A Man of Worth – Yes, It Was Worthy…
by Michelle Miller, a Seasoned Sassenach (get it?)
I have seen many negative comments about the Outlander season 4 finale. Most of them are from book readers that are upset with what was not included from the book or for storylines that were added – I’m looking at you, Murtagh and Jocasta! I really think that we, book readers, have become hyper-critical on these points. And our negativity spreads like wildfire, so much so that Executive Producer Matthew B Roberts shut down his Twitter account. Now, I’m not saying that the viewpoints are wrong – who am I to tell someone how they can feel or react to things? But I think that we should be a bit more agreeable in our disagreement of storylines. I know that the old “the book is the book, and the show is the show” rubs some people the wrong way, but it really is true. The show is an adaptation of the wonderful series of books by Diana Gabaldon. It is not a blow by blow re-interpretation of those books. There is no way that everything that is in the books can be recreated on-screen, no matter how much certain scenes were fan favorites – et tu, Persephone, et tu.
As we come to the season’s end and Droughtlander’s beginning (“And so our Watch begins…” for any of you GoT fans), let’s look at the season finale not as a book reader would look at it, but like a person who has no background knowledge into the story. I know that there probably are not many who fit that description in the readership of this blog, but let’s pretend…
As we begin the episode, Jamie, Claire and Ian are approaching the Mohawk village. It appears to be some time after last week’s pyre ending, so my initial guess that the whisky Roger threw belonged to Jamie was not accurate. Oh well…
Anyway, our ragtag group of rescuers approach the village and are closely followed by villagers. They talk to the chief about wanting to trade for the man that they had mistakenly sold to them a few months back. Ian offers to return the necklace that he got. Did he really think that was going to be that easy ? Anyway, they bring Roger “Dogface” MacKenzie out and there is a reunion of sorts with Claire. But while the negotiations are taking place, the villagers see that Claire is wearing an odd looking opal necklace. We know that she discovered this back when she discovered the skull during the storm, but we really didn’t know its significance. Now, we see all; the Mohawks react, and the chief wants nothing to do with our group. He will NOT trade, but we have no idea why. Jamie, Claire and Ian are forcibly taken away from the village, and #PoorRoger has to go back to “the idiot hut”.
Now if I’m a non-book reader, I’m thinking what the heck? What is this stone Claire is wearing and why do the fierce Mohawks appear to be afraid of being around it? Will #PoorRoger ever be freed ? I don’t know about you, but this is compelling storytelling. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Jamie, Claire and Ian try to make camp, but here come a small group of armed Mohawks, including that woman who was so mean to #PoorRoger. Oh my, what will happen to our heroes? Turns out they want Claire’s stone and will do anything to get it, even help these whitemen rescue #PoorRoger. Claire, being Claire, wants to know whythey want the stone, so the story of Ottertooth is told. Now, the story is the same as in the books, but the telling of it and when it is told is different. I actually liked this better. I liked this whole sequence better, actually. I think because in this telling, you get that the Mohawks are human and can be afraid of things just like other people. Without this humanization, what happens later would be completely unpalatable.
So Mohawk lady, her braves, and our heroes row back to the village under cover of darkness to try to sneak out #PoorRoger. Who actually came up with this plan ? There’s just no way this would work unless the village was distracted by something huge…like maybe a pyre? But there’s nothing going on. And even if they had gotten back to the river, did they think the villagers would be like “Oh well, they made it to the river. I guess we give up.” Uh…no. So, there are major tense moments here after they get caught. The chief excommunicates Mohawk woman for what she did, but is willing to let Jamie, Claire and Ian go.
Meanwhile back at the ranch (River Run), Murtagh arrives and immediately tucks in to what looks like Thanksgiving dinner for most of us, but for River Run, it’s just a Tuesday. He and Jocasta have normal dinner conversation like how Murtagh will continue to be a treasonous regulator, Bree’s engagement to “a redcoat” (horrors!) and still flirt with Jocasta at the same time. Boy, that man can multi-task. Jocasta “gets mad” and throws her drink in his face. Next thing you know, we see her in her robe with Murtagh in the bed. Say what ???? This is not in the books because as we know Murtagh died at Culloden in the books, so he isn’t around to get all brown chicken, brown cow with Jocasta. A lot of people hate this. And to be perfectly honest, I was one of them. I felt like Murtagh’s presence would change Jamie’s relationships with the other men on the show – that it would prevent him from becoming the Laird that he becomes. I was wrong. I’ll say it again for good measure: I. Was. Wrong. Murtagh was always somewhat of a minor character in the books – I really di not feel the depth of the relationship with Jamie in the books. Duncan LaCroix has made him come alive, and although I may not completely like the regulator storyline (I didn’t like it in the books either), anything that keeps him on screen is a good thing.
Bree has a conversation with Murtagh and admits that she has already forgiven Jamie and that the engagement to Lord John will never become an actual marriage. I love this conversation, and I’m sure that non-book readers liked a bit more of an explanation of the fake engagement. Things happen so fast in Outlanderland!
Back in the Mohawk village, Jamie tells Ian to tell the chief that he would take #PoorRoger’s place. I find this interesting because the chief has up to this point spoken to the group in English. There wasn’t any translation needed. I’m guessing they pulled this from the books where that was not the case. Anyway, next thing you know, Ian is proclaiming that he will stay and that Jamie and Claire can take #PoorRoger away. Tearful, heartfelt goodbyes are said. I was crying like a baby at this point. When Jamie says that Ian does not realize just how worthy he is and that lone tear – Outlander Napalm as Crystal calls it – rolls down his face, I lose it. Give these people all the awards!!!
