‘Outlander’ Review: Episode 602, “Allegiance”

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    [This is not a spoiler-free review of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]

Episode 601: “Allegiance”

Written By: Steve Kornacki & Alyson Evans

Directed By: Kate Cheeseman

Even though the new season premiered last week, it has been a few years since I have written about the Frasers. This week felt like a homecoming for me, and not only because of the time away from these characters. This week’s episode “Allegiance” really felt like coming back to the Frasers that I love. I saw character moments, personalities, and traits that immediately took me back to season one and made me feel nostalgic in very positive ways.

We start off this week with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) in his new role of Indian Agent. Jamie and Young Ian (John Bell) have traveled to the Cherokee reservation to meet with Chief Bird (Glen Gould) over what the Cherokee would like from the governor/ king.  They would like weapons, guns, and ammunition specifically. Jamie is back where his strengths lay, one where his past positions have given him the skill and ability to maneuver uncomfortable conversations with those in power.  Jamie does not promise anything but does say he will “consider the request.”  Jamie and Young Ian are invited to spend the night. While spending the night, Jamie is awakened by two Cherokee women, Walela (Blaire Lemora) and Selu (Barabra Patrick), coming into his bed. They have been sent there to provide a “good evening” to Jamie, knowing he is the agent that can help them get what the tribe would like. I am by no means a book purist, and I know that there will be adaptations made in a television show, but I am so happy that they kept this moment from the books in the show.  When a show has such dark topics constantly as ‘Outlander’ does, and we live in the emotions with these characters, it is nice to be reminded that there are enjoyable, humorous moments. These lighthearted moments make the dark more poignant as we get the breathing room to smile and enjoy.  John Bell is just incredibly enjoyable to watch when Young Ian is happy. His personality and giggles are infectious, as shown in this whole evening encounter.

While Jamie is busy negotiating weapons and defending his honor in bed, Claire visits Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones), making sure his left-hand wound is healing properly. In her usual straightforward fashion, Claire is going toe to toe with Christie on why he will not let her perform surgery on his constricted hand.  Malva (Jessica Reynolds) is present, so Tom dismisses Malva when she gets a bit too cheeky for his liking quoting the letter from St. Paul to Timothy. After Claire acknowledges that she thinks Tom is scared of the surgery, he dismisses her as well.  Before setting out for home, Claire asks Allan (Alexander Vlahos) how his back is doing. Allan acknowledges that it is much better and thanks Claire for the salve, but once Malva starts complementing Claire’s knowledge as a physician and showing interest in learning healing skills, Allan is quick to inform Claire that some may accuse her of witchcraft. Claire invites Malva to come the following day to check on Marsali and the pregnancy.

Marsali (Lauren Lyle) is very pregnant and very much at her wit’s end. Marsali shows her temper, and I love that we get a little glimpse that she is her mother’s child. Claire asks Marsali where Fergus (Cesar Domboy) is and if he has been hurting her before asking her to move up to the big house so she can keep an eye on Marsali. Marsali lets Claire know that Fergus has been defending himself, and she is the one that has been frustrated with him. Marsali also triggers Claire when informing her that Fergus is ashamed and feels guilty that she was up in the surgery working and that he wasn’t with Marsali to protect her from Lionel Brown’s attack. Haunted by the ghost of Lionel, Claire reaches for her ether escape once back in her surgery. At least she was safer this time, and there were no unattended open flames by her ether.

It has taken a little bit for us to see one, but Bree (Sophie Skelton) is working on a project; she uses the white phosphorous that Lord John sent her to make matches. Roger (Richard Rankin) tells her that Tom Christie has asked him to conduct the funeral service for Granny Wilson since their pastor has not arrived yet to the Ridge.

Jamie returns home to the Ridge and goes straight to find Claire to show her just how much he missed her. This scene reminded me of season one, Jamie and Claire; it made me so happy to see their flirtations. I also appreciated this cut of the prior and post-romantic scene versus watching them together again. Sometimes less is more, and this week’s episode proved just that. Jamie asks Claire if she remembers anything about which side the Cherokee will side with in the upcoming war, trying to decide if he will grant Chief Bird’s requests to Major MacDonald (Robin Laing). Jamie decides not to ask for the guns, and Young Ian is distraught with Jamie. Jamie explains his reasoning, and Young Ian seems to accept his uncles’ decisions.

Granny Wilson (Anne Kidd) has seemingly passed away, and Roger is there to perform her funeral. Jamie and Claire have brought Germain (Robin Scott) along with them to observe the service. Germain asks about the bread on Granny Wilson (I had to look up about The Sin Eater as well, as I had never heard about this old Welsh tradition) and notices that Granny Wilson is not quite so ready to be buried; Claire races over and determines that Granny has an aortic aneurysm and that she is awake and conscious, but only for a few more minutes. She sets herself right with Hiram (Antony Byrne) and quietly passes. Meanwhile, Tom Christie is starting to get all Father Bain, and looking like Claire may be more than just a healer.

