Sunday, January 20, 2019

Episode 412: "Providence" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 412 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Providence".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.


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The opening shot shows the Mohawk drinking what appears to be whisky from a gourd dipper. This is a fairly subtle reference to what Roger did near the end of the episode.

We pick up where we left off, with Roger running the gauntlet upon his arrival at the Mohawk village of Shadow Lake (aka Snaketown, in the book). A particularly hard blow takes him in the left arm, and he ends up flat on his back in the dirt.

One of the women fingers his beard and calls him "Ehhaokonsah," which we learn later means "Dogface".

Notice that one of the warriors is carrying an Iroquois war club, like the one shown here. Those of you who have read THE SCOTTISH PRISONER will recall that Major Siverly attacked Jamie with a similar weapon (SP chapter 20, "Stalking Horse"). Seeing details like that adds considerably to the authenticity and realism of this Mohawk village, and I'm glad they included it.

Meanwhile, back in Wilmington, Fergus tells the other Regulators that Murtagh has been arrested. "I won't let him hang," Fergus says firmly.

The scene switches abruptly to Brianna and Lord John at River Run. I liked this scene very much. It's taken almost verbatim from the book (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 62, "Three-Thirds of a Ghost").

I like Bree's gown in this scene very much. It's lovely.

"No--no, if I sit down, I won't be able to get back up." This line from the book doesn't quite work here, since Bree doesn't appear to be heavily pregnant. But I liked the way Bree visibly pulled herself together after hearing the news.

"I suppose it's too late to add what he did to me to that list [of Bonnet's crimes]?"
"It would only bring shame upon you, and be of no consequence."

I liked the way Bree drew in her breath on hearing "no consequence." But she doesn't lose her temper.

Lord John is very calm, confident that the threat has been eliminated, Bonnet will hang "next week" (ha! little does he know!), and justice will prevail. But he hasn't quite reckoned with Bree's Fraser stubbornness. She announces that she wants to see Bonnet.

Bree goes out onto the veranda (finally, a sunny day! <g>) and Lord John follows. I love watching the two of them match wits. Most of this is verbatim from the book, but I loved this added bit:

"Your father entrusted me with the task of looking after you. I'm not sure that includes taking afternoon tea with a murderer!"

In answer, Bree hands him the letter from Jamie that he brought her in last week's episode.

I'm so glad that they included this letter almost word-for-word from the book! The use of voiceover here was very effective.

Lord John agrees to help her, and then he asks to feel her belly. "My God," he says, just as in the book. "He's real." I'm glad they kept that bit. It's a sweet moment.

Meanwhile, in the Mohawk village, Roger is adjusting (with difficulty) to life as a slave. He's now wearing a sling on his left arm, which was apparently broken during the beating on his arrival. I love the level of detail in the village -- the longhouses, the costumes, all of the props that make it seem like a real place. Kudos to Jon Gary Steele and his team!

Roger is still making knots in his string, but he stops when he sees he's being watched. A Mohawk woman orders him to carry firewood to one of the longhouses. On his way there, he meets a young Mohawk woman named Johiehon (played by Sera-Lys McArthur) with a baby. She's wearing a crucifix, although Roger doesn't ask her about it, and she speaks to him in French -- the first Mohawk to speak kindly to him since his arrival. The woman gives him herbs for the pain of his broken arm. Roger asks her to help him escape, but she refuses.

The Mohawk warrior Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke) who brought Roger here warns Johiehon that Roger is dangerous. She speaks to Kaheroton with affection, and it's clear that they have some sort of relationship.

Back in Wilmington, Lord John and Brianna have come in a carriage to visit Stephen Bonnet in jail. Bree looks like she might be about to be sick. She tells Lord John she's just not "used to being this size", but that's not the real reason. She's clearly not at all looking forward to seeing Stephen Bonnet again.

"A baby is expected. Memories are not. They...simply come." I didn't like this line. Lord John is not noted for saying the obvious. But aside from that, I love the way Bree and Lord John relate to one another in this episode.

"You are impossible not to like," Bree tells him, and I laughed out loud at that. So true!

Back in the Mohawk village, Roger is still delivering firewood, breaking all sorts of unwritten rules of Mohawk etiquette in the process: pointing, speaking when another man is speaking, etc. He's an outlander here, just as Claire was when she first arrived at Castle Leoch, and I think the comparison is interesting.

