Outlander Review: 4×05 “Savages”

After a week of plague and pestilence (mine, not the Frasers’) I’m back to give you the rundown on last night’s “Savages,” but first my own little “previously on:”

Not too much happened… except for Jamie killing a “bear” (aka a man who went crazy after his Cherokee brethren shunned and “didn’t see him anymore” as punishment for rape). It’s a little different than in the books, in which Jamie kills an actual bear, but both earn him the respect of his Native neighbors and the name “Bear Killer.” He and Claire eventually become tenuous friends with the Cherokee, and Claire befriends their healer, Adawehi, who greets her with the cryptic message that “it wasn’t her fault.”

While things are looking up for Jamie and Claire, back in 1971 Roger is trying to get back in touch with Brianna after their less than loving parting when he learns that in 177-something Claire and Jamie will die in a fire in their home on Fraser’s Ridge. He calls Bree to tell her the sobering news, only to learn from her roommate that Bree “went to Scotland to visit her mother” a couple weeks ago. Ohhhh!! Some other things happened, too, but this is the gist (I know, I know, you’re wishing I was always this concise, but alas, it canna be).

In the opening scenes from “Savages,” we see Claire not only learning about the herbs and their medicinal uses from Adawehi, but learning Cherokee, as well. The two have clearly formed a warm friendship, and Claire tells Adawehi about Brianna, who is “far, far away.” Adawehi replies that Brianna is here, and Claire agrees that her daughter is in her heart (pretty sure Adawehi was being a bit more literal than that, but hey how is Claire to know?).  We get a glimpse into Jamie and Claire’s daily lives (including Lady, the pig, who is another favorite character of mine. Clearly I just love the animals of Outlander). Jamie is heading to town with Ian to find tenants for their new land, and Claire is off to the Muellers (she’s a good cook, he’s a boar) to deliver their first grandbaby. Before they head out, Jamie sneaks a candlestick, Claire reassures him that she’ll be okay alone should she return first, and Jamie asks Claire about a birthmark on Bree. The foreshadowing is strong. Claire confirms that Bree has a birthmark, but that she’s not thought about it in years, but Jamie dreamed of it. And again my heart breaks for the travesty of Jamie never being able to raise his children.

Courtesy of Starz

A quick peek back in 1971 has Roger investigating What Happened To Brianna as if there were more than one answer here. The cabbie tells him that she bought a one-way fare to Craigh Na Dun ten days ago, and the innkeeper, after literally the slightest amount of resistance, gives Roger a letter that he was supposed to get in a year. Must be the untrimmed beard that charmed her.

Courtesy of Starz

Jamie and Ian make it to town, and are pretty optimistic and excited about the idea of having families (and lasses) around again. Jamie is offering 100 acres of land, rent free until a good harvest comes in, and what Highland farmer would turn down such an opportunity?

Everyone, it turns out. Though it makes no sense to Jamie or Ian, none of the farmers they invite to come along accept. Turns out they all used to have their own land, but Tryon’s tax collectors are a corrupt lot, and eventually all of the farmers gave up rather than pay the outrageous tax. One of the farmers, Bryan, explains these goings on to Jamie, and invites him to a meeting later. I feel like Jamie should be less surprised by this revelation than he is. Both Claire and Tryon have told him about the issue with taxes, Tryon even going so far as to talk about his concerns about unscrupulous sheriffs… oh and Claire telling him about the entire goddamn revolution over taxation without representation coming along. I mean, really. The whole reason they were hesitant to take the grant was the upcoming war and conflicting loyalties. Anyway, a subdued duo gets ready to head home when their horse’s bit breaks and Jamie sends Ian to the Blacksmith to have it mended.

Meanwhile, Claire has delivered a baby girl! And they named the baby Klara, after her! It’s all a very sweet domestic scene until Rollo, being a dog, barks at some newcomers. Herr Mueller freaks out because the “savages” are stealing his creek water. Yes. “His” creek water, which is always changing, always flowing. Try telling an entitled white colonizing dude that water is literally for everyone and that oh hey he’s claiming it as his own on stolen land, though. Mueller pulls his gun on the Natives, who in turn pull their guns and bows on him. Claire, knowing both parties, negotiates a tenuous truce: the Cherokee will move downstream, and Mueller will calm the fuck down. The Cherokee agree out of respect for Claire as Bear Killer’s wife and before they go, bless the creek. Mueller sees it as a curse, however, and Claire has to talk him down again. Claire heads home after the confrontation, and we see just how much she’s enjoying her life with Jamie. She’s content for the first time as she tends to the livestock and her home. A quiet life is all she and Jamie have ever wanted with each other, and it’s nice to see them get it, even if only briefly.

