After enduring many months of Droughtlander, Outlander, and everyone's favorite century-defying couple, is back. A lot has happened in the show's previous three seasons, and this new chapter is no different. So Marie Claire recruited a diehard Outlander fan to keep up with all the Fraser drama this season. Buckle up, Sassenach.
This week’s episode should be called THEY’RE BAAAACK because so many of the people we love to hate return–whether in flashbacks or horrifying real life. The story focuses on Brianna, Jamie and Claire’s daughter who grew up in the 20th century. Actress Sophie Skelton does a good job with the role and the episode has a lot of suspense. The really bad news is that there is no Jamie or Claire at all in this episode and they are missed.
Brianna’s in 18th century Scotland on a mission to warn her mother, Claire, and Jamie, the father she’s never met, that they face great danger. While tromping through the majestic Scottish countryside, she sprains her ankle and dreams of Frank Randall, the man she thought for most of her life was her father. There are some good scenes between Skelton and Tobias Menzies, a much admired actor, including one just after Frank, a historian, has found the notice of Claire and Jamie’s deaths in an 18th century North Carolina newspaper. Frank realizes then that Claire will go back in time again and find Jamie. Knowing that she will eventually leave him, he is drowning his sorrows in whiskey. In a later flashback, he tells Brianna that he and Claire are getting a divorce. He tries to persuade her to come to England with him. Is it because he truly loves Brianna? Or because it would be a powerful revenge against Claire–to steal the daughter who is her only link to Jamie. Frank is a complicated character who many viewers love to hate. He loves Claire, but nothing he can do will change the fact that her true love is Jamie Fraser.
She is one of the most despised characters in the Outlander world. As a teenager, she tried to have Claire burned at the stake as witch so she could get Jamie for herself. A few years before Claire came back, Jamie, in a really bone-headed move, actually married Laoghaire (pronounced "Leary," not "Leghair" as some readers of the books like to call her). She is still bitter that Jamie moved to Edinburgh to get away from her and eventually found Claire again. Laoghaire and her daughter Joanie find Brianna collapsed in the snow and bring her back to their house. Laoghaire seems nice and normal for a while, although Brianna hears her bitterly arguing with a neighbor (who turns out to be Jamie’s brother-in-law Ian Murray) about alimony money she’s owed. Joanie tells Brianna she misses the "Da" who left because he didn’t love her mother enough. Her own father also left Laoghaire. “Ma says men are louts,” she tells Brianna. Or maybe Laoghaire’s just a crazy bitch. Despite the fact that Laoghaire isn’t a very common name, Brianna hasn’t realized who she is until she reveals that her mother’s name is Claire Fraser. Laoghaire goes completely nuts. She tells Brianna her mother is a witch who should have burned at the stake, that she bewitched Jamie and nastily tells her that Jamie never wanted a child, so he sent Claire away. She locks Brianna up. Joanie (who looks like she’s straight out of a Vermeer painting) rescues her and takes her to Lallybroch, Jamie’s old home.
IAN MURRAY THE ELDER
Anytime we get to see Lallybroch is magical. And Ian, played by Steven Cree, is a warm and welcoming presence after Laoghaire’s bitterness. He accepts immediately that Brianna is Jamie’s daughter–even though Jamie never mentioned her. Really? Just the red hair, and that’s enough to convince him? A little skepticism would have been more believable. Sadly, Jamie’s sister Jenny, a fan favorite, is away from home delivering a new grandchild. Ian gives Brianna money to help pay her passage to America along with a trunk of her mother’s clothes. It includes a truly fabulous fur trimmed jacket from Season 1 which is definitely worth seeing again.
As he bids her goodbye at the dock, Ian, typical parent, asks Brianna to tell his son Ian to write to his mother more often when she gets North Carolina.
The charming Irish villain is back, this time as the captain of the ship Roger Mackenzie is taking to America as he tries to find Brianna. He realized she went back in time and followed her through the stones. He knows she must be headed to North Carolina to try to prevent the death of her parents. Aboard ship, Bonnet is the undisputed master. He is an engaging psychopath who doesn’t bat an eye when he throws a child overboard because she’s suspected of having smallpox. Edward Speleers portrays Bonnet as self-aware and subtly sinister. He’s furious when he discovers Roger’s been hiding a young mother and her baby so the child won’t also be thrown into the sea. Instead of killing Roger outright, Bonnet decides his fate with the flip of a coin. Spoiler: He lives.
THE MAIN PROBLEM
It’s that Jamie and Claire Fraser are totally absent from this episode. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan bring such emotional depth to their characters and their on screen chemistry is so compelling that without them, this episode, while loaded with suspense, feels hollow. Sophie Skelton gives her best performance yet as Brianna and Tobias Menzies is a gifted actor. But Balfe and Heughan are the heart and soul of Outlander. Without them, the story loses both.