Television

Outlander episode 505

Cold open: 1960s Claire in a mostly-empty Catholic church. Book-readers and those attuned to the episode title might surmise that she’s there for the perpetual adoration of the blessed sacrament, though the show doesn’t say that here. My husband thinks Claire’s wig is from “Jackie O: the mature collection.” Claire stands alone in front of the altar and her voiceover takes us to her “present” in 1770s North Carolina. “Eureka!” she’s found penicillin under the microscope. She teaches Marsali to say “eureka” and heaven help me, all I can think of is Kelly Bundy. (“Topeka!”)

I love this opening song with the choir. Haven’t skipped it yet.

Title card is 1960s Claire in the Surgeons’ Lounge. She picks up a novel, The Impetuous Pirate.

The episode opens with Claire’s voiceover of a beloved passage right out of the book about the nature of time. Yes, this is what I have come for, thank you.

1960s Claire meets Brianna for lunch and tells her that she just lost a patient, due to a penicillin allergy of which they were unaware (they have tests for that, but they aren’t always accurate). This episode puts time in a blender and it’s not clear initially, but we find out later that this is during the period of time after Frank has died, but before Claire and Brianna visit England.

Cut to Roger and Brianna in the 1770s, postcoital. Roger is pouting about being sent home from Brownsville. He jokes about starting his own university and Brianna gets excited for a minute, saying she could teach math, except probably not — this is 1770-something and she’s a woman. But that doesn’t seem to occur to either of them and Roger says he wasn’t serious anyway.

The militia arrives in Hillsborough and the townspeople mistake them for Regulators. Once that’s cleared up, they’re happy to see the militia, but not interested in joining their ranks. Jamie is directed to redcoat officers in a nearby tavern. The redcoats are passing the time throwing knives at a wanted poster of Murtaugh. The bastards.

Rationalizing Lieutenant welcomes Jamie and tells him that Murtaugh leaves no trace, he’s “a shadow in the dark.” That’s a big change from when he was directing the tar-and-feathering in the street just a few episodes ago. Rationalizing Lieutenant is unhappy because the Governor is going to pardon the Regulator leaders and RL is afraid that means the armies may see their leaders as unmanly. He is also having a hard time justifying killing someone in jail who now would’ve been pardoned, and wants Jamie to help him feel better. Jamie tells him he must ask the Lord‘s forgiveness and receive it.

Rationalizing Lieutenant may not be a complete loss as a detective; he tells Jamie that he has sent for the Ardsmuir prisoner rolls in the hopes of discovering any friends from prison Murtaugh may have in the colonies who may be hiding him. Oh, shit.

Jamie is invited to throw a knife at Murtaugh’s poster and misses his face by quite a bit. Claire’s voiceover takes us back to the 1960s Catholic church. Church Claire transitions to 1960s Dr. Claire going in to see a patient, Graham Menzies.

Mr. Menzies is a Scottish man who Claire observes is “in good spirits” because he’s been harassing the nurses. He also tries to get Claire to tell him her first name, but she won’t. He tells her his wife, who was “a Yank,” has passed away. He’s been in America for 20 years. Mr. Menzies needs his gallbladder out, but first Claire’s going to give him what we now suspect will be a fatal dose of penicillin. (OK, she’s only ordering the allergy test at this point.) As Claire leaves his hospital room, Mr. Menzies in his Scottish accent talks about how the surgery will be “only one more scar,” and it’s clear this makes Claire think of Jamie.

1770s Claire prepares to do the tonsillectomy on Josiah and Keziah. Claire tells Marsali that everything she does as a doctor involves risk and you can’t always predict what the outcome will be. This episode is completely setting us up to believe that Josiah and Keziah will have a fatal reaction to her homebrewed penicillin. (Claire has a hypodermic needle here and I don’t remember that being the case from the books.)

Claire removes Keziah’s tonsils with the help of three other people: Lizzie holds the lantern, Arch Bug holds Keziah down in the chair, and Marsali is her surgical assistant. Claire uses a scalpel to cut the tonsils, Keziah spits them into a bowl, and then Claire cauterizes the back of his throat with a hot iron. It’s almost more than Lizzie can take. Claire tries to send Keziah to bed, but he wants to stay and be with his brother while his brother has his own surgery.

Cut to Roger in his cabin with fussy Jem and another Claire voiceover. (This episode has a lot of Claire voiceovers – they are not all necessary nor created equal.) Roger accidentally knocks down a jewelry box. When he puts the items back in the box, he discovers Stephen Bonnet’s black diamond wrapped in a piece of cloth. He knows it’s Bonnet’s diamond, and because he’s Roger and we’re watching Outlander, he automatically assumes the worst. Roger’s flashback to playing cards with Stephen Bonnet on the ship nearly makes me seasick. Bonnet wagers that diamond and cheats to win the hand. Roger calls him out on it for a second, but then says he must have been mistaken.

Brianna comes home and Roger immediately confronts her with the diamond. I really hate this whole scene, but I do appreciate that for once we have characters directly asking each other the things they want to know. Brianna tells Roger she went to see Bonnet in jail. Roger acts like a complete ass. He can’t understand why she would’ve kept “a gift from Bonnet” and she has to spell it out for him: the gem will allow Jemmy to go through the stones one day and then they can all go home. Asshole. (She doesn’t say that last part, that’s the subtext.)

