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Circles. Intention. Decisions. Reactions. Divisions. Connections. Parallels. Power. Yearning. Regrets. Vulnerability. Consequences. And finally, Love. This is the enduring theme word for the final episode of season 4. Much is done for love in this hour, from Ian’s sacrifice at Shadow Lake, to Murtagh and Jocasta’s union, to the birth of Brianna’s son, the determination of Jamie and Claire to protect their daughter and Roger’s final choice. As to whether love will conquer all, only time will tell...
As the episode begins, we see a brief game of cowboys and Indians being played in a park in the 20th century. A long haired Native American man glowers from behind a newspaper, and we notice the stone that he is wearing. It is Otter Tooth, from a time before he travelled through the stones and the title sequence is a precursor of his importance in the action to come.
Back in 1770, life at Shadow Lake continues. Roger sits quietly by a fire, eyes closed, as Jamie moves stealthily through the trees, rifle and spyglass in hand. He peers through the glass, looking for any sign of Roger, but sees only the Mohawk.
Jamie returns to the campsite, telling Claire that they should go into the village, as the Mohawk already know that they are there. Leading a horse laden with pots and pans, they walk slowly into Shadow Lake, observed on all sides as they do. Ian leads the procession, the Mohawk gradually coming out from the cover of the trees and surrounding them. Everyone looks around warily. Jamie greets the villagers in their language, using the word “peace” to open the conversation. Switching to English, he tells them they have come to trade. As the people move towards the horse, Jamie signals to Young Ian. Ian speaks in fluent Mohawk, telling them they are looking for the man they had sold. He shows the medallion he was given, along with Brianna’s sketch and asks if Roger is there. The men recognise both, murmuring “Dogface” to each other. Encouraged, Ian tells them that they will trade for the man in the picture.
Kaheroton appears and Ian recognises him. Switching into English, he asks if Kaheroton in turn remembers him, offering again to return the medallion. Kaheroton asks why they have come all this way and Ian replies that Roger is important to their family. In Mohawk, Kaheroton suggests they go to the chief, his female companion indicating to Ian that they should follow. Warily, Ian, Claire and Jamie do so.
The chief comes out of the main hut and Kaheroton explains the situation. Jamie lays the bundle of pots and pans at the chief’s feet and all three bow formally. The chief speaks in English and with gentle sarcasm. He indicates the bundle, saying that the man must be very important to them as they have brought him whisky to drink and metal trinkets, and adding that he hopes they haven’t travelled far. Claire asks if Roger is there and the chief merely smiles. “You want him very badly,” he says. Jamie confirms this, saying that they want to trade. The chief smiles and turns away. He does not forbid the trade, however, so Ian and Jamie begin in earnest. Jamie holds up the wares, as Ian calls out. They have blankets, pots, good whisky. Meanwhile, Claire takes off a scarf and shows it to the women, but as she does so, Otter Tooth’s stone is clearly seen hanging around her neck.
The effect is immediate. The Mohawk shrink away, horrified. When Ian explains that they have reacted to the stone, Claire approaches the chief directly, asking if they will trade Roger for it. But he refuses. The chief says that they will not trade and that the group must leave immediately. Claire says that they can’t leave without Roger, but the chief is insistent and the mood is now hostile. Reluctantly, they have no choice but to leave.
Back at River Run, a carriage draws up outside and Murtagh gets out, smiling. Moments later, we see him devouring a roast with relish, while Jocasta sits nearby. Murtagh thanks her for the food. He has had a long journey, he tells her, and it’s a long time since he has enjoyed so fine a meal. Jocasta comments that she imagines it would be better than whatever they were serving in the jail before it was blown to pieces. Murtagh is surprised. He can’t argue with her, he says, adding that news travels fast. Jocasta says that Brianna had mentioned seeing him, although the reason for his imprisonment remains a mystery. There are rumours, she says, that he is aligned with the regulators, or perhaps it was due to the errand that Jamie had entrusted him with. Murtagh doesn’t lie: it was a little of both, he tells her. Jocasta chides him, saying that he could always find trouble, but Murtagh replies that some things are worth the trouble, dismissing Jocasta’s concern at the risk of the noose. “Dinna fash,” he says, “I’m not an easy man to kill.” (This is an ironic line, given that in the books, Murtagh perished some 24 years earlier on the Culloden battlefield!) Jocasta warns that the Crown will now be looking for him, and pleased as she is for his company, it’s probably best that he doesn’t stay in one place for too long.
