Dear Mr. Moffat,
I’m not a current viewer of Doctor Who, but I know people who are. People who were excited and happy to see not only an openly queer woman as a companion, but a queer woman of color. People who are now hurt and angry because of your choices.
I admit, I’m not the biggest fan of your work, not since series 6 of Doctor Who and the mess that Sherlock became after the second series. The more I watched your shows, the more I realized that you only knew how to write one kind of female character over and over again, just in different forms. I call her the Sexy Mystery™, the female character who exists to puzzle and delight the endlessly intelligent white male protagonist. She snarks and Kicks Ass™, but at the end of the day, her character revolves around said white male protagonists and exists only for him. As soon as her role in keeping him entertained and/or mystified is over, she gets the boot.
This kind of Faux Feminism™ turned me off even before I knew what to call it. Then you decided that ‘feminism’ meant a man talking over women and explaining their anger to them. I knew I was done then.
But then, you introduced Bill Potts. A proud, out lesbian and a black woman. I was intrigued, because she seemed so different from the string of interchangeable thin, white women you’d been using as companions (and characters on other shows). I watched trailers. She was funny, honest, optimistic, and not afraid to challenge the Doctor. She was a huge ball of sunshine and a delight. The age gap and her lack of romantic interest meant that a new dynamic had to be wrought between the Doctor and Bill. Still wary, I promised myself I’d keep an eye on the season and maybe watch once I’d seen how it ended.
The news I heard was encouraging. Bill seemed well on her way to being a new kind of companion. I let myself hope that you might be learning from your mistakes.
Yet, there were signs not everything was as I hoped. Bill Potts, a queer woman of color, was the first female companion without a romantic interest since the revival. White Feminism would say, “Excellent! This means her character doesn’t revolve around a man or romance. Win!”. Intersectional Feminism reminds us that women of color are frequently sidelined from being a romantic interest if they are the main character on a show. Often with the excuse of “she don’t need no man”. Even if the intentions here were innocent, someone ought to have been consulted to avoid falling prey to this common trap for lead women of color.
Add in that she’s a queer woman of color, and the implications double. Because the other female companion of color, Martha Jones, was given a romantic interest in her tenure on Doctor Who. The implication seems to be not so much her skin color, but her orientation led to her not being given a long-term canonical love interest. Yes, she got to talk about being into women, which is great. She even got two girls to express interest in (one of whom, Heather, died), which was more than I thought to see. I was half expecting her orientation would be brought up in the first episode then never mentioned again.
But, companions on Doctor Who have always had a love interest. Whether the Doctor himself or someone else, and not just a one off guest star in an episode. Rose, Martha, Donna, River, Amy, Clara, they all had one. Not giving your queer woman of color a love interest when it has literally always been a feature of the show? Now that just looks BAD.
It almost ends up looking like you wanted credit for creating a diverse, intersectional character without having to commit to following through on a sensitive portrayal of that character. You want the kudos for creating a black lesbian, but not have to actually write a wlw romance. Now, I can’t say that’s your motive, I’m not in your head. But for those of us on the outside, it sure as hell feels that way.
We feel robbed of the story every other female companion got. Since this is the first canon lesbian female companion on the show, not giving her a romance like every other female companion is a ripoff. It communicates that we matter less to you. Our love stories do not interest you since you can’t make the Doctor the center of it the way you could with the straight romances. Since you can’t make a man the center of a romantic relationship with a lesbian, you don’t care to give her a romance. Again, this is how it feels, not necessarily your intent. But its only fair that you understand the way your story affects us since we’re supposedly your intended audience.
The lack of love interest would have been frustrating enough if you hadn’t have killed her. Well, mostly killed her then turned her into a Cyberman. Yes, you had the ‘decency’ to forewarn us that the Doctor would witness the death of someone he cares about (the best candidates being Bill and Nardole). That’s at least more than many of us got last year when dozens of wlw characters were killed off of our screen. But it won’t win you brownie points.
Not after what we’ve been through. I’m not sure if you’re aware of the Spring Slaughter. That’s the phrase we use to describe the high number of deaths of queer female characters in the 2015-2016 season. That year, queer women made up roughly 1% of all characters on TV, but 10% of all deaths. We were dying at ten times the rate of our representation, so excuse us if we’re angry when another queer female character gets treated this way, especially a queer woman of color. There are precious few of them on our screens.
