Thursday, November 29, 2018

“Finding Common Ground” - a recap of season 4 episode 4 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

Circles, Intentions, Decisions and now Reactions. In this episode, Jamie and Claire react to the new challenges of owning land already owned by the Native Americans, as well as the dangers that exist in their new environment. The Cherokee react to them in turn, as the two groups try to find the common ground necessary to coexist. Both Claire and Marsali are also reacting to the absence of a significant woman in their lives - for Marsali, this is her mother; for Claire, it is her daughter. Lastly, back in the twentieth century, Brianna and Roger react to the news that Roger has discovered. Both are also still reacting to the damage caused by the events of the festival, searching for some common ground and a way back to their relationship. 

After a title sequence of Indian warriors donning traditional garb, the episode opens with Jamie’s signing of the deed of land that has been offered  to him by Governor Tryon. The Governor brands Jamie’s decision a commendable one, Jamie responding that it is one that he doesn’t take lightly. Jamie now has ten thousand acres at his disposal, and Tryon comments on the herculean task before him. The deed is handed over, along with another offer. The Governor offers accommodation for Claire while Jamie’s land is being settled. Jamie thanks him, but says that Claire will be going with him. When Tryon expresses surprise at this, Jamie replies that Claire is a healer with a great deal of fortitude, who has seen both war and plague. He couldn’t do it without her, he says. 

The Governor contents himself with a disbelieving look, before changing the subject and asking if Jamie has found others to settle on the land. Jamie replies that he has his best man making enquiries. Tryon encourages restraint, commenting that Jamie should take his time choosing settlers and warning against the regulators who are proving troublesome by pitching themselves against tax collectors. He is particularly scathing, branding them men of shallow understand who believe themselves sole arbiters of right and wrong. What is wrong, Tryon insists, is their refusal to pay their taxes. Jamie asks about the power of the sheriffs to take control, but Tryon comments that he finds some of them untrustworthy as well, as the taxes are not reaching the treasurers. 

Jamie expresses his sympathy, but Tryon is quick to remind him of the conditions of the deal he has just agreed to. “It is not your sympathy I want, Mr Fraser,” he says. In the exchange that follows, Tryon attempts to gain the upper hand. He asks Jamie if it is true that he has dined with both prince and pauper and when Jamie confirms this, Tryon then asks him to compare the similarity of the highlanders to the Indian savage. But Jamie is equal to the exchange, commenting that savagery can exist in many forms and he has witnessed it in both prince and pauper. He has won the point and Tryon knows it. Icily, Tryon cautions that those who live in defiance of the king are no better than barbarians and that often the law is not efficient in containing them. Jamie swiftly turns Tryon’s earlier words back on him commenting that there is the law and there is what is done. 

But Tryon merely says that he is glad the two men understand each other. The fact remains that should it come down to it, Jamie would need to support Tryon against any conflict with the regulators. Still, Tryon coats this reminder in a compliment. An agreement with a gentleman is worth its weight in gold, he says, especially one who knows both the world and its troubles. Jamie replies that he hopes the world will keep its troubles to itself. Tryon’s parting comment is to brand Jamie “just the type of settler that North Carolina needs.”

In the tavern, Claire is bringing down the last of their provisions for transport. Young Ian offers to take them out to the wagon, leaving Claire with a now visibly pregnant Marsali. Claire orders some food for the journey from the tavern owner, prompting Marsali to comment on her morning sickness. She cannot even think of supper, she says, without being queasy. Claire offers Marsali advice, telling her to chew peppermint and to eat small meals. Marsali is emotional, admitting to Claire that she misses her mother. She knows that there is bad blood between the two women, she tells Claire, but with the child coming, she wishes that Laoghaire was there with her. Claire understands immediately, saying that it’s not unusual for a pregnant woman to want her mother at such a time and offers her own help. Marsali thanks her, adding that if things were to go wrong, there is no other healer she would want by her side, but that delivering and raising a child are two different things. Claire replies that Laoghaire did a fine job raising Marsali and that she will do just as well. It is a touching scene, beautifully acted by Caitriona Balfe and Lauren Lyle.In the absence of Brianna, Claire is given the opportunity to be maternal towards Marsali and we can see the bond growing between them.

Jamie, meanwhile, is instructing Fergus on the settlers that he should be trying to find. Highlanders are the first choice, Jamie says, particularly the men from Ardsmuir prison, who should be around - and one can’t help but wonder if Murtagh might be due to make an appearance soon! Fergus promises to look for the men Jamie wants. It is Jamie’s turn to be paternal now, asking Fergus and Marsali if they have enough money. Fergus says that he has managed some work and that Marsali has been doing some sewing. They have enough. Young Ian announces that the wagon is loaded and farewells are said. Claire and Marsali hug warmly, the younger woman promising to write as soon as the baby arrives. Jamie makes his own promise to the couple: there will be a cabin waiting for the three of them when they are ready. 

As they head outside, Jamie comments on Claire’s faraway look. He has missed nothing. Marsali is glowing with her pregnancy and, given that she is about the same age as Brianna, it is natural that Claire will be thinking of their daughter. Claire admits that sometimes she worries that she shouldn’t have left Brianna. Claire missed her own mother when Brianna was born and she regrets that she won’t be there for Bree either. Jamie tells her that when they were parted, he held onto his memories of Claire. “Our daughter will do the same,”  he says. Claire is tearful, but the words are comforting. Waved off by Fergus and Marsali, they head off.

Stopping for a rest, Claire and Jamie admire the view while Ian minds the horses. It is a spectacular sight and they take a moment to bask in it, Jamie commenting that God should be complimented on His brush strokes and Claire adding that He “has a certain touch.”

