This week in Outlander, the action was split between Jamie and Claire’s exploits at the theater, and Roger and Bree’s reunion. We saw Claire going all in with an impromptu emergency surgery that provided Jamie with cover for a dangerous mission, while Roger and Bree quickly celebrated their unusual situation with a passionate night and huge commitment. But there was a much bigger and more disturbing shock to come.
Here’s what happened in “Wilmington.”
- Does anyone else think of Bree now instead of Claire when they hear the theme song? Is that sacrilege?
- Just like last week, with Bree unwittingly meeting people who know Jamie and Claire, now Roger’s meeting people who are tantalizingly related to his search. This time, while looking for Bree, Roger meets Fergus. What makes this close encounter even more interesting is that Fergus is on his way home to see Marsali—and who happens to be visiting her? Jamie and Claire.
- But after all that—Bree just stumbles into the same inn where Roger happens to be drinking. I suppose the odds aren’t that small—they’re both following the same trail. But still!
- Now that she’s seen how far Roger is willing to go—he did pursue her for “200 years,” she jokes—it seems Bree is finally okay with the idea of marrying him. Roger has an idea; he suggests that they be handfasted, a Highlands tradition that will join them for a year and a day in the absence of a minister who can marry them.
- At Governor Tryon’s gathering, Claire is astonished to hear that George Washington himself is in attendance. She asks to be introduced to the future first president of the United States, which is much more fun than having her medical expertise pooh-poohed by Tryon. Claire makes a rare misstep at this meeting, mentioning Washington’s mythical childhood habit of “cutting down cherry trees.” Luckily, nobody thinks too much of it, but the significant moment makes Claire miss Brianna.
- Bree and Roger’s handfasting ceremony is lovely and intimate. It’s so different from when Claire first came through the stones, and she had to marry Jamie to protect herself. This is a decision Bree and Roger made for themselves, and is a nice way for them to honor their bond in the rather bewildering setting of the past.
Here are their vows: “I Roger Jeremiah, do take thee, Brianna Ellen, for my lawful wedded wife. With my goods I thee endow. With my body I thee worship. In sickness and in health, in richness and in poverty, as long as we both shall live, I plight thee my troth.” Bree recites the same vows to him, although she jokes that she doesn’t have many goods to endow her new husband with. Then she pronounces them man and wife, which is a nice way to show Bree really wants this marriage and is taking charge of her own future.
- Back at the theater, Jamie finds out that the governor has a spy among the Regulators’ ranks, who has discovered the rebels’ plot to rob one of the redcoats’ carriages that very night. That means Murtagh is in danger. How will Jamie warn him?
- “Feel my heart. Tell me if it stops.” Roger, you’re one corny, very-in-love young man; but he’s just excited to finally be able to sleep with Bree, his wife.
- “Can I ask you something? Did I do it right?” Bree has some worries about how she performed during her first time, but it’s obvious Roger’s a pretty happy guy right now.
- Unfortunately, Tryon’s colleague Fanning’s hernia is giving him a lot of trouble, but fortunately for Jamie, it gives him an excuse to cause a scene. Our Scottish firebrand elbows Fanning in the stomach (!!), but Claire says Jamie’s jostling could have saved the ill man’s life. Convenient! Claire convinces Tryon to let her operate, providing a very distracting distraction that allows Jamie to get away and warn Murtagh.
- George and Martha Washington weren’t too thrilled by the play, luckily, because they offer Jamie a ride on their way out. Also very convenient!
- The surgery is causing Fanning a lot of pain, understandably, so Claire tells Tryon to talk to him. Apparently, Tryon’s idea of cheery talk is to tell his friend that he’ll “dip his hand into the treasury” and build him a giant house. Okay, seems totally above board.
- Despite that, Claire’s surgery goes very well. LOL at the blithering surgeon who shows up and exclaims that Claire’s butchered Fanning when “all he needed was tobacco smoke up the rear.” A fat lot of good that would have done. Also…definitely wouldn’t want to have seen that. Much more fun to watch Claire carve a man up in her gorgeous white gown. Not even a splatter of blood on her.
- Surprise! Jamie didn’t go himself to warn Murtagh—he knew he might not have the time to return without the governor noticing. Instead, he sent Fergus with the news that there’s a spy amongst Murtagh’s men.
- Bree and Roger have quickly found out how fun marriage can be when you’re hiding, oh, I don’t know, important facts to do with your wife’s time-travelling parents. Roger mentions the smudged date on the newspaper obituary, which he couldn’t have known about unless he’d seen it, and Bree is furious. His defence is that there wasn’t anything she could have done about it, but she’s like, Hello, how about coming back in time at considerable danger to my own life and liberty like I’m literally doing now? “How dare you take that choice away from me?” she asks. Very fair.
- Then it dawns on her—did Roger keep the sad truth a secret to keep her happy so she’d marry him? “Yes,” he hisses. “Pardon me for wanting you to be my wife. Which, by the way, you are now, so maybe it’s time you listened to me.” Obviously, this doesn’t go down well with headstrong Bree. He sure chose the wrong lady if that’s what he wants!
- After telling Bree she’s acting like a child, Roger won’t back down. He even brings Frank into it, reminding Bree of her regret about the last words she said to him before he died—and that’s the last straw. How dare he! That’s typical Roger, lashing out cruelly whenever he’s disappointed. I’m not saying he didn’t go through a lot to get here—he clearly cares about her. But he’s not trying to understand where she is coming from. Compare that to Jamie, who’s from an even earlier time period and always listens to Claire’s opinions and tries to see it from her point of view.
- Does Bree want him to leave? “No one’s stopping you,” she says, tears in her eyes. After their handfasting, this is such a huge turnaround and must be so disappointing for each of them.
- On her way through the inn, Bree then comes across Stephen Bonnet; she is still clearly upset by what happened between her and Roger. Then she notices the pirate has Claire’s wedding ring. “Where did you get that?” she asks. Bonnet smarmily suggests they can make some kind of agreement.
- Fans who have read the books would have known that Bonnet then rapes Bree and gives her Claire’s ring as “payment.” A longtime criticism of the Outlander books has been the frequency of sexual assault as a plot point. Depictions of sexual violence are common in historical fiction, and it’s possible to argue that these are based on the realities of the era. It doesn’t seem gratuitous here, necessarily; given what we know about the show, Bree’s experience will likely expand her narrative arc to detail how the trauma affects her and, hopefully, her eventual healing. Outlander has certainly always treated the aftermath of assault with consideration and care. The assault will probably also create more intensity in Bree and Claire’s relationship—if they reunite, Claire will doubtless feel complex emotions about the fact that her daughter was so endangered because she followed her to the past. Still, seeing Bree’s blood-streaked and bruised face as she listens to Bonnet’s final callous words—”If you find your mother, send her my regards”—makes me wonder if I can keep feeling passionate about a show that so often revolves around rape plot lines.