Welcome to the most dramatic finale in the history of The Bachelorette: Colonial Edition. We’ve got one uninterested bachelorette, four potential suitors, and an overbearing Auntie. Literally no one is here for the right reasons. Will this end in love or in marriage? It certainly can’t be both. Bree must decide between holding out hope for Roger or protecting her unborn child from being labeled a bastard, a fate worse than death. What will she do? WHAT WILL SHE DO?
If you guessed “make a failed attempt at blackmailing Lord John Grey into marrying her to keep his sexuality a secret, of which he calls her bluff, but then wins him over by appealing to his empathy and enters into a sham engagement to get Aunt Jocasta off her back about marrying one of her selected suitors” you are right and also very good at this game because that is a hyper-specific answer. But it is more or less how things go down at River Run.
Jocasta bulldozes her great-niece into attending a dinner where, surprise, surprise, most of the guests are unmarried men. Not that Bree puts up much of a fight (although she has no idea this dinner is actually an eligible bachelor feast at first). She says she’d rather draw and read and cry alone — which, hey, I get — but once Jocasta starts talking about how much Bree reminds her of Ellen, she is both moved and in for some company.
Bree descends the staircase in one of Jocasta’s dresses as if she were the lead in a Hallmark Christmas movie about a lowly American girl who marries a prince (seriously, they are always descending staircases in those things!) and the bachelors are into it. The men vying for Bree’s hand include Forbes, who makes no attempt to be subtle about his plans; Lieutenant Wolff, who honestly was born to be on a reality show (the dude loves drama, gives great facial reactions, and has wild hair); and Judge Alderdyce, who seems nice enough, but after Brianna’s idea to play Psychoanalysis for Dummies at the dinner table (you guys, I know Bree has Been Through It, but she annoys me so — what a terrible party game!) it is pretty clear he’s secretly gay.
But no matter, when Lord John Grey shows up we all know who’s “winning” this thing. Okay, so officially he’s there because Jamie asked him to check on Bree, but hey, any man without a ring is fair game on this playing field — and Lord John is honestly the best of the best. Too good for this, really. He is loyal and kind and only displays true empathy when he learns that Bree is pregnant. Which, naturally, occurs because Lizzie cannot keep her mouth shut. Later, when Bree sends Lizzie on a mission and takes care to remind her to be discreet, I laughed so hard. It is physically impossible and everybody knows it.
Anyway, Bree makes it out of Jocasta’s Pimp Dinner unscathed although probably nauseous after enduring the cheesiest come-ons possible (“I have newfound empathy for your great aunt’s lack of sight,” says Wolff upon meeting Brianna — ugh Wolff, I had such high hopes for you.) But she isn’t in the clear just yet.
That evening, Bree stumbles upon Lord John and Judge Alderdyce partaking in some sex right there in the hallway. Come on dudes! If you’re trying to be discreet, go somewhere with a door — I don’t care what time of night it is. The next morning, when Bree learns that Forbes is going to propose, she comes up with her aforementioned plan to blackmail Lord John into marrying her. She’ll tell everybody he’s gay unless he agrees — but Lord John doesn’t play like that. He knows she’s desperate and takes pity on her. The two have a heart-to-heart — well, as much of a heart-to-heart you can have with someone who just threatened to destroy your entire life — in which he says he’s in love with Jamie without saying it and Bree tells him the whole truth of her pregnancy. And because the guy can’t help himself when it comes to protecting Jamie’s children, he swoops in at the last second and announces that he and Bree are engaged before Forbes has the chance.
Just when you think Lord John can’t get any better, he tells Bree that William isn’t his biological son and he loves him “more than life itself,” assuring her that Roger will love her baby no matter who the father is. And then the guy starts talking all swoon-y about hope and love and hope being at the root of love and you guys, I’m a dead person. Give this man a hot boyfriend!
Lord John doesn’t have the “strong man who is a softy at heart” beat on lockdown, though. If Aristocratic Red Coat doesn’t do it for you, what about Surly Silver Fox? Murtagh is back, proving that he’s the sweetest regulator you ever did meet. This time, it’s because he reveals just how much he cares for Fergus. That’s right: Fergie Ferg is back (more Fergus, less Bree in the future, amiright?), but Fergie Ferg is sad. It’s been hard getting work in Wilmington what with his missing hand, and he’s beginning to feel depressed about the whole situation. Marsali, who I’m really enjoying this season, asks Murtagh to ask Fergus to join the Regulator’s militia — which he does, because Murtagh understands that Fergus needs to feel wanted and useful. Ferg eventually turns down the offer because he knows he needs to be with his wife and baby, not out fighting some rebellion, but it’s the thought that counts. Also, this probably isn’t the end of that discussion.
For now, Fergus and Murtagh have some bigger issues to contend with. Making good on his promise to fulfill Jamie’s request that Murtagh find Bonnet so that he can kill him, Murtagh enlists Fergus’s help, and together they track the pirate down. That dude is everywhere! And that now includes prison: Murtagh and Fergus are found dragging an unconscious Bonnet, Murtagh punches Fergus so as to make him look innocent, and Murtagh and Bonnet are arrested. I fear for Murtagh’s future, but for now I’m just using the memory of him saving Fergus like a nice warm blanket. Murtagh makes me feel safe, is what I’m saying!
You may have noticed that we’ve arrived at the end of this recap and Jamie and Claire have yet to be mentioned (at least in the present and not in regards to Lord John’s pining heart). That’s because once again this episode seems to forget that Claire and Jamie are why people watch this show, and puts their journey to find Roger (who, as it turns out, did not go through the new stones and was recaptured by the Mohawk) in a supporting role as we deal with the shenanigans at River Run. BUT NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER, SHOW. Regardless of their scant airtime, Jamie and Claire get the best scene of the episode — maybe the best of the season.
Things between Claire and Jamie are still very icy since separating from Bree, and no amount of ignoring it to focus on Claire’s fabulous headband will change that. Even Ian is begging Mom and Dad to make up. Finally, Claire gets to a point where she just can’t watch Jamie in so much pain over what he’s done to Brianna.
She goes to him in his tent one night and explains that she’s not mad at him — she’s mad at the world. She explains that after Frank died, she and Brianna shared secrets and they belonged to them — so she’s sorry she didn’t tell Jamie about Bonnet as soon as she found out, and she blames herself for this entire mess. She explains that their marriage is different now because they’re parents. Listen, you guys, two people talking about the difficulties of balancing being a parent with being in a marriage is typically a snoozefest, but Balfe and Heughan are just so freaking good together (what’s new, I know) and imbue such vulnerability and honesty in this moment (I’m still sobbing over Jamie admitting that he’s worried both Bree and Claire think Frank was the better man), that I’ll be thinking about this scene for days. Sure, after Claire assures Jamie that Bree didn’t mean what she said and knows that Jamie for sure didn’t mean what he said and they both say “I’m sorry” and they both wipe away tears from their gorgeous faces, they have sex in that tent — but that is as it should be! First, because it is the physical manifestation of the healing of their relationship, but also because this is Outlander! Every scene should end in Jamie and Claire sex regardless of context!