In the next scene, they are hammering in boundary posts to mark their land, Claire consulting the map, as they marvel at the size of the grant. Claire quotes “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” It is a song, she tells Jamie, called ‘America’, with the same tune as ‘God Save Great George our King’. They joke about Americans stealing the song and making it their own, prompting Jamie to add that he applauds the gesture.  He asks Claire to sing the song, but she refuses. His voice husky, Jamie tells her that when she sings all prim and proper as if she were in church, it makes him want to do indecent things to her. It is a sexually charged moment and she is receptive, but they are interrupted by Ian, who has noticed two large trees, known as witness trees. Jamie says that they mark the furthest boundary of the land and  he carves the initials “FR” into the trunk of one, as a signal to all who pass that they are entering Fraser’s Ridge. He follows this significant moment by promptly stepping in a large pile of animal droppings and they start to muse as to what animal could have left it. Ian asks if it could be the raccoons that Myers has told him of, but Claire suggests it is a much larger, more dangerous creature. Wolves, mountain lions, bears are all possible candidates.

Rollo starts to bark and the tension heightens as Claire asks if there is something behind them. It is then we see the Cherokee warriors, standing with rifles, looking at them. Rollo growls, as Jamie instructs Claire to give him the knife and move behind him. Jamie and Ian discuss in low tones what the men might want. Ian remarks that the Cherokee whom Myers dealt with were friendly and says he will go with Jamie. But Jamie refuses, telling Ian and Claire to stay by the rifles as he walks towards the men. He holds his hands wide and drops the knife into the ground, while pointing to himself. “I am James Fraser” he says. The men say nothing, but begin to walk away. The leader stays a moment longer, fixing Jamie with a stare before turning and following the others. It is an unsettling moment for everyone.

The scene shifts back to 1971, as a colleague of Roger’s at Oxford University is bemoaning a student’s inability to hand in an essay. But Roger is not listening. He apologises for being busy and distracted, mumbling in a non committal way when invited to join the others for a drink and a smoke. Left alone in the office, he opens his desk drawer, taking out the book that Brianna had given him at the festival. He looks at the pencil sketch of the two and, as poignant music plays underneath, notices a picture of Mt Helicon, now known as Grandfather Mountain, settled in the 1770s by Highland Scots. As Roger’s voiceover continues, we see Jamie and Claire working the very land being described. It is a clever linking of past and present. blurring the time boundaries once again. Roger reads of a place known as Fraser’s Ridge, and we watch the beginnings of the cabins being made, as Jamie chops down trees. At the same time Ian finds a stone arrowhead in the dirt, a reminder that the land has other owners and occupants too.

Jamie and Claire discuss the cabin, Jamie explaining what rooms will be in their new home. Jamie points out the imaginary shed for meat, as well as their temporary stores, that have been tied high up in the trees away from animals in the meantime. The grand tour continues. Jamie points out what will be Claire’s shed for healing. “You’ve thought of everything,” she says, but Jamie is distracted. He has noticed a crooked post and goes to fix it. The lighthearted moment comes to an abrupt end, with Ian’s frantic cries. He runs towards them, the Cherokee in pursuit. This time they do more than just stare. They have brought the boundary posts, which they throw at Jamie’s feet. The leader of the group speaks to them and the note of warning in his voice is clear. In a script released by the writers, these words are translated: “This is not your home. For a long time the Cherokee people live on this land. You all go away!” It is a highly charged moment and leaves the three breathless as the Cherokee ride away.

A package has arrived for Roger. It is from the author of the book and contains official documents of Fraser’s Ridge. “Oh my God,” says Roger, as he looks at a copy of the deed with Jamie’s signature and the map of the land. He has found them. 

A phone rings in Boston and Brianna answers. She is pleased to hear Roger’s voice, pleasure that is further highlighted by the pantomimed conversation with her roommate Gayle, who immediately makes herself scarce, so that Brianna can chat. It is an awkward beginning: each asking haltingly as to the other’s health. It is obvious that the events of the festival have taken their toll. Brianna admits to Roger that she has been thinking about him, but stops herself from saying anything else, choosing instead to ask if Roger has had a nice holiday. He corrects her, as it is the following week that he will be in Inverness and tells her that he is just getting the last of the boxes from Fiona. Roger moves onto the reason for his call, telling her that he has news about her mother. The shock of this is written on Brianna’s face immediately. Roger explains that he had seen the entry in the book and contacted the author for more information. “And?” says Brianna, urgently. 
“Claire found Jamie,” says Roger. “They were reunited and lived in North Carolina at a settlement called Fraser’s Ridge from about 1768, not far from Mt Helicon, which is now called Grandfather Mountain.” Brianna realises that this was the location of the festival, and that her parents had actually been early Americans. Roger then tells her that he has the land grant, along with a letter from a woman to her family who mentions both Jamie and Claire by name. It is proof positive and Brianna is overcome with emotion. “Roger, I can’t tell you what this means to me,” she says. She thanks him for looking, despite everything that had happened between them. 
“Of course,” says Roger. There is a pause. Both want to speak, but neither are able. Awkwardly, the conversation ends. Roger says he has essays to mark and they say their goodbyes. 

This scene is beautifully performed by both Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton. The longing, regret and emotion shows large on both Roger and Brianna’s faces and we see how much they still care for each other. The hurt is still too raw, however, for them to reconcile.

It is night. As Ian sleeps, Claire and Jamie consider their options, in the wake of the Cherokee’s latest visit. Claire suggests that they could build somewhere else, given the size of the land grant they have been given. But Jamie dismisses the idea. “This is the place,” he says. They are close to the stream, the land is good and they are sheltered from the wind. Claire suggests they move further away from the shared border, but Jamie comments that a line of a map hasn’t stopped the Cherokee so far and if the Indians mean to be rid of them, they will find them wherever they settle. Claire reminds Jamie of the skull she had found. What if he hadn’t led them back to each other and to this place, she says, but was instead giving them a warning. “He’s someone like me,” she says. “What if he knows that something bad happens here?”

But Jamie is convinced of the “rightness” of the place. The mountain has spoken to him, but he can’t speak with the Cherokee in turn and assure them that he will respect the boundary lines. Claire suggests that perhaps they can make a gesture of good will. It is a good idea.

