Friday, January 25, 2019

“Life in the Idiot Hut” : a recap of season 4 episode 12 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

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Consequences. That is the theme word for episode 12. Many decisions are made in this, the penultimate hour of series 4. Some are decisions made for love; others for survival. Some characters decide to show mercy, while others decide to defy the law. But no decision is without consequence and it remains to be seen how far reaching these consequences will be. The stakes will certainly be high (no pun intended) for every moment from now on.

The episode’s action continues on directly from the end episode 11, with Roger being savagely beaten by the Mohawk. When a halt is finally called to the attack, one of the warriors announces to Roger that he is still captive. A young woman comes forward and touches his beard, making a comment that causes all the others to laugh. Roger is hauled to his feet and dragged away. 

Back in Wilmington, Fergus tells two of the regulators that Murtagh has been imprisoned. The capture of Stephen Bonnet has not ended as expected, with Murtagh being recognised from the broadsheet and arrested himself. The men know that their friend is in danger. There is no chance of a fair trial and Governor Tryon will want to hang him, in order to send a message to the regulators. Fergus tells the others that he was with Murtagh when it happened and that the older man had taken responsibility in order to save him. He will not let Murtagh hang. Brian agrees: “What’s taken from one of us is taken from all of us,” he says. All are determined to rescue their friend.

Back at River Run, a now heavily pregnant Brianna is told by Lord John that Bonnet has been captured and imprisoned for smuggling, piracy and murder. Brianna muses whether it is too late to add rape to the list, but John comments that it would only bring shame upon her and given that Bonnet has already been sentenced for his previous crimes, to add another would be of no consequence. Brianna bristles at this, but Grey continues. Bonnet will hang the following week, he says, and he had thought she would want to know. Brianna thanks him for the news, but as he leaves the room, she turns back with a reaction that John hasn’t expected. She wants to see Bonnet. Gone is the petulant young woman from season 2, or even the hotheaded woman of more recent episodes. Brianna has been forced to grow up quickly and Sophie Skelton does an amazing job of portraying this change. The Brianna in this scene has a brittle, but determined edge.

John follows Brianna outside, refusing to allow her to go to Wilmington. Even if her condition allowed for travel, he says, there is no way of knowing what effect the attendance at an execution could have. He begins to say that he completely sympathetic to her feelings, but Brianna interrupts him. He doesn’t know what her feelings are, she tells him. She doesn’t want to watch the execution, but she does want to talk to Bonnet. John reminds Brianna that he had been entrusted by Jamie to look after her, quipping that he doubts this protection would include afternoon tea with a murderer. Brianna responds by producing Jamie’s note, which she hands to John to read.

Jamie’s voiceover, accompanied by the only vision of Jamie and Claire that we get this episode, begins by expressing his fervent hope that they will meet again and that all will be made right between them. He has been thinking, he says, about whether revenge would heal the wrong that has been done to Brianna and advises her not to seek it. For the sake of her soul and for her own life, she must find the strength to forgive. Bonnet will not escape vengeance, Jamie says, as such a man contains within himself the seeds of his own destruction. If Bonnet doesn’t die at Jamie’s hand, it will be by another, but it must not be Brianna’s. “Hear me,” the letter concludes, “for the sake of the love I bear you.” 

As John finishes reading, Brianna expresses regret that she had not said goodbye to Jamie when he left. She agrees though: forgiveness will not change what has already happened, but can change what is yet to come. If she is able to say her piece, she tells John, then perhaps she can find a way to be free of Bonnet. She has to try, she adds, for her baby’s sake. 

“Very well,” says John, handing back the letter. He promises to help, adding, “God knows how,” with the ghost of a smile.  Again we are reminded what a good man John Grey is. The lives of the Frasers would certainly have been vastly different without his help and care. Baby Fraser chooses this moment to kick and John asks if he can feel Brianna’s belly. “My God,” he says softly, “he’s real.” 
“Yes,” Brianna replies, “I know.” Her expression is a mixture of wonder, fear, love and resignation. 

At Shadow Lake, Roger, his arm in a sling, is tying another knot in a much longer string. It is a visual representation of just how many days have passed since his capture. One of the Mohawk women gives him an order - he is to carry wood to the longhouse - and speaks sharply when Roger starts to walk in the wrong direction. There is no doubt that Roger is the servant here. As he walks, he is joined by another Mohawk woman, with a baby in her arms. She speaks in French, asking if he understands, before giving him some herbs for the pain, instructing him to chew them. Roger takes them, telling the woman her daughter is beautiful. She comments that the baby has her father’s eyes. Taking a chance on this woman’s kindness, Roger asks if she can help him leave. She refuses, telling him only that he must heal.