You know what? No. I take that back. We have every right to be angry. I have trouble believing you didn’t know this was an issue. Even across the pond there’s no excuse not to know given the prominence of this discussion in American media over the past 18 months. When your TV show has a large American following, you can’t not know the problematic trends in American television.
So I can only conclude that despite knowing, you thought this ‘didn’t fit’ the Bury Your Gays trope, as so many other showrunners have claimed in the past year. Maybe because you didn’t technically kill her…yet. So yeah, not buried, but half in the grave doesn’t count for much these days.
Yet, I’m sure you believe it’s fine. You probably had narrative reasons for making this choice. You probably had character reasons, too. The thematic point made about a queer woman of color as a victim of the classism in this society wasn’t lost on me. It’s valid, even interesting. But you know what? I don’t care. We’ve suffered enough.
Having to watch 33 queer female characters die in the 2015-2016 season followed by 20 more in the 2016-2017 season sucks ass. Do you know how much trauma this community has suffered seeing ourselves maimed, murdered, killed, and/or denied happy endings? Add to it the very real violence that the LGBT+ community has witnessed this past year and you can see why we’re Done with being killed off of media. We’re literally being destroyed on screen and killed in real life. We just want to exist and see ourselves represented as people without having to suffer violence and trauma on screen and off of it. The last thing we need is the only queer female companion on this show, the only queer female of color on this show, to suffer a gruesome almost-death and turn into a soulless murder machine.
Because full offense, not even thematic reasons can justify the protracted and macabre manner of Bill Pott’s death and transformation into a Cyberman. She’s shot in cold blood less than 10 minutes into the episode, a melon-sized hole blasted through her chest. Now, you may not realize this, but the death that brought attention to the issue of dead wlw characters last season was Lexa kom Trikru from the TV show, The 100. She was shot in the abdomen and bled out. It was gruesome, senseless, entirely unnecessary, and caused more collective pain than you can imagine. So you can see why a lesbian with a giant hole in her fucking torso would be traumatic for us.
Then you make it worse by giving us flashbacks with Bill hoping against just this eventuality, more lingering shots of the gaping hole in her body, and even make jokes about how mortal and fragile human beings are. I’m glad the death of a queer woc is a joke to you. Because it sure as hell isn’t to us. It’s our lives, not a wisecrack.
We then have to live the rest of the episode in a macabre, twisted parody of a hospital. We’re literally living our worst nightmare. A cross between institutionalization and experimentation, a throwback to the dark days of US history when LGBT+ people were treated as psychologically or physically damaged an in need of ‘repair’ or ‘fixing’.
Once again, other characters make jokes at her expense. And again, the humorous attempt to lampshade the horror happening to Bill fails to ameliorate or undermine what’s happening to her in light of what the queer community has faced the past few years. It doesn’t even matter if you’re going for levity or to lighten the mood. Given the context, it feels like mockery. Especially in hindsight knowing what happens to her at the end and how long she waited for the Doctor to return.
You turned her into a Cyberman. The heartless, emotionless, machines intent on killing all humans. This isn’t even the first time a black woman has been partially or fully upgraded to a Cyberman in the recent Who Universe. Lisa Hallet may not have been your creation, but having two black female characters turn into inhuman murder robots and turn on their friends and loved ones really doesn’t look good. And from what we’ve seen (and you’ve said yourself) in the trailer for next episode, Bill is going to go the way of Lisa, at least for a while.
“Well she’s a Cyberman from now on…she’s one of those ones in the trailer, just killing people. That’s the way it is sometimes.”—Steven Moffat
Yeah, fuck that.
In a perfect world, there would be no problematic implications for blasting a hole through a black lesbian character’s chest and turning her into an unfeeling killing machine. But guess what? We don’t live in that world. We live in a world where wlw characters are killed off at a disproportionately high rate. A world where our community has faced betrayal, hurt, and pain at that hands of showrunners. Some were ignorant of our hurt, some well-intentioned. But guess what? That didn’t change how much it hurt.
