by Cynthia Gentit
[I don’t normally do recaps (this is sounding like a dos equis commercial) but Crystal Fann our favorite ginger blogger is dealing with some plumbing issues (in her house, that is) and asked me to fill in today. So here we go…]
“The miserable have no other medicine, only hope.” So said William Shakespeare and so says episode 411, “If Not For Hope” as we see the relative misery of each of our characters altered by hope throughout the episode.
The Hot Open: A play on words here. FYI, anytime a show begins by opening directly into the story before the title sequence or opening credits it is known as a “cold open.” Some shows do this regularly, some never do but when Outlander does it, it always means the same thing – we are in the point of view of someone other than Claire. It has been a consistent device used ever since The Reckoning way back in season 1. But in this case, we have a shower head, steam, and a carefully adjusted camera angle on a naked Roger (note the hand placement…) so yeah, you can call it what you like, but I call that a hot open.
We rapidly transition back to Rogers past present and find our erstwhile hero has just had a wash in the stream – evidently even his captors couldn’t stand the smell – and gotten (finally) a new set of clothes. This scene left me with a lot of questions; does the gift of clothes have significance? – is it like giving Dobby a sock?, was Roger going to go through the stones or was he prevented from doing so? Will we get those answers later or were they left on the editing floor? Regardless it’s once again #poorRoger.
Lizzy apologizes & asks forgiveness: As well she should. “I made such a mess of things” and Bree responds “You made an honest mistake, you thought you were protecting me” but then goes on to say that she can’t do the same for her father. Pity. I really liked seeing the artist side of Bree here but I do wish we had seen this more consistently in past episodes so they didn’t have to hit us over the head with it REPEATEDLY this episode. It got a bit wearing. With the exception of last week, we haven’t seen or heard of any of Brees drawing ability since early season 3. I think including the scene with Ellen’s portrait back in episode 407 would have established this character trait earlier as it is going to be important in Bree’s past future.
The hunting party: There is still much tension between Jamie and Claire, note the physical distance between them. Claire is upset with Jamie for what he did to Roger and he is upset with Claire for not telling him the truth. Ian is ever cheerful and eager to right his part of this wrong. I thought the dialog here between J & C was very well written and acted by all.
This episode was written by Shaina Fewell (Blood of My Blood) & Bronwyn Garrity (Savages) and I think both of them have a good grasp of who the characters are. I especially loved Jamie’s call back to what he and Claire have been through, “we’ve lived with the fear of the unknown before, not knowing if the other is alive or dead, but each passing day Bree must suffer through the very same thing.” This seems to touch Claire and she begins to soften.
Ian speaks to his auntie: Ever been stuck with a couple that are obviously on the outs? I have, so I totally identified with Ian in this scene because uncomfortable doesn’t begin to cover it. Claire says she isn’t angry although she seems that way to me (so does Jamie to be fair) and is reminded that both she & Jamie are suffering – not to mention Ian is suffering because he has to live with them.
Fergus & Marsali: I have to say, anytime Lauren Lyle is on screen I am a happy camper, much happier than Marsali at present because, as Ben Franklin said after three days fish and houseguests both stink. As far as she is concerned Murtagh has outlived his shelf life. We see Fergus’ misery as he can’t find work and Marsali’s concern for him is touching.
A dinner party is arranged: I love Natalie Simpson as Phaedre, her tiny delayed smile to Bree telling her she is beautiful just squeezed my heart. So believable from a slave who would never expect to hear such a thing. And squeeee, Lord John is coming! Have to say that I didn’t like Bree’s insensitivity on insisting Phaedre pose for her when Phaedre was so obviously uncomfortable with it. That seemed selfish and indulgent to me.
Bree & Auntie Jo have a chat: Here we find out Bree has inherited her artistic ability from Jamie’s mother, Ellen and get the back story of Jamie’s parents. A nice moment since we haven’t heard of Ellen and her painting since Lallybroch in season 1 but again we’re being hit over the head with “Bree the artist” and I miss the portrait scene.
Marsali & Murtagh have a chat: Marsali is about as subtle as a bull in a china shop, waking a sleeping Murtagh to request he ask Fergus to help him. Again a solid little vignette. This one, by the way, was actually a conversation between Jenny & Jamie about Ian Sr. back in Outlander, it was clever to resurrect it here. Fergus’ later response to Murtagh was precious. Love these two together.
Meanwhile back at River Run: The dinner party is in full swing and Bree feels like a prize pig in a room full of hungry wolves. Bree makes a Cinderella-like entrance and I liked the focus on her silver bracelet as she descends the stairs, a subtle reminder that Roger is also in the room. Billy Boyd makes me smile every time he is in a scene but I’m still expecting Pippen’s voice to come out when he opens his mouth so it was, unexpectedly, a bit disorienting for me to hear his natural Scottish brogue instead. Here too, I wish we had been introduced to this character earlier because meeting him at this point smacks of a plot device. If we had seen him at the River Run dinner in 402 or even in the Wilmington episode it would have made his appearance here less abrupt and convenient. But watching the gents in the room compete for Brianna’s attention in this scene, while a bit over the top, made me chuckle at how true to life it was.
Speaking of entrances: This made me laugh out loud because Lord John knows how to make one. He enters the room without a speck of travel dust or a hair out of place and EVERYONE stops to take notice. In my mind, I saw him in a cape and the superman stance and I heard the “here he comes to save the day” Mighty Mouse theme song in my head. All the “dude, we’re screwed” looks on all the gentlemen’s faces were priceless, nobody in the room trumps a Lord! I’m giving a shout out to Lee Boardman (who plays Lieutenant Wolff) on this one, his facial expressions were spot on.
