'Outlander' review: 'Do No Harm' was intense but nothing is more obscure than the Frasers' search for a place to call home
'Outlander' season 4's heartbreaking scene in episode 2 reveals the helplessness of a 20th century woman in an 18th century world
'Outlander' may have shocked fans with its season 4 premiere last week but this Sunday's episode left many speechless with 'Do No Harm,' already scaling the intensity of the fantastical, time-traveling drama that is now focused on defining or perhaps shattering the term; the American Dream.
Last week's conclusion of murder and raid set to a backdrop of Ray Charles' cover of 'America the Beautiful' playing, ironically, was already a hint Claire and Jamie Fraser would not have a smooth-sailing life in colonial America. Episode 2 makes it clear as to why the Frasers will forever be in conflict with the times; because Claire is obviously not from the era. Her 20th-century ideals are constantly in friction with the people of the 1760s, even if they are the kindest and warmest of sorts.
In this episode, we meet Jamie's aunt Jocasta Cameron as the Frasers and Ian Fraser Murray (Young Ian) along with his mongrel Rollo arrive at River Run, a profitable plantation owned by Jocasta. Instantly it is sensed that Jocasta has a heart of gold and loves Jamie.
Also, her kind-face immediately gives the impression that she is blind and rightly so, she is. For Jamie, she is the living reflection of his dead mother as he tells Claire that they have so many similarities, especially their voices. However, the only problem with the rich and well-to-do old lady is that she is a rich, well-to-do old lady in the 18th century who owns 153 slaves.
When Jamie is named heir to her thriving plantation at an elite welcome party, Claire makes it clear to Jamie and aunt Jocasta that she cannot be the owner of slaves as it goes against her morals of owning people as property. Considering another option Jamie has, that of Governor Tryon’s offer of land for loyalty, Claire, as a woman from the future knows the consequences will not turn out well. They have a big decision to make, one that is not detrimental.
As established with the first episode 'America the Beautiful,' where there wasn't anything beautiful in their new-found land of America, in the same way, there was only harm in the second episode titled 'Do No Harm.'
The most disturbing of it all being the apparent rescue of a slave named Rufus, a young black man who is tortured for attacking a white man. An iron hook is pegged to his stomach and he's suspended in the air for the most gruesome torture witnessed in season 4 so far. Jamie and Claire use their privilege to rescue the tortured man and Claire immediately tends to his wounds.
This may be an act of kindness, but at a time period where slavery was the way of life in a white-supremacist America, this was outrageous and as Jocasta's helper, Ulysses points out, there's no kindness to this act as the law of the land has it, that if the slave does not pay for his sins, then his family and the entire community ought to pay for the fellow "slaves" mistake.
After the young man healing and letting him rest in the comfort of Jocasta's mansion, Claire and Jamie are left with no options but to give Rufus back to the enraged crowd who gather at the plantation threatening to burn Jocasta's property down if Rufus is not returned to them to pay for his "sins". So, Claire decides to be the savior and to spare Rufus of a gruesome torture, gives him a poisoned drink to die in peace.
This heartbreaking scene is a reminder of why 'Outlander' is one of the most cherished shows. It plays with our hearts and emotions, it builds and drains our expectations and even if we choose to look away, we actually don't.
The next upcoming episode titled 'The False Bride,' is bound to explore the possibilities for a place to call home for the Frasers, but since the search is on and adversities rage over the couple, we doubt if they'll ever find a place they are comfortable in because the American revolution hasn't happened yet and Claire is obviously not in sync with the times.
This is beginning to feel like Claire's personal war with the past she's never lived before. How can a 20th-century woman accept the realities of the 18th century? A quest for home is much more than just a place; it's a search for a time.