Sorry this is tardy, but between the Oscars and Covid, it has been hectic! I haven’t left my bedroom in five days. So we’re gonna tear through this episode, which is a showcase for John Bell as Young Ian, and crams in all of his backstory. Without further ado:
The episode starts with a flashback to the Mohawk welcoming Ian into their ranks, via a ceremony that washes “every drop of white blood from [his] veins” and rechristens him Wolf’s Brother (on account of how he has Rollo the Dog at his side all the time).
As his hair is cut and his face tattooed, a comely lass keeps grinning at him. We all know how to translate that code.
YES EVERYONE IT’S OBVIOUS AND CLEAR
IT’S TIME FOR MY SKIN-FLUTE, THAT’S CLEAR
WE SHALL PLAY IT WITH PRIDE
COME ALONG FOR THIS RIDE
BY WHICH I MEAN THE JOURNEY BUT ALSO I GET STRADDLED SO PREPARE YOUR EYEBALLS FOR SEXUAL GREATNESS!! IAN!!!!
In this episode, Ian and Jamie deliver the guns to the Cherokee on a trading day (or at a trading post, I’m not sure), and Ian spies Kaheroton, the extremely hot Mohawk man whom we’ve seen before, who, you’ll be pleased to know, remains a sweet piece of eye candy. Ian crawls off into his tent and tells Jamie that he met a woman whom he called Emily, because he struggled to pronounce her Mohawk name and she thought the nickname was cute. She carved him a wolf out of a stone, so Ian wore it around his neck. One day while walking with Kaheroton, Ian basically asks if the recently dumped Kaheroton will ever put himself back out there, and Kaheroton taps the wolf around Ian’s neck and says with a smile, “We do not choose. They choose.”
What follows is a cringey scene where Ian and Emily are curled up in a field or something smiling at each other, and she teaches him the word for flower, and they kiss, and it’s like watching two dolls mash their faces together. Emily also gives Ian a bracelet to celebrate the occasion of their boning, and then proceeds to ride him like a pony. You know I cherish John Bell — I want to hug Ian like a kid brother; he has this innate goober quality to him even when he’s being serious — but a Young Ian love scene was not on anyone’s menu. It is no substitute for Jamie and Claire. He palms Emily’s boobs with all the finesse of a man who is thinking, “I must hide these from the camera.” And I will never get over the closed-caption [YOUNG IAN MOANING.]
YES, BUT I, YOUNG IAN, DID MOAN
IT SEEMS I AM FINALLY GROWN
I DON’T KNOW HOW
BUT I’VE GOT A WIFE NOW
AND I’LL BE DOING QUITE A LOT OF THIS MOANING FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE SO I HOPE EVERYONE HAS EARPLUGS, AND MAYBE WE SHOULD GIVE THEM OUT TO EVERYONE AS GIFTS! IAN!!!!
Then there’s a storytelling circle of some kind, and they wanted Ian to share his tall tales of travel by sea, and the Bakra, and such. Ian clearly didn’t want to talk about it, except he MUST have at some point, or else how did anyone know about it? So instead Ian sang a Gallic song, and had a bunch more sex we didn’t order but can’t send back, until Emily ended up pregnant. But she had a traumatic stillbirth very late in the pregnancy, and then had another one the next time. So a disapproving tribe elder marched Ian out to the woods and told him that they believe conception is the result of a man’s spirit battling the woman’s, and winning, and clearly Ian’s spirit is a wimp. Essentially, they evicted him. Ian didn’t take this quietly, and stomped back to his home, where he found Emily serving soup to Kaheroton, the implication being that she had already chosen again and this time wasn’t Ian. She cried and said, “It’s what must be,” and Kaheroton looked pained, and hot, and hotly pained, and that was that.
This is an issue for Ian, though, because of course he has to look Kaheroton in the face now, and he hears that Kaheroton and Emily have a son. Jealously he grabs his knife and marches over to Kaheroton and screams that he STOLE HERRR, and the two of them grapple awkwardly while everyone else stands around watching and keeping a Covid-safe distance away.
Jamie runs up with another Indian Agent named Scotchie (we’ll get to him, but the short version is, he sucks, he’s based on a real person, and they seem to have taken a lot of liberties with that), who gives an actual “WOT’S ALL TIHS THEN” to the situation and then grabs Ian’s knife off the ground and waves it at Kaheroton and says a bunch of racist crap — I’m pretty sure there are a lot of times this season that I will use the phrase “says a bunch of racist crap” — and long story short, Kaheroton and Scotchie are gonna duel with pistols.
