Outlander’s “The Deep Heart’s Core” dives deep into the hearts of the Frasers in this week’s roundtable
It’s after the holidays and Outlander is heading into the home stretch of season 4. “The Deep Heart’s Core” gave some insight into the hearts of our favorites. Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is still struggling with her assault and Jamie (Sam Heughan) helps her get over it by showing her that it wasn’t her fault she didn’t fight harder. They have a heart to heart about Jamie’s own assault as well. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) offers to help her out of a bad situation by offering to perform an abortion but she delays making a decision and there’s a Ridge life montage.
Roger (Richard Rankin) was sold to the Mohawk at the end of last episode. When we check in with him again he’s being walked miles from North Carolina to New York. So things aren’t going well for him. Back with the Frasers, Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) wakes Brianna from a nightmare and lets it slip that someone came looking for Bree. They all realize it was Roger that Jamie beat up and Brianna lambasts Jamie. Now they need to come up with a plan to get him back. Brianna will go to see Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) at River Run and everyone else will go search for Roger.
While Roger is trekking with the Mohawk he slides down the side of a hill and manages to escape. He manages to get out of immediate danger by evading them. As he’s wandering around the wilderness he manages to hear the loud sound of bees buzzing and Roger finds a set of standing stones! He’s struggling with whether or not to go and as he reaches for the stones, blackout!
How can they leave it there? On with the super-sized roundtable!
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Watches Jamie and Claire for the articles. Talk Outlander to me on Twitter!
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Costumer, teacher, admin for Outlander Forever. She makes use of her excessive tv watching by being an obsessive knitter.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Endlessly amazed at how a little honesty and communication helps situations.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – Amanda-Rae is a Claire Fraser cosplayer, a Blacklanderz contributor, and a frequent period drama live-tweeter. She is the host of This Week in Mammoth Screen Dramas Fancast, a podcast devoted to following the production company behind Poldark and Victoria. She is also the founder of the Poldark Costuming Project. She used to contribute to TVAfterDark, and in 2019, she will be the host of Nerdeek Life’s Roundtables on Victoria Season 3.
1. Brianna and Jamie’s first conversation was really soul-baring on both sides. What did you think of this opening, and why?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – Their relationship is moving really fast, but I think that it’s due to television time constants. I did love the conversation they had regarding rape and how open Brianna was with Jamie. She seems very forthcoming with her feelings. I’m glad Jamie was able to demonstrate to Brianna how difficult it would’ve been for her to physically escape and that it wasn’t her fault in any way, shape or form.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – It’s very lovely up to a point, both are feeling for what each knows how each feels. But I’m conflicted about the ‘lesson’. As a survivor himself, does it make sense for Jamie to get so physical with someone fresh off her own assault and still experiencing trauma and shame? On the other hand, is his show-don’t-tell strategy a faster way to process the experience than talking – a way to help Bree understand fault, agency, and power in her body? Given who Jamie and Bree are, I do lean towards the latter, but something about the scene – particularly the victim goading, feels off.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – This was a brilliant, well handled conversation, although it’s not what is the usual father – daughter chat. If anyone can discuss rape, it’s Jamie. He knows what is going through Bree’s mind, how to get past the point of being a victim and becoming a survivor.
Heather (@taterbug160) – So I feel like I’m cheating a bit because I know that production was torn on having the scene play out like this. With Jamie manhandling Bree so she could physically SEE that her rape was not something she could have stopped. For my thoughts, I’m not bothered by the action as Jamie is more of a hands-on guy, but I don’t really think we needed him to goad her into the fight by questioning what happened to her. I’m not sure why this is a tactic/assumption he gravitates too (twice in this episode), but it doesn’t really speak highly of him or how he thinks of her with all that victim blaming.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I didn’t like how Jamie “simulated” an attack to prove his point. I thought he was pretty misogynistic in the way he tried to prove his point. I would have much preferred he said something along the lines of “I tried to fight off BJR but he threatened me/hurt me more.” It made me hate Jamie which is really not what I was expecting from this heart-to-heart.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – Loved when Jamie and Bree are walking in the woods and he “shows” her how she physically couldn’t have fought Bonnet while she was being raped. They shared a common experience, having both been raped. Bree was able to conclude she couldn’t have done anything to stop him, and if she did, he would’ve killed her. These walks seem to strengthen the bond between father/daughter and highlight how much these two really have in common, besides blood.