That evening around the dinner table, Bree states that she has exciting news, Lizzie (Caitlyn O’Ryan), Marsali, and Jamie all think she will inform the family that she is pregnant. They are all a little underwhelmed at her matchmaking abilities. Marsali even stated that she has never had an issue with making a fire. Claire complements the matches and Roger for his well handling of the funeral service while knowing she has been asked not to come to the church again since Tom thinks she is a witch. Obviously, this is not her first time at this rodeo, and Jamie is not having that. Before anyone can say any more about it, Marsali goes into labor.

While stalled in labor, Claire is feeling unprepared for what could happen and that she could save the baby but not necessarily Marsali, and Jamie is questioning where Fergus is while understanding Fergus’s feelings. Roger is sent to gather Fergus for the birth and has a “pull yourself together” moment with Fergus. After asking Adso and Claire to assist her in preparing if she does not make it through the labor, Marsali is visibly relieved when Fergus arrives and unconventionally helps her with her labor pains and process, which leads Claire having to tell Malva that sometimes a woman can enjoy the attention and relationships with a man she loves. Obviously, this conversation is going to come up again. Marsali delivers a healthy Henri Christian, but much to Fergus’ dismay, Henri Christian is born with dwarfism.

While Marsali was in the birthing bed, Young Ian was chatting with Bree over what will happen with the Cherokee and Indigenous peoples with the upcoming war. She informs him that settlers will continue to arrive, and the Indigenous peoples will be forced from their homeland and ancestorial homes.

Aidan McCallum (Caleb Reynolds) shows up at Bree and Roger’s door; he has gotten lost while chasing rabbits. After showing Aidan the matches and attempting to boost Bree’s confidence, Roger says he was going for a walk and will take Aidan home. I am interested to see where this storyline is headed. It has been a long time since I read the books, and I don’t remember all of the information with Roger and Mrs. McCallum, but it feels to me the show is taking it somewhere. We shall see.

After Keziah Beardsley (Paul Gorman) sets off with Arch Bug (Hugh Ross) for Cross Creek and River Run. (I am happy the Bug storyline may be included this season). Chief Bird arrives to ask Jamie if he submitted his request. After Jamie lets him know that he did not find it in their best interest, the Chief lets Jamie know that the Frasers will see more of the Cherokee. Since Young Ian knows more of the Cherokee fate, he lets Jamie know that if Jamie does not help the Cherokee, he will.

Jamie visits with Tom Christie after Bree has let Jamie know that she and Roger were helping build Mrs. McCallum’s cabin, and Tom was making progress on his church. Jamie is concerned and states that “a church in Christie’s hand is a weapon.” While visiting with Tom, Jamie says the building should be a meetinghouse and not just a church. When asked if Jamie would have him remove the steeple, Jamie says, “no, but it needs a bell” so ALL men, women, children could come to worship or do their lessons in the meetinghouse, including his wife, and that he better not hear ANYONE accusing her of witchcraft. While Allan and Tom watch Jamie walk away, he mentions that windowpanes are always good in a meeting house. Tom, frustrated at Jamie’s interference and demands, goes to his current shelter to find Malva and milk she was preparing to turn into butter. He displaces his anger to her and goes to beat her with his belt. When he drops the belt, unable to hold it in the hand that Claire has offered to perform surgery on, Malva visibly becomes amused. Jessica Reynolds is doing so fantastic with Malva. She is pretty, pretty evil, and isn’t over the top in her acting. What makes Malva so chilling is her subtleness.

Jamie comes to check on Marsali and the baby and overhears Young Ian performing a Mohawk blessing on Henri Christian. Young Ian tells Marsali that he had a baby and that no matter how upset Fergus is, he will come back to them. Jamie now starts to understand Young Ian’s stance a little more.

Tom Christie shows up at the Frasers’ house and tells Claire that his hand is worse and it is preventing him from writing, that he has prayed on it, and that he would like her to perform the surgery on his right hand. Claire knows very well that it is something other than him praying on it but agrees to perform the surgery once his left hand is healed more from the injury sustained previously.  That evening Claire finds Jamie writing to the governor honoring Chief Birds requests. She asks Jamie what changed his mind; Jamie informs her of Young Ian’s Mohawk wife and child, asking her not to say anything. Young Ian has an ‘allegiance’ to them, that he fights for them because they are his family, but that Jamie has an ‘allegiance’ to Ian. Claire agrees that it is the right thing to do.

Come What May- Je Suis Prest

I liked this episode much more than I liked last week. I thought the pacing was well done, and there was a lot covered in the episode. The story moved forward quickly without rushing or denying potential important bits.  I was still a bit uneasy with Claire using the ether this week, but I am glad they didn’t make it a pronounced issue that was a focus of this week’s storyline.

NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, MARCH 20TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 603: “TEMPERANCE”

Synopsis: Fergus worries for his new son’s quality of life when the baby is bullied by superstitious Protestants. Claire performs surgery on Tom’s hand.

Photos courtesy of Starz