Last week’s Outlander was pretty intense, much like the whole season thus far, so it was with some relief that we got to jump back to the 20th century this week… but this is Outlander, so the break is short-lived.
It’s been an interesting journey for me, watching Richard Rankin play Roger Wakefield, a character I never found compelling in the books. Much like David Berry and Tobias Menzies, Rankin improved my view on a character that I might be a bit harder on than I need to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lord John, but when first reading the books, he irritated me. Unlike Lord John, however, my opinion of Roger as a bit of a whiny man-child hasn’t softened much over the years (especially in contrast to Jamie), until watching Rankin portray him. And then I watched The False Bride and thought, “Ahhhh there he is!”
The False Bride starts with Roger strumming his guitar in an empty house. He’s sold his house to Fiona and her new hubs and is moving out. We’re not sure where he’s living, but we do know that he’s heading to America to play at a Scottish festival in North Carolina. And to see Brianna, Jamie and Claire’s daughter who is studying engineering at MIT in Boston. Before he leaves, he and Fiona toast the new home, and she tells him he should tell Bree how he feels (the being in love bit). Aww the heart eyes. Next we see Roger, Bree is picking him up at Logan airport and then the two are on a road trip to North Carolina for the festival.
Speaking of North Carolina: in roughly the same place, if a wildly different time, Jamie and Claire are bidding farewell to both Jocasta and River Run, unable to stay under the current conditions. Jocasta tells Jamie she wishes things were different (which yeah I’m sure Rufus feels the same way), and gifts Jamie with some money (insists that he takes it), supplies for their journey west to Woolam’s Creek, where many Scots have settled, and his mother’s silver candlesticks. The goodbye is warm and full of sadness, but Jamie insists that he and Claire will be alright in town where Claire will practice medicine and Jamie will set up a printing press. Ian again begs Jamie to let him stay in America, and after listing all the shit Ian’s been through the past year (which, yeah pirates, rape, being thrown into a pit, and sailing through a hurricane) and pointing out that Jamie was younger than he is when he went to France, Jamie agrees that he’s not a boy anymore and tells him he can stay. I get where Jamie is coming from, he has foreknowledge of the impending Revolution and Ian is a young man, but the kid is right. He hasn’t been a child for awhile now and should be allowed to make his own choices.
Meanwhile, there is a decidedly cooler goodbye happening between Claire and Jocasta. Claire is still pissed about the brutality of the night before, and Jocasta thinks Claire is forcing Jamie to squander his talents by working a printing press rather than doing what he’s meant to: be a laird and landowner. John Quincy Myers joins our trio and the group is off, along with one of my favorite characters in the book, Clarence the Mule.
We peek in on Bree and Roger playing road trip games and making goo goo eyes at each other, and while Bree kisses him, Roger nearly drives off the road. In one of the best transitions ever, the road Bree and Roger are cruising down turns into the same wide path the Frasers are driving down, 200 years earlier. Mr Myers points out a mountain where Scots meet and trade once a year after the harvest, and it seems it’s a tradition that has since become the festival Bree and Roger are going to. Ian asks about the Natives and Myers tells him that the Cherokee own the land they’re on. He talks about the Cherokee being honorable and fair fighters, who do what they must in order to keep their land and maintain nvwadohiyadv (nuh-wah-doe-hee-yaw- duh), or peace. Myers also tells about how the women of the Cherokee choose their own husbands and lovers, for which Myers is glad. The group makes camp and Myers tells them he’ll be leaving them in the morning to go trade with the Natives, and Ian asks to join him. When they’re alone, Jamie asks Claire if she’s sure she’d not rather go to Boston, and Claire tells him she wants them to make a new life together, not to mention that Boston is gonna pretty violent pretty soon.
The next morning, Jamie and Claire continue on their journey, and Claire tells Jamie more about Bree: her constant worrying over their daughter’s future, and wondering if Bree had decided on what she wanted to do with her life. The conversation Claire had with Jocasta is clearly still on her mind, and she asks Jamie if he loves working at a print shop. He tells her no, but it kept him in shape, both mind and body. Claire tells Jamie not to settle because it’s what he thinks she wants, and Jamie admits that were it just him, he’d be happy to live as an outlaw, but he has a family to take care of. And with that, the storm that’s been brewing all day thunders in, scaring poor Clarence enough to run off, Claire close on his heels. Because being alone in the words during a storm in an unfamiliar forest is the best decision one can make.
