Thursday, January 10, 2019

“The Heart of the Matter” - a recap of season 4 episode 10 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

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Regrets. This is the theme word for this week, as the episode is full of them. Some regrets are easily comforted, others have long lasting consequences. This is another emotionally charged episode with many tears, but ones which are shed in anger and accusation, rather than joy. Sympathy and blame shifts from character to character and an overwhelming sense of helplessness pervades the action. 

It doesn’t start that way, however. After such a brutal ending to the previous episode, this one begins in a gentler fashion. Jamie has returned from his encounter with Roger and finds his daughter deep in thought. Ironically, Brianna’s first words are to ask what has happened to Jamie’s hand, the knuckles of which he has bandaged with a cloth. Rather than tell her the truth, Jamie replies that he has had an accident near the still. Claire has told him what has happened to her, he says, and asks if Brianna had known her attacker. When she replies that she did not, Jamie invites her to walk with him while he checks the snares.

Brianna asks Jamie if he hates her, since an unmarried, pregnant daughter can’t be what he was hoping for. Jamie responds by asking how he could possibly hate her for something that was done against her will. He reassures Brianna, telling her not to worry, as he will see her married. Brianna tells him that she doesn’t want to marry, but Jamie is insistent: with a baby coming, she must. But Brianna is equally insistent: she already loves someone from her own time. “The historian,” Jamie says. Brianna nods, but adds that he won’t want her now, after what has happened. In true paternal fashion, Jamie remarks that he will if he is an honourable and decent man and that if he doesn’t, then he isn’t deserving of her.  Trying to lighten the mood a little, Jamie says that he will travel through time himself to deliver the message.

But Brianna is busy blaming herself. “How could I be so stupid?” she mutters, as she walks away. She catalogues her poor decisions, beginning with following her attacker into a dark room, alone. Jamie has heard and tells her that she must never think it was her fault. Still, Brianna is angry that she wasn’t braver; that she hadn’t attempted to fight. 
“You couldn’t have stopped him,” Jamie says. 
“I could have tried harder,” she replies. 

At this, Jamie changes tack. He agrees with Brianna and begins to bait her. Perhaps she wanted it, he suggests, musing that Brianna is playing with the truth a little, merely making up the rape story after taking a dislike to the man. She wouldn’t be the first, he says, to make a mistake and then try to hide it. This approach is working: Brianna is indeed getting angry. “You think I’m lying?” she asks. Jamie delivers the final blow with a smirk: “Maybe you enjoyed it,” he says. 

This is too much for Brianna and she swings a punch at him, which he quickly blocks, grabbing her hands. “Is that all you’ve got for me, Lass?” he asks. When she lunges for him again, he grabs her in a headlock. “I could break your neck,” he tells her. “I could end your life here and now. Could you stop me? Answer me!” 
“No!” she replies, realisation sinking in. 
“You couldn’t have stopped him either,” Jamie tells his daughter, adding that it took courage not to fight. If she had, he says, she would have been dead. 

But now it is Bree’s turn to take Jamie off guard. She asks if he had fought back against Jack Randall and explains that Claire has told her about what happened at Wentworth. Jamie replies that he had given his word not to fight, in order to save Claire’s life, and would do the same again. Brianna asks if Jamie did finally kill Randall. She has been wondering, she explains, if it would help if she killed her attacker. 
“What would you get back?” he questions, but again she is ready with knowledge from the past. She knows about the duel in Paris and turns Jamie’s question back onto him: what had he tried to get back?
“My honour,” he says simply. 
Bree wonders if he doesn’t think her honour worth getting back, but Jamie tells her that she would get herself killed if she attempted it. 
“At least I’d take him with me,” she replies.

And so Jamie relates the aftermath of Culloden. He did kill Randall, he says, waking with Randall’s corpse on top of him. Brianna asks if it helped and Jamie replies that vengeance had not seemed so important then. Hundreds lay dead on the moor and although Jamie had thought he would be one of them, Randall was instead, so he left him to God. Brianna has been thinking that perhaps if her attacker was dead, she would be able to forget him. Gently, Jamie strokes Brianna’s hair. She will not forget, he tells her, but time will let her heal. He pulls her towards him, kissing the top of her head. 