The Mohawk who has brought Roger to Shadow Lake, a man now identified as Kaheroton, calls out, telling her to be careful. The woman, whose name is Johiehon, remarks that Roger doesn’t look dangerous. But Kaheroton replies that Roger must be no good, as he was sold by his own people. As Roger is directed to the Long House and walks off, Kaheroton’s expression softens. He gives Johiehon a necklace, commenting that he hopes it brings her peace. It is clear that he has feelings for her, smiling as she thanks him. But she also has some sage advice. “We must remember,” she says, touching his head, “that peace begins here, as war does, in the minds of men.” She walks off, leaving Kaheroton looking after her. 

John and Brianna’s carriage arrives in Wilmington. Despite her determination, Brianna is apprehensive. John asks if she is all right and she replies that she is just uncomfortable and hasn’t gotten used to being the size that she now is. “Being here is harder than I thought it would be,” she admits. Again, John understands. “A baby is expected,” he tells her. “Memories are not. They simply come.” Brianna admits that she misses Claire, and John says that he has also found himself missing her, particularly when he is unwell. Though Claire is direct, she is a remarkable woman. Brianna voices the hope that Claire will have returned before the baby arrives. John reassures her that, knowing her parents, they will be doing everything in their power to return Roger to her. He smiles gently at her and offers his arm for her to take. As she does so, Brianna voices what every Outlander fan is already thinking: “You are impossible not to like,” she says. 

Roger approaches the chief’s campfire, offering more wood. The man does not speak, watching as Roger painfully drops a log into the flames. Roger walks past Johiehon and smiles. This is noticed by Kaheroton, who tells Roger to put the logs nearby. There is more to the instruction, but Roger interrupts, commenting and pointing at the location mentioned. This angers Kaheroton, who grabs Roger by his injured arm. Immediately, Johiehon comes to Roger’s defence, telling her companion that Roger does not know their ways and is unaware that to point or speak while someone else is speaking is an offence. Still, Kaheroton pushes Roger roughly to the ground.

This exchange has captured the attention of the chief, who walks over to them. Kaheroton remarks that Roger is no good and the man responds by crouching down and observing Roger closely. 
“Please,” Roger pleads, “I’m hurt.” 
The chief responds by telling Kaheroton to put Roger “in the hut.”  

As Kaheroton leads Roger away, he asks where Roger’s loyalties lie and how he had come to be an outcast. It is the first time that Roger has been given an opportunity to explain his situation. He tells Kaheroton that it was a mistake, prompting the other man to question him further. Had Roger broken his word of honour? When Roger says that his loyalties lie with a woman, Kaheroton replies that in that case he should not smile at Johiehon. He pulls aside a doorway, and pushes Roger into a hut. He lands on his wounded arm and cries out in pain, before reaching into the sling and pulling out some of the herbs to chew.

A greeting from behind him causes Roger to turn around. A man is sitting there, introducing himself in French as Father Alexandre Ferigault. Switching to English, Alexandre asks if Roger is British, which he confirms, making his own introductions as Roger Mackenzie.  Alexandre begins by explaining Roger’s nickname: the Mohawk have been referring to him as “dog face”, because their people do not keep their whiskers and are rather fond of dogs. Roger comments that if that is true, he wouldn’t have known it, adding that he doesn’t even know where he is. Alexandre tells him that he is in the village known as Shadow Lake, in the province of New York. He asks how Roger comes to be there and Roger chuckles bitterly before answering, “I suppose you could say I walked here.” Roger repeats the question, asking Alexandre what he is doing at Shadow Lake. “I fell in love,” the man replies, simply. 

Fergus is planning at the kitchen table, thimbles and jars standing in for the people in his rescue plan. Marsali joins him and he initially tries to explain away the collection of objects as playthings for Germaine. But she is not fooled, pointing to their son in his crib, soon realising on her own that her husband is hatching a plot to release Murtagh. “Good,” she says. Fergus is surprised, having expected her to be angry. But Marsali tells him that Murtagh shouldn’t be in prison in the first place and he certainly shouldn’t be hanged.  She starts to decipher the model, encouraging him, as Fergus begins to doubt whether it will work. Brian and Malachy have found other men to help, but the plan is still dangerous. They both lament the absence of Jamie and Claire. Marsali remembers how Claire had risked her life to save Jamie from Wentworth and Fergus asks, in an 18th century WWJD moment, what his adoptive parents would do if they were here. “They’d find a way,” Marsali answers, “and we will too.” Proving she is every bit as determined as Claire, Marsali refuses to be left out. They are in this for better or worse, she reminds Fergus and tells him to have faith in his plan. Fergus muses that perhaps it is time to take up Jamie’s offer and move to Fraser’s Ridge. Marsali responds by saying she will find a wagon and pack their belongings. Fergus grabs her and kisses her, branding her an exceptional woman. “I’d join you to face the Devil himself,” she replies. This partnership is a lovely parallel to Jamie and Claire - Fergus and Marsali are just as much of a team. 

