[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Jan. 6 episode of Outlander, “The Deep Heart’s Core.”]
Roger Wakefield MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) officially reached the end of his rope on Sunday’s Outlander.
Nothing about his decision to travel back in time to make a grand romantic gesture has gone the way he intended. First, he ruined the night of his and Brianna’s (Sophie Skelton) handfast ceremony by revealing he kept Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) fate a secret, resulting in a huge argument. Then he walked out on Bree and wasn’t able to find her again the next morning. Then he was threatened by Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), the man who had just raped Bree, into coming back onto his crew for weeks, taking him further away from finding and making up with Bree.
When he finally did make it to Fraser’s Ridge, he was immediately attacked without warning by a man who could only be Brianna’s father, Jamie (Sam Heughan), and sold to the Native Americans as a slave. After being forced to walk hundreds of miles away from finding Bree yet again, he fell, injured his wrists and was able to escape his guards. But so far north and lost, there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be able to find Bree again. So the cliffhanger at the end of “The Deep Heart’s Core,” showing Roger discovering a stone circle deep in the woods, was huge. He heard the telltale buzzing, meaning he could go back to his time through these stones. He could leave all this heartbreak and harm behind him, but he’d be saying goodbye to ever seeing Bree again.
“It’s been a horrible journey for Roger,” Outlander executive producer Maril Davis tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Finding out Brianna’s gone back without him, questioning how she feels about him, the highs of their handfasting and lovemaking and the lows of him having to reveal to her that he knew about [Claire] and didn’t tell her, her running off and him having to work for Stephen Bonnet again and the Jamie stuff — the poor guy is, certainly at this point, questioning what he is doing back here. Why is he even here anymore?”
That’s why this week’s hour, which also mostly focused on the Fraser family drama happening at Fraser’s Ridge, ended on that shot of Roger.
“We wanted to show that he’s questioning going back,” Davis says. “We wanted to show that he was physically and emotionally torn, that there was this thought of, ‘Should I go back?’ Quite honestly, I don’t know if anyone would blame him at this point. The question is, is his love for Brianna greater than his desire to leave this all behind and go home? He’s in the hands of the Mohawk now and doesn’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll have to wait and see what he chooses.”
With Brianna’s rape and pregnancy, her first time meeting Jamie and reuniting with her mother in the past, there’s been a lot of great emotion and drama surrounding the Frasers. But Davis says that all her favorite scenes are coming later this season for Brianna and Roger.
“There’s a lot of great Roger and Brianna stuff coming that, without spoiling anything, I’m really excited to see,” Davis says. “This is really their coming out party. This is always going to be Jamie and Claire’s show, but Roger and Brianna have really stepped up this season. They’ve had some really heartbreaking scenes, and there are some amazing performances coming in these next few episodes that I’m really excited for fans to see.”
Elsewhere in the episode, Jamie helped Brianna process the trauma of her recent rape by opening up about his own sexual assault. But their father/daughter bonding took a huge hit when Jamie assumed she was lying about her pregnancy being a result of the rape and made some pretty hurtful accusations toward her. However, when the whole truth about Bonnet being her rapist came out, Jamie and Young Ian (John Bell) were then forced to reveal their mistake in assuming Roger was Brianna’s rapist and attacking him and selling him to the Native Americans. Brianna demanded that Jamie and Young Ian right their wrong, find and save Roger and bring him to her while she traveled to River Run to deliver her baby in a safe place.
With Bree and Jamie being separated moving forward, their relationship will be forced to take a hiatus while Jamie attempts to fix his mistake.
“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances where miscommunication and misunderstanding … ” Davis says, trailing off. “We see that Jamie and Brianna are starting to bond, and this is the start of a great relationship, and let’s make up for all these lost years. And then Jamie, being a product of his time, was taught so much about him being the king of men, but even the king of men is still from the 1700s and has a different perspective on life and his daughter and what he wants for her. In his time women weren’t intimate with people they weren’t in relationships with or married or handfast to, and he can’t help himself.”
Bringing Jamie and Bree’s fight to life onscreen was a moment from Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn book that Outlander producers knew they couldn’t skip. But it was also tough for them to cut short the scenes of Jamie and Bree’s bonding in this week’s episode because it had been such a long time coming.
“This was all very upsetting, but he also misunderstood what has gone on,” Davis says. “So it was important to show that different perspective because it’s not possible to imagine that Bree would come back and everything would just fall right into place and there would be no ups and downs. We’ll see what happens to their relationship in these next few episodes and if they can get past this, and if Bree can forgive him and if Jamie can make up for the things he’s said and done to Brianna and his willingness and desire to do that. Because he loves her and wants to be the father to her that he hasn’t been able to be.”
The first half of this season was mostly focused on Claire and Jamie making a home together for the first time in Fraser’s Ridge and Bree and Roger making it to the past. Looking ahead, Davis says the second half of season four is “a lot about … home and family.”
“Home is wherever your family is,” she says. “As we hurdle towards the end of this season, the family is separated and the question is, are we all going to be reunited, are they going to be able to get back to the place where they can start building these relationships again?
“Jamie and Claire set down these roots not realizing they’d have more family there than they thought. We’re in a place right now where everyone is really quite fractured, and so looking ahead, can that family bond come back? Can all these hurt feelings be repaired?”
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.