Sunday, December 16, 2018

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Brianna and Roger's Separate Journeys Are Plagued with Danger in 'Down the Rabbit Hole'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 4.07 "Down the Rabbit Hole"

Brianna follows in her mother's footsteps and travels through the stones back in time to 18th century Scotland where she struggles to make her way to the Colonies to find her parents.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Starz's Outlander.

"Down the Rabbit Hole" was written by Shannon Goss and directed by Jennifer Getzinger

What is an episode of Outlander if Jamie or Claire don't appear in it? Sure, their presence still looms over absolutely everything in this world. However, they are no where to be seen in this hour. Claire's voice is overheard offscreen at one point. But she isn't the chief focus of that particular story. Of course, all of this also proves that Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are contractually obligated to appear in the opening credits in every episode and not just the ones they appear in. Those credits also tease the audience with a number of big returns in this hour as well. It's fascinating which actors get that forewarning while some are kept as a secret. The credits tease that Steven Cree and Nell Hudson return as Ian and Laoghaire. However, Tobias Menzies' appearance as Frank is kept until he actually appears onscreen again. All of this also proves that there is still a deep history in Scotland even though the narrative has moved away from that location. Claire and Jamie have spent this season trying to build a life for themselves in North Carolina. There was even symmetry with Roger and Brianna being in the same place in the world but separated by two hundred years. And now, this hour focuses solely on their separate journeys through the stones in the hopes of making it across the ocean to warn Claire and Jamie about their dire futures. It's also so revealing that Frank knew that Claire would one day reunite with Jamie and die in the past. He knew that was coming in her future. That may have played a role in him wanting to get a divorce and move back to England with Brianna. He wanted to maintain that sense of family knowing that Claire was never capable of being truthful to her promise. She always longed to return to the past. She did so. But now, it's also just as telling that Brianna and Roger feel that pull as well. They are both transported to the 18th century. They can hear the stones calling out to them to make this journey. They are a part of this mystical journey of time travel that sees a bunch of characters keep running into each other. Of course, Brianna and Roger's journeys are very different from each other. They both conclude this hour on ships carrying them to the Colonies. However, they set out for different ports in order to make that journey. Brianna tried to get to hers by foot and wound up injuring her ankle on the road. So, it doesn't matter that she has a head start on Roger. He makes this journey and immediately lands on a ship captained by Stephen Bonnet. That too proves that the new villain is going to continue making life difficult for the protagonists. Here, he is tempting fate by threatening to kill Roger according to luck. It shows just how casual and immediate his villainy is as well. This is simply who he is. He doesn't care about anyone else. He just wants to make as much money as possible without getting killed in the process. He shows no remorse for throwing people overboard at the first sight of small pox. Roger has much more humanity. But that will only continue to clash with this man who has his fate completely in his hands. He survives and will make it to Wilmington. However, it will remain perilous because Roger doesn't have the immediate family connections and history that the audience knows that Brianna does.

Brianna doesn't choose to go straight to Lallybroch in the hopes of gaining assistance from her distant family members though. She doesn't know anything about Jenny or Ian. She doesn't intend to enlist their services. She doesn't want to burden them on this journey. And yet, it's not them who save her when she is injured. Instead, it's Laoghaire. She has always been such a complicated woman. She is still obsessed with Jamie even though he has once again abandoned her and built a new life with Claire. However, this proves that Jamie's debt to Laoghaire is still being paid off. He still has to financially support her even though he is half a world away. From Brianna's perspective, she understands this family unit because she too grew up with parents who weren't always in love with each other. She yearns for Frank's advice during this troubling time. She knows that she needs to keep moving forward. Plus, she is personally motivated to meet Jamie for the first time. She wants to know the man that everyone says she reminds them of. She carries so much of his spirit. When Ian sees her through the context of her being family, he can immediately accept it. Laoghaire does so as well but only because she continues to have such disdain and anger towards Claire. She continues to insist that she is a witch who must be punished because of the spell that she cast over Jamie. She first tries to destroy Brianna's spirit by saying her father never wanted children and that's why he left their family unit. And then, she goes back to the same tactic of accusing Brianna of being a witch who will only bring more agony to this story. It's still clear that she feels betrayed by the decisions that her family have been making. She doesn't support Marsali getting married to Fergus even though she's happy to become an expecting grandmother. She's not the reason why Brianna survives this ordeal either. Instead, it's her other daughter, Joanie, who is kind enough to reunite Brianna with her family. That same kindness is then carried forward by Brianna. She appreciates everything that so many people do in order to help her on this journey just because she is family. She is still choosing to go by her Randall name. She hasn't changed it to fit better into this society like Roger has. But she still meets the right people to ensure she is reunited with her parents. She is given the exact directions to Aunt Jocasta and River Run. She will hopefully help on the last bit of the journey. And finally, she extends this kindness forward by picking up a servant at the port. She will probably not view their dynamic through that archaic expectation. And yet, this ensures that she won't be alone as she continues to explore this very different and volatile world.