Murtagh assures her that he is only there long enough to check in on Brianna. Jocasta assures him that he needn’t worry. They are taking good care of Brianna, she says, but admits that her niece doesn’t say much. Brianna has been keeping to her chamber much of the time, coming out briefly to read, draw, or sit on the porch to watch and wait. Jocasta comments that Brianna had been in much better spirits while Lord John was there. He has been called back to Virginia but will return soon, in order to plan their wedding.
Murtagh is incredulous. Brianna can’t marry a redcoat, he declares. Jocasta disagrees: she can and she will, as there is no time to waste. Brianna needs a husband. Murtagh comments that he knows Jocasta is fond of marriage, given that she’s had three herself, but that is no excuse. Jocasta is not impressed by this, cutting him off sharply, saying she doesn’t remember asking his opinion and rising to his feet. Coldly, she tells him he is welcome to finish his dinner and that Ulysses will prepare his bed chamber. Equally coldly, Ulysses asks Murtagh to let him know if he needs anything else during his stay, and the two of them leave the room. Murtagh returns to his meal, but has lost his appetite, throwing the cutlery down in disgust.
Brianna is lying on her bed, a discarded drawing next to her. Phaedra is feeling her belly, telling her that everything feels fine. It is obvious that as time has passed, the two have grown closer. The more formal, “Miss Fraser” has been replaced with “Miss Bree”. The baby is in a good position she says, confirming that she has done this before. She has brought several babies into the world, she tells Brianna, and that there is no need to worry. She looks at the drawing, about which Brianna had been so scathing. It is a beautiful drawing, Phaedra says, but it is the baby who will be perfect. Brianna looks at her gratefully.
Claire and Jamie are walking in the woods. There is a story about the stone, Claire says, but she doesn’t know what it is. Jamie declares his intention to return for Roger that night, but Claire disagrees. It is not like Fort William when he had rescued her, she tells him. He had known that place, but here is different. Jamie can’t go in alone, and Claire is worried. She’s not sure whether it is even safe to stay where they currently are. But Jamie is determined. Indicating the stone around her neck, he says that while he doesn’t know its significance, he won’t return to Brianna with a lump of rock while Roger is still nearby.
Jamie walks off a little way, but his warrior intuition tells him all is not right. He tells Claire not to move, as, sure enough, warriors descend from the trees. Jamie wrestles with one, overpowering him. The woman who had been with Kaheroton earlier walks towards them. She is here for the stone, she says and if they give it to her, they will not be harmed. In Mohawk, she orders the others to stand down. Claire tells the woman that they will consider giving the stone to them, in exchange for their help in rescuing Roger. The woman replies that this is a bold move, given that they could take the stone by force if they wanted to. But Jamie hauls the subdued warrior to his feet, remarking that were that to happen, not all of the Mohawk would be walking away whole.
Claire approaches the woman, asking her name, echoing its pronunciation and asking why the stone is so important. Sitting around a fire, the story is finally told. Before she was born, the woman says, a man had come to the village. He didn’t say where he had come from, but when. He told of their future, warning that they needed to kill the white man before they were killed themselves. Painting himself and dancing a war dance, he convinced many to follow him, and they returned to the village with white scalps. The village worried that soldiers would come seeking retribution, so the chief at the time ordered Otter Tooth to leave for he would bring destruction. Otter Tooth went to the woods where he ranted and raved. Believing him to be possessed, they painted his face black for death and chased him. When they caught him, they beat him, even as he warned them. His death did not stop the men thinking of his words, even after they cut off his head. Otter Tooth had told them that they would be forgotten and that the nations of the Iriquois would be no more. their stories would not be told and everything about them would be lost. The current chief of the Mohawk, a young man back then, had taken the head and buried it far away.
