This final Outlander episode, like those before it, has incredible visual elements, some great acting, and some huge disappointments. The saturated colors of the Native American costumes and the spectacular sets of the Indian Village and of the plantation River Run are brilliant eye candy. Caitriona Balfe’s character Claire Fraser, looks more beautiful in this episode than in any previous one, despite having traveled for months through forests to rescue Roger Mackenzie. Same with Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser, who besides looking very handsome, adds wonderful acting to his scenes. As does John Bell as Ian Murray. But if you’re a fan of the books, there’s a big hole in the story. Here, the five biggest takeaways from tonight’s episode.
Jamie, Claire and their nephew Ian have finally made it to the Mohawk village where Roger (Rik Rankin) is being held. They approach the village cautiously and make their offer to exchange goods and whiskey for Roger. After being rebuffed at first, negotiations, undertaken by Ian who speaks some Mohawk, seem to be going well and the Indians are intrigued by their visitors—until they catch sight of the huge opal that Claire is wearing around her neck. The chief tells them they must leave the village. Later, after the Frasers have retreated to the forest, a small group of Indians tries to steal the stone. “Why is this stone so important to you?” Claire asks. One woman tells the story: A strange Native American came to their village many years before to warn them that “you must kill the white men or they will kill you.” His name was Otter Tooth and he was wearing the stone. His warnings grew so dire that he was expelled from the village and later killed by the Indians. They took his head and buried it far away. Claire realizes this is the skull she found and the ghost she saw many episodes ago. In exchange for help to rescue Roger, she promises them the stone.
ROMANCE AT RIVER RUN
While all this is going on, back at River Run Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is waiting to give birth. At the same time, a romance is developing between Jamie’s godfather Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and his Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy). An unlikely pair. The never-married Murtagh, having survived Culloden, prison, and indentured servitude is now the leader of the rebel group called the Regulators and a wanted man. The thrice widowed Jocasta is living in luxury and comfort at River Run and is loyal to the Crown. She warns him to leave, he says he’s there to check on Brianna and they eventually fall into bed with each other. Now, I'm all for this romance, but when the only bare chest in the episode belongs to a man in his sixties with a white pony tail and NOT to the sculpted form of Sam Heughan, you’ve got to call that a huge miscalculation of what the audience wants to see.
A MAN OF WORTH
Jamie, Claire and Ian along with the small group of Indians sneak into the Indian village to rescue Roger. But they are caught and it all goes to hell. Jamie reverts to his Scottish warrior mode and tries to fight off the tribe while Claire attempts to help the injured Roger escape. They’re finally surrounded and a warrior holds a gun to Jamie’s head until Claire yells “Peace.” The Native American woman is banished from the tribe. The chief tells the Frasers they can leave but Roger, who they call “Dogface,” must stay. Jamie, ever the hero, stands up and says “Take me” instead. Claire is horrified but Jamie tells Ian to convince the council. As Jamie and Claire–about to be parted yet again—are kissing farewell, Ian steps forward. It turns out he has the Fraser hero gene too. He made the trade alright, for himself to take Roger’s place instead of Jamie. A touching scene with wonderful acting by Heughan, Bell, and Balfe unfolds as Ian tells Jamie this is what he wants. “You once wished I could become a man of worth,” Ian says. “You dinna ken how worthy you are” Jamie responds with tears in his eyes. “Remember.” Ian seems to grow from a teenager into a man right in front of us. He successfully runs the same gauntlet that Roger failed months before and is accepted into the tribe. He’s clearly thrilled. And so is his dog Rollo.
TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
As thanks for his rescue and the sacrifice of Ian, Roger decides it’s time to beat Jamie up for selling him to the Indians months before. Finally, Claire and Jamie tell him why–that Brianna was raped after he left her. Roger tells them about the stone circle he’s found and the gems he has that will protect them when he takes Brianna back to the future. More truth: she can’t go back. She’s pregnant. Probably had the child already. And it might not be his. Will he have the courage to stay? Jamie warns him: “You cost me a lad I loved. And my daughter doesn’t need a coward.” Claire tells him to take his time deciding, “because this is our daughter and you’d better be sure.” They leave him and head to River Run.
Okay, this is where I get angry. In the books, Jamie and Claire make it back just in time to be there for the birth of their grandson. It is a pivotal moment when Brianna forgives her father and they are a united family. Jamie, who missed out on raising all his children, finally gets to see a child of his blood born. But not here. It’s Aunt Jocasta, Phaedre, and Lizzie who help Brianna give birth. This was such a miss. What should have been a powerful, climactic moment was lost. Claire and Jamie show up two months later, hold their grandson and decide to head home to Fraser’s Ridge. As Brianna is packing, she sees a lone horseman riding up the drive to River Run. She tears out of the house and runs to Roger. “Take me to see my son,” he says, accepting the child. All good, right? Except as they’re about to depart, British soldiers show up with an order from the Governor for Jamie to form a militia to fight the Regulators and hunt down and kill its leader, Murtagh Fitzgibbons. Who by the way, is hiding out in the slave quarters of River Run. What happens next? We won’t know until Season 5 starts—probably in 2020.