“If Not For Hope”, would we be sticking with Outlander season 4? Fans weigh in!
Only a few episodes left and we’ve got “If Not for Hope”. Roger (Richard Rankin) is taking a shower and he’s gone back to the 70’s… Psych! It’s all a dream. He’s still with the Mohawk. Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is at River Run obsessively drawing and Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), and Young Ian (John Bell) are still on the hunt. This is awkward for Young Ian because Claire can’t forgive Jamie and he’s the one sleeping near them at night and their bad attitudes.
Back at River Run Brianna has forgiven Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) and gotten chummy with Phaedre (Natalie Simpson). Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) is being sneaky and trying to set her up for a wedding by introducing her to eligible dudes including Neil Forbes, played by everyone’s other favorite hobbit Billy Boyd. Lord John Grey (David Berry) even shows up, but then has a random sexual encounter with Judge Alderdyce in full view of anyone who might walk by so Brianna decides to try to blackmail him into marrying her. As you do. He’s justifiably angry at first but then decides to be the incredible guy we know he is and help her out just as she almost has to reply to a proposal from Neil Forbes.
In terms of subplot, Marsali (Lauren Lyle) and Fergus (Cesar Domboy) are harboring a fugitive Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) who is still doing regulator things. They’ve been tasked with kidnapping Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers) and bringing him to Jamie. Marsali also asks Murtagh to give Fergus some purpose and ask him to be a regulator too. Fergus turns him down but feels useful. They catch Bonnet but Murtagh is recognized on his broadsheet and taken into custody!
Lots going on here! Let’s get to the roundtable!
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Reader, singer, jewelry-maker, aspiring author, yogi & taco-lover.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Watches Jamie and Claire for the articles. Talk Outlander to me on Twitter!
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Preschool Teacher from Newton, MA.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Consistently showing up for Lord John Grey.
Teddie (@teepe54) – An obsessive Outlander book reader and later, show watcher, Outlander brought me into the world of blogging as a staff writer for Outlandercast.com. I’m also a long-time Registered Nurse working in the field of Brain Injury Rehabilitation. Amid all this, I somehow discovered Turkish television and I blog for that, too. I blame Droughtlander. Teddie’s Outlandercast Author Page, Dizidivas.com, Kivancnorthamerica.com.
1. Brianna isn’t ready to forgive Jamie. And at the beginning of this episode it looks like Claire isn’t either. What’s your opinion on what’s up here?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I believe Claire was perhaps functioning in crisis mode (worried about Briana, desperate to get to Roger) and until Ian brought her attention to it she may not have really thought about the gulf between her and Jamie. I don’t think she was angry, just consumed with worry. When she and Jamie make up later they both apologize for the lack of communication that have brought them into this predicament.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I think that with the way the men handled the situation of Roger (not questioning who he was before they pummeled him and selling him to the Mohawk) harkens back to the days of act fist, think later. Claire use to do this a lot and Jamie used to condemn her for it. There were always consequences to those actions. Now the shoe is on the other foot and she doesn’t know how to feel. I think it all goes back to parenting and not being able to always protect your children. The decision to save Bonnet was on both Jamie and Claire. With that, all hell has broken loose. They were robbed and hurt and one of their friends killed. Brianna was violated and now carries a child she isn’t sure belongs to would be husband. That is a lot of weight on a parent’s shoulder. Its a huge burden to bear.
Heather (@taterbug160) – I think there is a lot of dismay and a lot of guilt. Brianna is coming to terms with her anger towards Jamie, Claire is guilty about not having told Jamie the whole truth and Jamie is guilty for all he said to Bree and DID to Roger. They will all have to make peace with these feelings by the end of the season, at least one would hope.
Teddie (@teepe54) – The euphoria of reuniting with Bree, with Jamie finally getting to meet his daughter in the flesh has been darkened and downright deflated by Jamie’s misidentification and suppositions in what I term “The Roger Fiasco”. It’s full of danger and unknowns, and Claire is torn with empathy for both Bree and Jamie. At this point, she is not sure what Jamie needs or wants; she’s still sorting out her own feelings and is internalizing it all.
