Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 4 episode “Wilmington.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Hi, sassenachs! If you're all caught up on this week's episode, then let's pause and take a breath together, because that was a lot to take in, and it's understandable if you need a minute or five to collect your emotions. I've watched "Wilmington" twice now, and I'm still reeling from that last scene; I can't say I wasn't entirely surprised by what happened, having read the books, but it's another thing altogether to see what's on the page play out on-screen (or not, in this instance).
But before we discuss everything, let's refresh our memories on last week: Both Brianna and Roger managed to travel back through the stones, but wound up taking two very different paths to North Carolina — Brianna sets sail for the colonies thanks to the well-timed assistance of her extended family, the Murrays, while Roger finds himself an unwitting crew member on a ship captained by the ruthless Stephen Bonnet. Based on the title of the episode, you'd probably guess they've both arrived safe and sound, but two others have also made the trip into town this week.Jamie and Claire
That’s right: Our two favorite marrieds are back from the country to take care of a few things, chief among them popping in on Fergus, Marsali, and their new baby Germain. Privately, Marsali confesses to Claire that she’d rather take a knife to the gut before seeing her child in any pain, and Claire, perhaps prophetically, says that it’s impossible to protect children from anything bad happening to them.
Later that night, Jamie and Claire are rubbing elbows with Wilmington’s rich and famous after receiving an invite to a play from none other than Governor Tryon, who introduces them to Edward Fanning, a friend and superior court judge. Claire notes Fanning is standing rather stiffly and in visible pain, and after enough context it’s pretty clear that dude is suffering from a hernia, but he claims his surgeon has told him it will just go away with enough time. Claire can’t resist diagnosing from a distance, but her societal status means her medical advice gets dismissed almost immediately, and from Tryon, no less.
She doesn’t really dwell on the slight, though, especially when further mingling allows her and Jamie’s paths to cross with none other than a young colonel named George Washington, who she proceeds to fangirl over pretty obviously until even Jamie’s like, “Okay, why is this dude so important?” Cue Claire dropping some U.S. history trivia on her husband regarding the first president. There’ll be no kings in this America, Jamie Fraser.
Shortly before the play begins, Tryon reveals to Jamie that a spy has given him firsthand knowledge of a plot by the Regulators to rob a carriage filled with taxpayer money, but now that he’s been clued into that plan the carriage will be filled with soldiers instead. Uh-oh. That means Murtagh's and many other lives might be in danger. Jamie’s got to find a way to warn them, but he can’t leave while the play’s going on. Well, who better to cause a distraction than the visibly pained Fanning sitting next to him? After a sly jostling of Jamie's elbow, Fanning’s hernia has reached critical status, and Claire tells Jamie he should be able to slip out unnoticed by Tryon while she performs a little emergency surgery in the theater lobby. He scores a ride out of town with none other than the Washingtons themselves to send Fergus out ahead in warning, while Claire definitely impresses Tryon with her ability to keep a calm head and a steady hand while pushing intestines back into the right place. The governor’s plan is foiled and a man’s life is saved and once again; it’s all in a day’s work for our favorite colonial power couple.
Presumably, some time has passed since Roger first left Scotland for Wilmington; the only travel option available to him most definitely took months, but when we pick up with him desperately scouring the streets of Wilmington for any sign of Brianna he’s sporting a tiny ponytail where before he had none. He also randomly encounters a grown Fergus in his search, one of those moments that left me screaming into my hands because there’s no way these two would have reason to know each other and yet Roger has no idea he’s only two degrees away from Jamie and Claire. This show lives to frustrate me.
Later that day, Roger’s drinking away his sorrows and accidentally spills his ale on the one drawing he has of Bree (in a time when photographs are probably considered a form of witchcraft). That’s also the exact moment that he overhears Brianna asking someone where she can buy passage to Cross Creek. The reunion is riddled with a variety of emotions — relief, of course, but Bree’s also conflicted, because she definitely didn’t count on the guy she just wrote a Dear John letter to showing up in the past for her. Given their frequently clashing personalities, the discussion that ensues is witnessed and definitely misinterpreted by Lizzie Wemyss, the young woman who had accompanied Bree from Scotland, so clearly nothing’s going to go wrong on that front, especially after Roger hauls Bree off somewhere private so they can enjoy reuniting for a few hours.
With no minister around and no concern about standing on ceremony, Roger suggests the idea of the two of them performing a handfasting instead, where they’ll essentially be promised to each other for a year. It’s basically so that they can exchange sweet vows and be officially committed to each other when the reuniting culminates in getting naked, and well, you can probably deduce what happens from that moment on. Lying there in the aftermath, a newly devirginized Bree is nervous that she might not have hit her mark, but Roger very quickly assures her that it all went very right. Cue some more naked funtimes, because every couple on this show needs to go at least three rounds their first trip out, but the afterglow wears off abruptly when they get around to talking about Jamie and Claire's obituary. Roger lets it slip that he accidentally found out about its existence and chose not to tell Bree, and she is rightfully ticked. These two are very passionate people and they fight just as intensely as they do... the other stuff, and it culminates in an argument that possesses the common thread of Brianna wanting her independence and Roger making misguided decisions with what he thinks are her best interests in mind. Roger states that maybe he should go back through the stones, and Brianna’s only response is: “No one’s stopping you.” Why must you two consistently break hearts?
Bree returns to the inn understandably devastated by what’s just happened with Roger, so much so that she doesn’t realize who she’s stumbled into until she’s unwillingly drawn in toward a group of men playing cards. One of them offers to play a silver ring that bears an uncanny resemblance to her mother’s, and Brianna says she’ll pay him to get it back. But once they’re alone in an adjacent room, the man reveals he’s not interested in her money; he’ll take his payment another way. We don’t witness what happens next between Brianna and Stephen Bonnet, but we — and everyone else on the other side of the door — hear every terrible, awful, devastating moment of the assault, made all the more brutal by the fact that no one bothers to intercede or stop it from happening. Traumatized and reeling, Brianna takes the ring from Bonnet’s outstretched hand, but not before he leaves her with parting words: “If you find your mother, give her my regards.”
- Claire bossing young men around to grab her some surgical tools is a mood that I am always here for.
- Not so great? The male surgeon who tells Claire that she’s butchered Fanning because all he needed to relieve his hernia was “tobacco smoke up the rear.” I’d love to see this guy’s success record.
- “Never trust a Virginian.” Tryon is pretty quick to believe that Washington is the one who’s betrayed him in giving the Regulators a heads-up about the surprise attack, but as we all know from history, maybe his instincts about which side the young officer is fighting for are pretty on the money.
- I just realized this is Fergus and Murtagh's reunion episode too with the most chill, non-emotional conversation ever.
That’s it for now, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for where this season will go, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. Will Roger head back for the stones out of spite, or will he be unable to leave the woman he loves? Will Brianna finally track down her parents and get some truly deserved TLC? Will either Jamie or Roger straight-up murder Bonnet? (I really, really hope so.) See you next week!