‘Outlander’ Season 4 Episode 11 Recap: “If Not For Hope”

Outlander Season 4 Episode 11
Sophie Skelton in ‘Outlander’ season 4 episode 11 (Photo Credit: Starz)

If not for hope! I believe we could say that at many points in our lives. If not for hope, we would have frozen at the point of our greatest pain. I use an acronym I made up for HOPE – Happy Optimism People Employ. Starz’ Outlander season four episode 11 is a lesson in clinging to hope, and some of the best ways to get there communication and love.

Even before the initial “Skye Boat” intro rolls, the show throws us off just slightly. Roger (Richard Rankin) might have chosen to step back through the stones because we find him in the shower. None exist in the 18th century. As Roger gets out of the shower and tries to clear the mirror, he sees Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke), the Mohawk native, standing behind him. He’s startled, turns, and is instantly back in the forest near a river.

Kaheroton warns him not to attempt an escape again as the Mohawk gather to continue their journey toward their village. Cue “Skye Boat.”

In the book they caught Roger because he injured his foot while fleeing his captors. He did find the stones though and eventually did have to make that same choice of whether to stay or go. His book scenario came with more knowledge and less fear of captivity. You’ll see what I mean soon… I don’t want to give away spoilers.

Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is sitting at the dining room table sketching a picture as tears slowly roll down her face when Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) brings her a tray of food. Lizzie gets close enough to see the drawing that Bree’s working on. It’s a dark representation of the man who violated her and how she feels emotionally. Lizzie’s so startled she thinks Brianna is possessed. Bree assures her she’s not possessed, just hurt and angry. (Not everyone understands art, you know.)

Lizzie thinks everything is her fault and asks for Brianna’s forgiveness. Bree gives it to her freely. Lizzie asks on behalf of Jamie (Sam Heughan) and isn’t so lucky in securing forgiveness for him. Sharing that stubborn blood of her father, his forgiveness will be harder won after his actions and words involving Roger. As Lizzie leaves Brianna to her sketch, Bree reaches down to her wrist to touch the bracelet Roger gave her.

Ian (John Bell) shows a brave from the Cherokee village the carved necklace he received in the trade of Roger to the Mohawk. As Jamie and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) are waiting to the side a bit away with the horses, Jamie asks Claire if she has any knowledge of the Mohawks from her time. Claire mentions movies were her only knowledge point, and it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Jamie says it’s hard to separate the two when you don’t have both sides of the story. They give each other a knowing look at the double meaning hanging in the air.

Ian comes back with news that the Cherokee think it was from a Mohawk village called Shadow Lake which is a two months journey north. Well, Tulach Ard! Jamie knows that Bree’s now suffering through what he and Claire felt while separated and he’s determined to relieve Bree’s pain of missing Roger.

We’re treated to amazing country and majestic trees as the trio move along the path north. Rollo’s so cute I just want to hug his neck and bury my face in his fur. I love that you can hug big dogs like people, though the slobbery kisses are not quite as welcome!

As they make camp later that day, the friction between Claire and Jamie is palpable enough for Ian to attempt to get Claire into action to resolve it. Ian tries to explain what he and Jamie thought when Jamie attacked Roger and Ian sold him away. Claire assures Ian she understands all that and is not angry with them over it. She goes on to explain that as a mother she’s worried about Brianna and Roger and how they feel at that moment. As a mother, it’s hard to separate your pain from that of a child in pain. They are very much one and the same. A mother is only as happy as her most miserable child; I can say from experience. As they grow a mother must step away and develop distance, but there’s never enough distance to remove the ties completely.

In Wilmington, Fergus (Cesar Domboy) has been inquiring about Steven Bonnet (Ed Speleers). He discovers Bonnet is due to return to the area of Wilmington in a week’s time. Fergus also notices a wanted poster of Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix). Apparently, he has good news and bad news to share with Murtagh when he gets back to his apartment with Marsali (Lauren Lyle) and the baby.

Fergus has also been trying to find work. In the book, Fergus didn’t settle in Wilmington but found his place on Fraser’s Ridge. It looks like the show might eventually find his path there as well, but we’ll have to wait and see. No one wants to employ a one-handed man, apparently. So, all this makes Fergus feel like less than a man since he cannot provide for his family in the usual way.