Claire interrupts, saying that the skull was with the stone. The woman explains that the one who has the stone also has the power to see how the people’s story will end and that Otter Tooth’s ghost walks with them. Claire admits that she did see the ghost when she was lost in the storm. She explains her belief that ghosts only appear when there is something to be remembered, a message worth relaying or a story worth telling. Jamie asks if the woman believes that Otter Tooth was right and she agrees. She believes that he has come to warn her people and that the stone will help them see what is coming. Again Claire makes an offer: if the woman will help in the rescue of Roger, they will help preserve Otter Tooth’s memory and give her the stone.
Murtagh and Brianna sit in the parlour. Brianna reassures him that neither she nor John has any intention of going through with the wedding: it was merely a convenient way to escape Jocasta’s determination to marry her off to one of the other men at the dinner party. An engagement to John allowed her to delay marriage until Roger returned. Murtagh is relieved, but asks why she had decided to visit Stephen Bonnet. Jamie had told her to forgive the man and it had brought her some peace to see him, Brianna replies. Murtagh hesitates for a moment before asking Brianna if she can forgive Jamie for both of their sakes. Brianna replies that she already has.
Three canoes paddle up the stream towards the settlement. A ceremony is taking place around the fire and the Mohawk are unaware of the group’s approach. Silently, they enter the “idiot hut”, where Roger is relieved to see Claire and shocked to see Jamie. Claire hastily explains Jamie’s identity, who in turn says that he has come to put his mistake right.
On hearing the number in the rescue party, Roger is worried that they do not have enough people to take on the Mohawk. It is a concern that proves to be correct, when they are surprised by one of the party, who ignores the Mohawk woman’s impassioned request to let them go and fires a warning shot in the air.
The little party do their best. Claire and Roger continue to run as the others fight anyone who stands in their way. But Roger is weak and their progress is slow. Jamie grabs a flaming torch and swings it at the increasing crowd, but he is overpowered and forced to his knees. Kaheroton takes a pistol and prepares to shoot, as Claire screams out for peace.
The chief exacts his punishment, disowning the woman and her friends and banishing them. They will never again be called Mohawk. Then he turns his attention to Claire, Jamie and Ian. He does not blame them for what has happened, he says, as the pain and disharmony caused by Otter Tooth has always been with them. There will be no more trouble, telling the group to take the stone and leave the village. Jamie expresses his gratitude, and asks if Roger may go with them. But the chief refuses. There has been no fair trade, he says. Roger must stay.
So Jamie makes a desperate deal. He offers himself as trade instead, even as Claire tries to prevent him, saying that there must be another way. He replies that there isn’t, and that he must do it for their daughter. He sends Ian to convince the Mohawk as he tells Claire that they must take Roger back to Brianna. He promises that he will escape and return to her, and they clutch each other in anguish. They are a couple used to the pain of separation and the uncertainty as to when, if ever, they will reunite, but one wonders how many more times they will be forced to endure it. The longing on their faces is palpable and this is beautiful acting once again from Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Jamie and Claire embrace in farewell as the chief announces that he has accepted the deal and Roger is released.
But Ian has made a deal of his own. He explains to a disbelieving Jamie that he is staying. Believing at first that Ian plans to make his own escape at a later date, he praises the deal as a canny move. But Ian is serious: he is staying for good and will live his life with the Mohawk. He has given his word, just as Jamie had given his word to Brianna and has no intention of breaking it. Both men’s eyes fill with tears as Jamie asks Ian how he is going to part with him. Ian replies that it will be hard from them both, but he has chosen this. Claire steps forward, crying “Oh, Ian”, as she embraces him, the tears falling as she strokes his face. Ian looks at Jamie and reminds him that Jamie had wanted him to be a man of worth. Jamie’s reply is simple, his voice breaking as he says, “You don’t know how worthy you are.” They embrace as Jamie entreats him in Gaelic to “remember”. Ian assures him that he will never forget. He steps back towards the Mohawk as a heartbroken Jamie bows to him, before leading Claire and Roger away. This is spectacular acting from both men, but especially Ian Bell, who has grown beautifully into the role of Young Ian. His monologue is the perfect mix of both vulnerability and strength; sorrow and determination. The look on his face as Jamie bows is achingly sad.
