If you turned on “Providence” thinking there’s no way there could be less Jamie and Claire than there was last week, it is with an open heart and open arms (easier to catch you with, you know) that I regretfully inform you that you will be sorely disappointed. I already did my griping about Outlander not utilizing its two extremely charismatic leads enough this season, so I won’t go into it too much more, but I would like to point out that this is the penultimate episode of season four, a season which already featured one Claire- and Jamie-less episode. Did they really deserve to be relegated to a quick “riding through the woods” montage set to Jamie’s voiceover? I love watching Jamie clean his gun and all, but, come on.
At least Lord John is still around being wonderful, per usual. Even Bree admits that it’s “impossible not to like” him and Bree seems like a tough audience (although she did fall for Roger, so maybe not). The two of them are still at River Run pretending their engagement is legit and pining for men lost out in the woods when Lord John learns of Stephen Bonnet’s arrest in Wilmington. He’s been sentenced to death. John informs Bree because that’s the noble thing to do and she immediately wants to go speak with him before he dies. Is Brianna the most high-maintenance Outlander character? Discuss!
John is against it because he’s sensible and he doesn’t think Jamie would approve of her “taking afternoon tea with a murderer” which is now my favorite Lord John line of all time. But not so fast John! Brianna whips out Jamie’s letter and the entire thing is about him imploring his daughter to try and forgive the person who hurt her. It’s the only way to move forward. Surprise, surprise, now John’s totally down for a trip to Wilmington. Honestly, if Bree is set on reliving the horror show, Lord John is the perfect person to have by her side. He’s kind and empathetic, but never overbearing. Once they arrive at the prison, he lets Bree do her thing, but reminds her that he’ll be here should she need him. Everyone needs a Lord John!
Bree has her meeting with Bonnet, chained up in a cell. He’s as foul and awful as you’d expect, yet she stands strong. She wants him to know she forgives him and tells him about the baby, letting him know if that makes it any easier for him to die, knowing part of him will still live, well, now he knows. He continues to push her until she almost breaks. She finally tells him things he deserves to hear, like how this child will never even know his name, he won’t exist, etcetera, etcetera. In the end, Bonnet pulls a gem out of his mouth and gives it to her for the baby. With the gemstone in hand, Bree says goodbye to her attacker forever.
Oh, but what is this? Just as Bree is finishing up, she runs into a bunch of Regulators attempting to break Murtagh out of jail, led by none other than Fergie Ferg himself. Seeing him march through the streets of Wilmington and then hold up an entire jail is truly G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.
Once Murtagh was captured, the Ferg quickly made the decision to save “the old coot” and in a lovely little scene, is heartily supported by Marsali. They are like little Jamie and Claire 2.0, going on risky adventures and pledging their undying love for one another. What treasures.
Although Ferg didn’t plan to run into Lord John (who he knows) and Brianna (who he doesn’t), they don’t stop him from his mission. Sure, Murtagh and Lord John have a very tense moment since Lord John made it clear he is very much Team Tryon the last time they met, but everyone gets out of the jail alive and well before it goes kaboom. Murtagh jumps into the back of a horse and carriage being driven by Marsali, and they head to Fraser’s Ridge. Lord John proves once again that he is an angel: When he and Bree are stopped by one of Tryon’s men who, knowing they were at the jail when it happened, has questions about the explosion, Lord John doesn’t say a peep about who was responsible or where they were headed. Bree would be so lucky to marry this man.
As much as you’d like to celebrate Murtagh’s escape and Lord John being a dreamboat, the shenanigans have one terrible consequence: In the melee, the keys to the jail get tossed close enough to Bonnet that he gets them in his grasp. We don’t see him unlock himself and get out before the blast, but cockroaches never die, so.
Other than that, the rest of the episode is all Roger. Here’s the thing: Richard Rankin is great with what he’s given, but Roger is just so hard to like as a character. I’m constantly rolling my eyes when he’s onscreen. Like, I don’t need a lengthy monologue about how you could have saved yourself and gone back to your time but repeatedly chose not to because you’re an idiot who can’t stop loving Brianna — I already know you’re an idiot! But that is exactly what we get.
Roger is not faring well with the Mohawk people. He pretty much offends everyone except their healer, Johiehon. He’s tossed into “the hut” where he comes upon another Mohawk captive, Father Alexandre Ferigault. Ferigault is yet another minor character we spend way too much time with. I don’t mean to be callous, because what he suffers is something awful, but this guy is here and then gone before you know it and we only get 13 episodes a season.
Ferigault’s story is a sad but frustrating one. He was welcomed among the Mohawk to convert them, lived amongst them peacefully before falling ill, and was nursed back to health by Johiehon, who he then fell in love with, which resulted in them having a very cute baby daughter. The Mohawk were totally cool with this and welcomed their marriage, but problems arose when they wanted Ferigault to baptize the baby and he refused. There’s the whole thing about him falling out of grace because of his sins and to perform the baptism now would be condemning the child to hell. The Mohawk want him to perform the baptism or else they are going to string him up and set fire below his feet until he dies. That’s another whole thing. Anyway, just as you probably thought while reading that, Roger points out that the Mohawk have no idea about any of that, just pour some water on the kid’s head and say it is a baptism and you know, DON’T DIE. But no, he won’t do that to the child. Even though Roger has an escape plan (he digs a hole under the hut perimeter!), Ferigault chooses to die — it is punishment for his sins.
See what I mean about spending so much time with this character? At least give us two scenes of Jamie cleaning his gun.
The conclusion of this episode is pretty brutal, and as with much of Outlander I found myself asking why it needed to be this brutal. Because it can? Ferigault is tied up and being tortured and Roger is making a break for it — but the priest’s screams are too much for him to bear. After much debate (reader, I was rolling my eyes), Roger runs back to the village, throws a barrel full of something to ignite the pyre, and Ferigault goes up in flames — it’s grisly but a much quicker death than he would have had. But we’re not done yet! Johiehon has been watching her soulmate get tortured and when she sees him go up in flames, she sets her baby down and joins him on the pyre. The guy who’s been crushing on Johiehon, Kaheroton (he also seems to be in charge of Roger), clutches the baby to his chest and breaks down in tears. IT IS ALL SO AWFUL. Did I mention the whole thing is set to “Adagio for Strings?” But … why?
And so, Roger is captured by the Mohawk again and hauled off to what he has now deemed “the Idiot Hut.” I mean, at least he knows. Okay, Jamie and Claire. The stage is set for a rescue, let’s do the damn thing.