Murtagh is also in the apartment talking in a side room with one of his rebel friends. Marsali feels as any mother would about the danger of housing a wanted man under their roof. Fergus knows Murtagh would without a doubt do the same for him if the situation were reversed. Marsali accepts it but remains disquieted about the situation. Fergus enters the side room where he can share the news of Bonnet’s return in a week with Murtagh.

At River Run, Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) has planned a dinner party. Phaedre (Natalie Simpson) is charged with making Brianna a new dress for the occasion. Of course, Brianna’s not receptive to this demand at all. Being an artist, she distracts Phaedre by making her sit down so she can sketch her in the light by the window. Phaedre’s surprised, to say the least. Never before has anyone taken a moment to consider her as a beautiful young woman instead of a house slave.

The next day while Brianna’s on a settee reading a book, Aunt Jocasta walks up with a box of earrings to accent the dress Brianna will wear for the party. Bree declares again that she doesn’t need a new dress. However, Jocasta’s not someone to be deterred easily as Brianna will find out.

Brianna continues to press the point that she would rather be alone to read and draw in peace and quiet. Jocasta indicates the company of others can be helpful in situations like Bree’s and points out her sister Ellen was a talented artist. With that admission, Bree perks up with interest to hear more about her grandmother. Jocasta admits she feels Bree and Ellen are a great deal alike. Jocasta shares a bit of the tale about Ellen’s decision of a husband and how their father wouldn’t force her into a marriage that Ellen didn’t choose.

Bree doesn’t know that Jocasta’s motives are to do that very thing to her. With the bairn coming a woman must be married in that time period, as Bree will come to understand. On the pretext of helping Bree through her worries over her situation, Jocasta convinces Bree to get Phaedre’s help in altering a dress Jocasta picked from her own wardrobe to be ready for the party.

Late one evening as Murtagh’s sleeping on the floor in Fergus’ apartment, Marsali begins lightly banging cups down to fill with drink so only Murtagh will wake up. It works in waking Godfather Fraser. Marsali gets right to her point. She’s concerned about the actions of the Regulators and asks Murtagh to also take Fergus with him when any action does occur. Murtagh understands why she’s asking, but just so sh’s clear she admits to wanting a whole man or none at all.

Bree’s introduced to several unmarried prominent men who are acquaintances of Jocasta at River Run on the night of the party. Brianna’s first presented to Gerald Forbes (Billy Boyd). Polite conversation gives way to the knowledge that Bree sketched a slave, Phaedre, to the shock of Mrs. Alderdyce (Maggie Macleod) but not so much her son, the Judge Alderdyce (Andrew Steele). The Judge expresses an interest in seeing her work.

Mr. Forbes draws Brianna’s attention into another room as he guides her into the parlor. Mr. Forbes presents Brianna a box of four jewels. With her father’s gift for navigating difficult and delicate situations, Brianna asks for Mrs. Alderdyce’s opinion prior to giving her own. The test was a ploy to trap Brianna into a decision so she would almost certainly be promised to Mr. Forbes. If she chose a stone, he would have it made into a setting for her engagement ring since everyone else in the room would have witnessed her selecting the stone.

Lord John Grey (David Berry) enters before anyone can choose or offer thoughts on the gems. Strikingly handsome, the other men in the room immediately feel threatened by the newcomer and highest-ranking male in the room. After all, who can compete with a Lord? Bree’s presented to Lord John and he acknowledges immediately that he knows her parents.

Fergus and Murtagh speak of plans for the Regulators, or at least they’re trying to talk… A bairn crying in the room does tend to make it difficult. As Fergus calms the wee one, Murtagh asks Fergus to join them. Fergus is heartened by the request but declines due to his responsibilities to his wife and child. Marsali enters the room to report that Bonnet’s ship has returned to port. As both men are leaving, Marsali holds Murtagh up to softly tell him thank you. Murtagh smirks and takes his leave. The hunter (Bonnet) is now the prey and he doesn’t even know it yet.