Johiehon comes to Roger's defense, saying that he does not know their customs, but Kaheroton is angry and knocks Roger to the ground. The commotion attracts the attention of the Mohawk chief, who orders Kaheroton to put Roger in a separate hut reserved for captives.

As they make their way across the village, Kaheroton asks Roger how he came to be a captive.

"Did you break your word of honor?"
"My loyalties were to a woman."
"Then you should not smile upon Johiehon."

He has a point. Roger's weakness for young mothers with babies always gets him in trouble!

Roger is shoved into a large circular hut with walls made of brush. It's broad daylight, but Roger is so focused on his own situation that he fails to notice the presence of the other captive until he speaks.

I really enjoyed watching Yan Tual as Père Alexandre Ferigault. He does a wonderful job! Most of the dialogue in this scene comes from the book (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 54, "Captivity I").

The priest is holding a small Bible. That detail isn't in the book, but I like it.

Père Alexandre tells Roger that the Indians call him "Dogface", and that they are in the "province" of New York. He asks how Roger came to be here.

"I suppose you could say I walked here," Roger says, half-laughing, but with an expression that seems to say that he's laughing because it hurts too much to cry. Wonderful performance by Richard Rankin here, and throughout the whole episode! His face is so expressive.

Meanwhile, back at Fergus and Marsali's house in Wilmington, Fergus is trying to come up with a plan to rescue Murtagh. He's built what looks like a scale model of the jail, laid out on the table. Marsali asks what he's doing:

"Well, you know Germain likes to play with cups and spoons."
"Aye? Well, what's your excuse, seein' as how our bairn's in his crib?"

Cut to a brief shot of Germain, supposedly a toddler well over a year old at this point, who lies propped up in a bassinet, silently watching them, but neither moving nor making any sound, not even reacting at the sound of his name. As I said in my recap of Episode 411, this baby Germain is a prop, nothing more. They're making no effort whatsoever to treat him like an actual living, breathing toddler, and I find that VERY disappointing!

To Fergus's surprise, Marsali doesn't object to his plan to rescue Murtagh from jail.

"You're not angry with me?"
"Not unless you're not going to try." Good line.

Marsali wishes Claire were here. "She risked her life to save [Jamie's] when he was imprisoned at Wentworth."

This jerked me momentarily out of the story, thinking, "Wait a minute. How on earth does Marsali know that?!" Who would have told her? It's not the sort of thing that Jamie or Claire would have told her about, to say the least, and it happened before Jamie met Fergus, so I'm not even sure Fergus would have heard the story. So how does she know? Unless maybe she heard it from Murtagh, who was there at the time.

I liked Marsali's little "pep talk", and I liked even more Fergus's suggestion that the time has (finally!) come for them to move to Fraser's Ridge. Yay!! I hope this means we'll see them all reunited on the Ridge by the end of next week's episode, or at least at the beginning of Season 5.

Back in the Mohawk village, Père Alexandre tells Roger the story of how he fell in love with a Mohawk woman. The gist of the story is the same as it is in the book, with one exception:

"I was prepared to allow God to take me, until I felt a woman's hands upon me. Soft, cooling hands. She cared for me with the gentle touch of an angel." This isn't in the book, but I like it. It's a reasonable explanation for how he came to fall in love with her.

Père Alexandre tells Roger that he fathered a child with this Mohawk woman. But there's a problem:
"The difficulty was that I had always, as a priest, refused to baptize infants unless both parents were Christian and in a state of grace. This is necessary, you understand, if the child is to be raised in faith--for the Indians are inclined otherwise to view the sacrament of baptism as no more than one of their pagan rituals.”

Alexandre drew a deep breath.

“And of course I could not baptize this child. [....] not because of its mother--but because its father is not in a state of grace."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 56, "Confessions of the Flesh". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I have to admit that I have always been somewhat in awe of Père Alexandre: a flawed, fallible human being, to be sure, but also a man with such an unshakable faith in God that he will not make any exceptions to his faith, not even to save his own life.

"I cannot perform the sacrament of baptism."
"I doubt very much that the Mohawk are perturbed by the niceties of the church, Father."
"No, but you see, Roger, I am. I have broken faith with my God and my calling. I know that I am damned. I will not also damn this child with the false blessing of a fallen priest."

Wow. I like that VERY much! It's refreshing to see a character (any character) on TV these days with such a strong sense of morality. They did a wonderful job of portraying this whole tragic situation, while retaining the emotional power of the original.

