Was it “Providence” that inspired our Outlander roundtable this week?
As Outlander keeps reminding us, “Providence” is the penultimate episode. The bulk of the time is spent with Roger (Richard Rankin) and his trials with the Mohawk. He doesn’t successfully run the gauntlet and ends up as the tribe grunt. He isn’t even good at that and they send him to a hut where he meets Father Alexander. He’s a fallen priest who had a baby out of wedlock with one of the women in the tribe and now he’s in hot water because he refuses to baptize the baby. obsessively drawing and Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), and Young Ian (John Bell) are still on the hunt.
Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is still at River Run and she’s roped Lord John Grey (David Berry) into bringing her to the jail to confront Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers). To forgive him? To cut off his man parts? The jury is still out. This is going on simultaneously as Fergus (Cesar Domboy) and Marsali (Lauren Lyle) are hatching a plan with the regulators to free Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) from the same jail.
After showing Stephen Bonnet she’s pregnant and assuring him he’s never going to meet the baby and the baby won’t ever know who he is he gives her a jewel. As you do. They successfully break Murtagh out of jail and blow it up. Result!
Roger can’t understand why Père Alexandre won’t just fake baptize the baby to save himself and delivers an extra bitter speech on how crap love is. They try to dig themselves out of the hut but the Mohawk come to get Père Alexandre and burn him alive extra slowly. Roger escapes but feels so guilty listening to Alexandre’s screams he goes back and tosses alcohol on the fire so he burns quickly. The Mohawk woman who loves him gives the baby to another Mohawk and throws herself onto the pyre after him.
Wow, that got deep. Let’s see what the roundtable has to say!
Jamie (@drgnys30) –Neonatal ICU RN, Autism Mommy, married to my awesome German hunk with 2 kids and 1 grandbaby that can do no wrong!
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Watches Jamie and Claire for the articles. Talk Outlander to me on Twitter!
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) –Just a squirrel tryin’ ta get a nut!
1. Looks like Roger didn’t make it through the gauntlet. But honestly did you expect him to? What did you think of the glimpses into Mohawk culture in this episode?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – I had almost hoped Roger would run the gauntlet successfully. But I think at that point he felt hopeless and was resigned to whatever fate the Mohawk had planned. Pain and heartbreak makes people do stupid things…
The glimpses into Mohawk life were wonderful. I like knowing Diana Gabaldon & subsequently this production crew have taken the time to research the time period, locations, historical fact in order to make it as real as possible. As true to the people of the Mohawk nation as could possibly be done.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I thought he might but nothing good is happening for Roger right now so I should have known better. I loved being dropped into Shadow Lake, it looked amazing and I liked seeing the Mohawk interact with each other rather than just our principles, even if they were mainly talking about our principles. Is there a cultural Bechdel test?
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I think that the show’s researchers did an incredible job with the way the Mohawk handle their prisoners and capturing what life in the small villages were like at the time. As an outsider, be it a prisoner or a guest, you are not accustomed to their traditions. It’s very easy to upset the balance, unintentionally, and get yourself into a whole lot of trouble. But then there is the other side of such serious tension. The little girl who calls Roger “Dogface” in a joking manner and the Young Mother with her baby coming to give Roger some leaves that will relieve some of his pain, show that the Mohawk are not savages but a people with traditions, understanding and yes, love.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I enjoyed the glimpse into their world and the differences between their culture and Roger’s i.e. no pointing! They may be fierce warriors but they’re totally cool with that French dude doing one of their ladies and having a baby… just baptize it! Also we saw an unspoken backstory to the relationship between Roger’s captor and the healer which was a nice nuanced layer.
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – I was sort of rooting him to make it through it! There was the impression at the end of the last episode that he was summoning the will to stand and would maybe make it through it. Knowing the novels, however, I knew he would find himself ostracized eventually.
I’m not in any sort of position to determine the accuracy of the Mohawk representation, but the First Nations actors all did a really amazing job. Sera-Lys McArthur, who played Johiehon, truly made me feel the weight of her grief. It was so powerful. It’s a shame we only saw Tom Jackson (Tehwahsehwkwe) for a brief time, but hopefully he will have a larger role in the finale— it would be a shame to waste his talent.