Murtagh is enjoying a whisky by the fire with Jocasta, commenting that it tastes like home. Jocasta asks where Murtagh will go, quickly beginning a lecture when he reveals that he plans to return to the regulators. She asks if he has learned nothing. He has fought the fight before, she says and he knows how it ends. Murtagh replies that it is a new world and a new ending, but Jocasta says that if he believes that, he is a bigger fool than she thought. Murtagh comments that it is better to fight than to stand by and do nothing, which Jocasta takes as a direct criticism of her. Murtagh suggests that Jocasta’s lifestyle prevents her from knowing what is happening in the towns and back country. The Crown is bringing hard working men to their knees. But Jocasta is older now, she tells him, with her wars behind her. She cautions Murtagh to do the same. But unlike Jocasta, Murtagh did not choose to come to the New World. He reminds her that she also has a choice: to stay and enjoy a fine life, or to remember where she comes from and fight back. There are ways that she can use her influence, he says.
This comment is misinterpreted by Jocasta. It is the possibility of her influence that has brought Murtagh to River Run, she suggests. Murtagh is quick to deny it, but Jocasta’s blood is up, He is a schemer of old, with a sleekit way, using his wiles to get what he wants. Murtagh tells her that she sounds like a lunatic, a comment that does not go down well. Jocasta decides to tell a few home truths, saying that she never liked Murtagh’s visits to Leoch years before, where he descended on the place like a dark cloud, making folks uneasy. She can’t believe she has allowed him to darken her door, she says, and makes to leave, but Murtagh grabs her arm. She retaliates by flinging the glass of whisky in his face.
In the next scene, we see that the passionate exchange has continued into the bedroom. Jocasta is pulling on a robe, a smile on her face, while Murtagh, shirtless and hair flowing, entreats her to come back to bed. Jocasta asks if he must leave. Murtagh replies that he doesn’t want to bring trouble to River Run, but she tells him that they will face it if it does. Reluctantly, she announces that breakfast is waiting - but needs little convincing when Murtagh replies with “Let it wait.” She returns to the bed and to Murtagh’s embrace.
These scenes were brilliantly acted by Maria Doyle Kennedy and Duncan Lacroix - so much so that they now have their own Twitter hashtag and a slew of fans on team #Murcasta!
Somewhere between Shadow Lake and River Run, Claire and Jamie discuss Jenny’s reaction to Ian’s decision. Jamie replies that although she won’t be happy, Jenny knows her son and will understand. Their relaxed conversation is broken suddenly by Roger, who can suppress his anger no longer. He punches Jamie, shouting abuse. Claire tries to stop it, but Jamie tells her that it is between the two men. He gives Roger permission to exact his revenge, saying, “Go on then. I suppose I owe you.”
Roger’s next punch morphs into Ian’s first trip down the line of warriors - the same gauntlet that Roger had had to face. But when Ian is pushed down the line, he is determined: leaping and dodging blows.
Jamie is equally determined not to fight: enduring Roger’s anger with small grunts of pain, as Claire watches uneasily.
Ian is beaten with sticks but crawls on, finally standing and starting to land blows of his own, until he touches the foot of the chief. He is hauled to his feet and the chief tells him that he has proven himself worthy. The Mohawk begin to chant and whoop, and Ian joins in, a grin of triumph on his face. It is lovely to see his joy and we are filled with optimism that he will be happy with the life he has chosen.
Roger has finally had enough. A battered and bruised Jamie stands, as Roger asks where Brianna is. “She’s safe,” Claire replies. She tells him that Brianna is safe in North Carolina. Roger wants clarification: had Brianna sent them to find him? He cries with relief when Claire confirms that this is true and admits to Jamie that he had wondered if Jamie had beaten him because Brianna had said terrible things that turned Jamie against him. When Jamie says it was his own notion, Roger wants to know why he was beaten, refusing to accept that its severity could be dismissed as a simple misunderstanding.