“That’s just the way it is sometimes” isn’t going to cut it. Not when we’ve had to watch ourselves die and showrunners excuse or justify the deaths of their queer female characters over and over and over again. Showrunners with great track records with the queer community have not escaped criticism for the deaths of their LGBT+ female characters in the past few years. And lets face it, your record on Doctor Who is pretty thin.
Madame Vastra and Jenny did have a warm, genuine, and lovely relationship from all I’ve heard. They weren’t main characters, but they were a welcome addition and well written. But they aren’t the only LGBT+ female characters. Sticking to the best representation is an unclear picture of your track record. River Song might as well be straight for all that her bisexuality is mentioned, much less given space to inform her character in any meaningful way. Just compare her with Jack Harkness. And speaking of bisexual erasure, Clara Oswald. The character who talks about “going through a phase” in college with a girl. Oh, and of the two women Bill expressed interest in, one of them is dead.
So yeah, you have made an effort to include queer female characters. It is more than other showrunners have done. But, it’s a low fucking bar. Five wlw characters in six years as the showrunner and only two of them get both a happy ending and the space to discuss their sexuality and relationship openly. The two bi characters have their sexuality regularly erased. And the fith, Bill Potts, the show’s first openly lesbian companion and a woc, you just shot through the chest and turned into a Cyberman.
She’s also the companion who has been given the least amount of screentime so far, which just adds insult to injury. Clara was a Dalek before she was a companion, so a comparison between the two doesn’t really count. River, like Clara, got her run as a companion after her ‘death’, so again, not a good comparison.
Clara isn’t even truly dead, just frozen in time, and River may have lost her body, but her consciousness is preserved in the Library, so again, not the same as turned into a murderous robot. The other four companions—Rose, Martha, Donna, and Amy—all got happy endings. If this is how Bill Potts exits the show, it would be unprecedented in terms of both an unhappy ending and a permanent transformation into a villain. That might be meaningful in terms of your ability to write consequences, but given who Bill is and the communities she represents, this wasn’t the right choice of character to prove you’re capable of killing off companions.
Even if she finds a way to become human again, she’s still the only companion to have been both killed(-ish) and turned into a villain during their run as a companion. Her being a queer woc may be a writing coincidence (i.e., you may have written any companion this way at this point in the story), but the queer women and women of color in your audience probably don’t experience it that way.
More to the point, even if you did write a way for her to ‘come back’, the damage has been done to queer communities and communities of color. You reopened old wounds and made some new ones along the way. Because you know what other pattern Bill’s death falls into? The killing off of lead female characters of color. Abbie Mills from Sleepy Hollow, Poussey Washington from Orange is the New Black, among others, and most recently, Veil from Into the Badlands. There are multiple communities hurting right now from this decision and that can’t be undone.
You already chose to make a traumatic, dramatic experience out of the near-death and de-humanization of a queer woman of color. You prioritized a Shocking™ cliffhanger over sensitivity to marginalized communities. Communities you may not have meant to hurt, but you did regardless. It may not be malicious, but it was insensitive and thoughtless.
Being flippant about it in an interview really isn’t doing you any favors or helping your image, either. You might be able to brush it off as ‘just what happens sometimes’, but you are neither a queer woman nor a woman of color. You don’t get to just be flippant about the way you treat an intersectional character. Maybe it’s your way of communicating it’s no big deal because she’s coming back. Doesn’t make the behavior any less insulting.
This whole thing is just…really, really unfortunate, and that’s being as positive as I can be. Mostly, I’m gobsmacked you and your team decided this was a good direction, that no one said ‘how about not.’
You just touched some very raw, very painful wounds. Bill Potts gave a lot of people hope and joy given the shit year queer women and women of color have had in terms of representation. Finding a way to ‘bring her back’ doesn’t negate the damage. The initial traumatic reaction can’t be erased or undone; it can’t be un-experienced even if the character somehow survives or becomes human again. You sentenced Bill, even if just for a time, to gruesome near death followed by a fate worse than death. That’s horrific and painful for us to see happen to a beloved (and much needed) character.
I can only hope that in the coming days you think long and hard about how to interact with these communities online. Many other showrunners have stumbled in reacting to the pain by justifying or excusing their choices instead of listening. Please listen, please understand. We’re wounded people, hurting people. People who have been scarred, betrayed, and dismissed. Don’t be yet one more name on the list of showrunners who proved their disregard for us and our experience in the aftermath of a problematic choice to kill off (or nearly kill off) a prominent queer female character .