Later that night, Claire, Jamie and Ian are woken by Rollo’s barking outside. Grabbing the pistol, Jamie assumes the Cherokee have returned. Claire and Ian follow him, each gathering weapons. Jamie lights a torch to see more clearly. But it is not the Indians. The meat has gone and Ian’s horse staggers towards them, with ugly scratch marks on its flank. “This isn’t the Cherokee,” says Claire. “This is a bear.”

Enter John Quincy Myers. By daylight, he and Jamie are discussing the roaming bear that nearly cost Jamie a horse. Myers remarks that the Cherokee had told him of a “Tskili Yona”, which translates roughly to mean the evil spirit in the form of a bear. Myers offers Jamie some of the drying meat, given that they have lost their provisions. Jamie replies that he hasn’t come to see Myers for charity, but for counsel. Myers offers it in kind: without food in their bellies, he says, their minds will be empty too. Jamie then accepts the beef jerky, as Myers comments that they will come across more food soon enough, but that the threats of the Cherokee require more thought. The return of the boundary posts has sent a message. Jamie comments that he had hoped to make them an offer of some kind and Myers suggests tobacco. Fortunately, he has a ready supply from River Run and offers some to Jamie. They discuss the respectful way to greet the Cherokee, Jamie echoing Myers’ spoken phrase, “Siyo Ginali”. But Myers has another idea. The Cherokee are restless and he is known to them. Perhaps he can take the tobacco on Jamie’s behalf. Jamie is grateful for the offer. Myers offers one last piece of advice: to hold off on the building of the cabin until the matter is resolved. The next time, there might not be a warning.

Meanwhile, Claire and Ian are preparing fish that they have caught. Ian has mended the net, which he says is akin to knitting and shares his knowledge of the craft with Claire, expressing surprise when she admits that she cannot knit. Everyone can “clickit” he tells her, even Jamie, who had knitted Young Ian a pair of stockings for his baptism. Ian goes to check on his horse, and he and Claire briefly discuss the possibility of the bear returning. Left alone, Claire is practising her marksmanship,  when Jamie appears. She is a reasonable shot, but Jamie is a better one, showing her how to load the rifle properly. 

The Cherokee are on the move, carrying burning torches. Rollo again alerts everyone to a strange presence. But as Jamie and the others move outside, it becomes clear that it is not the tribe who have disturbed their sleep. The campfire is burning and no one is about. Rollo whimpers now, and a human cry is heard. It is Myers, who is in a bad way. He has been mauled, and there is a horrible wound to his chest. “Tskili Yona,” he grunts, as Claire tries to stop the bleeding. 

Meanwhile, the name “Tskili Yona” is being chanted elsewhere. The Cherokee are having their own ritual, trying to banish the bear. Thanks again to a translated script, the words being chanted are:  “We pray to be rid of Tskili Yona. Let us pray for Tskili Yona to leave us and never return. Let us make it so.”

Claire and Ian are attempting to treat Myers, when noises are heard outside. The bear is still nearby. Jamie goes outside to deal with it, as simultaneously, the Cherokee continue their ritual. A Cherokee woman throws something into the fire, drums are beaten and people dance, as Jamie brandishes a torch in the darkness. The noises come again and Jamie picks up the rifle and shoots. He misses. The dancing ritual continues and Jamie reloads. Inside the cabin, Claire notices that Myers has been bitten. The bite is human... 

The “bear” lunges at Jamie and we see that it is a man in a bear’s skin. The dancing becomes frenzied as the fight intensifies. The rifle has been knocked aside and Jamie is fighting for his life. The Tskili Yona is stronger, raking at Jamie’s arm with real bear claws. He aims for Jamie’s throat, but Jamie manages to escape. He runs, the “bear” in pursuit. He grabs one of the remaining boundary posts and in a last desperate effort, turns and thrusts it at Tskili Yona, impaling him. Exhausted, Jamie collapses to the ground, breathing hard in relief.

It is daylight and Jamie drags the body of the Tskili Yona on a makeshift sled. He arrives at the Cherokee camp, dropping the body at their leader’s feet. It is a tense standoff, but Jamie remembers the greeting Myers had taught him: “Siyo Gnali” he says. But the Cherokee man speaks American accented English. “You killed him?” he asks. Rifles are still trained on Jamie and he raises his hands in surrender. “I did,” Jamie replies and the rifles are withdrawn at the leader’s command. 

Jamie shows them that Tskili Yona was a man, not a monster. “Often times, man is monster,” the man replies. Jamie stands and turns, with a look of understanding. He knows this better than most.  The Cherokee explain that Tskili Yona had been one of them, a great warrior, until he mistreated his woman. He was banished to live alone in the woods, a punishment he did not accept. He tried to return, but was ostracised. Eventually he lost his mind, taking on the form of a bear, and becoming Tskili Yona. “We could not kill what was already dead to us,” the Cherokee leader explains, adding that now there will be no more trouble from the bear. Jamie asks if there will still be trouble from the Cherokee. He explains that his family wish to live peacefully, giving his word with his hand over his heart. It is a wary start between the two groups.

In the next scene, Claire is advising a recovering Myers on the best ways of keeping his strength up. Myers is grateful, telling Claire that he owes her his life. “We all do,” Ian observes. Jamie tells Myers that he is welcome to remain with them while he recuperates. Suddenly, the Cherokee appear from the trees.  The man Jamie spoke to now acts as translator for the leader of the tribe. The leader, Nawohali, says “ We pray no more blood is spilled between us”, Jamie responding that this is their wish as well. It is then that Jamie is given his Cherokee name: Yona Dihi, which means Bear Killer. Young Ian is mightily impressed by his uncle’s new status amongst the Cherokee people. Jamie invites the group to join their fire and they do. It seems that they are beginning to find common ground. 