These scene presents a unique type of “fatherly advice”. The fact remains that Jamie and Brianna share a horrific experience.  Book fans have lamented the loss of the cabin scene, where Jamie attempts to calm his daughter by singing tunelessly to her as she sits on his lap, but it appears as if this conversation serves as its replacement. The two characters do seem closer by the scene’s end, with Brianna leaning against her father for comfort, his arm around her shoulder. 

Meanwhile, two prisoners are being led through the woods, tied behind the horses of a group of Indians. The stronger of the two prisoners is Roger; the other man is in a bad way. Roger tries to get help for his companion, but is hit by the Mohawk warrior for his trouble. When it is clear that no help will be forthcoming, Roger drags the man to his feet, pushing him ahead of him as the journey continues. That night, one of the Mohawk is telling a story to his companions by the fireside. Roger and the other man are tied to a nearby tree. Roger is making knots in the rope, marking every passing day. It has been a week since he was sold. He also knows what day it is, the direction they are walking and has also been estimating how long they have been walking each day. He has been observing landmarks too, so that he can find them on his return. He refuses to die here and now, he says. He is determined to escape and to get back to his wife. The other man laughs, telling him that he will need a longer string. 

Back at the cabin, Claire and Brianna are discussing the possibility of an abortion. It would be painful and risky, but possible. It would have to be surgery, Claire says, and it would have to be soon, while the foetus was still small. Claire realises the decision is an impossible one, but she wants to give her daughter the option all the same. Brianna wants to know if Claire had ever considered aborting her. Claire is quick to reassure her that she never had, adding that hers had been a different situation. 

Brianna asks if there is a possibility that the baby could be Roger’s and Claire confirms that there is. Claire tells Brianna that if she wants to keep the baby and go back to her life in the 20th century, she would need to leave immediately. Going through the stones while pregnant is possible, as Claire has done so, but to go through with a young baby is an unknown risk. Both could be killed, or one could travel without the other, or end in a different time period. “So,” says Brianna, “no matter what I choose, I have to choose now.” The two women embrace, the tragedy of the situation overwhelming them both.

Later Brianna is carrying water, when Young Ian approaches, taking the buckets from her hands. Jamie walks over to join Brianna, telling his daughter that Ian is smitten with her. Brianna is incredulous.  “He’s my cousin”, she says. Jamie asks if cousins are not smitten with each other in her time and Brianna replies that it isn’t encouraged. The two of them watch as Claire tends the garden. Brianna comments that her mother seems at peace and Jamie replies that he thinks Claire would grow roots there, if she could. Brianna recognises this as an expression that Frank had also used, telling Jamie of a conversation where Frank had joked that Claire would leave them both and go and live in the woods. “And she kinda did,” Brianna says, “only she’s not alone.” Jamie worries that Brianna must blame him for the fact that Claire had left her. But Brianna assures him that this isn’t the case. She’s glad Claire returned to him, she says, adding that she herself had come to find him too. Jamie smiles as she walks over to join Claire. So begins a brief happy family montage, of everyone gardening, trading with the Indians, feeding the animals and sitting around the table, laughing and joking together.

In the next scene, Claire and Brianna play a game: what do they miss most about their 20th century lives? Hamburgers, messy cheeseburgers with all the fixings, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, aspirin, Led Zeppelin, putting on a record of good jazz and flushing toilets are all on the list. Claire kisses the top of her daughter’s head, telling her again how good it is to have her there.

That night, Brianna is dreaming. Roger is sitting at the edge of the bed and she embraces him. She knew he would return for her, she says. 
“Of course I did,” he replies, but asks what is wrong. 
Brianna admits that she is pregnant, but doesn’t know if the baby is his. Abruptly, the face before her changes. Bonnet is there instead, telling her that he has always wanted to be a father. “Perhaps it’ll have my eyes,” he murmurs as he advances on her. Brianna starts to fight him off, as Bonnet callously comments that this is the lively ride he’s been looking for.

Abruptly, Brianna wakes, to see not Bonnet, but Lizzie standing over her, telling her that it was another nightmare. She knows that Brianna has been dreaming of her attacker and reassures Brianna that he can’t hurt her again. She is adamant, promising Brianna that she is safe. Brianna is immediately suspicious. Lizzie knows something that she is not telling her, she says, and Lizzie starts to look guilty. 
“I swore I wouldn’t,” she begins,but finally decides that Brianna needs to know, if only to stop the nightmares. “He was here,” she says, explaining that she had seen the man on the road and had told Jamie, who had nearly beaten the man to death, before getting Ian to send him away. 