2. What did you think of Brianna’s desire to see Stephen Bonnet, and that letter from her Da?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – Oh sweet Bree, bless her heart. That being said I understand that need to see Bonnet face to face. To tell him he has no control over her. What I don’t understand is her want to tell him about the possibility of the child being his. I wouldn’t want to invite his type of trouble back into my life. He has done tremendous damage to her psyche and a person like that would relish the knowledge she gave him… Sick bastard. #SickHotBastard but still.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I’ve always thought Brianna’s motives for seeing Stephen Bonnet were misguided mostly because it seemed like the forgiveness Jamie was talking about was about forgiving oneself. What does gifting Bonnet with the knowledge that a part of him will live on once he’s dead (if he dies) have to do with closure for Brianna or forgiveness in general? In fact, she negates any act of mercy here (rightly) by saying the child won’t know anything about Bonnet.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Brianna’s need to see Bonnet was, to me, a sort of self preservation in a way. She wanted to show him that he did not ruin her; that she’s stronger than her anxiety and fear. In order for her to move on with what happened and be the mother she must be for her unborn child, she has to confront him and Jamie’s letter gave her the courage to do so.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I understand Brianna’s desire to see the Pirate Bastard as a way of closure (though is there ever really?). I wish she hadn’t taken the jewel although I first thought it was a gold tooth the way he was digging into his mouth like that. Yuck. Not only is Jamie the King of Men but he’s also the King of Das. I like his letter as a bridge to her and how protective he is even though they recently met.
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – It was clearly important for Brianna to achieve some kind of closure. I saw a ton of religious references in this episode, and to me this was Brianna offering a dying man a form of absolution. Even her cloak was visually very similar to a religious vestment. In return she’s able to begin her path toward forgiveness.
There is some irony in Jamie trying to dissuade Brianna from seeking revenge after he himself directed Murtagh to seek out Bonnet in his behalf. But we often give good advice to our children that we do not follow ourselves. I think Brianna understood an opportunity for healing in that letter.
3. Ok so we MIGHT be feeling Lord John and Brianna a little. Anyone else?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – Who isn’t feeling Lord John? Am I right? Even given his preferences, well, main preferences, the man exudes sexuality, capability and grace. He is singularly empathetic and honest. I love his interactions with Brianna- he is a calming and steady mirror to her hotheadedness and impulsiveness.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Shwing! David Berry brings so much depth to LJG and he makes a good team with anyone. I could feel how LJG’s support buoyed Brianna that extra bit to be strong and confront Stephen Bonnet.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I never saw the closeness in the books like I’ve seen in the show and I love it. Bree and LJG actually becomes friends. Lord John comes to have true respectful and friendly feelings for her, it’s not just because he is the daughter of the man he loves and admires. They have both come to understand each other in an amicable way. It’s a friendship not born out of necessity but out of true admiration.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – LJG is killing me softly this episode with the charm & gentlemanly candor. Though let’s be real–getting close to Brianna, hell the prospect of marrying her, as a way to be with Jamie is a little twisted. Right? But he’s so handsome…
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – Oh man (ducks from Richard Rankin’s fans) I’ve been totally shipping those two characters since last week! Haha. Brianna and Roger are clearly meant for each other but Sophie Skelton and David Berry have phenomenal chemistry together. Lord John is arguably the most empathetic character in the series. I think he sees in Brianna the best of both her parents. Their relationship has been a pleasant surprise this season.
