Outlander (S04E02) “Do No Harm”

Though our title is the doctor’s promise of doing no harm, a somber beginning to this episode reminds us why the Fraziers now have not a shilling to their name. The weight of what he took is far from being lifted, but the smiling face of his Auntie onshore momentarily melts those woes back down the river from whence they came.

Meet Aunt Jocasta

Bonnet madness set aside for now, we finally get to meet Auntie Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy.) It takes no more than a few introductions to learn that she is a powerful figurehead in her own right, despite her loss of vision. It doesn’t take long before she teaches us more about River Run than at least one Frazier had bargained for. With just a story or two, we learn that Auntie has lived quite a life, and I don’t think we’ve heard the last of her tales.

Costuming

If Aunt Jocasta’s dress wasn’t enough of a sight to behold, the Fraziers outfits, while not new, are as lovely and elegant as we have come to expect from Terry Dresbach (Outlander Costume Design.) Her art does not stop at seams on dresses and embossing on leather; she’s truly taken time to stay true to the fabrics and customs of the time.

As was common in the time they reach River Run, Aunt Jocasta offers Claire (Caitriona Balfe) one of her dresses, to be newly tailored so that it may fit the smaller woman. It takes a keen eye to note that Jamie (Sam Heughan) soon dons an outfit from Season 2, where it had been packed in a trunk and sent to Lallybroch. Somehow it survived the shipwreck and came along. Can we all take a moment to applaud that incredible attention to detail?

Inhabitants of River Run

With the introduction of this Rufus (Jerome Holder), we learn why the episode has been titled “Do No Harm.” Despite all laws of the land and times, Claire has taken her oath and has no plans to break it now. History books don’t often mention how many laws were in place to keep slaves as they are, but the Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander crew know. Now, we viewers do too. It feels just as hard to watch Claire decide between saving a life and ending it to save that very life further torture. No character displayed the contrast nearly as powerfully as our new friends Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) and Phaedre (Natalie Simpson.) They know the law full well, and I dare say we will soon learn more about their “employment” at River Run.

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Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Phaedre (Natalie Simpson) Photo credit: Starz Media

What’s Next for River Run

We are now in the land of things more easily said than done. By now we all know Claire cannot and will not stand for the abomination which is slavery, but how is she going to get around the law making it darn near impossible to free them. If we know one thing about the Fraziers, it’s that when things need doing, they find a way to get them done. It may not be next episode, but a word does not exist in which Claire does nothing to make things right. Though she may have to do a small bit of harm in the short term, I’m on the edge of my seat to see how she plans to actually do no harm in the future.

Next Week:

OUTLANDER 403: “THE FALSE BRIDE”

Airdate: November 18th at 8 PM ET/PT on STARZ, the STARZ App and STARZ On Demand

Jamie and Claire search for a place to call home with Young Ian and John Quincy Myers, a local mountain man. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Brianna and Roger’s romance heats up and then fizzles during a road trip that winds up highlighting their differences.