Brianna is confused, asking Lizzie how the young woman had known what her attacker looked like. Lizzie explains that she had seen him grab Brianna outside the tavern. The penny drops, as a horrified Brianna says, “Lizzie, who do you think did this to me?”

In the cabin, Murtagh and Jamie are discussing the next batch of mash from the still, while Ian sits at the table nearby and Claire prepares food behind them. The door opens and Brianna stalks in, demanding to know where Roger is. She explains that Lizzie has told her that Roger had been there and that Jamie had beaten him. “What did you do to him?” she asks Jamie tearfully, as Claire, Murtagh and Ian look on. Jamie’s bruised hand finally gives him away and he looks uncomfortable. Murtagh excuses himself and tries to take Ian with him, but Brianna insists that her cousin stay, as he was involved too. Ian sinks down into a chair, as Claire asks Jamie what he has done. 

Jamie confirms that he had given a man a beating, but that if the man was Roger, then he hadn’t known. Brianna explains that Lizzie had been wrong in her accusations. “He didn’t bed you?” Jamie asks. Brianna admits that yes, he had, but that they had been handfast and had later gotten into a fight, after which he had left. 

The misunderstandings continue.  “You bedded him from lust?” Jamie challenges. He has nearly killed a man believing him to have raped Brianna of her virtue - defending her honour, when in reality Brianna has merely claimed herself violated on discovering herself pregnant. Brianna responds to this accusation by slapping Jamie across the face. “I was violated, you self righteous bastard,” she replies as Claire comes to her side, “by someone else. You beat up the wrong man.”
“Is it true?” Jamie asks Claire, as the horror of the situation sinks in. Jamie apologises, promising to make it right. Brianna has his word, he vows, as her father. But Brianna is a long way from accepting his apology, saying that “her father” would never have said the things that he has just said. It is a direct comparison to Frank. Frank was a good man, Brianna says, whereas Jamie is nothing but a savage. 

This wounds Jamie far more than the slap has. He paces briefly around the room, as Brianna cries in Claire’s arms.  Ian asks who it was who had attacked Brianna. It is an answer that Jamie wants as well. After a brief nod of permission from Brianna, Claire steps forward, placing her old wedding ring on the table. “It was him,” she says. Jamie picks up the ring. “Bonnet?” he asks and Brianna confirms it, then asking where Roger is. 

Ian takes up the story. “With the Mohawk,” he says. Jamie’s reaction to this implies that he didn’t know this piece of news either. “I sold him to the Mohawk,” Ian continues, earning himself a slap from his enraged cousin, as he tries to explain that he thought that she had been violated. Lizzie also apologises. Brianna doesn’t slap her maid though, merely saying  curtly, “You should be,” when Lizzie tells her how sorry she is.

This is all too much for Jamie and he explodes in anger, yelling and knocking over a nearby chair. But Brianna stops him. “No!” she says through clenched teeth. “You do not get to be more angry than me.” They glare at each other in furious Fraser fashion, while Claire looks on, uncertain. Brianna then asks how they can get Roger back.  “Where do the Mohawk live?” she wants to know. Ian explains that the Mohawk had only been passing through, trading with the Cherokee. Brianna insists that they go after them, but Claire gives her the bad news. The Mohawk live 700 miles away, in upstate New York.

Since the episode aired, many book fans have expressed dissatisfaction at this fight. It has been suggested that Jamie’s character has been made to look weak compared to the books. Out of interest, this reviewer went to the relevant scenes in the book, in order to compare the events for herself. In both book and on screen, Lizzie mistakes Roger for Brianna’s attacker and tells Jamie about it. In both book and on screen, Brianna insists that Claire keep the secret that her attacker was Bonnet. In both book and on screen, Jamie accuses Brianna of crying rape because she’s discovered she was pregnant. In both book and screen, Claire puts her wedding ring on the table, thus revealing the attacker’s identity once and for all. In the book, Brianna slaps Ian and punches him in the stomach; on screen she slaps, but doesn’t punch. On screen, Brianna slaps Jamie; in the book she moves to hit him, but doesn’t. On screen, Brianna screams that Jamie doesn’t get to be angrier than her, in the book she calls him a bastard and says she is sorry she ever saw him. As a result of this comparison, this reviewer respectfully suggests that in both book and on screen, the results are similar. Everyone has acted with the best of intentions, but everyone has said and done things that have deeply hurt others, which will take considerable time to put right. 

