says she’s not worth more than that. She’s only property to him. The Captain needs Bonnet to follow them to the boat to fetch his purse.
Bonnet pushes Bree over the dunes with her hands tied, but all of a sudden a shot takes down one of the sailors. The Frasers are there, and Bree tries to run to Claire. Bonnet tackles her, and there’s a fight. Roger chases Bonnet up the dunes, and beats him until he passes out. They tie Bonnet up, and ask Bree what she wants to do with him. Bree wants to take him to Wilmington for the law to deal with him. Fearing Bonnet’s influence with landowners, they decide to ask Tryon to pass judgment since he owes them a favor for Roger’s near death anyway.
Later, we see that Bonnet has been sentenced to drown. His worst fear come true. He is tied to a post in the water, left for dead as the tide slowly rises. He is screaming and struggles to hold himself above the water. He stares suddenly, as if he recognizes someone on shore and a shot rings out. He dies instantly as the bullet hits him in the head. It was Bree standing on the shore, and Roger asks if it was out of mercy or to make sure the man is dead.
And that’s the last of Stephen Bonnet. What did you think of his final episode? If you’re a fan of the books, do you wish they hadn’t combined these showdowns into one and kept him around another season (I do, if only because Ed Speleers is so deliciously perfect in the part!)? And why do you think Bree ultimately decided to spare him the death he’d always feared? Sound off in the comments below.
Outlander…On Demand! is indefinitely on hiatus, but you can catch up on old episodes on the website or the app. And, if you tune in to EW's Instagram stories on Monday at 10 a.m. PT, we will be discussing this episode on Instagram Live.