Need to catch up? Check out the previous Outlander recap here.
If Chris Harrison ever decides to hang it up, Outlander‘s Aunt Jocasta should be ABC’s first call. Because in this week’s episode, the formidable mistress of River Run is determined to find her penniless, knocked-up great-niece a husband ASAP.
And she does. Kind of.
Meanwhile, Jamie and Claire are the weirdest they’ve ever been to each other, and then a rotting human leg brings them back together. Read on for the highlights of “If Not for Hope.”
JOCASTA WORKS HER MAGIC | At River Run, Brianna draws by candlelight. Her sketches are dark, causing Lizzie to think that she’s possessed. Good Lord, Lizzie is the worst. Bree says she’s hurt and angry, not filled with an evil spirit, causing the younger woman to verbally self-flagellate for making such a mess of things. Brianna smiles and says she’s forgiven her, and that they needn’t talk of it anymore. But when Lizzie asks if Bree will forgive Jamie, Little Red says that even if she could get past what her da did, she’ll never forget what he said.
The next day (or somewhere thereabouts — the series is condensing a lot of time this season, so who really knows?), Phaedre informs Brianna that she’s going to fit her for a new dress, because Jocasta is throwing one of her famous dinner parties. Bree is kicked back in a chair in her bedroom, looking a) more pregnant than we’ve seen here before and b) hellaciously uninterested in getting gussied up for guests. Phaedre hints that there will be a lot of eligible men attending the meal, but Brianna’s far more interested in how the light from the window is playing across the young slave’s face. She tells Phaedre she’s beautiful and asks her to sit while she sketches her. Phaedre is clearly uncomfortable with the attention, but she does as she’s asked.
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Downstairs later, Jocasta finds her great-niece and gives her some earrings that will go nicely with the dress that Jo has decided Bree will wear to the festivities. After all, she notes, there’s a lord coming to dinner, and Brianna really should take comfort in the company of others rather than retreating into her books and painting. Then Jocasta adds that she used to paint, as did Jamie’s mother, Ellen, and notes that Bree is a lot like her paternal grandmother. Damn, Jocasta is good: By the end of the conversation, Brianna is smiling and agreeing that a little social interaction probably won’t hurt.
MARSALI’S PLAN | In Wilmington, Fergus learns that Stephen Bonnet will be back in town soon. When he returns home to Marsali and Germain — excuse me, Zhermhaaaaaaaa — Fergus relays the news to Murtagh, who is wanted for being a Regulator and is therefore hiding out in their flat.
We learn that Fergus is having trouble finding work. Jamie sees him as a wholly capable man, he sadly tells Marsali, but most potential employers see his missing hand as a liability. She bucks him up as best she can, then starts some behind-the-scenes work that is gorgeous in its simplicity.
One night while Murtagh is snoring in the parlor, Marsali not-so-accidentally wakes him up and asks him to enlist Fergus in the violence they all know is brewing. Murtagh snarks that if she’s trying to put her man in harm’s way, maybe marriage isn’t all she thought it would be. “If I wanted him shot, I’d do it myself,” she riffs (ha!), and WOW is Lauren Lyle good in this scene. She explains that being part of the fight will give Fergus purpose once more, and “I’ll have a whole man, or none at all.”
But when Murtagh abides by his hostess’ wishes and asks Fergus to join the militia (“You’ve got courage, and I trust ye,” the older man intones), the new father turns him down, saying that his place is home with his wife and baby boy. Just then, Marsali comes home and announces that the Gloriana is in port. As everyone suits up for some skullduggery, she stops Murtagh and quietly thanks him.
A SLEW OF SUITORS | Back at River Run, it’s the evening of Jocasta’s dinner. Brianna descends the stairwell in Jo’s altered gown and earbobs, and despite the fact that I worry that Sophie Skelton is only able to do 80/20 yoga breathing in that tightly bound bodice, Bree truly looks lovely. This fact is not lost on the men milling about the entryway, who draw toward her like puppies who’ve just heard a shake of the ol’ treats bag. (It should be noted that the gown Jocasta chose hides Brianna’s burgeoning baby belly rather nicely; if you didn’t know she’s pregnant, you wouldn’t suspect a thing.)
