Outlander 402 Do No Harm Recap
Outlander Recap. We open with Jamie and Claire still on the riverboat. Jamie sits alone in the bow, looking pensive, as Claire approaches him. He feels responsible for their current plight, despondent over Lesley’s fate, a shallow grave on the riverbank. Jamie must bear the guilt of knowing he allowed Stephen Bonnet to escape the noose. Claire tries to ease his mind.
The captain announces they have arrived at River Run… a magnificent estate looms as Jamie reflects how, once a man of means, he is now penniless. Claire tells him it’s not the first time, he had nothing when they married. Jocasta is family whom they, luckily, can turn to in their time of need.
Jamie, Claire and Young Ian disembark from the riverboat and they are greeted by Jocasta, accompanied by an imposing man in the livery of a servant. She welcomes Jamie warmly, holding out both hands to him. Jamie is tearful with a catch in his voice, as we realise Jocasta looks like Ellen, Jamie’s mother. They speak of Jamie’s mother. Jamie introduces Claire and Jocasta asks Claire to call her Auntie… We can tell Jocasta’s eyes aren’t focused, and her blindness is revealed when Young Ian presents her with a bouquet of “weeds” and her manservant needs to step in to alert her to the gift. She tells them she has been blind for many years and makes light of her situation saying her hearing is acute and she has the ability to gauge truth from lies! She turns, stepping between Claire and Jamie, walking them up the path to River Run, promising to show them River Run style hospitality. Jocasta asks Ulysses, by name, to lead the way to the parlour, as the camera cuts to an aerial view of an imposing white mansion with small buildings off to the rear. People are working the land near the house. Slaves…
Inside the parlour at River Run Jamie is explaining to Jocasta about their misadventures with Stephen Bonnet. Jocasta welcomes them to stay for as long as they need. With a canniness worthy of any MacKenzie Jocasta quickly recognises Jamie as a man of strength, with a head for business (thank you for spreading the word Jared!). Jocasta plans to hold a gathering to celebrate their arrival at River Run. We quickly see that Claire is not the only one we can watch thinking!
A door squeaks open and everyone is assailed by a foul stench! Young Ian and Rollo have had a run in with a skunk. A creature hitherto unknown to Young Ian, but now never forgotten I’m sure! Fortunately Jocasta knows just the person with the knowledge to rid Rollo of the malodorous affliction… Ulysses is sent to find John Quincy Myers, but only after he shows Jamie and Claire to their bedroom.
While going upstairs to their bedchamber Jamie remarks to Claire on Jocasta’s likeness to his mother. Inside their bedchamber Ulysses ensures their needs are met, and Claire earns a look of disapproval from him and the housemaids look decidedly uncomfortable when she asks them to call her Claire. An instant compromise is made and Claire says “Mistress Claire”. Once alone with Jamie, Claire looks out the window (maybe she is thinking about her best friend in medical school), Jamie notes she hasn’t had much to say. Distressed, Claire looks at the slaves in the field… one day it will be different Jamie declares.
Rollo and Ian are met by mountain man, John Quincy Myers, who with the aid of small boy, bathe Rollo in a vinegar bath to remove the foul odour of the skunk. Ian is fascinated by Myers rampant beard and stories of the Indians. They banter about beards! Ian notes the parallels between Highlanders and Indians. Myers tells him to keep those kinds of thoughts to himself.
We see an overview of a peaceful river and the camera scans the field with the slaves working the land overseen by an unfriendly looking man.
Ulysses, and Jamie hand in hand with Jocasta, followed by Claire walk onto the porch of River Run. The conversation turns to the output of the plantation… in addition to tobacco, indigo, cotton and pine. With the forests providing 200 barrels of turpentine monthly, however the main source of revenue is the sawmill. Answering Jamie’s question Jocasta says River Run has 152 slaves. She proudly states she has kept families together and not only treats them with benevolence, there are some she considers to be friends. Claire cannot hold back any longer, arms crossed, she asks if they feel the same way, since they have no choice. While Jocasta cannot see Claire she has no doubt from the tone of Claire’s voice that she disapproves and makes an attempt to justify owning slaves. Claire excuses herself to meet Phaedre in the garden to replenish her herbs before she says something she may regret.
Moments later Ulysses announces that Lieutenant Wolff is waiting in the parlour for them. The Lieutenant randomly offers a suggestion on planting wheat along the river, presumably thinking he’s doing Jocasta a favour. However, Jamie who knows a bit about dirt says a wheat crop would be doomed to failure due to the moisture. Rice would be better! The Lieutenant excuses himself saying he will return to discuss contracts later. Jocasta tells Jamie the Lieutenant will not be accustomed to be spoken to in that manner, and she gives a hint of the issues she has faced being a woman alone, running River Run, foreshadowing events to come.
