Wednesday, March 25, 2020

“To shine or to burn”: A recap of season 5 episode 6 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage Originals by Susie Brown 

Given the choice, what would you prefer to do: shine or burn? The concepts of sacrifice and of staying true to your beliefs are the underlying themes of this, the sixth episode of the current season. Whether fighting against locusts at the Ridge, or against a broken heart at River Run; whether challenging a dandy to a game of whist at a wedding, or beginning the inevitable preparations for war, the MacKenzie motto seems particularly apt. Quick solutions are not an option - it is better to shine with possibility than burn in despair. 

The episode begins at an urgent pace, with a carriage being driven at breakneck speed. The year is 1746, just after the Battle of Culloden. The carriage is brought to a halt by 2 dragoons, who are searching every carriage at the Duke of Cumberland’s instructions. The man inside the carriage introduces himself as Samuel Torington, expressing relief at seeing the dragoons on the road. He says that he, his wife and daughter are getting as far away from Culloden as possible. The dragoons ask for the women to alight from the carriage so that it can be searched and we then realise that the woman inside is none other than Jocasta, in full possession of her sight. The younger woman, her daughter, is cautioned by Jocasta as they exit to “not say a word.” 

This means of course that the man is not Samuel Torington. Rather, he is Hector Cameron, Jocasta’s husband. A quick search of the carriage is done and the family is given the all clear to leave, when the young woman’s boot gets stuck in the boggy ground. In kneeling down to free it, one of the dragoons notices a box hidden under the carriage. It is full of gold - gold that has been sent to aid the Stuart cause. This is news to Jocasta and she eyes her husband in shock. The mood swiftly changes, with the dragoons branding the Cameron family Jacobites. Pistols are drawn and fired, and by the end of the brief confrontation, both dragoons and young Morna Cameron lie dead. Distraught, Jocasta lies sobbing over her daughter’s body, but a desperate Hector drags her away. There is nothing to be done for their daughter and they must escape. Jocasta only has time to pull a ribbon from her daughter’s hair as a memento and her anguished cries end the flashback scene.

In the present, Jocasta is twirling that same ribbon between her fingers, when there is a knock on the door. It is Duncan Innes, Jocasta’s fiancé. He has come with a pre wedding gift for Jocasta, a small cushion, stuffed with lavender (for nerves, he suggests, although Jocasta’s expression leaves us in no doubt what she thinks of that suggestion) and embroidered with the MacKenzie motto, “I shine, not burn.” It is a kind gesture and we immediately form an opinion of the man’s nature that stands in stark contrast to that of Hector Cameron. While Cameron was demanding, Innes is gentle and kind - and also hesitant in Jocasta’s presence. He is under no illusion regarding Jocasta’s feelings (or lack of them) towards him. 

Beginning an awkward but sincere speech, Duncan says that he knows that she doesn’t burn for him, but that the name Innes is a Gaelic word for an island that is formed by two branches of a stream. He is trying to make a poetic speech about time and the merging of their two clans, but Jocasta cuts him off with a slightly impatient, “Thank you.” 
Ulysses appears, telling Jocasta that Jamie and Mr Forbes are waiting for her below. Knowing himself to be dismissed, Duncan takes his leave. 

Once he has gone, Jocasta correctly surmises the look that Ulysses had been giving Duncan. Ulysses says that he only wants Jocasta to be happy. But Jocasta is a practical woman. Happiness doesn’t come into it, she says, adding that in time, Duncan Innes might provide her with a bit of peace. Taking Ulysses’ arm, she heads downstairs.

Jamie and Forbes are indeed waiting for her. There is an official parchment on the table, one that will transfer the ownership of River Run. Forbes praises Jocasta’s generosity, but wants to check that Duncan also understands what it all means. Has Mr Innes given his consent, for example? Jocasta explains that Duncan has graciously agreed for Jocasta to serve as River Run’s guardian until its new owner - none other than baby Jemmy - comes of age. Taking the quill that is placed into her hands, Jocasta confidently signs her name, which is then witnessed by Jamie. Jamie declares that River Run has a new master and Jocasta suggests that in the new master’s absence, she should tend to the guests. 

As it turns out, the new Master of River Run is not having a good day. Roger is trying to jolly him along, telling Jemmy that it is just a “wee sniffle.” Roger and Brianna are reminiscing over supplies of tissues and baby aspirin that they had just taken for granted in the 20th century and Roger wants to know why they haven’t been able to find a cure for the common cold. They have all stayed away from Jocasta’s wedding, despite Brianna’s statement that Roger could have gone, given that she is perfectly capable of handling a kid with a cold. Roger had wanted to help her, he says, but Brianna is not deceived. She knows that Roger’s absence is actually a bit of revenge. Jocasta had insulted Roger at their wedding, so now he is insulting her by refusing to attend hers. 

The conversation is interrupted by Adso, who is pawing at an insect on the cabin floor. Brianna comments that Adso has brought them a gift, but a noise from outside makes them look up. There are many more insects outside and ominous music begins to build. Roger says that he doesn’t think this insect is a gift from Adso and hopes that it isn’t a gift from the Gods instead.  

At River Run, the crowds have gathered for a wedding. Jamie is standing on the porch deep in thought. Claire comes and joins him and he shares his regret that Murtagh is not the one standing with Jocasta. Jamie feels guilty, he says, for having to rub shoulders with the people who would see his godfather dead. Claire reminds him that Murtagh’s situation is his own choice and that they should try to enjoy the day for Jocasta’s sake. 

As with Brianna and Roger’s wedding, the dancers, including Lord John Grey, are in fine form. John is relieved to see Jamie and Claire, given that by now he has danced with most of the young ladies, all of whom seem to have been intent on catching his eye. Their light hearted conversation is interrupted by the sight of Governor Tryon, and, showing considerable reluctance, the three of them go pay their respects. But Tryon is not alone and is at his most officious. When Claire greets his wife as Mistress Tryon, she is promptly corrected. But “Her Excellency” is not insulted and shares the news that they are actually on their way to New York. The Tryons have another companion with them, Judge Atticus, who laments the fact that everyone he meets becomes a philosopher or expert in the law. Ironically, Tryon immediately mentions his own legislative victory. 

Jamie plays his part by publicly complimenting the governor on his decision to pardon “dishonourable men” but Tryon has more to say. He quotes Samuel Johnston’s Act for Preventing Tumultuous and Riotous Assembly, which prohibits 10 men or more from gathering under certain circumstances. Lord John confirms the reasoning behind this law: if men cannot gather, then they cannot conspire. Tryon muses that if the law had been enacted sooner, Lieutenant Knox may have lived. The conversation is rapidly entering dangerous territory and it is a relief when Tryon’s wife chides him on his choice of topic, deeming it unsuitable for a wedding. She suggests to Claire that they leave the men to it, confiding as they leave that there will be a game of high stakes whist later that evening and that she is looking forward to watching the men gamble away their fortunes.

Back at the Ridge, there is now no doubt that the insects are no gift, but a definite threat. A swarm of locusts is on the way and everyone’s crops are in danger. The men of the Ridge are confronting Roger, suggesting that they burn Jamie’s field and be done with it. Roger is trying to quell their discontent, but one look at the worried faces of Brianna, Marsali and Fergus show that he is not being successful. The men’s voices grow in intensity until Roger finally yells, “Fire!” in order to gain their attention. He reminds them that if they were to burn the field, they might be rid of some of the locusts, but more would come and that one shift of the wind could destroy their homes as well. Roger asks the ringleader, Lindsay, if he is prepared to risk that. Sullenly, Lindsay mutters his wish that Jamie were there, as he would have an idea of what to do. The men ask Roger what his own plan is, but Roger has no answer for them. Angrily, the men leave, as Brianna looks distressed and Roger frustrated. It is yet another example of Jamie having left him in charge, but without the respect and authority to go along with it.