2. Marsali is one smart cookie. She seems to know what everyone needs. What did you think of all the Murtagh-Marsali-Fergus scheming?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I loved Marsali in this episode. Seriously, she knew Fergus needed an extra boost after so much job rejection and I love that she enlists Murtagh to help. Even though Fergus diplomatically refuses to become part of Murtagh’s band of Regulators, being asked gives him a much needed jolt of pride. I wish everyone believed in Fergus’ capabilities as much as Jamie.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I love how Marsali is smart and gutsy and doesn’t hesitate to make things happen when she thinks they need to happen. That said, I’m sure this scheme sets up something for later episodes but the resolution in this episode made the whole thing seem pointless.
Two other observations: Marsali’s mini arc is just the first instance in an episode where every major female character is doing some kind of emotional labor on behalf of a man. This is neither good nor bad, and we’ve certainly seen men (Jamie, Frank, Lord John) do a lot of emotional work previously. There’s just a lot of it by the women here.
Marsali also makes an all-or-nothing statement about Fergus similar to the “I’ll have you all, or not at all,” ultimatum Roger gave Bree at the Scottish festival, to which Bree then acquiesced. Why are these couples so binary about love? Recall what Claire told Jamie when he thought he’d be a broken man for good: “I will have you any way I can. Always.”
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – She loves Fergus and it seems that she sees him losing himself. He can’t find a decent job because of his hand and he feels guilty for not being a great provider for his family. She sees his self-esteem slowly fading and wants to do whatever it takes to make sure her husband is the man he wants to be; not just for their family for himself. Having Fergus help Murtagh was a great idea in that he would be doing something to help his family (The Frasers) and would be in the thick of all the excitement as he once was before.
Heather (@taterbug160) – I think Marsali is just trying to give Fergus a sense of purpose. He’s feeling down about lack of work because of his hand, and she knows that if Murtagh asks him to join him, even if he denies him, it will make him feel wanted. Marsali is wise beyond her years.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Part head-scratching, but with a whole lot of joy, I’m still adjusting to the second coming of a living, breathing Murtagh. Marsali, Fergus and Murtagh are each headstrong, yet practical and extremely resourceful, and I suspect that together they will be dream team of schemers.
3. Brianna is settling in at River Run. What did you think of the relationships she’s building there, even down to dealing with her scheming Aunt Jocasta?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I was surprised we didn’t hear more from Brianna about the injustice of slavery more overtly, but that might be a case of not biting the hand that feeds you. However, I loved that she described Phaedre as beautiful, sketcked Phaedre and was honest about her choice of subjects with the dinner party visitors; her acknowledgement of the humanity of the slaves was apparent. Although she couldn’t do anything to help them because of her situation. I loved how she told Phaedre to let her worry about Aunt Jocasta.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Jocasta is really forcing Brianna to deal with the situation she’s found herself in – pregnancy, uncertainty, general 18th century life – head on. Brianna has Jocasta’s number, but Jocasta has Bree’s too, and a much better grasp on how precarious Bree’s situation is. But both women are drawn to each other as well, as family. I loved hearing Bree and Jocasta talk about Ellen. Wanting to hear about our ancestors, especially if we are like them, feels universal.
I also think Maria Doyle Kennedy played Jocasta’s emotions to perfection when she and Bree have that tough conversation about why Bree needs to be married and her child needs to have a father. Jocasta has a whole backstory that comes out in The Fiery Cross, and I wonder if Kennedy was told about it or read ahead because I thought so much of it came through in her voice and expressions.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Brianna is a tough cookie. She stands up for herself and won’t let anyone make decisions for her. That being said, she is unaware how private matters are taken in care of in the 18th century and only sees her way as the only choice. This can be detrimental to her and her unborn child. I do have to say that I enjoy seeing the relationships that she has built with Phaedre. Though they are different in many ways, they are the same in that they are young, bright and under the thumb of Aunt Jocasta. Jocasta is a wily one; sneaky and a bit conniving even though it is supposedly for the good of her niece and her unborn child. The truth is Jocasta is always looking out for herself and her own reputation. Unwed and with child is black stain on the family and she will have none of that.
