Roger’s proposal is doomed, and although he can’t see why, we can. So can Brianna, who is presented with a life-altering question — which quickly becomes a demand — and is steadfast enough not to buckle. After he rejects her second kiss, Brianna seems to age five years in a heartbeat. She’s an orphan, and he’s the only one in the world who knows why. He, more than anyone, should understand the source of her reluctance, and yet he returns her offer of intimacy with an insistence on lifelong commitment and, ultimately, with contempt.
“If all I wanted was to have my way with you,” he sneers, “I would have had you on your back a dozen times last summer.” That slap doesn’t even begin to express the depths of her hurt.
We’re meant to see it for the wreck it is. Roger is a protagonist, not a hero. His love is earnest and his heartbreak is real, but the episode makes no excuses for his cruelty to Brianna, and the show sets him up to pay a price. (A price that, by now, we expect him to have to work to pay — this show is more than capable of making characters face consequences when it wants to.)
And what about Brianna? At the festival, they’ve been surrounded by people reaching out to the past — a past Brianna already knows well — and Roger has definitively removed himself as a reason to stay in the present. No wonder their story ends as Roger sets something fragile on fire and Brianna vanishes amid the torches, darkness pressing down on every side.
• That wicker deer is a delight.
• Full marks to Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe for doing a scene on actual horseback instead of on barrels with hair.
• This week’s comment we could have done without: Ian hearing about the sexual freedom of Cherokee women and declaring, “I love this land.”
• There sure is a lot of emphasis on Brianna’s very modern higher education this episode.
• Rollo is a very good dog. Rollo is clearly being paid enough in treats to show up and sit still, but not enough to make eye contact with anyone in frame, and I love him for it.