TV Review: Outlander (Season 3, Episode 12)
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The Bakra begins with a change in perspective, as we’re shown exactly what’s happened to Young Ian since his kidnapping. After a long journey as captive to the Portuguese pirates, Ian is taken to see the Bakra, who is supposedly the rightful owner of the treasure Jamie was looking for. The Bakra is revealed to be none other than Geillis Duncan, the mysterious time-traveller who was supposedly burned at the stake back in the first season. Geillis was always rather dramatic, and makes her entrance by stepping out a bath of goat blood. It’s creepy, brilliant, and a oneway ticket to a yeast infection. Geillis interrogates Ian about a sapphire that’s missing from the treasure, which Jamie gave to Lord John Grey following his search for Claire. After plying him with suspicious truth-inducing tea, Ian reveals Jamie’s identity to Geillis and Geillis sexually assaults him. It’s a pretty explosive opening scene, and the rest of The Bakra is just as action-packed. Back at sea, the Artemis finally arrives in Jamaica, and Jamie and Claire set out in search of their missing nephew. The Frasers encounter the servant of Jamie’s uncle, who offers to help their quest and gets them an invitation to the Governor’s ball. Claire and Jamie search the slave markets for Young Ian but find no trace of him. What they do discover is the horrifying extent of the slave trade, depicted in visceral detail. Claire is disgusted, and ends up attacking a slaver after seeing his mistreatment of a man named Temeraire. In attempt to help the man, Jamie buys Temeraire in Claire’s name. Claire wants to free him as quickly as possible, but they resolve to do so in a place where Temeraire will not instantly be recaptured. The slave market scene is an infamous moment in Outlander’s source material, Diana Gabaldon’s book Voyager. The show has done a decent job of transforming some problematic elements of the books, but the representation of race in Outlander is far from perfect. Seeing Claire as a slave owner, no matter how well-intentioned she might be, is deeply uncomfortable. Temeraire’s plot is a method of exposition, in which his true purpose is to later deliver information about Geillis rather than stand out as his own character. Sadly, no space is made in Outlander’s narrative where a nuanced discussion of colonialism might be had.
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