Brianna admits to him that she told Bonnet in jail that she was pregnant with his child. Roger seems to think that because she said this, she knows it to be true, and she’s known all along and kept it from him. If he weren’t acting like an enraged five-year-old, maybe he would realize that there’s no way she could know that. He asks her “what she believes” and she stares at him. She can’t say that she’s been terrified that the baby could be Bonnet’s ever since she found out she was pregnant; it’s a fear that lives in the back of her mind all the time, and of course she doesn’t want her rapist to be the father of her child. But he should know all this. He’s supposed to help her keep that nightmare at bay. He’s supposed to be her partner, not her petulant antagonist. Roger takes his gun and leaves; he needs the gun to feel manly, of course, not that he can use it.

Cut to 1960s Claire entering the Catholic church. Claire has a chat with the priest about the fact that Mr. Menzies is dead and she’s come to the adoration . . . possibly in his place? Or at least because she knew it was important to him.

Back to 1770s Roger, who is in the woods, pouting against a tree. He prepares to shoot a rustling in the bushes that turns out to be early-morning Claire. He jokes sadly that he likely wouldn’t have hit her anyway. They talk. Claire considers herself an expert on marriage because she had a terribly unhappy marriage to Frank for 20 years, so she tries to give him some advice. Roger acts like he doesn’t know what happened between Brianna and Claire when Claire told her daughter the truth about Jamie, but as Claire reminds him, he was there. Roger believes that honesty is always the best policy, and again it feels childish to me, like he’s insisting on full disclosure every moment and if he doesn’t get it, that means he’s caught someone in a lie.

Roger returns to Brianna and apologizes, as he should. She’s sewing and wearing a dress when he comes back, which feels like choices the show made to make her seem as feminine as possible. (Or maybe we are supposed to think Brianna made those choices as a way of appeasing him?) She was wearing pants earlier when he left with the gun that we all know she’s better at using than he is. She finally tells him that Bonnet is alive and that he haunts her. She tells him about Mrs. Bug seeing an Irishman speak to Jem. Roger says that might not have been Bonnet. (She doesn’t tell him about the coin, which I think would’ve sealed the deal in his mind.) He tells her that it doesn’t matter, because as soon as they know that Jem can travel, they’ll leave, and then they’ll be safe. She nods, but doesn’t look comforted when they hug.

Back to the tavern. Rationalizing Lieutenant is telling Jamie that it turns out the Governor is pardoning everybody except Murtaugh and isn’t that fabulous? Now Rationalizing Lieutenant has purpose again because he can righteously hunt Mr. Fitzgibbons. Jamie, on the other hand, is directed to stand down his militia and deliver letters of pardon to the other Regulators on his way home.

In the 1960s, still-living Mr. Menzies is telling Claire that he has to be back on his feet by Friday at four, so he can do the perpetual adoration shift on his wife’s behalf. He promised her he would before she died. Claire says she’ll do her best and he just needs to get started taking that penicillin before surgery tomorrow. Everything‘s going to be fine.

Jamie visits Rationalizing Lieutenant in his room. He’s delivering the muster roll. RL invites Jamie to play a game of chess.

1960s Claire learns that Mr. Menzies died during the night due to a penicillin reaction (anaphylaxis) and yells at the new nurse, causing a scene. She’ll have to quit her job now because only male surgeons are allowed to act like that. Next we see her in a bar, being discovered by Dr. Joe Abernathy! Joe!! Dr. Abernathy tells Claire that he was the one who left The Impetuous Pirate in the Surgeons’ Lounge, and that’s just a little gift for the book readers, right there. Joe offers Claire some advice . . . and we cut back to Rationalizing Lieutenant and Jamie over the chessboard.

Rationalizing Lieutenant confesses a deep, deep admiration for Jamie, because everyone loves Jamie: women, men, children, they all love Jamie. He’s the King of Men. The Ardsmuir prison roll arrives and Rationalizing Lieutenant finally learns the truth: Jamie was a prisoner at Ardsmuir and (more importantly) Murtaugh is Jamie’s godfather. Rationalizing Lieutenant, who still fails to understand the incredibly difficult position that Jamie has been in this entire time, immediately calls him a deceitful devil who doesn’t understand honor and a traitor. RL draws his knife and tells Jamie to stand down while he calls for his arrest as a traitor. Jamie tries to appeal to RL’s nature as “a good man,” but RL can’t stand it. He thought Jamie was the better man, but now Jamie is a traitor. Only one of them can be a righteous man, so which is it? It doesn’t occur to him, although Jamie knows, that the answer is neither. No one gets to be 100% good, up on a pedestal, gleaming in white. Their lives are too complex for that.

Jamie grabs RL and chokes/smothers him to death, which I admit I was not expecting. Jamie then puts his body in the bed, burns the Ardsmuir roll, closes the flue to fill the room with smoke, and escapes out the window (with the muster roll) to cover his tracks. That’s smart, and Jamie’s smart, but it’s also deeply deceitful in a way that I don’t like to think about Jamie being. But as I just said, he’s not on a pedestal.

While Jamie slips down from the roof, he discovers a wee grey kitten. Adso! Jamie returns home with Adso.

Back to 1960s Claire and Brianna, talking about the fact that Claire lost a patient, on their way to lunch. Claire says she’s taking a leave of absence from the hospital and she wants Brianna to go to London with her. Brianna doesn’t want to go and seems mystified and kind of heartbroken by the notion of Claire finally taking time off. As if Claire has never, ever taken time off before, and a much-younger Brianna used to wish that she would.

In the 1770s, Claire gives Adso a saucer of milk and tells Jamie that she’s realized she owes a lot to Mr. Menzies, since his death was why she took a leave of absence that eventually led her back to Jamie.

And we close with the rest of the monologue about time, over 1960s Claire in the Catholic church. (Wig by Jackie O.)

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