Lieutenant Wolff, whom we met when Jamie and Claire were Jocasta’s guests, is breathing audibly in his lust, and it’s pretty gross. The whole thing is like Ye Olde Bachelorette; one man, Neil Forbes, even waves a box of gemstones under Bree’s nose in a literal effort to distract her with shiny, pretty things. She is trying to get away from him politely when the evening’s final guest shows up, fashionably late.
It’s Lord John Grey (!), who is a bit younger and a LOT hotter than any other man there. Remember that Simpsons episode where you could actually see Ralph Wiggum’s heart breaking? Swap out “heartbreak” for “realization that one’s lustful fantasies have been dashed,” and that’s precisely what happens here as Lt. Wolff realizes he — and likely everyone else — is out of the running.
NOT-SO-SMALL TALK | Grey knows who Brianna is, though she is unaware of him. “I am an acquaintance of your parents,” he explains. They sit near each other at the table, where Grey regales the party with tales of his exploits as governor of Jamaica. (“Ooh, ooh, tell the one about the zombies!” I shout, to no avail.) Then Brianna leads everyone through something she calls a psychology game: She asks them to picture themselves in the forest with someone else. When she asks John if he can see his imaginary companion in his mind’s eye, he responds, “Yes, clear as day.” Yeah, I BET YOU CAN, LORD JOHN. Then she proceeds to lay the guests bare by interpreting what they pictured. I can’t tell how much Brianna is serious and how much she’s just effing with everyone — because the latter is certainly happening —but the game quickly comes to a halt when she insinuates that a potential suitor named Alderdyce is hiding secrets; he’s so ruffled, he hastily excuses himself from the table.
After a brief, awkward silence, everyone returns to quiet conversation among themselves. Brianna asks Lord John who was in the forest with him. “Your father,” he answers. “I thought about your father.” (“… EVERY WAKING MOMENT,” I would add. And who can blame him?) As they chat, Grey admits that Jamie wrote him a letter asking him to look in on Bree, but he doesn’t know anything about her recent travails. When he mentions Jamie’s being an honorable man, it angers her. “Don’t talk to me about my father’s honor,” she says, standing and feigning a sudden illness, including a dramatic swoon, in order to get out of having to complete the meal.
John helps her to the sitting room, where Lizzie rushes in and, within five seconds, says the exact thing she’s not supposed to. Upon the maid’s mention of Bree’s “condition,” Grey surmises that Brianna has a bannock in the oven. She fills him in on Roger, and Claire and Jamie’s rescue tour, then Grey gives her a letter for her that Jamie enclosed in his envelope and kindly promises to see her in the morning.
Later that night, Brianna gently confronts Jocasta about the set-up dinner, and smartly points out that Bree’s marrying one of the region’s eligible bachelors would greatly benefit River Run, as well. Jo bluntly tells her that Roger isn’t coming back, even if he isn’t dead: “The sooner ye accept that, the better. Ye canna live on hope.”
MURTAGH, YOU HAD ONE JOB! | Back in Wilmington, Murtagh, Fergus and another Regulator are waiting in the tavern when Bonnet strides in. Murtagh is wearing a hat as a disguise, which is doing about as good a job of covering his glorious silver mane as the dunbonnet did for Jamie during his cave years. Murtagh and Fergus ambush Bonnet in his room, knock him unconscious and remove him from the building; they’re binding his hands out back when they’re discovered by the local constabulary. Murtagh quickly punches Fergus in the stomach to make it look like Ferg isn’t involved, then tries to distract the police by pointing out that Bonnet is an escaped murderer on the wanted list. Oh we’re aware, the cops tell Murtagh — but we also know your face is on wanted posters all over town, as well. They arrest both of the men.
BLACKMAIL BEFORE BREAKFAST | When Bree can’t sleep that night, she goes downstairs for a snack. When she hears some rhythmic grunting coming from the hallway, she investigates. At first, Oldlanders, I thought it was going to be [Spoiler] and [Spoiler] going at it, but it’s actually Lord John and the Alderdyce guy who are having furtive sex in the hallway. (Looks like Brianna’s psychology party game was right on target!) The men don’t see her or her shocked face, and she scrambles back upstairs.
The next morning, Phaedre wakes Bree up with “good” news: Neil Forbes is going to ask for her hand in marriage. Bree immediately goes into crisis mode, buying herself a little time and asking Lizzie to have Lord John meet her on the grounds. “And Lizzie,” Bree begs, “be discreet.” Yeah, good luck with that one, mama.
