Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 510: “Mercy Shall Follow Me”
The official synopsis (via Starz):
Jamie and Roger implement their plan to eliminate the threat looming over them, but it goes awry. Brianna is forced to confront her greatest fear and fight for her and her son’s lives.
Major plot points:
Well, I’ll go into detail below. The basic fact to know is:
- This episode brings the Stephen Bonnet storyline to a close.
- Good riddance.
Good-bye, Stephen Bonnet.
This episode is quite a departure from the source material, The Fiery Cross (#5 in the Outlander series). While the book deals with yet another violent encounter with Stephen Bonnet, he remains around to torment the Frasers some more through book #6, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
The show appears to have made the decision to wrap up his storyline this season, and they’ve moved the major events related to Bonnet’s capture and death up in the timeline. And that’s fine by me.
Bonnet has been lurking in the background this season, seemingly having latched onto the idea that Brianna’s child is his and suddenly dressing and presenting himself as a gentleman. Here, we learn a bit more about his motivation. He’s learned from Gerald Forbes, Jocasta’s lawyer, than wee Jemmy is set to inherit River Run. By law, the child’s property would rightfully belong to his parents… so if Bonnet can claim Jemmy as his son, he’ll also be able to claim River Run. Especially as he’s in cahoots with slime-bag Forbes to get Jocasta and her husband Duncan Innes out of the way so he can get his hands on the fortune right away — with Forbes getting a nice cut as a reward.
Forbes manages to screw things up when he meets with Jocasta. Jocasta is feeling generous and wants Forbes to write up an addendum to her will, giving money to Fergus and Marsali, Young Ian, and even the servant Lizzy. It seems to be Lizzy’s name that pushes Forbes over the top, who starts to rage about Jocasta giving away his money and then tries to suffocate her with a throw pillow. Fortunately, Ulysses rushes in to save the day (and snap Forbes’s neck), but of course, that probably spells doom for Ulysses.
Jamie and Roger and Ian have a plan to waylay Bonnet and kill him once and for all. Roger is insistent that he’ll be the one to take the shot. Jamie promises to avenge Roger if he gets killed. (This made me laugh… oh, Jamie, never change). Roger promises the same. But their promises end up not mattering, because Bonnet doesn’t show up where he’s expected.
Instead, he comes upon Claire and Brianna at the beach. Dammit, Bonnet, why did you have to interrupt such a lovely moment? Honestly, I could have watched Claire and Brianna racing on the beach and collecting shells for a few more hours. It was a beautiful, happy scene, and Outlander really doesn’t give us a whole lot of happy, does it?
Bonnet shows up and threatens both women, manages to knock Claire out and then Brianna, and leaves with Bree. When Claire comes to, face-down in the sand, Brianna is gone.
Bree wakes up in strange but well-furnished surroundings, and learns that she’s on an island, in a house that belongs to Bonnet. At first, he tries to playact with her, treating her as if he’s a gentleman, talking about raising their son together and wanting to learn to be proper. He’s clearly nuts, but he’s a lucid kind of nuts. Brianna plays along, because what choice does she have? She dresses up in the fancy gown he gives her and sits down to dinner with him, teaching him about table manners, and later reads to him, cleverly pretending to read him Moby Dick. (Bonnet is illiterate, it would seem.)
The playacting seems to be working to keep Brianna safe, until the next day when she convinces Bonnet to let her go get Jemmy and bring him back so they can all be together as a family. But when Bonnet insists on a farewell kiss, the jig is up. He can tell Brianna is faking, and the nice-guy gloves come off. He forces her to watch while he has sex with a prostitute named Eppie. When he leaves the room, Bree begs Eppie for help, but she refuses. Things look bad for Brianna.
Back in Wilmington, Claire, Jamie, Roger, and Ian follow clues to Madame Sylvie’s brothel, where Claire treats Eppie for pain and Eppie agrees to help, telling them where to find Bree. Our brave heroes show up just in time, as dirtbag Stephen Bonnet is about to sell Brianna to some random sea captain who’s also a complete dirtbag. Brianna is saved.
In the end, rather than killing him on the spot, the Frasers take Bonnet back to Wilmington to face justice, and he’s condemned to death by drowning. He’s left out in the water, chained to a pole as the tide comes in. As the water starts to rise above his chin, Brianna takes aim and shoots him, killing him but saving him from drowning, his worst fear. Roger asks if it was mercy or to make sure Bonnet was really dead, but Brianna gives no answer.
I’m glad this storyline has been dealt with and finished. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the show skipped or condensed most of book 6 and moved straight on to #7. A Breath of Snow and Ashes has some of the most dismal and disturbing plotlines in the series, and I wouldn’t be sorry not to have to see those acted out on my TV screen.
As for the Bonnet plot, I appreciate that the show wrapped it up all in this episode. The kidnapping and island business goes on for a long time in the book, and also includes some pretty sadistic, cruel treatment that Bree is forced to endure (while pregnant!). I’m glad the show didn’t go as far as the book does, and that we didn’t have to see Brianna suffer longer than necessary.
Can we just go back to the beach scene, before Bonnet’s arrival? Both women, Claire and Brianna, looked so happy and beautiful, carefree and enjoying themselves and enjoying their time together. I love seeing the moments where Claire and Brianna’s love is center stage. This was perfect.
Ah, only two episodes left this season! Where did it all go?
Last episode and this one have been my favorites so far. As I said last week, I think the episodes that are about the people and their relationships are so much stronger than those that focus on battles and politics. More of the Frasers and Mackenzies, please!