Ian goes and pouts by the river, where he does his best healing. Generations later on One Tree Hill, Chad Michael Murray will do all HIS best healing at the River Court. Both are in North Carolina. ARE WE ONTO SOMETHING HERE? He tells Jamie that he doesn’t understand why God gave them a son, but took his daughter, whom he’d named Isabel in his own mind even though he never got to see her. He thinks God is punishing him for something. Jamie tells Ian about Faith, his stillborn daughter with Claire, and says he thinks God isn’t a punishing type: that we get the gift of life, death, and the hereafter, and all that’s up in the air is how long Part 1 lasts. Then, and this really got me, he tells Ian that together they will pray for Faith to go find Isabel in heaven. It’s very sweet. I am not made of stone.
Ian gives Kaheroton a pistol from Jamie for the duel, and Kaheroton has Ian hold his staff and his bracelet from Emily, while asking Ian to go be with Emily and raise his kid if he dies. But of course he doesn’t. Scotchie sucks and tries to cheat and turn early, and Ian throws Kaheroton’s staff at him and knocks the shot off-course. This gives Kaheroton a freebie, and he marches up to Scotchie, who starts blubbering and wailing and sniveling and begging for mercy. Kaheroton fires into the air and says, “He has proven himself a coward.” Before he goes, Ian returns the bracelet and tells him that he knows God chose Kaheroton for Emily and not him, and then he kisses his wolf carving goodbye and dumps it in the stream. He later tells Jamie that he always thought he had to be EITHER Wolf’s Brother or Ian Murray, but he realizes now he can be both. “I’ve been known by many names, lad,” Jamie says, understating this by about forty degrees. “Call yourself whatever you want. All that matters is who you are here.” He touches Ian’s heart. And all our hearts are touched likewise. Y’all know I’ve been frustrated by Jamie’s relationships with his de facto children, and indeed his biological child, but I think it’s very nice that he’s Ian’s safe place.
AND NOW THAT YOU KNOW MY SAD TALE
WE CAN MOVE ON AND MAKE A NEW SALE
I’M PEDDLING MY MAN-WHISKEY
TO THAT FAIR MALVA CHRISTIE
I HOPE SHE HAS A VERY NICE SIZE FLASK TO KEEP IT IN BECAUSE I HAVE A VERY BUSY DISTILLERY! IAN!!!!!!
When the gang is testing the guns before Jamie gives them to the Cherokee, Roger hits a nice shot, and Brianna seems peeved by this. While she pouts pensively on the balcony later, she says to Jamie, “It won’t be enough,” and I sincerely thought we were heading into Brianna being bummed out because she knows Roger is too Dogface to survive fighting in the war no matter how hard he practices. But no. It never goes anywhere and is just a random reaction that might just be Sophie Skelton mistakenly believing her face is neutral. ANYHOO, what Brianna is actually lamenting here: She knows that no matter how much they arm the Cherokee, the Trail of Tears is still going to happen. (Brianna knows dates, details, and body counts off the top of her head, so schools in the U.S. must have been a lot better back in her day.) Jamie is crushed to hear about it, and also probably unsettled by how uneven Brianna’s accent work is in this scene. I find it hard to believe that Brianna is a person who would need to excuse herself for a compassionate mope.
At the Cherokee trading post, Jamie meets the Indian Agent known as Scotchie, who history seems to say was more of a friend to the natives, but who is portrayed here like the kind of swaggering, sleazy boozehound who puts the “Scotch” in his nickname. Indeed, a frustrated Jamie offers him a “wee” dram that turns into about 12 shots, and a hammered Scotchie starts telling him that the Overhill Cherokee in Tennessee are selling land and he could get Jamie a good price. Jamie points out that it’s against the treaty to settle that far west, and Scotchie is all, “NAW, they’re INVITING me to buy it!!!” Jamie thinks this sounds illegal as hell, and we learn that Scotchie doesn’t want the Mohawk to find out because they’ll get mad — which maybe explains why he’s so aggressive later with Kaherotan.
Why would anyone want to be on the receiving end of THAT glare?
Scotchie, you’re on borrowed time here
You’ve been given the Glare Bear Stare.
Quit playing with land;
Stick your head in the sand,
Lest Red Jamie laser you beyond repair.
Finally, Jamie, gripped by guilt, pulls Chief Bird aside and tells him that the women in his family “are those who see in dreams what will come.” He tells the Chief about the Trail of Tears, and the Chief is like, “Good thing we’ve got these guns,” and Jamie’s like, “They’re TOTALLY not enough, bro, it’s gonna be real bad,” and urges him to tell his descendants to be careful. Jamie says he can’t warn many people about the future without them thinking he’s crazy, but he knows Chief Bird understands the forces of the universe, and concludes, “Whoever you fight with, fight for yourselves.” Chief Bird promises to alert his people. I really hope Brianna and Roger go back to the future and discover a world that’s entirely run by the Cherokee descendants and a much better and more interesting place.
