Hey, Outlander, thanks for titling this recap for me! If I may be an ungrateful clod for a moment, I wish it were called The Ballad of Murtagh, Trusted and Complex Silver Fox Of My Heart, but I understand perhaps that’s a little bit too specific. And I guess it’s nice for Roger to have something?
wait why is that picture of jamie
While I’m here: I want to make it clear, as I am hard on ol’ Dogface, that Richard Rankin as himself is awfully cute. It’s JUST the Rogerness of it all that makes me want to scream.
We open with Roger singing to Jemmy. They’ve really been hitting Richard Rankin’s pipes hard these last few episodes, for what I imagine are Reasons, so I guess… experience it while you can? They’re all in Hillsborough to get their war on — a fact Brianna notes along with the lament that if they were at Oxford in their own time, they’d be making each other lunches to take to work. I mean, that’s a GREAT reason to have blown this joint while you still could. All this contrivance about whether Jemmy can go through the stones doesn’t really make sense if they don’t explain WHAT or WHEN they are waiting for, exactly — something the books may have, but to my recollection (admittedly poor) I don’t think the series has explained it beyond wanting to wait for Brianna to have the baby. Guess what, y’all? He’s had. Get a move on.
we had to stay
this is the hour of dogface
i know because im in the title
Indeed. Meanwhile, over at War Camp, Jamie wakes up looking every inch of 35 and announces that it’s his 50th birthday. He has been alive for a full half-century, but because this is TV, he has like two gray chest hairs. He kisses Claire and thanks her for inventing Just For Men, Botox, and that sneaky little HGH injection. Jamie and Claire’s mutual horniness is the one true thing that will never leave this world, so they pant all over each other for a bit as Jamie notes that, despite being a half-century old, “I’ve all my teeth, none of my parts are missing, and my cock still stands up by itself in the morning. Could be worse.” Jamie loves making Shakespearean lines using the word “cock.”
Needless to say, Jamie immediately demonstrates his cock’s posture for Claire, so to speak. Do the War Camp tents have padlocks?
Once they’re all done and Jamie’s cock has sagged into the posture of a blogger on a Friday morning at her desk, everyone at War Camp goes to their morning assembly. Isaiah takes this moment to show up and rejoin the crew, even though the disarray of his cock was a huge problem for everyone not very long ago and Jamie had to smuggle them out of town. Isaiah thinks he’s being very heroic in returning, but the pregnant girlfriend’s dad is unmoved to hear how happy they are, and once again the head of that whole crew has to calm him down. Jamie is none too pleased about all this drama being brought into the situation.
dear everyone here
when is it roger mac time
it is not the ballad of isaiah
my cock does things too you know
its why they call me big mac
in my dreams
Not now, Roger. Next up is Governor Tryon, who is presented with a letter from the regulators expressing their displeasure with his systems but expressing a desire to talk. He stomps about hissing that he thinks they’re being unreasonable, but agrees to think about it until noon the next day. As soon as the messenger leaves, Tryon tells everyone to stay armed anyway, and I sincerely thought he was going to fire on them while they were all laying down their arms to wait for an official response. But no. I guess there is honor among redcoats.
Jamie later stands in a creek and bathes himself, allowing water to trickle down the naked sculpted creeks of his manframe for JUST long enough that we get a sizable feast. Who needs groceries in the time of pandemic when you can snack on Jamie thusly for the cost of a streaming Starz membership? He then cuts himself and does the sign of the cross, or somesuch, with his blood. Claire arrives and asks if he’s praying, and Jamie explains that he’s summoning Dougal, the warrior uncle who taught him everything he knows. Including, I guess, unclecide, because Jamie and Claire killed him when he overheard them planning to backstab the idiot Bonny Prince.