So Claire begins the story. She tells Roger that Brianna was raped and Jamie explains that he had mistaken Roger for the rapist. This news is shocking enough to Roger, but he is not expecting to also know the man who attacked Brianna. At the mention of Bonnet’s name, his eyes widen and he stands and paces around the clearing. He tells Claire and Jamie that Bonnet was the captain of the ship he had travelled on. Jamie grabs him by the shirt, demanding to know where Roger was when his daughter was attacked, accusing the younger man of running away and leaving Brianna alone. This earns him another punch, but this time Jamie warns Roger it will be the last unanswered blow. Roger tells Jamie that he left only because Brianna told him to go, but even then he had returned for her. But Bonnet had forced him back onto the ship. He shows Jamie and Claire the rubies he had procured to ensure that Brianna could go safely through the stones, but given that Bonnet had made him sail all the way up the coast first, it had taken him a long time to get to Fraser’s Ridge. Roger calls Bonnet a madman and Jamie responds with “I ken what he is.” This is another knife in Jamie’s heart. We can see in his expression the unspoken guilt he continually feels for helping Bonnet escape the noose on their first meeting.
But now, Roger says, he can take Brianna home to the 20th century. He tells them of another stone circle nearby. But Claire replies that Brianna can’t go back now, as she is pregnant and will have given birth by the time they return to North Carolina. Claire is unsure whether time travel with a child is possible. Brianna has to stay.
“But he doesn’t,” Jamie adds.
“Do you think I’d leave her?” Roger replies, telling Jamie that the two are handfast. Brianna is his wife and carrying his child. Claire delivers the final blow: the child may not be his. We watch the realisation wash over Roger’s face and his composure is shattered again when Jamie adds that it happened on the same night that Roger left.
Claire tells Roger that Brianna had wanted him to know the truth, so that he had a choice. With full father fury, Jamie asks: can Roger go back and live with Brianna knowing it may be Bonnet’s child? Will he stand by her? Claire entreats Jamie to allow Roger a moment to think, but when Roger says that it is all too much, Jamie cannot stay silent. Roger has cost him a lad that he loves, he says, and Brianna doesn’t need a coward. He would rather his daughter hate him for the rest of his life than for Roger to break her heart again. When Roger says that he needs time, Claire finds his own Mother Lion genes. Although she has always been on Team Roger, Claire stands next to Jamie and also issues an ultimatum: if Roger needs time, he should take it, because this is their daughter they are talking about and he had better be sure. The look on both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s faces is perfect: we are left in no doubt that they are united in the protection of Brianna. Once again we see the truth of Claire’s words from an earlier episode: they will do anything to protect their child from being hurt.
Meanwhile, surrounded by other women who love her, Brianna gives birth, while Murtagh subs for the male relative waiting nervously outside. Much has been made of the fact that in the books Jamie and Claire are present for the birth and many fans have lamented the loss of this scene. Interviews made post episode highlighted the fact that the timeline didn’t work, in that the trip to and from Shadow Lake simply couldn’t have been made in time. But it can also be argued that this version of the scene is now a celebration of female strength, contrasting with the helplessness and vulnerability that Jamie and Claire had been describing. Now, Brianna shows courage and tenacity as she faces her labour, while Jocasta, Phaedra and Lizzie work together to ensure all goes smoothly. If Roger truly decides not to follow Claire and Jamie to River Run, we are left with the impression that Brianna will survive - and she will not be alone.
The ordeal over, Jocasta tells Brianna that she has a son. Jocasta has counted his fingers and toes herself and comments that they will choose a birthday that makes sure that as far as society knows, the baby was born in wedlock. When Brianna asks where her baby is, her aunt tells her that Phaedra has cleaned him up and will bring him to her, if she is ready to see him. Brianna indicates that she is, but it is obvious that she is nervous: will she be able to bond with her child?
When Phaedra enters, handing the boy over to Brianna, we see her face light up with joy. She strokes her son’s face, tearfully smiling as once again, the River Run women surround her with love.
In the next scene, Brianna is sitting with a visibly bigger baby on her lap. Murtagh comments on how much the child has grown. In fact, two months have passed and Murtagh insists that he will be a tall and sturdy lad who will tower over Brianna in a few more years. Phaedra rushes in, dropping a hasty curtsy and announcing that riders have been seen in the fields. One of them is Claire and they are coming up the front road. This is the moment that Brianna has waited for, but she hesitates. “Go on lass,” Murtagh gently urges.
Carrying her son, Brianna moves onto the porch. Claire and Jamie hurry towards her, but there is no sign of Roger. Brianna looks to Jamie, who says simply, “He’s alive.” Claire adds that they had told him everything. With her parents now there to support her, Brianna starts to cry. Taking his cue from his mother, the baby joins in.