Soon enough we’re back with Roger and Bree at the festival, where the men are kilted and the haggis eating contest is at one. Roger tells Bree about the area being settled by Scots in the 18th century, and the two get a portrait drawn of them. They do their best to dance the Cèilidh, and we even get our own Titanic-esque spinning camera! It’s a sweet little date and the festival looks like a blast… then we cut back to Jamie. Clarence has returned, but no Claire to be found. Turns out lightning striking a tree scares the shit outta horses, too, and Claire’s has run off after throwing Claire, knocking her unconscious.
Now, back to 1970: Roger and Bree have been having a lovely time, but now Roger’s gotta work. And by “work” I mean play his guitar and sing some sad folk songs about lost love. Richard Rankin has a lovely singing voice, and Bree isn’t the only lass with heart eyes while he sings (It’s me. I’m the other lass). Roger walks Bree to her cabin and she gives him some smooches, a book about colonial Scots, and some hooch. The two decide to share a wee dram and head to Bree’s cabin where they get drunk, talk to a mounted deer head, and Bree loses her shirt. The evening is shaping up to be pretty perfect, when Roger stops. He tells Bree he wants the night to be super duper perfect and redresses her before going to get her a gift of his own. Aww. He gifts her with a bracelet engraved with “I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.” Bree is touched by the gift, until Roger starts going on about getting married and having babies and dogs and Bree has to tell him to slow his fucking roll. She very gently tells Roger that she’s not ready for marriage yet. Roger then, in true Roger-From-The-Books form, gets pissed. He’s obviously hurting, but things start to get ugly as he slut shames her, and she calls out his hypocrisy. He is totally cool with sleeping with women, but wants his bride to be a virgin (except I guess for the sex they were literally just about to have). It starts getting even uglier until finally Bree slaps him. Roger frames his argument as simply his being in love with Brianna, but then tells her he won’t sleep with her unless she’s his fiancee and storms off. There is the temper-tantrum I remember!
The next day is the calling of the clans. Bree finds Roger with the Mackenzies and tells him she doesn’t like how they left things. Roger is still sulky and asks if she’s changed her mind. Bree answers honestly and tells him “no,” she doesn’t think she’s ready for marriage, and isn’t sure if she ever wants to get married, but it’s not out of the question. Roger tells Bree that he wants all of her or none of her. Ahh, nothing speaks to marital bliss like black and white ultimatums and a fierce abhorrence of compromise. Unable to immediately accept marriage to a man she’s spent a handful of weeks with, Bree returns the bracelet and leaves. #TeamBree.
Thankfully, we get to go back to a rain-soaked Claire who wakes up and finds a fallen tree to hole up under until the storm passes. She takes off her boots and, because she’s Claire, finds a skull. She talks to the skull and examines the even split in it as the wolves yip and howl around her, until she finally sees a torchlight. Thinking it’s Jamie, Claire runs out to meet it but rather than her husband, it’s the ghost of a Native man who is wearing the stone she found alongside the skull, and who has a wound like the one on her new friend.
Claire wakes up the next morning to find her boots missing. She follows their tracks to a stream where she finds Jamie. Jamie also followed Claire’s bootprints to the stream, which is funny, since Claire’s never been there before. Claire tells Jamie about her ghost visitor and they surmise that the ghost must have led them there. While Claire washes the skull, she notices that it has silver fillings in the teeth, which is a bit odd, since they won’t be invented for another hundred years. Looks like Ghost Guy was a traveller, too!
Jamie and Claire keep moving until they find some wild strawberries. Jamie tells her some family history (the strawberry is Clan Fraser’s emblem) and when they look up, the view is so staggeringly beautiful, Jamie can’t help but picture their entire lives there. He tells Claire about where the house would go, and the two of them decide that, rather than go to town, they will build their lives there, on Fraser’s Ridge.
I have to admit to trepidation coming into this season in regard to Bree and Roger. I love Bree, but last season it felt that Sophie Skelton was so focused on getting the accent down that she forgot to act, and that always took me out of the story, especially when acting alongside the stellar performers who are on this show. I was happy to see she’s gotten more comfortable in the role now and, as such, Bree is a more rounded and interesting character. After such tough and tense episodes so far this season, it was a relief to have a quieter episode. And I say that about an hour of television that included ghosts, tantrums, and setting a massive stag on fire. It’s also interesting to see Bree and Roger’s relationship and how different it is from her parents’. Where Claire and Jamie are a wildfire, Bree and Roger are embers. Except, of course, when Roger is being antiquated AF, even for the 1970s.