Mistress Tryon and Claire are talking, when a new guest makes a grand entrance. Claire recognises Phillip Wylie, an annoying gentleman that she had met at a dinner in Wilmington. Mistress Tryon agrees: the man has become an insufferable dandy, she says, since his return from Paris. He has earned a reputation as a gambler and is rumoured to be in some financial trouble. Wylie comes towards them and Mistress Tryon offers to run interference. 

As Claire gratefully moves away, she overhears two women talking. They are speaking of some contraceptive measures that Dr Rawlings has suggested and are not in agreement. While one of the women has already begun to follow Rawlings’ advice, much to her husband’s disgust, the other is disapproving. What sort of woman would willingly prevent herself from having children, she asks. Claire can’t help herself and joins the conversation, suggesting that perhaps a woman who couldn’t provide for an infinite number of “blessings” might want to use such a method. Her opinions are not appreciated though, and the women stare at her in stony silence. 

After a moment, Claire excuses herself and promptly bumps straight into Phillip Wylie, who spills his drink on her. Forced into polite small talk, Claire feigns pleasure at seeing him. He responds by taking her hand and kissing it suggestively. Claire pulls her hand away, but Wylie continues to lavish praise upon her until she is finally rescued by Mistress Tryon, who tells Claire that Jocasta is in need of her opinion. 

As Mrs Bug sweeps locusts from the porch, Brianna and Roger are talking. Brianna tries to comfort Roger, reminding him that he is doing the best that he can. Roger replies that Evan Lindsay and Ronnie Sinclair don’t think so. He agrees with Brianna’s assessment that the men are scared, but adds that they have reason to be. If the locusts destroy their crops, they will be without food for the winter. He joins in their wish for Jamie’s presence, prompting Brianna to ask what Jamie could possibly do that would be any different. 
“I wish I knew,” Roger replies. He can’t try to think like Jamie anymore. 

It is as if admitting this fact unlocks something in Roger. Almost immediately, we see an idea come to him, as he remembers a story his father had read to him about a plague of locusts. In the story, the people had used smoke to drive the locusts away before they could land. Commenting that there is much truth in fiction, a plan is made. Fires can be set around the fields using green wood, so that when the main swarm arrives, there will be so much smoke that the locusts won’t land. Some of the crop will be lost, Roger concedes, but the rest could be saved. This is the most determined we have seen Roger. Repeating that the plan could work, he reiterates that all they have to do is to create enough smoke to cover the fields. 

Meanwhile, Tryon is going through the specifics of his plan with Jamie. While the Riot Act forbids assembly, it also gives Tryon permission to arrest anyone seen at Hillsborough, or indeed at any other past riot. He refers to it as delayed justice, adding that the men should have been arrested months earlier. Jamie asks what will happen if the men refuse to comply and Tryon says that the sheriffs have his permission to discipline anyone who resists. He reminds Jamie of one of his first sayings: there is the law and then there is what is done. Jamie asks why Tryon is choosing to do this on the eve of his departure to New York. Tryon reveals that he has actually been offered the governorship of New York and that friends have assured him it is a fait accompli. Jamie asks if these friends know of the trouble with the Regulators and Tryon states that he doesn’t want to leave North Carolina in a state of chaos and lawlessness. Jamie muses that while the men may be savage, they aren’t entirely godless. He begins to suggest that Tryon leave a legacy of mercy instead, but the Governor’s idea of mercy is different to Jamie’s. The men will have mercy if they choose it, Tryon says. It will be the best of both worlds: heaven or hell. 

Roger has embarked on his plan, with Josiah’s assistance. He is making smudge pots, a mixture of oil and dung, in order to repel the insects. When the pots are heated, smoke will pour from the top. With enough of the pots in the field, he says, they should cover the areas where the green smoke won’t reach. The only problem with the plan is that he doesn’t know how to push the smoke over the entire field. Josiah comments that the wind is picking up, but there is no way of knowing what it will be like by the time the insects arrive. Brianna now has an idea of her own, as she looks out at the washing flapping in the breeze. 
“I’ll handle this,” she says, promptly leaving Roger to his smelly job! 

In just a couple of short scenes, Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin have furthered the characters of Roger and Bree, highlighting their own ability to work together as a team, supporting each other and sharing their respective 20th century strengths, in order to deal with an 18th century dilemma. Now that he has pulled himself out of Jamie’s shadow and has abandoned trying to emulate his father-in-law, Roger is suddenly more confident. Brianna too, has some of her old spark back, teasing her husband as they set about trying to save the crops together. They are in charge of the Ridge and for the first time, look comfortable in their role. 

Claire is looking for Jamie, but comes face to face with Philip Wylie instead. Indicating the gift he plans to give Jocasta, Wylie plays a game of cat and mouse, continually stepping in Claire’s way as she tries to get past him. Claire shouldn’t be languishing in the back country, he says, but enjoying the finer things in life, and offers to procure for her whatever she wishes. But in a second, the mood turns ominous, as Wylie speaks of an Irish seafaring gentleman who does business in Wilmington. Thinking immediately of Bonnet, Claire asks for clarification: is the man a smuggler? Wylie feigns being wounded. He is no common thief, he replies, but has friends who are in the business of acquiring rare and exquisite things. 

Taking a gamble, Claire suggests to Wylie that she has something he might be interested in. She takes him into another room, pouring a glass of Jamie’s whisky. When Wylie comments on how sinfully good it is, Claire informs him that her husband makes it. But Wylie has noticed Claire’s two wedding rings, and asks her which one her husband is: silver or gold. Claire answers, explaining that the gold ring is from her late husband. Wylie expresses his sympathy, but comments that Jamie must be an extraordinary man to allow her to wear another man’s ring as well as his own. He asks for more information: when did her first husband die?
“A lifetime ago,” Claire replies.
Wylie persists, commenting that her first husband must have been quite a man, to still be “a star fixed in the firmament of a heart forever.” He toasts to love and they drink.

Claire has plans of her own. Changing the subject, she pretends to ask Wylie’s advice on a matter of business. She returns the conversation to Wylie’s “associate” asking if he would know ways to circumvent financial inconveniences, and implying that Jamie’s whisky business is in trouble.
At last she gets the confirmation she is looking for. Wylie mentions Bonnet by name, saying that he has a notorious temper and that he doesn’t do business with people he doesn’t know. Turning up the charm, Claire smiles flirtatiously, saying that she would only be dealing with Wylie, further sweetening the deal by mentioning a share of the profits. But rather than agreeing, Wylie states that he doesn’t want to talk about tedious things such as profits. Claire has shared her pride and joy with him, he says and now he wants to reciprocate. The scene ends with Claire looking slightly disconcerted. 

Grass fires are being set and smudge pots are being lit. Roger is in charge: telling Josiah to take the rest of the smudge pots to Evan Lindsay’s field. Brianna comes to join him and Roger is resigned about his luck since Jamie left him in charge. He had thought he might have to fix a fence or wrangle a cow, he tells her, but instead he has been given a biblical plague. The two hold hands as they look out over the fields slowly filling with smoke. It is a pose reminiscent of Jamie and Claire, furthering cementing their growth as a couple.  