Heather (@taterbug160) – She seems quite at home at River Run and a lot less bothered by the slavery at the place than her mother. At the beginning of this episode Brianna really just wants to wallow in her grief, loneliness, and guilt, which is probably part of why she’s allowing Jocasta to mother her. Though resistant to the suitor situation, I also believe that Bree knows in this time Jocasta is just trying to help her, though her choices are kind of lacking. She has a decent enough knowledge of history to understand where she’s coming from.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Bree’s adjustment is much more than simple culture shock, thanks to dear Auntie J. It’s not enough that Bree is expecting the child of two possible fathers or must wear all those dang layers of clothing, Bree also finds herself dodging a former hobbit who is now an ardent suitor. Horrified to reside in world that includes slavery, she naturally forges a bond with the irresistible Phaedre. Through it all, Bree remains her own person, and skillfully dodges a box of precious gems and all that comes with it, instead landing the honorable (and gay) Lord John Gray for her fiancée. Bree is her father’s daughter and has enough Mackenzie in her to surprise everyone.
4. Let’s have some fun. Which of Brianna’s suitors was your favorite? If she had to choose one, which do you think would be best for her?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Of course Lord John was the best! It was so funny when he was announced and all the other guys looked at each other like, “you’ve got to be kidding me. There goes my chances.”
Radha (@BaaderLander) – With the exception of his awful mother, I think Judge Alderdyce comes out ahead. He seems pleasant and up for diverse art. Good for platonic side-by-side living, if it came down to it.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I would have loved to see her with Forbes. He’s so small compared to her and looks like he would wait on her hand and foot. She would be a wife in name only, I think, but still enjoy his company.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Is this a trick question? You know how I love my Lord John Grey. Even though Bree belongs with Roger, I think that LJG could match her in wit and intelligence. It’s just a teeny tiny thing that he’s also in love with her father, and like, not that into her.
Teddie (@teepe54) – With apologies to actor Billy Boyd, I’d say The Hobbit (Forbes) for old time’s sake, but Lord John is the genuine prize. Gemstones don’t hold a candle to him.
5. Lord John Grey! Hooray! And he’s… Whoa, Lord John. Get a room! Quick, your first thought was:
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Lord John has kept Jamie’s secret and the secret of his sexuality for a long time. The consequences for these secrets being known would be devastating. I was surprised to see him and Judge Alderdyce in what amounted to a well-lit hallway doing their thing. It seemed a slip on the part of John to not show more care to keep his big secret. I felt it was out of character.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – What an entrance; I cheered! Who could compete?
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I thought that the scene in the closet (?), hallway (?), wherever it took place, was completely out of character for Lord John. The writers did a major disservice to his character. And if you are a book reader, you know that this particular event was far more discreet. Yes he got caught and yes Bree does try to blackmail him but LJG being the true gentleman that he is does rise to the occasion to be what Brianna needs him to be.
Heather (@taterbug160) – So MANY THOUGHTS. Glad they changed the book version to this version. LJG getting some! Slight confusion that this was the setting they chose to get it on, where they could so easily be found out. I’ve read a fair amount of criticism for this scene and though I would have changed a few things to make it a little less… for lack of a better word, cheap, I have no problems with them showing John with a lover. John is such a beautifully tragic character and I truly just want the man to be happy, and I’d be the first to jump in to defend him if I thought they did him dirty.
Teddie (@teepe54) – JOHN, REALLY–IN THE BUTLER’S PANTRY?