Roger asks if Père Alexandre still loves Johiehon. As Roger listens to his (very poetic and beautiful) reply, you can see him thinking about Brianna.

"I have prayed that my love for her would abate, that I would stop seeing her face in my dreams, that I would stop feeling the touch of her hand, stop smelling the rainwater perfuming her hair, stop hearing the gentle lilt of her laugh floating on the wind. But my prayers have gone unanswered."

Suddenly a couple of Mohawk men burst into the hut. They strip the priest naked and drag him away. "Pray for me, Roger," Père Alexandre says, and then he is gone.

Alone in the hut, Roger starts looking for a means of escape, and he begins digging a hole in the dirt with a rock. As night falls, the Mohawk return, dumping the naked and bleeding form of Père Alexandre on the dirt floor.

This scene unfolds almost exactly as it did in the book. To his horror, Roger discovers they have cut off the priest's ear. Roger tends to him as best he can, and then he starts to pray.

"O Father of Mercies and God of all comfort, we humblee beseech thee to visit and relieve the sick servant for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy. Comfort him with a sense of thy goodness...."

This appears to be a version of the Ministration of the Sick from the Book of Common Prayer. I found it (the whole scene, in fact, but this prayer especially) very moving, as the first glimmerings we have seen in the show of Roger's own religious faith and his desire to help and comfort others. He must have heard this prayer, or some version of it, many times, growing up in the Reverend's house.

Afterward, they sit talking. Père Alexandre is visibly annoyed by Roger's casual blasphemy. Again he refuses to fake a baptism ceremony, even though doing so might save his life. "I will not mock the sacrament, even to save my own life."

"Do you know why I can say you're an idiot?" Roger asks. "Because I've been an idiot myself. And he proceeds to tell the priest the whole story (well, except for the bit about time-travel!) of what happened to him.

This part is not in the book, but I love Roger's whole speech. Richard Rankin does an amazing job in this scene.

"Instead of finding her, I found a man who...I now believe was her father...who beat me near unto death and sold me to the Mohawk."

So he did figure out that it was Jamie, after all.

"I found a way home. All I had to do was reach out and touch it." You can hear in his voice what a miracle that must have seemed to him.

"....and hesitated, like an idiot, because after all that, I still loved her." I knew this, of course, but it's good to hear him say it, for the record.

"There's a saying where I come from: Look out for number one. Well, from now on, that's me."

I don't like this, and in fact I don't believe it. Roger says this experience has changed him, and it most assuredly has, but it hasn't altered the core of his personality. We know that for a fact, because we've just witnessed that personality in action, caring for Père Alexandre with tenderness and compassion, speaking of Brianna with love. Naturally he's focused on self-preservation at the moment -- in the middle of a life-and-death struggle for survival -- but not (we hope) at the cost of his own humanity.

"Save yourself. Because if you don't, no one ever will." Wow, that's a bleak outlook on life if I ever heard one.

Roger tries to persuade Père Alexandre to help him dig an escape tunnel, but the priest is unmoved. Eventually Roger gives up talking and resumes his "Great Escape" routine. And after a moment, the other man joins him. They dig all night, and in the morning, all they have to show for it is a hole that "isna big enough for a cat," according to Roger.

Père Alexandre announces that he doesn't intend to escape with Roger. I like this scene, and the conflict between them, very much. Roger tries his best to persuade him, but Père Alexandre is adamant, willing to die for his beliefs. And when Kaheroton comes for him in the morning, he refuses to baptize the child, and he is taken away to be executed.

Meanwhile, back in Wilmington, Lord John and Brianna are about to enter the jail where Stephen Bonnet is being held.

"Well, your mind is made up. I couldn't help but notice that the rest of you seems rather apprehensive." Good line from Lord John. He agrees, reluctantly, to wait outside the cell while Bree goes in to talk to Bonnet.

Meanwhile, outside in the street, Marsali is driving the getaway wagon. <g> The Regulators are assembled and ready to make their move to free Murtagh.

The scene between Brianna and Bonnet is very close to the book (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 62, "Three-Thirds of a Ghost"), and I enjoyed it very much. Bree is outwardly calm, holding herself under tight control the whole time she's speaking with him.

