‘Outlander’ 4×11 Review: “If Not For Hope”

There are episodes that can’t be truly called filler episodes – a hell of a lot happened in “If Not For Hope,” but that doesn’t mean the hour was especially thrilling, or that this is one episode you’ll be looking forward to re-watching when the season is over. If anything, this episode was like a formality, we had to get through it to get to the good part, and it wasn’t particularly painful to watch, but it also wasn’t at all exciting.

I need more than one good Claire/Jamie scene and the presence of Lord John Grey to get excited about an episode.

Now, I have nothing in particular against Lord John, and I will admit the show has made me appreciate him more than I ever did in the books, but other than reaffirming our already held belief that he is, deep down, a good man, we learned nothing about him this episode, just as we truly saw nothing new from Brianna, just the same doubts, the same determination, the same spirit.

Only Jamie and Claire moved forward, in a way, not just by finding their way back to each other – which we always knew they would – but by doing it with the understanding that even their relationship must change to accommodate Brianna, in a way, and that’s not a bad thing, no. It’s just the way of life.

So, let’s discuss the two fronts in this otherwise slow episode, as we get ready for what’s sure to be an intense end of the season:

THE HUNT FOR ROGER

It was never going to be easy, the hunt for Roger. And yet, what exactly could Jamie, Young Ian and even Claire do? What could Brianna do? Give up? Leave it up in Roger’s hands, or even God’s?

No, they had to try. Not just for themselves, not just for Jamie to alleviate his guilt, but for Brianna, and also, for Roger. And trying doesn’t come with any sort of guarantee of success, but trying, in and of itself, is still important.

They all feel the futility of it after a while, this overwhelming sense that this just isn’t meant to be, that this is a mistake they can’t fix. And that’s how we find Jamie and Claire discussing not just their feelings, but their recent estrangement caused not just by Jamie’s actions, but by their separate and yet shared guilt.

But guilt isn’t going to help anything, and they must both move past it. Whether they can find Roger or not, one thing is for certain, Brianna is going to need them both in the months ahead, and they can’t be crippled with regret if they’re going to be of any use to her. Roger or no Roger, she needs both her parents as well, despite what she might have said in anger, and that is something both Jamie and Claire can understand, before they move forward.

WAITING

Being in Jocasta’s hands always meant that Brianna wasn’t just going to be able to sit, draw and pine for Roger. Jocasta is many things, but passive isn’t one of them, and when she decides she knows what’s best for someone, she goes full steam ahead with what she thinks she ought to do.

In this case, find Brianna a husband.

The possibility of Roger has left Brianna in a limbo. She doesn’t know if he’ll want her anymore – I don’t want to start ranting about that yet – and yet, she can’t leave while there’s a change he could show up in the past, so she stays, and in doing so, she pretty much accepts that she’ll have to adhere to the rules of womanhood in the time she’s in. That includes marriage.

Of course, Brianna doesn’t just want to marry anyone, she wants to marry Roger, but if she has to stay, and raise her baby, she’s got enough common sense to see that there’s very little she can do but make the best of it, especially considering her parents are not around. That is, of course, until Lord John agrees with her last ditch attempt and agrees to “marry” her, ostensibly so she can wait for Roger.

Now, of course, we know the status quo won’t last long. At some point Jamie and Claire will return, and so will Roger, and the decisions Brianna made while they were gone might not end up being binding, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of strength – and heart – to find yourself in Brianna’s position and make the choices she’s making.

Even without hope, she’s choosing love, again and again. Now it’s time for that love to choose her back.

Things I think I think:

  • Brianna is quick to forgive Lizzie, not so quick with her father.
  • Since this is TV that’s OBVIOUSLY because we’re getting a big emotional scene later on, but this is also true to life. Sometimes the people that are closer to us are the people who ask the most of, and therefore, the people we find it harder to forgive.
  • Besides, there’s just more baggage there. A lot more.
  • I always appreciate Jamie treating Claire like an equal, even in just the little things.
  • We really haven’t gotten enough of Fergus as a part of this family this season, and it does my heart well to see him involved.
  • Also, I love Murtagh too much, please say you didn’t give him back just to take him away in the worst possible way.
  • Jocasta always, always gets her way.
  • Marsali and Fergus are an underrated adorable couple.
  • It’s interesting to see the dynamics between Lord John Grey and Brianna, because you can feel in the way he acts that she reminds him not just of Jamie, but of Claire as well.
  • Another reminder that the past sucked, Lord John having to hide.
  • NO, MURTAGH. I’M NOT SACRIFICING YOU FOR STUPID STEPHEN BONNET.
  • NOT A TRADE I’M WILLING TO MAKE.
  • “Sometimes people do the right thing for the wrong reason.” Ain’t that the truth.
  • “Hope is at the very heart of love.”
  • Dang, the romantic side of Lord John is coming out.
  • This conversation between Jamie and Claire is long overdue, because there’s a lot of Claire’s guilt in this conflict, as well.
  • For all that Brianna was born many years ago, this is the first time they have to deal with what it means to have a kid and have, in a way, divided loyalties.
  • I hate it and I love it, because the fact that they’re here, dealing with it, means that she is with them.
  • Also, can we freaking stop with the Frank was a saint narrative? It drives me up the freaking wall.
  • Want me to make a list of all the bad shit Frank did? I easily can.
  • The point, of course, is that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and the best Jamie can do now is learn from his mistake and be better.
  • “She’s just like you, she says things in anger she doesn’t mean.”
  • Well, she couldn’t be all Claire, now, could she?
  • Apologies are good.
  • Eh, at least you’re alive, Roger? Though why we jumped from OMG I’M ALMOST POSSIBLY GOING THROUGH THE STONES THOUGH EVERYONE KNOWS I’D NEVER DO IT to here I will never understand.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.