MY Outlander Review – The Bakra

Bloodbaths, Old Acquaintances and Smouldering Looks
Contains SPOILERS.

This episode proves what a small world it was in the 18th century with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) bumping into not one but four old faces from home despite being on the other side of the world. The one old face they actually want to see – that of Young Ian (John Bell) – is sadly proving still somewhat elusive.

Talking of whom, Young Ian has now arrived in Jamaica (who hasn’t?) and ensconced in a dungeon-like dwelling where he is informed by an inmate that any prisoner taken to see the Bakra is never seen again. Needless to say, soon after being on the receiving end of this particular titbit of information, Young Ian is summoned to see you know who. And it turns out you know who is someone we know – Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek).

Yes, I know she was supposed to have been burnt at the stake way back in Season 1 but it turns out she managed to fake her own execution (impressive), ended up marrying a rich Englishman who has since died (presumably that’s husband number 3 she’s murdered) and is now living in Jamaica with a penchant for bathing in goat’s blood and sleeping with virgins. Which begs the question: what woman in her right mind would want to sleep with virgins? Answer: someone who is clearly pretty unstable. Though I’ll say this for the bloodbaths, they don’t half keep you looking young. Like Jamie and Claire, Geillis has not aged one jot despite the passage of 20 years. If anything, she looks younger than her 20-something younger self in Season 1. In fact, she looked so young, I wasn’t sure at first if it was the same actor. She also seems to have gone blond but that’s by the by.

Our first glimpse of Geillis aka Mrs Abernathy is of her exiting naked out of the said bloodbath and it’s quite an entrance. Ian, being 15, can’t seem to make up his mind whether to be scared or horny. (He’s a 15 year old boy so he is, of course, both). And thanks to some truth serum disguised as a cup of tea (how British is that?), Ian informs her that the missing sapphire from the box of treasure was in most probability purloined by his uncle, Jamie Fraser.

It turns out that all three sapphires are wanted by Geillis as they are needed for a seer – enter Margaret Campbell (Alison Pargeter) and her brother Archie (Mark Hadfield) – to prophesy when the new Scottish king will rise. (Geillis is seriously in danger of giving Scottish nationalism a bad name).

As for Jamie and Claire, they meet up with Jared’s manager in Jamaica, Mr MacIver (James McAnerney) who informs them that the Bruja has been and gone. Unable to provide them with information about the Bruja’s human cargo, Claire and Jamie head for the slave market. Jamie does learn one piece of useful information there: the Bruja’s slaves were bought by the new governor who, as luck would have it, is holding a ball that very night, to which MacIver can furnish them with an invite.

As a 20th century woman, Claire is ill at ease at the slave market and no wonder. It’s not a pretty sight with the slaves dismissed as savages (old oppressors’ trick – disparage the victim to justify your own immoral behaviour), locked up, shackled and branded. She eventually flips when to prove the virility of one particular slave, the auctioneer flourishes the slave’s manhood and tries to get him hard in front of the gawping crowd. Claire ends up whacking said auctioneer with her parasol (go girl) and all hell breaks loose with Claire begging Jamie to do something to help the slave. Needless to say, Jamie does – by buying him. Neither Jamie nor Claire feel comfortable with being a slave owner and Jamie promises to set him free once it’s safe for them to do so.

Moreover, Jamie realises that the slave, Temeraire (Thapelo Sebogodi), might be able to do them a favour given that it is more likely that the Bruja slaves will talk to him rather than to Jamie about Ian’s possible whereabouts.

So despite the fact that he has a warrant hanging over him, Jamie turns up to the ball with the Fraser gang including Mr Willoughby (Gary Young). Claire and Jamie then share a moment where Jamie gives Claire one of his smouldering looks (a Heughan speciality) whereupon presumably many a female viewer wishes they could do a bit of time-travel themselves and change places with Balfe. Balfe’s Claire looks as if she’s enjoying the smouldering look, as any hot-blooded woman would, but looks less impressed when she sees the new governor, who happens to be none other than Lord John Grey (David Berry) – I told you it was a small world – sporting the same smouldering look but this time in Jamie’s direction. By contrast, the look Grey gives Claire is definitely a lot less smouldering – more a cross between disbelief veering into probable disappointment.

