Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 5 episode “The Company We Keep.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Welcome back, sassenachs! I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking this, but it seems like the militia has been dragging its heels in terms of the inevitable confrontation with the Regulators — not that I blame them at all, but I'm getting the sense that we're going to have a lot of these interludes ahead before any big and potentially devastating conflict takes place. Besides, based on what's going down back at the Ridge too, my guess is most of our time is going to be split between both places to carry us through the rest of the season. We're officially a third of the way through! THE MIND BOGGLES.
Previously: Outlander became more like an edition of American Horror Story when Jamie and Claire briefly diverted from the rest of the militia on the road to try and recover the Beardsley twins' indenture papers from the man they'd been sold in service to from the time they were children. What they found was an ailing Mr. Beardsley, who had recently suffered a stroke, and his fifth wife Fanny, who eventually gives birth (with Claire's assistance) to a baby girl before disappearing into the night — but not before leaving both her child and the twins' papers behind for the Frasers. A visibly suffering Mr. Beardsley asked Jamie to end his life with the shot of a pistol, and now the Frasers are on the road again to rejoin the militia with a bunch of new goats to their name and an unnamed infant to take care of.
With Jamie and Claire dealing with the Beardsley issue, Roger, Fergus, and the rest of the militia have gone on ahead to the rural trading post of Brownsville — where they find themselves receiving a less-than-friendly welcome. Well, it turns out it's not the militia specifically, but one member of their ranks — Isaiah Morton, who immediately tries to hide his face when he's called out by name. Two men from within one of the buildings start firing on the militia, but when they're asked what their business is with Morton they give vague answers. It's not until a young woman named Alicia runs out into the fray, crying and apologizing for her role in the conflict, that some of the pieces start falling into place. Clearly, Morton's had a dalliance with her at some point in the past, and she asks him to "do right" by her (which probably means he needs to do the honorable, manning-up thing and marry her), but Alicia's dragged back inside shortly thereafter and the gunfire resumes. Eager not to lose any men, Roger puts down his gun and agrees to concede to their demands — he'll hand over Morton, and he'll sweeten the deal with a cask of whiskey to boot.
Meanwhile, back at Fraser's Ridge, Brianna has just returned from a brief trip into town to pick up some essentials, accompanied by Jemmy, a resident of the Ridge named Mrs. Bug and others. When Jemmy's swept up and taken into the house, Brianna finds a silver coin resting inside his basket; a brief inquiry with Mrs. Bug on how it got there reveals that a man had approached them while Brianna was collecting the mail, ruffling the child's hair and asking if he took after his mom or dad. He was an Irish gentleman, but the older woman can't recall whether he'd sported a telltale scar. With her secret knowledge that Bonnet may be alive and well after all, Brianna's clearly unsettled by the possibility that he might also be closer to home than she thought.
By the time Jamie and Claire catch up to the militia at Brownsville, they're not expecting a bunch of drinking and carousing to be going on, but there are important immediate needs to take care of — like the unnamed Beardsley infant, who desperately requires something more substantial than goat's milk ASAP. Of course, Claire ends up rehashing the events of last week's episode for all of the local women clustered in a nearby tent (including a very inquisitive Alicia), but the conversation quickly changes to talk of some newfangled healthcare tips that have been circulating around. Claire's more than a little surprised to see her words in print, especially since she didn't send them out herself and doesn't have the faintest idea who did, as she privately divulges to Jamie later. But Jamie's got his own problems to deal with — namely, the fact that Roger's attempts to buddy-buddy up to the men of Brownsville by surrendering Morton have caused a small handful of militia volunteers to desert. Roger's insistent that he did the right thing out of a desire to spare lives, but Jamie points out that his make-nice approach has cost him the faith of his men.
And the Morton problem isn't getting any easier to solve, either. Isaiah reveals that he can't marry Alicia Brown — yes, the daughter of one of the Browns in charge of, you guessed it, Brownsville — because he's already married. The way he tells it, his relationship with his first wife was an arranged one, but Alicia's who has his heart. Jamie's response is basically the equivalent of "too bad, you've mucked it up, we're gonna let you escape quietly and I'll deal with the fallout myself." After a slightly tense standoff with some of the men of Brownsville, Jamie reaches an agreement of his own: Richard Brown will lead a group of his own men as part of the militia, but ultimately will report to Jamie.
The rest of the day passes in, well, more drinking and dancing and celebration (including a brief dance from Jamie himself), during which Claire fields multiple offers from the Brown family to adopt the unnamed Beardsley infant as one of their own if she'll allow it, as well as learns that Alicia herself may be with child. Both Beardsley twins are showing signs of needing their tonsils removed, so it looks like Jamie and Claire's paths are diverging yet again, but she's going to have an escort tagging along with her back to Fraser's Ridge. At first, Roger's convinced he's being sent home because Jamie's lost faith in him, but Claire points out that his father-in-law has just entrusted him with the one thing he holds most dear.
Eventually, we're rewarded with the adorable scene of Jamie and Claire tipsily stumbling off into the neighboring woods for some alone time — not that kind of alone time, but some privacy to talk, and Jamie reveals he's considered whether they should keep the Beardsley baby themselves. They were denied the chance to be true parents together after a pregnant Claire traveled back through the stones to her present, and seeing her holding a baby the last few days has clearly brought Jamie's dadding urges rocketing back to the surface. Claire clearly adores him for the sentiment but points out that regret isn't reason enough for them to adopt a child, and their home may not be the best one for her.
The touching moment is shattered by the sound of a gunshot, and the source is soon uncovered: Alicia Brown, pointing a pistol at herself. She's injured her arm in an attempt to end her own life, but Jamie and Claire prevent her from doing anything worse. Once she's being tended to in bed, another surprise pops up: It's Isaiah Morton lurking outside the house, begging for one last chance to see his lady love. Although he does, at one point, both pull a pistol on Jamie and use the romance card on both Jamie and Roger to help them understand his side of things, Claire points out that the lovesick couple won't be safe as long as they stick around. Jamie agrees to help them out, and in the morning, while everyone is still sleeping off the effects of too much whiskey, creates a distraction by setting the horses of Brownsville loose so Alicia and Isaiah can make their escape together.
- Watching Brianna and Marsali have their late-night conversation after a panicked Bree mistakenly believes Jemmy's been kidnapped (in reality, the baby had only wandered a little ways off to retrieve a toy), I was struck by the fact that they really have the potential to become good friends after their mothers were very much not. Claire and Laoghaire were frenemies at best, but this relationship between their daughters is shaping up to be a quietly supportive one, and it's one of the things I love most about this show: how younger generations can often repair the sins of the previous one.
- I mean, we're all sort of thinking that Bonnet was the one lurking around in town waiting to spring a coin on baby Jemmy, but I'm 90% sure he didn't manage to follow them all the way back to the Ridge ... right?
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. Are we finally going to get that Regulator confrontation? How will the Beardsleys fare when Claire performs what's arguably her first major surgery in the past? See you next week!