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. 

1 comment:

  1. I honestly don't know where to "channel" my thoughts. I want to express some concerns I have about my most favorite of all times TV series: Outlander. That's 65 years of watching TV by the way. Of course I am in love with Jamie, that goes without saying. I have watched the first three seasons of this exceptional show 5 times, and each episode of the 4th season 2 times. I have noticed a bit of a difference between seasons 1-3 and season 4. Seasons 1-3 were absolutely magical! And in so many ways, mostly between the characters. Season 4 has some magic, but not nearly the magic of the previous seasons. First of all, I think fans might be missing the wonderful humor of the first three seasons. Humor was the "second language!" Secondly, I "know" avid viewers are missing the passion {and unbridled sex} of Jamie and Claire. They're not too old are they now? Hardly! And finally, the touching relationships with so many of the other characters in thr first ssasons.Well,they be far and few between in Season 4,so far. Probably hard do in a new place like North Carolina, but ratings are ratings you ken. The best scene so far in Season 4, in my opinion, was the reunion of Jaime and Murtaugh. It was completely and totally magical! And the audience cried "more, more." "Bullocks" you say? Well, maybe. But,mostly truly, Lynne Trail {yes as in Bishop Walter Trail of St. Andrews} Pierce-French


    Lynne Pierce-French