I know that there’s still one episode left and as of Sunday, you hadn’t even finished it yet. Perhaps that means there’s hope you’ll hear how upset people are and make changes. If you had planned to kill off Bill, perhaps this means there’s time to have a different ending.
Whatever happens, though, bear in mind that no matter where the show goes from here, you’ve already hurt people. And that didn’t need to happen.
Images Courtesy of the BBC
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Should Let Rosa Date Gina
Google most non-canon LGBT ships, and you get results for various fanfiction sites, maybe an article or two about why they should be canon, why the show is clearly missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Google Rosa/Gina—dubbed Dianetti—and you get tweets from the two actresses involved.
Finally the truth is out
— Stephanie Beatriz (@iamstephbeatz) September 4, 2017
Though media has made huge strides in the past decade or so with LGBT relationships, there is still a lot to be done. Queerbaiting remains common, as does the bury your gays trope. Relationships—especially wlw ones—are still seen as less valid, less possible, than their straight counterparts; this is in part due to many writers, actors, and showrunners continuing to tease of F/F relationships. By creating a dynamic where two women are clearly not just friends (and, of course, never making that dynamic explicitly romantic either), they get the best of both worlds: LGBT viewers who crave representation with none of the potential backlash for so-called political correctness.
The Beauty of B99
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however, has never fallen into that trap. Holt and Kevin may be the subject of many jokes, but they are never the butt of any. Similarly, topics like racial profiling and police corruption are taken seriously. It is a comedy show, but it is also a show that recognizes the power of its platform. Where another show would tease these topics and turn them into a punchline, Brooklyn Nine-Nine turns them into a discussion.
So, of every show on television, I know that Brooklyn Nine-Nine would treat Rosa and Gina well. That is an important part of the discussion that is oft forgotten: representation does not end when it begins. Instead, it is an ongoing process, most successful when the writers and showrunners make continued efforts to deepen and better their characters and relationships. When we ask for representation, we are asking for a commitment: at the very minimum, do not kill them. Because that is still often too much to ask, we never get to the next step: do not cheapen them, do not forget them. Do not let them be a checked box on a list of things a show needs to have.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven they can do it. So why don’t they?
The Case For Dianetti
Over the past four seasons, we have seen Gina and Rosa flit in and out of various relationships. All the while, however, they have been there for each other.
Rosa is closed-off, awkward whenever the slightest hint of emotions are involved; Gina, on the other hand, is as open a book as she could possibly be. In the same way that Jake and Amy build on each other and make each other grow, Rosa and Gina could do the same.
In the past, the show has paired Rosa with men who are too different or too similar. Marcus was very openly emotional, and while the importance of having such a character cannot be understated, he was not right for Rosa. Adrien, then, had the opposite problem: he and Rosa never truly get to know each other during their relationship because both were content being unattached in that way.
Enter Gina. She is the perfect option, the perfect mix of emotional and independent; she is the one who can make Rosa consistently smile, the one who isn’t semi-scared of her at all times.
There are not many women on television that are like Rosa, and to give her a chance to find true, lasting love would be very valuable to many viewers. Having her and Gina both go through several unsuccessful relationships is good—it’s realistic and done well. But just as Jake and Amy found each other, just as Kevin and Holt found each other, I would like to see Rosa and Gina do the same.
In a world where F/F ships are punchlines to jokes that weren’t funny the first time, it is a rare and very special thing to see such an opportunity supported by both actresses involved. We have the support, and we have the chance; all that remains is for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to take the leap.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine consistently surprises me with the topics they are willing to tackle and the grace with which they do so. So, as it returns this month for its fifth season, I hope that they will tackle Rosa/Gina next.
