One of the things I’ve found these past few years of watching the television adaptation of Outlander is that I’m grateful to be able to divorce the show from the books. It makes it so much easier to enjoy them both, and from things I read on the internet, I’m better off. If I’m honest, I kind of wish the show would divert even a little more than it does, especially knowing that there are at least two more seasons confirmed. I’d love to take more time with other characters as the scope of the show expands and frankly welcome any surprises that may come my way. All of this comes to me as we finish up season four with “A Man of Worth.”
It’s a packed episode, and I find myself torn between wishing it were split into two, or worrying that two hours might make the story drag. After an opening scene of modern day kids playing “cowboys and indians” as a Native man (with a familiar stone necklace) watches on in disgust, we see Jamie scoping out the Mohawk village where Roger is being held.Yay, they made it! Jamie heads back to the camp he, Claire, and Ian setup and tell them there was no sign of Roger, but let’s go trade and see what we can see.
They get to the village and are immediately surrounded. Ian, who has a fair grasp of the language, explains to the villagers that they want to trade, and are looking for someone. They pass around a drawing of Roger, who the villagers recognize as Dogface, and announce that our traveling trio will need to speak to Tehwahsehwke, their leader. All seems to be going well, if not a little awkwardly, until Claire takes off her scarf, revealing the stone she got from her skull ghost buddy way back when. Tehwahsehwke and the villagers sees “Otter Tooth’s” stone and tell the three to leave immediately, there will be no trading. The Frasers seem to make enemies wherever they go. It’s an impressive talent, really.
Meanwhile, Murtagh pops in at River Run to check on Brianne, but not before having dinner with Jocasta, who tells him that Bree spends most her time in her room or on the porch, drawing and waiting for Roger. The two chat a bit more, until Bree and Lord John’s engagement comes up, and Murtagh huffs around because “Ye can’t let her marry a Redcoat!”. Jocasta is taking none of Murtagh’s shit, however, and leaves him there to eat alone. Later Murtagh sees Bree and grumps to her about Lord John, when she explains to him that she just did it to get Jocasta off her back, and neither she nor John have any thought of getting married. Placated, Murtagh asks Bree if seeing Bonnet gave her some peace, and if she thinks she could one day forgive her dad for beating and selling her husband into slavery. Turns out Claire was right and time mellowed her out, because Bree tells him that she’s already forgiven Jamie. Aww.
When they return to their camp, Jamie announces that he’ll go after Roger that night, since he doesn’t think Bree will be impressed with a rock rather than a husband, no matter how pretty the rock is. Claire tells him no fucking way, and before they can argue too much about it, a group of Mohawk come into their camp, sorta fighting. There’s a scuffle, and the woman in charge, Wahkatiiosta, tells them she just wants the stone. Claire wants both Roger and the story behind the stone before they hand anything over. Wahkatiiosta grudgingly obliges and tells them the story of Otter Tooth. Turns out that many years ago, this guy showed up at their village telling them to kill all the white people they see. He warned them of the future of their people, and went out to make war. This pissed off the village leaders, who thought he was possessed by an evil spirit, and Otter Tooth was banished. He couldn’t keep away, though, and eventually they marked him for death. That was when Otter Tooth finally got the hint and skedaddled, but some men chased after him and killed him. Unfortunately his death did not bring peace along with it, and his words echoed in the villagers’ minds. Tehwahsehwke, a young man then, took his head and buried it far away, where Claire found it many years later. Claire tells Wahkatiiosta about her encounter with Otter Tooth, and Wahkatiiosta eventually agrees to help them get Roger, in exchange for the stone.
The group quietly sneaks into the village, and while everyone is distracted, manages to get to Roger who is, in an understatement, not thrilled to see Jamie again. Rescue seems to take precedence over a grudge at the moment, however, and they make their way to get back to their canoes. But, this IS Claire and Jamie, and nothing can ever go smoothly for them. They’re seen, and the alarm is set. They do their best to fight through, and just when we think they’re gonna make it, they’re caught. The next morning, Tehwahsehwke is PISSED, but not so much at Jamie and Claire. His rage is reserved for Wahkatiiosta, whom he banishes from the village. He then again tells the Frasers to leave, with the stone but not Roger, when Jamie offers himself in exchange. Claire tries to fight it, and Ian talks to the council in their language to make the trade, except… Ian trades himself rather than Jamie, and makes him promise to not try and save him. John Bell and Sam Heughan do such a great job in this goodbye, I’m not even ashamed to admit that I cried. Also, here’s hoping that an Ian storyline will allow us to actually have some of the nuanced character development of Native characters that this season has been woefully lacking (I mean, last week we finally got to meet a “nice” Native woman who was only introduced so she could climb onto a pyre with her priest lover). They, quite frankly, deserve better than what they’ve been given thus far, as do we.