Our group, sans Ian (sniff!), leaves the Mohawk village. They don’t get too far before #PoorRoger decides it’s time to not be #PoorRoger anymore and starts beating Jamie to a pulp. Claire doesn’t get it, but Jamie does – he owes this to Roger. Men! Anyway, after the thrashing, Claire tells Roger that Bree was attacked and that she is pregnant and wait for it the baby may or may not be his. Then she tells of Stephen Bonnet, and Roger goes nuts. Bonnet is the reason why he couldn’t get back to Bree and he makes it known that this was his intention. This is another place where the show gets it right. In the books, Roger sneaks back to the Gloriana to steal gemstones for he and Bree. And Bree is attacked when she visits the Gloriana to negotiate for her mother’s ring. How they missed each other, no one knows. And Roger sneaking and stealing from a pirate like Bonnet without getting caught? Let’s just say that whoever thought that was plausible also thought midnight raids on Mohawk villages would work like a charm.
Jamie gets all up in Roger’s face and tells him that his daughter doesna want a coward. And that he better be sure of what he wants to do. I love the rage in Jamie’s face in this scene, but this is another example of different time. different place in th books. And I like it! Jamie would totally be giving Roger an ultimatum as soon a Roger hears the news. He did not hesitate to beat him up and trade him to the Mohawk, so why would he be different here ?
We leave that conversation and see a brief scene with music showing Bree give birth to a healthy son. Jocasta counted all his fingers and toes herself. (I hope someone else did, too. Just sayin’) Next thing you know, little unnamed baby is two months old, but looks like he’s ready to play basketball with some friends down the street. I’ve never seen a two month old that big! But I digress. In runs a young slave to let her know that riders are coming and that her mother is among them. Bree runs out the door and sees her mother and father, but no Roger or Ian. Wait, what? Did they leave Roger in the wilderness hundreds of miles from home ? It surely appears so. Again, wait, what ? A non-book reader is likely to get confused here. There is no explanation given onscreen as to why Roger is not there.
So, Claire plays bouncy bouncy with the baby and then hands him off to Jocasta. I’ve heard that lots of people hate this – that she passes off to Jocasta instead of Jamie. They also hate that Jamie and Claire were not there at the birth. I get both of these feelings, but I’ll admit it – I like it. Firstly, Diana’s timeline – and she herself has said that she doesn’t always remember or card about such things – never made sense to me. Bree gets pregnant in September. Jamie, Claire and Ian don’t go on their quest to save #PoorRoger (have to hashtag him before his rescue :P) until months later. It takes them months to get there and presumably months to get back. And then The Ridge is at least 2 weeks from River Run – and that’s without a about to burst mom on board. I never thought it made sense for them to have had the time to make it in time. Secondly, the last time Claire and Jocasta were in the same room together, they about scratched each other up like two cats. Jocasta knows that Claire does not approve of Jocasta’s lifestyle, and she herself thinks its Claire’s fault that Jamie refuses to be her heir. So, by handing off to Jocasta, I see this as a peace offering. It’s a “I might not like how you live your life, but I’m sure grateful that you were there for my daughter and grandchild.” I don’t see anything wrong with that. I also think that all the things that Jamie said in the book will get said later. I would like to hear them once they are on The Ridge as a family unit or at The Gathering as a blood oath. From my mind to Matthew B. Robert’s ear… Lastly, there was quite a rumor going around that the babies on set did not like Sam. They never had Jamie hold Germaine either.
Back to our story…
In the Mohawk village, Young Ian successfully completes running the gauntlet, thereby ensuring that he will become a member of the tribe instead of a slave. Can I say it? I LOVE John Bell! And I bet he loved every single minute of filming this sequence – except for maybe the bumps and bruises. He looks like such a bad ass, jumping and ducking and diving and wheeling to and fro. And then his impossibly wide grin and whoops that echo back the Mohawks’ whoops are just great. We feel like Ian has found his place. This hearkens back to my earlier statement about the humanization of the Mohawks. Had they not shown their humanness earlier, we might be saying #PoorIan right about now.
Nothing is ever really mentioned about why Roger is not there, but Claire is wanting to pack up and head to The Ridge. And it seems like this is right after they have been reunited. And there is no mention of Young Ian’s fate. Why not? Does Claire seriously think that Roger would abandon Bree? Interesting… Just as they are packing up , Bree looks up and sees a man on horseback. Then we have the great scene of Bree running quite a long distance to crash into our hero Roger, finally here! By the way – I’ve always wondered about people in movies and shows being able to discern who someone was from far away. Do they all have bionic vision like Steve Majors? It’d be my luck that I would exhaust my self running and it would be the local peddler coming with his wares. But then again, I do like to shop.
The episode could have ended here, but it didn’t! Here come the Redcoats! Murtagh runs off to the slave quarters but not before Jamie and Claire witness a tender moment between him and Jocasta. I’m sure there will be hot discussion at the dinner table that night! The Redcoats deliver a directive from Governor Tryon that tells Jamie he must raise a militia and go after the outlaw Murtagh Fitzgibbons. Tense looks by all and fade to black…. (Although…why the heck did they need that many Redcoats to deliver a message ? One person wasn’t enough ? And wouldn’t you think that Lieutenant Wolfe would have been involved since he was local and friend to Jocasta ?)
All in all, this was a really good episode. The only plot points I saw that I had issue with was the non-explanation of why Roger was not with Jamie and Claire when they got to River Run, and the ending Dun dun DUN moment. Not as suspenseful as the writers might have thought it would be. Even non-book readers know that Jamie would EVER hurt, much less kill, his godfather.
End of Season – Droughtlander begins…I guess we can all just watch them again. 🙂