Sunday, November 11, 2018

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Jamie and Claire Get an Intriguing Offer When Visiting Aunt Jocasta in 'Do No Harm'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 4.02 "Do No Harm"

Claire and Jamie visit his Aunt Jocasta at her plantation, River Run. When tragedy strikes at the plantation, Jamie and Claire find themselves caught between what's right and the law of the land.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of Starz's Outlander.

"Do No Harm" was written by Karen Campbell and directed by Julian Holmes

This show has absolutely featured Claire and Jamie as white saviors in the past. And now, the show is well-positioned to have an even more complex discussion about race. Claire and Jamie have decided to plant down roots in America. They too are excited by the idea of achieving their American Dream. They are left destroyed after the attack by Stephen Bonnet. Fortunately, they have Jamie's Aunt Jocasta just down the river who actually runs a sizable estate. River Run is a more vast property than anyone back home realized. Of course, Jocasta is going blind as well. She is looking ahead to who could be her heir for this property. Without even discussing it with him, she names Jamie as her successor. He has come at the perfect time for her to make this decision. However, she also forces him into it without having a conversation about the realities of this position. Jamie taking ownership over River Run means that he and Claire will now be slave owners. That doesn't sit well with either of them. They see the horror that comes from people owning other people and ripping them away from their families. They would never put a price on freedom. They actually stand by these morals. Jocasta questions why they have these views though. She sees herself as enlightened because she believes she is doing right by her slaves in keeping families together and being kind to them. However, it's foolish for her to believe that her slaves are her actual friends as well. They are still her property and that's absolutely horrifying. Jamie and Claire want to free the slaves and give them a working wage on this property. But the local culture reveals just how cruel and abusive this time can actually be. This hour sees Claire and Jamie facing off with a literal lynch mob. That's so bleak and brutal to watch. Claire has taken an oath to do no harm. She goes running into action whenever she sees someone in need. They are taken out to another estate to heal a man whose ear has been cut off. But instead, Claire sees the importance in saving the life of the slave who has been pierced by a hook and hoisted up in a tree. It shows just how tense these conflicts can become. Claire and Jamie find themselves facing off with a community that sees absolutely nothing wrong with these practices. For those who disagree, they will be pushed out or killed in order to keep this community pure and strong with their beliefs. They don't want to be challenged or faced with the harsh realities of the humanitarian crisis they are creating. They see it as a blessing that they are giving the natives roads and systems to thrive while giving the slaves honest work that they never would have had. But that's just white justification for some horrendous actions. And in the end, Claire and Jamie have to give the mob exactly what they want. Otherwise, River Run would burn to the ground and there would be no property for Jamie to inherit in the hopes of changing the customs of this world. It paints such a stark picture of what Jamie and Claire are actually fighting. They hope that they can be the change that is drastically needed in the world. They see the importance of helping every slave become free. But instead, Claire heals Rufus only to have to kill him before the mob gets their hands on him. It's so absolutely devastating. It's a choice that Claire would rather not make. She does so out of self-preservation. It eases the tension for now while amplifying everything horrible about this new world they have entered.