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We go “Down the Rabbit Hole” in a shocking Outlander

Outlander Bree

Brianna goes “Down the Rabbit Hole” in search of one father while remembering another in this week’s Outlander

So much for Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in this week’s Outlander! “Down the Rabbit Hole” puts Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) front and center while bringing back a few old enemies. The first part of the episode sees Bree woefully unprepared to brave the wilds of Scotland as she trudges through the Highlands. You went to Harvard girl. Get it together. When she finally collapses whose doorstep does she wind up on? None other than Laoghaire Mackenzie Fraser (Nell Hudson). She starts off being pretty nice but you know that saying about leopards and spots, right?

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Meanwhile Fiona brings Roger to the stones and he heads on through. Knowing he has to find Brianna he heads to port right away with considerably less trouble that Brianna and gets himself hired on a ship. Evil Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers) is the captain as well which is par for course because it’s Outlander after all. Bonnet is tossing people off the ship who he suspects have smallpox because he’s terrible but Roger manages to save his ancestor and not get himself tossed overboard so good for him!

Bree’s search for her mother and father bring up feelings of her own father and there’s a few sequences of flashbacks! Frank (Tobias Menzies) is back! Turns out he had Jamie and Claire’s obituary and it really messed him up. His relationship with Bree was pretty special though it seemed as if he wanted to tell her about his research and didn’t. When he asked her to come back to England with him it didn’t go very well and their final words to each other weren’t positive.

Of course the real Laoghaire pops up as soon as she finds out who Brianna’s parents are. She says she’s going to have her burned as a witch because Laoghaire. Anyway her daughter Joanie helps Bree escape and she takes her to Lallybroch where they bond for less than two minutes before Ian (Steven Cree) gives Bree some of Claire’s clothes and takes her to the docks. But before Bree gets on the ship she buys the indenture of a girl named Lizzie and sees a vision of Daddy Frank.

Wow that was a lot. Let’s see what our roundtable had to say!

Heather (@taterbug160) – Waiting for Lord John Grey’s spinoff…

Lisa (@TribeTobias) –Author of the Southern Comfort and Sweetwater series, and founding admin of Tobias Menzies’ fan group, Tobias’ Tribe.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – Neonatal ICU RN, Autism Mommy, married to my awesome German hunk with 2 kids and 1 grandbaby that can do no wrong!

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Reader, singer, jewelry-maker, aspiring author, yogi & taco-lover.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– Wife, mom and huge Outlander fan! Also an accomplished ladies maid.

 Outlander Bree

1. Brianna’s having a hard time hiking back in the past! Things looked pretty bleak for her. Give us your thoughts on her preparations?

Heather (@taterbug160) – I’m so excited because I feel like once Brianna and Roger are in the past the story really gets moving along!  Not really surprised by her lack of preparations, as Brianna seemed to lack the forethought for I don’t know… cold weather… in SCOTLAND? And one sandwich? I think she underestimated the amount of people she’d run in to to provide her help. Regardless she did bring a map and compass so at least she can hobble in the direction she wants to go. Also how come all of a sudden her hair is curly? 

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised and disappointed that they chose to show Bree as a damsel in distress as opposed to the kickass engineer, historian, and survivalist that book readers know her to be. It’s completely out of character. It also wasted a lot of screen time that could have been better served showing something besides her limping through the highlands without even the good sense to pick up a walking stick.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – Growing up with Frank with his camping trips with her and outdoor training I expected sort of a female MacGyver. I think she got it into her head it was a hop skip and a jump to Lallybroch from the stones. I would have thought that she would have truly gotten a better handle on distances. Her handy small and fashionable handy bag woefully did not hold enough snacks for the journey. Where are the energy bars and M&M’s? Ok, so she is an engineer. They make cool sh*t ALL THE TIME. Not to mention that her mom was a nurse then a doctor! I would have thought she knew some good first aid to wrap her ankle. The stream was good, but the engineer in her should have found a sturdy branch to lean on as a crutch. Something to help support that ankle. I was also disappointed in her lack of dress. Definitely not what would have been worn unless you were a loose woman. All that ankle showing in the first place!