2. Well Roger’s certainly in a mess. All we could think of was, “Man how far does he have to walk?” And then, “Wow they don’t seem to care about the things they bought.” What were you thinking?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – Honestly – Their time progression seemed so quick! It seemed Brianna only had a week to confess her situation and “get to know” her family, but Roger was walking for what felt like months. I don’t think the writers matched it up correctly. To me, this episode should’ve been split into two: One episode on Brianna and her family realizing who raped her and the other solely on Roger and his walk to New York.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Hah, good point about preserving the purchase price. The sequence impressed upon me that Roger is made of sturdier stuff than I’d originally thought and, despite a sour aftertaste from the last few episodes, he has admirable fortitude grounded in love.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Roger is going to need a lot of shoe leather! I was starting to think he was going to be walking all the way to Mohawk territory. And no, they really don’t care about what condition their new property is in or if it stays alive. I guess they work with the idea if the slave stays alive on the journey, it’s a keeper.
Heather (@taterbug160) – “Poor Roger.” That’s usually my thought when it comes to him in these books and looks like it’ll continue for the show. Lord knows this is the least of what happens to the man!
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I was GLEEFUL that he was suffering because he deserved some more punishment for what he did to Bree. I know people are going to gasp at this but I still have a grudge against him.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – I was a little bored when they kept showing Roger being pulled by the Mohawk. I understand the writers wanted the audience to understand what he was experiencing but I got it rather quickly after the other poor captive fell and barely got up.(Afterwards, he seemed to be a little too healthy, conversing with Roger and laughing!). Several scenes kept panning to all the Mohawk on horseback, I didn’t need to keep seeing them to know what the situation was. I think those scenes could’ve been shortened and better spent seeing the Fraser’s brawl, maybe Claire could’ve thrown a punch too!!
3. It was interesting to juxtapose the Mohawk storytelling with the Roger’s determination to escape. Why do you think the writers did this? Was there deeper meaning?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – They’re trying to show a difference of cultures but in a short amount of time. I liked it, but like I said before, I wish Roger and the Mohawk had an entire episode. There are interactions with these indigenous characters that, as an audience, we aren’t receiving. Yes, we all know who Native Americans are, but Diana as a writer does such a wonderful job of going into detail with multiple characters. I wish they could have done this in the show too.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I couldn’t say there was a deeper meaning than the way any creation myth can be superimposed on a variety of situations. I do appreciate how much the research helps add enriching detail to Outlander’s story landscape.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Sometimes a story is just a story. And that’s what I think this scene was. It was a cover to allow Roger and the other slave to have a conversation without being observed.
Heather (@taterbug160) – My first thought was the writers were trying to give some humanity to the people that have literally been dragging people by horseback to death. But I suppose it could have a deeper meaning, it’s Outlander.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I’m not sure if I liked how they were trying to portray the Mohawk as “noble savages”. Roger has a dilemma about going back to the 1970s or looking find Bree but I don’t think their story makes sense with that theme. If they were going for a deeper meaning, I didn’t see it.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – To humanize the “savages”, possibly, maybe? To show them from a different perspective. Or to set the scene so we know where they dragged poor Roger and company to. To show the audience the Mohawk were busy so Roger could feel more at ease speaking his mind to the other captive.
4. Damn, Claire. Offering to give your daughter an abortion? Looks like Brianna has a really quick decision to make. Give us your feelings about this dilemma.
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – As a mother, I think Claire is right to offer. She doesn’t want her daughter stuck in a situation that was not wanted or planned. As a physician, she wants to provide the best solutions. She’s treating her as both, and it was an honest, adult conversation. Claire never is one to skirt around with her feelings, and I’m glad she was able to provide this solution for Brianna, even if she didn’t take it.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I don’t think Claire would do anything less than ensure Bree had as much agency over her future as was in her power. I liked how clearly Bree’s choices were laid out in this quiet conversation between mother and daughter that still communicates a sense of urgency. Importantly, it’s an urgency that’s particularly female. There are no cannons or big storms or anything external to demonstrate limited time. Nothing looks wrong, per se, even as Bree would advance in her pregnancy and look physically different. I think it’s great how internal Bree’s decision making is allowed to be in this moment.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Good for Claire!! She understood how difficult the thought of this pregnancy was for Bree, considering the prospect that Bonnet could be the father. It was handled with the seriousness and maturity the decision deserved.
Heather (@taterbug160) – She’s a rape victim and abortion should be an option available to her. Better it be suggested/performed by her mother than someone else. Though it pains me and breaks my heart she’s even IN this position, she shouldn’t be forced to carry a child if she doesn’t want to. That said, Brianna is pretty honest from the start that should there be any chance it’s Roger’s she’ll keep and love it just the same.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – The dilemma, in my opinion, compounds Bree’s already existing anxiety. Claire believes offering Bree that option might relieve some of her trauma. I don’t think Bree realized an abortion could even be a possibility because she was focused on figuring out what happened to Roger. Bree realizes that she can’t risk losing Roger’s child.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – This scene depicts what Claire would do for anyone in Bree’s circumstance. She’s a mother but also a doctor. Laying out all the options to Bree was somewhat clinical but with tenderness. It seemed Bree was very receptive to it all. That she needed it laid out in front of her. I get the feeling Claire parented Bree the same way, growing up. She was comforted with the way Claire presented it, in a way others may not be. Ultimately it was up to Bree and it worked because she acted decisively, in the end.