6. Blackmail, Brianna? And not even reading your dad’s letter? That’s low. What did you think of this scene and subsequent proposal?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – The scenes with Lord John and Brianna condensed a lot of material from the book. I found it interesting that Brianna would try to blackmail him versus just trying to explain the situation thoroughly. I did like that we got to see their friendship deepen when they were speaking about William and loving a child this is not/may not be yours by blood. After John reassured her and perhaps convinced her that people sometimes, “Do the wrong thing for the right reasons,” I found it interesting that this is when Brianna choose to open Jamie’s letter and of course that we didn’t get to hear what Jamie tells her. Perhaps that was edited for time or we will learn later.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – The blackmail was low, but I thought it showcased how like her parents Brianna is- Bold, cunning, thinking long term – although more than anything she’s desperate. Despite his initial reaction (was that a veiled rape threat, Lord John??), I think John can see Brianna’s predicament clearly as well and that what Bree really needs is time, so they buy it with their engagement. It wouldn’t be the first time Lord John helped a Fraser for the sake of a child. Farewell, Pippin. (Seriously, Billy Boyd needed way more to do than this small role demanded.)
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Desperation makes for strange bed fellows, right? LJG is a wonderful person to ask for a hand in marriage but blackmailing him would have been such a wrong move. I don’t think it was necessary for her to have gone that far. If she had simply explained the situation first, then asked, I think he would have truly considered the proposal.
Heather (@taterbug160) – Brianna is desperate to not end up with one of those men Jocasta is trying to put upon her. So she’s willing to attempt blackmail in order to secure LJG. I think Lord John softens her enough towards her father to actually read his letter. And then of course LJG swoops in and saves the day (sign) as usual and offers his proposal. Did I mention I just love him? 😉
Teddie (@teepe54) – Poor Bree—I feel a mother’s pain for her. I’ve never thought Bree as spoiled or bratty; simply a young, but maturing, vulnerable, and very smart young woman. In this scene, she was also desperate, but ultimately with a conscience, evidenced by her quick and truthful apology to John. I cannot hold her actions against her, and the result was a stroke of brilliance.
7. They caught Bonnet and then they caught Murtagh?? We’re freaking out. Are you freaking out?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – I knew as soon as Jamie asked Murtagh to help him with Bonnet that poor Murtagh was going to pay a price for his participation. Although, I thought it might be his death at Bonnet’s hands, now we see that he falls into the hands of the law. Does this spell a hanging for his crimes? I really hope not. I am angry that Jamie acts so rashly to send Murtagh on this mission and Murtagh agrees (when Murtagh clearly needed to lay low because of the wanted posters). As far as Bonnet is concerned, he should hang immediately, but he’s a wily one as we’ve seen and I bet there’ll be complications to that as well.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – No. I’ve a strong suspicion we’ve not seen the last of either gentlemen for a good long while.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Yes! Bonnet is a sick S.O.B. and he deserved so much more than a hit to the head. T.K.O. by Murtagh!!! But he was to be saved for Jamie to kill. When Bonnet finally gets his, there is going to be a war cry that’s not been done since the days of battle. By us fans, of course. It’s gonna be, “To The Kill!”
Heather (@taterbug160) – This is probably the only part of the episode I was kind of rolling my eyes about. They catch Bonnet and then Murtagh gets caught and it was all just a waste of time. Why?! Now we have to worry about Murtagh getting executed because he is a wanted man after all. THEN maybe I’d be freaking out.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Yes, I am freaking out, and I have no idea what to expect. Perhaps another Murtagh-style revenge, a la Sandringham? Bonnet again worming his way out of danger? ARGH, in pirate-talk.
8. Oh, Roger. You survived the walk but it doesn’t appear you’re in a better situation now! What are your theories here?
Shoshanna (@PDXRosaNoire) – Roger arrives at the Mohawk village and they make him run the gauntlet. Is this an initiation ceremony, are they trying to intimidate him into servility, or just keep him injured, weak and therefore compliant? I don’t know. But I do know that it spells further pain for our poor college professor. In my mind, he has got to really be questioning following Brianna now.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Can we back up to the cold open? I thought it was stylish and effective story telling that accomplished a few things. If you bought the did he or didn’t he cliffhanger last week where Roger looks like he’s about to touch the stones, you might think he’d gone back to the future and then – whiplash! – he’s still captive in the 1700s. If you know he never took the out, the opening visuals remind us that this isn’t Roger’s time. Everything he’s going through is that much more precarious because now we remember he, and by proxy Brianna, shouldn’t really be here.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – It seems as they were sending him down the Soul Train line, oh sorry, I meant the gauntlet, he was maybe being initiated into the Mohawk Tribe. That could be a good situation for him in the end. If he is accepted by the Mohawk then he would be able to leave and find Brianna again. Then he can repair what’s been broken between them.