Meanwhile, Fergus and the other Regulators approach the entrance to the jail. The guard tries to refuse them entry, and suddenly there are half a dozen pistols pointed at his face. "I do not think permission will be necessary," Fergus says drily.

In the cell, Bree opens her cloak to show Bonnet her baby bump. It might be my imagination, but somehow her belly looks much bigger in this scene than it did earlier in the episode.

"I have no choice but to live with what you've done to me. But you will be forgotten! My baby will never know your name, will never even know that you existed. While you rot in the ground, I will raise my child to be a good person, to be nothing like you."

Good addition! I like this very much, and Sophie's delivery of it was excellent.

They eliminated a lot of the action from the book at this point, but I'm glad they included the scene where Bonnet gives her a gemstone, "for [the baby's] maintenance," and tells her to "take care of him".

Things are very chaotic and confused when the Regulators break into the cells, but somehow in the confusion, Fergus and Lord John recognize one another. One of the Regulators grabs the keys from an unconscious guard and they manage to free Murtagh, who is startled to see Brianna.

As they're heading out of the cell block with Murtagh, we see the keys lying on the floor -- very conveniently, just beyond Bonnet's cell. That's extremely contrived, if you ask me, yet another case of the writers hitting the viewers over the head with the thought: Bonnet's going to escape!

After a brief argument over who is going to escort Brianna to River Run (Lord John wins that one), we learn that the Regulators have lit fuses around the building, preparing to blow up the jail as a diversion to cover their retreat as they rescue Murtagh. (In the book, of course, the purpose of the diversion is to cover Bonnet's retreat.) Bree insists that they take the unconscious guard with them.

The instant they leave, Bonnet is on his feet, straining to reach the keys.

The explosion is very vivid and dramatic, and I was impressed with Marsali's fearless wagon-driving in the midst of a very scary situation.

Suddenly we're back in the Mohawk village with Roger, who has managed to tunnel his way out of the hut. (I don't find this believable at all, but I'm trying to ignore that.) He frantically tries to hide, hearing the priest's screams as he is being tortured, and then takes off running through the woods. With no food, no water, no weapons, a broken arm, and no clear idea of where he's going. Yeah, that's going to work. <rolling eyes>

Meanwhile, back in Wilmington, the Redcoat leader has a brief conversation with Lord John and Brianna. Lord John tells him they don't know where Murtagh may have gone. (I'm betting on the Ridge, myself, but I could certainly be wrong.)

Back in the woods, Roger is still running, listening to Père Alexandre's screams. "Don't listen," he tells himself. "He chose his fate. He wanted this." But the more the priest screams, the more Roger wavers, calling himself an idiot, until finally he can't stand it anymore, and he heads back to the village.

He arrives in time to see Père Alexandre, tied to a stake with his feet in a pyre, screaming, and the entire village watching him slowly burn to death, including the woman with the baby. Roger is horrified, to say the least, and suddenly he sees the only possible thing he can do: he can end the priest's suffering right then and there. He takes off running toward the kegs of whisky, which no one is watching. Grabbing one of the kegs, he hurls it with all his strength (one-handed!) at the pyre, causing a huge burst of flame as the alcohol catches fire.

I really didn't see that coming at all, but I liked it! A very vivid, dramatic, and emotionally intense scene, that becomes even more so when the priest's lover, Johiehon, puts down her baby and, with tears in her eyes, walks into the flames and embraces him -- just as described in the book.
“She didna look to left or right, but walked straight into the fire.”

“What?” Roger’s throat closed with shock, the exclamation emerging in a strangled croak.

The flames had embraced the girl in moments. A head taller than the folk near him, Jamie had seen everything clearly.

“Her clothes caught, and then her hair. By the time she reached him, she was burning like a torch.” Still, he had seen the dark silhouette of her arms, raised to embrace the empty body of the priest. Within moments, it was no longer possible to distinguish man or woman; there was only the one figure, black amid the towering flames.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 60, "Trial By Fire". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Roger's look of bug-eyed astonishment and horror mirrors exactly the way I felt, watching this. I tend to forget about this scene, since we did not get to witness it firsthand in the book, but they did an amazing job of bringing it to life. Unforgettable, tragic, and heartbreaking.