there was a young big mac named roger
who was more alive and in the show than that codger
and so it’s his turn
to get his–
Great. Meanwhile, Brianna is
hello from the roger side
i must have called a thousand times
to tell you
and its my turn to talk
but when i call
Anyway, at the house in Hillsborough, the family hosting the non-fighting Frasers gets all excited to show Brianna exactly where this storied, glorious war will take place, because I guess it’s a very poorly kept secret. Brianna twigs to the name of the place and immediately hops on a horse to tell Jamie and Claire that she — apparently a historian herself now — knows all about this semi-obscure moment in history, and that she can confirm Governor Tryon wins the forthcoming Battle of Alamance. This surprises Jamie in a way that it should not, given that he’s SEEN what happens when redcoats and Scots fight and he’s also been acting like he knows all of this will end in disaster for his people. Brianna is quick to point out that this was a spark that led to the American Revolution, and they can’t interfere if it’s going to imperil the war efforts. Claire is like, “Nah, plenty of other sparks here,” so they decide to go looking for Murtagh to let him know that he’s once again on the Mass Death side of history. And here is where
thank you i can speak for myself
see, its just
im from the future
and im terrible at convincing people
so definitely send me
great plan, a-plus, would offer again
It is indeed a plan worthy of all Jamie’s other plans: doomed. But for SOME REASON, they send Roger off on horseback — Roger, whom people will notice is gone because he’s supposed to be a freaking Captain in this ragtag farmer militia, and who might easily get mistaken for the enemy by EITHER side — to chase down Murtagh and convince him that The Future needs him to sit down. Here’s the thing: The Future was always there. They’ve been preparing for this Hillsborough thing for AGES. How did neither Claire nor Brianna NOR EVEN ROGER sit back before and think, “Where have I read about regulators before? OH I KNOW, it’s the part where they all get brutally killed.” Sigh. They give Roger the yellow flower that’s the symbol of the militia, so that when he’s riding back, no one will question him, and away he goes.
Claire readies her supplies for the medical tent, and makes a big show of fondling her giant syringe and calling it her “secret weapon.” She imagines how many more lives she might have saved if she’d had it, oh, anywhere else in this timeline, but she’s got it now! In her hand! The one needle! Can we get a close-up of the needle, please? Yes, perfect. What, no, of course nothing is going to happen to the needle, why would you ask that?!? Brianna announces that she’s coming back with Claire to help once the fighting starts. Claire points out it might no, because Roger could still convince Murtagh to call it off. Brianna’s weak, nervous nod of response says, “Have you met Roger?”
i totally fail
Now, in fairness to Roger, this was never going to work for one really big reason: Murtagh is but one man. Yes, he’s a leader, but his army is all revved up and angry and has nowhere else to go. Indeed, when Roger arrives — recognized and apprehended by no one, allowed to wander aimlessly right into the heart of their camp — Murtagh is in the middle of an impassioned and angry speech about how hard they’re going to kill all these redcoats. Roger pulls him aside and points out that the Brits are gonna blow a cannon hole through their righteous cause, because history has been written (he SHOULD have pointed out as an example how they failed to stop Culloden, but whatever, it wouldn’t have worked anyway and Roger is bad at life). Murtagh correctly notes that there is no way in hell all these pissed-off dudes are going to lay down their arms and walk away just because Murtagh stands on a rock and says, “You know what, guys? That part about soaking the earth with redcoat blood? Never mind, let’s just go bowling.” Roger begs him to reconsider, and says that if they just wait a few years, everyone will be fighting together on the same side against the redcoats. “D’ya ken how long a few years is to men who’ve lost everything?” Murtagh growls.
The next morning, Murtagh reads aloud Tryon’s refusal to surrender or negotiate. Then he meets Roger and says the men wouldn’t stand down — I guess Murtagh talked to them off-camera — and it’s all gonna happen now no matter what. Roger pleads with Big M to leave and save himself, at least, and then scampers back toward the militia so he can get killed (no one seems very concerned that Roger lacks any and all battle skills, still). And then comes his undoing.
there once was a sadsack named dogface
whose heart was at least in the right place
he tried helping a friend
it would be his end
and i know because i am that dogface
So, poor ol’ Dogface bumps into a woman he recognizes from Stephen Bonnet’s death vessel: Morag Mackenzie, who had a baby at sea and was trying to avoid being hurled overboard when disease was running around the place. He fed her in secret, as he realized she was his ancestor. So when he spots her again, he practically skips with delight. After coming off kind of like he’s flirting, which is weird, he gets really close to Morag to whisper that he’s with the militia, and that the regulator cause is doomed, so she and her husband should flee. Morag grabs her belly, where her second is gestating. Roger urgently promises to welcome her to Fraser’s Ridge if she needs shelter after this whole malarkey, and then he moves in and hugs her for a long time — just long enough for her husband to show up. And he’s pissed.