Wylie has led Claire into the stables, where he shows her a stallion called Lucas. Claire is impressed. She begins to describe the horse, using words like magnificent, sweet, good natured and spirited. Wylie adds the word beautiful, but it is obvious that he is not describing the horse. Claire is facing away from him, stroking the horse’s neck, when Wylie lurches up behind her and kisses hers. Claire beats off his advances, pushing him away and the force of her push lands him in a pile of manure. His mood quickly changes and he begins to insult her, just as Jamie strides in. In seconds he has a knife at Wylie’s throat, while Wylie tries to accuse Claire of attempting to seduce him. Of course Jamie doesn’t believe him, but it does take Claire to remind her husband that killing someone at his aunt’s wedding would not be a good idea. In the end, he contents himself with warning Wylie that if he goes anywhere near Claire again, he will indeed be killed. 

After Wylie has beat a hasty retreat, Jamie embraces Claire and asks her what she was thinking, spending time with a man like that. Claire explains, telling Jamie that Wylie had claimed to know Bonnet. Knowing that Wylie had a large gambling debt, she had thought to tempt him with a business deal that would need to involve Bonnet. Jamie has heard his own story of Bonnet courtesy of Lord John, who has told him of the time that Bonnet gouged the man’s eyes in Wilmington. Knowing how dangerous Bonnet is, they wonder about Wylie’s character too. Of course, in order to get to Bonnet, they will need to get back into Wylie’s good graces, which Claire concedes will be difficult, given that she has flung him into manure and Jamie has threatened to kill him. But Jamie has an idea. “You say the man likes to gamble?” he says.

The swarm of locusts is getting closer. The people of the Ridge are making their final preparations. The smudge pots are in place and Brianna has shown everyone the direction in which to fan the smoke. Roger is striding through the field when he turns around and sees the swarm approaching. He yells out to everyone to keep their fires going. Brianna has noticed the swarm too, and gradually, the sky darkens as the locusts appear overhead. Everyone in the field drops to the ground, covering their mouths and noses to protect themselves from the smoke. They look up anxiously, as the noise increases and the music builds.

Jamie tosses a coin pouch into the centre of Wylie’s gambling table. Mistaking him for another gambler, Wylie’s demeanour changes when he realises it is Jamie and he tells Jamie it will cost a lot more to pay for the replacement of his coat. Jamie tells him that since he can’t kill someone at his aunt’s wedding, they will need to settle their disagreement another way. Wylie is sticking to his story, telling Jamie that he had been the perfect gentleman. Rather than losing his temper, Jamie indicates Mistress Tryon, telling Wylie that she is not known for her discretion and that, with one carefully told story, everyone will know precisely what sort of man Wylie is. Wylie is not bothered by this at first, stating that Mistress Tryon has already formed an opinion of him. But Jamie points out that no-one has heard the stories that he can tell. He offers a different solution and suggests one game of whist. If Wylie wins, he can leave with his honour in tact. If he loses, Jamie will take the horse. Wylie laughs in his face. He tells Jamie that the Scots place far too high a price on honour. Lucas is worth ten times the amount of the bag of coins, so in order to play, Jamie will need to provide different collateral. 

In the next scene, we discover what that collateral is to be. Wylie wants Claire’s gold wedding band. Claire refuses, saying that Wylie has only suggested it because he knows how much she values it. Jamie tries to convince her, but it’s to no avail. He reminds her of the ultimate goal: to get to Stephen Bonnet. Claire, her emotions rising, reminds Jamie in turn that Bonnet had tried to prise Frank’s ring from inside her throat. Jamie says that she has to trust him, promising not to lose it. 

Claire is really upset now. She asks Jamie why he is choosing to do this and he says that it is for Bree and her sense of honour. But Claire doesn’t believe him. “For her honour?” she asks, “or for yours?” Jamie doesn’t answer. Her voice trembling with unshed tears, Claire removes both wedding rings and drops them into Jamie’s palm. “If you’re going to take this,” she says, “you might as well take both of them.” She stalks off, leaving Jamie looking after her, his hand closing around the rings.

This is the first time we have seen Claire and Jamie fight in quite some time, but their sparring has lost none of its power. They remain a passionate couple and while this is an emotional fight, we don’t really worry about their ability to sort everything out. 

Back at the Ridge, the danger has passed. The fires are being put out and Roger sighs in relief. They have lost some beans, but the cornfield has been saved. Evan Lindsay calls out to Roger, addressing him, as he always has, as Captain MacKenzie. But the tone is completely different now, and all traces of sarcasm are gone. Lindsay says that he had thought the plan to be a ridiculous one, but now he is indebted to Roger. He has only lost half an acre and his family won’t go hungry. 

Roger smiles. “We all helped,” he says. Both Lindsay and Sinclair return the smile and head back to their own land. Brianna jokes with Roger that after this, Jamie will probably promote him to major on his return. Roger laughs, expressing his hope that that doesn’t happen. Brianna puts a stick through a lone locust, before kissing him. 

This plot line is important because it shows the emergence of Roger as a leader in his own right. He has stopped trying to live up to the impossible standard of Jamie Fraser, and now trusts his own instincts. Like Claire, he used his 20th century knowledge to assist him and it has resulted in not only an increase in self confidence, but in him gaining the respect of the settlers of the Ridge. Brianna is no longer focused on building up his self esteem, but is working alongside him. It was a beautifully acted shift in perspective by both Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton, right down to their changes in posture and expression. 

Jocasta is in her chamber, when Ulysses enters, announcing the late arrival of a visitor who has a gift for her. Jocasta tells Ulysses she is seeing no more visitors and the gift should be left downstairs. But then the visitor speaks, and we discover that it is Murtagh. As he did with Brianna and Roger’s wedding, where he hid away from Governor Tryon in a secluded cabin, he has once again attempted fate, by appearing while Governor Tryon is still downstairs. Murtagh tells Jocasta that he had run into Ulysses before he could do anything rash and Ulysses adds to the black humour of the moment, saying that he hadn’t thought it would do to have a man shot the night before the wedding.

Left alone, Murtagh and Jocasta embrace. Murtagh promptly places his gift into Jocasta’s palm, a twin of the brooch he wears on his own coat. Jocasta reaches up to touch it and their hands entwine. Jocasta asks why he has come and Murtagh answers that he has something to ask her, something he has no right to ask. He strokes her face, telling her that he can’t face the rest of his days if he doesn’t say something and kneels in front of her, asking if she will wait for him. 

Both of them know that she doesn’t love Duncan Innes, but Jocasta is incredulous. She berates Murtagh for leaving it until the night before the wedding to declare his love, reminding him that when she had told him of Innes’ proposal he had only said that he wouldn’t stand in the way of her happiness.
“Well, I’m standing in the way of it now, aren’t I?” he replies sharply. Getting to his feet, he admits that he hadn’t thought she would accept Innes and begs her to listen to him.

Jocasta reminds him that he is a wanted man, but Murtagh counters that this is only for now and he wants her by his side in spite of everything. He reminds her of what he had once told her: that he wanted a woman who could hear in a man’s voice that he meant all the right things, even if he didn’t have the right words with which to say them. They kiss again, but Jocasta soon pushes him away, telling him that she is sorry. 

