Outlander – Season 4 Episode 10
“The Deep Heart’s Core”
Outlander clears up the misunderstandings that lead to some mistakes being made last week as Brianna makes an important decision.
Another show that used to thrive on misunderstandings was Frasier; they were the basis of a large chunk of the episodes and were often used to set up hilarious situations that could have been resolved had the characters simply clarified what was actually meant at an early stage. Last week’s episode reminded me of that sort of storytelling in the sense that not all of the information was communicated which led to assumptions being made that resulted in mistakes.
Jamie’s attack on Roger could best be described as a crime of passion. He had every reason to believe that Roger was the man who raped Brianna based on Lizzie’s account and he acted out of a desire to protect his family. Of course he did so without having all of the facts to hand and ended up beating an innocent man to within an inch of his life. This is consistent with Jamie’s character because he often acts without fully considering the situation despite his outwardly reasonable demeanour.
This episode is largely about clearing up that mistake. Jamie’s actions come to light which allows Brianna to clarify the situation to all concerned. It’s easy to see how it all spiralled out of control though Jamie bears a lot of the responsibility for attacking Roger without at least talking to him to make sure that he had the right person. It’s fair to say that the situation is a complete mess and a lot of work will be required to fix it.
The scene where everything is clarified is brilliantly handled. Brianna is understandably angry with Jamie for what he’s done and Jamie has no right to defend himself based on his actions. He’s more angry at himself than anything else because he knows he let his rage dictate his actions rather than considering the situation rationally. Brianna calls him a savage which clearly strikes a nerve because Jamie sees himself that way at that point; I’m sure there’s a saying that begins “you can take the man out of the Highlands…”.
Brianna is merciless when making Jamie aware of how she feels about what he’s done. It takes a bit longer than it should for him to understand the situation. It seems that he assumes Brianna lied about her experience at first before she clarifies that she willingly had sex with Roger before she was raped. Once that fact is known Jamie regrets his actions and has to find a way to make amends for them while accepting Brianna’s anger. It’s a tense scene with heightened emotions from all concerned with things said that may later be regretted. Brianna’s “savage” comment is one example as well as the way she treats Ian who was involved in the willing deception.
It has been well established that Jamie deeply regrets saving Stephen Bonnet’s life because of what happened afterwards. Knowing that he raped Brianna only adds to that and causes Jamie to become even more enraged with himself for having a part to play in what Bonnet has done since. This causes him to react violently which results in Brianna saying “you do not get to be more angry than me”. Anger is all Brianna has to hold herself together at the moment as she is still processing what happened to her so the idea that Jamie might try to eclipse her rage is something she isn’t prepared to accept. Even though they are at odds with one another in this scene it’s easy to see the similarities that exist between Jamie and Brianna that enhance that familial connection. Brianna gets her intelligence from Claire as we have seen before now and she inherited her temper from Jamie. This scene shows them reacting very similarly which deepens that connection even though the situation is driving them apart. Interestingly it appears that Jamie doesn’t really learn anything from this experience as he resolves to secretly kill Bonnet out of bloodthirsty revenge.
To make amends Jamie resolves to head to New York in order to find the Mohawk tribe and try to get Roger back from them. It’s problematic because the tribe are very far ahead of them which means the chances of finding Roger alive are slim. There is comfort to be taken in the fact that they probably won’t kill him provided they continue to find him useful but it doesn’t mean that the situation is in any way ideal. Brianna insists on coming with them because Roger will need to see a friendly face but Claire won’t let her go because it’s too dangerous for her and the unborn child to go on such a journey. The compromise is that Claire goes instead so that Roger will recognise her as a friendly face because he is likely to flee from Jamie after receiving a beating from him. Of course the problem there is that Fraser’s Ridge is left empty which puts Brianna at risk despite her assertion that she will be fine on her own.
This whole situation serves as a reminder of how difficult it was to live in the 18th century. Jamie and Claire are likely to be gone for weeks if not months so that means there will be nobody around to help Brianna deliver the baby and make sure that she is in a medically safe environment to give birth. Murtagh suggests that she go to stay with Jocasta who has everything Brianna will need to deliver her baby while being kept safe from any of the surrounding dangers. Fraser’s Ridge is still a new settlement and relations with the Cherokee are tenuous at best so it’s easy to see that Claire isn’t confident Brianna will be safe staying there.
I find the prospect of reintroducing Jocasta and River Run to be really problematic as it will inevitably lead to another discussion about Slavery and we all know how poorly handled that was last time. Brianna seems content when meeting her Aunt for the first time but the longer she spends there the more uncomfortable it will likely be for her once it becomes clear that she is being tended to by slaves. It may be better handled through Brianna’s perspective but given the lack of sophistication given to the larger issues on this show of late I’m not convinced any lessons will have been learned and viewers will have to deal with more self righteous commentary on slavery.
