Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 4 episode “Do No Harm.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Greetings, sassenachs! We meet again, and technically we're only one episode in so there's not much to recount in terms of a "previously on," but our faves have already suffered A Lot. Last week: Jamie and Claire decided to stay in America for the foreseeable future rather than travel back to Scotland any time soon, but their generosity towards a newly-escaped convict known as Stephen Bonnet, as well as their willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt, comes back to bite them big time when Bonnet and his men raid their boat, killing Jamie's man Lesley and making off with the Frasers' cache of remaining gemstones and Claire's wedding ring from Jamie.
A reminder that I'll be discussing episodes a bit differently this season; rather than recapping every single beat, this time around I'll be checking in with certain characters and everything that happened to them this week, as well as any decisions they make that could have some potential ramifications later on in the season. I've read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, and so I have a decent sense of what lies ahead for everyone, but to spare those who may be fans of show only I'll tread lightly around potential book spoilers.Jocasta
It’s been a minute since we saw Maria Doyle Kennedy as Mrs. S on Orphan Black, but her addition to the cast this season as Jamie’s aunt Jocasta is more than a welcome one, as she brings both the warmth and the shrewdness needed for the character that makes her one you look forward to having in any scene. Jamie remarks at one point that the similarities between Jocasta and his mother are uncanny, and if Claire isn’t going to meet his mother than his aunt is the next best thing.
Jocasta doesn’t go anywhere without Ulysses, her right-hand man and butler, who usually acts as her eyes given her own diminished sight. At one point, the episode teases the possibility that the two may be a little closer than that, given that Jocasta has been fending off the advances of a senior naval officer and liaison with River Run known as Lieutenant Wolff. As a widow, Jocasta also has to walk a fine line in society; her position is relatively secured thanks to the estate of her late husband, but as she tells Jamie, a woman’s unsolicited views are not often welcome, and she has to decide when to express herself rather than bite her tongue, especially given her role in a male-dominated circle.
Jocasta’s hardly hindered by her lack of sight; if anything, her heightened hearing enables her to pick up on even the slightest undertones in someone’s words, which leads to some frank conversations right off the bat between her and Claire when she picks up on Claire’s discomfort about the issue of owning slaves. Of course, it doesn’t get any further than Jocasta pointing it out and Claire admitting she isn’t a fan, but Jocasta doesn’t seem offended by Claire’s honesty. If anything, she admires Claire for her forthrightness, but how long will Claire be able to voice her opinions before she offends the wrong person?Jamie and Claire
Claire’s clearly having a difficult time reconciling her future worldview and values with the fact that Jocasta owns slaves, as well as the fact that she’s intended to have a certain distanced relationship from them. When she asks Phaedre to call her Claire, it’s clearly something that surprises the other woman as well as Ulysses, though it’s not anything that Claire thinks twice about extending regardless of her own privileged social status. At one point, Jamie reminds her of her own words, that one day it will all be different, but Claire isn’t very comforted by that given that this is the present they’re living in now.
Jamie, who this show has already established as a particularly smart businessman, does even more to distinguish himself in that regard once the Frasers reach River Run, recommending that Jocasta plant rice rather than wheat along the river against Lieutenant Wolff’s suggestion. In fact, Jocasta is so impressed by Jamie’s mad skills that she announces she’s making him the heir to her estate, with the intention of letting him take over the gig of running River Run. Only downside? She didn’t exactly run the idea by Jamie beforehand. Claire is less than thrilled about the idea, especially if it means inheriting Jocasta’s slaves in the process. Jamie’s on her side where that issue is concerned, but when he investigates how to pay for their freedom, he learns the price is steeper than he realized, more than the estate can even begin to cover, and the threats faced by those of a similar mind have ranged from financial cost to mysterious disappearance. For now, they’re at a loss as to how to proceed on that front, but it’s not the only issue they’re ultimately torn on.
Jocasta asks Jamie to act as her appointed representative in at the aftermath of an incident between her overseer and one of her slaves. When Jamie and Claire arrive on the scene, it’s with nothing short of horror that they realize the law of the land demands the man’s execution, since the overseer’s blood was shed in the fight. But Claire’s intent on saving his life, and she and Jamie take the young slave — whose name is Rufus — back to the house in order to try and help him.
Unfortunately, word of the Frasers’ interference in what’s viewed as a rightful punishment in response to inflicted violence against a white man has reached the locals, and a small mob assembles outside of River Run demanding Rufus be brought out by midnight so they can exact justice. As the riot grows in both strength and intensity, Jocasta urges the Frasers to surrender Rufus to his fate. But Claire refuses to hand Rufus over to what will certainly be his death, though Jamie reminds her that even if they attempt to facilitate his escape, others will likely bear the brunt of his intended punishment. Ultimately, rather than give the mob what they want so that Rufus' last moments will be those of pain, and against her physician's instincts entirely, Claire heeds Ulysses’ earlier suggestion to free his soul from his body before the worst happens and administers the young man a dosed cup of hot tea that enables him to slip into a quiet sleep, breathing his last.Ian
First off, Rollo accidentally chasing a skunk is one of the best moments of the entire episodes, especially when Ian marches with the dog right into the parlor to everyone’s disgust.
But the incident also enables Ian to make a new friend: John Quincy Myers, a mountain man who develops a burgeoning friendship with Ian and tells him stories of encountering various native tribes while correcting some of his mistaken superstitions. Ian’s clearly taking an interest in learning more about America and the Native Americans in particular (especially the ladies, but he’s also a teenage boy so that makes sense for him). He’s clearly rankled by the way Lieutenant Wolff discusses them at Jocasta’s party, pointing out the obvious fact that, well, they were here first. How much will this new relationship sway Ian’s intended path now that he’s decided to stay in the colonies with Claire and Jamie? Time will tell.
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. How will Jamie and Claire cope with the fallout from their first week at River Run, and will Jamie accept Jocasta's offer or reconsider Tryon's in terms of getting himself some land to build a home on? See you next week!