Outlander review: Bree and Roger fall ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’


Frank returns and finally gets the story — not to mention the screen time with Brianna — he deserves in an emotional, revelatory Outlander.

I’ve felt sorry for Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) ever since the Outlander season 1 episode “The Wedding.” That’s the one in which Claire and Jamie tie the knot and finally give in to their long-simmering attraction. Even though Claire feels guilty about cheating on Frank, there’s no denying the connection she feels to Jamie. You played the game, Poor Frank, but you lost.

I continued to feel for Frank in Outlander‘s latest installment, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” but this time it was more empathy than the usual pity. And that’s because he finally got a story that painted him as something other than thwarted and kind of pathetic. At last, he got to be the honorable, loving father the show kept telling us he was, but that we never saw for ourselves.

Honestly, if Outlander had offered some scenes of this episode’s caliber between Frank and Brianna back in season 3, I probably would’ve actually cared about Bree before “The False Bride.”

For the most part, “Down the Rabbit Hole” follows Bree and Roger after they’ve gone through the standing stones. Bree messes up her ankle and is stuck in Scotland for a few days, while Roger goes straight to a port to catch a ship to the Colonies. She meets Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) and Joanie (Layla Burns), and he crosses paths with “America the Beautiful” baddie Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers). Yet the standout parts of the ep are Brianna’s memories of her father, some of which are very important to Outlander‘s overall mythology.

The episode’s big revelation: Frank had received the 1770-something obit for Jamie Fraser and his wife from a colleague, so he knew Jamie survived Culloden. Suddenly Frank’s third-season plan to take Bree with him to Cambridge doesn’t seem so spiteful. That was his way of giving Claire the freedom and opportunity to find her way back to Jamie.

To be fair, Frank didn’t handle the situation perfectly. He could’ve told Claire or Brianna about his discovery, but, hey, the man wasn’t a saint. All in all, I think that entire plotline just proves how selfless Frank could be. He was willing to let Claire go — along with his fantasy that they would ever love each other as they did before WWII.

“Down the Rabbit Hole” also drives home the point that — as much of a bond she will feel or not feel with Jamie — Bree will always love Frank as a father. Granted, we haven’t seen too many scenes between her and her mother, but Claire’s earlier comment this season is correct: Bree was closer to Frank. They just seem to get each other. They have inside jokes, tease one another and read each other easily.

That’s what makes Brianna’s last memory of Frank especially heartbreaking. He tracked Bree down to tell her about the divorce and she was too upset to offer him the emotional support he needed. She shut him down, he told her he loved her, she left without replying and Frank died shortly after in a car wreck. Bree didn’t cause her father’s death, but she still carries guilt about it. If she had just told him she loved him, too, would he still be alive? Probably not, but at least he would’ve died knowing his daughter was in his corner.

From now on, every time Brianna as a character annoys me, I’m going to remember that scene. If I had that regret on my conscience, I’d probably be off-putting as well.

Roger’s journey in “Down the Rabbit Hole” isn’t as compelling as Brianna’s, but it does underline just how scary life could be in the 18th century. For one, he watches Captain Bonnet the Sociopath throw anyone with smallpox overboard, including a young girl. For another, said sociopath doles out justice and other major decisions the old Harvey Dent way: by flipping a coin. Not to mention he’s partial to making big speeches about power and the gods. Even when Bonnet’s being kind of nice, like when he calms a fussy baby, it’s terrifying.

Proving himself to be somewhat intelligent, Roger vows to protect the baby and its mother from Bonnet’s amoral whims. She turns out to be some long-distant ancestor, Morag MacKenzie (Elysia Welch). Between this encounter and Bree meeting her father’s ex-wife, her quasi-stepsister and her uncle Ian (Steven Cree), and the return of John Grey and Willie last episode, Outlander has been quite the family affair lately. Hopefully, for Bree and Roger’s sake, the reunions will keep rolling in next week.

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  • The fact that Bree made a PB&J sandwich for her trans-century journey was somehow sweet and sad at the same time.
  • Frank’s ’60s-era glasses are truly unfortunate.
  • Did anyone else feel a little chill go up their spine when Ian called Brianna “an outlander”?
  • Speaking of Ian, this episode didn’t feel complete without his wife, Jenny (Laura Donnelly). Bring her back, Outlander!
  • Frank’s “It wasn’t for want of trying” comment about the divorce was so, so shattering and so, so perfect.
  • Roger sure did grow a ponytail quickly.
  • Oh, Laoghaire. I was completely on your side throughout most of this episode. I’ve defended you in the past. But you lost me once you found out about Bree’s parents and started brandishing that knife. And you’ve really got to drop the witch stuff — it’s not like it’s worked out for you this far.
  • However, this line did tickle me: “You spawn of a witch!” Sick burn, Laoghaire, sick burn.