Two Cherokee women approach Claire. The younger woman introduces herself as Giduhwa and the older woman as her husband’s grandmother, Adawehi. Claire introduces herself in return and Giduhwa explains that the older woman had dreamt about Claire. Adawehi begins to speak and Giduhwa translates. 

“The moon was in the water,” Adawehi says. “You became a white raven. You flew over the water and swallowed the moon. The white raven flew back and laid an egg in the palm of my hand. When it opened, there was a shining stone inside. This was great magic. The stone could heal sickness.”

Claire realises that the older woman must also be a healer, a fact confirmed by Giduhwa. Adawehi has a prophecy for Claire. While Claire has medicine now, she will have more when her hair is white like snow, with wisdom beyond time. But Giduhwa translates one final troubling message. Death is sent from the Gods, she says. Claire must not be troubled, as it will not be her fault. Claire doesn’t understand what she is being told, but no further explanation is given. Claire leads them over to the fire.

Back in Inverness, Roger has gathered the final box and thanks Fiona for storing them. Fiona is making her own stamp on the house. She is hanging curtains and asks Roger what he thinks. He hesitates over his reply and Fiona asks Roger if he has spoken to Brianna. “For all of five minutes, a week ago,” he replies. 

Fiona is sympathetic, telling him that it’s a start. It has been the first time they have spoken since his proposal. Roger comments that he doesn’t know whether Brianna was happy because he had called her, or because of the news he had shared. He skirts around the details, but he needn’t have bothered. Fiona has known the story all along, telling a stunned Roger that the walls of the house are not as thick as he had thought. She had overheard Claire, Brianna and himself speaking of Jamie. Besides, Mrs Graham had been the caller at the stones: Fiona knows all the stories of people disappearing. She comments that losing Claire must have taken its toll on Brianna and Roger agrees. He says that he had kept looking until he could give Brianna the reassurance that Claire had indeed found Jamie. He had hoped it would be a new  beginning, but he hasn’t heard from her since.

Fiona has other news. She had found her own evidence of Jamie and Claire, courtesy of research that Mrs Graham had helped the Reverend compile. It is an obituary, announcing the death of Jamie and Claire by fire on Fraser’s Ridge. The date is smudged, but their death is sometime within the following decade. Roger knows that Brianna will be devastated and says that he can’t tell her. Fiona argues that she should know the truth, that her mother is dead. But Roger reminds her that Claire is dead anyway - it is two hundred years later. This news, he says, would break Brianna’s heart all over again. Fiona reluctantly agrees and returns the papers to the drawer.

Back in the 1700s, the cabin starts to take shape. Jamie, Claire and Ian split wood and slowly the foundations are built, log by log. Finally, Jamie carries Claire over the threshold, and the grand tour resumes. Jamie indicates the pantry and the hearth, which he will bless. They plan the bookshelves, and talk of candles and tables and the bed that will face east to watch the sunrise. It is a beautiful picture. They kiss tenderly and look out at the possibility of their future.

Gazing into his own fire, Roger makes a difficult decision. He dials the number and the phone is answered in Boston. But it is not Brianna. Gayle asks if she is speaking to “the” Roger, expressing her surprise that Roger doesn’t know that Brianna has gone to Scotland to visit her mother. Roger is stunned: he knows what this must mean. The episode ends with his reaction, as we reach the same conclusion along with him. Brianna has travelled to the past. 

Yet again, the airing of this episode had mixed reviews. While many were thrilled with the hour’s action, others lamented the changes. In the book, Jamie fought a real bear not a man; the native Americans were Tuscarora, not Cherokee; Myers was killed by the bear, others scenes had been invented. And so on. It is perhaps ironic that this episode was titled Common Ground. It could be argued that perhaps it is time for some book fans to finally find their own “common ground” with the adaptation to the screen!

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She thought the introduction of the “Tskili Yona” was a fabulous idea and that all the actors in this episode did a wonderful job portraying the tensions and tenuous beginnings of the relationship between all the inhabitants on Fraser’s Ridge. 

Inside episode 404, Common Ground by Outlander Community

For all the details on Outlander Community and the rest of their post.

Our favorite highlights of episode 404, Common Ground...

This week we loved one passage especially between Claire and Jamie.

The authentic Indian wardrobe.

Frasers Ridge settlement's line and the Outlander documents about Claire and Jamie's future...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

“A Wolff in Sheep’s Clothing” - an interview with season 4 actor, Lee Boardman conducted by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals

Season 4 has introduced a number of new characters to the Outlander family. From bloodthirsty pirates like Stephen Bonnet, to Jamie’s formidable aunt, Jocasta Cameron, each of the new faces interact with the Frasers as their adventures continue. One such new face belongs to Lieutenant Wolff, a naval officer with designs on the River Run estate. Wolff becomes one of Jocasta Cameron’s suitors, although she is well aware of the reason for his attentions. He considers himself a man of some importance and takes personal offence when Jocasta chooses Jamie as her heir. So what is it like to play this unlikeable character? Actor Lee Boardman agreed to chat to us here at Outlander Homepage, about both his career and his on screen persona.

We started by asking how Lee chose acting as a profession.

“I knew I wanted to act from the age of 14,” Lee said, “and I feel lucky that I knew from an early age what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve been fortunate to have had a wide and varied career. I got a scholarship to The Oxford School of Drama and started out in classical theatre before falling into TV and film work.”

And what were some of his projects before appearing on Outlander?

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in many TV shows over the years,” Lee told us. One of the ones you’d know internationally is the HBO series Rome, with my old pal and Outlander alumni Tobias Menzies. Tobias is a wonderful human being and we had some great times shooting that series in Italy over two years! I was also in another Starz series, Da Vinci’s Demons, in which I played Amerigo Vespucci, the discoverer of America.”

Playing disreputable or controversial characters is not new to Lee, as he soon explained. 

“I was the murderer in Harlan Coben’s The Five series on Netflix,” he said. “I’ve also recently completed filming the forthcoming movie, Brexit, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, in which I play campaign co-founder, Arron Banks.” 