Inside, there is no sign of Brianna. Claire is holding her grandson and asks Jocasta what his name is. Jocasta explains that Brianna has not given him a name, as she had been waiting for Roger’s return. Claire expresses her gratitude to Jocasta for her care of their daughter. Jocasta replies that it has been her pleasure, asking Jamie what he thinks of his grandson. “He’s a fighter,” Jamie replies, “like his mother and his granny.” Claire comments that she should look in on Brianna, asking Jocasta if she would like to hold the baby.
Meanwhile, Jamie moves over to Murtagh and asks about Bonnet. Murtagh explains that they had caught him, but had then been imprisoned by the militia. He tells Jamie of the explosion at the jail, saying simply: “I got out. He didn’t.” Murtagh adds that he is only sorry that Jamie wasn’t able to kill him with his own hands. “So am I,” Jamie replies. Again, though, with the absence of a body, Bonnet could yet prove to have executed a Jack Randall-esque escape...
Brianna is sitting in her room, when Claire knocks. She sits on the bed, asking if Brianna needs anything. She tells her daughter that she wants to take her home to Fraser’s Ridge, where she will be surrounded by family and taken care of. Brianna nods and allows herself to be gathered into Claire’s arms and rocked like a baby, as her mother murmurs, “It’s all right.”
Dinner is a sombre affair, with Claire, Jamie, Jocasta and Murtagh eating in silence. Suddenly Brianna enters and sits between her parents with a small smile. Jamie passes her a roll, Claire smiles back. The healing has begun.
The group is ready to leave. Jamie thanks Jocasta again and Claire extends an open invitation for the older woman to visit anytime. Jocasta replies that perhaps she will make the journey one day. In her room, Brianna is packing, when she looks out the window and sees a lone rider. It can only be Roger. She races down the stairs, out the door, across the field and into his arms. The two cling to each other. “You’re here,” Brianna says. “I didn’t know if you’d come.” Roger replies that he may be stubborn but he isn’t a fool. He tells her that he loves her and always will. They kiss, Brianna murmuring her own words of love. We can see the relief and joy on their faces to be able to touch one another again. Roger asks about the child and Brianna replies that it is a boy. Without a moment’s hesitation, Roger replies, “Take me to see my son.” He has made his choice.
The reunion is interrupted by riders. A group of redcoats ride up to the house past the couple. Assuming that they are there for Murtagh, Brianna tries to run towards the house, but Roger takes her hand, moving her out of the path of the horses. He is not letting her out of his sight.
Inside, Phaedra announces the soldiers’ arrival. Jamie tells Murtagh that he must hide himself, but Murtagh has headed towards Jocasta, shortening her name to the endearing “Jo.” She rests her forehead against his, telling him he must get to the slaves’ quarters quickly and instructs Ulysses to hide him. Jamie and Claire share a brief look: this is a development they had not foreseen.
There is a knock and Jamie slips into Laird mode. “Let them in,” he says and strides out to meet the redcoats in the hall. But rather than ask about Murtagh, the soldier in charge says that they are looking for James Fraser. “I am James Fraser,” Jamie replies, puzzled. The soldier promptly hands over a letter from Governor Tryon and the group departs.
Jamie unrolls the letter and reads. Tryon has ordered him to assemble a militia to fight the regulators. More than that, Jamie has been given his first mission: to hunt down and kill the fugitive: Murtagh Fitzgibbons. The dramatic music swells - heralding the arrival of yet another Droughtlander!
The final episode ends with the introduction of a storyline that promises another departure from the book in season 5. While the Jamie and Murtagh conflict will no doubt make for gripping viewing, it remains to be seen what the fans will make of more deviations from Diana Gabaldon’s work. There have been many disgruntled fans throughout this season, fans who have been extremely vocal on social media about changes from the source material. Like Roger, they have a choice ahead: will they stick by their beloved story? Or will they go back through the stones, to their previous “book only” lives?
This recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher librarian who lives in Australia. Although she loves the books with a passion, she has been equally impressed with the storylines this season and has enjoyed analysing the differences between the two formats. She thinks that the acting is going from strength to strength and is already looking forward to the adaptation of “The Fiery Cross.” A big thanks to Outlander Homepage for the opportunity to recap season 4!