‘Outlander’ Recap: Brianna Goes ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ — and Another Familiar Face Returns

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Down the Rabbit Hole,” the seventh episode of “Outlander” Season 4.

“Down the Rabbit Hole” is likely to be a divisive episode, especially for those viewers who have read the books. While the return of Frank was a lovely surprise — Tobias Menzies is a talented actor and it was nice to see him get scenes with Sophie Skelton — the show also took some major liberties with Brianna’s (Skelton) journey back in time that changed the tone of her entire time in Scotland.

After landing in 1760s Scotland, Bree took off across the cold and barren landscape to try to find the harbor where she could sail for America. But she was alone and not exactly outfitted for hiking miles across the Scottish wilderness, so of course, she twisted an ankle and eventually collapsed in a shivering mass.

Who should find her but none other than everyone’s favorite wretch, Laoghaire (Nell Hudson)? She had been living alone with her younger daughter Joanie (Layla Burns) and constantly complaining to Ian (Steven Cree) about Jamie not sending her enough money. Of course, neither woman had any idea of their shared connection, so Laoghaire was perfectly lovely to Brianna, at least at first, taking care of her until she was well enough to continue on her way.

While there, Brianna bonded with Joanie over them both not really knowing their biological fathers as well as their parents’ hearts being broken by someone they loved who didn’t love them back. It created an interesting parallel between Laoghaire and Frank, and made Brianna’s flashbacks to the time right before her father died fit in well with the episode’s main plot.

Anyway, over the course of Brianna’s stay, Laoghaire slowly revealed just how mentally unhinged she still was when it came to Jamie (Sam Heughan). Laoghaire severely romanticized Jamie’s feelings for her, convinced that he was in love with her until Claire (Caitriona Balfe) bewitched him with a love potion and hardened his heart against Laoghaire. It would actually be pretty sad — if Laoghaire hadn’t tried to have Claire burned as a witch.

It eventually came out that Brianna’s biological parents are Jamie and Claire — and Laoghaire lost her ever-loving mind. She immediately told Brianna all sorts of lies about her parents, including that Claire was a witch and that Jamie didn’t have room in his heart for a baby and sent Claire away when he found out she was pregnant. She also locked Brianna in her room with the intent of having her burned as a witch as well, but luckily Joanie could see the writing on the wall in regards to her mother and took Bree to Lallybroch.

The show spent so much time with Bree and Laoghaire, which wasn’t a story adapted from the book, that Brianna’s time at Lallybroch was majorly truncated. When she arrived, her Uncle Ian welcomed her wholeheartedly and quickly helped her find a ship sailing to America. The last thing Bree did before departing was take on a chambermaid named Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan), in order to save the young girl from being sold as a concubine.

While all this was happening in Brianna’s new “present day,” she kept thinking of Frank, the man she thought of as her father because he raised her, which provided the show a chance to flash back and offer a glimpse into their time together before his death. He found out about Claire and Jamie’s deaths in the 1770s from Reverend Wakefield and struggled with whether to tell Brianna about it, ultimately deciding he not only couldn’t explain the time travel but also couldn’t ruin Bree’s world like that.

But Bree knew that he was keeping something important from her and lashed out at him. Then later, he informed her that he and Claire were divorcing, which hit her hard even if she had to know they were unhappy because of all of their fighting. But it’s still hard for a child — even a grown one — to deal with his or her parents’ divorce, and she blasted him for his decision and told him there was no way she’d go with him to England to study. Frank was offered a position at Cambridge and wanted Bree to come with him, but she refused and stormed out of the car. Then that night he was killed in the car accident and Bree blamed herself for not staying with him that night.

When she departed for America with Lizzie, Bree had a vision of her father wishing her well on the docks and seemed to find peace with his memory. It was great overall interweaving of Brianna’s two lives, even if it was a shame we didn’t get to see her meet her Aunt Jenny (Laura Donnelly) and other Lallybroch family members.

While that certainly felt like enough material to fill an entire episode, the show also managed to include Roger’s (Richard Rankin) adventures trying to find Bree — and wow, was it dark.

After traveling back to 1760s Scotland, Roger beat Brianna to the harbor, owing to the fact that he didn’t get waylaid in a “Misery”-type situation with a twisted ankle and a twisted woman. But he found a twisted, evil being of his own when he booked passage on Stephen Bonnet’s ship, the Gloriana.

Aboard the ship, Roger quickly found out how ruthless Bonnet (Edward Speleers) could be when a young girl was showing signs of smallpox and he tossed her out a window into the sea. Her mother jumped in after her, which showed Roger that he had to protect another young mother (Elysia Welch) and her baby who had a rash because he was teething.

Roger hid them and snuck them rations until Bonnet found out about it, and it was only by the luck of a coin flip that he didn’t kill Roger right then and there. It wasn’t a surprise that Bonnet was bad, but this was another glimpse into just how evil he is.

Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

  • Peter Fonda Dead: 'Easy Rider' Star

    Peter Fonda, Star of 'Easy Rider,' Dies at 79

    Two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider,” then showed Hollywood he could act about three decades later in “Ulee’s Gold,” died on Friday from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. His sister Jane Fonda [...]

  • CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to

    CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to Sarajevo

    When the organizers of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Industry Days surveyed the local TV landscape several years ago, they recognized the chance to make an impact. “We decided five years ago that we need to do something,” says CineLink industry coordinator Armin Hadzic. “The [regional] TV and public broadcasters were coming from another age.” [...]

  • SCHOOLED - ABC's "Schooled" stars Bryan

    'Kids Are Alright' Creator Joins 'Schooled' Season 2 as Showrunner

    Tim Doyle is taking over as showrunner and executive producer on the upcoming second season of “Schooled” at ABC, Variety has confirmed. Doyle takes over from Season 1 showrunner and series co-creator Marc Firek, who has exited the series to focus on development. The news comes just months after Doyle’s 1970s-set comedy series, “The Kids [...]

  • Matthew Miller'Lethal Weapon' TV series screening,

    'Lethal Weapon' Team Lands Put Pilot Order at Fox for Cop Drama 'Dead Eddie' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Matt Miller and Alex Taub are staying in business with Fox. The pair, who previously worked together on Fox’s series adaptation of “Lethal Weapon,” have scored a put pilot commitment at the broadcaster for a new drama project, Variety has learned exclusively. The drama is titled “Dead Eddie.” In the series, after a near-death experience, misanthropic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content