5. Well the cat’s out of the bag. We knew this confrontation was coming. When all was revealed, were you freaking out?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – Not really. I wanted a longer scene with more from the book. But again, time constraints.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Can I channel Stefon for a moment? This scene has everything. Tears, anger, humor (thanks Murtagh!), victim blaming, slapping, flipping tables, logos, pathos, ethos. And a really great non-book line in Bree’s fiery, “No, you do not get to be more angry than me!”
Carole (@cbraunnj) – I wasn’t freaking, I was rooting for Bree’s left hook! I would be more upset if this was glossed over. Bree has every right to be supremely pissed off at Jamie and Ian. The one I’m surprised that the one who escaped Bree’s anger was Lizzie, the instigator of this whole situation.
Heather (@taterbug160) – CHEERING. I love some revelations that could have been easily avoided should people have actually communicated. My favorite line in this whole episode is from Bree – “NO!! You do not get to be more angry than me!” and also “You’re nothing but a savage.” Bree hits like a hammer! Sometimes people need to be called out for their self righteous actions and this was delivered beautifully by Sophie. She was spot on in this scene.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I was LIVING for Bree’s rage! I’m her biggest fan now. I thoroughly enjoyed Bree slapping Jamie and Ian for their misogynistic garbage. I know many people will call her selfish, but I was sick and tired of seeing the other characters deny her the chance to set the story straight thanks to their mistakes.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – No, not surprised, the Frasers are hot blooded, that’s for sure! It’s a more accurate depiction. Families sometimes disagree, argue and have heated words! Although it may have went too far when Bree started hitting people! Honestly, it was a lack of communication all around, even Bree must take some responsibility in this debacle. If she would’ve told Lizze ANYTHING instead of brushing her off, it probably wouldn’t have gone that far.
6. It appears finding Roger is going to be quite the pickle. It seems everyone has a different solution. What did you think of the solution each individual came up with, including Young Ian’s super awkward proposal?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – I’m glad Brianna took charge and told them what to do. She has both her parents fire and determination in side of her. Ian is adorable, and that was very sweet of him. Little does he know his path.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Everything was great, the plan is good, and then Jamie has to go and make his own side plan to kill Bonnet which encompasses all the stuff he’s NOT supposed to do anymore! Like lie and scheme and take away Bree’s agency. Giant eye roll in the direction of bad plotting.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Time for everyone to put on their tracking hat to go on a Roger Hunt. Bree has the right idea of sending Claire with Jamie and Ian, because there’s no way Roger would trust those guys. Having Ian propose to Bree was the let’s have Ian do a dumb move this season.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Honestly I don’t care about their solutions they waste SO much time yammering on just GO and get him!! Ian’s proposal was super awkward and super adorable and super hilarious. I just love him. He wants to make it right, bless him.
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – Ian’s proposal was creepy as all hell. It was very “18th Century Nice Guy”. As far as the rest of the proposals go, I wasn’t evaluating them in terms of the most logical or precise answer. I was mainly reacting to Bree’s desire to make sure he was found.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – Loved Jamie’s response “Get off yer knee, idjit.” This exchange lightened the awkward scene, allowing the audience to smile, breaking the tension. Jamie then stepped in to talk to Bree but she had her own agenda. I think Bree was right to send Claire, but she seemed to be calling all the shots. Claire seemed to want to appease her and Jamie vacillated between anger and shame (insert eyeroll here). Great acting Sam!! No solution was good enough to save poor Roger very quickly!
7. Not that we want to rehash old wounds, but after the way the Frasers left River Run we thought this meeting would be a little more tense. What were your impressions?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – I honestly thought Aunt Jocasta didn’t want Jamie to win, but she was letting society dictate her actions because of her position in the Carolina industry. I’m glad she took in Brianna with open arms, but having Murtagh there changes the entire interaction of all the characters moving forward.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I like that they left room to ramp up the tension when other people decide they need to do something about Brianna and her situation.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Different Frasers, different issues. Jocasta is so hungry for family that she’s going to welcome in any Frasers, warts and pregnancy and all. And Murtagh has no worries about laying on some Fraser charm. Bree is wary, but I think she’s been warned about things by Claire.
Heather (@taterbug160) – They didn’t leave on the greatest of terms, but not the WORST of terms either. I wasn’t surprised by Jocasta’s warm greeting for Murtagh, especially since they knew each other so well once upon a time and he wasn’t involved in the previous drama. I never expected Jocasta to be one to make a scene, so even if she’s internally judgmental and put off by their appearance I don’t think you’d ever know it. She’s got that southern hospitality down already!
