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‘Outlander’ Review: Religion Binds the Past and Present Together

In “Perpetual Adoration,” Roger and Bree finally find some honesty while Claire and Jamie look to the future.

Outlander

“Outlander”

Starz/screenshot

Outlander” is always at its strongest when it explores the century-spanning love between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe), and the forces that keep them apart or bring them together. So even though the characters weren’t physically together until the very end of “Perpetual Adoration,” their love grounded the episode through the flash-forward scenes that urged Claire across the pond, and ultimate back to her husband. Add in the (somewhat miraculous) advent of penicillin, some religious musings, and characters coming to terms with their pasts, and it was a full installment with lots to dig into.

It all kicked off with Claire’s eureka moment in which she effectively “invented” penicillin so that she could perform tonsillectomies on the twins, a storyline that was mirrored in the future when Claire unexpectedly lost her Scottish patient, Graham Menzies (Stephen McCole), to a penicillin allergy before a routine surgery. In both instances Claire’s voiceovers brought religion and faith into question, tying themes of faith and the unknown together in each storyline. Although the flash-forward ultimately intended to showcase why Claire left Boston, it was also a red herring to trick viewers into thinking maybe one or both of the twins would have an equally devastating reaction. In the end they were both fine, which should boost Claire’s confidence in terms of playing with the scalpel in future episodes, but that means she will also continue to put everyone at Fraser’s Ridge in jeopardy should her practices be discovered by the wrong people.

Meanwhile Roger (Richard Rankin) and Bree (Sophie Skelton) finally got on the same page after Roger accidentally discovered Bonnet’s (Ed Speleers) jewel in his wife’s jewelry box, forcing Bree to open up and come clean about visiting her rapist in prison and admitting her pregnancy to him. Bree held onto the piece to ensure Jemmy’s passage home, while Roger held onto his emotions over the discovery that Bree had told Bonnet Jemmy was his son. Although there’s no way to confirm paternity one way or the other, it took Claire to once again talk some sense into Roger, and he finally calmed down enough to continue the conversation with Bree. As predicted, he wanted to flee as soon as possible upon learning that Bonnet is alive and probably stalking the family, but Bree isn’t there yet. That much was all over her face when Roger brought up the idea of leaving, and those feelings will surely lead to more arguments for the couple in the near future. As damaged as Bree may be feeling following the events with Bonnet, the threat of his existence isn’t enough for her to give up her newly reunited family just yet.

Speaking of Bree’s kin, the third storyline of the episode followed Jamie as he continued his quest to bring more men under the Red Coat arms, a journey that brought him back into the orbit of one Lt. Hamilton Knox (Michael D. Xavier). Those men have been seizing each other up since the moment they met, with Jamie trying to show his comrade the importance of bending morals and obligation in order to protect those you love, while Knox has been steadfast in his belief that men don’t change and the world is black-and-white.

Those conversations came to a head when Jamie learned Tryon (Tim Downie) had given a pardon to all Regulators except his godfather Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix). Knox had requested the prisoner list from Ardsmuir to help shake some men and smoke the leader out, not knowing Jamie’s name would come up. So when it did and Jamie confessed his true past, Knox was ready to call for his arrest despite Jamie’s previous attempts to help him. It culminated in that do-or-die scene in which Jamie strangled Knox and started a fire, but as fans know he’s not a character to take a life lightly. The implications of Knox’s death will surely follow him for weeks to come as he attempts to balance his past and present lives and wrap his head around what it all means.

Presently no one knows that Knox had requested the prisoner list or what was on it, but it can’t be long before someone else realizes that Murtagh is Jamie’s godfather. Eventually the men are going to come face-to-face and Jamie is going to have to make a decision, bringing their dramatic farewell from a few episodes ago to some sort of a conclusion. Until then it looks as though Jamie and Claire may get a small reprieve from war now that the entire family is back at Fraser’s Ridge. However, considering the pace of this show and the fact that Bonnet and Tryon are still out there lurking, it’s safe to say things won’t stay peaceful for long.

Grade: B+

“Outlander” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.

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