The dinner party: Did y’all catch that the story Lord John was telling as the scene opened was about Margaret Campbell and her fortune telling abilities? Another call back I liked. And speaking of facial expressions, did you notice the looks exchanged between Lord John and Judge Alderdyce during the party? I must confess to missing them completely the first time through but on a re-watch, yes, there are several and they’re definitely establishing a story.
Bree turns psychologist: For me, this was one of the weak points of the episode. Strictly plot device to establish that the Judge has a scandalous secret, not even his mother knows. The best/cheesiest line of the scene was Forbes “must I close my eyes when you are before me” and Bree’s curt “yes.” Again, loved the great facial response by Lee Boardman but overall the scene bored me – all that from a squirrel?
Bree & LJ have a chat: Lord John, ever the faithful watchdog of all things precious to Jamie has come to care for yet another of his children and Bree fakes a season 1, Claire worthy swoon to escape from the clutches of lawyer Forbes. It’s Lord John again to the rescue, and Lizzy, who should never appear in public without a gag, appears just in time to let it slip that Bree is pregnant. Can you say awkward? I’m starting to love Lizzie, she could be the new Rupert. Then we have a long exposition filled rehash of past events and again I am bored but David Berry can even do boring well and we learn he has a letter for Bree from Jamie. This is a slight change from the books but I liked it. Not for the last time this episode I scream silently at Bree “read the bloody letter!!!”
Bree calls out Auntie Jo: Bree doesn’t want a husband and Auntie Jo explains the practical side of being an unwed mother in the 1700s The dinner party and this exchange just make me wonder, why is Auntie Jo so sure Roger is not coming back? Does Jocasta not believe Bree’s handfasting story? She seems very quick to marry off her already married niece. And what would happen if Bree did marry and Roger returned? Then what? Another Jamie/Leery situation? I know this is from the book but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me there either so I struggled with the logic of it all.
Bad boy Bonnet reappears: I think Ed Speleers is the greatest gift season 4 has given us. The only thing better than Bonnet is Bonnet & Murtagh in the same scene. When Murtagh cracked him in the head with his pistol, hubby and I cheered.
Bree, read the bloody letter! But no, instead you’re going to go downstairs and make me see something I wish I could unsee.
My least favorite moment in the episode: Am I surprised Outlander went there? No, I’m not, disappointed, but not surprised. It’s scenes such as this that get people talking and controversy generates PR, so no, I’m not surprised on that level. Am I surprised that they depicted Lord John having a quickie in what looks to be the linen pantry with the door open for any passerby to see? Yup. Lord John has always been more cautious than that. I’ve seen people saying the opposite but having read all the LJ books, I’m not buying it. And even without that, the show has established that being caught en flagrante delicto in this time period was punishable by death. Bree wasn’t the only overnight guest at River Run that night, anyone could have stumbled across them – and Lord John is smarter than that. Enough said.
Murtagh meets the only soldier in the history of Outlander who actually studies the broadsheets. And said soldier saying “unhand him” about Fergus – snort.
Bree tells Lizzy to “be discreet” and for once in her life, she is: The blackmail scene that follows is pretty much straight from the book. But I have to say, for me, it was a disappointment. This is a very nuanced scene in the books and I just wasn’t getting what I expected from it. A bit more of the tone we saw when he dressed down Captain Leonard would have helped. Plus, I’m just not buying that Bree actually feels compelled to marry Forbes.
Fortunately, she doesn’t have to because again, Lord trumps lawyer and Bree is declared a MacKenzie.
Rollo proves his worth: The discovery of the dead body made me laugh – probably not the reaction they were going for. Ian identifies a body that has been gnawed on by countless carnivores because it’s missing two fingers? Well, it’s also missing a leg, so just how accurate is this two-fingered ID? Fortunately, canny Ian just happens to remember a waistcoat he saw all of once two months ago –really? How convenient.
Bree & LJ have a lovely chat: A lot of chatting in this episode – and it looks like she’s finally going to read that letter??
The hunting party buries the plot device, er, I mean the body: We are again reminded that Bree is on Jamie’s mind, “one thing is for certain, he was somebody’s child.” Sob, Sam Heughan you can even make me teary over a plot device. Judging by the look on her face it worked on Claire as well because we get one of the loveliest moments of the episode –
Claire & Jamie do some splainin’: Another well-written scene and I have to say I’ve forgiven them (a bit) about some of the choices in last week’s episode. Sam and Cait both were wonderful in this scene.
Back to the Mohawk: Time has passed, we know this because Roger has his Ewok beard back, and we finally arrive at the village. Roger runs the gauntlet and gamely rises to his feet only to be cold-cocked and we end the episode on, yet again, poor, poor Roger.
A good transitional episode. Next week Bree finally reads that letter – you’re killing me with all this messing about Bree – and we begin the downhill race to the end of the season. If it’s anything like past seasons the next two episodes are going to be a blur. So buckle up buttercup, it’s going to get be a bumpy ride.
CYNTHIA GENTIT – Cynthia is a guest Sassenach Sisterhood blogger whose love of Outlander began with the show and quickly spread to all things Outlander. When she’s not an Obsassenach she’s tracing her own Highland roots, enjoying the beauty of north Georgia and finding/selling unique antique and vintage items. Find her on FB @AToBVintage, on Etsy under A Thing of Beauty Vintage or at www.CherishTheOld.com