Meanwhile, Roger is being led away once again. He is now the Mohawks’ only prisoner, his companion having died during the night. “Today we ride faster than yesterday,” one of the Mohawk says. The implication is obvious: Roger is healthy, whereas the other man had been slowing them down. Roger looks behind him, as the corpse of the other man is dragged away.

Outside by the fire at Fraser’s Ridge, Brianna is asking if the Mohawk will kill Roger. Ian replies that he doesn’t think so. The Cherokee have described them as fierce, but honourable. Roger won’t be killed if he is of use to them. Ian adds that the Mohawk will adopt people into their tribe to replace those who have died or been killed. He shows Brianna the necklace he was given when he sold Roger to them - his price, Brianna says bitterly - adding that it can help them find the Mohawk village. Jamie agrees, telling Brianna that he and Ian will go and trade everything they have in order to get Roger back. But Brianna is not letting them go alone, insisting instead that everyone go. But the Mohawk are more than a week ahead of them, Ian tells her. If they don’t stop, they won’t be caught for months. Brianna says that they will just have to move faster, but Jamie tells her that that is impossible, given that she is pregnant. If they do have to go all the way to New York and back, then the trip will take at least 4 months. Brianna sighs, defeated.

Claire motions Brianna over to her, reminding her daughter that she hasn’t even decided about the baby. But Brianna has decided. She is keeping the baby. It could be Roger’s, she says, and if there’s the slightest chance of that then she wants to keep it. If it isn’t, then she will love the baby anyway. Claire says that they will help her through everything, but Brianna disagrees. That won’t be possible, she says, because Claire won’t be there. Jamie is right, Brianna goes on to explain. She will slow the journey down, but Claire won’t. Brianna doesn’t trust either Jamie or Ian, adding that if Roger sees them, he won’t look on them as rescuers and will run. But Claire would be a face that he knows and trusts.

Claire refuses, despite Brianna’s insistence that Roger will also need a doctor. She won’t leave Brianna and Lizzie there alone, she says. 
“Then think of something else,” Brianna says desperately. 
Their conversation has been overheard and Jamie has the answer. “Aunt Jocasta,” he says. River Run is the safest place. 

It is also, Ian points out, in the wrong direction. But, as has always been the way, everybody needs a Murtagh. Murtagh volunteers to take Brianna to River Run. He remembers Jocasta from Leoch, he says and Brianna looks at him gratefully.

Relieved to have something to do, Jamie announces that he will write a letter to Jocasta explaining the situation. Lizzie can accompany her and he will arrange for someone to look after the crops and animals. “Then it’s settled,” Brianna says, cutting off Claire’s protest. “You’re going,” she says. “You all are - and you’re going to bring Roger back to me.”

As everyone moves apart, Jamie approaches Claire. “You told me he’d gone back,” he says. “How was I to know?” Claire had known it was Stephen Bonnet but had said nothing to him. 
Claire’s reply is cutting. “You told me you hit a tree,” she says, stalking off, as Jamie tries to explain. 
It is a miserable situation and Murtagh and Ian look just as upset as Jamie, who asks one last thing of his godfather. Once Brianna has been delivered safely to River Run, Jamie wants Murtagh to head to Wilmington, find Stephen Bonnet and bring him to Jamie in secret, so that Jamie can kill him. Jamie walks away, leaving Murtagh and Ian nodding determinedly at each other, as the scene ends. 

Roger sits tied up under another tree, tying another knot. As the English speaking Mohawk man approaches. he hides the string away.  “Let me guess,” Roger says sarcastically, “my carriage awaits.” 
The man responds by whipping the rope across Roger’s hands. With a grimace, Roger stands and his journey continues.

Claire and Brianna are saying farewell. Claire might not be back in time for the birth, but reassures her daughter that there will be midwives at River Run and that Jocasta will ensure that she is taken care of. Brianna gives Claire a sketch of Roger, in the hope that it will help in the search. Claire asks what she should say to Roger and Brianna replies that she wants him to know everything. He hadn’t left her as she had thought, but had returned for her. He deserves to know that the baby may not be his. 

