Season 4 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.
I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!
Outlander, episode 408: “Wilmington”
The official synopsis (via Starz):
Roger’s diligent search for Brianna pays off when he finds her in Wilmington, but their romantic reunion comes to an abrupt halt when she discovers pertinent information that he intentionally kept from her.
Major plot points:
- Everyone is in Wilmington!
- Claire and Jamie visit Fergus, Marsali, and their new baby Germain, then go to the theater with Governor Tryon.
- Jamie keeps Murtagh from being arrested.
- Brianna and Roger are reunited, spend a blissful night together, fight, and part.
- Brianna has a horrific encounter with the despicable Stephen Bonnet.
The end of this episode is so upsetting that I don’t really feel like writing a reaction post at all… but for the sake of being complete, I’ll go ahead — but it’ll likely be a short one. I’ll talk about all the other stuff first, before getting to Brianna and Roger.
Episode 408, “Wilmington”, brings all the main characters to the same place, although they don’t all cross paths at this point. Claire and Jamie are in town to visit new parents Fergus and Marsali. Marsali is overwhelmed by her love for their baby boy, Germain, and she and Claire share a sweet moment discussing the joy and pain of motherhood.
Jamie and Claire have been invited by the governor to attend the theater and meet more of North Carolina’s bigwigs. It’s fun to see Jamie’s Paris clothing back in action, and Claire looks lovely as always in her fancy clothes from Aunt Jocasta. At the theater, Claire notices that one of Tryon’s associates seems to be in pain. Doctor Claire wants to jump in and offer treatment, but is basically told to stick to lady stuff and let menfolk deal with doctoring. Okay… but later, when Claire performs surgery on the man’s hernia in the theater lobby, with an audience looking on, she definitely gets some respect. And applause.
Meanwhile, Jamie learns from Tryon that a trap has been set for a bunch of the Regulators, and…
Oops, sorry, fell asleep for a moment there. Ugh, the Regulators. That piece of the plot is just not interesting. (My apologies, Murtagh — even you can’t make it exciting to watch a gang of people being pissed about taxes.)
So anyway — Jamie learns that this trap planned by the governor will lead to the capture of a bunch of insurgents, along with their leader, Murgh Fitzgibbons. While Claire is performing surgical heroics, Jamie slips away for a moment and sends Fergus to intercept Murtagh just in the nick of time, enabling him to avoid capture after all.
Who would have thought that the highest drama in an Outlander episode would have nothing to do with Claire and Jamie? Once again, we have an episode where the truly important elements belong to Roger and Brianna. After searching and searching, Roger finally finds Brianna in a tavern, where she’s inquiring about how to get to Cross Creek. She turns and sees Roger. They have a lovely moment, before she realizes that he followed her back through time — that wasn’t the plan!
They argue, both in the tavern and out on the street, and Brianna’s maid Lizzie watches through the window. From Lizzie’s perspective, it looks like Roger is some rando who dragged her mistress outside, yelled at her in the street, and then pulled her off somewhere. That’s not going to be a problem later on, is it?
Bree and Roger soon admit how happy they are to see one another, and Brianna finally tells Roger that she loves him. They find a conveniently empty barn nearby where they can smooch. One things leads to another and… no, they’re not quite tearing off each other’s clothes just yet — they’re getting married! There’s a Scottish tradition called handfasting, kind of an informal way for them to marry one another, and so they do. It’s a sweet, romantic moment as they pledge their love, declare themselves man and wife, and then proceed with having a wedding night. It’s Brianna’s first time, and she enjoys it, as does Roger.
Unfortunately for Roger, his post-coital pillow talk gives away the fact that he knew about the obituary describing the Fraser’s Ridge fire, and that he knew about it before Brianna had left to find her way to her mother. Brianna is furious that Roger withheld this information from her. He yells that he just wanted her to be happy, and what could she have done anyway? This, Brianna tells him. She would have done exactly what’s she doing — find her mother and try to warn her. Their fight escalates, Roger seems to be saying that she needs to listen to him because she’s his wife now, Brianna overreacts to his having discussed their business with Fiona, and before we can take more than a few breaths, Roger storms off. (To be fair, Bree tells him to go. But he goes! He shouldn’t have gone.)
In tears, Brianna makes her way back to the inn where she and Lizzie are staying, and her night goes from bad to the worst. Because of course Stephen Bonnet is there gambling, with Claire’s ring in his hand, and when Brianna asks to buy it back from him, he drags her into an adjoining room, beats her, and rapes her. It’s a terrible scene, which doesn’t get shown on screen; instead, we see the men continuing to drink and play cards even as Brianna’s screams can be heard from the other room. When he’s done, Bonnet gives Bree the ring as “payment”, and Brianna shuffles off in shock.
Like I said, just a horrifying conclusion to the episode.
It’s hard to criticize the show for the plot in this episode, because while events are slightly altered, it’s really at heart all from the book. The reunion, the hand-fasting, the wedding night, the argument and separation, and then Bree’s rape — maybe they happen with different timing and slightly different context in the book, but it’s all there.
Does it make sense for Roger to leave Brianna like that, even while she’s telling him to? Not at all. He just traveled 200 years and crossed an ocean to find her. Is he really going to just leave the love of his life, to whom he just pledged himself til death do them part, to figure things out all alone in a time not her own? It’s a plot point that has to happen, because it drives so much of what’s still to come, but I kind of hate it. They’re both hotheads and neither backs down when they’re angry, and the show has done a good job of showing us this in earlier episodes.. but it still is hard to believe that Roger would walk out like that. And, let’s give him a little credit, that Brianna would push him to go.
The Bonnet business… well, the least said, the better. It’s ugly and awful, and again, critical to future plot developments, but still a disgusting thing to have to watch. At least here the show has an improvement over the book, in which Brianna goes to Stephen Bonnet’s ship to retrieve her mother’s ring, basically walking right into danger. Not that what happens is her fault in any way, but her innocence and lack of judgment in the situation feel out of character for a savvy 20th century city girl. Here in the episode, Brianna doesn’t seek out Stephen Bonnet, simply has the misfortune to cross paths with him.
My overwhelming feeling after watching this episode is a mix of sorrow and anger. The Brianna and Roger storylines end in such an upsetting way that it’s hard to focus on Claire and Jamie’s parts of the story or to feel at all good about what I’ve just watched.
Okay, all that said, I’ll end on a more upbeat note. First off, here comes the General! (Sorry, Hamil-geeking out for a second…) No, he’s not a general yet, but it’s still quite fun to see George Washington, and to see Claire trying to keep cool around the future father of the nation.
A few episodes ago, I mentioned that Claire’s medical treatment of Rufus on Jocasta’s dining room table was probably meant to replace the hernia surgery she did there in the books. Well, here we get the hernia surgery, performed for an audience as in the book, with Claire putting all those doubting men in their place by saving a man’s life through her amazing skills (and without ruining her glorious white fancy dress). Claire rocks. If I ever go through the stones and travel back in time, remind me to take Claire along!