When Bree and John meet, she wastes no time in asking him to marry her. “Oh dear God in Heaven,” he replies, turning her down politely. So Bree goes straight to the nuclear option: “Lord John, if you refuse my offer, it is with deep regret that I’ll have to reveal what I saw you doing last night with one of my supposed suitors,” she says, adding that she’ll write letters to the governor and sheriff. Oh, and then? “I’ll tell Jamie.” I love so many things about this highly messed-up scene, but chief among them is Lord John’s quick retort: “That’s assuming that he doesn’t already know.” GAME, SET, MATCH, LITTLE RED!
Their conversation gets even more heated. He gravely points out that his life would be ruined were she to follow through on her threat. She stands her ground. He, once again, makes it clear to a Fraser woman that he is “perfectly capable of carrying out my husbandly duties.” Then they both take a breath, realize what is happening, and apologize. She confesses that she never would have outed him. Grey admits that “When I close my eyes, I do see your father. But I also see your mother. Their connection with each other, their love.” He tells her that she should have that, and that he has faith in Jamie and Claire’s ability to find Roger. That’s when Bree starts crying, saying that Roger might not want her and filling LJG in on her rape and the baby’s questionable paternity. Couple that with Forbes’ impending proposal, and, well, her store of hope is just about depleted. “But I’ll do what I must for the sake of my child,” she vows.
GREY SAVES THE DAY | Back at the house, Forbes is just about to make his big offer when John rushes in and announces that he hass proposed to Brianna, and she’s accepted. Forbes is too angry, and Jocasta is too delighted, to notice the absolute surprise on Bree’s face.
Later, John and Brianna chat on the veranda. When John mentions William, Bree notes that “if he is anything like his father, he must be a perfect gentleman.” John wistfully replies that Willie “is very much like his father” and lets her know that William isn’t his biological child but that he loves him “more than life itself’ — and that Roger will love Bree’s bairn, too. (Please note that he does not tell Bree precisely who William’s biodaddy is.) After John leaves, Brianna breaks the seal on Jamie’s letter and begins to read.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGWORK | Claire, Jamie and Ian are on their way to find Roger. But Mr. and Mrs. Fraser haven’t quite worked out their anger from the previous episode. While discussing the Mohawk, aka the tribe in custody of Roger, Claire admits that she doesn’t know much about them aside from what she saw in movies. “If there was a moving picture about us, about me, I’d be seen as a fearsome brute,” Jamie grumbles. ‘That would be one side of the story,” Claire allows. (For the other side of the story, see image at right.)
There’s some weird speechifying on Jamie’s part about how they must press on, even though the Cherokee won’t accompany them north, but all you need to know is that this is not the most fun version of the Frasers we’ve ever encountered. And things are so strained that Young Ian takes it upon himself to try to broker peace between the pair. But it’s still rather stilted until Rollo finds a decomposing human body and dutifully brings the corpse’s femur to his human.
The trio follow the dog back to the body, which Ian recognizes as the man the Mohawk already had in their possession when he sold them Roger. Claire, Jamie and Ian look for Roger’s remains but don’t find anything, so they bury the dead man. “One thing is certain: He was somebody’s child,” Jamie says, and though I know I’m not giving you much context here, there really isn’t any: BROODING JAMIE JUST TALKS REALLY ODDLY.
That night, as Claire is undressing, she comes to Jamie’s pallet and apologizes — she was upset with the world and Stephen Bonnet, but not with him, she explains. And she’s sorry for not telling him that Bonnet raped Bree. Then he laments that Bree doesn’t need him and that maybe Claire is starting to think he’s the savage that Brianna accused him of being. “You fool,” Claire says fondly, but Jamie is legit torn up about what their daughter said to him. He’s about to cry as Claire reassures him that Bree didn’t mean the hurtful things she yelled when angry. “I love you both, so much,” she adds, pulling him close and kissing him. Then she straddles him. She apologizes to him. He apologizes to her. And then he rucks up her nightgown and they, um, apologize to each other like they haven’t apologized in weeks.
HONEY, WE’RE HOME | The Mohawk arrive at their village with Roger in tow. They untie him and force him to walk in between two columns of men, all of whom beat him and yell as he passes. When he falls, they help him up, then beat him and yell at him again.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments with your thoughts!