Murtagh asks why she wants to grow old with a man like Duncan Innes. She counters that she has long since grown old and that she can’t be blamed for spending her remaining years with a good man who will be concerned only with her happiness. She recites the MacKenzie motto in Gaelic, and asks Murtagh if he knows what it means. 
“I shine, not burn,” he immediately replies.
Jocasta says that her father had always told them that a MacKenzie could be put into the hottest fires of hell itself, fires that would burn any other man, but a MacKenzie would survive. 

And this is what Jocasta has done, ever since the night after Culloden, when her husband Hector had come running into the house with a madness in his eyes. He had told Jocasta and her youngest daughter, Morna, to gather up their belongings because they were going to America to a better world. They had obeyed and rode off into the night. They had been heading for the estates of Jocasta’s eldest girls, both mothers themselves. Jocasta had known what the redcoats would do if they reached them, drunk as they were on the blood of Jacobites. What she hadn’t known, she tells Murtagh, is that Hector had also stolen a case of gold, the Stuart gold that had arrived from France too late for the battle. The family had been travelling until nearly dawn when two dragoons had come upon them. 

Jocasta begins to weep as she tells Murtagh of Morna’s death. She was sixteen, Jocasta says, and so beautiful. Yet she had left her daughter’s body there lying next to strangers and wonders whether her bones might still be there, gone to dust. By contrast, Jocasta has sat for 30 years growing old in a palace made from the gold that took her daughter from her. Her older daughters are also dead, she says, and begins to lose her composure. Murtagh puts his arms around her and draws her back towards him, murmuring how sorry he is. Jocasta shares more of her torment: whenever she closed her eyes, she says, she would relive the loss of her children. She could hear Morna screaming for her, and smell the fires that would take her other children, burning to the north. When the world grew dim around her, Jocasta continues, she saw it even clearer. She views her blindness as a punishment for leaving Morna and not looking back. Pushing away from Murtagh, she tells him that Hector had believed in the Jacobite cause and, like Murtagh, had also believed he could change the world. It was a belief that had caused Jocasta to lose everything. 

But Murtagh won’t give up. He kneels in front of Jocasta again. He is not Hector, he says and will not risk her happiness. “After the war to come -“ he begins, but Jocasta won’t let him finish. There will be another war, she says, and another, on and on until long after both of them are gone from the world. Stroking his face now, Jocasta reminds him that he had also said that he wanted a woman who knew what life was, not what she wished it to be. And that is precisely the heartbreaking problem: Jocasta knows what this life is and what sort of man Murtagh is: the sort of man who will lose everything for what he believes in and the sort of man she had sworn never to give her heart to again. Desperately trying to regain her composure, she asks him to go, as she needs to rest for the following day. 

Murtagh stands, fighting to control his own feelings.
“I love you, Jocasta MacKenzie,” he says. “This world may change but that will never change.” He places the brooch on the table and his voice finally breaks. “I only wish I’d been brave enough to say it sooner.” He turns and leaves and the scene ends with Jocasta sobbing.

This was an amazing few minutes of drama, spectacularly acted by Maria Doyle Kennedy and Duncan Lacroix. The title of the episode, “Better to marry than burn” is a direct reference to Jocasta’s situation. She has decided to marry Duncan because she could not bear another heartbreak: one that would surely come by choosing a man who was lit with the fire of wanting to change the world. We find ourselves fervently wishing that the two of them could find a way, against all the odds, to be together. This scene is, of course, only written for television, as the Murtagh of the books perished at Culloden and so never formed a relationship with Jocasta at all. While this reviewer is often sceptical of changes made to Diana Gabaldon’s work, this relationship has been an emotional exception to the rule. Both Maria Doyle Kennedy and Duncan Lacroix have created their characters so exquisitely that their relationship is every bit as compelling as that of Jamie and Claire, or Brianna and Roger. It is all the more heartbreaking that love cannot find a way for this couple, as it has managed to do for the other two. But then again, since the relationship was never meant to be in the novels, we can be grateful that we were able to explore even its possibility on screen. 

Claire is in the stables, standing in front of the stallion, Lucas. “I hope you’re worth it,” she says. Footsteps announce the arrival of someone else. It is Jamie, dishevelled and staggering. He is drunk, and Claire is obviously still upset with him. He has been looking for her, he says, as he had cause to celebrate. He opens his hand, showing her the two wedding rings.  

But Claire is not in the mood for celebrating. She tells him that she didn’t think there was anything else that Bonnet could take from them, yet Jamie had almost let him take the rings.

Jamie disagrees, saying that Bonnet had nothing to do with it. He can’t understand why Claire is condemning him for wanting to make Wylie pay for what he had done to her.
Claire tells him that she is condemning him for letting his hatred for both Bonnet and Wylie come between the two of them. Jamie had let Wylie use his Scottish pride against him, she says. 

Jamie counters, asking Claire about her own pride. Claire says and does what she likes regardless of the consequences, he observes, adding that she thinks too much from her own time. 
When Claire replies that she doesn’t need Jamie to remind her how to behave, he smiles. 
“Sometimes, you do,” he tells her. 
She goes to push past him, but he grabs her arm. “You’re a woman like no other, Sassenach,” he says, “But don’t forget, you’re still a woman.” 

Claire responds by slapping him hard across the face. Jamie hasn’t been expecting this and is instantly aroused. He kisses her roughly and although she tries to maintain her anger, Claire is quickly aroused too. They kiss passionately and are soon having hasty sex up against one of the horse stalls. 

Despite this being an anticipated scene and also despite the best efforts of both Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, many fans - and indeed Diana Gabaldon herself - were not impressed with it. It has been suggested that something about the scene doesn’t quite work. Whether it’s the dialogue, or the choreography of movement, or the way it has been directed, it certainly doesn’t have the emotional impact that Claire and Jamie’s lovemaking usually has. Perhaps it is simply that viewers haven’t recovered from the emotion of the previous scene: this one, it could be argued, seemed to suffer by comparison. 

Their frantic lovemaking over, Jamie and Claire sit on the stable floor. Jamie asks if she minded him coming after her like a beast. Claire replies that she rather liked that part, but adds that she is now sporting a rather nasty bruise. Jamie kisses the back of her neck, as Claire remarks that she would have liked to have seen Wylie’s face when he lost. Jamie confirms that Wylie had almost been in tears, until he had made him an offer too good to refuse. He has exchanged his winnings: allowing Wylie to keep the horse in return for a whisky partnership and an introduction to Bonnet. Jamie is going to use his old alias of Alexander Malcolm and pose as a purveyor of the finest whisky in the Carolinas. While both Jamie and Claire had thought that Alexander Malcolm’s smuggling days were behind him, it will be worth it to see Stephen Bonnet pay for what he has done. 

Serious now, Jamie admits that Claire has been right all along. He isn’t doing this for Bree, he says, but because he wants to see the monster that hurt their daughter dead, for no other reason that he needs to see it done. He asks Claire if that is wrong and she shakes her head. But she needs Jamie to promise her that Stephen Bonnet will not take anything else from them ever again. Taking the rings from his pocket, Jamie slides them onto Claire’s fingers and makes the promise. 
“I promise that these rings will never leave your hands again,” he says. “I swear it.” 