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I was really surprised that they showed Brianna going back with such flimsy clothes. She’s supposed to be fairly intelligent, and failing that she saw how her mom went to great lengths to be prepared. Why wouldn’t she do the same? I was glad to see that she brought a knife, a map, money, etc. So at least there she seemed a bit more prepared. But the food (just one PBJ) seemed very meager as well.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– She needed warmer clothes.  I don’t think she thought through how much Scotland had modernized and become more populated in 200 years.  She was expecting a short walk to a road and was not dressed for a long hike.

 Outlander Roger Fiona

2. Looks like a few centuries aren’t enough to keep people apart. Roger’s gone after Bree and said goodbye to the 20th century. What do you think of this grand gesture?

Heather (@taterbug160) – Get your girl Roger!! Even though she left him that cold hearted letter, he loves her. Plus, I think he’s a little curious himself as to if this time traveling thing is really real, and he doesn’t want Bree to have to venture off in to the wild Americas alone. Though we can’t know all that motivates him, let’s just say it’s true love and a pretty girl.

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – Poor Roger. He’s old-fashioned and protective and painfully in love, and every bit of that is evidenced by his willingness to risk a trip through the stones, knowing, as only a historian can, the difficulties he’ll be facing. Side note: he should have chosen actual pants to make the journey.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – On one hand, super romantic! What woman doesn’t want the man she loves to fight for her and to chase her to the ends of the earth to prove his love? Not sure that he thought about it too much. She had tons of time to plan it and it out. He had just a few days knowing he was behind the eight-ball already. I also see it as foolhardy as her farewell letter was a little on the cool side. Wait for a year to give it to him? I mean it was a bit less friendly than the Gathering hotel room, you know? I don’t know many men that would drop everything and all they know to chase after someone that they are unsure of the reception they will get IF they find them. I know she was thinking, “Oh I will be back in plenty of time and can fix it all,” but we all know how that goes. At least us book readers do!

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Roger obviously loves Brianna. He wouldn’t even consider doing such a rash thing if he didn’t. His following does come from a place of love but he still has problems with listening. Brianna explicitly asks him not to follow her and yet he does precisely that. We are dealing with two very stubborn people here.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– Very gallant. I don’t think he expects to stay there. Just get Bree and go back


Outlander Bree3. Of all the houses Bree could have ended up in! What was the first thing you thought of when you saw her rescuer and this different side of Laoghaire?

Heather (@taterbug160) – First thought: UGH, not her. Second thought: Where the heck is Jenny!? I was fine with this turn of events, but I do think Bree spent way too much time at Laoghaire’s house. Very interesting how kind and accommodating Laoghaire was, in a mothering, nurturing kind of way, until she finds our who Bree is the daughter of. Then immediately she’s a witch. Just shows that old wounds die hard, and she still is really resentful about what happened to her. 

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – First thought? This isn’t going to end well. Second thought? It should have ended at least fifteen minutes ago so Bree can move on to Lallybroch.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – I have always said Laoghaire never grew up. The producers made me almost think that she had changed and then the crazy popped back out! She was almost likable. Her love for her daughters was very evident. But sometimes mental illness and jealousy are easily hidden so no one around you picks up on it. Sometimes it overflows and envelopes everyone around you. I get the impression from Joanie from her interactions in season 3 with Jamie that she might know her momma has a screw loose. She stepped up and helped Bree get to safety and real family. She genuinely likes Bree and I am glad her mothers vitrol hasn’t shaped her into a piece of work too.

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – “Uh-oh, Laoghaire is going to go crazy when she learns who Brianna is!” The show took pains to make Laoghaire more sympathetic but Laoghaire goes to prove Murtagh right. She still has the emotional intelligence of a jilted 16-year-old.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– Laoghaire just treated her with Highlands hospitality! She only went nutso when she found out who Brianna’s mother is. Hah.


