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Outlander - The Company We Keep - Review

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Your regular Outlander reviewer had to step out this week, which means you’re trapped with me in 1770-something to see what fresh dilemmas have befallen the Frasers and Friends. It could be worse. We could be trapped in a town where we’re related to absolutely everyone! And the town is even named after us. To give some background, I have read the book, and I did like this particular book quite a bit. The show is, of course, an adaptation, but the changes they have made this season have mostly worked for me.

Babies abound in this episode. One of them is in significantly more danger than the rest, as Bree finds a coin in Jemmy’s basket that a well-dressed Irishman apparently gave him. (Of course Bonnet would gve him a choking hazard.) Needless to say, when Jemmy briefly disappears, Bree nearly loses her mind. The subsequent scene with Marsali sitting at the table with Bree is one of my favorites from this season so far, as they share a drink in their “sacred silence.” Lauren Lyle has largely built this character with her portrayal, as Marsali wasn’t as present in the books, and she is stealing scenes left and right. Young Fergus would be proud. Marsali’s loving, blunt reminder encourages Bree to confront her fear. The first step she takes is to burn her drawings of Bonnet. Ominously, an exterior shot suggests the house is being watched. While the mystery watcher is most likely Bonnet or one of his men, there is at least one other person it could be.
Bree and Marsali’s other halves face more imminent danger when their arrival at Brownsville is met with hostility. Roger, Fergus, and the rest of the militia quickly find out why. The entire Brown family tree is mad at Isaiah Morton, because he had a dalliance with Brown family member Alicia (Anna Burnett). Apparently, Alicia, in love with Isaiah, spilled the secret when her family tried to arrange her marriage with a tobacco trader. Roger intends to avoid blows and bloodshed, so he turns Isaiah over to the Browns’s custody and breaks out all the Fraser Ridge whiskey. Some of the Fraser Friends are less than impressed with Roger’s leadership. They straight up ditch the squad and head home. When Claire and Jamie roll into the thoroughly inebriated town, the latter gives Roger some very disappointed looks. Jamie arranges Isaiah's escape, because he can’t marry Alicia, due to already being in an arranged marriage of his own. The tragedy of it all!
Roger taking yet another blow to his self-confidence is expected at this point. If you aren’t using the #PoorRoger in your Outlander tweets, you will be. Claire has more success in Brownsville in finding someone to nurse precious Baby Beardsley. Even though everybody in town is piling on to shame Alicia for her premarital boinking, they are considerably kinder to Baby Beardsley. One lovely couple, Lucinda and Hiram, offer to adopt her with pure love in their eyes. They are too good for Brownsville. Jamie does ask Claire if she wants to adopt the baby girl, which would be a mood killer for any other couple flirting and kissing in the dark woods, but she is adamant that their life is perfect the way it is. Also there’s the issue of “our obituary,” a line that Caitriona Balfe makes sound positively romantically charming.
It’s a good thing Jamie and Claire get that cuddle time in the woods, because Dad and Mom are going their separate ways. Keziah Beardsley (Paul Gorman) has badly infected tonsils, so Claire needs to get him back to Fraser’s Ridge for surgery immediately. Jamie was already planning to send Keziah and Josiah (also Paul Gorman) back after noting that they are probably just 14 (in CW years) and too young to be near potential combat. Jamie also assigns Roger to escort the twins and Claire back home, which Roger takes about as well as a guy constantly receiving blows to his self-confidence can. Claire cheers him up a little by saying that Jamie entrusted him with the “thing he loves most.” (Ugh Jamie and Claire will always be the greatest love story forever and ever, amen). Jamie also tidies up the Brownsville situation with some help from the more levelheaded Brown family leader Richard (Chris Larkin). The latter does agree to provide men to the militia, as long as the Brown men report to him, which Jamie agrees to as long as Richard understands he’ll be reporting to Jamie. Richard and his relation Lionel (Ned Dennehy) exchange looks with Frasers and Friends that are absolutely not foreshadowing anything messy happening down the line.
Before anyone can leave Brownsville, however, there’s one more piece of unfinished business. Jamie and Claire’s stroll through the woods is interrupted by Alicia’s suicide attempt. She was aiming for her heart and grazed her arm instead. They escort her right back to town, where Claire gives her all the tough, supportive love and advice she can muster for an unwed, pregnant young woman facing ostracism and bullying by her massive extended family in the 18th century. Claire urges Alicia to focus on her baby, reminds her that no man is worth dying for, all men are trash* (*except one obviously), and that Isaiah was married and was thus even more the worst. However, Isaiah did not leave town when Jamie told him to. He was just lurking around, waiting for nightfall so he could see Alicia again. It’s ridiculously delightful to watch Jamie and Claire try to keep straight, disapproving faces when Isaiah and Alicia melt into each other’s arms with all that lovey dovey crazy kid nonsense. Of course, Isaiah says all the right things: he hasn’t been with his wife for two years, they have no kids, they hate each other, and he will die for Alicia if he must. Roger walks in on this and just straight up tells Isaiah that the latter is a fool. Isaiah (who has clearly read the books) delivers a passionate retort, that if he’s a fool, so is Roger and so is Jamie, because would they let anything separate them from Bree or Claire? He thinks not. And also he loves Alicia “heart and soul.” Heart and soul are Jamie’s love language, so there’s no doubt that the two lovebirds will be getting an escape plan the following morning.
The joyful ending is only slightly undercut by Claire’s somber voiceover that what they are witnessing is “Adultery. Betrayal. Dishonour.” Everything has a consequence, and this happy interlude is fleeting. She and Jamie will now separate for who knows how long. The Browns aren’t going to forget what happened. Jamie has to now lead a tension-filled group to resume a hunt he doesn’t want to be on. And we know that Stephen Bonnet is out there, circling around Fraser’s Ridge. This could be considered another setup episode, but it’s an important one. What will happen when Roger faces a conflict he can’t resolve with a drink and a song? Will Claire be able to operate on Keziah and Josiah successfully? Can Bree overcome her fear to protect her son? What else will Jamie have to do to keep his people and family safe?

Other Thoughts:

Claire’s Dr. Rawlings list got published! It can’t be traced back to her…….or can it?

The dancing scene was utterly charming, the way Jamie pulled Claire into the circle to dance just for her. It’s a little thing, but the details like this make the characters real people.

A great deal of this episode seemed to take place at night.

Do we think it was Bonnet watching the house?

I do not remember from the books if Fanny Beardsley (Bronwyn James) reappears (and as always please use spoiler tags if talking about the books in the comments), but I can't pass up an opportunity to recommend another one of James's shows. Harlots on Hulu! Truly a priceless gem.

So many babies in this episode, toddler baby, newborn baby, baby on the way, but the baby I'm waiting for is Adso!

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