Outlander The Deep Heart’s Core Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 4, Episode 10: The Deep Heart’s Core places at the forefront of its narrative how dreams, hopes, and reality can effect people in a variety of ways when those people are placed in adverse situations.
Brianna “Bree” Randall Fraser (Sophie Skelton)’s dream / nightmare in The Deep Heart’s Core is obvious from its outset, starting out sweetly with a reunion that is Brianna’s absolute heart’s desire. The sad part about the dream reunion is that in real life, Roger Wakefield MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) had come back for Brianna before meeting a violent and angry road block. When the dream transitions to Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), the villain speaking softly, trying to be gentle in his demented way, it’s startling because Brianna’s mind has encapsulated Bonnet perfectly, right down to his anger bubbling out of nowhere.
The ending of the dream sequence is very effective, showing in small moves and fidgets, as the dream fades, that a great actress lies beneath the good one in Sophie Skelton. Whether or not this is because Season Four episodes have focused more and more on Brianna, thus the actress who portrays her, is immaterial. The result, evolving Outlander story-lines falling on shoulders apt enough to carry them, is what matters.
James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser (Sam Heughan)’s lesson to Brianna in The Deep Heart’s Core about the futility of fighting back in certain situations is the most meaningful interaction the father and daughter have-to-date. Both were sexually assaulted and survived their ordeals. In The Deep Heart’s Core, Jamie and Brianna are able to bond, ever-so-cursory, through this shared experience.
The viewer can see in Jamie’s eyes that he is up to something when he antagonizes Brianna into swinging at him during The Deep Heart’s Core. Like Steve Rogers / Captain America, Jamie has an extra helping of common sense and intuition. The victim reality that Jamie knows, that he gives to Brianna through their physical altercation (realization dawning on her face at its conclusion) is a turning point for her on how she sees the night she was raped. What Jamie says to her will be one of the keys to Brianna’s mental healing from her trauma. Brianna will blame herself less and second guess herself less because of Jamie’s actions and words during their walk in The Deep Heart’s Core.
Brianna’s anger during The Deep Heart’s Core when she finds out that Roger came back for her and that he was beaten by Jamie and sold by Ian Murray, Jr. (John Bell) is completely understandable. The value of the scene is not just the realization of what has happened to Roger but what Brianna and Jamie say and do to each other. Jamie and Brianna each wound the other during their verbal fight in The Deep Heart’s Core but when Jamie insinuates that Brianna’s previous “behavior” with Roger robbed her of her virtue, Brianna’s verbal response is a stab to the heart of Jamie, one that he visibly reels from. It is one of Jamie’s deepest fears spoken out loud – that he does not measure up to Brianna’s non-biological father Frank Randall, a man who has been dead for years.
As is illustrated in The Deep Heart’s Core, hope is fragile yet malleable. It can bend and be cajoled into different shapes and sizes by the circumstances at hand. That is what is at play during all of The Deep Heart’s Core for Roger MacKenzie. The external manifestation of hope for Roger in The Deep Heart’s Core is a small string that Roger knots to keep track of days passed. It’s a practical exercise but it is also a mental diversion. Roger’s string is a fulcrum to maintain hope so that despair doesn’t take hold and brain shut-down doesn’t occur. That string, in effect, is Roger’s bridge back to Brianna, and no matter how tenuous that hope, that string, that bridge becomes to hold onto, Roger has no intention of letting go of it.
Going back in time in Down the Rabbit Hole for Brianna seemed like the biggest test of resolve in Roger’s life but that was only a prelude to what Roger endures during The Deep Heart’s Core.
Finding and being with Brianna in 1767 America has turned into a continuous mental and physical nightmare for Roger. When Roger finds out what has happened to Brianna at the hands of Stephen Bonnet, it will become an emotional nightmare for Roger as well.
With regard to Roger’s physical nightmare in The Deep Heart’s Core, Roger wants it to be over. Anyone would. Roger watches one man die on the road to Mohawk territory in upstate New York in The Deep Heart’s Core and he does not want to be next. When he escapes and improbably finds a set of standing stones in America, it’s like God has heard his pleadings, felt his agony, and has granted Roger’s wish.
As Roger stands in front of the standing stones, fighting with himself, he can see comfort, safety, a warm bed, a hot meal, and an end to all of his physical pain and suffering. That side of him is pleading with the other side, the side that can think of nothing else but Brianna. Roger might be at wits, fatigues, and fear’s end, but there is always Brianna. Love mirrors insanity in many ways, one of which being that it can make a person act against self-interest. In this case, I believe that love will stop Roger from going back through the stones to his own time period.
The same mental hell that Roger left when he ventured back in time for Brianna will be waiting for him if he returns without her. He knows that. The gnawing, twisting fear, and longing for Brianna will come rushing back at Roger on the other side of the stones, throwing its arms around him like an amorous girlfriend, slowly suffocating him once more until he can think of nothing else.
Jamie Fraser asking Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) to capture Stephen Bonnet alive in The Deep Heart’s Core may be the most perilous task that Jamie has ever given to another human being. Neither Jamie nor Murtagh knows whom or what they are truly dealing with when it comes to Bonnet. They know that Bonnet has no scruples, that he has no sense of honor, that he is a rapist, and a murderer. What they don’t know is that Stephen Bonnet is a psychopath. A murderer can have empathy for the person that he or she kills. The same goes for a rapist. A psychopath has zero empathy towards other people. The viewer saw this aspect of Bonnet’s personality (or should I say, his personality disorder) in America the Beautiful, Down the Rabbit Hole, Wilmington, and The Birds and The Bees. There is also Bonnet’s ability to speak and sell himself to the audience at hand. Because of these factors, Murtagh is going to have his hands full with Bonnet, not to mention with his cutthroat smuggling crew.
Even if Murtagh Fraser manages to capture Bonnet, Murtagh will have to hold Bonnet captive for months until Jamie Fraser and company return from upstate New York. Bonnet’s crew is bound to search for their charismatic leader. The threat from Bonnet and his searching crew will pose a continuous danger to Murtagh and his men, especially if Bonnet’s crew puts out a reward for information or Murtagh’s men try to stage another insurrection operation against their British landlords.
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