Outlander Frank

4. Holy cow! Not only is it Daddy Frank, but did you get a load of the obituary on his desk? What did you think of where this fit in in the Outlander timeline and give us your thoughts & predictions about how this does or doesn’t change what you think of Frank Randall?

Heather (@taterbug160) – So loved that they brought back Frank for these parallels during the Laoghaire scenes. Frank obviously knew that Jamie lived through Culloden, and coincidentally knew when he did die, and who with! This knowledge seems to come right before his untimely death, and seems to be the catalyst to want to get Bree away from Claire and off to London. It doesn’t change how I feel about Frank. Though he’s certainly not perfect, he’s been living in a loveless marriage, AND he’s been asked to believe in time travel, and that the women he loved did actually love and have a child with a dude 200 years ago. I cut him quite a bit of a slack, really.

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – I think that getting to see some of Frank’s back story absent Claire’s unreliable narrator lens is (or at least should be, unless you’re simply consumed by blind hatred of his character because he’s not Jamie) a game changer. Frank clearly knows that Claire will end up going back to Jamie, and worse, that she will perish (or so he believes) after she does. At this point we can only assume that he is trying to shield Brianna from the inevitable pain of that loss and to give her as much support as possible while he has the chance to do so. We know from previous episodes that it was Frank who essentially raised her. We also have to suspect that he knows Brianna will eventually go through the stones as well. He’s probably trying to at least prepare her for it as best he can, if not prevent that inevitability. In short, Frank is the man who has born most of the responsibility and the pleasure of shaping Bree into the woman she will become. I’m delighted that the writers chose to close out this chapter of Brianna’s life showing the transition from girl to woman, from one father to the other. And it goes without saying that we were beyond happy to see Tobias again. His presence on the show seems to provide an anchor, and the story sometimes drifts without him.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – Frank! FRANK!! FFFRRRAAANNNKKK!!! He has become one of my favorite characters. I read the original book when it first came out. I was a sophmore in high school. Of course I was swept away by Jamie and Claire’s story. As I got older, I have found a new appreciation for Frank as I have learned that life is not all black and white. It is not easy and we do the best we can. I always felt sorry for him. I always wondered what he did in those years Claire was gone. From the beginning of the books I feel like Frank definitely knew more than he let on. Being a history professor it would have ate at him to NOT know if his wife was really crazy. I think he found all these little documents like the wedding certificate, the land deed of Lord Tyron, the obituar and maybe even more that has not been revealed. Maybe birth certificates or mentions in papers of certain military activities? I think he tried to prep Bree as he could knowing she would go back.

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Frank is a very tragic character. I feel that he was only trying to protect his daughter from pain. Frank tried to be the honorable man and stayed by Claire’s side and raising another man’s child. But he loved the child as his own from the beginning. What a position to be in! He then learns that Claire will indeed go back to Jamie (from the obituary) and doesn’t share this information with either his wife or daughter. This revelation makes Frank’s bitterness even more understandable. Claire was going to leave him again after all the time he’s devoted to this marriage. As much as he might have liked having some information to support his bitter feelings, I believe his desire to protect Brianna guided him away from the revelation. He probably believed that losing Claire to the past would be hard, but harder still for her daughter.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– It doesn’t change anything for me.  I always assumed Frank knew a lot more than he ever told Claire or Brianna.


Outlander Roger Bonnett5. He’s baaaaaack. Of course Bonnett is back, and of course Roger is on his ship. What were your thoughts on this reappearance and his… disagreement with Roger?

Heather (@taterbug160) – Oh Bonnett. I’m torn because I really don’t like this representation of Stephen Bonnett. I think he’s missing this kind of endearing charm and rather they are just playing him to be cruel and ruthless. Wasn’t he all of those things? I think that Roger is still living in modern day ethics where you don’t just throw women and children overboard even if they have a disease that can kill everyone on board. He’ll have to toughen up quick, especially if he is going to be formidable against someone like Bonnett, who right now is running circles around Roger.