As a doting father, Jamie’s first questions when the three of them are alone together centre on Willie and we get a glimpse of the pain that Jamie carries around with him but rarely ever shows. Claire, who knows Jamie better than anyone, sees it just as she sees that Grey’s feelings for Jamie are more than platonic. She’s obviously not sure what’s happened between them but she clearly suspects Jamie hasn’t told her everything about his friendship with Grey. And it’s never a good sign when Jamie hides something from her.

Her suspicions are exacerbated when Jamie notes with some emotion that Grey is wearing the sapphire that he gave Grey at Ardsmuir which Grey wears, he says, “to remember our friendship”. It’s clear their friendship is a deep one: Grey can hardly contain his obvious desire for Jamie and Jamie is showing a side of his emotions he generally reserves for Claire. No wonder she’s feeling ill at ease.

Later on, Claire and Grey have a tête-à-tête and the jewel thing is definitely still bugging Claire. Then again, Jamie’s only given her some pearls and a lump of coral, so no wonder she’s miffed. Grey, ever the gentleman, plays down Jamie’s gesture. Claire, decidedly insecure at this point, having discovered yet another side of Jamie’s past she doesn’t fully know about, makes it clear that she is here to stay, and Grey beats a dignified retreat, telling her “it certainly is a pleasure to finally meet the love that was his every heartbeat”.  You have to hand it to Grey. He is always the perfect gent.

Then who should Claire spot but Geillis in such an awful wig I can only presume Verbeek must have majorly pissed off someone in wardrobe. Geillis fills Claire in on her miraculous escape from being excuted while regaling her on sexual politics. As this is a woman who kills off husbands, sleeps with virgins and then murders them, I’m personally a bit sceptical about her take on things. She also pretends to be shocked at the news of Claire and Jamie’s enslaved nephew and promises to help. Claire, who is terrible at hiding what she really thinks, quite rightly seems to have her doubts about her old friend.

Meanwhile Mr Willoughby seems to have developed a soft spot for the put upon Margaret Campbell. She, I suspect, is just relieved to be in a conversation for once where she is not being bullied by her brother.

As for Jamie and Grey, they seem to be having a far more enjoyable time renewing their friendship until Claire and Geillis turn up, the latter acting incredibly weird (even by her standards) when she spots the sapphire that Grey is wearing. Not one to waste time Geillis engineers a spot of fortune-telling with Grey as an unwilling participant and ensures he hands over the sapphire he’s wearing so that Margaret has all three and can finally make her prophecy. Said prophecy seems to suggest that a new king will rise in Scotland at the death of a child that is 200 years old. Does this mean some more time-travelling on Geillis’s part, as presumably that is the only way tha such a prophecy makes sense? If so, then someone hasn’t got long to live in this world or in the one 200 years later for that matter.

Then things get even more complicated when Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett) arrives. The Fraser clan make a quick escape but not before Termaire informs Jamie and Claire that Ian is most likely at Mrs Abernathy’s. Thus Claire knows Geillis has been lying to her.  Despite the fact he has Leonard after him, Jamie still finds time to keep his word to Termaire and drops him off, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, so he can make good his escape to freedom.

This is all very noble but unfortunately it allows Leonard time to catch up with Jamie and Claire, and Jamie is arrested, but as usual his thoughts are for someone else, as he tells Claire to go and find young Ian.

So, all in all, it was another great episode. Yes I know there are coincidences galore but hey, it’s a work of fiction and even in real life these things can happen. Once on a week’s holiday in New York, I walked out of a toilet at a concert and bumped into my former best friend from school who I too hadn’t seen for around twenty years.

And coincidences aside, the finale is shaping up to be a right belter. I hope to goodness Geillis gets her comeuppance; Jamie and Claire rescue Ian; and our intrepid lovers finally get some downtime. Well done to Heughan and Berry in the smouldering looks category; well done to whoever thought up the bloodbath entrance for Geillis; and well done to Gary Young who invests the character of Mr Willoughby with such a hell of a lot of dignity.

Bring on the finale, but please wardrobe, no more wigs!

Special thanks to @SarSketches for her illustration accompanying this post.

For further Outlander articles and posts, check out the following links or you can always listen to mine & Jen Brister’s podcasts on the subject!

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