Father Alexandre is telling Roger his story. He had arrived in the area some years before preaching the word of God, he says, succeeding in converting the Mohawk chief, who had invited him back to the village. He had then converted some of the tribe and for a time had lived peacefully with them. But a year later, he had been struck with fever and cared for by a woman whose soft, cooling hands had reminded him of an angel. After he had recovered however, “there was sin.” Alexandre had thought himself immune to temptation, but his resolve had crumbled. 

Roger comments that the tale where a man’s heart is stolen by a woman is a very old story. But Alexandre explains that their union had resulted in a child. Roger guesses that this has offended the Mohawk but Alexandre denies this. The problem, he explains, is that the Mohawk wanted him to baptise the child and save its soul, which he says he could not do, as he wasn’t in a state of grace. He has broken his vows, he says, and thus cannot perform the sacrament of baptism. He is damned and will not damn his child with a false blessing from a fallen priest. 

Roger guesses the identity of the woman: Johiehon, the healer, and asks Alexandre if he still loves her. Alexandre replies that he had been praying that his love would abate and that he would cease to see her in his dreams, or to feel the touch of her hand, or hear her laugh, but his prayers have gone unanswered. He can’t expect Roger to understand, he says, but Roger replies that he knows exactly what Alexandre means. 

Their conversation is interrupted when the door to the hut is pushed aside and two of the Mohawk enter, telling Alexandre he is there because of his dishonour and that he will go naked before the Lord. As he is stripped, Alexandre asks Roger to pray for him. The door is replaced and Roger is left alone. He begins looking around for a way out. Picking up his water bowl, he begins to dig at the ground. Time passes and Roger hears cries of pain. He has made a bit of progress though: the hole beneath him is getting larger. 

Suddenly Father Alexandre is thrown back into the hut, as Roger scrambles to hide his work. The priest has been tortured, with part of his ear cut off and Roger tries to clean the wound with water. He prays over the man with a prayer for the sick, which rouses the priest enough to sit up and drink some water. Roger asks what happened and Alexandre explains that he was offered another chance to baptise the child, but he has refused. If he doesn’t change his mind by the morning, he will face a slow agonising death by fire. He has seen such a punishment inflicted before and tells Roger that in that case, it took the man three days to die. 

Roger can’t believe Alexandre’s seeming act of matyrdom. The Mohawk don’t know the rituals of the church, he says, and as long as the priest pours some water on the baby’s head and says some words - any words - they will be satisfied. But Alexandre replies that he will know, deciding that this is the Lord’s punishment for his sins. Roger is becoming impatient now, but Alexandre is resolute. He will not mock the sacrament to save his life. 

Roger calls him an idiot, before starting to tell his own story. He talks of Brianna and how he had pursued her across an ocean and through time and space when she refused his proposal. When his pursuit was finally successful and they were handfast, they fought, saying words to regret but ones that sent him on his way back home. When he changed his mind and went back, he did not find the woman he loved, but a man he believed to be her father, who had beaten him and sold him to the Mohawk. Even then, Roger says, he had another chance to go home when he broke free from his captors. But he hesitated, because after everything he had suffered, he still loved her.

Alexandre starts to say that Roger understands, but Roger has not finished his story. The difference between the two men, Roger says, is that he has changed from all the pain. From now on, he will look out for number 1 and turn his back on love, telling Alexandre to do the same and save himself, because no one else will.  Changing tack, Roger tells his companion that he has been digging and that there is now a spot where they can escape without being noticed. It is not too late: there are choices in front of them and Roger wants Alexandre to go with him, suggesting that he find a priest to absolve him so he can continue his work, or take Johiehon and the baby and start a new life as a husband. Both choices, Roger reasons, are better than staying and dying a horrible death. 

This is spectacular acting by Rik Rankin, who puts everything into this monologue. We are left in no doubt as to the pain and hurt Roger is experiencing, pain that is far beyond the physical, but a hurt that has scarred him mentally as well. It is easy to believe that Roger could indeed have reached the last straw and that his earlier resolve to return to his wife has evaporated. 

