Outlander Season 3, Episode 12 Recap: "The Bakra"

Photo: Courtesy of Starz.
After several episodes spent looking for Young Ian (John Bell), here he is! This week's episode opens with a flashback of his kidnapping, but this time, from the victim's perspective. Looks like someone known as the Bakra was seeking the very same jewels that Jamie found on Silkie Island, and Young Ian was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, the crew decides to keep him, because, as one man puts it, "the Bakra likes young boys." Well, then.
Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire's (Caitriona Balfe) suspicions appear to be right on track, as we see the ship dock in Jamaica, and Ian is thrown into a dismal underground cell, where he meets Henry. Apparently, there used to be more prisoners down there, but they were taken to see the Bakra, and never returned. (Is there an Outlander/Walking Dead crossover episode that I am not aware of? This is all creepy AF.)
Soooo, who or what is a Bakra?
We find out when Ian is taken into the bosom of a lovely pink mansion, and is confronted with none other than Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), bathing in what appears to be a pool filled with blood. This is jarring because A) Geillis is supposed to have died in season 1, and B) BLOOD?!
Rather than the certain death he was expecting, Ian is treated to some tea and cake. Geillis is a psycho, but a courteous one. She claims the jewels found on Silkie island were actually hers, and that one of her sapphires is missing. Ian knows nothing about this, but we do — Jamie took it when he first found the treasure. Because we have apparently entered the Harry Potter universe and Geillis has been force-feeding Ian a version of veritaserum, he accidentally reveals this very suspicion to her. Jamie better watch his back.
Speaking of Jamie, he and Claire have finally landed in Jamaica. The plan is to hide The Artemis in a small cove, find Young Ian and slip away before Captain Leonard arrives to have Jamie hanged. This seems like a sound plan, which means it almost certainly will not pan out.
Indeed, they have barely walked off the dock before they are met by Kenneth McIver, one of Jared's employees. They warily inform him of their search for Young Ian, and find out that The Bruja left Jamaica roughly one week before their arrival. McIver suggests they make inquiries at the slave market — it's possible Young Ian could have been sold off before the ships's departure.
The trip to the slave market is harrowing for Claire, who despite spending years in the past hasn't really come face to face with this disgusting institution. To its credit, the show doesn't just gloss over or sanitise the scenes — it emphasises the horrifying way slaves are treated (there's a branding scene that is not for the faint of heart), and the sheer dehumanising effect of it all. But the show also frames Claire as a kind of benevolent white saviour who, shocked at the sight of an auctioneer exposing a slave's penis to give account of his virility, starts swatting at him with her parasol. The ensuing scuffle is interrupted by Jamie, who Claire begs to do something about the situation.
His solution is to buy the man — whose name is Temeraire — for Claire, who now owns a human person. She informs Jamie that they must free him, but he tells her to wait — they can't release the man in Kingston, or he'll just be captured and sold again. The argument that at least he'll be treated more decently as their slave than as a free man taking his own chances is one that doesn't totally sit right with me — it rings too much of the pre-Civil War arguments used to justify the institution of slavery as a necessary and benevolent one. To her credit, Claire appears to be troubled by this as well. The look on Temeraire's face when he is told that he will be free...but not yet, is almost too much to deal with.
After all this, it turns out the new governor bought the Bruja's slaves, and he is hosting a reception tonight. And even better, Jamie and Claire already have an invite, courtesy of Kenneth McIver. So, it looks like we're off to a ball, folks!
Photo: Courtesy of Starz.
Back in the pink mansion, Geillis is consulting with Archibald (Mark Hadfield) and Margaret Campbell (Alison Pargeter), who appear to have made it safely to the West Indies as well. We learn that she needs all three sapphires to fulfil some sort of prophesy to find out when the new Scottish King will rise. (Fun fact: the treasure was actually Dougal Mackenzie's, who hid it on Silkie Island and died before he was able to use it.)
This episode is just full of twists! Jamie's wig, for one. I don't care how historically accurate is it; this is not a lewk that I can fully embrace. But the real surprise here is that John Grey (David Berry) is actually the governor! The same man who imprisoned and then befriended Jamie. I don't know who is more shocked, him, Jamie, or Claire, who has no idea about their past. However, there is a definite vibe between the two men, and Claire is quick to pick up on it. Grey even kept the sapphire Jamie gave him at Ardsmuir prison — how sweet!
Later in the night, Claire is chatting with Grey, sans Jamie, when she realises that Geillis Duncan is in the room. Not believing her eyes, she excuses herself and pursues what she thinks is a ghost.
Geillis explains that she survived the pyre because she was pregnant. Once she gave birth, Dougal, the father, bribed someone to fake her burning, and she escaped. After Culloden, she married a plantation owner who later died, leaving her his fortune. She's Mistress Abernathy now, of Rose Hall (which explains the pink mansion).
Always gullible, Claire tells her former friend exactly why she and Jamie are in Jamaica. Geilis feigns interest and promises to make inquiries. When Claire brings her over to greet Jamie, Geilis notices the sapphire hanging off Grey's coat. She corrals the governor into getting his fortune told by Margaret Campbell, who is conveniently also at this party.
This is of course just a ploy to have him hand over his sapphire as a personal item to be used for his fortune. With all three stones in hand, Margaret delivers the prophecy Geilis has been seeking: "When twice 1,200 moons have coursed, 'tween man's attack and woman's curse, and when the issue is cut down, then will a Scotsman wear a crown."
In case you, like me, are not versed in astrology, here's the gist: Twice 1,200 moons is equivalent to 200 years. A woman's curse is childbirth, and man's attack...well, you can figure that out. The rest though, remains somewhat of a mystery to Geilis, who makes an excellent "Benjamin Button" reference in her confusion about a 200-year-old baby having to die for a new Scottish King to emerge.
Amidst all this drama, Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett) arrives at the governor's mansion, forcing Jamie and co. to make a quick exit. The good news is that Temeraire has been quizzing the governor's slaves, who remember seeing Young Ian being taken to Mistress Abernathy's pink mansion.
Temeraire informs Jamie and Claire that he knows of a place near Rose Hall where escaped slaves have gathered for safety. He wants to join them. Claire and Jamie agree and bid him adieu, signalling the end of a questionable plot line. Before they can continue on to confront Geilis, however, British soldiers ambush them and take Jamie into custody. The charges against him are murder and high treason. Things....are not looking good. Looks like Claire's on her own again.
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