After last week’s side trip to the Beardsley house of horrors, this week’s Outlander “The Company We Keep” puts the militia back on track, while sharing a romantic tale that allows Claire, Jamie, and Roger to reflect on their own choices.
Continuing on with his task, Roger marches the militia into Brownsville, only to be met with a shootout like something out of a Western. The Browns (who, as you might guess, live in Brownsville) want one of the militiamen, Isaiah Morton for dishonoring their daughter, Alicia. She is still very much in love with Isaiah and runs out to him, but her mother pulls her quickly inside. Roger decides the best way to handle the conflict is to hand Morton over and pass out some Fraser whisky. Yes, because, free alcohol always quells mob violence.
Back on the Ridge, Bree is holding down the fort. She’s just returned from a shopping trip to town and is perturbed to find a shiny coin in her basket (the same coin we saw some familiar, dangerous hands playing with in the final moments of the opening credits). Bree is even more freaked out when Mrs. Bug tells her that an Irish man ruffled Jemmy’s hair, gave him the coin, and wanted to know if the boy took after his mother or his father. Bree immediately decides to move everyone into the big house for safety, fearing Bonnet will come there.
Roger is trying to keep the peace in Brownsville, passing out whisky and informing the Browns of his obligation to provide men. But all they want is a shot at Morton. It turns out they’d arranged a marriage for Alicia with Elijah Ford, but the match fell through when Alicia revealed she was in love with (and had slept with) Morton. Alicia's father Lionel warned Morton he’d kill him if he came back, so now, they’re not going to let Morton continue with the militia.
Claire and Jamie are still trying to make their way back to the militia, also while tending for Fanny’s baby, who is just barely surviving on goat’s milk. Jamie is a little bit in love with the sight of Claire holding a newborn child, since he never got to see her with Bree.
Things are going from bad to worse in Brownsville, as Fergus reveals to Roger that some men have deserted the militia because of his decision to hand Morton over. Which, like, fair. Claire and Jamie ride in to find a bit of a party atmosphere with Roger singing (if you’re wondering why he’s singing so much this season, well all I can say is that all of us who have read the books can tell you, you won’t like the answer – suffice it to say, you should enjoy it while it lasts).
They give the Beardsleys the good news that they’ve secured their papers. Josiah wants to continue with the militia, but Jamie insists he’s too young and that they should go back to the Ridge and provide for all there by hunting.
Claire finds the women of the Brown family, and Lucinda, who recently gave birth, happily volunteers to feed the baby with her own milk. While she gets settled, Jamie questions Roger about the situation and is infuriated to find Morton tied up, offered as a prisoner to the Browns. Roger is proud of keeping the peace and avoiding confrontation, but Jamie is furious that Roger betrayed the trust of his men in such a way. Roger has abused his title of captain by dishonoring the loyalty his men promised him.
Jamie’s solution is to have Morton marry Alicia, but there’s one minor problem – Morton is already married. He loves Alicia, but he has a wife from an arranged marriage. Roger thinks Jamie should be more forgiving since love makes fools of them all – and all of the men in the room know the truth of that. But Jamie’s solution is for Morton to hightail it out of town. He’ll help him escape, and Morton will just have to live with never seeing Alicia again.
Back with the women folk (lol), Claire is explaining the strange tale of the Beardsleys. While chatting, she discovers a broadsheet printed with advice from Dr. Rawlings, aka the medical suggestions she wrote up for the settlers on the Ridge.
While Roger sings again (enjoy it, I promise), Claire goes to Jamie with the pamphlet, explaining that she is Dr. Rawlings. She never meant for this to go further than the Ridge though. Jamie has an idea and asks Fergus if the militia advertisement he sent to the printer had any writing on the back of it. Fergus says yes, and so the printer must've decided to run with the free medical advice he found there. Claire worries it might get them into trouble, but Jamie dismisses it for now.
The men of Brownsville are angry to discover that Morton is gone, pushing things to a head and a potential violent stand-off between the militia and the townspeople. Richard Brown rides into town, halting the violence, revealing he could not persuade Elijah Ford to change his mind and marry Alicia. Jamie lays down the law, saying any harm to Morton could be perceived as violence against the militia, which would leave him no choice to see them all as traitors to the crown. The argument works, and the men of Brownsville even resolve to join the militia, answering to Richard.