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – I’m really delighted with Ed Speeler’s portrayal of Bonnet, and loved that he was able to bring out some of the MacKenzie fire in Roger. He’s such a charming villain that even when you’re utterly horrified by his actions  some part of you is constantly thinking he can’t be that bad — Until he is.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – Totally another a badass to love! Bonnett is typical of the time: Hard, callous, and ruthless. They had to be. Any weakness shown was fatal and mutiny was common. I had to rewatch the episode because as I watched his interactions with Roger. In the flipping of the coins I saw something. I think he saw Roger’s determination to get on that boat and his determination to protect Morag and the baby. I don’t believe Roger won either of those coin tosses. I think Bonnett likes to keep people on their toes on that edge. I also sense that Bonnett deep down would like to be like Roger but is so ensconced in his persona and ways that it is impossible to see himself any other way.

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Roger is an honorable man. He is utterly shocked when Bonnet throws the child overboard (and her mother jumping in after). His effort to protect another child and mother (Morag & Jemmy McKenzie) goes directly to that shock. He wants to do something to help. Bonnet’s take on Roger’s insubordination was curious to me. Bonnet toys with Roger rather than killing him outright for his actions. To me it reinforced our image of Bonnet as a calculating psychopath.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– Oh he is just the beginning of Roger’s trials in the past.


Outlander Bree Joanie

6. Bree. Did you not listen to your mother when she told you she almost got burned as a witch? What about this confrontation, huh?

Heather (@taterbug160) – Heh, speaking of needing to toughen up. Bree has nothing on Laoghaire’s scorned woman gig. I don’t think she was quite prepared for the vitriol that was going to come from Laoghaire or that she would immediately accuse her of being a witch. But that’s the Leg Hair we all know and love to hate. Cute that Joan kind of saved her, but it would have been more impressive if Bree had found a way out of the room herself.

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – This goes back to the first question, and my response there still holds: Why are we seeing this completely ill-prepared Brianna? She’s certainly used to doing things her own way — after all, her biological parents *are Claire and Jamie — but her behavior seems more clueless than headstrong.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – Bree is typical of most teenagers. Little sh*ts have to figure it out for themselves. We can tell them repeatedly something but they are hard headed and stubborn. Laoghaire does well to keep it under wrap but I expected nothing less. Her go-to is to have people persecuted and burned at the stake if she doesn’t get what she wants. In that she is a spoiled teenager that never grew up.

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Bree has definitely inherited at least one trait from her mother: Her outspokenness. In 1960’s America that trait was probably more welcome than in 1700’s Scotland. When her mother went back the first time she had to adapt somewhat to the mores of the time. She had to learn to temper her tongue while still maintaining her independent spirit. Briana will have to learn how to navigate the social boundaries as well.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– She didn’t believe her Mom. I think she may now though!


 Outlander Frank

7. Wow so much detail was filled in about the night Frank died and his relationship with Brianna. We’re going to need all your feelings about this adaptation.

Heather (@taterbug160) – I loved how they filled in the relationship between Brianna and Frank. You can tell he not only loved her but respected her. He acknowledged her intelligence and generally seems to just enjoy spending time with her. I always gave Frank a lot of credit for raising someone else’s child, without resentment towards the child herself.  I think with the new knowledge he has, he wants to spend as much time with her as possible before the inevitable.

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – Since I pretty much detailed all the reasons why this was an EXCELLENT choice on the part of the writers, I’ll just say this: #TeamFrank.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – I never doubted Frank’s love for Bree. I think he did try to protect her and to teach her. We see the series from mainly Claire’s (biased) point of view. I would love to see more of Bree’s point of view from that time. sShe does remember the fights so it stands to reason she knows more than she lets on. I think he was probably devastated at what could be seen as Bree’s rejection of sorts. She was his world.

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I really liked that we got to see Frank and Brianna’s relationship filled out in this way. It helps reinforce Claire’s claim that Frank was a good father to Brianna and that he always tried to protect and support her.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– Touching. Interesting. And absolutely gut wrenching for Bree.


