This Outlander review contains spoilers.
Outlander Season 4, Episode 9
For the most part, this episode was excellent. It stays close to Bree as we see the consequences of Bonnet’s act of sexual violence. It’s about Bree’s pain, her strength, her healing. Unfortunately, in the episode’s closing minutes, it becomes about Jamie’s pain, anger, and desire for revenge, and that takes this episode from something worth celebrating to another asterisked triumph for Outlander.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. After the emotionally and physically-devastating events of last week’s episode, Brianna desperately needs something to go right, and that finally happens for her in the hour’s opening act. Lizzie, who this show has done very little to characterize thus far, happens to chat with a Scot who mentions the story of Claire saving a man’s life at the theatre. #operatingtheatre #momgoals
When pressed, Lizzie finds out that the woman is, indeed, Claire Fraser, and that she and her husband are still in town. Bree rushes to the last place Jamie was seen, and finds her father in a back alley, peeing. It’s not exactly what you might have imagined for the first time meeting your biological father you’ve never met, but Bree takes it all into stride, giving us one of the most important and rewarding scenes of the entire show.
At first, Jamie doesn’t recognize Bree. Sure, he’s seen photos of his daughter, but that only does so much when it comes to out-of-context introductions. He’s not expecting to see Bree in the 18th century. Past that, he admits he still thinks of Brianna as a baby… the baby he had to give away to ensure she had a safe life.
Once Bree explains who she is, it doesn’t take long for Jamie to understand, even if he can’t believe it. This is literally a dream come true (he’s mentioned before that he dreams about Brianna) for the father who has had to give two children away for their own sakes. Bree, who has been through so much in the last few weeks, in the last few years, starts sobbing and, for the first time in a long time, her father comforts her.
The reunion with Claire is a bit less epic, but no less emotional. Bree may be comforted by her father’s arms, but he is still a stranger to her. Claire is the woman who raised her, who has always comforted her sorrows. Though Bree isn’t able to tell Claire about her recent trauma just yet, her mother helps nonetheless. They embrace and, for the first time in a very long time, Claire’s family is whole.
Brianna doesn’t just meet Jamie, of course. She gets a whole extended family in her journey to the past, something she has seemingly never had, even in her own time. Once at Fraser Ridge, we see Bree getting to know Jamie, Young Ian, and Murtagh. They sit around the table and share stories, do the chores together, and find solace in one another’s company.
While the period of time may be healing for Bree, it is not peaceful. As we learn from Lizzie, Bree is understandably still traumatized from Bonnet’s rape. She has nightmares and, when Bree thinks no one else is looking, she loses herself in the painful memories, staring off into nothingness, trapped inside of her own trauma.
Slowly, Bree and Jamie start getting to know one another, and it is a gift for them both. Bree has spent the last few months and years learning about her father, imagining what he will be like, but having to cobble together that imagining from other people’s accounts of who he is. Now, she has the chance to meet the real thing, of course the experience is colored of all of the stories that have come before.
There are her mother’s recollection of a love that transcends time to a confused Bree, only just finding out Frank wasn’t her biological father. There was Laoghaire’s hate for the man who she sees as having abandoned his family. Even now, there is Murtagh telling stories of Jamie’s first kiss as a 14-year-old. Most of all, there is the memory of her the man who raised and loved her when Jamie could not.
At first, this is an obstacle to Jamie and Bree’s burgeoning relationship. When they go on a bee-hunting trip together, Bree confesses that getting closer to Jamie feels like a betrayal of Frank. Jamie reassures her that he is not trying to take her father’s place, that he is so thankful to Frank for being there and living Bree when he could not. (If only Jamie demonstrated these emotional awareness and processing skills a bit longer…)
The bee-hunting escapade is a success, with Bree and Jamie returning with smiles on their faces, a little closer than before. That being said, Bree’s family seem to understand that something is wrong. Most of them put it down to heartbreak surrounding Roger’s abrupt departure so soon after their handfasting ceremony, but Claire knows her daughter better. She knows something else is wrong.
Claire correctly guesses that Bree is pregnant and, in another act of bravery and strength, Bree tells her mother that she was raped the same night as her wedding with Roger. Claire is horrified that her daughter has suffered such pain, and that she blames herself for what happened. She blames herself for not fighting harder.
“It’s not your fault,” Claire tells her sobbing daughter, and I want her to keep repeating it until Bree can believe it for herself.
Bree chooses not to tell Claire that it was Stephen Bonnet who attacked her. Young Ian had previously confided the story of Bonnet’s violence against the Frasers in the season premiere; he tells Bree that Jamie still blames himself for what happened, as he was the one who helped Bonnet escape the noose. Bree doesn’t want her father to do something stupid, like seek revenge, and she doesn’t want her mother to have to lie to the man she loves.
Inevitably, Claire figures it out when she finds her wedding ring, the one Bree got back from Bonnet following his rape, amongst Bree’s possessions. Meanwhile, Bree’s concerns that Jamie would seek revenge are proven true. Roger is close to finding Fraser’s Ridge when Young Ian and Lizzie spot him. Thinking he is the man who raped Bree, Lizzie tells Young Ian and then Jamie the whole story, as she knows it. Jamie beats Roger until his face is swollen.
This is why you don’t seek retribution for crimes perpertrated against other people, Jamie. Best case scenario, you’re continuing a pattern of violence and not necessarily helping the person who was hurt, the person who deserves your attention. And, to add insult to literal injury, you get the wrong person. Jamie’s violent vengeance at the end of the episode is especially difficult to watch because it is against Roger whom, while an ass, did not rape Bree and is, therefore, not the person Jamie is looking to punish. Oy vey.
The episode ends with Jamie asking Young Ian to get rid of Roger somewhere, though not to kill him. Um, good luck with that, Young Ian! Meanwhile, Jamie plans on keeping these events a secret from his wife and daughter, despite his bloody knuckles and obvious anger. Something tells me this is all going to get worse before it gets better.
Lizzie continues to get very little character development here. I would have liked to seen at least one scene showcasing the relationship between Bree and Lizzie before we see Lizzie trying to comfort her friend. Upon their arrival at Fraser Ridge, Lizzie promptly gets Maybe Malaria, disappearing for the family times montage, until she shows back up for plot-related reasons… and to flirt with Young Ian.
“So does everyone always call you Young Ian?” I have never related to Bree more than in this moment.
“Trying to change the future has never worked for us in the past.” What a sentence!
“When I thought I’d lost you forever, breathing was a chore.” Jamie is such a romantic.
I love how long these episodes are, compared to traditional TV.
“Is that Gaelic?” “No. It’s only simple.”
“She is a gift, from me to you. And from you to me.”
Oh yeah, Roger ditches Bree in Wilmington because Bonnet forces him to return to the ship, under the threat of violence, to finish out their voyage to Philadelphia. Still… you think Roger could have left a freaking letter or something.
Outlander Season 4 airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz. Stay up-to-date on all things Outlander Season 4 here!