"Providence," the title of tonight's episode—a bit obscure—refers to God's protection or to one's destiny. The destinies (and plot lines) of the many characters in this episode are intertwined. They've stumbled into each other's lives and loved and suffered and are perhaps redeemed because of it. Some take a moral high ground. Some offer forgiveness. Others find the strength to take risks. What we don't find in this episode is Jamie and Claire Fraser, the heart and soul of this show. So this episode, despite its suspense and interesting characters, is missing their magic.
There are many in this installment. Roger Mackenzie (Rik Rankin) is being held captive by the Mohawk who call him Dogface because of his facial hair. He meets a fellow prisoner, Father Alexandre, who caused his own captivity by refusing to baptize the child he had with a Mohawk woman. In Wilmington, Jamie's godfather Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is facing death because of his role as the leader of the rebel group the Regulators. Sharing the same jailhouse and fate is Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), the pirate who robbed the Frasers and raped their daughter Brianna. Brianna (Sophie Skelton) herself is a prisoner: Trapped in the 18th century, pregnant with a child whose father could be one of two men, Roger or Bonnet. Trapped too by her feelings of anger and remorse toward her father, Jamie.
The crazy things we do for love. Father Alexandre tells Roger his story—how he came to convert the Indians and fell in love. He broke his vows, he's committed a sin and that is why he won't baptize his baby. But he can't stop loving the Mohawk woman. Roger's met her, has seen her blue-eyed baby and also seen the jealousy of the Mohawk warrior who clearly wants her for his own. "You should not smile at her," he warns Roger. Roger shares his own story of crazy love with Alexandre—following the woman he loved across time and space. After the Indians take Alexandre to be tortured to force him to do the baptism, Roger begins digging a tunnel to escape. Which he does, just as Alexandre is being slowly burned at a stake. As Roger runs through the forest he hears the priest's screams and he hesitates. "Don't be an idiot" he tells himself. Yet he is a fool again. He turns back to help, throwing a barrel of fuel on the fire to give Alexandre a quick death. For some, death is preferable to a life without love. It is shocking when Alexandre's lover puts down her baby to join him in the fire. They burn together and the jealous Mohawk is left cradling another man's child.
Brianna finally reads the letter that Jamie (Sam Heughan) has sent her. He Implores her not to seek revenge against Stephen Bonnet, but to try for forgiveness. Jamie's friend, Lord John Grey comes to tell her that Bonnet's been captured and condemned to death. "I want to see him" she tells Lord John. "Maybe find a way to be free of him." It turns out Lords have a lot of influence in colonial North Carolina and he's able to get the Governor to agree to his rather bizarre request to see the condemned man. On the way to the jail, Brianna confesses that she misses her mother, Claire (Caitriona Balfe). (So do we! Why is she only in this episode for a 10 second shot riding through the woods?!) Lord John opines that "she is a rather remarkable woman." Being her mother's daughter, Brianna insists on seeing Bonnet alone. She tells him who she is, who her parents are: "They saved your life and then you robbed them." "Yes," he agrees, unrepentant. "I came here to give you something and to forgive you." Her gift is to show her swollen belly. "If it makes dying easier to know there's something of you left on this earth." For this one moment Bonnet is human. He gives her a jewel he's hidden: "for his maintenance. A dying man's last wish." But is it?
Fergus (Cesar Domboy) finds a purpose when he hatches a plot with the Regulators to free Murtagh. It involves overpowering the guards, stealing the keys to the cell—oh, and pouring a whole lot of gunpowder around the outside of the jail to cause an explosion that will hide their escape. He's got the support of his feisty wife, Marsali (Lauren Lyle) but he tells her, "I wish milord (Jamie) were here." (We do too! He's in that 10 second shot with Claire on a horse. That's it!) Who should they run into at the jail but Brianna and Lord John. I told you the fates of all these characters were intertwined. They all high tail it out of the jail just before the explosion leaving Bonnet on his own to die there. Bonnet—who is last seen reaching for the keys that will unlock his shackles. Hmmm.
If this were any other TV show this would be a pretty good episode. There's heartbreak and suspense. But it's Outlander—a show about a love story that transcends time and place. About a couple who are madly, passionately in love. About a woman, Claire, the Outlander of the title for God's sake, who's given up a comfortable life in the 20th century to return to the love of her life. About a dashing Highlander, Jamie, who pined for her for 20 years. Where are they? Where's their passionate sex? And where's Jamie's kilt?
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