So how would Lee describe Outlander’s Lieutenant Wolff?

“He is pompous, ambitious and greedy in all ways,” Lee said. “I’m delighted to be portraying him, but want to assure you all that I’m nothing like him!”

When we asked Lee to tell us a bit about life on the Outlander set, he had nothing but good things to say.

“The Outlander team are such a great bunch of people - cast, crew and production team,” Lee enthused. “It’s been a joyful thing. The operation is so professional and ‘bedded in’. Cait and Sam lead by example and set the tone. Everyone is incredibly kind and supportive and I’ve rarely laughed as hard on any set!”

So, what did a typical day involve?
“The fun always started at Glasgow Airport, and being picked up by one of the lads,” Lee said. “We had a few days up at the Gleneagles Hotel which was absolutely wonderful. The martini bar took a hammering!”

As for the actual scenes themselves, Lee had a particular observation to share. 

“I’ve found that the more harrowing the scene to shoot, the higher the level of giggles,” he said. “I think it’s a subconscious thing, in order to help you cope with the scene. We had a scene where we were all in fits of giggles, literally crying with helpless laughter before a take. An actor’s brain works in strange ways!”

And how does Lee relate to his co-stars? While he has nothing but praise for everyone, he singled out three for special mention.

“Firstly, I have such fun on set with the brilliant Maria Doyle Kennedy, who’s a joy,” Lee told us. “In fact, I’m often guilty of trying to make her laugh mid-take. Once I told her that I imagined Wolff had previously told Jocasta that he looks like Tom Selleck in Magnum. She can’t see him so she doesn’t know! Next, James Barriscale, who plays Farquard, is incorrigible and has become a great friend. Finally, Sophie Skelton (what a brilliant actress she is!) comes from the same town as me, so we feel like a couple of Stockport gangstas!”

When we commented that the Outlander set sounded like a great place to be, Lee agreed wholeheartedly.

“I’ve had some very happy times on set,” he said. “It’s a huge privilege to be a part of this show. It’s an amazing series of books and they’ve been transposed to the screen so well.”

Given that the workload on Outlander is well known for being intense, we wondered what Lee likes to do when he has some down time.

“My down time involves spending time with my wife and kids and concentrating on our acting school, ‘Actor Tribe’, Lee replied. “We set it up more than 5 years ago and it’s been a joy to see students come in and learn and get work in the business. Our ethos is one of inclusivity and I know the work we’ve done there has changed lives for the better. It’s an absolute joy in our lives.” 

And if he could have a perfect day?

“A perfect day for me involves an excellent bottle of red wine and a long country walk, before sitting down and watching a BAFTA screener in front of the fire.” Lee said.  “Bliss!”

Finally, we asked Lee where he would like to go if he could travel through the stones himself. 
“Oh, I’d love to go forward 100 years into the future,” Lee answered. “Dental hygiene of the past makes me feel uncomfortable going back in time! If you pinned me down, I’d say the Louis XIII’s House of Bourbon. I’d even get a nice cognac out of it!”

We’d like to thank Lee for giving up his time to answer our questions and hope that we see the disapproving Lieutenant Wolff on our screens again soon!

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She’d love to hear more about Lee’s ‘Actor Tribe’ school and wonders if any of its alumni might appear in future Outlander seasons!

Monday, November 26, 2018


Join the Outlander actors for the ultimate Outlander fan experience in Autumn 2019...

Details to follow on Facebook

From the web..

This event is to raise money for the cast's chosen charity's, for more info go the Facebook page.

Graham and company are repricing this event

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Inside Outlander episode 403, False Bride by Outlander Community

Explore Outlander Community

Our favorite hightlights of episode 403, False Bride.... 

The Script

The Scottish festival

Frasers Ridge

Rogers performance

Brianna's costume

Friday, November 23, 2018

“False Bride” - A recap of season 4 episode 3 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

From circles, to intentions, and now to decisions. In this third episode of season 4, a number of decisions are made. None are without emotion, and each will have effects on the characters’ lives as the season progresses. This is also the first time that we are following two couples. While Claire and Jamie are now contented in each other and their life together, Brianna and Roger are negotiating the rocky beginnings of their own relationship, 200 years in the future. The action swings effortlessly between the two centuries throughout the episode, and kudos must be given to all four major players. Viewers are used to emotionally charged scenes between Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan by now, but Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin claim their own place on the stage in this hour. 

The episode opens in 1970 in the now mostly empty Wakefield house in Inverness. Roger is sitting on a stool playing his guitar, eyes closed, when Fiona Graham and another man enter, carrying a house plant. It quickly becomes clear that Roger is moving out, while Fiona and her new husband are moving in. Roger is self conscious about playing, a reaction that Fiona calls him on, asking why he has stopped on seeing her. Despite her protests that it was lovely, Roger quickly packs his guitar away. He picks up the traditional gifts for a new home: salt, for happy tears and a life of flavour, and a bottle for a toast. Said bottle is immediately cracked open. In the absence of glasses, they drink directly from it. Roger quotes, “May the roof above never fall in and may we below never fall out.” Fiona’s husband adds his own toast - to honest men and bonnie lasses. There is nothing more to be said. Roger hands the keys to Fiona and they share a brief emotional glance - there are a lot of shared memories between the two and this is finally goodbye.  Fiona tells her husband that Roger is off to America to play in a Scottish festival, adding that he is also courting a lass who is studying engineering at MIT in Boston. This news updates viewers on Brianna’s decisions since season 3, when she, disillusioned with history had dropped out of her previous studies. Fiona asks Ernie to deal with the removalists while she sees Roger off. Wasting no time, Fiona asks Roger how long it’s been since he has seen Brianna and his answer highlights the difficulty of a long distance relationship. They have visited a couple of times and shared a Christmas, but it’s been a while. Letters and phone calls haven’t exactly been satisfactory. Fiona gives Roger some advice: Roger has to tell Brianna that he is in love with her. “Go get her,” she says. Roger is touched by her concern. “Thanks, Fi,” he replies and is gone.