Gerald Forbes is reading a newspaper when a man comes to sit down at the table. The music builds as we see who it is: none other than Stephen Bonnet himself. Bonnet picks up a cup and takes a sniff, frowning and asking if the contents are what the men of America are drinking.
Forbes tries to make a joke, saying that they don’t serve ale at the coffee house.
Bonnet is not amused though, asking Forbes why he thinks that Bonnet would prefer ale. 
Forbes stammers in response and it is obvious that he is scared. He thanks Bonnet for coming, adding that he knows he is a busy man. 

Forbes tells Bonnet that he has just come from River Run and the wedding of Jocasta Cameron, now Innes. Bonnet recognises the name, confirming that Jocasta is related to Jamie. He jokes that Forbes should give the “old bat” his heartfelt congratulations. But Forbes has an ace up his sleeve. He says that Bonnet is to be congratulated too and, as the music builds further, speaks the chilling words: “Your son is now the proud owner of River Run.”
Bonnet stares into the distance and we know that there is drama to come. 

Jamie enters Tryon’s tent and is told that the Governor has received regrettable news. None of the regulators have submitted themselves to the mercy of the courts and although Tryon had hoped it wouldn’t come to pass, it appears that there is going to be a war after all. Tryon proceeds to tell Jamie that he has arranged for a convoy of munitions to be delivered to a General in Hillsborough and instructs Jamie to gather his men and meet them within a fortnight. As an afterthought, Tryon tells Jamie that he is free to enjoy the evening’s festivities and that he shouldn’t worry, as the fight is sure to be quick. Jamie agrees that the Regulators are disorganised and not prepared for a war against the Crown. Tryon is facing away from him, so Jamie doesn’t need to mask the look of worry on his face. Once again, a war is coming and there is nothing he can do to stop it. 

This episode marked the halfway point for the season and it served to set up a number of conflicts for the remaining episodes. Sacrifices have been made by multiple characters and will continue to be made. Some of these sacrifices were necessary for the greater good, in the case of the locust plague at the Ridge. While some crops were lost, the respect that Roger gained was far more important. Claire’s rings were also a temporary sacrifice, but will hopefully lead to the opportunity of defeating Stephen Bonnet once and for all. Other sacrifices were heartbreaking, chiefly the loss of the relationship between Murtagh and Jocasta. Jocasta has further chosen to sacrifice love and passion for stability and kind affection. While Duncan Innes will certainly devote himself to Jocasta’s happiness, it is Murtagh who, under different circumstances, would have been her perfect companion. The final sacrifice is yet to be known and we wonder: what will Jamie do to try and protect Murtagh? Where will he fit on the MacKenzie motto - will he shine or will he burn? 

This recap was written by Susie Brown, an author and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She was simultaneously impressed and heartbroken by the scene between Jocasta and Murtagh and believes that both actors deserve all the awards!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

“The Nature of Time” - A recap of season 5 episode 5 by your Aussie blogging lass

Outlander Homepage Originals by Susie Brown 

What is the nature of time? There is a lot of philosophy in this, the fifth episode of the season. There is talk of a higher power and the need to have faith in an unseen being. There is talk of the decisions we make and the ripples that such decisions can have, not only in the present, but in the future as well. There are emotional reactions that can wound, and others that can heal. Ultimately though, what can withstand the test of time? 

The episode begins in a church, with a single voice singing a prayer. It is not an 18th century church service however, and as the camera pans away, we see Claire dressed in 1960s garb. She is sitting alone, looking troubled.  Her voiceover comments on the number of times she has put her hopes, fears and secret longings into the hands of a being that she can’t see, hear or feel. As Claire genuflects before the altar, she asks how many times those prayers have been answered.

The answer, or at least part of the answer, is found back in the 18th century. Claire is looking through the microscope at the bread samples when she finally sees what she has been hoping for. Marsali enters and Claire immediately asks her to look. Marsali does so and soon recognises the paintbrush pattern that denotes the presence of penicillin. After a quick explanation of the meaning of “Eureka”, the two women celebrate and the opening credits roll.

After a brief 1960s image of a woman searching through what is presumably a doctor’s surgery or lounge for some reading matter (the choice being a book called “The Impetuous Pirate”), Claire’s voiceover takes up the story once again, with a philosophical observation of the similarities between God and the nature of time. Both are preexisting, both have no end and both are all powerful. Nothing, Claire says, can stand can stand against time, as with enough of it, anything is taken care of. As she speaks, we see a montage of images from all seasons and centuries to date, but this reviewer couldn’t help but think of modern times too. Although it couldn’t have been known when the screening dates for this season were set, it’s a rather eerie line to hear right now, as the 21st century world is in the grips of a pandemic… While Claire tells us that with the passing of time pain is encompassed, hardship is erased and loss subsumed, she also quotes the biblical verse that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. Finally, the voiceover surmises that if time is akin to God, then memory must be the devil. 

We return to the 1960s as Claire greets Brianna in a park. They are heading for lunch at a fancy restaurant and Brianna jokes that one of them must have done something good. Brianna comments that Claire had sounded weird on the phone and Claire admits that she has just lost a patient, one who had had an allergic reaction to penicillin. In the 20th century world, while there are tests for allergies, they are not infallible and indeed, the patient had tested negative. A false positive is rare, but one that had applied in this case. 
“Man,” Brianna says, “I guess you never really know what’s coming, do you?”
“No,” Claire replies, “you don’t.”

We time jump again, back to the Ridge. Brianna and Roger are in bed, having just enjoyed one of the perks of Roger being sent home early from Brownsville. They are relaxed, expressing their satisfaction with their lovemaking and affectionately teasing one another. It is lovely to see this, after Brianna’s almost post traumatic response to the lovemaking of their wedding night. The mood changes slightly as Roger makes a comment about Jamie’s dismissal of him. Brianna tries to pacify him, saying that Roger has the ability to get through to people. “No wonder they loved you at Oxford,” she adds. 

This opens up a new line of conversation. The long ride home had given him time to think and Roger has realised that universities such as Harvard and Yale already exist in this time period. Brianna is immediately interested, musing that she could teach math. But Roger responds that he had merely been thinking about “the old days”, back (or forward) to a time when he felt secure and respected in his profession. Besides, he says, he had given his oath to Jamie to be in the militia. It is an oath that means something to both men, a fact that Brianna acknowledges as thunder begins to rumble outside. 

Meanwhile, the militia have reached Hillsborough, but the reception they receive is one of fear and suspicion. Jamie quickly surmises the reason for this: the townsfolk believe them to be regulators. He formally introduces himself and the mood immediately changes. A spokesmen for the people bids them welcome and blesses them for their kindness.

But is not just kindness that has brought them, Jamie says. He repeats the offer he made to the people of Brownsville, outlining the pay for anyone who joins them. 40 shillings is not an attractive enough fee and there is some muttering and laughter, before the spokesman tells them that the town do aim to keep the militia in good spirits, adding that the redcoats are already benefiting from the town’s hospitality. 

Indeed, there is a jovial mood when Jamie, Fergus and Myers enter the tavern. Amidst raucous laughter, a knife is being thrown at the wanted sketch of Murtagh, in a sort of bloodthirsty game reminiscent of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Jamie promptly gives Myers his orders: to buy a cask of rum, have the garrison make camp and let the men drink until the barrel is dry. Myers is only too happy to accept, remarking that Jamie’s order is their wish. 