Having earlier promised a celebratory welcome to River Run, we find Jocasta sitting as Claire is being fitted for a gown, Phaedre pinning the garment to be altered. Jocasta wonders about the colour of Claire’s hair, saying she sounds “fair”. Claire looks slightly nonplussed, but says nothing except to say her hair is dark brown. Phaedre describes Claire to Jocasta in glowing terms. In a wee bit of banter with Phaedre, Jocasta mentions some men might be reluctant to be interested in a woman so tall. It is obvious that the plantation owner and her slave have a good relationship.
Jocasta is fishing for compliments on River Run… Claire is not forthcoming with praise and Claire’s tone of voice reveals her disapproval to Jocasta. Claire is honest and tells Jocasta she does not agree with keeping people as property. Jocasta asks Claire if she is a Quaker… thinking quickly she says not, but she does share their beliefs. Jocasta tells Claire Jenny was right about her… that she is a peculiar lass! Jocasta observes that Claire is “a lively one”, so no wonder Jamie was drawn to her. Jocasta, perhaps somewhat begrudgingly, acknowledges Claire as having “the fire of a MacKenzie”.
A grand party is held, with the creme de la creme of Cross Creek society, to meet Jamie and Claire. There is talk of politics and taxes, and Ian looks indignant when his views on the Indians are dismissed as naivety.
Jocasta prepares to make an announcement to the gathering… ting, ting, ting on her glass summons their attention. Celebratory glasses of wine are being distributed and the guests press closer to her. Lieutenant Wolff notes the “good vintage” has been brought out, heralding good news indeed! Jocasta promptly names Jamie as heir to River Run, and that he is henceforth to be its master. This pronouncement takes James totally by surprise. Claire looks aghast! The somewhat surprised crowd politely applauds, and some reluctantly toast the announcement.
Later in their bedchamber, Jamie and Claire, are upset and distressed by Jocasta’s calculated announcement. Claire declares she cannot own slaves, Jamie agrees, they cannot stay at River Run.
Next day, we find Jocasta, Farquard Campbell and Jamie discussing Jocasta’s announcement. Jamie says he wishes to free the plantations slaves and pay them a fair wage. Farquard Campbell, invited by Jocasta to share his wisdom, proceeds to detail that is almost impossible to achieve, both financially and legally. Not only are there legal and financial hurdles, such actions would threaten a way of life. Mr Campbell says lives would be at risk, not least Jamie’s, there have been others with thoughts like Jamie’s, however, they disappeared… an indirect threat.
Jamie leaves the room, and heads out to see Claire who is replenishing her medical box, sharing what he has just learned. There is another way… to reconsider Governor Tryon’s offer, to live on their own terms. Claire points out the obvious pitfall, the coming war. Before they can continue their conversation Jocasta, accompanied by Mr Campbell and Ulysses come to asks Jamie to be her representative “in a matter of bloodshed”. Overseer Byrnes has been attacked by one of the slaves, the man’s ear has been cut off. Claire says her services will be needed, she may be able to reattach the ear. Jocasta asked Phaedre to bring Jamie a pistol, this is promptly forthcoming. Led by Mr Campbell, Jamie and Claire head off in the wagon.
Upon arrival in a glade of trees Mr Campbell introduces Jamie to MacNeill as Mistress Cameron’s representative. Claire announces she is a healer and asks to be taken to the injured man. MacNeill tells Campbell that Rufus is responsible. Campbell says that Jamie will be aiding him overseeing Rufus’s execution. Naturally Claire and Jamie are appalled. They are informed the law of bloodshed demands it, any slave guilty of assault of a white man woman or child shall be put to death. We are faced with the sight of a man being hauled up a tree, a hook embedded in his abdomen. White workers hold back the other slaves as the man cries out in pain.
Claire doesn’t see a slave, she sees a human being in need as she and Jamie rush to help him. Jamie orders the man be let down at once, his orders are immediately contradicted by Overseer Byrnes who, bloodied stock wrapped around his head, orders the men to keep raising Rufus as he wields an axe towards Jamie. Jamie steps up, pistols raised, ordering them to let Rufus down. The men reluctantly lower Rufus, as ordered, despite Byrnes’ complaint.