Turning away, Roger begins to dig with the cup once more, and after a moment’s hesitation, Alexandre joins him. The hours pass, as a Mohawk warrior sits outside the hut unaware of what is going on inside. When morning comes, the hole is not big enough. Alexandre tells Roger that Roger will have time to complete the work after he has gone. Roger cannot believe that the priest is still determined to stay and be tortured to death. Alexandre understands what Roger has told him, but he doesn’t share Roger’s conclusions that love and idiocy are linked. His last act is to help Roger hide their night’s work. 

Kaheroton enters and asks Alexandre for his decision. The priest stands and says he cannot baptise the child and will put himself in the hands of the Lord. Turning to Roger he bids him farewell, saying, “God be with you, my friend.” Left alone, Roger murmurs, “bloody fool” before recommencing his digging.

In Wilmington, gunpowder is being poured around the prison as John and Brianna approach. John can see that Brianna’s mind is made up, but comments that the rest of her seems apprehensive. Brianna tells him that she is nervous, now that the moment is finally here. John suggests she take a moment to prepare herself, which she does, with a few deep and determined breaths. 

They walk towards the militia, John making the formal introductions, telling the men that he has arranged with the Governor for them to have an audience with the prisoner, Stephen Bonnet. The men are aware of this and unlock the door for them. As they go inside, Fergus finishes sprinkling the gunpowder.

The guard tells Brianna and John that Bonnet has been moved to the far cell and is chained to the wall. Brianna tells John that she will see him alone, dismissing his objections by saying that Bonnet is in chains and cannot hurt her. John grabs her arm and tells her that he will be waiting “right here”, should she need him. With a grateful smile, she walks towards the cell.

Marsali and Fergus are sitting in their wagon, waiting for a signal from the other Regulators. In a movement reminiscent of a Western movie, one by one the Regulators appear, marching determinedly down the dirt street. As they reach the wagon, Fergus jumps down and takes the central position as their leader. Marsali tells the horses to walk on, ready to fulfil her part of the plan.

Brianna enters the cell. Bonnet is sitting against the wall observing her. “Do you know who I am?” she begins. Bonnet replies with a sarcastic “Queen of Sheba”, before addressing her as “Sweetheart” and saying that she had never given him her name. Brianna forbids him using that endearment, flinching as Bonnet gets to his feet to look at her more closely. Leering, he says that he remembers her face and a few other things, but not her name. 

Brianna wastes no time in telling him, adding the details that she is Jamie and Claire’s daughter and that he had robbed them. Bonnet doesn’t deny it, telling her that if she had come wanting to retrieve the jewels then she is too late, as he has already sold them to buy a ship. But he remembers the ring, and taunts her about the attack by saying, “Oh, but you got that back”.

Fergus and the others approach the militia outside the cells. Fergus begins to talk, saying that they have come to visit a prisoner. When the guard says that there are no visitors without prior permission, the men draw their pistols, Fergus saying that he doesn’t think that permission will be necessary. 

Brianna is holding her nerve, telling Bonnet that she has been told he will hang. Bonnet agrees, commenting that she hasn’t come out of pity and laughing when she replies that she will rest easier once he is dead. He asks what she wants of him and she surprises him with her answer. She has come to give him something, she says. She pulls aside her cloak and puts her hand on her belly, as she tells Bonnet that she has come to forgive him.  Bonnet is unimpressed, saying that whores have tried to foist their spawn on him before.

But Brianna has no reason to lie, she replies. He is going to hang and if it makes dying easier to know that there is something left of him on the Earth, then he is welcome to the knowledge. She turns to leave, but Bonnet’s response stops her. “So I’ll be gone,” he replies, “but not forgotten.” Brianna turns and unleashes her fiery Fraser temper. She has no choice but to live with what he did, she says, but he will be forgotten. Her child will be loved and raised to be a good person, without any knowledge that he had ever existed. Her passion seems to have an effect. Bonnet asks her to wait, before extracting a jewel from inside his mouth and holding it towards her, for maintenance. Brianna says that she doesn’t want it, but changes her mind on his insistence that it is a dying man’s last wish. She looks at the jewel and at Bonnet, who says, “Take care of him.”

Fergus and the others are also inside the prison, where they encounter Lord John. He overpowers one of the men, before Fergus aims his pistol and insists that John unhand his friend. After a moment, they recognise each other, John asking the purpose for their attack. Brian has found the keys and Fergus gives his orders to the other men. Lord John is not to be harmed, but neither is he to be allowed to leave, as his allegiance is to Governor Tryon. Apologising to John, Fergus heads down the corridor.