Back in town, Ian is at the Blacksmith to get Jamie’s bit mended, when the blacksmith tells him he’s closed. The two bicker about price when the ‘smith turns around and it’s Murtagh!!! I’ve been wondering how they would bring Jamie’s godfather back, and I’m so excited to see the storyline they’ve written for him. After being forced to pay an exorbitant amount for mending the bit, Ian returns to Jamie, who has been trying to get a hold of the silversmith (and whose wife has been trying to get ahold of Jamie). Ian tells Jamie about getting swindled, and the angry Scot heads to the smithy to give him a what for. He demands to know why Ian was charged so much, when the “old coot” turns around and the two men lay eyes on each other for the first time in 15+years. I’m crying, they’re (almost) crying and Ian is just happy to be here.

The trio head to the pub (like ya do) to catch up and Murtagh tells them of his time as an indentured servant and how he came to be a smith of all trades. Jamie perks up at this and asks him to help him with his candlestick. Ian mentions that it’s for Jamie’s wife, and Murtagh’s interest is piqued. They send Ian off to buy more beer, and Jamie tells him of Claire’s return and about Brianna being alive and well in 1971. After some warm talk and catching up, Jamie asks Murtagh to come live on Fraser’s Ridge with him, and Murtagh looks uncomfortable. He tells Jamie again how Tryon’s been squeezing the farmers and asks him to come to a meeting.

Courtesy of Starz

Claire, meanwhile, is living her best life, when a man named Pastor Gottfried comes to her in a frantic state. Turns out Baby Klara, Petronella, and Tony (Mueller’s children) all contracted the measles and died. Mueller lost his mind to grief and left, blaming Claire for their deaths. I understand the heartbreak and unimaginable pain losing so much would do, but blaming Claire seems like a bit of a stretch. Gottfried is off to try and find Mueller, but wanted to warn Claire, who assures him that Jamie will be home soon, and that she has her rifle, should she need it.

Jamie and Ian go to the meeting with Murtagh and learn that he’s a Regulator. It causes a bit of tension between them, what with Jamie giving his word that he’d try and quell the unrest. Things get a bit tense between the two, but Jamie tells his godfather that, though he won’t join him, he won’t stop him, either, and he and Ian head home.

Back home Claire is jumpy as fuck, which is understandable when a grief-crazed German blames you for the death of his family. Eventually Mueller comes knocking, but tells Claire he only wants to talk. She lets him in, but for once is smart enough not to put her rifle down until she’s sure he’s not there to hurt her. Mueller says he was worried the measles killed her, too, and tells her that the curse caused it. What else would cause Nell and the baby to die so quickly? Certainly not just having given birth/being born, right? Claire tries to explain that it’s a disease, not a curse, but Mueller won’t hear it, lamenting that savages are supposed to die of the pox, not good white Christians! He tells Claire he has a gift for her, and hands her a cloth-wrapped bundle. Claire, thinking it’s Baby Klara’s doll, thanks Mueller, until she sees that it’s not a doll. It’s a scalp. From the beadwork, Claire can tell it’s from her friend Adawehi. Turns out Gottfried got the message wrong and thought “blaming the healer” meant Claire, and not Adawehi. Disgusted and enraged at the slaughter of her friend, Claire kicks Mueller out and does all she can for Adawehi: respectfully disposes of the healer’s remains. In a super duper subtle twist, we can see that the colonizer is the savage, after all. I mean, it’s not wrong, but it feels a bit on the nose. We knew he was a piece of shit, and killing Adawehi seems like a bit much, but the tensions have to keep racking up, and no one is safe from hatred. The next morning Jamie comes home, and along with him Murtagh. I’ve loved the change in Murtagh and Claire’s relationship from the books (they have one), and am as thrilled to see them together as they are to see each other.

Courtesy of Starz

Later that night, at the Mueller cabin, the Cherokee send flaming arrows into the house. Frau Mueller is hit, and Herr Mueller comes home just in time to see his wife die and his house burn before he too is struck down. I’d like to call it a tragedy, and feel some compassion for the Muellers, and maybe I do, for Frau Mueller, but I have to admit that seeing the house burn and Mueller hit felt more like justice. The tribe did nothing to this family except dare to water their horses in “their” creek, and for that their healer was horrifically murdered.

In the last moments, we finally get to hear what Brianna wrote to Roger. She tells him that she must not have made it back, but that she had to help her parents. She implores him not to come after her and we see Brianna go through the stones. Family reunion coming up??

Courtesy of Starz

Overall, I really liked this episode. I can’t say I “enjoyed” it because there isn’t any fun in watching colonizers blame the people whose land they’re stealing for not just dealing with it, and it’s becoming more and more clear to me why the animals were my favorites in this book, but seeing Murtagh back is something I’m always gonna be here for.

What do you think of Savages? Was the punishment for Mueller unequal to the crime? What do you think of Brianna heading through the stones? How excited were you to see Murtagh back?!?!

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