Images courtesy of Fox
The Neighbors from Hell
This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult opens with a blonde woman, Rosie, speaking with Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) about how thanks to him she’s overcome her fear of being trapped in dark places. (Sidebar: why is Ally the only important woman without white/blonde hair in this show?) When Rosie and her husband Mark, return home, however, they are accosted by clowns and nailed into coffins. Rosie’s worst nightmare that she admitted to Dr. Vincent. It makes you wonder if the Doctor is part of the cult. Hmm…
Switching up the timeline of things (again), we return to where we left off after last week’s episode; the Mayfair-Richards household following Ally’s (Sarah Paulson) gun play. Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) assures Ally that he doesn’t think charges will be pressed because the murder of Pedro was in self defense. Though Ivy (Allison Pill) knows it was accidental and not self defense, she agrees with the Detective and the power finally returns.
The next day, protestors gather outside the Butchery on Main, branding Ally as the “lesbian George Zimmerman,” and the news is there to broadcast the protest. Unable to show her face, Ally is forced to stay in the car while Ivy goes to work. Before Ally can go home, however, she is confronted by Kai (Evan Peters) who calls her brave. He tells her to never apologize and that he’ll take care of the mob for her. When Ally does arrive home, she receives a very different greeting from Meadow (Leslie Grossman) and Harrison (Billy Eichner). The couple, dressed in sombreros, condemn the accidental murder and accuse her of being a racist.
Ally and Ivy are unable to avoid the news of the protestors on television. The news finally moves on to announce the deaths of Rosie and Mark, who were found in coffins in their home with a smiley face symbol painted above them. The same symbol that was found on the Changs’s house.
Things turn to the strange (or stranger, anyway), the next day when Ivy and Ally find dozens of dead crows in their yard. It gets stranger yet when Winter accidentally lets an unknown man into the house. The man was responding to an ad on Craigslist that listed lesbians looking for pleasure from a man.
During a phone session, Dr. Vincent talks to Ally about the Craigslist ad. It’s in this scene that we get our first election reference of the episode, a record few this time. Dr. Vincent suggests Ally file a police report then asks for an emergency meeting to talk about an inpatient facility. Ally (obviously) disagrees with the doctor’s assessment and ends the call. When she reaches town, protestors accost her car, but with a single word Kai is able to get them to leave.
Returning home, Ally and Ivy find Oz and Winter playing with a guinea pig with a cisnormative name. They learn that the animal was a gift from Meadow. When Ally tells him that he cannot keep the pet, Oz lashes out and says that he wishes Ally wasn’t around. Ally then calls Harrison who is sitting with Meadow and Detective Samuels. Harrison states that he likes Oz but not Ally, and that Oz needs testosterone in the house. Angry, when Ally sees a truck spraying green mist, she chases the truck down to no avail.
Elsewhere, Meadow and Kai play the pinky game. When asked for her greatest fears, Meadow offers a superficial fear that Kai slaps her for. This is a revolution and he doesn’t want his time wasted. Kai calls her out as being afraid of never really being loved.
In a rare moment of levity and normalcy, the Mayfair-Richards family having a nice family dinner at the Butchery on Main. Oz apologizes for lashing out at Ally, and she decides to let Oz keep Mr. Guinea. When they arrive home, however, what was a good night takes a turn. smiley face is painted on the door, and Mr. Guinea blows up in the microwave.
Ally crosses the street and enters the neighbors house where she assaults Harrison. She accuses the couple of being responsible for all the wrong that has been done to them, but Meadow is genuinely scared when she hears about the smiley face. Ally escalates matters and threatens to kill them before leaving. Ivy finally reaches her breaking point with Ally, calling her out on her absurd reactions, when Oz points out that the same smiley face is on the side of the Wilton’s house. Instead of warning the couple, however, Ivy and Oz return home. Ally follows behind, only to find mysterious people spraying a green substance on her lawn. When she tries to reveal their faces, she finds smiley faces in the place of where real faces should be.
Meadow is not the only Wilton to play the pinky game with Kai. This time, Harrison plays, and does a better job telling the truth to Kai than his wife. He admits that he wishes Meadow were dead.
When Detective Samuels calls on the Mayfair-Richards home, Ally talks to him with crazy eyes about her conspiracy theory. She’s finally the one that seems to be making some sense and no one is listening. It makes her look even crazier to have make-up smeared down her face.
The conversation is halted by Oz’s scream. His mothers immediately head upstairs to find him closing his laptop. He admits that he got past Ivy’s parental controls as he saw her type in the password once, “Clownz”. Sorry Ivy, but you’re starting to look pretty suspicious here. Ivy and Ally finally convince Oz to reveal what’s on the computer. It is a video of Ally in the bath getting fingered by Winter. Whomp, there it is.
