[This is not a spoiler-free review of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]
Episode 704: “A Most Uncomfortable Woman”
Written by Marque Franklin William, Directed by Jacquie Gould
Outlander‘s “A Most Uncomfortable Woman” is not what you think it means, as Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Brianna (Sophie Skelton) are determined to make the men uncomfortable, and rightly so. While Claire is a modern woman in the past, Brianna is in her own time and is pushing the supposed boundaries for women. Women are still fighting for their place in the world in 2023 and pushing back on misogyny and sexism.
Brianna and Roger (Richard Rankin) are in 1980 Lallybroch, having purchased the property, and are in the midst of renovations that have gone on for at least two years at this point in the story. Living in a double-wide caravan or trailer outside Lallybroch, it has to be tight quarters with two little kids. The audience finally sees the older Jemmy (Blake Johnston Miller) and Mandy (Rosa Morris) in the flesh, and just like any other brother and sister pair, they are up to trouble. It is becoming increasingly obvious to the Mackenzie’s that this Lallybroch renovation is impossible financially. As they become more cash-strapped, that gold musket ball and the Frenchmen’s gold become more important to the story but have yet to be put into play.
Much to the surprise of the male interviewer, Brianna got a job as a plant inspector at a dam. Of course, the interviewer thought she should be a secretary, but being ballsy and upfront with her qualifications and critiques made her a clear winner. Roger, however, is less than enthused about his wife’s new job as he will not be the main breadwinner for the family. This episode is not a great one for the female sex.
William Ransom (Charles Vandervaart) has officially entered the chat as he gets his own separate storyline that has nothing to do with Jamie (Sam Heughan) or Lord John Grey. He is a full-fledged lieutenant who is waiting for his posting. His cousin Henry Grey (Harry Jarvis) already has his new posting, and the boys are celebrating. In a somewhat drunken stupor, they come upon the abuse of a “whore” by a fellow soldier, which eventually leads to her death. William bravely stepped in to help the woman, but he was too late. Based on this somewhat heroic act, he is asked to carry secret letters as his first “job.” However, along the way, his horse spooks, throws him, and he somehow ends up with a branch impaling his forearm. Alone and injured, he weirdly meets Ian (John Bell) in the swampy forest, who has been sent in the same direction by the Sons of Liberty to help persuade the Native Americans to join the right side of history. Ian knows a little about healing due to his Auntie Claire and tries to help William. Unfortunately, his sickness has progressed too far, and he is in need of more help.
The Hunters are introduced to Outlander via William as Denzell Hunter (Joey Phillips) is a doctor, and Rachel Hunter (Izzy Meikle-Small) is his sister and assistant. They are also Quakers. Ian hears of them from neighbors in the area, and Dr. Hunter is able to help William to recover. He almost takes off his arm in doing so, but in the end, everyone stays whole. Something is happening between Ian and Rachel just from a couple of longing glances. Ian learns they are heading to Fort Ticonderoga after they heal up William, and he knows his aunt and uncle will cross their paths.
Let’s get to the main event in every episode, Jamie and Claire. Traveling with a paranoid Ian (thanks, Arch Bug), they are back in Wilmington to board a ship to Scotland eventually. Cornelius Harnett (James Weber Brown) has other ideas. After being saved by Jamie in another season, he slightly threatens Jamie to enlist in the Continental Army or have someone do so in his stead. Being the proud and upstanding man that he is, who would never have someone take his place, he signs up. Scotland will have to be put off. Being with Claire, Jamie knows he is already on the winning side but realizes that a lot of death and destruction will come with freedom. Being the best wife ever, Claire vows to stay by his side and help as a surgeon…or at least an assistant. Methinks the army surgeons will not like a woman in the medical tents.
Before leaving Wilmington, Claire literally runs into the presumed-dead Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones). With such elation on seeing Claire alive, Tom goes in for a big, long kiss and is caught by surprise; Claire doesn’t exactly pull away. We learn that Tom is a free man. He was enlisted to be the Governor’s secretary, and after his proper one showed up, there wasn’t much to do with a confessed murderer in light of the political unrest. He was set free. As before, he is still in love with Claire, and they have another long conversation. We learn he is the one who placed the obituary for Jamie and Claire after hearing of the fire. It is such a pleasure to see Mark Lewis Jones again. With him being alive, we shall see if he reappears further down the road.
As this episode ends, we have many characters heading to Fort Ticonderoga, where they will inevitably all meet. We have four more episodes left for this half of season seven and at least a couple of battle scenes that have been teased to the audience through the trailers. It may be a bit bloody and torturous for storylines from the past from here on out. Those in the future are dealing with less deadly decisions but have to learn where they fit into their society and how they will make a difference.
This season continues to pack a lot into every episode, and I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. This episode is the first time this season we have had three to four storylines trying to coexist in one episode. It worked well with the storylines in the past, but of course, it would have been nice to have more time with the Hunters, especially Denzell. They are at least coexisting at the same time, and it is progressing at the same rate for them. Brianna and Roger’s storyline is marred by the lack of communication with the audience about what year we are following along with them. This episode at least started with stating it was 1980, which means last week’s episode had them in 1978. Again, having your audience trying to figure out what year things are happening in is not great storytelling. Be upfront with the viewers, especially since Brianna and Roger’s time is proceeding years faster than Jamie and Claire’s. Not everyone watching is a book reader, and confusion about just how much time is passing is not going to be a positive aspect of a television series.