On the Ridge, Bree tends the fire, while the children play. She goes outside to fetch firewood, and when she returns is terror-stricken to discover Jemmy is missing. Already jumpy, she’s now almost hysterical, calling out for Jemmy. Marsali and Mrs. Bug try to reassure her, and he is fine, playing right outside the door.
In Brownsville, Roger takes down the names of the new men, all with the last name Brown. They make a bed up for Claire upstairs, and Mrs. Brown makes an offer to keep Fanny’s baby. She reveals that Lucinda’s baby was born too early, and they lost her. While Alicia helps Claire make the bed, she confesses the depth of her love for Isaiah. But Claire has to give her the sad news that Morton isn’t worth leaving her family for since he’s already married. This makes Alicia burst into tears because to make matters worse, she’s pregnant with Morton’s child.
Marsali tries to ply Bree with some liquor, probing her about her demons and why she’s so jumpy. So Marsali tells a tale of how she killed her father. He beat her and her siblings and mother, and every night Marsali would pray for him to stop or die. When he was arrested as a Jacobite, he ended up dying in prison – so, by praying for his death she murdered him. Bree immediately assures Marsali she wasn’t responsible for her father’s death, but it turns out Marsali was playing her all along. She just wanted to demonstrate that thinking about something doesn’t make it true, a.k.a. Bree shouldn’t worry so much. Later, Bree goes through her drawings and burns all the ones she’s made of Bonnet.
The militiamen are setting up camp when Claire notices Keziah is feverish. She looks in his throat and realizes his tonsils are as infected as his brother’s. Claire explains to Jamie that Kezzy’s fever is very high, and he needs surgery soon – but she needs penicillin. So Jamie urges her to return to the Ridge to ensure the boys don’t have to suffer any longer. Then, she can return to Jamie and his men. Jamie orders Roger to escort Claire and the Beardsleys home, which Roger sees as a vote of no confidence. But Claire astutely reminds him that Jamie has just entrusted Roger with the thing he loves most in the world.
The party atmosphere continues in Brownsville – I guess all that whisky really works wonders. Lucinda once again offers to Claire to keep the Beardsley babe. Claire watches Jamie dance a Scottish jig before the two drunkenly wander in the woods. Jamie makes a heartbreaking suggestion that they keep the baby, since it will be the last chance for them to raise a baby together. But Claire tells him of Lucinda’s offer and that she thinks Lucinda needs the baby more than anyone else. Not to mention, the deed to the Beardsley house could be a potential home for Alicia.
Jamie is a bit forlorn at losing this chance to have another child. Claire admits she loves him even more for even entertaining the idea, but that she loves their life together. She regrets that they were never parents together, but that regret isn’t reason enough to do something. Not to mention, the very fertile Fergus and Marsali will probably keep the Ridge populated. A gun shot interrupts their conversation.
They find Alicia Brown in the woods, attempting to kill herself after already grazing her arm with a bullet. Claire brings her back and tends her wounds, trying to convince her that nothing is worth dying for. And surprise, Morton has come back into town. Jamie encounters him in the dark, dropping the news that Alicia is pregnant. It’s a surprise to Morton who then confesses he hasn’t shared a home with his wife in two years, and that Ally is the true love of his life.
So Jamie brings Morton to Alicia, and they kiss. He tells Alicia he loves only her, not his wife. Roger comes in, and Morton asks them all whether they’d give up the women they loved without a fight. Morton and Alicia admit it’s reckless, but they can’t live without each other. Sensing kindred spirits/hopeless romantics, Roger, Claire, and Jamie all agree to help Morton and Alicia.
Early the next morning, Jamie leads a horse with Alicia and Isaiah on it out of town, while Roger and Claire watch with baited breath. Roger lets the other horses loose to create a distraction, sending the men of Brownsville chasing after them the opposite direction from the star-crossed lovers. Claire watches as she monologues about adultery, betrayal, and dishonor – and the excuses we make to justify them. She talks of choices, both foolish and potentially life-saving ones, just hoping the good outweighs the harm that comes of your decisions. This Libra is shook.
What do you think Sassenachs? This episode was the best yet this season in my opinion, finally lacing through some of that deep love and feeling that makes Claire, Jamie, Roger, and Bree tick. This interlude is small in the book, but by involving the gang more deliberately in it, they were able to draw some beautiful relationship parallels.
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