Cool job with the penicillin, Claire. Now can we get you started on a COVID-19 vaccine?
This week’s Outlander covers the section of Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross in which Claire first cultivates the medicine that infinitely improves the health and safety of everyone within her sphere of influence. Meanwhile, in the present-day real world, many of us are choosing to maintain distance from our loved ones in an attempt to slow the infection rate of a virus that’s wreaking havoc on a large part of the world. Join me, won’t you, in a moment of extreme irony?
Not gonna lie: I’m not feeling particularly jokey or Sassenachy this week. But we got through “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” together, and we’ll get through this, too. Read on for the highlights of “Perpetual Adoration.”
NOT THAT MR. MENZIES | Throughout the hour, we get a lot of flashbacks to 1960s Claire. It reminds me how much I really liked this look — especially this hair — on Caitriona Balfe. Claire is praying, alone, in a church while her voiceover talks about how many times in her life she’s placed her hope in a being she can’t see. “Time is a lot of the things people say God is,” the voiceover later continues as we flit through flashbacks from the previous four seasons. “If time is akin to anything like God, I suppose memory must be the Devil.”
Wow, Claire, dark. But we eventually learn that she’s thinking a lot about a surgical patient she had in Boston. His name was Graham Menzies, he was from Scotland and he was scheduled to have a routine gallbladder surgery… except he was allergic to the penicillin Claire prescribed him ahead of the procedure, and he died. When she found out, she unleashed on the poor nurse that delivered the news, then took a leave of absence from the hospital and planned the trip to London with Bree that eventually turned into the trip to Rev. Wakefield’s funeral. (Side note: In the book, Menzies is a cancer patient whose life is dwindling after several surgeries, and Claire helps him end his life, which leads to a hullabaloo at the hospital and her being promoted/removed from doing actual doctoring, which then leads to her leave of absence and trip. #TheMoreYouKnow)
The Boston flashbacks appear in snatches, and out of order, but eventually we come back to the beginning and learn that Claire is at the Catholic church in honor of Graham, who had a shift of perpetual adoration in memory of his dead wife. The priest starts talking to Claire about the love between married people, and all of that eventually plays into her decision to go back to the past.
A SHOT IN THE REAR | On Fraser’s Ridge, Claire is thinking a lot about her last Boston patient, mainly because that man was allergic to penicillin but a test for that didn’t indicate it — and now Claire is going to use her newly cultivated medicine on Josiah and Kezzie. She’s nervous, naturally. “Everything you do as a doctor involves risk,” she tells Marsali. But it looks like the boys will be OK, so she — with the help of Mr. Bug, Lizzie and Marsali — goes about dosing Kezzie and removing his gross, infected tonsil. By Outlander standards, the procedure isn’t very bloody and doesn’t make me gag: Is this show getting soft in its old age? When Kezzie is done, they all get to work on his twin brother.
BONNET’S SPECTRE LOOMS | We meet up with Roger and Bree in bed, where they’ve just had a naked, sweaty celebration of his return to the ridge. “Did you… enjoy yourself?” he asks her, and Roger my dude, WHY CAN’T YOU TELL BY NOW?! “Aye, captain,” she says. (I want to hope she’s telling the truth, but I’m guessing his rifle isn’t the only trigger he doesn’t know how to work. Just a hunch.) They chat a bit about how Roger is generally useless except for lecturing at students, and then he shuts down her support for his idea of a local school. Nice.
Later, while trying to quiet a fussy Jemmy, Roger accidentally knocks over Bree’s jewelry box. He finds the diamond that Bonnet gave her in the jail and recognizes it from when he and the crooked sea captain were playing cards on the boat one night. Roger confronts his wife and she confesses that she accepted it after she told Bonnet that Jeremiah was his child. She calls it Jemmy’s “ticket home,” but Roger — who didn’t even know that Bree had spoken to her rapist, much less told him he had a son — is incredibly angry. He points out that she never told him Jem was his. “I didn’t think I needed to,” she says, her voice growing hard. But when Roger presses her for what she truly believes about her son’s paternity, her face falls and her answer is clear: Roger leaves, and she cries.
Rog spends the night outside, where Claire runs into him while foraging the next morning. She quickly susses out that he did the 18th-century equivalent of sleeping on the couch, then winds up giving him a little al fresco marriage counseling. When asked, she admits that she doesn’t regret lying to Brianna about her true parentage for so long. “Sometimes,” she observes, “the truth really does hurt.” Then she gently warns him not to be careless with the time he and Bree have together.
So he returns home with some peace-making mushrooms (she’d been looking for them earlier in the episode), but he quickly realizes there’s something else she hasn’t told him. “Stephen Bonnet is still alive, and he haunts me, Roger. I see him everywhere,” she says, adding the bit about Mrs. Bug and the Irishman in town who gave Jeremiah a coin. Roger quickly and uncharacteristically does the right thing. “He doesn’t matter,” he reassures her, gathering her to him and kissing her face. “Because as soon as we know if Jemmy can travel, we’ll use Bonnet’s gem to leave.” You all saw Brianna’s face after he said that, right? Right. Moving on!
IT’S A HARD KNOX LIFE FOR US | Jamie, Fergus and the militia catch up with Lt. Knox and the Redcoats, and Col. Fraser is overjoyed to learn that Gov. Tryon is planning to ease tensions by pardon all of the Regulators. But his elation comes to a skidding stop when he realizes that the hunt for Murtagh is still on: The Crown wants to take down the movement’s ringleader as an example to the rest. Knox giddily tells Jamie that he’s waiting on some mail from Scotland that could help their hunt: the prisoner list from Ardsmuir. Knox reasons that if there are other Ardsmuir men in the colonies, they could be hiding their former cellmate. “Those who follow the righteous shall have their reward,” Knox intones — and watch out, guy: You know what happened to the last guy who said that, right?
Jamie says nothing during all of this, but he does bring his militia roster to Knox’s room the night before he and the disbanded band of brothers are due to return home. Knox asks him to stay for a game of chess, and before you can say “Queen to Rook 4,” the lieutenant is pouring out his soul to JAMMF. “Had we gone to battle, there’s no man I’d have rather had by my side,” he says, bringing to two the total number of British dudes who have sweet-talked Jamie over a chessboard.
Just then, Knox’s Ardsmuir list arrives. And before he can read it, Jamie confesses that his name will be on there. Knox soon sees that Murtagh’s is, as well… and that the outlaw’s true last name is Fraser. “My godfather,” Jamie says quietly. “Fitzgibbons is his middle name.” The penny drops, and Knox realizes that his beloved Scot has been working against him this whole time. He calls Jamie a traitor and pulls his knife, announcing his intention to call for Big Red’s arrest. Jamie points out that his first oath was to his family… and then Jamie knocks Knox’s head against the wall and strangles him. Then he burns the Ardsmuir manifest and closes the fireplace flue so that the smoke backs up into the room. Jamie sneaks out a window and is almost given up by a loudly mewling kitten who’s nosing around where he hides as he watches the Redcoats fish Knox’s body out of his room. But then Jamie and Fergus meet up and sneak off into the night while the British army is otherwise occupied.
HELLO, ADSO! | Jamie arrives home soon after, warning Claire not to hug him too tightly when she welcomes him back. Off her quizzical look, he opens his coat and pulls out the kitten. His name is Adso, Jamie announces, after a wee cheetie Jamie’s mom had when he was a child. Then they talk about how the universe sets you on a certain path sometimes, and an oblivious Adso laps his cream in the corner.
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