Lieutenant Knox greets Jamie, remarking to the others that the Colonel had arrived as promised, and with daylight to spare. Jamie makes a formal bow and informs Knox that he has added another 50 or so men to the muster roll. While Knox sends another redcoat for ale, he rather sheepishly dismisses the knife throwing game as a little barbaric. Murtagh is proving elusive, Knox admits, before adding that he has some unfortunate news to share. He hands Jamie a letter from Governor Tryon. 

The letter’s contents indicate that Tryon tends to pardon the leaders of the regulators. Jamie asks for clarification: will it be full pardons for everyone? Knox is unhappy at this development and Jamie asks if Tryon has explained this decision at all. He hasn’t, but Knox suggests perhaps it has been done out of appeasement. Even so, he worries that such an act will make them appear foolish or cowardly in the eyes of their subordinates. Knox is further worried that his “excessive act in the jail” (which is an interesting way to describe murdering a man in a fit of pique) might have been for nothing. 

Jamie muses that perhaps it is all for the best, as every man deserves a second chance. He counsels Knox: the lieutenant needs to ask and receive the Lord’s forgiveness for the life he took. “Trust me,” he adds. “There will be other battles to fight.” 

Knox tells Jamie that he is pleased to be able to call him a friend, then admits that he is still holding onto one small hope. He is waiting on a letter which may point to Murtagh’s current whereabouts. He has sent for the prisoner records at Ardsmuir, after learning that Murtagh had been incarcerated there.

Now Jamie realises the full picture. If Knox receives the roll, he will discover the connection between Jamie and Murtagh. Jamie asks Knox: does he believe that there are fellow prisoners within the colony who might be hiding Murtagh? it is a risky question, underscored by the foreboding music. “Leave no stone unturned”, Knox responds. 
“Aye,” Jamie mutters softly. “As you say,” he repeats, “tis all for naught.”
Knox passes Jam the knives, urging him to have a go at hitting Murtagh’s face. 
“The pardon doesn’t extend to the man’s image then,” Jamie remarks and Knox confirms that this might be as close as they come to administer judgement. 

Jamie takes aim and fires the knife deliberately wide as Claire’s voiceover takes over once more. As a child, she tells us, she used to be fascinated by spider webs and would spent hours watching and waiting for an insect to become caught. While part of her was worried to watch its death throes, the rest was mesmerised by the way the tiniest vibration of the web would signal to the spiders that prey was nearby. Is time God’s eternal web, with the mildest touch setting off vibrations through the eons?

Dr Claire enters the 20th century hospital room. in time to catch and caution her patient, Graham Menzies, who is smoking a cigarette. The two have an easy rapport and Menzies jokes about the nurses taking a shine to him. But it is obvious that Menzies also respects Claire and they begin to discuss his condition. Rather than the cancer that he has been afraid of, Menzies has large gallstones, along with an infection in his bile duct that can be treated with antibiotics. Claire is attempting to remain the professional, but Menzies argues that since she is discussing a personal condition, he would prefer to be on a first name basis. Menzies identifies a Scottish connection declaring that Claire has some Scottish blood in her somehow. Before she knows it, they are exchanging personal information and discover that they have quite a bit in common. Each has been an “outsider” for more than 20 years, each has married (and lost) the love of their life. The conversation returns to the operation, as well as the tests to check Menzies is not allergic to the antibiotics required to treat the infection. Left with no other options to being “gutted like a fish” Menzies agrees to what Claire has outlined. But it is the comment that Menzies makes about the scar from the operation being just “one more scar not worth brooding over” that affects Claire the most. She turns back to look at Menzies, but it is Jamie that she is thinking of. 

In the 18th century, Claire is doing her own check of Kezzie’s reaction to penicillin. He passes the test - no rashes or swelling indicate that he is not allergic. Marsali is pleased that the mould has worked, but Claire cautions that the test isn’t always reliable. She tells Marsali that everything a doctor does involves risk, with unseen complications that can be fatal. Still, the more that can be done to alleviate the risk, the greater the chance of saving the patient. (Here again, the writers seem to have been prophetic - these are words that ring true in the current 21st century climate as well). 

Claire prepares a dose of penicillin for Kezzie, which she hopes will be enough to begin to fight the infection and the operation begins. Kezzie is injected with the penicillin and is covered with  a sheet. Laudanum is administered and with Mr Bug holding his shoulders, Claire quickly removes Kezzie’s tonsils, with Marsali as assistant. It is painful, but Kezzie doesn’t move, even when Claire cauterises the wound. The operation is over quickly and Claire congratulates him on his bravery. But Kezzie doesn’t want to be put to bed, determined to wait until Josiah’s operation is also complete. The whole procedure is done quickly and under sterile conditions - a 20th century approach in an 18th century environment - and we get a glimpse of the impact that Claire has in this time period. 

Roger is trying to calm Jemmy by dangling a chain in front of him. But Jemmy will not be pacified and in the commotion, a wooden box is knocked to the floor. As Roger picks it up, another Claire voiceover muses whether God is the spider or the spinner of the web, merely watching as the real spiders are awakened, the ones that lurk within the recesses of our own natures. In this case, Roger has just discovered his own particular spider, as he uncovers the gemstone that Bonnet had given to Brianna, which has been wrapped and hidden in muslin all this time. 

Roger remembers a card game he had played with Bonnet, where he had refused an offer of the same gemstone,. Saying “double or quits for the last card,” Bonnet had suggested wagering the gemstone. Choosing to share his opinion of women, Bonnet said that women would do anything for trinkets, coins or jewels. But Roger had told Bonnet that his lass was more concerned with words and deeds than jewels, playing his card and sliding coins across the table as his own wager. Bonnet had tried again. Since Roger didn’t need the gemstone, he offered some “pearls of wisdom” instead, describing women as a tax that men pay on pleasure and laying down his final card. He was cheating, and Roger pointed this out, telling Bonnet that he had played the Ace of Hearts in the last hand. Bonney’s expression had hardened as he told Roger he was mistaken. Roger had recognised the threat and didn’t argue the point, saying that it must have been the ace of diamonds instead. Bonnet had dubbed Roger a wise man, and taken his “winnings” - the gemstone and the money. 

Now, Roger is haunted by the sight of the gemstone. Had Brianna really “done anything” for the jewel? Brianna returns to the cabin, unaware of Roger’s turmoil. She tells him that she had wanted to make mushroom soup for dinner, so had gone in search of chanterelles, not planning on being gone so long. She asks if Jemmy has been fussing too much, but Roger simply holds up the gemstone and asks “What is this?” 

Brianna stares in shock. When Roger asks her to confirm that the gem is Bonnet’s she is unable to answer at first. Finally, she takes a breath and begins. She tells him that she had been afraid that he wouldn’t understand and his response is a rather accusatory “Try me.” Roger is angry and she knows it. Brianna talks about Wilmington and her encounter with Bonnet. She tells Roger that rather than just going to see the hanging, she had felt the need to speak to Bonnet in person. It was then that he had given her the diamond. 

Roger’s response is stinging, suggesting that she had kept the stone as a gift from Bonnet. Brianna replies that she had kept the stone for Jemmy, as a ticket home for all of them. But Roger needs more information. The Bonnet he knew, he tells Brianna, wouldn’t have given up the diamond for anything. Why did he give it to Brianna? She doesn’t want to tell him, turning away and looking into the fire. “Because I told him Jemmy was his,” she says. Her explanation that Bonnet was going to die and that she thought it might be some comfort are body blows to Roger, who recoils as if struck. Brianna is desperate now, going to Roger and trying to apologise and explain further. She hadn’t known if Roger was coming back, she reminds him, and had been grieving for him. “They were just words,” she says, ones that he was not meant to hear.