yep, that’s me, dogface
pulling a total dogface
you hate to see it
Back at War Camp, Jamie can’t find Roger, and everyone else is like, “Eh, whatever.” Governor Tryon distracts him by handing him a red coat of his own to wear. “I thought you’d cut a striking figure in this,” he says. Jamie tries to turn it down, but Tryon insists. The guy playing Tryon is very good at making you unclear whether Tryon is deliberately pushing Jamie’s buttons, or completely oblivious. He manages to hit enough notes of both that it becomes a pretty solid and interesting performance. Jamie has to swallow his own vomit and put on the red coat, because he’s not in a position to throw it back in Tryon’s face. He sets his chiseled jaw and hotly suffers.
Roger, meanwhile, is trying to fend off Morag’s husband, a towering brute of a man with a wig that looks like they tried it on young Fergus and deemed it too bushy. I thought, “Wow, they got a dude who kind of LOOKS like Dougal, and SOUNDS like Dougal,” and lo and behold, it is indeed Graham McTavish playing this part. It works — it’s not as dumb-looking as when Michael J. Fox played all of his own ancestors in Back To The Future III. He might have a light nose prosthetic on? Regardless — it’s good, and McTavish is so strong and charismatic that the mere sight of New Dougal has the unfortunate effect of making Dogface look even smaller and sadder. Roger even decks him and then tries to flee, but Newgal brushes it off like a mosquito bite and has his pals apprehend Dogface. In the process, Roger loses the yellow flower that signifies his loyalties, and Newgal picks it up. The final explanation — that they’re related, that he’s trying to warn them about Tryon — fall on deaf ears; Newgal knocks him out.
i get knocked down
and i get up again
nothings ever gonna keep me–
we have 27 minutes left and i dont have any more lines
what the fuck kind of ballad is this
Back we go to the battlefield. The men somberly grab their weapons, and Jamie goes to Claire for a kiss goodbye. When she sees him in the red coat, she does the whole “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” thing that never, ever sounds anything but forced coming out of her mouth no matter how hard Caitriona tries. (There is only so much a human can do.) They’re emotional and tender, and it’s a good scene — these two are fundamentally tremendous at their jobs — but Jamie does point out that if the obituary Brianna found is correct, this won’t be their last kiss. Then the redcoats and the militia line up in battle. “Go in hard,” Jamie says. “Protect ourselves. We’re not here to kill our brothers. We’re here to end this. If we put the fear of God in them, they’ll retreat. It doesn’t have to be a massacre. Take prisoners. Save souls.”
What follows is a bunch of people dying, and the regulators retreat into the trees to force the redcoats into a footrace through the woods — where, you’d think, a bright red coat would be a much bigger liability. Jamie tells his dudes “Fight as they do,” I guess hoping that this will turn into fisticuffs. Which it does, which is INSANE, because the regulators also have guns. Also, now that Jamie is in the woods, couldn’t he take off the coat and then tell people later it was so he’d be camouflaged? DOUBLE SIGH.
anyone missing old roger
anyone at all
did you notice i was not helping
wait that is the wrong way to phrase that
In the chaos, Isaiah gets shot through the lung from behind. He’s immediately dragged to the medical tent because he’s played by an actor we recognize, and has a backstory. Claire refuses to let him die. The family elders are there because I guess Isaiah’s girlfriend’s father got slashed in the arm and needs a shot. He lies that Isaiah was shot while running away like a coward, but Isaiah protests, and Claire puts two and two together — the animosity, the powder burns — and HEAVILY implies that Girlfriend’s Father took the opportunity to shoot him at close range. In a strop, Girlfriend’s Father spits that no woman can disrespect him this way, knocks the syringe out of Claire’s hand, and steps on it. The glass shatters. Claire freaks out. I guess… she only had one? How has she been cleaning it between applications of things? Also, only the glass broke; the metal parts still look fine. If Claire can invent penicillin, can’t she also learn how to blow glass and make a replacement tube? Come on, Claire! You’re a walking Learning Annex class. Get to it.