A quick pop into River Run shows Jocasta and Murtagh chatting, and then fighting, ending with Jocasta throwing some perfectly good whisky in Murtagh’s face, and before you even process that, it’s the next morning and they’re in bed! I gotta say, I did not see that coming and I have no idea how to feel about it.
Back at the camp, Claire asks Jamie how he’ll tell Jenny, and frankly, if I were him, I’d be grateful to have an ocean between myself and Jamie’s sister. There isn’t much more to say, though, since Roger starts beating the shit out of Jamie. I can’t even blame him, and neither does Jamie, who takes all the blows in stride. Roger’s beating is cut in with Ian “running the gauntlet” back at the Mohawk village. Roger hits Jamie until he can’t anymore, and Ian is shown to make it through, and therefore be accepted and found worthy to become Mohawk, and the last we see of Ian is him smiling excitedly.
When Roger is worn out, he asks about Bree, whom he thought had Jamie beat and sell him over the fight they had. The assumption honestly makes me want to punch Roger a bit. Jamie and Claire explain the misunderstanding that led to Roger’s rough go of it, including the fact that Bree was raped by Bonnet. Roger explodes at the name, telling them Bonnet is why he was gone so long, and the start of his and Jamie’s relationship is, well, tense to say the least. Jamie accuses Roger of cowardice and blames him for leaving Bree alone in the first place. Once Claire calms them down, Roger tells them he can take Bree home through the stones that are in North America– which is when he gets the next bit of news: Brianna is pregnant, and can’t risk a baby going through the stones. Roger gets excited about being a dad when the other shoe drops: it may not be his baby. Jamie is clearly unimpressed with his son-in-law, and tells Roger as much. He tells Roger that if he isn’t sure that he can accept Bree and the baby to not bother coming home, because Bree deserves better. Roger says he needs time, and Jamie yells in disgust that he’s lost Ian for Roger’s life, so he better make himself fucking worthy. He’d rather Bree hate him for the rest of her life than bring her more heartache.
Back at River Run, Bree gives birth to a son, and two months later, Jamie and Claire show up, sans Roger. Bree is upset, and starts to cry when Jamie tells her Roger is alive. Next season is going to have to be “The Redemption of Roger” because at this point, it’s really hard to root for him. It’s odd thinking that he’s less enlightened than someone from 200+ years before he was born, but he manages it. I understand that he got a shitload of information thrown at him at once, but it’s hard to believe he truly loves Bree, rather than thinking of her as a prize or object, now tainted, especially when we consider the shit he pulled at the festival.
Later, Bree takes to her room and we learn that her son doesn’t have a name, since she was waiting for Roger. Claire goes to Bree and tells her their plan to go back to Fraser’s Ridge, where she and the baby will be surrounded by love and support. Bree agrees and they make ready to go home. The next day as Bree is packing, she looks out the window, and sees a lone rider. She runs out of the house and straight into Roger’s arms. She must love the guy, but it looks like dude still has not had a bath in the two months since he was freed from captivity. They kiss, and Roger cries a bit, telling Bree that he loves her and asking to see his son. So, hopefully next season we’ll see Roger being a bit less of a shit.
Just as the two of them are heading back to the house, a bunch of Redcoats ride by. In the house, Murtagh hides, and the weirded out expressions on both Jamie and Claire’s faces when they see Murtagh and Jocasta embrace alone is worth the storyline. Turns out the Redcoats aren’t there for Murtagh, however, as they give Jamie a letter from Governor Tryon, ordering Jamie to form a militia to fight the Regulators. Oh! And to find and kill Murtagh. Yikes.
Outlander has some tall orders when it comes down to it: They have 13 hours to tell a story that is usually about 800-1000 pages long, and within it, they need to make the story work in their own medium, while trying to make longtime fans of the books happy, but also make a cohesive story for fans who have never picked up the books. It’s a no-win situation, and honestly it’s one of the examples of why I sometimes miss the days before social media, when fans didn’t have quite as much access to the creators of shows as we do now. Overall, I have loved this season of Outlander, but I sometimes fear that the writers and producers are so concerned with following the source material closely enough as to not incur the wrath of fans, that they miss out on opportunities for many more interesting stories. My hope is that as we delve deeper in this world, and as more storylines deviate from only Jamie and Claire. Although they are the main focus, I think in ways it has taken away from the development of other characters. Outlander increasingly becomes an ensemble story, and we deserve to know and love those people just as deeply, and they deserve the writers to take the care with them that they have with our leads.