“Down the Rabbit Hole” gave OUTLANDER viewers a break from the constant struggle that Jamie and Claire’s life has become since moving to North Carolina. Instead, viewers got a sense of the struggles that Brianna’s and Roger’s lives have become since coming through the time stones themselves. Jamie and Claire were noticeably absent in this episode, but some familiar 18th-century faces did make appearances.
For this reviewer, one of the biggest surprises was seeing Laoghaire MacKenzie again. Acting as Brianna’s nursemaid after finding her injured on the road, Laoghaire still blames Claire for bewitching and stealing Jamie from her. Brianna, however, doesn’t realize that Claire is the home-wrecking witch that Laoghaire keeps mentioning until Laoghaire mentions her by name.
Realizing that Brianna is Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Laoghaire turns nasty quickly, and tells of rumours that Jamie never wanted his daughter. Meanwhile, Roger has problems of his own.
OUTLANDER S04E07: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – Baby On Board
Stephen Bonnet, who robbed the Frasers and murdered members of their traveling party back in “America the Beautiful,” made the second of this episode’s unsettling appearances. Bonnet is currently acting as the captain of a ship that makes regular trips to and from the colonies. Roger finds Bonnet in a pub, and, having none of the local currency, Roger requests to join Bonnet’s crew. Bonnet initially refuses but changes his mind when Roger wins a coin toss.
Bonnet turns out to be a pretty cutthroat captain. Bonnet claims that one of the passengers, a child, has smallpox. He orders Roger to toss the child overboard to prevent the pox from spreading but Roger refuses, yelling at Bonnet to have some sense. With none to do the dirty deed for him, Bonnet pushes the child overboard himself. The child’s devastated mother throws herself in after. Roger, restrained by Bonnet’s men, yells at brutal captain. Bonnet claims that children are of little use, and orders his crew to seek out other passengers who appear to be infected and bring them to him.
Roger becomes worried that Bonnet will throw a crying baby overboard because it has a small rash. The mother, who says her name is MacKenzie, asks for Roger’s help, and Roger hides them in the store room.
OUTLANDER S04E07: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – Memories of Frank
My favourite part of this “Down the Rabbit Hole” was getting to see Frank again. Frank wasn’t really at his best, devastated by finding the historical record of Claire’s death in the 18th century. Frank understands that if Claire dies in the past then at some point in his future she will make the choice to leave him again. This realization finally makes Frank present Claire with divorce papers.
OUTLANDER’s writing team added in another scene that helped flesh out Brianna’s relationship with Frank’s death. Frank, out for a drive, finds Brianna walking with her friends. Brianna gets in Frank’s car, and Frank asks Brianna to move to England with him. He explains that he and Claire are divorcing. Brianna has a typically petulant response; she wants to know why Frank is ruining their plan and giving up on their family. Frank tries to explain that he loves Brianna, but that his relationship with Claire is long since over.
Brianna tells Frank she has to go. She’ll think about the move, but she’s not happy. Frank tells Brianna he loves her, and Brianna, refusing to say it back, gets out of the car and closes the door. This was the last interaction Frank had with anyone, dying in a collision later that night.
OUTLANDER S04E07: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – Blame Game
Brianna blames herself for Frank’s death. If only Brianna had agreed to go to England, maybe they would have gone and celebrated together. Then, maybe Frank would never have died that night. These regrets help inform her decision to try to find Claire and Jamie, and save them from dying in a fire at Fraser’s Ridge.
Luckily, Laoghaire’s daughter has more sympathy than her mother. She drives Brianna to Lallybroch, where she introduces Brianna to Ian Murray, Jamie’s brother-in-law. Ian happily provides money for a crossing to the colonies, and the two make their way to a port town so Brianna can get underway.
While securing passage, a man begs Brianna to take his daughter as her servant. Otherwise, she must become another man’s concubine. Brianna hesitantly agrees. After all, there’s strength in numbers. She books passage for two, and the two women board the vessel. Both look back to shore as they walk away. The young servant girl has a final goodbye with her father, and Brianna experiences a vision of Frank, proudly seeing her off on her journey.
OUTLANDER S04E07: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – King George’s Head
Bonnet finds the MacKenzie woman with her baby hidden in the store room of his ship. Catching Roger helping the vulnerable pair, Bonnet reprimands Roger for breaking the rules. Bonnet proposes another coin toss, describing his own harrowing experience at the hands of a gang of superstitious labourers who decided Bonnet’s fate with the flip of a coin. Bonnet says that since Roger broke the rule, his life will be the one on the line for the coin toss. Roger’s luck holds out: he lives another day. But on a ship with such a captain, who knows how long he has?
OUTLANDER S04E07: “Down the Rabbit Hole” – Final Thoughts
“Down the Rabbit Hole” gave viewers something different than we’d seen so far this season, and variety is good. Although some might say it’s unlikely that Brianna and Roger would wind up meeting 18th-century people that their parents have already met, I felt that these meetings followed the first-season formula used when Claire first went back in time and met Black Jack Randall.
I liked the scenes between Brianna and Frank. I’m always a fan of Frank, so getting some more detail about his life and the factors that informed his decisions was great. I also like that both Brianna and Claire bear personal guilt for Frank’s death. This common bond brings Claire and Brianna together while also adding in a layer to the complicated but very special relationship Brianna and Frank shared.
I look forward to the moment when everyone can finally meet. Although I enjoy the tension of Brianna and Roger being separated from everyone they know, I always love that moment when the gang’s finally all together.