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The Frasers Buy a Slave and Other White Nonsense on ‘Outlander’

The Frasers Buy a Slave and Other White Nonsense on ‘Outlander’


I told you all last time that I was afraid of what would happen when the black folk finally showed up on Outlander. The writers and showrunners botched up the POC representation, turning slavery into a forced token that really did nothing more than elevate the “white savior” mantle Claire dons whenever POCs came close to her in the show. Oh, and Geillis is back — bathing in blood and molesting boys. I really don’t know what the hell is going on with this show anymore.

Let’s get into the episode.

Claire and Jamie are back on the search for Ian. You remember Ian, right? Jamie’s nephew that he manipulated into retrieving a box of gems, only to have the boy kidnapped and whisked away on a ship bound for Jamaica. The Frasers charter a ship to chase after it. The search for Ian is the purpose of the trip, although that gets lost in all the chaos Claire and Jamie cause wherever they go. Their search leads to an actual city, the first they’ve seen in months. It is filled with Englishmen and our first glimpse of the African slaves fresh off the boat and ready for sale.

Of course, Claire can’t mind her own business and stay out of trouble. She stumbles upon a slave auction and a subsequent fight that catches her in the middle.

Of course, Jamie has to step in to save his “damsel in distress.” And, because Claire interfered, Jamie ends up buying the slave in question to “save” him from a much direr fate.

Of course, Claire feigns disgust over the very idea of owning another human, but Jamie explains how they were actually helping the man and could free him later — when the time is right. He didn’t come out and say, “We saved one; give me a medal,” but the tone and cocky look said enough. The scene where they are towering over the seated black man to explain that he was safe with them.

“We aren’t the average white people.”

“You can trust us, we are your friends.”

“Listen to our accents, we aren’t like them.”

That last one may have been what I was thinking as the scene progressed. Seriously? No one in the writer’s room thought about the “white savior” trope and how they needed to steer clear of it? This man was portrayed in the scene as a damaged, traumatized animal who had been rescued from his abusive master. He was cowering at the feet of his new owner hoping that they wouldn’t treat him the same way and the new owners were patting him on the head and cooing at him that everything was going to be alright.

Who greenlit this?

And then, folks, the next time we see the slave, he is clean, no scars, smiling, and in uniform. He is walking upright and speaking English. HE IS DOMESTICATED and not the wild animal they BOUGHT from the auction. The Frasers done saved a slave and made him into an upright Englishman. When they finally “set him free,” I am so done with Claire and Jamie. I applauded when the young Captain Thomas Leonard — of the British ship that Claire sailed in on — found Jamie and arrested him for murder. I wondered then and still do now if the surname “Fraser” is somehow connected on some family tree with the surname “Hermitage.” Y’all know what I mean.

OutlanderThese two weren’t the only ones at peak privilege this week. Geillis comes back and boy has she changed! Remember her? She was the one dating McDougal in season one and later put on trial for witchcraft with Claire. Claire found out that Geillis comes from the future too and through the same portal. Well, Geillis was supposed to have burned at the stake.

But, watch whiteness work. She pleads her belly like some other conniving white woman we all know named Essie, from “American Gods.” Like Essie, Geillis escaped a death sentence and was given something lighter, a jail sentence she later escaped from. McDougal got her on a ship and that’s how we meet her in Jamaica…

…naked and bathing in blood. It’s goat’s blood, but still disgusting. I guess that is the 18th-century version of Retinol. As the woman rinses off, she talks to a boy; it’s Ian. If you kept watching, you saw why she had Ian. His Irish accent and his boyhood. The stuff she says in the scene was nauseating, but because Geillis is a woman, she is not portrayed as the predator. She’s just an evil lady attracted to little boys. She even admits to having other boys about Ian’s age. In our day, she would be jailed for child rape (I mean, or running for Senator, but that’s neither here nor there). But I guess back then, all the people who were complicit to her also overlooked that “quirk” of hers as well.

Anyway, her goal is to find a gem that was not in the box that Ian gave to her men. Instead, Jamie had it and gave it to the jailer/commander/friend he played chess with in prison, Sir John William Grey (remember THAT?). Geillis sees the pendant, blames Claire for the trouble of having to get it back and then schemes to get the gem. The Frasers find out too late that Geillis has Ian, by that time, Jamie is being taken in, their pet black man is let loose, and Claire is alone to fend for herself again.

Jonita Davis loves, reads, studies, and writes about comics, books, TV, culture, and more. You can usually find her in a corner somewhere, dragging a pen across paper in an effort to make sense of the world. 

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  • Wow! I couldn’t get thought the first season because the woman they cast for Clair rubbed me the wrong way. And the man they picked for Jamie didn’t embody my literary boyfriend. So It was hard to watch them. Now reading your article makes me pissed and glad I haven’t kept up with this show.

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