Previously on Outlander, “America the Beautiful”
I guess it’s been a day or so since Bonnet attacked the river boat, and Jamie is admitting what literally every person except Claire thought last episode: of course this is your fault. Yes, you should have turned Bonnet back in, ‘cause he’s a murderer. Yes, you should have made sure the only pirate you’ve met in the last 2 weeks didn’t know you were taking a boat trip. Yes, you should not have swam about in all your gold and gemstones like Scrooge McDuck—wait, strike that last one. How did Bonnet know about Jamie’s sack of jewels?
River Run, the home of Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, is a straight up riverside mansion and that’s a surprise to everyone on the boat. All of a sudden having a rich widowed aunt is not looking so bad, eh? And a mostly blind one at that. Jocasta is clearly a shrewd woman: she has super hearing, can smell out the truth, and knows a broke kinsman won’t turn down her “need” for a strong business man around the house. There’s something that’s just a little off about her, though; she has caring words and says flattering things, but it already seems like she’s doing some conniving.
Rollo gets sprayed by a skunk, an incredibly unremarkable event that feels so long I start to wonder if crushed tomatoes would work against skunk-stench as well as tomato juice, and if growing tomatoes was part of the Southern Handbook back then the way it is now. It does give us the chance to meet the talking upright bear John Quincy Myers, a trapper who comes by River Run enough to be a friend of Jocasta. He and Ian bizarrely shoot the shit about body hair, and he educates Ian on the ways of the Natives. They generously come to the conclusion that Natives sound like they’re just people, too, and clap each other on the back at being so wise while a slave boy fills the dog’s bath. It’s just the most eye-rolling unintentional irony.
Claire is deeply disturbed by the sheer number of slaves that the plantation owns, from the house slaves to the number she sees working out in the field. As she should be; just like Culloden, she’s watching a road to atrocities unfold that she has no power to stop. She’s happy to go toe-to-toe with Jocasta about it, especially after her new Auntie calls her sallow and giant—in the nicest possible backhanded Southern compliment kind of way. People shouldn’t be property, an idea that Jocasta dismisses with a laugh and another “compliment”.
Jocasta’s welcome party is a ruse that she set up to announce Jamie as her heir apparent and River Run’s new management. He’s not happy about the ambush, although it’s probably nice to all of a sudden not be a well-dressed pauper. But it is a surprise opportunity to free the plantation’s slaves, Jamie’s first act as reigning New Management. Er, until he finds out the laundry list of arbitrary checkboxes that have to be provided in order to free a slave. The law might as well say that every slave has to also have saved a kitten from a tree! Farquad Campbell, Jocasta’s friend and almost ousted advisor, gets all red-faced at the idea of Jamie threatening their idyllic way of life, and warns him that others who have tried have disappeared. That “backpack into the mountains and settle our own land” idea keeps looking better and better, since it looks like there’s going to be violence either way.
As New Management, Jamie gets called to settle a dispute between a young slave and some white guy. By settle, he’s supposed to bring the slave in to be hung, but instead he finds that the Whites have taken justice into their own hands and hung poor Rufus up by a hook through his belly. It’s gruesome and savage and abhorrent and just the sort of thing Claire has to get involved in. Don’t get me wrong—she absolutely should get involved, it’s just hard to watch knowing that literally every time she sticks her nose in a place (correct or not), bloody chaos ensues.
Claire operates on Rufus on the formal dining room table, right on top of the lacy tablecloth. And even though she and Jamie have Rufus under their protection, the torch and pitchfork gang are coming for them. They have until midnight to turn him over, and between Jamie and Ulysses (Jocasta’s enormous confidant house slave) they convince a reluctant Claire to commit homicide rather than let a mob of crazy white men hang a slave.
Welp, I guess it’s not the first vow she’s broken.
Outlander S4E2 Review Score
"Do No Harm"
Outlander – S4E2 – “Do No Harm” | Starring: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan