Hold on as this rollercoaster takes off!
Episode 5 “Savages”
So many tears this episode!
First, I am loving the opening between Adawehi and Claire. Two equals. Two lady healers talking about plants and thus “breaking bread” together. When Adawehi says about Brianna to Claire “she’s here”, did you think she knew Brianna was there in the same time or simultaneously in the same place but in the future? Tantoo Cardinal, who plays Adawehi, was so underused this episode! Many know her from Dances with Wolves but I know her best from Legends of the Fall. I wish there was more of her and Claire’s relationship but the writers established enough of their friendship so that when we discover her violent death we feel Claire’s loss.
Let’s get to the gem of this episode: When did you realize it was Murtagh? I heard two lines and was like WHAAAAAATTTTTTT?????!!!!! Duncan LaCroix’s character has been the most anticipated and debated return of this season when it was clear Murtagh would reappear at some point after the Producers dropped some hints. We last saw him in Season 3 being shoved off to the colonies in the bitter cold at Ardsmuir with Jamie and him giving helpless glances to one another.
Very smart to have Murtagh be one of the Regulators a group Jamie promised he’d work against with Governor Tryon. That conflict creates more sizzle and pop then having him agreeably return to Fraser’s Ridge with Jamie and live happily ever after. Where’s the drama there? Well I’m looking forward to seeing how this conflict further bubbles between godfather and godson.
Ultimately, this episode asks who are the real savages when they’re on both sides? It’s a well crafted episode with its peaks like Murtagh’s return, the unraveling lunacy of Gerhard Muller, and the last beat as Brianna disappears behind the stones.
Episode 6 “Blood of My Blood”
Another fan favorite character returns and this time he gazes as Jamie sexily saws wood with an open shirt (bonus!). Too bad Scotland doesn’t get hot like North Carolina or we’d see sweat pearling on Jamie’s chest and then on Lord John Grey’s forehead! After we discover LJG’s (lame) excuse to detour to Fraser’s Ridge enroute to Virginia, we learn that our favorite fruit of Jamie and Genevieve’s loins — Willie — is back! And he’s still a brat. Over the ep, they bond by tickling fish, shooting deer, and Willie recognizes that he and Jamie have a bond that goes deeper than social class of the time tries to maintain. I suspect that as Willie looks over his shoulder at Jamie as he leaves the ridge it’s a spark of a kindred connection.
Between LJG and Claire, different sparks are erupting. Like atoms they repel each other but still orbit around the one element that bonds them which is of course Jamie. I like the dynamic of Claire nursing LJG through smallpox and in his feverish haze his sickness becomes a truth serum forcing Claire to hear the raw honesty of his feelings for Jamie. Sometimes hearing the truth is harder than blithely ignoring the adoring eyes of your husband’s friend who’d give anything to be more than friends! They both come to an understanding that would never have happened if they weren’t forced together in a cabin for a week. I love it when smallpox brings people together.
Best moment of the ep? Jamie gifting the ring to Claire. Not that the solidness of their marriage was ever in question but this bathtub with the ring scene is pretty sweet and reinforces their bond. A thousand kisses? Yes please.
Episode 7 “Down the Rabbit Hole”
I have one word for this episode: Frank! Frank! Frank! Just when I thought the writers couldn’t get into my brain again (after Toni Graphia wrote that stupendous scene with Candy Sandy and Claire in Season 3) they bowled me over with Frank upon Frank upon Frank scenes galore! Needless to say I loved them all and I enjoyed learning the backstory of his and Brianna’s relationship that we missed in Season 3. Some fans thought this story line and Laoghaire’s (“Leery”) were totally unnecessary and though we didn’t really need to spend that much time with the latter, the time was better spent with Frank and Brianna. As she’s about to meet Jamie, we need to understand what her relationship was like with the man that raised her.