Ivy wastes no time retaliating once they bring their conversation to the hallway and punches Ally in the face. She starts yelling about Ally breaking their family, while Ally seems hung up on the fact that someone planted a camera in their bathroom. Both valid points.
Not willing to stay in the same house as her cheating wife, Ivy prepares Oz to leave with her. Just as they are about to leave, however, police arrive across the street. They exit the house to find Harrison is freaking out and upon seeing her, accuses Ally of murdering Meadow. He woke up covered in Meadow’s blood, Meadow nowhere to be found. While the adults were arguing, Oz returns to the house. His mothers run after him to find him staring at the walls. Walls that are now covered in blood with a bloody smiley symbol on the living room wall.
At this point, it seems as if the cult behind all the murders and strange happenings in this small Michigan town is larger than expected. In fact, it seems almost as if Ally and Oz are the only ones that aren’t part of the cult. With Meadow and Harrison both deferring to Kai, it appears that the blue-haired man might be one of the ring leaders. But then again, there’s also Dr. Vincent and Ivy to think about. Where do they fit? Are they secretly behind it all? And if Ivy is involved, what is it about Ally that makes her want to torture her so much?
With more questions raised in this episode, such as the questionable green substance, it’s easy to wonder where this cult is going, but perhaps the biggest question is; do we really care?
Images courtesy of FX
Outlander Slows Things Down for Episode 2
This week’s Outlander was much slower than last week’s, returning to the steady pace they set in the first few episodes of both seasons 1 and 2. Unlike other shows that use this tactic (*cough* The Walking Dead *cough*), it works in Outlander because of how invested I am in the characters, no matter what they’re doing.
Like last week, this week’s episode divided its time between Jamie in the 18th century and Claire in the 20th. Jamie is at Lallybroch with his family, but he’s a wanted man. The redcoats frequently harass Jenny and Ian, even randomly throwing Ian in the clink in the hopes that they’ll all decide to betray Jamie’s whereabouts. Since they don’t ever really do anything to him, and he seems largely friendly with the soldiers, it’s a fairly empty threat.
Still, it’s dangerous, because in the aftermath of Culloden, being a Scot in Scotland was essentially outlawed. By that I mean clans were no longer allowed to wear their tartans, bagpipes were banned, and Scots weren’t allowed weapons (except I guess what they had to have to have hunt, like a bow and arrow or a knife).
Jamie has gone full-on wild man of the woods, complete with giant beard and long hair. He doesn’t really speak, just brings offerings of excessively large game (seriously, it was huge) and makes crazy eyes at people. Fergus, my dear son, is still in his service, and for all that it’s been 6 years, he’s not that much taller or older. It’s like the Stark kids in reverse.
While Ian’s locked up, Jenny goes into labor a bit early, and her sons Robbie and Jamie see a raven perched on the gate. They tell Fergus that a raven’s bad luck and can mean the death of the baby. The boys found a pistol hidden in the dovecot, so of course they use it to shoot the bird. Because why not!? Pistols aren’t against the law or anything.
The redcoats hear the shot because black powder guns are LOUD, and of course the tenacious captain brings some of his boys around. Unfortunately Jamie chose that moment to come a-visiting, so he’s walking around the house carrying his new nephew when the English show up.
Jamie hides and Jenny tells them the baby died, and while the commander is being semi-respectful, his corporal, a Scot named MacGregor, is a real ass. Ultimately the maid shows up with the pistol and says it was her dead husband’s, and she shot at a raven to scare it away.
The commander says to leave her, she’s no threat, and the soldiers leave. Fergus is giving them the stink eye as they go, and apparently it gives the Scottish corporal the idea to follow him, thinking he’ll lead them to Jamie. He’s wise to their bumbling, however, and he leads them away from Jamie’s cave. He taunts them as Jamie, hiding in the woods, watches in horror.
The soldiers catch Fergus and the corporal, um…chops his hand off with a sword. Which wasn’t nearly as violent and/or bloody as it could have been, thank goodness, because my poor son! As soon as they’re gone, Jamie wraps his stump and carries him back to the house.
