Television

Outlander episode 502

Cold open: mob burning someone in effigy, then dragging officials out to the street and tar and feathering them. Murtagh is overseeing the tar & feathering. Right off the bat, this is a brutal episode. “Go to it, lads,” he says, but they’ve already poured burning tar on them, what else?

Opening credits: I like the choir, though my husband says it’s harder to make fun of the song this way, so perhaps that’s a small down side. (He likes to sing, “Sing me a song of a lass who is wrong . .”) I think the image of the clasping hands is new this time.

Title card of Claire baking bread — we learn later that this was in the middle of the night.

Episode opens with Bree drawing ugly Stephen Bonnet.

Dr. Claire is back in business. Poor Mr. Farrish and poor Mrs. Farrish, who was trying to help, but made it worse: “Does he need more blood let?”
(Here is where my husband said, “No, he needs less mercury,” which was funny, but then he felt bad when Mr. Farrish died the next moment.)
Marsali is good here: “Come, let us leave them.”

Likeable redcoat (“Affable Lieutenant”) makes it harder for Jamie (and us) to demonize them right off, although this one’s got a little too much light in his eyes while talking about hanging Murtagh. Affable Lieutenant Knox has a very black and white view of things. The status quo is good to him.

Autopsy. In her surgery. On the recently-deceased Mr. Farrish. Claire is insane. (We know this, but it’s been a while since she’s been in our faces about it.) Does she believe a person can only be tried and burned as a witch once per lifetime? That ticket can be punched again. She covers his face, but not his gaping, bloody torso. Nice.

Bree is 100% talking sense here. There is no reason for Claire to do an autopsy on this body, now. The stakes are ridiculously high and there’s no benefit. If the burst appendix didn’t kill the man, the mercury pills did. It’s not a murder mystery; it’s 18th-century medicine. The only reasonable outcome in this time and place is for her body-desecrating to be discovered and their magazine-cover-perfect Big House burnt to the ground by their tenants. “Sing me a song of a lass who is wrong,” indeed.

“An appendectomy is one of the most straightforward procedures you can do.” Again, in 1969, sure. Is she set up to do surgery here? Can she cut open a man’s guts and ensure he won’t still die of infection? Bree is trying hard to support her and get her to see sense, but Claire is too far gone for reality to matter.

And here she’s watching Marsali butcher and getting an idea. No, Claire, you’ve had enough ideas for one day.

Mr. John Evans’ tar burns look horrible and painful, but honestly I expected it to look worse (this show loves its gore). Evans seems more insulted and righteously indignant than terribly wounded. The guy in bed (Hooper) sounds much worse. He had it on his head, too. Shudder.

Jamie has the right thing to say in every situation this episode. At least so far.

“I only wish your wife was with you. We could surely employ a surgeon of her skill.” It’s a rare day on this show when a man who is not Jamie or a relative speaks well of Claire. Mark one down in Edmund Fanning’s favor.

Affable Lieutenant says he doesn’t need time to compose himself before talking to the prisoners. Turns out that’s untrue.

I do not know these prisoners’ names, but the bug-eyed one seems to recognize Jamie on sight. Jamie: “We’re looking for Murtagh Fitzgibbons, this leader of yours . . . that from the intensity of my gaze I want you to understand I know nothing about. Never heard of the man. Your turn.” (Intense stare continues.)

Suddenly-less-affable Lieutenant Knox runs a handcuffed prisoner through for spitting on his cheek. That is not how this “man of honor” thing is supposed to work. I may be from the future, but I have that part figured out.

Ohhhh, and Jamie covering for him is also not how this is supposed to work. We are off the honor rails now. Bug-eyed guy (name: Byan Cranna) is going to tell Murtagh that Jamie covered for Knox. But worse than that, Jamie knows he covered for Knox.

Bree is teaching Roger to shoot. Bree would rather be in the militia than in the Tufty Fluffy Tail Club. (My husband wondered if the Tufty Club was a real thing. YouTube has clips. )

Roger: “ . . . while the real men are away . . .” “He doesn’t respect me, Bree.” No, Jamie’s been an ass to you, that’s true, but pouting about it won’t help.

Brianna shoots their dinner. You’re going to have to get over your macho bullshit, Roger, for this to work. You and Jamie both.

“You want to go back, don’t you?” Yes, who wouldn’t miss hot running water and grocery stores, but that isn’t the point. The entire issue is that they don’t know if Jem can travel through the stones and it’s too risky to try when he’s an infant. It could kill him, or they could be ripped apart in time, whatever. Badness will ensue. Why are they arguing about it as if it’s a matter of preference or being near her family? (Plus, “not worrying about road safety” is a ridiculous argument considering how dangerous the time is. They all get to worry about infant mortality instead.) This is like arguing about whether you’d like to go out to eat in a fancy restaurant or stay home when the reality is that you’re flat broke and have no car. You’re eating Top Ramen at home regardless.

Jamie’s out to dinner with Knox, who seems to be remorseful until he starts to show us he’s a Master Rationalizer. From now on he’s the Rationalizing Lieutenant.

Who are they burying? Oh, poor Mr. Farrish. Claire’s hair is almost completely down here, let alone uncovered. She’s not even trying to be a proper lady anymore. (Did she ever?) Oh — and AS THEY ARE PUTTING DIRT ON THE COFFIN, SHE INVITES MARSALI TO SEE THE CORPSE. Broad daylight, in the middle of her surgery. “Lord have mercy! . . . and deliver us from evil,” indeed.