Back at River Run, the aftermath of Rufus’ execution is still raw. Jocasta and Jamie are discussing Jamie and Claire’s imminent departure. Jocasta is regretful: she wanted so much for them to stay, she tells him, that perhaps in time he would have come to love River Run and accept the different ways of doing things. But Jamie will only be master to his own soul. He tells Jocasta that they will keep to their original plan of sending Ian home and travel west to the mountains. Woollams Creek is a town full of Scottish settlers, where Claire can practise her healing and he can get a job as a printer. Jocasta obviously feels that this is beneath him, and indicates as much with a noise of disgust. Jamie tries to return the money that Jocasta had given him, but she refuses, cautioning him about letting his pride stand in the way of security. Ulysses will ready some horses, she says and a wagon for provisions, along with a rifle and pistols. But Jocasta has one last gift, presenting Jamie with silver candlesticks that had been his mother’s. He is overcome, saying that he will treasure them. So begins an emotional farewell: Jocasta says that she wishes she could have her sight back long enough to look upon Jamie’s face just once. He takes her hand and kisses it, tears in his eyes.

In the next scene, Jamie and Young Ian are arguing about Ian’s imminent return to Scotland. Ian reminds Jamie that by the time he was Ian’s age, Jamie had already sailed to France and fought in a war. Jamie counters that they are now in a places with dangers that they don’t yet know about. But Ian retorts that there are plenty of dangers he has already faced and lists them. He has been set upon by pirates, kidnapped, thrown into a pit and sailed through a hurricane. Ian is no longer a boy, he says, but a man, free to choose his own place to call home. This convinces Jamie, who says he will not stand in his way, offering to write to Jenny and Ian to explain. But Ian is determined to do this himself. “A man,” he says, “writes his own letters.” Still, when Jamie tells him to go and write his letter, he skips off with the exuberance of a boy! 

This is a great scene, altered slightly from the book, in which the elder Ian writes and asks Jamie to allow his son to stay, fearful that he would be forced into fighting back in Scotland. But this version serves to highlight the true changes in Young Ian. Like his uncle, he is a brave, determined soul - and certainly no longer a child. 

Claire now comes to make her own goodbyes to Jocasta, but this farewell is nowhere near as affectionate. Both women express regret for the previous evening’s events. Jocasta says that while she may be blind, she can see how much Claire loves Jamie. But it is a compliment tinged with accusation: Claire is doing Jamie a disservice, she says. In her opinion, Claire is responsible for Jamie not accepting her offer, blinded as he is by his passion for her. Claire should want Jamie to be the man he was born to be, Jocasta says, the chance to be a laird. But Claire will not take this. Jocasta has not seen Jamie since he was a boy and has only seen them as a couple for a few days. “You know nothing,” Claire says, “about me or my husband.”  Jocasta stands at this, further challenging her. She knows that Jamie is not an ordinary man, she tells Claire, and that he will squander his talents behind a printer’s counter. This time Claire doesn’t rise to the bait, bidding Jocasta farewell with an icy, “Thank you again for your hospitality.”

Outside, a character familiar to book readers is making his first noisy appearance. Clarence the Mule is one of the new acquisitions being given to Jamie by Ulysses. Phaedre has packed them oatcakes and salted meat for the journey and they prepare to depart. At this point, John Quincy Myers appears and Ian makes quick introductions. Myers says that Jocasta has told him of their destination and since he is heading in the same direction, he offers to guide them as far as the Blue Ridge. Jamie thanks him and, raising his hat to his aunt in farewell (a move described softly to Jocasta by Ulysses) the group depart. In the book there are other events that happen during the Frasers’ time at River Run and it remains to be seen whether these will be included later in the season.

From departures in the 18th century, to arrivals in the 20th, Roger’s plane lands in Boston. Brianna greets him and they share an awkward hug. They are pleased to see each other, but uncertain in each other’s company. As they drive towards North Carolina, they eat fries and drink chocolate malt, slowly relaxing and beginning to flirt. They start playing a game familiar to book viewers called ‘The Minister’s Cat’, where they try to outdo each other with intricate descriptions of said animal. As the game progresses, so does the flirting. Brianna declares Roger to be pretty, the ketchup on his cheek not withstanding and impulsively leans over to kiss him, a move that nearly runs them both off the road. 

In a very clever scene change, the 20th century merges into the 18th again, the car morphing into the horse and cart. We realise that Jamie and Claire and Brianna and Roger are travelling along the same road, albeit 200 years apart. Myers is describing the area, talking about the Indian tribes that either once lived or do live on the land. The current inhabitants are the Cherokee, who Ian describes as being great warriors. Myers agrees: they fight well, and with honour, intent on protecting their land from those who want to take it. Jamie comments that he doesn’t blame them, clearly thinking back to the Highlanders. Myers continues, saying that the Cherokee believe in harmony on earth, which he describes using the native language.  When Jamie comments on this, Ian boasts of Myers’ prowess not only of languages, but with the Indian women, to the minor embarrassment of the man concerned. Cherokee women choose who they marry and bed with, Myers says, prompting Ian to declare his love for the country. Claire and Jamie share a brief glance: Ian is definitely a boy no more! The scenery is lush and the party travel happily - aided by a peaceful soundtrack! It becomes clear that Jamie is falling in love with this part of America. 

Around the fire that night, Myers tells them he will leave the next day for a trading house, where he will trade with the Indians. Ian announces that he will be going with Myers. They will take the wagon and then meet back up with them at Woollams Creek. Myers assures Jamie and Claire that the mountains are old friends to him and that Ian will be safe in his company. Jamie agrees, but warns Ian not to get his head scalped. Ian is grateful to be thought of as a man at last.