But Roger is not accepting this. “Words have consequences” he replies. And the words that he utters next certainly do. He accuses Brianna of knowing that Bonnet was Jemmy’s father, even through the wedding and the blood oath. Brianna asks how she could possibly have known that and Roger replies that it is because she had told Bonnet so. They are words that she had never said to him.

This is the hurtful blow for Brianna. “I didn’t think I needed to,” she replies.
When Roger asks what she truly believes, she cannot answer. Without a word, he drops the stone into her hand and leaves the cabin as Brianna begins to cry.

This was stellar, though heartbreaking, stuff from Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton. Each have got the ability to look utterly bereft and hurt by the other’s reactions and certainly embodied the “Words have consequences” theme of the scene. It is reminiscent of the distance between Jamie and Claire in earlier seasons and it is an effective parallel. We hope that, like Jamie and Claire, Roger and Bree will eventually be able to move forward - once again, time will be a factor.

In the 1960s, Claire pulls up at the church. It is the adoration for Graham Menzies and Claire is keeping a vigil. The pastor approaches, asking if she had been a friend. Claire introduces herself and the pastor describes Graham as a rare individual who alway brought a smile to his face. He asks if Claire had known him well and Claire admits that she hadn’t, adding that she isn’t quite sure why she is there. 

“Sometimes even strangers can find their way into our hearts,” the pastor replies and Claire nods. 
They discuss the promise that Graham had made to his wife and the pastor comments that the love and devotion between man and wife is unlike anything else. 
Again, Claire is thinking of Jamie. “He reminded me of someone I lost,” she says.
“No one’s lost who’s not forgotten,” the pastor replies.
Claire’s eyes are full of tears as she muses that perhaps she had just needed to be reminded of that fact. 

Roger is sitting under the tree when he hears noises. He picks up the rifle and takes aim - at Claire, who is returning from the woods with a basket over her arm. 
They both gasp. Roger makes an uneasy joke how he probably would have missed her, but wonders why she is out so early.  Claire tells him she couldn’t sleep, so she had gone looking for herbs for the twins’ recovery. She asks Roger the reason for his early start and he replies that he has been hunting… mostly. 

Claire is not buying this excuse however, citing mother’s intuition as her reason. Roger wishes for husband’s intuition and Claire reminds him that he and Bree haven’t been married very long. Intuition, she says, comes with listening and time. Roger replies that he has time in spades. Claire tells him, from her perspective of someone with lots of experience, that marriages aren’t always easy. She talks about her marriage to Frank, which had been very complicated. Roger apologies for dredging up old memories. But Claire doesn’t mind, replying that she has been thinking about “that time” a lot lately. Frank and Claire had made their marriage work for Bree’s sake, she says. But Roger observes that this had meant lying to Bree about the identity of her real father and asks if she regrets that.

No, says Claire. Bree had needed to feel safe and loved by both her parents. This makes Roger think. He goes to sit next to Claire, asking and receiving confirmation that telling Bree about Jamie had brought the two women closer together. Roger suggests that the moral of the story is that honesty is the best policy. “Not always,” Claire says, reminding him that sometimes the truth does hurt. Brianna had been devastated and angry when she found out Frank wasn’t her real father, something that Roger had witnessed. It was information she couldn’t have coped with as a child and Claire had tried to find the right time to tell her. 
“Don’t be careless of the time you have together,” Claire cautions. 
Roger appreciates Claire’s honesty and tells her so. 

This is another beautiful scene. Richard Rankin and Catriona Balfe have a wonderful rapport and create the perfect mother-in-law and son-in-law relationship on the screen. With the passing of time, Claire has become far less impetuous and has assumed the role of matriarch with ease. 

The next scene opens with Roger returning to the cabin, where Bree is sitting outside. He holds out a collection of chanterelles as a peace offering, which he has gathered from across the creek. 
Brianna wants to explain but Roger tells her it doesn’t matter. He apologises for everything, but there is something else Bree needs to say. 
“Stephen Bonnet is still alive,” she says, admitting that she is haunted by this knowledge, seeing Bonnet everywhere. She then tells Roger of the recent encounter, where an Irishman had given Jemmy a coin.

Roger tries to deflect. It could have been anyone giving Jemmy a coin, he says and brands Mrs Bug a busybody. Bree reminds him that Lord John had confirmed Bonnet’s existence. He has been seen in Wilmington. Roger grabs Brianna’s hands and kisses them. He doesn’t need to know why she didn’t tell him, he says, because as soon as they know if Jemmy can travel, they will use the ticket home from Bonnet’s stone and return to the future. They embrace, but Brianna is once again torn. 

Jamie and Knox are discussing Tryon’s plan to pardon everyone except for Murtagh. Knox brands it a cunning manoeuvre, adding that treasonous behaviour is unforgivable, adding that Tryon has charged him with continuing the hunt. Jamie says he worries it will only encourage lawlessness among the regulators. Knox says they are both only humble servants to the law, adding (with a nod to Les Miserables) that “those who follow the path of the righteous shall have their reward.” 

Jamie asks what will become of the militia and is told that they will stand down and hand in the muster roll. At that time, they can disband and go home, delivering pardons as they go. Jamie says that he isn’t a sheriff and has no standing. But it is not his rank that is important here. Knox explains the reason: it is because Jamie is Scottish, as are many of the regulators. Jamie is to speak as “one Scot to another” reminding the men of Tryon’s desire to be merciful and just. 

Jamie continues the charade of dedicated militia man, commenting that his only regret is that he cab’t continue in the hunt. Knox says that Jamie should go home to his family and leave Knox himself to worry about Murtagh.

In the 1960s, Graham Menzies is making his own requests. He wants Claire to promise that he will be back on his feet by Friday at 4pm, so that he can carry out his shift at St Finbar’s. 
Claire has heard of the service. It is one that Menzies has done ever since his wife Olivia died, taking his turn to make sure that the blessed sacrament isn’t left alone. It is his way, he says, of keeping close to Olivia and that sometimes he feels her presence. 

Claire tells him that he reminds her of someone she had met in Scotland years ago, telling Graham that she had lost touch with the man since. “He must be a fool,” Menzies replies.   That sets Menzies reminiscing about Scotland and how he never stops missing it. He had always planned to return, but when Claire suggests he goes back, Menzies is not interested. Time has passed, he says. His wife is buried in America and he could never leave. Claire tells him that she will get him started on a course of penicillin and he will be ready for surgery the following day. 
“It’s a date,” Menzies says and the two smile at each other.

Jamie knocks on Knox’s door, He has the muster roll, which Knox takes happily. Since they are parting ways in the morning, he says to Jamie, perhaps they could play a game of chess. They have done this before, with Jamie the victor and Knox wishes to even the score. Jamie agrees to one game. Knox pours them both a drink, saying that part of him envies Jamie, who will soon be at home resuming a citizen’s life. Jamie agrees that it will be a relief to pick up the ax and shovel over sword and pistol, prompting Knox to lament another soldier lost the land. 

A shocked 1960s Claire hears the news from the nurse that Menzies has died pre-surgery, an anaphylactic reaction to penicillin. Claire demands to know why she hadn’t been notified and the nurse stammers that she is new and doesn’t know. Claire loses her temper, saying that it is no excuse and that she should have been called. 

