Claire and Jamie See the Ugliest Parts of America


Warning: Contains spoilers for season 4, episode 2 of Outlander, “Do No Harm.”

“Do No Harm” is one of the most disturbing episodes yet of a show that has delved into dark waters before. Outlander‘s venture into the American colonies has already been marked by bloodshed, and it only gets more dire in the season’s second episode. Jamie and Claire have come from a costly encounter with evil pirate Stephen Bonnet, only to meet with brewing tensions about slavery and the law at the estate of Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta.

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Here’s everything we thought while watching “Do No Harm.”

  • It’s easy to understand why Jamie is blaming himself for Lesley’s death during the pirate attack. It must be especially galling that he can’t bury his friend’s body in the right manner, given that Lesley himself was the one insisting they give Hayes a proper burial last episode. But the only person responsible for bad behavior is the person who did it. The Pirate Who Must Not Be Named is going to prey on Jamie’s mind for a long time.
  • Holy mackerel. River Run is huge. Is this North Carolina or Calabasas? Do they have Health Nut here? Jocasta Cameron’s house is like the Pemberley of the South, I guess.
  • HELLO ROLLO. Who’s a good boy?
  • For a minute, it seemed like Jocasta was rudely ignoring Young Ian’s gift of flowers, but no—Jamie’s aunt is blind. Jokingly, she warns that she has developed the sharpest of hearing. Better be careful with what you say around Auntie.
  • Of course Jamie had masses of red hair as a kid. That’s a cute childhood detail. The aunt and nephew already have a close bond.
  • Unfortunately, Rollo’s meeting with Pepe Le Pew did not make it into the scene, but it’s pretty funny how America keeps surprising the Frasers. Who can blame them? Skunks are truly…special.
  • It’s super nice that Jocasta reminds Jamie of his mother—in a way, that means Claire gets to find out what her mother-in-law would have been like.
    Outlander Season 4 2018

    Aimee Spinks

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    • From the young women in Claire and Jamie’s bedroom to Ulysses and the many people working the fields, there are 152 slaves at River Run. Claire is deeply uncomfortable to hear the way Jocasta talks about them, from discussing how to make them most productive, to their price, to how she considers some of them her “friends.” Jocasta might think she’s being “benevolent,” but it’s still a heinous practice that’s typical of the time period. What will Claire and Jamie do?
    • “You take one look at my buttocks, and you’d think my daddy were a buffalo.” No thanks, newly introduced character John Quincy Myers. That’s enough from you!
    • Lieutenant Wolf and Jamie seem to be getting off to a bad start. Is it just that Jamie knows more than the navy representative, or something else? Jocasta seems to think Wolf is used to being the big man on campus. He’s going to have to let that go if Jamie’s going to be sticking around.
    • “A woman’s unsolicited views are not always welcome.” While she’s the owner of a substantial property and business, Jocasta reminds Jamie that women aren’t supposed to speak frankly to men.
      Outlander Season 4 2018

      StarzAimee Spinks

      • Oh, that makes sense—Wolf wants to be more than friends with Jocasta. He’s probably not too happy to see Jamie, a strapping family member with sharp wits, asserting his opinions around the place.
      • She’s never been a good liar, but Claire particularly can’t hide her distaste for River Run’s reliance on slavery from sharp-eared Aunt Jocasta. It’s going to be tricky for her to explain this at a time when this is an unusual, or even revolutionary, opinion for a white person to have.
      • Given his clan’s experiences with the English at home in Scotland, it’s not surprising that Young Ian sides with the Native Americans in the conversation about local tensions. Obviously, the pompous, grasping men in Cross Creek society think that’s “naive.”
      • Excuse me, but if my aunt were going to leave her giant estate to me, and also put me in charge effective immediately, I would probably want a bit of forewarning? Jocasta’s surprise announcement also doesn’t leave Jamie and Claire much choice in the matter. Will they be forced to stay at River Run forever?

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        • Hugely valuable though the estate might be, Claire cannot abide the idea of owning slaves as mistress of River Run. Jamie is optimistic that they might be able to free the slaves after taking over, but Claire reminds him that it won’t be as simple as that.
        • Later, Jocasta’s advisor Farquard Campbell tells them exactly how un-simple it’ll be to free all the slaves: The Frasers will have to get permission from the county court, then prove that each slave has performed a meritorious act such as saving a life, then post a significant financial surety.
        • An urgent summons arrives; a slave called Rufus has risen up against one of River Run’s overseers, injuring him. Claire and Jamie rush to handle the fallout. They discover that a law condemns a slave who strikes a white person to execution, but upon arriving, they see that the overseer has already taken the law into his own hands, and has cruelly gouged Rufus with a hook.
        • Hastening to save Rufus’ life, the Frasers bring him back to the house, but Jocasta is aghast. That’s compounded when Lieutenant Wolf comes by to say Jamie could be arrested for protecting Rufus and flouting the law. Jocasta might be kind to her kin, but she abides by the laws—and it’s not surprising how she acts in the situation.
          Outlander Season 4 2018

          StarzAimee Spinks

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          • As he recovers consciousness, after Claire’s successful surgery, Rufus explains to Young Ian how he and his sister were taken by slavers. But Ulysses intercepts Claire later, explaining that she might have saved Rufus’ life, but that he might face a far worse fate once the angry overseers come to make sure the law is carried out. And if not Rufus, his fellow slaves will be set upon instead. It’s an extraordinarily ugly situation, and Claire and Jamie are at a loss as Jocasta’s neighbors swarm River Run.
          • At the end of the episode, two white characters have the fate of a black character in their hands—an imbalance that, while reflective of the time period, still feels monstrous to watch. It’s obvious Jamie and Claire’s good intentions have plunged them into the middle of a huge political and social problem they don’t understand. As Jamie suggests Claire helps Rufus die more peacefully before the mob can take him, the couple struggle with the choice they’re making—after all, Claire has sworn to do no harm. But she feeds Rufus a “tea” containing a dose of deadly aconite. Was this the right thing to do?
          • The episode ends with a frightening scene showing Jocasta’s neighbors desecrating Rufus’ body. It seems unlikely they know he’s already dead. It’s a horrifying end to a jarring episode, full of racial tensions, violence, and an unclear path for Jamie and Claire through deeply entrenched inequality.



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