Never count Outlander out. I was all ready to hop on here and write about how, sure, it was cool that Claire Fraser basically just invented penicillin in the 1700s backwoods of North Carolina, but that the rest of this episode was a bit of a drag — and then, AND THEN, Jamie Fraser goes and straight-up murders a dude. Jamie. MURDER. I am unwell.
And yes, Outlander friends, I know why he did it. I understand the motivation. The necessity. It was all very “Jamie and Claire murder Dougal to protect themselves” and my body was just not prepared for Jamie to go there again. To murder. It was not how I imagined this stop in Hillsborough to go down.
When Jamie, Fergus, and the rest of their ragtag militia arrive in Hillsborough and Jamie finally catches up with also-murdery Lieutenant Knox, he gets some interesting news. Governor Tryon has written to say that he intends to pardon all leaders of the Regulators and that the militia can disband. Jamie can go home. No one understands this tactic even one bit and Knox is pretty bummed over the fact that he won’t get to see Murtagh Fitzgibbons hanged, especially because he just had a breakthrough in the hunt for this fugitive: He learned that Murtagh was a prisoner at Ardsmuir and has requested a copy of the prison roll. It is on its way! He’ll be able to find men on the list who have also moved to North Carolina and investigate whether or not they are harboring Murtagh. Jamie is immediately distressed because, yes, you’ve guessed it — his name will also be on that list and his relationship to Murtagh will be exposed. At the time, I was like, oh, Jamie’s playing this pretty cool. But now I know, the whole time he was thinking murder murder murder.
Things get kicked up a notch when Knox gets an update from Tryon: The governor is basically like “lol, everyone gets pardons except for Murtagh, he will still be hanged and made an example, keep looking for him, okay byeeeee.” Jamie’s ordered to go home, but Knox will continue the hunt. That evening Jamie visits Knox in his room to hand over his militia muster roll before hanging up his rifle and heading back to Fraser’s Ridge. Knox asks Jamie to play one last game of chess and wax poetic about how much he is going to miss Jamie because I guess he thinks they are the two best friends that anyone could have. This is exactly why when the Ardsmuir Prison roll arrives and Jamie doesn’t hesitate to inform Knox that he’ll find his name on that list and that Murtagh is his godfather, Knox is beside himself. He might as well have globs of mascara running down his face because in that moment he looks like a Bachelorette who’s just been told the guy she’s in love with isn’t here for the right reasons. He is shocked! Disgusted! The saddest! He connects the dots, realizing that Jamie has been sabotaging their mission from the beginning and tells his ex-BFF that he has to turn him in. Jamie tries to explain that his most sacred oath is to his family, but then he strangles Knox to death right there on the floor, so I don’t think that message quite gets across. He stages the room and closes the chimney so it looks like Knox died in bed because of a fire and then he sneaks out the window.
It’s such a ruthless, desperate move and I have to assume that a man as good (okay, I guess that’s relative now more than ever) and loyal as Jamie will have some feelings about it, eventually. During his escape, he does find a tiny grey cat who he names Adso (book readers, rejoice!) and gives to Claire as a gift. It’s cute, but make no mistake, that is a murder cat of guilt sent to haunt Jamie for the rest of his days. I guess you could say that of all cats, but still.
When Jamie tells Claire he has “much to tell [her] about Hillsborough” I was like, someone refill my wine glass because this is about to get REAL GOOD. But alas, that confession will have to wait because Fraser’s Ridge is very busy this week! It’s true: Claire has made penicillin and successfully operates on Kezzie and Josiah. By which I mean she loads them with medicine and then sits in front of them, reaches into their mouths, cuts their tonsils out, and cauterizes the skin. Just like that. Just sitting there. It is disgusting but also a real power move and I respect this lady! What all of this penicillin chat really does is get Claire thinking about a patient she had back in Boston right after Frank died, and the entire episode is framed by those memories.
The patient is a Scot named Graham Menzies (a shoutout to some former castmates, perhaps?). He is very charming and rugged and loves his dead wife like, so, so much. He gives Claire all of those long-buried yum yum Jamie vibes. Not in a “she has the hots for this guy” way, more of a “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ do I miss Jamie” way. Poor Graham dies of an unforeseen allergic reaction to penicillin and it hits Claire hard. Mostly though, it pushes her to take Bree on that fateful trip to England, in which they learn of Reverend Wakefield’s death and end up meeting Roger. Claire realizes that it was Graham who really pushed her back on her path to Jamie. That all roads really did lead her back to him. It’s not the most necessary storyline, but I always welcome a pop-in from Joe Abernathy, and this one comes complete with a shoutout to The Impetuous Pirate, a ridiculously named romance novel they both enjoy from time to time that should delight book readers. It’s been a real book fan-service-y episode, huh?
The more pressing Fraser’s Ridge drama comes by way of Roger and Bree. Roger finds the gem that Bonnet gave Bree when she visited him in the jail and told him her baby was his as a way of giving him some comfort before he was executed. You know the one. Roger recognizes it from his time aboard Bonnet’s ship and confronts Bree. She has to admit that not only did she speak to him in Wilmington, but that she told him Jemmy was his. Roger is livid. He feels betrayed. I guess he just forgot that his blood oath after their wedding was him pledging to be totally cool and fine no matter who Jemmy’s biological father was, because he is not totally cool or fine. The worst part is that he screams at Bree to tell him who Jemmy’s real father is as if she had some way of knowing. Dude! Look where and when you are! Remember the horrorshow that Bree lived through! READ THE ROOM. When he and his feelings have to traipse out into the woods overnight it was a welcome self-exile. I wish he had stayed there for days.
He does not and that’s all Claire’s fault. She finds him hanging out by a tree like a real asshole and as a woman who raised a child with a man who wasn’t biologically that child’s father, she has some wisdom to drop: All that mattered was that her child felt safe and loved. That’s it. It is truly mind-boggling that it takes this long for Roger, a man who was raised by someone who was not his biological father, to realize this.
Claire tells Roger not to squander his time with Bree — “you never really know what’s coming” and all — and finally Roger goes back to his wife and apologizes. For everything. He can see on Bree’s face, however, that there is more to the Bonnet story. Finally, Bree tells him that Bonnet is still alive and in Wilmington. Roger’s reaction here almost makes up for everything that’s come before. (Richard Rankin is very good in this scene.) It all boils down to Roger promising that they’re going to find out if Jemmy can time travel and then they’re going to use Bonnet’s stone and get the hell out of here. It’s very noble and moving, but here’s hoping he comes up with a much more aggressive Plan B, because you know that snake is going to be showing up soon.