TV Show Review

TV Review: OUTLANDER: Season 4, Episode 7: Down the Rabbit Hole [Starz]

Sophie Skelton Outlander Down the Rabbit Hole

Outlander Down the Rabbit Hole Review

Starz’s Outlander: Season 4, Episode 7: Down the Rabbit Hole explores the perilous paths two time-travelers are taking to the same destination – Fraser’s Ridge in America. It is not so much the landscapes and modes of conveyance that these travelers should be weary of but the people they meet along the way.

When Brianna “Bree” Randall Fraser (Sophie Skelton) meets Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson) in Down the Rabbit Hole, Laoghaire is the opposite of the person that the viewer has come to know. Laoghaire is kind, generous, loving, and rational outside of the presence of a Fraser. Brianna sees Laoghaire and her daughter Joan MacKimmie (Layla Burns) as God-sends and her rescuers, their home her temporary harbor.

Laoghaire MacKenzie’s hidden rage and irrationality are unleashed when she finds out that Brianna is Jamie and Claire Fraser’s daughter. The viewer can literally see the kindness within Laoghaire bleed away like a fast-oozing wound, replaced by pent-up anger.

Laoghaire’s mind still can’t reconcile the return of Claire Fraser with the loss of her husband e.g. “what does Claire have that I don’t? What can she do that I can’t?” Laoghaire can’t grasp that for all of the twenty years Claire and Jamie Fraser were separated, that Claire and Jamie never stopped loving each other, that their type of love is sought-after, one-of-a-kind, binding, and unbreakable. Laoghaire’s uneducated and jealousy-ladened mind believes that Jamie and Claire Fraser’s relationship, after Claire’s return, is due to witchcraft, magic. It never occurs to Laoghaire that Claire and Jamie are soul-mates and that the “magic” at play is something that Laoghaire has never experienced (thus her mind can’t make sense of it and seeing it at work is an irritant).

Nell Hudson gives one of her best performances in Outlander during Down the Rabbit Hole due to the range of emotions that she goes through in the episode. The viewer feels sympathy for Laoghaire, even after her actions move from rational to irrational. Laoghaire loves the romanticized idea of Jamie Fraser more than she loves the actual man. Laoghaire MacKenzie is capable of being sensible. She likes the financial security that Jamie Fraser brings her and her household. She likes how she feels around him and the fact that she and her children have a good man in their lives when Jamie is with them, someone that rules with love and fairness, not with his fists or anger. Having all that snatched away from herself, but also from her child, is infuriating and frustrating to Laoghaire MacKenzie.

Though Laoghaire MacKenzie is a major character in Down the Rabbit Hole, new characters are introduced during the episode as well. There are some small scenes, small characters in a book, stumbled into, met by happenstance, that eventually have major consequences later on in a narrative. I believe that is what the viewer witnesses in Down the Rabbit Hole when Brianna Randall meets Joseph Wemyss (Alec Newman) and Wemyss introduces Brianna to his daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wemyss (Caitlin O’Ryan). Newman is an actor that the viewer may recognize from previous projects. When the viewer sees him playing a bit role, it speaks to the importance of said role and what that role is introducing. This is all speculation at this point, I haven’t read the book this season of Outlander is based on yet, but that is the way it feels as Brianna meets a girl that can cook, sew, and will offer Brianna needed knowledge and companionship on her journey.

Roger Wakefield MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) deciding to go back in time in Down the Rabbit Hole was inevitable. I can’t imagine that MacKenzie could sleep, eat, drink, or think of anything besides “Brianna has gone back in time. She is in mortal danger. I can’t sit here and do nothing.”

I don’t know if Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) will be the new main villain of Outlander or not but when on-screen, the viewer can’t take their eyes off of him. The viewer never knows what Bonnet is going to say or do next. Unlike Captain of His Majesty’s Eighth Dragoons Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall’s unrepentant evilness, Bonnet’s malice is born of past experiences that have gnarled his way of thinking, actions, and outlook on life. Stephen Bonnet’s shilling story to Roger MacKenzie in Down the Rabbit Hole exemplifies this fact.

Stephen Bonnet has a twisted moral code. Question: if Stephen Bonnet is so morally bankrupt, why not be a full-fledged pirate instead of posing a normal, enterprising ship’s captain? Is Stephen Bonnet smart enough to know that piracy is a dead-end occupation and that a semi-steady pay check is easier to obtain and poses far less risk? It would seem he is smart enough to realize these facts but during Down the Rabbit Hole, Bonnet is incapable of stopping his true nature from poking out from underneath the disguise he drapes over his shoulders.

Roger MacKenzie bares witness to that true nature in Down the Rabbit Hole when, to MacKenzie’s moral outrage and horror, Stephen Bonnet pushes a sick girl out the window of his ship. Bonnet has no emotional reaction to this act, unless impatience, wanting to get it over with, can be called an emotional reaction. Like Oksana Astankova in Killing Eve, Stephen Bonnet’s psychopathy is clear to those that don’t even know what they are seeing, generating a sense of unease e.g. Bonnet, feigning empathy, stops a baby from crying by dipping his fingers in alcohol and putting them into the baby’s mouth. No one that watches him do this thinks that he is doing it out of kindness.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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