I mentioned above that Brianna is still processing what happened to her; this plays into the episode in a big way through how traumatised she clearly is. Early on she is frustrated with herself for not fighting back hard enough and generally walking into the situation despite the warning signs. Jamie basically calls her bluff and works to make her angry to prove that there was nothing she could have done. He does this by suggesting that she went into the situation willingly and that she enjoyed it which causes Brianna to attack him making for another example of an inherited trait from Jamie. She is easily overpowered by Jamie who makes it very clear to her how much power he could have over her in that moment just as Bonnet had power over her during the rape. Even if she can’t put it behind her she can at least accept that she did everything she could to prevent it from happening but sometimes events are outwith her control.
Jamie also opens up to her about his own experience and how he had to be willing to let it happen because that was the condition that would guarantee Claire’s safety. For him it was visceral because he wanted to fight back but couldn’t where Brianna tried to fight back but wasn’t strong enough to do so successfully. There is a link there even though the circumstances are different and Jamie tries to make Brianna accept that powerlessness is a large part of what makes it a violation so there’s no sense in believing that she didn’t do her best to prevent it.
Despite this acceptance she still has vivid nightmares. It starts off as a comforting dream depicting Roger returning to her and giving her the comfort she needs before he turns into Bonnet and tries to force himself on her once again. It’s a quick scene that shows how deeply affected Brianna is to the point that she can’t escape what Bonnet did to her. She is at least able to take comfort in the fact that Roger didn’t leave her so she at least has it confirmed that he is entirely genuine when he talks about how much he loves her.
Brianna has to make a decision about the baby considering the possibility that it belongs to Bonnet rather than Roger. Claire has a way to abort the baby but points out that it will be very painful. It’s at the very least an option that Brianna can consider under the circumstances. Claire also points out some other potential issues when it comes to travelling through time. She knows from experience that an unborn baby can be taken through the stones but it’s unknown what will happen once the baby is born. It could be left behind when Brianna returns to her time or it could be sent to another time entirely so there’s a massive risk associated with her having the baby in the current time period. All of this has to be considered before Brianna decides whether to have the baby or not and she ultimately decides to keep it no matter who the father is because it won’t alter how much she loves it. Roger coming to Fraser’s Ridge to find her makes her confident that he will accept and love the child whether he happens to be the biological father or not so she feels that she has the right support around her.
The episode still found room for some levity through the scene where Brianna and Claire discussed what they missed from their native timeline. It’s a really simple mother/daughter conversation that enhances the bond between them while serving as a reminder of everything they have left behind. I always enjoy moments like this because they do so much for the characters while proving that not every scene has to be instrumental to furthering the plot. There is a balance to be found in terms of pacing and Outlander is consistently excellent at delivering character moments not specifically connected to the plot without derailing the pace of the episode.
Roger’s role in the episode was the weakest. All it really did was serve as a reminder that he’s still alive and committed to returning to Brianna. It would have been more effective to have him be talked about rather than appear because it heightens the sense or urgency if the audience are as unclear on his fate as the characters are. His scenes add very little to the overall narrative other than some manufactured threat when he escapes and is being hunted but even that is met with an easy escape. The cliffhanger ending leaving the question over whether he went through the newly discovered stone is mildly intriguing especially considering Claire’s dialogue around the unpredictability of time travel. It may be enjoyable to see Roger have to find his way back through various adventures in other time periods.
A strong episode that delivers great character moments while clearing up the established misunderstandings. Brianna learning what Jamie did to Roger results in a really powerful confrontation that forces Jamie to face up to his less than stellar decision making. It’s a reminder that he sometimes acts without thinking and that there are consequences to doing so. Learning that Bonnet was the one to rape Brianna gives him even more to feel guilty about and fuels his anger. Despite being at odds with one another this is a great scene for showing how similar Brianna and Jamie are in how passionate they both are. Brianna dealing with the rape is also handled brilliantly with Jamie encouraging her to get angry enough to attack him so that he can prove how powerless she would have been in the situation and that there was nothing she could have done. This allows her to accept that she didn’t simply let it happen though the nightmare she has makes it clear how deeply affected she is. Her decision to keep the baby makes sense in context of the situation while raising some intrigue over the risks associated with attempting to travel through time after the baby has been born.
There is room for levity in the episode through Claire and Brianna’s discussion about what they miss from their native time period. It’s a great conversation that makes good use of the mother/daughter bond and serves as a natural reminder that it’s possible to develop characters without confining every scene to moving the plot forward. Roger being in the episode weakens it somewhat as his scenes don’t really add much that needed to be there. All they do is serve as a reminder that he’s still alive though it would have been more effective to leave the audience wondering along with Brianna and the other characters. The cliffanger associated with him perhaps travelling through a newly discovered stone is mildly intriguing though as I might like to see Roger having adventures in other time periods before finally returning to the Brianna.
- the scene where the misunderstanding is clarified
- Jamie and Brianna being at odds with one another while proving how much they have in common
- Brianna and Claire discussing what they miss about the future
- Jamie helping Brianna realise that there was nothing she could have done to prevent the rape
- the nightmare sequence showing how deeply Brianna is being haunted by her experience
- the possibility of more badly handled commentary on Slavery
- Roger’s unnecessary appearance
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