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!

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