Rufus now lays on the ground, the horror of his injury is apparent. Byrnes has broken the law, taking it upon himself to execute Rufus and Campbell tells him so. Claire tells Jamie they must take Rufus back to the house to treat him.
Back at the house Rufus is placed upon the dining table, much to the shock of the house slaves. Claire goes into full emergency mode, directing the house slaves to clear the table and to find Ian to bring Claire’s medical box. Claire and Jamie try to comfort Rufus while rushed preparations are made. Ian finds the laudanum, as requested by Claire, to help ease Rufus’s pain. Mary, one of the house slaves, looks ready to faint as Claire undertakes the grisly task of removing the hook. Jamie asks Phaedre to take Mary away.
Jocasta is shocked to find Claire trying to heal Rufus. While agreeing that Byrnes will have to pay for his savagery, Rufus will still, by law, be hung.
Lieutenant Wolff and Farquard Campbell arrive to speak with Jocasta and Jamie. Jocasta coolly declares she will see them in the parlour. Claire continues to work on Rufus, with Ian’s assistance. Wolff and Campbell are backed by a Redcoat soldier. Lieutenant Wolff lays out the law of the land, pointing out Jamie’s error of judgement and threatening to imprison Claire as well as Jamie. Jocasta asks for the opportunity to put the matter right.
Claire has done all she can for her patient, he stirs and gasps in pain. Claire gives him water. Rufus asks where he is, the main house, he knows he should not be there and asks Claire why she has healed him. Claire reassures him in her own inimitable style! Rufus has not heard a woman speak that way before… Claire asks if there is anyone he wants to see and Rufus tells of being taken from his home in Africa, of his sister. Ian looks on distressed, if anyone can understand being forcefully kidnapped, he can. Rufus drifts back into unconsciousness, and Claire asks Ian to arrange for Rufus to be taken to her bedroom so he can be more comfortable.
Claire leaves the dining room, taking a large bowl of waste from the surgery with her. She finds Ulysses waiting in the hallway having been asked by Jocasta to keep on eye on things. He warns Claire that things will be much worse for Rufus when the overseers come. It would have been better for everyone had Rufus died on the hook. We see glimpses of Wolff and his men standing outside. Jamie goes to Claire, sitting at Rufus’s side, and tells her they have until midnight to turn Rufus over to be executed. Jamie explains to Claire the untenable situation, there is no way out for Rufus, even allowing him to escape would bring harm to other slaves. The horror of the situation finally dawns on Claire, she and Jamie face a tragic dilemma. No crime by a slave can ever go unpunished.
Loud voices are heard outside, Claire and Jamie go to the window and see a mob of angry overseers, with fiery torches, weapons and a noose rushing towards River Run. Claire knows they will tear her patient apart. Jamie leaves the room to find Jocasta and Ulysses in the hallway, it is nearly midnight and Jocasta tells Jamie they will burn down River Run if justice isn’t served. We hear banging on the front door… and raised voices demanding the slave is turned over to them. A rock is thrown through a window, the mob is becoming uncontrollable.
Bravely Jocasta goes down to face them and Jamie returns to Claire in the bedroom. Jamie says he knows Claire has taken an oath to do no harm, but perhaps she can help Rufus as she helped Colum. Claire is agonised. Jamie asks isn’t it better to save the man’s soul rather than have it torn from his body? Claire hears Rufus call her name and she goes to him and tells him she is going to make him a tea to help him sleep. Meanwhile Jocasta is placating the angry mob, promising Jamie will deliver Rufus to them. Claire adds a liquid concoction to the tea, and puts a cup to Rufus’s lips. He drinks. She gently places his hands across his body and asks about his sister… Rufus reminisces about his sister as he slowly drifts into unconsciousness and takes his final breath. This scene is reminiscent of Geordie dying in Season 1 as he remembers his home. The clock strikes midnight. Time is up and the mob becomes even more unruly. Jamie crosses himself, kneels and says a prayer for Rufus as tears stream down Claire’s face. We hear Jamie’s prayer over images of him carrying Rufus’s body out to the mob. Men place a noose around Rufus’s neck dragging him off to be strung up. Everyone in River Run looks upon horrified, each with their own fears.
Say what you will about this episode, it was difficult to summarise, and with unpalatable subject matter it will not become a favourite. However it does set out, very plainly, the ugly truth of life in a plantation like River Run. It contained much nuance of expression which can’t be translated into words. The storyline and must have been difficult to write, to maintain the essence of the book while “compressing” events given the limited time allowed in the TV adaptation. I have read about it being watched, muted, and the viewer still being able to understand the story through facial expressions alone, definitely a sign of great acting!