At the dinner party, antidotes are shared over the fine meal. Slainte Mhath! Lord John entertains everyone with some interesting tales of his time in Jamaica. He then turns to Brianna sitting on his immediate left and asks her to share something. She proposes a game of psychology. The book doesn’t have this game in it, but it was an interesting approach to get some key bits of information out that the book took longer to discover. The game adeptly reveals that the Judge is hiding a rather large secret. She then turns to Lord John to inquire about his answer to her question, and through their delicate verbal dance Lord John reveals he was asked to check on her by Jamie because Jamie mentioned he would be going on a long trip. Lord John accurately measures by Bree’s response that there’s more to Jamie’s trip and Brianna’s presence at River Run than he was currently informed.

Brianna tries to escape the gathering by politely excusing herself, but when Mr. Forbes requests to take a walk Brianna lightly faints. Lord John is there to catch her. Jocasta asks his Lordship to escort Bree into the next room. As Lord John and Phaedre are tending to Bree, Lizzie hurries into the room concerned about her ‘condition.’ Since they’re in a side room only Lord John hears the reference to the baby.

Very quick on the uptake, Lord John catches on to the situation. The circumstances with Roger come out as to the reason for Jamie and Claire’s trip. Lord John presents a letter to Brianna that Jamie left with him. In the book, Jamie handed Bree the letter himself and declared that he would come back with Roger or not come back himself.

Lord John takes his leave of Bree shortly after Jocasta comes into the room to check on her. The ladies are left entirely alone at Brianna’s request. She needs a private word with her Great Aunt about the covert mission to marry her off. Brianna’s upset, naturally, but she’s given some hard truth from Jocasta about the way of society in the present time. Brianna asks about the fact that her grandmother was married in love instead of being forced into marriage. Jocasta reveals the rest of the story in that Ellen too was with child when she married Brian Fraser, but if Bree’s not married at the time the bairn is delivered he will be branded a fatherless bastard in society. Unlike in Bree’s 20th century life, the bastard title is hard to carry in the 18th.

Jocasta candidly points out that Roger is with savages now. The hidden meaning is that if he’s still alive, he’ll be changed by his situation. She tells Bree to not live on hope. There are times we must resolve ourselves to the situation at hand, and other times when hope can see us through our darkest hours. The trick is to know when which is most appropriate to take.

Fergus and Murtagh wait for Bonnet at the tavern. The Irishman eventually shows up and immediately grabs a barmaid. A sea captain’s first night in port – no need to have it spelled out, I’m sure. Bonnet retires to a room while Fergus and Murtagh plan to deal with him. Je Suis Prest!

Murtagh bursts into the room where Bonnet is and as Bonnet lunges at him, Murtagh pistol whips him in the head. Don’t mess with the Godfather! Not so tough against a grown seasoned man are we, Mr. Rapist/Thief/Smuggler/Murderer? In the book, Bonnet does get captured but it’s not really revealed how per se. This is certainly an interesting way to show the capture. As I’ve indicated several times but bears repeating, Murtagh was killed at Culloden in the books. So Murtagh taking Bonnet in the show is a pure fabrication and continuation to the story that I just love. Hit him again, Murtagh!

Brianna is laying in bed trying to rest but too many worries buzz in her head to let her sleep. She decides to go downstairs for something to eat and hears a noise in the kitchen cupboard. She follows the sounds to see Lord John and Judge Alderdyce involved in non-verbal communications of the physical kind. She quickly leaves the kitchen and heads back to her room.

Some soldiers appear early the next morning as Murtagh and Fergus are attempting to take a still unconscious Bonnet away by horse or wagon. Murtagh punches Fergus to make the soldiers not suspect him, but they do recognize Murtagh from the wanted posters. They take both Murtagh and Bonnet away. New wrinkle…a hanging surely awaits Murtagh as well as Bonnet.

Phaedre wakes Bree up the next morning and informs her Mr. Forbes intends to ask for her hand, with her aunt’s blessing of course. Bree doesn’t exactly welcome this news, so the good Fraser/MacKenzie that she is immediately forms a new plan. She tells Phaedre to say she went on her morning walk so she’ll be delayed in seeing Mr. Forbes. She asks that Lizzie be sent to her as well.

