**This is not a spoiler-free review of this episode. This is also a review from a non-reader and any comments revealing spoilers from the books will be deleted.**
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Episode 402: “Do No Harm”
Written by Karen Campbell, Directed by Julian Holmes
Lesley deserved a decent burial.
Jamie is racked with guilt over the previous night’s events. He feels like a fool after helping Bonnet. Claire consoles him the best she can, but she knows she can’t heal his feelings of self-doubt completely. They don’t have much more time to feel bad about the fact the Lesley got his throat cut in a brutal fashion because they discover that Auntie Jocasta is loaded.
Jocasta is family. And we’re lucky we have relatives we can turn to.
Boy is Claire going to regret that statement.
On a small detail note, I love seeing Jamie having his arm wrapped around Claire with his thumb rubbing her shoulder affectionately. I love the small details that show how protective he is of his Sassenach.
The whole scene where Jamie introduces Claire and Young Ian just struck me with the MAJESTIC AMERICAN BUT NOT REALLY AMERICAN BECAUSE IT’S SCOTTISH SCENERY.
My freedom loving American heartbeat patriotically nonetheless.
Again, in spite of the events of the last episode, this opening does a great job of lulling the viewer into a false sense of security. Jocasta is just the sweet old auntie so happy to reunite with her nephew and to meet his wife, great nephew, and great nephew’s amazing dog ROLLO. Rollo can do no wrong. It is an Outlander law.
And then reality sets in and you remember that this is 1763 and Claire is going through that awkward moment when her husband’s beloved blind Auntie Jocasta literally owns hundreds of slaves.
Jamie tells Jocasta about how they were robbed of any chance to get back home to Scotland. Jocasta tells them they are welcome to stay at River Run and Claire is already clearly uncomfortable with the immense amount of slavery saturating the area. Girl, me too.
I may not have much of my sight left dearie but I have been keeping an eye on ye.
The tension over the fact that Jamie’s aunt is a slave owner is broken by Young Ian’s announcement that Rollo has been attacked by a beast that sprayed a vile smell over his beloved new pet.
Jocasta tells poor Young Ian that his skunk problem will be easily remedied by her friend John Quincy Meyers. Ulysses leads Claire and Jamie to their very purple bedchamber, where they are greeted by two slaves. Phaedre and Mary.
Claire tells Phaedre they can call her Claire and they’re like, “What drugs is this white lady on?”
Why you take one good look at my buttocks and you’d think my daddy was a buffalo!
The conversation between John Quincy Meyers and Young Ian shows you just how ignorant of the world Young Ian is. He has an excuse though. He has no access to the internet.
“I consider some of them friends!”
“Perhaps they view things a bit differently since they don’t have any choice.”
I have always found Claire’s inability to accept that her modern mind view might not be accepted with open arms in Jamie’s time one of her best qualities. She doesn’t just sit back and bask in her white privilege at River Run. Claire outright voices her utter disgust with slavery, and I love her for it.
Also, on a purely superficial note, Claire’s red dress is perfection in this scene. It’s like the colonial version of the Parisian red dress she wore in season two, but I like this dress even better.
I just want an Outlander fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and magic me a cosplay version of that dress. And to also make me look like Caitriona Balfe.
Cultivation of wheat along the river will likely bring you a bushel of regret.
Lieutenant Wolfe gets all offended that Jocasta’s upstart Scottish nephew had the gall to challenge his idea. After Wolfe leaves in a huff, Jocasta gently notes to Jamie that isn’t it nice to be a man and get away with speaking your mind? Haha, oh wait!
Jocasta attends Claire’s fitting for a dress for the forthcoming dinner party and asks her quite earnestly, “So how would you rate me on Yelp, you modern lady?”
And Claire’s just like, “One star, racist AF.”
And Jocasta’s just like, “Damn judgmental Quaker wench of the night. I’m going to start calling you Jamie’s Poor Life Choice from now on. In my head of course.”
I love how Phaedre stood up for Claire when Jocasta was throwing shade at her looks. More Phaedre/Claire friendship. (Could you ever call it that?)
Later that night Claire and Young Ian make themselves popular at the dinner party by defending the rights of Indians.
The party gets even better when Jocasta pulls a Dougal-esque move in front of the entire surrounding town by announcing that she is naming Jamie her heir to River Run.
Claire states that she can’t own slaves. Jamie ponders about the fact that they might now have the power to light a fuse of change.
Jamie tells Jocasta he’ll be the heir of River Run, but he intends to free the slaves. In typical soul-crushing lawyer fashion, Mr. Campbell informs Jamie that he would have to prove that each slave had performed a heroic act like saving a life, AND pay 100 pounds sterling for each slave.
Mr. Campbell also warns Jamie that those who shared his views…disappeared.
Jocasta sends out Jamie as her appointed representative to deal with a matter of a slave cutting a slave master’s ear after the slave master whipped him.
They’ve already got the poor slave Rufus impaled with a hook and are trying to string him up for hanging. Claire and Jamie get him down and Claire stages a makeshift operating room in Jocasta’s fine dining hall.
Jocasta finally shows that she is a woman of her time. She feels no sympathy for Rufus. She only wants to follow the law.
From what I can tell, that Byrnes is a son of a bitch.
The look on Rufus’s face was perfect. Caitriona is always at her best when she’s swearing like a sailor.
Young Ian gets a lesson in slavery as Rufus remembers his family back in Africa. I try not to cry. I fail miserably.
Ulysses warns Claire that Rufus was doomed from the moment he laid a hand on a white man. Saving that boy’s soul is the only thing that can be done for him now.
Claire’s desire to save Rufus was honorable and I admire her for trying. Jamie insinuates to her that it would probably be in Rufus’s best interest for her to gently put him to sleep as opposed to the mob outside the doors tearing him apart. It’s horrible to watch.
You can see Rufus nod his head in resignation as Claire tells him she’s going to make him a tea. The only hope for him to escape is to a merciful death.
And I dream I might see my sister again one day.
Yeah, I totally lost it. Kudos to the actor who plays Rufus for utterly crushing my soul at this point in the episode. He played off Caitriona well and I wish we could’ve had a chance to see more of him. Sadly, abhorrent racism prevents this from occurring.
You can SEE Claire’s hopeful vision of America shattered the minute the mob strung up Rufus’s dead body for a horrible macabre lynching. Thing is, this episode was never about her and that’s why it’s a superb piece of television.
It was about Phaedre holding back her tears as the mob cheered at Rufus’s dead body. It was about Ulysses, stoically watching the same scene, almost appearing like he’s attempting to hold back tears. Racism shapes their lives and deaths. It’s an unacceptable part of American history, but it’s a true part of American history and I’m glad Outlander didn’t sugarcoat it at all.
The mob doesn’t care that Rufus is dead. They just needed the satisfaction of killing him a second time.
The last five minutes are utterly heartbreaking to watch.
But they are necessary.
NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 403: “THE FALSE BRIDE”
“Jamie and Claire search for a place to call home with Young Ian and John Quincy Myers, a local mountain man. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Brianna and Roger’s romance heats up and then fizzles during a road trip that winds up highlighting their differences.”
Photos and clips are courtesy of Starz.