SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “If Not For Hope,” the eleventh episode of “Outlander” Season 4.
The thrust of the action of “If Not For Hope,” the eleventh episode of “Outlander’s” fourth season centered on Brianna (Sophie Skelton) cooling her heels at River Run after the rest of her family took off in search of Roger (Richard Rankin). Brianna was content to read and sketch for the ensuing months until her parents return, but Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) had other ideas — namely, she needed to see Brianna wed before the baby arrived.
It was obvious Jocasta admired how much Bree is like the late Ellen Mackenzie, Jocasta’s older sister and mother to Jamie (Sam Heughan), who would not be forced into a marriage of convenience or political strategy. But Jocasta also couldn’t sit by and watch Bree’s child be branded a “fatherless bastard,” which in those times was ruinous. So it was time to throw a dinner party and get her niece a husband!
Much like how her mother has acted at various dinner parties throughout the show’s run, Brianna was not some wilting flower, although she also knew better than to embarrass her aunt by acting unladylike. Bree particularly caught the eye of Lord Forbes (Billy Boyd), who actually seemed genuinely taken with Bree. But Bree was able to figure out a better solution than entering into a false engagement with Forbes.
Lord John Grey (David Berry) just so happened to show up for the dinner party because Jamie wrote to him and asked him to look in on Brianna while they were gone. He found Bree highly amusing and intelligent and was also sympathetic to her situation. But when she proposed marriage to him, he said absolutely not… so she blackmailed him into it. Or at least, she tried to. Bree had seen Lord John having relations with another man in the middle of the night after the dinner party and threatened to out him as a homosexual, although she said shortly thereafter that she never would have actually told anyone.
Lord John explained to her without spelling it out that he could not marry the daughter of the man he was in love with and she accepted that, but when it looked like she was going to have to accept Forbes’ proposal, Lord John stepped in and stopped her, saying the two of them had just become engaged. Jocasta was surprised but delighted because Lord John was definitely a bigger, better catch than Forbes.
Even though it was only for one episode, Lord John and Brianna were very sweet together; it was touching how he told her that Roger will love her baby even if it’s not biologically his, the same way that John loves his son. He did not mention that his son is Bree’s half-brother — that is presumably Jamie’s secret to tell.
Meanwhile, things were a bit tense between Claire and Jamie as they set out for Shadow Lake, the settlement where some local Cherokee told Ian (John Bell) that they thought the Mohawk would have taken Roger. Basically, he couldn’t believe she would keep secrets from him and she disapproved of the way he reacted to all the various bombshells.
Later, Claire reassured him that she was never really angry at him — which, really? Not even a little? — but she did tell him that Brianna comes first now and that might make things hard for them. It will at least be an adjustment because it had always been just the two of them. Jamie confessed to feeling jealous of Frank because Brianna thought Frank was the better man. He wasn’t wrong; Brianna was right in that Frank would never have said those things to her. But Claire reassured Jamie that Frank was not the better man and it will just take time for all of them to adjust.
In a small side plot that, spoiler alert, has a great payoff next week, Fergus (Cesar Domboy) was feeling pretty down on himself for not being able to find work in Wilmington. No one would hire him because he was missing a hand. So Marsali (Lauren Lyle) took it upon herself to ask Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) to ask Fergus to fight with the Regulators, which would give him some much-needed confidence. Luckily, Fergus understood that he could not abandon his wife and child to help them and he turned Murtagh down, which really touched Marsali.
But what Fergus had no problem agreeing to was helping to find Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) so that Jamie could kill his daughter’s rapist. Fergus and Murtagh did find the fiendish villain and were preparing to haul his unconscious body away when some British soldiers spotted them. Murtagh punched Fergus, pretending that Fergus was trying to stop him and taking the blame fully onto himself. The soldiers were pleased to see that the unconscious man was none other than a fugitive from the law, but they also recognized Murtagh from his “broadsheet” (aka his wanted poster) and took him into custody as well. So now both Murtagh and Bonnet were hauled off to jail, leaving Fergus wondering what exactly he was going to do now.
And in the episode’s waning moments, there was a scene that might be perplexing for viewers. Roger was suddenly magically back with the Mohawk, even though at the end of last week’s episode, he was last seen reaching out for a standing stone after having escaped. Presumably, the Mohawk recaptured him and that scene was cut for time, but it would have been nice to have a little explanation here. Either way, Roger was in bad shape. The Mohawk tied him up again and forced him through some kind of jumping-in gauntlet that left him bloody and beaten. Again. Poor Roger.
“Outlander” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.