Heather (@taterbug160) – If you’ve seen any Riverdale, you know the Serpents induct new people by beating them up. I assume that’s the same thing that’s happening here. Roger has to get beaten up (again) in order to be accepted into one of the tribe. I’m still wondering why Claire and Jamie and Ian are riding so SLOWLY. Get a move on! There are only 2 episodes left!
Teddie (@teepe54) – The sheer cruelty of his captors is painful to watch, and although Roger has done a tremendous job holding himself together, he is starting to fray. Not sure how much more he can withstand, but he’s not giving up just yet. He was extremely lucky to have outwitted the natives at least for a while, but he may try to escape again. Meanwhile, with Jamie, Claire and Ian on Roger’s trail, a rescue mission is hopefully next. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to go smoothly.
Final Verdict: “If Not For Hope” was packed with action, but we’re struggling with some parts
Sometimes Outlander can be a little slow in terms of pressing the narrative forward. They create a self-contained hour of television that contributes to the larger storyline but can stand on its own (usually). This can sometimes make pacing feel sluggish. This wasn’t the case with “If Not for Hope”.
By cutting between the different storylines of Brianna at River Run, Jamie, Claire & Ian on their search for Roger, and Fergus, Marsali and Murtagh on regulator/Bonnet patrol, “If Not for Hope” was by far the snappiest episode of the season. We think the show benefitted from an increase in pace. Even though there was still some extraneous material (:cough: Bree’s party trick :cough:) it was nice to watch and episode where it felt like so much happened.
We loved Jocasta meddling in Brianna’s life. The familial moments in the show are what we really love about it. And since the characters and relationships were strained in odd ways elsewhere it was nice to see the show that we recognized here. Seeing Brianna having a truly sincere moment with her great aunt was surprising in a great way. At the beginning of season four we railed about Claire not recognizing the time in which she was living and on the flip side Brianna seems to have a pretty clear grasp. Her recognizing the severity of her situation was refreshing for Brianna. Maybe she’s growing up? We even think she would have accepted Neil Forbes!
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The sexual congress of one Lord John Grey and Judge Alderdyce. We’re in agreement with our roundtable: Why? And don’t get us wrong. It was not the sex that made us uncomfortable. We’re on board for all kinds of sex. But would Lord John Grey risk his position, and the position of a prominent judge, by having sex in a public place? The man not only is discretion itself but wasn’t he taught a lesson by being in the very prison he met Jamie in by being indiscreet? John Grey is not a stupid man. It might have been hot watching John Grey top but it was out of character.
Let’s also talk about something that wasn’t in character. Episode two was an entire episode about the horrors of slavery and Claire’s very strong reaction to it. In this episode we see Brianna, a child who was growing up during the civil rights movement, barely reacting to it at all other than treating Phaedre with kindness and decency. Brianna had a black roommate in the 20th century. After episode two would it not have made sense for Brianna to show a little outrage? Where is the consistency?
The writers might have a lot of answer for in this episode but Marsali isn’t one of them. We loved her interactions with Fergus and Murtagh and the delicate way she pressed them exactly where she wanted them. That’s some skill! Marsali recognizes what people need and gives it to them. This storyline was some of the strongest writing in the episode. We’re invested in Marsali and Fergus as a couple, and we’re invested in the outcome of Murtagh now that both he and Bonnet are caught!
It’s so all about David Berry in this episode. His face is incredibly expressive. The scene where Brianna blackmails him the myriad expressions that flicker across his face in a minute express the entire range of human emotion. Berry doesn’t just do a great job in these scenes he really elevates Skelton as well. They have an easy chemistry that really works. We kind of hope she will marry Lord John!
Did Roger go through the stones? Let’s find out next week!