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Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 5 episode “Perpetual Adoration.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
We meet again, sassenachs! Forget what I said last week about this show being quiet, because there were definitely some Big Moments in tonight's episode that I did not see coming (look, it's been a long time since I read the books, but if memory and a little bit of Googling serves me right some of this is definitely exclusive to the show only, which makes it doubly intriguing in terms of trying to predict what the fallout will be). And we had two divergent timelines again! It was really kind of fun to see Claire back in her own time for a hot minute as she relived the memories of the last few weeks leading up to her decision to go to London.
Previously: Well, we got trouble, my friend, trouble right here in Brownsville ... City. A tumultuous romance between two young lovers led to some problems for a newly captained Roger and the militia, which Roger himself tried to sweeten over with some whiskey — but his buddy-buddy approach didn't sit well with Jamie and led to some of the men deserting altogether. Now Jamie and the militia are riding on to Hillsborough, while Roger's been tasked with escorting Claire back to Fraser's Ridge so she can perform some much-needed tonsillectomies on the Beardsley twins.
We kick off the episode with a batch of good news — a batch of penicillin, technically speaking. After presumably weeks of watching mold grow on old bread, Claire finally has her "eureka!" moment when she spots the paintbrush look of the right fungi under the microscope. (I will say I'm very glad the show didn't spend a ton of time detailing all the ins and outs of her experiments the same way the book did.) But it turns out her discovery couldn't have come at a better time, because Josiah and Keziah Beardsley need those tonsils of theirs out pronto. Fortunately, neither of them are allergic to it, but Claire's also cognizant of the potential risks or complications that could arise. It's a teaching moment for her apprentice Marsali as well, and luckily even in spite of the limited medical tools Claire might have access to (and the fact that the only form of anesthesia she can use is a swig of laudanum), she's able to perform a tonsillectomy quickly. I always love seeing her in badass, calm doctor mode, and it's never been more apparent than when she goes to work on Keziah's gross tonsils and gets them out in minutes flat.
Claire's groundbreaking medical discovery (made over 150 years before penicillin is officially meant to be stumbled upon) is one that also leads her down the path of memory. This week's episode spends a fair amount of time in Claire's past — or the future, depending on how you look at it — where she revisits the moment that a patient of hers died after an allergic reaction to penicillin in spite of having tested negative for it before. It's a case that clearly rattled her, and the fact that the patient himself, Graham Menzies, is Scottish probably called to her in an altogether different way. It's his passing that will ultimately prompt her to take a leave of absence from work, ask Brianna to travel to London with her — where they eventually run into Roger and, well, you know the rest of the story from there.
Roger and Brianna are definitely enjoying their reunion now that he and Claire have returned to the Ridge, but the issue of whether to stay in the past is one that still seems to hang over them. A casual joke about establishing a "MacKenzie University" prompts Bree to suggest that she could teach math, but Roger seems to be surprisingly motivated to be part of the militia once he has a chance to get back to Jamie and the rest of the men.
Later, when he inadvertently knocks over Brianna's jewelry box while trying to comfort a cranky Jemmy, Roger discovers a familiar-looking diamond — one that he remembers being wagered by Stephen Bonnet in a not-so-friendly game of cards when they were sailing on a ship together. It's not long after Bree returns from an attempt at gathering mushrooms that she and Roger have it out about everything — her visit to Bonnet in prison, his gifting her the gemstone because she led him to believe Jemmy was his child. Bree insists she only kept the diamond so that her son would be able to eventually go back through the stones, but Roger's mostly shaken by the fact that his wife has never made the same insistence about his paternity. It's clear that Brianna may never know who Jemmy's real father is, and it's on that note of uncertainty that the two part ways for a while.
Sometimes, what helps is a little perspective from an outsider, and Roger gets that in the form of Claire, who gives him some helpful relationship advice as someone who has been in not just one, but two very different marriages. It means that Roger goes back to Brianna with an apology on his mind, but he isn't expecting that Bree will tell him next that Stephen Bonnet is still alive and that it's possible he was skulking around Jemmy recently. That shock to the system is all the reason Roger needs to set his mind on something they've been debating for a while now: As soon as they know whether Jemmy can travel through the stones, they'll go home, back to their present. Bree definitely seems torn about this being their impetus for leaving family, but how can they do anything different when Bonnet is still at large?
Meanwhile, Jamie and the militia have arrived at Hillsborough and aren't exactly given a warm welcome by the townspeople. It turns out that Lieutenant Knox and several officers have already made themselves very comfy here and are passing the time by drinking and throwing knives at a wanted poster with Murtagh's face on it. He has what he terms as less than ideal news from the governor, a letter that details Tryon's intent to fully pardon all of the leaders of the Regulator movement. Knox is concerned the decision will make the British look cowardly or foolish, but this might just be the break that Jamie's been waiting for. Before he can even really feel any sense of relief, Knox says he's also requested one more thing that might give them Murtagh's whereabouts once and for all: the prisoner rolls from Ardsmuir. But as we all know, Jamie himself was also imprisoned alongside Murtagh back in the day, and if Knox gets his hands on that list, Jamie's role as a secret sympathizer could be found out.
With the pardons officially ready to be sent out, Knox tells Jamie that the militia will be disbanded and he can return to his family on the Ridge. AFTER ALL THAT. Well, Claire did say she couldn't recall any major fighting going down, but it's what happens later that night while Knox and Jamie are drinking, playing chess, and chatting in the lieutenant's room that could have potential ramifications for the rest of the season. Just in time, Knox gets his special delivery of that list of Ardsmuir prisoners, but Jamie decides to stop avoiding the inevitable and outs himself as being one of the names on it — as well as the truth that Murtagh is his godfather. Knox, to his credit, deduces that Jamie was the one responsible for releasing the Regulator prisoners in Hillsborough — and with that revelation out between them, the energy quickly turns hostile. Before Knox can raise the alarm, Jamie acts to protect himself, fighting the knife-wielding lieutenant and ultimately strangling him to death. He burns the Ardsmuir list and stages the room to look as though Knox had died in his bed from smoke suffocation from a closed flue in the chimney, then climbs out of the window — and then he and Fergus make their way back to the Ridge, albeit with a new tiny, furry friend in tow.
- We got the return of Claire's old friend Joe Abernathy this week, as well as the delightfully unexpected reveal that he is a confirmed romance reader — and apparently Claire is, too, to some extent? Enough to read The Impetuous Pirate in a bar when she's having some work-related distress (although sadly, it isn't a real romance novel; I checked). His is such a welcome and grounding presence in their friendship that I wished we could've had more scenes with him in the episode overall.
- Also! That little kitty is a fan-favorite from the books and I was very happy to see him pop up in this episode, although in a slightly different place than he was discovered in the source material.
That’s it for this week, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for where the next episode will take us, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. Really, I'm still reeling over that Jamie and Knox scene and I have no idea what's going to develop as a result of it, but I definitely don't think Jamie's going to be able to walk away from this situation as freely as he'd like. See you next week!