God, Claire has completely lost it. Showing Marsali this body at this time has to be her dumbest plan ever. I wish I’d recapped the previous 4 seasons so I could go back and check my notes to be certain. We need a clip show of all Claire’s dumb plans. The woman has no sense of how to keep herself alive. Thank God for Jamie Fraser.

“Now, knowing me as you do for as long as you have, why do you think Mr. Farrish is on this table?” OMG, the potential responses to that are endless.

She is not going to learn anything about helping other people by cutting up Mr. Farrish because she already knows he died of a burst appendix and mercury pills! This case is not complicated enough to justify her risky behavior. Marsali is great, but as I said last week, she is a woman of her time. She is also Laoghaire’s daughter, for crying out loud! There’s not enough whiskey, old or new, for us to cope with the outcome of this plan.

Jamie is arguing with the Regulator prisoners while he busts them out of jail. He’s walking a tightrope. (Yeah, yeah, he’s between two fires.)

“Murtagh was here with us!” Yup. He didn’t hide, Jamie. He’s not interested in making things simpler for you.

Claire is trying to get the women of the Ridge to take her medical advice seriously. They won’t. I guess dismissing her is better than viewing her with suspicion, particularly right now.

Oh — Bree is right on: “Sort of like Otter Tooth, isn’t it?” How did she get all the common sense?

Rationalizing Lieutenant is playing detective. Good thing he can’t see Jamie’s face, because Jamie looks suspicious as hell. Time to raise a militia.

Roger and Claire are talking openly about her corpse-defiling ways while she tests his vision. “The Apprentice Under the Root Cellar” is funny in theory. Less funny when the corpse makes your potatoes smell funny and YOUR FANCY HOUSE IS BURNED DOWN when the settlers find out why. Roger doesn’t seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation either. Hopefully Jem will inherit Bree’s common sense.

This conversation (about Brianna being good with a rifle and “wanting to stay”) is the perfect opportunity for Claire to remind Roger that Brianna isn’t choosing to stay at the moment, she is stuck! (It would also be a nice opportunity for the show to insert some background info from the book about who taught Brianna to shoot — and is that me, wishing for a moment to put Frank in a better light?)

Claire says, “I hope you don’t stay” because it’s safer in the future. Why is she acting like they have a choice too? “Jemmy could scrape his knee and die of an infection” — or he could be ripped apart from his parents and likely killed while attempting to travel through time. Oh, now Roger says it: “Brianna and I can’t go back until we know whether Jemmy can hear those stones.” YES. So what the hell have you been arguing about, then, Mr. MacKenzie?!

Herman Husband looks like Blackbeard the Pirate! I realize now that I expected him to look like the Quaker Oats man. Guess I need to learn more about Quakers.

“He’ll fight beside ye when the time comes, Bryan.” Oh, Murtagh, you don’t know that.

Mrs. Bug thinks Claire’s gone mad because she was up all night baking bread and is now putting it under glass jars. This is only because she’s not aware of the dead body under the root cellar.

Once again Bree brings the common sense. Also, where in hell did Claire get all those glass display jars? And all the stuff in the Big House, come to mention it. Look at the pottery on the walls behind her and all this gorgeous furniture. Weren’t they sleeping on skins under a lean-to of twigs while Jamie and Ian built a crooked one-room cabin just last season? Did she time-travel to a Pier One and magic all this stuff back to 1770?

Claire: “I change the future every time I save a person’s life here.” Do you? This is the interesting thing about Outlander’s time travel sensibilities: the story seems to allow for time travelers to make a difference on an individual level, but not a historical one. What happens when those overlap? If one of them accidentally kills George Washington, will another Revolutionary War leader spring up to take his place?

Roger singing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” (“Joy to the World”) to Jem is a sweet moment. Roger goes inside and knocks Bree’s drawing folder over. Her sketch of Jem is cute and perfectly acceptable; her sketch of her attacker’s evil face less so. Roger is disturbed. Will he ask her about it? Likely not, because if the main characters talked to each other directly about their problems, this show would be half its length. Jem takes his first steps and Bree is so excited. Roger can’t be happy because he doesn’t understand that his wife is processing her trauma through art. Or maybe he does, but he doesn’t like the acknowledgement of her trauma at all?

Cut suddenly to Wilmington, where two women are beating the crap out of each other in front of a crowd. Among the crowd are influential and well-dressed men, including Gerald Forbes and Charles Turnbull, and the villain himself, Stephen Bonnet. They chat and bet while the ladies of the night brawl. Turnbull describes Bonnet to Forbes as “very discreet in his dealings.” Bonnet’s about to prove otherwise.

The woman Bonnet bet on wins the fight and someone from the crowd (Mr. Marsden) accuses Bonnet of cheating. Marsden curses Bonnet with the phrase, “damn your eyes!” They duel. Bonnet wounds Marsden, driving him to his knees, and Marsden raises his hands, saying, “Yield! Yield!” Bonnet considers that a moment, then savagely mutilates Marsden’s eyes with his dirk. Because Marsden said “damn your eyes,” and Bonnet can’t let that go unanswered, clearly. It’s like “eye for an eye” times 1,000. Actual eye for metaphorical eye. Makes sense if you are a psychopath. When Turnbull asks why he didn’t just kill Marsden, Bonnet answers that he needs to set a good example, because he’s a father now. He leaves the building and pauses a moment outside to put on his jacket and look inspired. Doubtless he is off to find his spawn.

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