4. Père Alexandre and Roger’s situations here are an interesting contrast. Pére Alexandre doesn’t regret his love, but he is clearly punishing himself for it. How do you think that’s different from what is happening to Roger in this episode, if it is?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – Oh Pere! Can I start off by saying I was not expecting a pretty hot priest? He is definitely conflicted. I feel horrible for him. My choice would have been to tell the priesthood to go suck a big one and ran away with my love and our child (but that’s just me!). I do admire his blatant devotion to his beliefs. He clearly loves her, would love to be together but feels he is would be forsaking his religion and beliefs. For him he sees it as black and white versus many, many shades in between.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – If we’re looking at it that way, then it’s a super frustrating, not very apples-to-apples contrast in which Alexandre is needlessly punishing himself for love while Roger is being unjustly brutalized… I would not say for love but perhaps in parallel with a problematic love story
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I don’t think that Roger truly regrets loving Brianna. I think that the running around and chasing her is getting to him. If he truly didn’t love Brianna, would he be doing all of this? He went back in time! It seems that Roger’s prickliness about his relationship with Bree is rooted in his old-fashioned views. At the same time, he will go to the end of the earth to be with her. Pere’s issue is more about his faith and that he sees himself as a failure to the church and to God. But to his detriment, he chooses to be the Lord’s Shepard instead of doing right by his child. So where’s the happy medium? Do the baptism or die for your beliefs? Why couldn’t he have just left the church and been with his love and child? Why wasn’t that an option? Roger called him an idiot for taking the easy way out. Did he really? Roger could have taken the easy way out by going through the stones but he didn’t. It takes different types of strengths to deal with your conflicting heart.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I think it’s a little different because Roger still sees an opportunity to escape as his only way. He’s defeated in love but not possibilities. Perhaps when he chooses to return to the village or even when he turned away from the stones it was a punishment but he sees a kindred spirit in Pére Alexandre. They both fell in love but only one of them sees a way out. They both have strong convictions, one to religious principles and the other to moral principles, but they express the consequences differently.
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – For me their stories actually run in parallel. In the end they are both unwilling to compromise their integrity and ideals. Alexandre comes to that conclusion earlier, Roger comes to it as he’s attempting to run away. They both essentially sacrifice their lives for their beliefs.
5. This was a big episode for Roger. From his bitter speech about love to his change of heart at the end, we’re definitely seeing more of his mind and heart. A lot of fans are up in the air about the show’s incarnation of Mr. Mackenzie. Did this episode help you empathize or change your feelings about him?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – Roger has always been a favorite of mine. I love that this episode really showcased him: He hasn’t had a lot of exposure yet in this series. The books, of course, had him fleshed out nicely and all that. But he owned it this episode. I felt his hopelessness in the gauntlet, the want to just give up and die. I saw his hope of escape fuel his creativeness and drive to break out of the hut. I saw his love, anger and pain when talking of Brianna and the road that had brought him to his current fate. For all his seeming anger what showed through was exactly what kind of person he really is. It showed when he argued with himself over going back for the priest. It showed in his compassion when instigating the fireball to envelope and mercifully kill the priest. He is a really good man with a heart of gold who just wants to live and love Brianna.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I can understand Roger’s point of view, and Richard Rankin monologues the hell out of his monologue, but it doesn’t make him more likable. The fact that he’s suffering unjustly has nothing to do with the fact that he acted like a big selfish jerk to Brianna and hasn’t had to face the consequences or apologize for it. In truth, he himself needs to show remorse and ask forgiveness – these are separate from the fact that Jamie, Ian, and Lizzie wronged him through a case of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, it looks like the story might be set up such that what was done to Roger eliminates the requirements of what Roger did. In the process, Brianna is the one for whom the wrong is not made right.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Having read the books, I feel like I already have some insight into who Roger truly is and will become. But if I were just a show watcher, I think that Roger’s character is mercurial. He’s so mad and so bitter but he knows that he loves Bree. As he is a man, they are suppose to be the stronger of the two sexes but in the end, Roger completely shows the most tender part of himself. Not only does he stay to be with Brianna but he helps Pere not suffer slowly in that fire. You just never know which Roger you get at any given situation.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I empathize with Roger though I didn’t expect him to turn his back on love (even as he was trying to convince himself) but I understand after time traveling, almost dying by the hands of a pirate, and getting beaten by numerous people including your father-in-law. Some thought he should’ve apologized as well and yeah maybe so. I don’t disagree with the depiction of TV Roger like some do. He’s just as much of a pill as Brianna so they’re perfect for each other. I’m still feeling #PoorRoger.