Fergus later tells Jamie he’s lucky, because when he first hired him, Jamie swore if Fergus was hurt while in his service, Jamie would keep him for the rest of his days. “With one blow I’ve become a man of leisure,” he says with a grin.
Fergus’s maiming causes Jamie to realize that hiding out isn’t helping anyone. He tells Jenny and Ian they have to turn him in, partly to get the hefty reward money, but also so that the soldiers know once and for all that Jenny’s loyal to the Crown. She isn’t happy about it AT ALL, but she agrees. She sends her maid out to Jamie’s cave with some food, and she helps him shave the beard and cut his hair.
She also takes her dress off and offers him some old-fashioned comfort, which he reluctantly (and tearfully) accepts.
Later Jamie shows up at Lallybroch acting all “Jenny, it’s me after all this time! I certainly haven’t been hiding in a cave in the woods for the past few years! What a random happenstance!” The soldiers are there, of course, and he’s carted off while Jenny watches, crying.
Meanwhile in the future (which is our past, but not AS past as Jamie’s time), Claire is trying to be a full time mom and housewife. If y’all learned anything about Claire the last 2 seasons, you should’ve learned that that would NEVER work. It starts with her fantasizing about Jamie while Frank sleeps next to her, then the two of them having sex while she thinks about Jamie. Poor Frank.
After a dinner party one night she seduces him in front of the fire, but when she won’t open her eyes to look at him, he stops and tells her that when they’re together, he’s with her, but she’s with Jamie. She doesn’t deny it, and after that they go back to being much more distant.
Later Claire enrolls in medical school, and all the little white boys in her class are Shook. But they’re even MORE shook when a Black man walks in. He sits next to Claire and introduces himself to her, and in that moment a beautiful friendship was born.
The episode ends with Claire and Frank crawling into bed to say goodnight. Claire turns off the light and lies down to sleep, and as the camera pulls back we see they’re now sleeping in twin beds. I guess their pretense of returning to their marriage has ended, and they’re staying together mostly for Bree’s sake.
Like I said, this was kind of a slow episode. Not a lot happened, really. It was mostly about Jamie and Claire trying to adjust to their new lives without each other. Jamie is essentially dead inside, a shell of himself, while Claire has Bree to think of.
They both tread water for a time, but eventually realize they have to figure out some way to keep going. Jamie turns himself in to the English because he knows he’s hurting his family and putting them at risk by being a fugitive. Even if they never find him hiding out on Fraser land, they’ll always suspect Jenny and Ian are sheltering him, and one day they may not be so congenial when they cart Ian off to jail.
If I have a criticism of the episode, it’s that Fergus losing his hand—a moment that shocked Jamie back to life, so to speak—lacked some of the punch it was clearly meant to have. Maybe I was just really tired, but my reaction was kinda like, “Oh no my son! Welp. Sucks for him.” I don’t know what they could’ve done differently with it. I certainly didn’t need it to be gorier. I guess it just seemed sort of…sudden? And possibly after Jack Randall’s antics, any old dastardly redcoat just doesn’t really compare. The whole thing was a little rushed in an episode that otherwise took its time.
I’m gonna admit it, y’all: I hate seeing Jamie with another woman! I can deal with Claire with Frank, but Jamie with the serving lady (who was very nice and very brave) had me seeing red. Like, duh he believes Claire’s gone forever, and it’s not like I’m mad at Jamie for seeking comfort with someone else—he needs to move on and get out of his emo phase. But STILL! Logic be damned!!!
I honestly love this show and these characters, so I really could watch them stare at their shoes for an hour, but having said that—I hope next week picks up the pace just a li’l bit. Just a smidge. Especially on Claire’s side, because while yeah I love seeing her make That Face She Makes when men are sexist jerks, I want her to have something more to do than miss Jamie. Medical school and her career should definitely help that issue.
All in all, this was a solid filler episode, and I was glad to see Jenny and my (now one-handed) son Fergus again. Next week we’ll re-meet Sir John Grey, so that should be interesting. Also I wanna see more baby Bree because that is a super cute baby. Like, wow.
Episode Grade: B. It wasn’t as good as last week, but it’s a great show, so it earns some generosity from me. Also all the emotional notes were spot-on.