Well, it looks like Jamie has fully recovered from his near-fatal snake bite and is back in tip-top shape, which is truly a wonder. We don’t know exactly how long “Mercy Shall Follow Me” takes place after Fraser’s Ridge rallied together to save Jamie’s life, but dang if that man wasn’t knocking on heaven’s gate — I’m sorry, passageway — and lying there with ground meat for a leg. Nevertheless, he is 100 percent better, no doubt thanks to Claire’s attentive bedside manner, and the Frasers are in Wilmington to finally have their meeting with Stephen Bonnet.
As one might have guessed, the Wylie’s Landing scheme goes awry. Like, terribly, horribly awry. Jamie, Roger, and Ian head to the Landing, expecting Bonnet to arrive for his prearranged meeting with “Alexander Malcolm,” and plan to attack him immediately. In fact, Roger has volunteered to do the deed. He needs to kill Bonnet for Bree and Jemmy and his sanity, I guess. That would be cool and all, except Bonnet doesn’t show up. He sends some of his associates instead. Team Fraser easily takes them down, but when questioned as to their boss’s whereabouts, they have little to no information.
But friends, we know exactly where Bonnet is and why he couldn’t make the Wylie’s Landing meeting. While the guys are off doing their thing, Claire and Bree are in Wilmington getting some STEM-related errands done — they’re trying to get all the pieces of a syringe made, it’s very cool — and doing some whale watching at the beach. Doesn’t a mother-daughter day of collecting shells and fangirling over Moby-Dick and racing up and down the shoreline sound like the best beach day ever? Well, it is. But then Stephen Bonnet shows up. All the good things get ruined on this show and we should never expect otherwise.
Bonnet’s there for Bree, and to talk about “their” son. He holds Claire at knifepoint and then knocks her unconscious. Bree tries to fight him, but he knocks her out too. Claire wakes up on an empty beach — Bonnet has kidnapped her daughter.
Let’s pause here for just one sec. Although I try to keep this space as book-free as possible and focus on the TV show’s own merits, I have to believe a lot of Outlander book fans will be talking about this storyline. And that’s because Bonnet kidnapping Bree and the rest of Bonnet’s story in this episode doesn’t actually happen until book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and not in The Fiery Cross, which this season is based on. Fast-forwarding Bonnet’s arc like that, and his demise, is a bold stroke for the Outlander TV team to take and I’m sure people will have thoughts. I’m all for it — Bonnet is certainly a scary villain, but there’s no nuance to him and also, hi, hello, he’s just so, so dumb. Good riddance, you monster! We have much more important things to dive into without him around.
Okay, so how does the Bonnet stuff shake out? He takes Bree to his home on the island of Ocracoke, off the coast of North Carolina. Bree wakes up to find she is living out her worst nightmare — she’s being held hostage by her rapist and he wants her to teach him how to be a gentleman so that he’ll fit into society when he, Bree, and “their” son move into River Run. He talks about how fate keeps bringing them together. It’s horrifying and I’d like to get off this ride now. Bree plays along to keep herself alive and at first it seems to work. She distracts Bonnet by telling him the story of Moby-Dick and he lets his guard down so much that he informs her of his fear of drowning, which will become important later. When Bonnet asks Bree if she thinks less of him now that he’s told her about his fears and she responds, “I could never think less of you,” I cheered. What a glorious stealth burn.
Bree survives the night, but the next morning as she presses Bonnet to let her go get Jemmy and bring him back by herself, he starts to get suspicious. He makes her “seal the promise” of her returning to him to start a life together with a kiss, which, again, is awful to watch. But Bree’s lackluster kiss betrays her. He knows she’s faking. To make her pay, he … forces her to watch him have sex with his favorite prostitute, Eppie, because, again, and I cannot stress this enough, Bonnet is a psychopathic monster. Honestly, everything about this episode makes me want to pull my skin off. Once Bree is alone with Eppie, she pleads for the woman to help her, but Eppie is too scared to betray Bonnet. She knows what happens if you get on his bad side. So all hope seems to be lost for Bree.
Per usual, the dire situation isn’t exclusive to just one member of this family. Shall we take a quick detour to River Run? Forbes, the lawyer who got us into this whole mess by informing Bonnet about Jocasta giving River Run to Jemmy, arrives at River Run to help Jocasta make some adjustments to her will. She wants to leave a ton of money for a bunch of family members including, Fergus, Marsali, and their kids, Young Ian, and even some additional money for Bree and Roger. While taking these notes down Forbes goes apoplectic. You see, he’s made a deal with Bonnet and is supposed to receive 20 percent of everything Bonnet gains once he has Jemmy and River Run all to himself — that means that as Jocasta gives away more and more of her fortune, Forbes is watching his fade away. And when she says she wants to bestow some money to Lizzy, a servant, well, Forbes grabs a pillow and tries to suffocate Jocasta to death. I know — that scene really took a turn. As Jocasta struggles, she knocks over her bell and Ulysseus comes in and, well, he kills Forbes quickly and quietly. Ulysseus rules and Forbes drools. And Jocasta is fine in the end.
Hopefully, we’ll deal with that insanity at a later time because seriously, what the hell? We have no time now! After Jamie and Roger attack Philip Wylie in a Wilmington alleyway, they learn that Bonnet frequents one brothel in town. If anyone knows where he is with Bree, someone in there will. All of this means that Jamie and Claire once again find themselves hanging out in a brothel together. Isn’t life funny that way? It takes a little time, but eventually Claire corners Eppie. Dr. Fraser wins her over by fixing her chronic hip pain (Eppie has uneven legs, you see!) and Eppie tells Claire how to get to Bree.
Claire doesn’t know this but she really needs to hurry. Just when you thought Bonnet couldn’t get any more monstrous, it turns out he’s now into some light human trafficking. He’s selling Bree to a sea captain for six pounds and we have to witness this captain inspecting Bree and it is as awful as you’d imagine and why Bree doesn’t run off and immediately go to Craigh na Dun to get the hell out of this time period, I do not know.
Just as this captain is going to haul Bree off onto his boat, Team Fraser arrives. The captain and his men scurry off and Roger beats the hell out of Bonnet. It is a sight to see. As Bonnet comes to, tied up on the beach, the Frasers are trying to figure out what to do with them. Of course, Bonnet’s fate is left up to Bree. She wants to see him tried for his crimes. Since they all know that Governor Tryon’s influence would be greater than any seedy allies Bonnet’s made, and that Tryon really owes them for his “mistake,” which I guess is what we’re calling Roger’s almost-execution now, everyone is onboard.
Thankfully, Bree gets her justice: Bonnet is convicted and sentenced to death by drowning. That’s right kids, now his worst nightmare has come to pass. Bonnet is chained to a post out in the water and will remain there until the water rises and he drowns. As Bonnet waits and waits for the water to come and murder his ass, who should appear on the shore but Brianna and her gun — she shoots him square in the head. Stephen Bonnet is dead. As she and Roger walk off, Roger can’t help but ask: “Brianna, was that mercy or was it to make sure he’s dead?” She doesn’t have an answer for her husband. You can decide for yourself. But, I mean, it’s definitely the second one.