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – Roger’s character has had quite the arc this season. For me, his decisions in this episode are who he has always been. We saw this Roger in Seasons 2 and 3, but he was never tested in quite the same way or to the same extent. He’s a fundamentally good man, but anger and hurt clouded so much of his actions and words this season. I would imagine that Roger’s fans are pleased with this episode— its the return of the Roger we love and, most importantly, the return of the Roger Brianna loves.
6. Fergus, Marsali, and the rescue of Murtagh provided emotional impact and a punch of action. Since this isn’t in the books, tell us what you thought about it!
Jamie (@drgnys30) – I actually loved it. I felt it fell in line with Marsali’s personality and her love of Fergus. She would do anything for him and wants him in his heart and soul to be whole. The whole storyline of Murtagh this season is an offshoot from the books, but I am liking it.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – Ace plan, stuck the landing, grudging assist from LJG. And as a character, Marsali has gotten better and better. If I ever need someone gunning the engine in my getaway car, I want homegirl in the driver’s seat.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I love the fact that they are giving Fergus and Marsali more time in the series. And, of course, having Murtagh back is fantastic. Did it add a little bit of excitement, yes, but there was already an exciting scene penned, in the book, that they could have also done. I think Murtagh being in the jail gave the show more of an excuse to have the prison blow up and also give Bonnet a way to escape.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I really prefer the weaving of this Murtagh and Fergus story (plus Marsali as the willing accomplice and instigator) than the book’s version! It brings more cohesiveness as characters working together and pumps up their stories a bit. It drives more of the “family” theme this season.
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – Loved it! Listen, it’s no “Highland cattle herd storming the prison,” but it’s close. I saw a prominent theme of salvation this week, and Murtagh’s rescue thematically tied this secondary story line to the whole of the episode. Marsali helps Fergus and Fergus helps Murtagh…they elevate themselves through the salvation of others.
7. Brianna: Brave or brainless? What were your feelings about her confrontation with her rapist?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – Personally, foolhardy might be a better choice of words. I think she thought it would be super easy to confront him, say what she wanted, and that he wouldn’t say or do anything in return. That is a horrible thing to assume, especially about a man like Bonnet. He has no decent bone in his body. Well, maybe a smidge when he gave a ruby to care for the child. His face when told of the child did break my heart. It reminded me of a new dad and the hope and fear that runs thru them all. Then he went back to being an ass. It’s apparently called balance!
Radha (@BaaderLander) – As a performance, very impressed with Sophie Skelton. I got all of the pain and resolve and anger.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – Absolutely brave. Confronting the person who has harmed you in any way: Physically, mentally, emotionally is one of the hardest experiences a victim can ever face. You are there, right in front of them and all you want to do is either scream or run. Then there’s a third option: Vomit! Not unusual as one would think. But what she did, putting that rod in her backbone and verbally bashing him and then forgiving him was the only way she would be able to move on with her life. Brave is an understatement.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Brave. Brianna’s gonna do what she’s gonna do but why take the jewel? To just-in-case travel back?
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – Possibly both? Aren’t all worthwhile things in this world a mix of courage and craziness? More than anything I think it was necessary. As Lord John explains, Bonnet’s never going to be punished for Brianna’s rape per se— Brianna will never see Bonnet have his day in court to answer for his actions; confronting him in the jail is the only chance she has at some sort of personal justice.
8. From the moment we heard the first strains of “Adagio for Strings”, we were filled with dread. Did the ending have an impact on you?
Jamie (@drgnys30) – From the first time I read Drums of Autumn, I always thought that that scene in particular must have been something gut wrenching to see. I was right. I am glad they did not cut this scene, I am glad they did not sugar coat it. There was a lot of brutal and jarring things that happened routinely in those times. This scene was needed to show that it was not all sunshine and rainbows. It was a horrifically brutal place at times. I also felt it showed the young woman’s love and desperation to be with the priest no matter what- even in death. I felt gut punched and sick when I saw it. But it was a testament to the love of that couple, that death was a little thing if it meant they were together.