Murtagh is in another cell and hears his name being called. He stands, calling to the men so that they can free him. As they are unlocking the cell, Brianna appears, shocked to see him imprisoned. Murtagh asks what she is doing there and she replies, with an indication towards Bonnet, who is once more sitting against the wall. Fergus tells them to hurry and they leave, as we notice Bonnet staring at the keys that have been dropped onto the floor. 

Lord John and Murtagh face off. John is angry, saying that he isn’t surprised to see Murtagh there. Murtagh looks at Brianna, describing John as the devil who brought her to see the villain. But Brianna absolves John of any blame, saying that she had insisted. Murtagh tells Brianna to go with him, so that he can escort her to River Run. But Lord John refuses, commenting that every militia man will be hunting him down and that he, not Murtagh, will escort Brianna.

Fergus and the others make Murtagh see sense. If Tryon sees Brianna with him, they say, then her neck would also be in ropes. Murtagh cannot argue with this and reluctantly entrusts her to John, as one of the other men urges them to hurry: the gunpowder has been lit. John is horrified that they mean to blow up the jail, but Fergus explains that it is a diversion so that they can make their escape. Taking the unconscious regulator with them, the group leave the jail, Fergus telling Murtagh that Marsali is waiting. 

In his cell, Bonnet tries to reach the keys, his chains stretching just far enough for his foot to touch them. Everyone else is outside now, running away as the gunpowder ignites. Fergus and Murtagh dive under the cover of Marsali’s wagon, as she calls to the horse to walk on.

The ending of this scene suggests that the jail has exploded with Bonnet inside. But, given that a stampede of Highland cattle didn’t succeed in killing the last villain in Outlander history, without vision of Bonnet’s dead body, it is to be wondered whether Stephen Bonnet will be just as lucky as Black Jack Randall and that he will yet return to cause more trouble for the Frasers...

Back at Shadow Lake, Roger emerges on the other side of the hut. His digging has been successful. Painfully, he drags himself clear. No one has seen him and he takes shelter behind a tree. The torture of Father Alexandre has begun and Roger takes his chance to escape.

Brianna and John are stopped by a redcoat who asks if they are unharmed. John says they are uncertain how many have perished in the blast and asks if any of the insurgents have been caught. The redcoat answers that the men were more prepared than they had realised and had been intent on rescuing their leader, Murtagh Fitzgibbons. He asks if John and Brianna knew where the men were taking him. As Brianna holds her breath, John replies that the event had transpired with stunning rapidity and he heard nothing that would aid their search. He adds that he trusts they will find the men and the redcoat solemnly confirms that Governor Tryon will not allow the event to go unpunished. As the soldiers leave, John and Brianna share an understanding smile before continuing on their way.

Roger is berating himself as he runs, telling himself not to go soft, that Alexandre chose his fate. “There’s nothing you can do, don’t be an idiot,” he says aloud. But the priest’s screams are having an effect. Again, Roger tells himself to be smart for once in his idiotic life, but his run has slowed to a walk. Starting to sob, Roger damns himself as a stupid fool and starts back towards the camp.

Much has been said of the power of this final scene, played out as it is under Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” The choice of music heightens the tragedy and it is compelling, yet distressing viewing. Roger returns to see the Mohawk standing mute as Father Alexandre writhes in agony in the flames. Johiehon is watching with tears falling, murmuring to her love. Suddenly Roger runs towards the pyre, picking up a cask of whisky as he does so. Keheroton has seen him and runs to intercept, but Roger hurls the cask into the flames before he does so. The two men fall back as the fire explodes, thus giving Alexandre a quick death. Keheroton hauls Roger to his feet in anger. Johiehon, her eyes on the flames, kisses her child and puts it in its crib. As Keheroton screams after her and Roger watches in horror, Johiehon walks forward into the fire, joining her lover in death. 

Keheroton looks around him in despair, before picking up the baby. He falls to his knees in front of the burning bodies, crying along with the child. At the same time, a shocked Roger is led away by two of the Mohawk, saying softly, “That’s it, lads. Take me back to the idiot hut.” He is under no illusion that the consequences of his action will be huge. Viewers can only hope that Jamie, Claire and Ian are not too far away, and will arrive in time to save Roger from Alexandre’s fate. It certainly promises to be heartstopping end to season 4.

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia.She was blown away by Rik Rankin’s emotion in this episode, as well as by the talents of Braeden Clarke, Yan Tual and Sera-Lys McArthur. 

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