Don’t worry, Outlander fans! Roger (Richard Rankin) is alive… for now. “The Deep Heart’s Core” offers some reassurance and some honesty after last week’s distressing and deceitful episode, but ain’t nobody out of the woods yet… (even literally in most cases!)
At the end of last week’s episode, Roger had been beaten to a bloody pulp by Jamie (Sam Heughan) after Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) misidentified him as the man who raped Brianna (Sophie Skelton). We saw Jamie tell Young Ian (John Bell) to get rid of him at about the same time Brianna was ordering Claire (Caitriona Balfe) not to reveal to Jamie that the identity of the real rapist was Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), fearing what might happen if Jamie knew.
This week, we discover early on that the way Young Ian got rid of Roger was to sell him to the Mohawk for a necklace. Now Roger is being tugged along on foot behind a Mohawk’s horse, along with another white man (who doesn’t survive the rough journey). Roger tracks the time that’s passed by tying knots in a string to represent each day that’s gone by. He tracks the direction in which they’re traveling using his seaman’s navigation skills, and he estimates that they’re covering about 10 miles per day. We know that by the end of the episode, he’s been walking for more than seven days in a northerly direction, which means he’s traveled between 70-100 miles from Fraser’s Ridge.
In his absence, Brianna and Jamie bond some over their shared history with sexual assault. (Is Lizzie the only one in their camp who has never been raped?) He helps her understand that even if she had fought harder, she likely wouldn’t have prevented being raped and might have angered her attacker enough to be killed. This lightens her emotional load some.
Claire gives Brianna some real talk about her choices. Claire can perform a surgical abortion, minus painkillers, if Brianna does not want to keep the baby. OR Brianna can travel through the stones pregnant with reasonable certainty that all will be well, since Claire traveled through the stones pregnant with her. In any event, Brianna will need to make a decision quickly because the window for a safe abortion is closing, and there’s no guarantee that she can safely travel back through the stones with a baby in her arms.
Brianna gives Claire another chance to deliver her zinger from the book about how people who use the pull-out method are called “parents,” but Claire does not say it. Instead they agree that there is a *chance* that Roger could be the baby’s father, which adds to Brianna’s decision-making pot.
One night, about a week after Roger has been dispatched, Brianna has a violent nightmare. She’s dreaming that Roger has come back to her, and she tells him she’s pregnant. Then he turns into Bonnet and begins attacking her while saying things about how he hopes the baby will be his. She turns to Lizzy for help, and the girl is slumbering peacefully through the entire thing.
In real life, the nightmare wakes Lizzie up, and she comes to shake her mistress out of it. While she ministers to a distressed Brianna with a glass of water and reassurances that the bad man can never hurt her again, Brianna becomes suspicious of the girl’s certainty. She pressures Lizzie for the truth, and it comes out that Lizzie saw the man Brianna left the tavern with on the road and Jamie beat him nearly to death.
Brianna marches Lizzie into the main cabin, where she confronts everyone all at once. In a messy and tense scene that involves Brianna slapping the self-righteousness off of Jamie’s face and belting Young Ian for his role in the whole mess, the full truth comes out. The men attacked the wrong guy, Steven Bonnet is the rapist and Roger is likely on his way to Upstate New York to be integrated into a Mohawk tribe.
The menfolk are a little abashed, Claire is kind of mad at the whole situation and Brianna is on a VERY high horse of righteous indignation. She orders Jamie and Young Ian to go get Roger and declares that she will be going with them. They point out that there’s a chance the mission to retrieve her handfast “husband” could take four months, which is not an ideal situation for a woman who’s with child. Brianna has to agree with them, so she orders Claire to go in her place.
Claire refuses. She doesn’t want to leave her pregnant daughter, and she certainly isn’t going to leave Brianna and Lizzie alone in the woods while Brianna’s expecting a baby– especially once Brianna confirms that she has decided to keep and love the baby, regardless of who the father is. Brianna insists: Roger will need a doctor and Jamie and Ian have not demonstrated good judgement so far. Also, Roger will need to see a face he knows, or he’ll recognize his attackers and run. She also insists that Claire tell him the whole truth, so he’ll know exactly what he’s coming back to.
Enter Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), who has so far been an awkward witness to the whole family drama. Jamie gets the idea that River Run would be a safe place for Brianna and Lizzie, and Murtagh volunteers to take them to Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years.
The plan moves into action quickly: Murtagh takes Lizzie and Brianna south to Jocasta (with a secret second objective from Jamie of finding Bonnet and bringing him to Jamie to kill), while Claire, Young Ian and Jamie (and Rollo) head north in search of Roger. In almost no time, Murtagh and the girls arrive safely at River Run, where Jocasta welcomes her old friend and the unmarried daughter of her nephew warmly.
Meanwhile, Roger flukes into an opportunity to escape from the Mohawk. He stumbles over the side of a ridge, and the rope binding his hand slips off. He runs through the woods and succeeds in hiding from his captors long enough for them to go on without him. As soon as the coast is clear, he begins making his way south to Brianna.
His journey is interrupted early on by a loud buzzing. He follows it, and instead of finding a healthy hive full of bees, he discovers a standing stone surrounded by smaller rock cairns. Laughing with delight, he removes the two small gems Bonnet gave him from where he’s had them concealed in the hem of his shirt and moves towards the buzzing stone. As he approaches it, we see all his emotions play across his face– his relief at being saved, his conflict about going through the stones without Brianna– before he reaches out as though to touch the stone…