CLAIRE and MALVA
Claire is teaching Malva to administer ether, so she’s letting her practice on Josiah and Lizzy. (Thank you to whoever reminded me that Claire did some kind of tonsil surgery on one of the twins, and has apparently completely salvaged his ability to speak.) (Also, my brain cannot keep it in that her name is spelled Lizzie, not Lizzy, sorry about that.)
Malva lavishly praises Josiah’s bravery for offering to go first, and LizzIE realizes she obviously has to get in on this action, so she compliments him too and then muscles in and goes first to impress him. Claire shows Malva how to read the skin vibrations to indicate that the patient is coming around again. LizzIEEE didn’t even know she was knocked out, and doesn’t believe it, so they ether Josiah next and she’s dumbfounded. “Where did his soul go?” she wonders. Malva says it does feel like killing someone and then bringing them back to life. Malva is CREEPY. She also, because she CANNOT stop bringing up her weird-ass family, mentions that she can see why Tom Christie calls this “the devil’s work.” Claire is all UM DON’T TELL and Malva is like OBVS NO. But the look in her eye… I wonder if she will follow in Marsali’s footsteps and engage in a little light chemical murder.
Later, LizzIIIEEE tells Kezzie — not Kezzy, this I know — that it happened so fast, it was like… and then she claps a hand over his face. Their physical contact makes both of them blush and she basically swoons when he leaves the room. I can’t decide which twin she’s in love with since I can no longer tell them apart unless she refers to them by name, and I think that must be the point? They’re all in love with each other and it’s gonna get freaky up in the club, yes?
Malva notices Claire taking notes in her book and wants to know what it is. Claire says it’s a mixture of recipes for medicines, and surgical notes. Once again, no one remotely asks for Malva to bring her family into this, so she immediately launches into, “My brother would hate it,” and says he’d call it ensorcellment. She goes SO far out of her way to remind everyone that they’re controlling and skeptical and judgmental, and it is Red Flag City on ALL of them. Claire sees Jamie return through her window, and nothing ensorcels her like the sight of his rippling thighs astride a powerful beast, so she leaves Malva alone to tidy up and hustles down to the barn for an injection of Vitamin F. You know she’s starry-eyed when she’s leaving this weirdo doll alone with her magic book. I don’t know if Malva does anything with it, though, because instead we go to the barn and see a tired Jamie telling Claire that he’s proud of Ian for figuring out how to straddle two worlds. But he doesn’t think he can do it: “I can’t be a rebel and a loyalist, an agent of the Crown and an enemy of the King.” So he’s going to resign as Indian Agent already. Claire, though, would rather recollect the vigorous pounding they engaged in last time he came back from the Cherokee, and as they get hot and heavy on the barn floor, we pan over and see FREAKING MALVA peering at them. I’m not sure if we’re meant to think she heard any of what he was saying, or if she’d even understand it, but we pan down and see her straining to stand as far on her tiptoes as possible to get a complete eyeful of all the thrusting. The music wants us to conclude that this is creepy. The music is correct.
OTHER BITS AND BOBS
– In a post-coital haze, Jamie misuses the phrase “greased lightning,” thinking it’s a compliment to his penile abilities, which is fairly amusing. I think Claire came back before Grease, which obviously popularized that phrase, so I wonder if it’s realistic that she would have been using it — but the Internet tells me the first recorded use was in 1833, so you never know.
– Claire hears Major Mac sneezing and is all, “Imagine being allergic to CATS!!!!” Claire, I am allergic to cats, and I have a very content life, so KEEP YOUR PITY, Madam!
– Fergus is off-camera this week. Jamie sends him out on a bunch of trading errands, and he’s going to visit Jocasta at River Run on his way back. They both know it’s Jamie’s way of keeping him busy so that he won’t wallow in “his worries,” and after some reminiscing about the print shop in Edinburgh, Jamie calls him mon fils again. Oh, Jamie, you silver-tongued devil. Fergus thanks Jamie for saving his life more than once, and Jamie says, “I’ve simply balanced the scales.” Aw.
– Major Mac is casually dismissive of Chief Bird and the Cherokee, as in, deliberately not trying to get the chief’s full name right, making fun of bows, etc. Ian corrects him rather shirtily that the name is Chief Bird Who Sings in the Morning, and Major Mac is all, “Why can’t they take a Christian name,” and Ian retorts, “Yes, a nice simple name, like Donald, Son of Donald”? Ian, you SASSPOT.