Radha (@BaaderLander) – I’m not actually familiar with that piece so it just seemed like dramatic music for a dramatic moment. The funeral pyre was a strong image. But again, I’m not sold on the idea that sacrifice and survival are mutually exclusive in service of a concept of love. What about love and responsibility? There’s a child who’s been made an orphan now.
Peggy (@TheRonTerryShow) – I forgot to breathe. My brain had to remind me to breathe, it really did. When the young Indian Mother decided she could not live without her love, she went to be with him until they were one again in the pyre. She sacrificed herself for love, know that her child would still be taken care of by her tribe. It was an incredibly heartbreaking ending.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I think this was different in the book or I forgot but I wasn’t expecting her to jump onto that pyre! I feel like her actions in a way emulate what Roger is going through by trying to get back to Brianna: What are you willing to do for love? Jump into fire? Time travel? Ship across the ocean into unknown land? Go back to the Mohawk village unsure if you’ll survive?
Tracy (@Realoutcandour) – It was all so tragically beautiful. Karen Campbell has a gift for writing really emotional endings— the end of “Do No Harm” left me similarly gutted. Is that particular piece of music overused in film? Maybe. But there’s a reason it’s employed so frequently— it never fails to deliver an emotional punch. It’s also very fitting for the religious themes of this episode as it is commonly used for the Agnus Dei. I loved it.
Final Verdict: It’s “Providence” that our roundtable was on board for the penultimate season 4 Outlander
By continuing to weave in the different storylines in Outlander, “Providence” kept up a nice pace. Our roundtable really had a lot of thoughtful things to say about love and redemption, especially about its power. “Providence” is the concept of divine care. Was it providence that Roger was in the hut with Pére Alexandre, for both their sakes? Each of them had a “fall” from grace: The priest in losing his dedication to his faith by falling in love and Roger by being made bitter by his love. And yet Alexandre rededicates to his faith (to his own destruction) and Roger to his integrity (perhaps to his destruction as well?) by the end of the episode.
There wasn’t a lot of action propelling the story forward in Roger’s storyline. Fergus, Marsali, and Murtagh made up for that with their jailbreak. Brianna’s confrontation with Stephen Bonnet helped in this arena too even if one of those storylines was more effective than the other. Fergus and Marsali can save the day any time they want. Are these two the new Claire and Jamie? They work together and support each other just like Jamie and Claire. When Fergus asks what Jamie would do it’s so clear that the writers are trying to get us to draw parallels and we’re happy to scribble away. These two are a lot of fun and very compelling to watch!
Our roundtable agreed that Brianna’s confrontation ought to have happened. Not brainless but clearly brave. But Brianna’s reactions during this scene were odd. Did she want to forgive Bonnet or rub his death in his face? It seemed less about forgiveness and more about how she could grind him down and make him suffer. Most of our roundtable liked it but for us the jury is out.
You know who we love? David Berry as Lord John Grey. So much so that we’re actually now shipping Lord John and Brianna. That’s right. They’re a power couple. We’re putting it out into the universe so it’s bound to come true, right? Lord John is the fiancé we all want. The most supportive man ever. Sign us up!
So we’re going to have a chat about Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”. The piece is certainly in many many lists of the best classical pieces of all time. And why not? The lush strings are evocative and have an undeniable sense of melancholy. It’s fitting. But is it fitting here? It’s been used in so many film and television scores. It was played over the television when John F. Kennedy’s death was announced. It was played to commemorate the September 11th attacks. It’s been used and used and used again. It’s gorgeous, but it’s overdone. When people who aren’t music supervisors choose music like this we wish someone would help guide them. There are plenty of other sad pieces of classical music that they could have used. If they insisted on this particular piece, there’s a choral version set to the “Agnus Dei” portion of the requiem mass. Given that Alexandre was a priest, couldn’t they have used that?
Did Roger get redemption here? It was nice that Roger found his integrity but he didn’t win over the whole roundtable. Maybe a little more groveling will do it? Roger is a good man at heart but he has a lot of learning to do. How much has this experience taught him? Here’s hoping we find out next week!