A while later, Claire is having a drink and Joe Abernathy joins her. He notices the Impetutous pirate book, admitting that he had left it in the surgeons’ lounge. Romance novels takes his mind off things, and predicts that they do the same for Claire. Claire asks if she is the talk of the 3rd floor.
 “The fourth floor by now,” Joe responds. 
Claire tells him that there had been something about Graham Menzies. She laments that she had allowed herself to get attached to a patient, but Joe reminds her that it happens sometimes. They are doctors after all, not robots. 
But there is more to it. Claire asks Joe if he ever feels like everything is pointing him towards something, without ever been quite sure of what that something is, just that it can be dealt or sensed somehow. 
Joe replies that there is clearly something on Claire’s mind, but in his opinion, the problem is in the heart, not the brain. 

Knox is also sounding sentimental. He tells Jamie that had they gone to battle, he would have wanted no-one by his side but Jamie. Jamie replies that that is a kind comment, adding that it is rare to meet people of a like mind. The last time that sentiments like this were shared over a chess board, Jamie was playing Lord John, but this situation is far from that, as we soon see. 

Knox begins to speak of Murtagh, telling Jamie that men like Murtagh never change. Their duty is to the law, he says and justice will be done. Jamie is still at this comment, but Knox doesn’t notice. There is a knock at the door and as ominous music begins to play, Knox returns to the table with the document he has been expecting: a transcript of the Ardsmuir prison roll after Culloden. Knox starts to talk of presenting the roll to Tryon, but Jamie interrupts, telling Knox that his own name is on the roll. Knox agrees: he is certain that there is more than one James Fraser in Scotland. But Jamie presses further: there is only one James Fraser from Broch Tuarach. He indicates the roll. Knox, his expression changing to one of disbelief, opens it and sure enough, reads Jamie’s name, along with the information that Murtagh’s surname is in fact Fraser. 
“My godfather,” Jamie replies. “Fitzgibbons is his middle name.”

Knox is horrified. He wants to know what kind of deceitful devil wears the guise of honour and talks about justice and mercy. He realises  that it was Jamie who released the prisoners in Hillsborough and that all of his actions have been for Murtagh’s sake.
Jamie leans forward, his expression serious. “Believe of me what you will,” he says, “but Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser is a good man.” 

This is the last straw for Knox. He will do what must be done, he says, and will not be in league with a traitor. Jamie stands along with Knox, saying that he is no traitor. He has cheated death in the duty of other men’s ambitions and has the scars to prove it, which he has borne without complaint. What Jamie won’t do, he says, is stand by and watch his kin be hunted like a dog for protecting people who can’t protect themselves. 

Knox responds that Tryon will put a rope around Jamie’s neck. Jamie asks what Knox would have done in his place and Knox replies that he would never break his word, or his oath to King and country. Picking up a knife, he orders Jamie to stand down, while he calls for Jamie’s arrest. 

Jamie advances on him. He swore an oath to his family, he says, imploring Knox, as a good man, to understand. But Knox is having none of this. He took a life in the jail, he says to Jamie, and Jamie had pleaded for mercy on the prisoners’ behalf. He had believed Jamie to be a good man. “Which of us is righteous?” he asks. “It cannot be both,” he says, turning away. This is his fatal mistake.

With the speed and strength of the warrior that he is, Jamie slams Knox’s head into the door and grabs the stunned man around the throat. The struggle is desperate but brief. Jamie strangles the Lieutenant and, in a sarcastic allusion to Ethan’s death in Hillsborough, apologises for not affording him a soldier’s death. He drags Knox’s body to the bed, pulling off his boots, closing his eyes and covering him with a blanket, making it look as if he had gone to sleep for the evening. Next, he burns the Ardsmuir roll in the fire, before ensuring that the flames and smoke build up. Coughing, he takes the rest of the documents and lets himself out of the cabin via the window into an alley way. He stands there for a moment then hears a cat meowing. Looking down, he sees a grey ball of fur looking back at him. “Not a word,” he says, “or I’ll throttle you.” In the distance, we hear shouts of “Fire Fire” and calls for a physician, as Knox’s body is dragged outside. Fergus has appeared too and asks Jamie if it is the Lieutenant. Jamie confirms this, adding that they should leave as there is nothing else to be done. 

There has been quite a bit of discussion about this scene on fan sites. Opinion is divided as to whether Jamie’s act of murdering Knox is justified. This was a show -only development, as Knox does not exist in Diana Gabaldon’s novels. One school of thought is that Jamie is a warrior who is fiercely protective of his family and in this regard, he would have no qualms about killing someone to protect the people he loves. Others say that the way he does it, with seemingly no remorse and a sarcastic comment about a soldier’s death are out of character. Book Jamie would be haunted by the people he had killed and ask for genuine forgiveness, not cover up the evidence, leap out a window and pick up a cat with a lighthearted comment about keeping his actions a secret. (For what it’s worth, this renewer agrees with the latter school of thought.) 

The next scene sees Jamie riding back down the hill at the Ridge, to be greeted by Claire. They embrace and Jamie pulls the cat from inside his coat. He tells Claire that it has been surviving on insects and earthworms and he couldn’t leave it behind. The two have bonded, he says, addressing the cat as Adso, named after the cat his mother had had when he was a boy. Claire is similarly besotted, stroking Adso and offering him a saucer of milk. They walk inside, Jamie suggests that Adso can help keep the vermin out of her surgery. 

The final 1960s scene finishes the conversation between Brianna and Claire. In answer to Brianna’s, “Man you never really know what’s coming, do you?” Claire says that she has been thinking a lot about that, and wants Brianna to accompany her to London. She has requested a leave of absence from the hospital, something that Brianna can’t believe. She asks why London and Claire says that Frank had wanted to take her there. Now she wants to fulfil that plan. Brianna says that she will have to cancel summer classes, but Claire is insistent. It is important that they spend the time together she says and Brianna nods.

Claire has given Adso the milk. She thanks Jamie for the gift, kissing him gently. Jamie says he has much to tell her about Hillsborough, but he can sense that he has something on her mind. Claire asks if he remembers her speaking of a patient named Menzies. Jamie does remember, adding that Menzies’ death had been a rare occurrence. 

Claire agrees, adding that she has finally realised something after all these years. She owes Menzies a lot, she says. His death had a profound effect on her, so much so that she took a leave of absence and came to London with Brianna, There she had learned of Reverend Wakefield’s passing, a funeral that led them to Roger and ultimately, to finding Jamie once again. “Welcome home, Soldier, “ she says and they kiss.

 Claire’s final voiceover begins by naming God. God the infinite, God the merciful, God the eternal. Someday, Claire says, she will stand before God and receive answers to her questions about everything in the universe. She has many questions, but she won’t ask about the nature of time, because she has lived it. 

This was a powerful and quite unsettling episode, enhanced by its spooky timing with current global events. Time will march on regardless, no matter the turmoil, danger or emotion that it leaves behind. It is truly as Brianna said, “You never know what’s coming.” We can only hope that whatever it is, whether on Fraser’s Ridge or in 2020, it won’t be too catastrophic. And on we go, to the halfway point of episode 6…

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, an author and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She found the episode quite troubling against the backdrop of the present day and is secretly wishing for a cute kitten to make everything a little bit better!