Alert! Alert! Before we begin this time-traveling journey, Outlander Squad, you must know that there is no Claire or Jamie to be found in “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Like, at all. Listen, did I squeal a little with delight when Frank in Glasses made an appearance in Bree’s flashbacks? You bet I did. Still, I would give up that sad, handsome man (can we talk about how much better TV Frank is than Book Frank?) for even a C storyline about Claire and Jamie taking care of Clarence the Donkey. Literally anything other than ten minutes of Brianna hobbling through the Scottish wilderness — we get it, time travel is hard. Claire and Jamie are the soul of this story, do not erase them from this narrative!
Let’s try not to be too tough on Brianna and Roger, though, as both of them, now having traveled back through the stones — Brianna in hopes of saving her parents from their fiery death and Roger in hopes of finding and protecting Brianna — separately face some very familiar psychopaths and both have their lives threatened. Honestly, why does anyone time travel at all? It does not seem the least bit fun.
Take Brianna’s first few days in the 18th century. After what, again, feels like 100 years of her eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and limping through Scotland on a busted ankle, Brianna sees a house in the distance where she could perhaps take refuge on her way to the harbor to secure passage to America. She passes out on the road before reaching it, has a nice flashback about Daddy Frank from when she was a child, and then wakes up tucked into a strange bed. Unfortunately, that bed is inside a house that belongs to none other than Laoghaire.
You guys! Laoghaire is the messiest bitch that I love to hate. She is undoubtedly The Worst, but also kind of fun to watch? None of her evil plans to get Jamie to love her EVER work, yet, like a cartoon villain, she continues to try. Even after all this time, she is still peddling the story that Jamie was completely in love with her and only left because he was “bewitched by a whore.” When Ian Murray (hi, Old Ian!) comes by to give her a monthly alimony payment from Jamie and offers to give her some of his own money to make up the difference (Jamie can’t even pay half of what he owes her), she screams at him that she doesn’t want his money, she still has her pride. Ian does not respond, “Girl, when have you ever had any pride?” But he’s saying it with his eyes.
Of course, for the dramatic tension of it all, Laoghaire doesn’t know she’s housing Jamie and Claire’s child and Bree has no idea that she’s spending time with the woman who tried to have her mother killed for being a witch. Instead, as Bree’s ankle heals, she tries to make herself useful to Laoghaire and her younger daughter, Joan, by listening to stories about the “lout” who broke Laoghaire’s heart, braiding Joan’s hair, and having Laoghaire tell her Bible bedtime stories. Honestly, girl, you just traveled back in time 200 years and this is how you’re spending your time? Singing songs about San Francisco and fixing cabinet doors? STAY ON MISSION.
Anyway, the truth about who Bree is and who Laoghaire is comes out and um, Laoghaire is definitely still mad about Claire’s existence. She first tells Bree lies about how Jamie didn’t want her and then locks her up in her bedroom. Your typical evil stepmother type of stuff. She’s eventually rescued by Joan, who has bonded with her over their red hair and love of Jamie or something like that. Joan gets Bree to her Uncle Ian at Lallybroch — unfortunately for all of us, Jenny is off delivering one of her grandchildren, which seems extremely unfair — who is beyond excited to meet Jamie’s daughter. Bree’s visit to Lallybroch is very short (much shorter than the book version, but why, show?), and Ian quickly helps her secure passage to America on the Phillip Alonzo. Bree also uses Ian’s money to help a young girl, Lizzie, escape being sold to a man as a concubine after her father pleads their case. Bree is so her mother’s daughter.
And so, they head off to America and it’s all very exciting and terrifying, but also, we need to talk about those Frank flashbacks. We all know Brianna and Frank were extremely close, so it’s no surprise that while she faces the most harrowing experiences of her life, she’s thinking of him — after his death, she called him her hero — and employing his motto of “soldiering on” when times get tough.
These flashbacks do more than add some depth to the Brianna-Frank relationship. And yes, the fact that Brianna was in Frank’s car just hours before his fatal accident, refusing to accept his and Claire’s divorce and his offer to go to England, is all very sad, but, um, you guys: Frank knew Claire was going to travel back to Jamie and that they would die in a fire. That obituary Fiona gave to Roger? Yeah, Reverend Wakefield had sent it to Frank. Frank knew Claire’s fate and he didn’t tell her. Talk about adding some dramatic layers to things. I mean, Poor Frank learns that his estranged wife was going to leave him again but also not Poor Frank because that’s a dick move! It’s very confusing information to learn.
As you process that big Frank-Claire revelation, we should also talk about Roger’s trip back in time. Oh, and we should definitely talk about how Roger shaved his beard and grew out his hair and is an incredibly hot pirate-type now. I want to hate him, but ponytails.
It seems Roger has a rocky start to his time in 18th century Scotland, as well. He makes it to the harbor — without a PB & J, mind you — and fights his way onto the crew of a ship headed to America. Because there are only like 20 people in 18th-century Scotland, who should the captain of that ship be? It’s Stephen Bonnet, you guys.
Lest you think Bonnet is merely just a manipulative aggro-thief who murders tertiary characters and steals jewelry while listening to Ray Charles, you should know that he legit throws a child off of his ship in the dead of night when he suspects she has smallpox. It is awful and Bonnet is pure evil. He even does that supervillain thing where he leaves people’s fates up to the flip of a coin. For some reason, that’s extra terrifying. The dude is a monster and he definitely does not appreciate Roger’s trying to be a hero on his ship.
Roger, a human being with a soul, tries to help a mother and her infant hide on the Gloriana — the baby has a rash from teething, but they know Bonnet will throw him overboard, fearing smallpox. This would be bad because, well, for obvious reasons, but also because Roger learns that the woman is Morag MacKenzie and her son is Jeremiah MacKenzie — Roger’s direct ancestor. If that baby dies … Roger will cease to exist, I guess? #TimeTravelProblems.
Bonnet discovers that Roger is hiding the MacKenzies below deck and that doesn’t sit well with him. But it’s not the mother and child who will pay for their disobedience — it’s Roger. Bonnet leaves his fate up to a coin toss. This time, Roger is saved, but they still have a very long trip ahead of them. Is this the cruise from hell or what?