***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 3, Episode 12, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager follow. Spoilers***
After last week‘s relatively slow and snore-worthy outing, Outlander‘s penultimate third season episode burst out the gate with a promising start. Thanks to the continued delightful performance of (John Bell’s) Young Ian, whose facial reactions to pretty much anything are glorious, “The Bakra” cold open offered grand re-entrance. Led by a mysterious figure’s showy reveal, viewers were quickly drawn into new island shenanigans, replete with lavish costumes and plenty of ghosts from Claire and Jamie’s past.
Returning to the moment of Ian’s kidnapping by “Portuguese bastards”, we’re privy to talk of the titular boss, who likes young boys — a predilection that may have saved Fraser Murray’s life. After his initial Jamaican welcome — aka being thrown in a cell with lads who’ve a tendency to disappear — Ian is escorted to much better surroundings where he finally meets the lady of the house, Mrs. Abernathy — “You can call me Geillis” — foot by foot, and in all her bloody glory. With a bit of plum cake and witch-doctored tea, Duncan seduces the truth about her stolen treasure from Ian’s lips, and untold pleasure from his other (“I’m not a virgin”; “Good. You’ll know what to do, then”) parts.
Though she already knows how long the slave trade goes on, Claire is shocked to see Jamaican captives and auctions up close and in person; after jumping in to calm her outburst, Jamie does what any good husband would — he buys his wife the man she tried to protect. Explaining it’s the best way to get him to freedom, the Frasers offer their charge, Temeraire (Thapelo Sebogodi) a mutually beneficial deal, later keeping their word to let him go.
Invited to the *cough* governor’s reception by Kenneth MacIver (James McAnerney) — an employee of Jamie’s cousin — Claire and Jamie are once again bedecked in their French finery, and surrounded by familiar faces. First it’s their host and Jamie’s would-be lover (and Willie’s step-father), Lord John Grey, whose presence taunts Claire in more than one way (the look when she hears about Jamie’s gift is priceless), and next, the curious pair of Margaret and Archibald Campbell … not to be confused with the … Case of Benjamin Button (circa 2008!). Turns out alls fair in love, war and prophecies, and amidst an awkward Willoughby aside, we find that Geillis has brought in the pair to make use of Margaret’s “seer” gifts. When Duncan finds Grey has the third of her sapphires, she taunts him into Margaret’s questionable hands and finally, we understand (kind of) the method to Geillis’ madness.
A prophecy read — “When twice 1,200 moons have coursed, ‘tween man’s attack and woman’s curse, and when the issue is cut down, then will a Scotsman wear a crown leaves a child in danger” — is not entirely understood; to whom it refers, Geillis doesn’t yet know. As she heads home to figure it out with the Campbells, a portended threat arrives on island. Warned by Fergus, Jamie and Claire try to outrun the soldiers, but Captain Leonard finally captures his man. Despite Claire’s reminders she saved many of the Porpoise crew, Jamie is arrested and taken into custody, leaving Claire alone in time, yet again.
I love the way they brought back Geillis, and how crazy Lotte Verbeek played her every scene (though other times, I’ve found her slightly over the top). As grand as she was though, it was John Bell was who commanded my attention throughout her return scene — Ian’s reactions to bloody Geillis and his facial expressions are simply brilliant.
Someone on Outlander has a foot fetish, eh?
Likewise, it was great to see Lord John Grey back on our screens, and those wonderful moments of shared glances between David Berry and Sam Heughan — and Caitriona Balfe — were showstoppers.
As good as the opening was, much of the rest of the hour felt fillerish, again. I feel like the back half of Season 3 is disappointing, especially in comparison with the past two seasons.
Also, OUTLANDER LORDS, PLEASE BRING BACK TOBIAS MENZIES. Surely future seasons will have Frank flashbacks, right? Because, nothing, NOTHING is the same without Menzies. Part of me knows it’s not fair to compare the completely different timelines and settings with where we started out. At the same time, if there’s going to be a Menzies-sized hole, we need a heck of a lot more action and excitement than we’ve been getting. *fingers crossed for the season finale*
It was sweet, but I don’t much care about that little interlude between Willoughby and Margaret. I’m thrilled they’ve changed the character so much from his awful book description and behavior, but the writers are taking this saintly thing a little too far. Be a good guy, sure, but Willoughby — not the fault of Gary Young, who is excellent — doesn’t have to save the world, and he certainly has no reason to fall for Margaret Campbell. Defend her from her brother, sure … that’s enough!
According to the prophecy and Margaret Campbell, “When twice 1,200 moons have coursed …” — upon the death of a child that is 200 years old on the day of its birth, a new Scottish king will arrive. Readers know to whom the prophecy refers, but things have changed a bit, probably for simplicity and clarification, from the books, which ***Book Spoiler Ahead*** refer to a descendent of Lord Lovat, and a king of the white rose (Stuart lineage). This so-called “Fraser prophecy” ([Spoilers at link] told to Claire by Brahan Seer) is believed to refer to Brianna, who was born 200 years after her conception in a different time. ***End Book Spoilers***
According to the Outlander writers, “Bakra” means “boss” (though many definitions are refined to a white or British person; master).
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world” is, of course, from Casablanca (circa 1942).
Geillis to Ian: “Don’t worry, it’s only goat’s blood. The protein and iron keeps my skin young.”
Answering Ian about what she does with the boys: “Oh I have my way with them. Virgins have such power inside. After that, I have no use for them, have I? Come, it’s not such a bad way to go.”
Marsali to Fergus: “You look like a dandy.”
Fergus: “No, a Frenchman.”
Willoughby: “The same thing.”
Jamie to Claire, when she aks if he remembers when they were like Fergus and Marsali: “You couldn’t keep your hands off me. Of course you were on the back of a horse most of the time, so it couldn’t be helped.”
Claire, upon seeing Geillis: “I’m so sorry, you’ll have to excuse me. I believe I’ve seen a ghost.”
Geillis to Claire: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world.”
They let me hold him, and he was as warm as his father’s balls. And of course, Dougal came to fetch him for fear someone would find out it was his. Why are men such fools? You can lead them anywhere by the cock for a while. Give them a bairn, and you have them by the balls again. But it’s all you are to them, whether they’re coming in or going out — a cunt.”
Marsali to Fergus. “Must be a dream being here in this beautiful place, you’re my husband and I your wife.”
Geillis to Archibald: “A 200 year old baby? Do you think I’m an idiot? I’ve brought you here to tell me when it will happen, and instead you give me the bloody case of Benjamin Button . Just because it’s cryptic doesn’t mean we can’t solve it, right?”