Alone by the fire, Claire and Jamie begin to talk of what lies ahead. Jamie asks Claire if she wouldn’t rather go somewhere else to start again, suggesting Boston. It is a suggestion that Claire hasn’t been expecting. It’s not starting anew for her, she says, as she has already had a life there. Besides, tensions are rising ahead of the forthcoming American Revolution. Claire tells Jamie that she wants them to make a home together in a place that is theirs. Jamie is pleased to hear this and they embrace. 

The morning sees them riding happily through the landscape, discussing Brianna. Claire comments that in her time, women were free to make their own choices about their lives, but that when she left, Brianna hadn’t yet decided what she wanted to do. Claire comments that she had never felt such indecision - she had always wanted to be a healer. It had worried that Brianna hadn’t yet found her passion in life, moving from one thing to the next, not wanting to be either a historian like Frank or a doctor like her. Still, Claire says, Brianna and Frank shared a stronger bond, and that it was likely Brianna had chosen history to please him. But Jamie is confident that their daughter will find her way, reminding Claire that she has commented often on Brianna’s sharp wit. Claire agrees, but adds that there will never be a day when she won’t worry about her. The weather is changing: there is a storm coming and they discuss where they will spend the night. Jamie comments that they have enough coin for a tavern, but Claire teases him that perhaps they could also find a quaint brothel. “Will you hold that over my head forever?” he asks. “Not forever,” she answers, with a smile.

It is slow going though. They stop while Jamie attends to the horse’s hooves. While he does, Claire comments on how much he loves working with horses and asks how it compares to printing. Jamie answers that he was good at printing, rather than loving it, but it kept his body strong. Claire worries that it won’t be enough for him now. It is clear that Jocasta’s comments have been weighing on her. Jamie answers that a man should be settled at his age and that he thought Claire wanted them to live in a town where they would be safer. But Claire presses further: she doesn’t want Jamie to decide his future based on what he thinks she wants. She tells him of the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” and Jamie asks if she thinks he can only be happy if he is a criminal. He was one when they first met, he says, and one when they were reunited. If he was on his own, he would live as one again, but it’s not just him. He has Claire, Ian, Fergus and Marsali to think of. “I would lay the world at your feet Claire,” he says, “but I have nothing to give you.” Her response is halted by sudden thunder and with the storm upon them, they prepare to make camp. But Clarence the mule runs off, scared by the noise. Claire immediately mounts up and prepares to make chase, telling Jamie that if Clarence hasn’t gone far then he will be easy to find. Jamie begins to protest, but Claire is gone.

Back in 1970, the Scottish festival is in full swing. Brianna and Roger arrive, Brianna telling a kilted Roger that Claire had always said men in kilts were irresistible and that she had been right. He returns the compliment and they take in the sights and sounds. Brianna comments that she hadn’t realised there were so many Scots in North Carolina and Roger replies that the area was settled by them in the 18th century. Immediately, the mood changes - both are thinking of Claire. Brianna admits that she wonders whether Claire made it back and found Jamie. She wants to know if Claire is happy and Roger answers that he likes to believe that she is. They come across a man doing portraits and impulsively Brianna suggests that they pose for one, adding that they don’t have a picture of the two of them together. The artist asks for their clan and Brianna uses the “b” word for the first time, saying that her boyfriend is a MacKenzie. It is a title that obviously pleases Roger, who agrees to the portrait, telling the artist to get his good side. Inside the hall, there is a dance going on and Brianna is keen to join in. Roger warns her that it is tricky, but she is enthusiastic. They begin to spin, and Brianna picks up the steps quickly. It is a joyful scene, the two of them laughing and smiling, eyes only for each other.

Back in the forest, Clarence the mule returns, but there is no sign of Claire. Worried, Jamie ties Clarence up, while he calls for her. Claire is still searching, but realises she is lost. A sudden bolt of lightning hits a tree in front of her and the horse rears. She falls and is knocked unconscious.

The time has come for Roger’s festival performance and it clear how good a performer he is. It is also clear how good a performer Richard Rankin is, as an instrumental number gives way to a solo. It is a ballad, called “The False Bride” and we see now the reason for the episode’s title. The song tells of a man who loved a woman, but lost her to another, when she repaid his love by marrying another man. It is a haunting tune, performed beautifully by Richard Rankin. Brianna is mesmerised, watching and smiling, glancing down at the portrait of the two of them. It is clear that she is in love.

After the concert, they head to their cabins, Brianna complimenting him on his performance once again. They kiss, but Roger seems determined to be the perfect gentleman, breaking away and telling her that if she needs anything his cabin is nearby. She calls after him, as she has brought him a gift: a book on the history of Scots in America and some mountain moonshine, which he marvels at, given that it’s a dry county. She invites him in for a wee dram and he accepts.

Once inside, things quickly heat up. Looking at the deer’s head on the wall, Brianna remarks that she will have to put something over its face before she sleeps. Roger gets up to examine the deer more closely, when its antlers at least are suddenly covered - by Brianna’s shirt. They start kissing, but once again, Roger pulls away, saying that he wants things to be perfect. He retrieves her shirt from the antlers and drapes it around her shoulders. Then he presents her with a gift of his own, a silver bracelet, engraved in French with the words : “I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.” He puts it on her wrist and then gets carried away with the emotion of it all. He declares his love and proposes. Brianna comments on how fast this is, but Roger misreads her reaction entirely. He continues, saying that they can have a long engagement, that he wants her to stand by his side at the calling of the clans the following day knowing that she will be his wife, that he wants a home, with 4 or 5 children and dogs. This is too much for Brianna. She isn’t ready, she tells him. Roger is crushed and reacts accordingly. “Aye well,” he says, “nae bother.” He stands to leave and she tries to stop him by kissing him passionately. But Roger is angry now and swears, which angers her too. When he says that if all he had wanted was to have his way with her, he would have had her on her back a dozen times the previous summer. Furious, she strikes him across the face, giving him a bloodied lip. If she doesn’t care enough to marry him, he says, then he doesn’t care enough to have her in his bed.