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I was expecting a bit more awkwardness upon the reunion. I’m wondering if Murtagh courted Jocasta in the past, which distracted her from the fact the Frasers left on iffy terms. I was impressed Jocasta was willing to help Brianna, but I still hate her for having slaves.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – I think once Aunt Jocasta heard Murtagh’s charming voice the young girl in her got all excited and giddy, the way they held hands… I’m totally shipping those two!!!! So, I don’t think ANYTHING that came after would ruffle her feathers, even a pregnant niece with no husband (did she believe handfasting was being married, I would think so) could upset her.
8. Really, Roger, you’re running? The Mohawk are some of the best trackers ever! Did you buy this? And holy cow, what’s thea deal with that ending by the standing stones?
Jenny (@CurlySueChick19) – Wouldn’t you run too? I thought it was believable but I wanted them to catch him before he got to the stones, sort of in the same way Claire was caught by the red coats in Season One and taken to Wentworth Prison.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – The vision of the standing stones coupled with the music never fails to make me tear up. The imagery conjures all of the emotional moments that happened at Craigh na Dun. For me, Richard Rankin really delivered, with no words, what Roger was feeling in that moment that he holds the two gems and his face just crumples. I could hear it in my head: “I want to but I can’t,” and that just got me.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Yes, the Mohawk are great trackers but they have nothing on a 20th century desperate man. Roger is smart enough and fed up enough to make himself scarce.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Sure I mean, there’s nothing to say they don’t eventually track him down, unless he goes through the stones of course… Eye roll. I think the cliff hanger ending is kind of stupid because we all know full well he’s not going back without Bree. But hey, at least now we know of a convenient location for time travel that’s not all the way in Scotland!!
Amanda-Rae (@amandarprescott) – I bought that Roger wanted to escape, but he really didn’t know what was going on with Brianna or how to get back to River Run. I don’t think he realized that the Mohawk were well known for tracking. I was surprised to see he found standing stones because I don’t remember how this went down in the novels. I have a feeling the writer wants to set up that things are going to be more tense as we are close to the Season Finale. It’s a very effective strategy because I’m excited for next week.
Stephanie (@twingles321) – Well they may be good at tracking but apparently Roger is good at hiding! It remains to be seen if they run into him at some point. I have my suspicions about Roger attempting/contemplating going back. Very reminiscent of a certain scene from season 1, Claire about to touch the stones and at the very last second gets caught by the British. We’ll see if anything/anyone makes the decision for poor Roger, one way or the other.
Final Verdict: Despite some predictability and a glacial pace, “The Deep Heart’s Core” still entertained
“The Deep Heart’s Core” is the final line of a poem by W. B. Yeats. The speaker of the poem talks about retreating to nature for the peace. Given how much time this episode showed Brianna integrating into the peaceful life at Fraser’s Ridge we suppose the title is still apt. There were some long, slow portions of this episode. Still. The big confrontation worked in a big way.
This episode centered on Brianna finally finding out that not only did Roger come looking for her but the father just met beat the snot out of him and sold him to the Mohawk. Yeah. That puts a damper in their father-daughter bonding. Open your mouths Frasers. There were a lot of mistakes to pass around here. But we were straight up here for Brianna’s rage. She hasn’t had a very easy time in the past and anger is certainly one of the steps of healing. We felt that she was justified.
One quibble we had that we shared with a few guests on our roundtable was a bit of discomfort with the scene where Jamie “proves” to Brianna that her assault wasn’t her fault. We had some discomfort with a sexual assault survivor being so physical to prove a point to another survivor whose own assault was so fresh. It’s not that it didn’t ring true. It just felt gross. Sometimes you don’t necessarily need to see some things on screen.
How much time do we need to spend with Roger and the Mohawk? The large swathes of time spent following him doing nothing but looking tired was a bore. We get it. He was in peril. It’s hard to walk from North Carolina to New York. Also there was a guy that was with him to had to die to prove to us how serious the situation was. RIP, other Mohawk prisoner. We never knew ya.
We tried to goad our roundtable panel into agreeing with us a few times this episode and we got shut down every time! Alright, fine, Roger was of course going to run he has survival instinct after all. It would have been nice if production had found a bigger drop-off to make it seem like it might have been harder to catch him than merely running down a hill.
Welcome back Maria Doyle Kennedy! Auntie Jocasta has two more people’s lives to meddle in now that Murtagh and Brianna have arrived at River Run. As a few of our guests pointed out she’s so happy to have family every awkward moment that went before is forgotten.
Did Roger go through the stones? Let’s find out next week!