And now, conveniently, we cut to the British winning and rounding up regulators. Jamie runs around in search of Murtagh and gets waylaid by a regulator; Jamie lowers his gun in a brief moment of shock and is about to get his face blown off when Murtagh knocks out the guy from behind a tree with the butt of his rifle. Jamie is relieved and grateful and they are about to embrace… when an eager militiaman fires from behind Jamie and puts a bullet right through Murtagh’s chest.
We knew this was coming. It had to be coming. I HATE IT, because Murtagh is the sun and he and Jocasta are each other’s lobsters. But the odds of him cheating death again were not good. Still, reader, I ground my teeth into a fine powder. Jamie, of course, doesn’t want to believe his godfather is going to die. Murtagh touches his face and says Jamie shouldn’t be afraid: “Doesn’t hurt a bit to die.” Then he slumps, and Jamie starts to quake, then goes into denial and screams, “HELP ME,” until John Quincy Myers and another dude help drag him back to Claire’s tent. “Claire will know what to do,” he mutters. But once Murtagh is laid out on Claire’s table, all she has to do is put a finger to his neck, and she shakes her head. “SAVE HIM,” he shouts. Claire cannot. Jamie grabs Murtagh’s dead shoulders and hisses, “I take it back, I don’t release you from your oath. You cannot be free.” But nothing happens, and the sight of Claire’s heartbroken face sends both him and Brianna staggering outside the tent for air. Claire strokes Murtagh’s head and whispers, “My friend,” as she cries, and later covers him gently with a sheet. He’s gone.
Oh, Murtagh, you fox, you’ll still thrive.
In my heart, and my memories, you’re alive.
Your dreamy, thick locks
Still knock off Jocasta’s socks;
Of your happy ending, you’ll not be deprived.
And this may be unpopular, but I think Jamie having to deal on-camera with Murtagh’s death — and with any culpability he may have had in it, as a leader of the men who brought it about — is more compelling than if he’d died at Culloden. TV Outlander needed the wallop, and I do not think could have or would have maximized Murtagh dying earlier as well as it can now. MURTAGH. Listen, Jamie is a believer in fantastical things. Maybe he and Ghost Murtagh can commune?
I DID however wonder how Jamie got into camp carrying the man whose face was on a Most Wanted poster, with absolutely nobody looking askance at him. Tryon, who basically sat around doing nothing, must have been looking the other direction. He now bumps into Jamie as he is grieving, and is all, “YAY, WE WON, A GLORIOUS DAY.” Jamie spits that this was not a cause for celebration. Tryon allows that he knows it must have been hard for Jamie to fight his own countrymen, but that their accomplishments will be written in history. Angrily, Jamie says that all history will say is that Tryon fired cannons upon his own citizens, leaving death and destruction in his wake, solely for ego and for the notch in his belt. “I told you I would not leave North Carolina in disorder,” Tryon shouts. He tells Jamie that he’ll overlook his insolence because Jamie fulfilled his promise, and Jamie bitterly rips off the coat, drops it on the ground, and announces that indeed, his debt to Tryon is officially paid and off the ledger. Then Jamie lets himself break down a little, Murtagh’s blood still staining his hand.
FINALLY, Jamie comes upon Brianna staring into the trees, and realizes Roger has not returned. So they go for a walk in the woods, past redcoats rounding up regulators — until they come upon a group of bodies hanging from a tree, bags over their heads. “Regulator prisoners,” a colonel tells Jamie. Frantically, they ask about Roger, before Jamie really looks at one of the bodies and notices Roger’s coat. Brianna runs over and stares breathlessly at it as Claire hugs her, and Jamie does the sign of the cross. Jamie sternly waves at them to lower the men, and the episode fades to black on Brianna’s shock.
two all-beef patties
on a sesame seed bun
yes thats right
now you want big mac
The thing is, because we never see them take the bag off Roger’s head, we can be pretty confident that he is still alive. It’s a very undramatic and matter-of-fact ending, and if they had any intention of him being kaput next week, they’d have milked the bag removal for all it was worth. So, don’t worry about Dogface. He may be changed — I’m guessing he’s sung his last — but he will still probably Dogface it up ’round these parts. We’ll find out soon.