And that final shot of Kaheroton cradling the baby girl, with such an expression of grief in his eyes. Wow. What a powerful, emotionally intense scene to end on.
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of the season finale, Episode 413.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just re-watched and thought it to be a great episode. The ending with the music and the dramatic ending was very well done. Something I realized the second time around was the scene in the jail, after Brianna talks to Bonnet and they open the cell door for Murtaugh. This is the first time Fergus and Brianna are in the same scene but don't know who each other are. I just thought it was funny and worth pointing out.

Joanna said...

Great recap as always! Did you happen to catch what Roger said at the very end of the episode? I couldn't make it out.

JANET A EWASKIEWICZ said...

Such a powerful episode. The acting, especially by Rik Rankin, was superb. I loved this review. Despite the condensing and trimming of the story, it "felt right" to me. Two comments about what you said: I think Pere Ferigault was holding a priest's breviary, or book of prayers. The volume was too small to be an entire Bible, although it could be a New Testament, too. As for how Marsali knew about Jamie's rescue by Claire and the others at Wentworth, Fergus probably heard the story in Paris (I can see Murtagh telling him about it after Black Jack Randall attacked Fergus, to help him see if Milord could get over it, so could Fergus). He would likely pass on the story to Marsali at some point in their marriage. And about the baby--I'm guessing the budget doesn't allow for a toddler guest star at this stage of the season. As long as we see a Real Boy Germain next season, I'll be content. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

Joanna: he said something along the lines, “alright lads, take me back to the idiot hut”.

Susan said...

This episode had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I liked Anonymous' point about Fergus and Brianna in the same scene and not realizing who the other was, hadn't thought of it! Also Janet's point about how Marsali knew about Claire rescuing Jaime from Wentworth-it is entirely plausible. Such a strong episode. Rick Rankin was brilliant , but must mention Yan Taul, Braeden Clarke, and Sera-Lys-McArthur, their performances were outstanding as well! Bear's score for the ending was just beautiful!! I believe Roger said "That's it lads, take me back to the idiot hut". Thank you, Karen for a great review of a great episode!

Unknown said...

I find it difficult to understand why the priest would allow his own son to be sentenced to limbo as a non baptized being. His beliefs seem convenient for the story. And perhaps this was before the Church recognized emergency baptism
Actually Roger could have baptized the baby or any other Convert. The fire torture and the last scene were shocking to say the least. Hate that next week is the finale for this season. Will need to read the books .

Laurie said...

Thanks, Karen, I have been enjoying your recaps. As a book reader I pretty much agree with your observations. I'm disappointed when the show veers off from the book story line, but then I remember they've given us such rich and beautiful life to our beloved characters. The mention of Fergus and Brianna meeting for the first time in the jail reminded me of a question I had from the episode "Wilmington." Why didn't Jamie and Claire introduce Brianna to Fergus and Marsali when she first arrived? And then, of course, in the book, Claire wasn't even in Wilmington..... So sad to be nearing the last episode - the season sure went way too quickly!

Maurizio Garbolino said...

I liked the episode - just one big disappointement:
They have cut the Whole Fire episode with Brianna Saving Lord John with the Help of Stephen Bonnet
IN the economy of the Whole story this is A Great Great Pity!!!!

marykd said...

The music at the end is Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings written in 1936 as a movement in a string quartet. He later used it as the setting for his Agnus Dei (Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us (2x), Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, Grant us peace.) Both the music and the text add immeasurably to the scene.

Karen Charbonneau said...

The music at the end was Elgar's Requiem, which was used in Elephant Man, Platoon, and many other films. Having read the book only once, everything seemed fresh to me. Good recap, Karen. I thought Roger had thrown a keg of black powder but, of course, it was whiskey. Wonder how many others had black powder imprinted in their minds because of the Wilmington scene.

Anonymous said...

Karen - thank you for your wonderful recaps. Your knowledge of the books and how you compare them to the show is amazing! I have read the books twice but don’t have the memory that you do! So, I wait for your recaps to confirm where the show veered off the path of the book. I thought this episode was very powerful. Richard Rankin was amazing and I thought the scenes between Brianna and LJG were very good. I have been very impressed by Sophie’s acting this season. I have to admit I was not fan of hers initially, but she has really grown into this role. Looking forward to the finale!

Lisa

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen , great episode with great acting and great writing and one of the best episodes of the seaso , in general all of season 4 has been done very well and most of the writers have stuck to the book and the changes for tv have been done for all fans , and so can't wait for the Big Final on Sunday . am so glad to be a Superfan of such a brilliant show and book series . please post more soon. Happy Week. Sincerely .