How much did Frank know about the past and why does he keep it from Claire? Well all the Frank haters like to add this to their Reasons to Hate Frank list to prove how selfish he is. The show doesn’t provide enough information to know what was going on in his head when he asks Bree to come to England with him. Does he want her for himself at the first opportunity of creating a happier life with another woman who truly loves him or is he trying to protect her from Claire someday leaving and returning to Jamie? I guess we’ll never know cause ya know he dies afterward. Bummer. The point is that Frank is selfish to ask his daughter to come with him to England just like it’s selfish of Claire to hold onto him for twenty years in a loveless marriage. But let’s be honest, Frank totally rocked those ’60s glass frames and turtlenecks.
Brianna’s conflict lies in loyalty between two men who in blood and name are both her father. By the end of this ep, we see that Frank was a noble man who in his ghostly presence at the end gives her his blessing for her journey. From one noble man to another, Brianna is on her way to meet Jamie.
Episode 8 “Wilmington”
OMG I think we understand that Claire is smarter than most men in the room and proves it by wielding sharp knives to cut people open without a blotch of blood on her nice dress!
This ep is a little more of a nuts and bolts bridge setting up scaffolding of what is to come but now everyone’s in Wilmington so hooray!
To kick it off: Brianna and Roger find each other and I really love that moment when he says “Thank God” and hugs her. Yet this is Brianna and Roger so moments of tender affection quickly become prickly aaaaaand they’re fighting again. For me, it’s hard to root for them as a couple. So far we’ve seen them have moments of connection that become diluted with bickering and petulance. We simply haven’t spent enough time with them as a couple. We’ve seen them from wee “May I Have a Biscuit?” boy and “What a Pretty Bird” girl ( from “Faith” ep – I can’t think of another reference for wee Brianna) so that by the time they’re taking their clothes off, I’m squirming in my seat praying for the scene to end! I know a lot of Roger and Bree fans were living and dying by this moment but I never wanted an Outlander love scene to end quicker. And the echoing of Claire and Jamie’s wedding night, although I understand why that creative choice was made, just made the “pay off” of Brianna and Roger’s simmering romance not worth it. The show has made it clear that their romance is totally different than Jamie and Claire’s so please don’t try to sell me that their love is similar because it’s not. Bree and Roger simply haven’t earned it for me yet but there’s still a lot to come.
Of course by the end of this ep I’m wishing for another scene to end but this time it’s with Brianna and Bonnet. I’m glad that we didn’t see the violent act itself (Outlander receives criticism for too much rape but unfortunately its source material is rife with it). As I see the passive and blasé chittering amongst the men outside the room it boils my blood so that by the time she slowly walks up the stairs to her room, I’m ready to bust through that pub and kill Bonnet (and those bystanders) myself! The last shot of her listlessly climbing up those stairs makes me feel helpless as though I was there with her.
Episode 9 “The Birds & the Bees”
Alright it’s the moment fans have been waiting for — “Have you seen a tall redheaded Scotsman?” — why yes we have! He’s right over there peeing against a wall! It’s a wonderful first meeting and Sam Heughan’s tears brought on my own but man this scene is short. The rest of the ep takes time to build their relationship since it’s a little tense in the beginning. Brianna may be carrying feed for the goats but there’s also some emotional baggage like guilt too (thanks ep 7 for establishing her connection with Frank!).
I think Sam Heughan is doing his best work this season from seeing Murtagh again, connecting with Willie, meeting Brianna for the first time, then bee hunting and giving her the space to allow another father figure into her heart.
Little Easter Eggs from the book like Brianna smiling in her sleep is a nice touch.
Favorite line? “I didn’t think I had to pack condoms mama.” This is the only chuckle I get before Brianna recounts the worst night of her life and Claire realizes that she can’t protect her daughter from every danger. For me the emotional impact of this moment gets undercut once the question of paternity is raised. This is a major thorn in my side that stems from the book.
And it leads to the episode ending with more miscommunication and misidentification that feels a bit silly and will lead to a dizzying chain of events. The Gabaldon shenanigans are going to come into full effect which I didn’t care for while reading “Drums of Autumn” on which this season is based but the ep left me really looking forward to seeing what Richard Rankin as Roger brings. Just when we thought Claire and Jamie had tests in their relationship, Brianna and Roger are about to have a healthy batch of their own.