Outlander Bree Lizzie

8. Brianna just bought Lizzie and got right on that ship, no hesitation! Did that surprise you?

Heather (@taterbug160) – That’s what happens when you spend way too much time at Laoghaire’s house and run out of time to flesh that part out. Didn’t surprise me so much as that Lizzie isn’t at all how she’s described, but maybe they didn’t want to cast an “older” version of her later. We’ll have plenty of time to learn more about her later. 

Lisa (@TribeTobias) – This didn’t surprise me quite as much as the fact that Lizzie looked like she could bench press Brianna. I’ll be interested to see what they do with Lizzie’s character, because aside from appearing a bit meek, she doesn’t seem to need Brianna’s protection.

Jamie (@drgnys30) – I know I would have been scared out of my mind. I would have had hesitation and doubts. But not her. She tends to be foolhardy at times too. Maybe still thinking with that 20th century mind. It’s never that easy in Outlander world!  I am surprised Lizzie just jumped up and went too! No crying or fussing and no emotional breakdown. I did expect a more waifish Lizzie. I had not seen casting photos of her. I think in some aspects she might see this as an adventure and it was definitely better than the life she was going to have!!

Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – No offense to the actor they chose but Lizzie looks completely different than I pictured her. I pictured her younger, smaller, and whey-faced. In the books it was very clear why Brianna sought to protect Lizzie. The show really didn’t make that apparent. Of course in the show after Brianna hears from Mr. Weymysshe does the right thing. But there wasn’t enough development here for it be feel as believable as it was in the book.

Lynn (@fnceyrpool– I was sorry it was shortened.  But almost worth it to see Frank giving Bree his blessing.


Outlander Bree Ian

Final Verdict: A controversial Outlander as we go “Down the Rabbit Hole” with Brianna two hundred years in the past!

On the surface there was a lot to love about this week’s Outlander in “Down the Rabbit Hole”. But this episode was divisive in the fandom! Brianna’s journey could have taken her through more family. Instead she wound up in the arms of one her mother’s greatest enemies. How is that for luck? Obviously an episode of Outlander going to contain any number of great coincidences. Bree winding up being saved by Laoghaire was only one this episode. Roger wound up with Stephen Bonnett himself and he wasn’t a particularly great either. Man. These guys can never catch a break!

Brianna what kind of preparation did you do for the past? One peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Brianna’s poor showing in the highlands and her lack of girl scout knowledge brought back shadows of Claire’s neverending hike in the jungle last season. Isn’t she supposed to be an engineer? Didn’t this girl go to Harvard? She cannot possible be that stupid.

Tobias Menzies is back for a guest spot. We were definitely here for it and so were the people on our fan roundtable. These scenes were paced well and weren’t overly long like some other scenes (we’re looking at you, Laoghaire). Frank was a historian and he lived with Claire who he said he loved. We’ve always been extremely curious about how much he knew about her jaunt in the past. When we saw Frank holding the obituary we flipped. Did he finally say he was leaving Claire for his girlfriend to drive her back to Jamie on purpose? We’re not always huge fans of the narration but we really need to know what Frank was thinking!

Laoghaire. Oh, Laoghaire. You haven’t learned any new tricks in twenty years have you? We liked seeing Nell Hudson again, but they just made Brianna seem even more stupid again. The time spent with Laoghaire was long and while it was nice to see a different side to her she just fell right back in to old patterns. We’ve said before that Outlander has an editing issue. These scenes highlighted that. A little more time with Steven Cree and bonding with Brianna’s Lallybroch family wouldn’t have been amiss. The show seemed to wrap up awful quickly!

There was a lot to really like in this episode of Outlander! There was also a lot we could have passed on. What’s going to happen to Brianna in America? And how is Roger going to find her? Though he did go back 200 years so given that he’s at least in the right year is encouraging!

Outlander returns next Sunday, 12/23 at 8 PM EST on Starz!

We'll be here with Outlander all season!

Every week we will be here with an Outlander fan roundtable! Interested in being on a roundtable? Message Andee on twitter:
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