Bree gets dressed as quickly as she can and heads outside. She has Lizzie fetch Lord John to meet her outside.

Upon walking a safe distance away from the house, Brianna gets right to the point and asks Lord John to marry her. John initially believes she’s kidding but can quickly see she’s serious. He certainly sees her father in her at the request. Brianna, knowing Lord John prefers men, but forgetting he was married at one time, thinks she will be safe in an arranged marriage of convenience. She threatens to expose him if he rejects her. She threatens to tell Jamie, too.

Lord John warns her she’s not as safe as she might think with him as a husband. He can perform his husbandly duties as he did with his first wife. Taking a deep breath, he suggests they both sit down. Brianna apologizes for the outlandish scheme. Lord John admits he understands her feelings. He also admits how close his bond is to Jamie, and even Claire.

Lord John explains to Brianna why he cannot be her husband and it’s not what she thinks. Lord John has faith that Jamie and Claire will bring Roger back to her and she cannot be married when Roger arrives. He tells her not to give up hope. Bree confesses that Roger might not take her back once he finds out about the assault on her and the baby. He might also be so altered by his experience that he might not want her. She knows that Forbes is about to propose but is willing to give her life over to him for the sake of her child. Chin up and soldier on, as Frank (Tobias Menzies) told her.

Brianna returns to the house expecting the proposal from Forbes but gets another surprise instead. Lord John bursts in behind her and spills the beans that they were just engaged. A dejected and downcast Forbes takes his leave of the room upon that declaration. Jocasta’s even happier with the addition of a Lord to the family and whispers that the MacKenzie blood is very much alive in Brianna.

Outlander Season 4 Episode 11
John Bell and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ season 4 episode 11 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Jamie, Claire, and Ian are still on the hunt for Roger. Ian grabs something from Rollo and Claire realizes it’s a human leg. Rollo runs to where he found it and the trio discover the body of Caleb, the captive who was initially with Roger. They go looking to see if they can find Roger’s body, too. They don’t find him, so Claire points out there’s hope that he’s still alive.

Brianna is sitting on the porch with Lord John chatting about her plight with the approaching child. Lord John reveals he has a son. Lord John acknowledges he’s very much like his father, but Brianna doesn’t understand the true meaning of the statement. Lord John then admits the boy is not his blood but still loves him as if he were his own. Lord John’s sure Roger will love the baby, his own or not. His Lordship voices his opinion that hope is at the very heart of love. She should keep up her hope. Brianna removes the letter from her pocket after Lord John heads into the house. She hasn’t read the letter even though Lord John gave it to her days ago.

Ian, Jamie, and Claire bury Caleb’s remains. Jamie’s still very downcast about the situation, and it greatly troubles Claire. That night Claire and Jamie talk about her and Bree keeping the information about Bonnet from him. Claire admits the secrets between her and Bree were just their secrets together, but now there’s Jamie. Claire confesses she might not be able to keep the truth in all things between her and Jamie as they first promised after they were married. Jamie reveals he was struck by what Brianna said about Frank. Jamie felt jealous of Frank and was not sure he could be a father to Brianna. Claire says Frank made his share of mistakes too. All parents make mistakes.

Jamie’s sure Brianna thinks Frank is a better man and worries Claire feels the same. Claire smiles and tells Jamie that Brianna is very much like him. She says things in anger that she doesn’t mean; he admits to having done the same. Claire asks him to trust her, that she knows them both and loves them both tremendously.

Claire and Jamie resolve their conflict with apologies and their usual sharing of the flesh, giving over body and soul to the other. Mo Nighean Donn!

The Mohawk arrive in their village, Roger in tow. The entire village is stirred up and the men of the village line up in two columns. Roger is pushed down the line between them. He quickly realizes it is a test of strength. He’s punched, beaten, and knocked to the ground. The woops and shouts stop as they all wait to see if Roger will get back up and continue down the line. The Natives of all tribes value strength as warriors, and the Mohawk are no exception. Weakness will certainly get you killed, but strength might see you live and even excel among the Indian nations. Jamie had to perform his test with the Cherokee, now it is Roger’s turn. Roger rises from the ground with a determination to survive.

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