This is heartbreaking stuff, beautifully performed by Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton. They trade accusations at each other: she has her studies and an apartment and hasn’t thought about children. He questions her motives at wanting to sleep with him, when she is supposed to be a good Catholic girl. When he admits that yes, he has slept with other women but has never wanted to marry them, she brands him a hypocrite: he will have sex with a woman, but only marry a virgin. In 1970, she says, no one is saving themselves for marriage. Roger declares, in frustration, that he is old fashioned, but adds that she is missing the point. He has never loved anyone before, until her, but she doesn’t love him. When she tells him that’s not what she said, he won’t be consoled and leaves. The look of vulnerability on Brianna’s face as the door closes is everything. Bravo, Sophie Skelton.

Claire regains consciousness and realises that she is in the open in the middle of a storm. She screams for Jamie, before sheltering under a broad branch as the lightning flashes around her. Jamie is out searching, calling her name, but is not close enough to hear. Claire takes off her boots. Reaching behind her, she picks up a skull. Wolves howl in the distance as she looks at it. At the same time, Jamie finds her horse. He is worried now. 

The skull has a crack right across the top, indicating whoever it was had met a violent end. But then Claire sees something else: a large opal. “Did this belong to you?” she asks the skull. Lightning flashes again and she sees a figure. She thinks it is Jamie and stands, but it is not Jamie walking towards her. The Indian is wearing an opal too, but his image flickers in and out and his torch burns bright, despite the driving rain. We realise along with Claire, that this man is not living. “What do you want?” she asks. He says nothing, but turns away and we see the matching wound on the back of his skull. 

A disconsolate Roger carries the MacKenzie torch to the calling of the clans. He takes his place in the stands and Brianna appears, asking if she can join him. They both try to speak, agreeing that neither like the way things had been left. But when Roger asks if she has changed her mind, he doesn’t receive the answer he wants. She tries to explain. She hasn’t discounted marriage, but she is confused. Her mother had married for love, but had later discovered her soul mate. It isn’t that she is waiting for someone better to come along, as Roger bitterly suggests, but that maybe she doesn’t believe in marriage at all. 

This is such an important scene, as viewers are given the opportunity to consider again the enormity of what Brianna has endured. Powerful emotions are coursing through her and Claire is not there to discuss anything with. She has lost both her parents, and everything knew about her life has changed. It is no wonder she is hesitant about marriage.

The calling of the clans begins and Roger has to light the MacKenzie torch. “I’ll have you all, or not at all,” he says and so Brianna tries to give him back his bracelet. “Keep it,” he says, “it was a gift.” The MacKenzie clan is announced and Roger stands. “The MacKenzies are here,” he calls, with one final look at Brianna. He turns away taking his torch to help light the stag (which was, apparently, created for the episode by Sam Heughan’s uncle). Each clan leader shouts their clan’s battle cry, as the stag erupts into flame. But when Roger cries out “Tulach Ard”, he looks back to where Brianna was sitting and discovers she has gone. 

The next morning, Claire wakes, the skull next to her. The ghostly visitor and the storm have disappeared - and so have her boots. Standing, she walks out into the clearing and notices footprints. Packing the skull and the opal into her bag, she follows the prints, until they lead her to a stream and a very relieved Jamie. They embrace. Jamie asks if she is hurt and she says she is just so glad to have found him. He comments that he is glad she had the sense to come back to the spot, indicating her boots by the river bank. When she asks how he has them, Jamie tells her that they were sitting there side by side at the stream and he had wondered why she had gone off in her stockinged feet. Claire asks if he had seen anyone or anything else, but other than her horse, but he replies that all he had seen were her footprints, which he had followed. Claire replies that she has never seen the stream before, and that while the boots are hers, she hadn’t walked there in them. “Then who did?” asks Jamie. Claire tells him of the ghost she saw and the skull that she believes belonged to him. She tells Jamie that she thinks the ghost used the boots to bring them both to this spot. Jamie replies that they should be grateful to whatever spirit had reunited them. She tries to reopen the conversation they had been having pre storm, where Jamie had said he had nothing to give her, but he stops her. She has had a harrowing night, he tells her, and should rest. They embrace again, thankful to be back together. 

Later, Claire is cleaning the skull when she makes a startling discovery. Its teeth have silver fillings, which were inventions of the 19th century. They realise the skull must belong to a time traveller like herself. “Who were you?” she asks. 

They continue on, coming across a strawberry patch. It is the emblem of the Fraser clan, Jamie says, tracing back to a Frenchman who had claimed land in the highlands. They eat some of the fruit as they gaze out at the landscape. In the book, this soon gives way to lovemaking and some fans have lamented the absence of that event in the tv version. But here, we have an even more poignant ending. Jamie comments that the land is the most beautiful he has seen. He points out a meadow that would be good for animals and the land near the river which could be cleared for crops. Claire knows that look, she tells him, he is in love. A good man would choose a safer path, he responds. They had intended to live in the town, not in the wilderness with nothing. “But what it is,” he breathes, “to feel the need of a place.” It a decision though, that means accepting Governor Tryon’s offer, a deal with the devil. But Claire tells him that she has dreamt of them having a home together, a place of their own. “Do you trust me, Claire, with your life and your heart?” “Always” she replies and they kiss. This will be their home, he declares - “And we’ll call it Frasers’ Ridge.” The music swells and the episode ends with the two of them gazing out at their future. 

Since the episode aired, there has been more discussion amongst fans about what has changed or left out of the book. From this reviewer’s opinion, the decisions made in this episode were successful in creating dramatic, compelling and poignant television. The vulnerabilities and insecurities of Brianna and Roger were balanced by the united front of Jamie and Claire and there is much to look forward too as the season progresses. 

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She is a card carrying Sophie Skelton fan, loving the way that Brianna’s vulnerabilities are being shown, allowing viewers to really think about the enormity of what the character has faced and the impact that it has had.