The time has come for everyone to depart. “You have to bring him back to me,” Brianna says and Claire nods. The two women are walking, arms around each other, when Ian races up. Apologising for his part in the calamity, he says that if Roger can’t be found, it would be his honour to marry Brianna. It is all he can think of to do, but it is a solution that is not well received. Claire rolls her eyes, while Jamie tells Ian to get off his knee, calling him a idiot. Warily, Jamie approaches his daughter, who refuses to look at him. He promises that he will find Roger and will not rest until he does. “I’ll hold you to that vow,” Brianna replies, with a brief, but angry glare. Jamie is gutted as he walks away. It is a far cry from the closeness that they had recently shared.

Claire speaks to Lizzie, instructing her to take good care of Brianna, a promise that Lizzie readily makes. Lastly, Brianna apologises to Claire, for making Claire leave and the two embrace one final time. Brianna climbs up onto the wagon beside Murtagh and the two parties depart, heading in different directions. 

Roger is tiring now. The brisker pace is affecting him and he is beginning to stumble like his previous companion. As they walk along a high mountain track, Roger is shown a brief moment of pity, as the Mohawk warrior shares his water skin. He drinks hungrily, then tries to cup more water into his hands from the small waterfall before being led away again. The next time he stumbles he loses his footing completely, partly sliding down an embankment and yelling in agony as the rope cuts into his wrist. The Mohawk pull on the rope, but Roger manages to free his hand, He catapults down the hill and begins to make his escape, as the Mohawk first fire and then start to chase him. But it is enough of a head start. Roger manages to evade the men, finally hiding behind a mossy embankment and a clump of bushes as they run past. Once is is sure he is alone, he begins to make his way back.

Murtagh, Brianna and Lizzie arrive at River Run. Ulysses greets them, smiling briefly at Brianna and asking Murtagh if he can help. Murtagh says that they have come to see Mistress Cameron, presenting a letter written in Jamie’s hand. Murtagh asks them to follow him and leads them into the drawing room, where Jocasta is sitting. On hearing that there is a letter, she asks Ulysses to read it.

But Murtagh takes over and Jocasta smiles at the sound of his voice, asking him to come closer. Murtagh does so and she takes his hands, commenting that she would know them anywhere. She asks if Murtagh knows of her blindness and he confirms that he does, but adds that she must have taken careful note of his hands to know them after 30 years. Jocasta teases him, saying that he could hardly keep his hands off her sister. 
“Little good it did me in the end,” Murtagh says, but Jocasta reminds him that he did gain a godson. 
“That I did,” Murtagh replies and Brianna smiles briefly at their exchange, which is, incidentally, beautiful acted by Duncan Lacroix and Maria Doyle Kennedy. In the book, such a meeting would have been impossible, so it is lovely to see the two characters interact. Brianna shifts her feet and a floorboard creaks, which Jocasta hears. She asks who else is there and Murtagh promptly introduces Brianna as Jamie and Claire’s daughter. “Daughter?” Jocasta asks. Brianna steps forward and remarks that it is a long story.

Jocasta asks what the rest of the letter conveys, but again Ulysses doesn’t need to read it. Brianna takes up the story and tells her great Aunt that the letter says that she is with child and unmarried. The letter requests that Jocasta look after her, Brianna continues, despite the mark it might bring to Jocasta’s good name, while Claire and Jamie search for the man to whom she has been handfast, who may or may not already be dead. It is an accurate reading of the letter, which Ulysses confirms, Jocasta asks Brianna to come close to her. She cups Brianna’s face and smiles, calling the young woman her “dear sweet girl” and says that of course Brianna may stay. 

Roger continues to make his way through the woods. A buzzing noise sounds near him and he stops in disbelief. “Oh my God,” he says softly, as a ring of standing stones appear before him. He walks around the circle, stopping briefly to take out the two small rubies that he had been given by Bonnet in lieu of wages. He stands in front of the central stone and bursts into tears. It is his moment of decision: does he walk away and try to find his way back to Brianna, or does he return to his own time? He moves closer to the stone, reaching out his hand tantalisingly close, as the episode ends. 

Three to go.

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She felt overwhelmingly sad for everyone and hopes that there are some happier times ahead!

1 comment:

  1. Well just seen the last epi of Outlander. Will there be a season 5?