Oh Jamie boy, your specs, your specs, are calling
From brow to nose, from side to side;
Yes, danger looms, and bears are out a-mauling,
But lo, at least your sensible frames abide.
Seriously, the first note I wrote on this episode was, “JAMIE IN GLASSES, EVERYONE.” This is another one where we cut back and forth between the timelines, so I’ll probably break those up, for expedience — and then, I will attempt ACTUAL BREVITY. Can I do it? Doubtful.
Last week, Jamie asked for Claire’s trust in his decision to sign the land grant from the Governor, despite no demonstrable plan that would spare him having to obey the British and fight against the new nation their daughter inhabits. Claire has such a blind spot about Jamie’s ability to execute on a plan. Maybe SHE needs glasses. At any rate, Jamie — back in Wilmington now to do the deed — nets then 10,000 acres to call their own, and the Governor skulks around his office twirling his metaphorical mustache as he intones things about dishonest tax collectors skimming off the top, and brutish natives: “It’s said that the Highlander has much in common with the Indian savage. Think it’s so?” Jamie tears off his head and slam-dunks it into the fireplace and screams, “YOU BETCHA, NIGEL.”
If only. Instead he just shrugs that he’s seen savages both rich and poor, in high and low places. “Those who live in defiance of His Majesty are no better than barbarians,” says the Governor, adding that sometimes the law is insufficient in its reach. “There is the law, and there is what is done,” Jamie says with a twinkle. The Governor is thrilled that they agree. Which… I guess? Let’s assume Jamie is just smooching booty as vaguely as possible.
We get another goodbye scene with Fergus and Marsali. Jamie makes arrangements with Fergus to help send settlers to Fraser’s Ridge, and confirms that they have enough money to get by, promising to fix up a lovely cabin for them to live in once Baby Dawson arrives and they can safely travel. Marsali is very pregnant, because… you know, time of some sort has passed. While Claire tries to mother her with some advice for queasiness, Marsali just looks sad and admits that while Claire is the only healer she would ever want by her side if things get rough, she misses her mother, especially at this time in her life. Claire is sympathetic, even though she would rather sit on a cactus than look at Laoghaire’s face again, and promises Marsali that she will do as fine a job raising Baby Dawson as Laoghaire clearly did in raising her. And her tongue is not even remotely in her cheek.
Later, it’s Claire’s turn to look sad, and Jamie intuits that it’s about Brianna. Claire says she frequently worries that effectively orphaning her child in exchange for sex was not the right thing to do. Jamie tells her that when they were separated, he just clung to memories of her face, her words, and her heart, and it got him through, so surely it will for Brianna too. I mean, what else can he really say? “Yes, it was a mistake, and you should totally go back”? It’s a bit late for that, and also, of course he doesn’t think that. “No, it was totally normal to leave her without any parents”? Also a lie. “I hope you set up all the legal paperwork so that your estate transferred to her and she could access everything without raising any eyebrows”? Not that helpful either. So, best to go the Tyra Banks route and offer up a calm platitude that will make her forget for a while.
The show montages the return to Fraser’s Ridge, where Jamie and Ian set out to hammer stakes into the ground according to the boundaries on the Governor’s map. They have indeed purchased the same plot they stumbled upon last week, and it’s still very pretty, and Jamie and Claire get completely horny just thinking about being laird and lady of the forest. He is, in fact, about to bang her against a tree when Ian calls out that he’s found the two matching ones that mark the furthest edge of their land. Jamie carves F.R. into them so that everyone knows it is Fraser’s Ridge, but eventually some callow youth is going to turn F.R. into FARTS and we all know it.
Then, Jamie steps in some shit, by which for once I mean actual shit. Ian loves it.
UNCLE JAMIE IS IT FROM A RACCOON?
I’LL BET YOU A SHINY DOUBLOON!
OR PERHAPS IT’S A BEAR, OR A LION ON A TEAR!
I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT WANTS TO RIP INTO OUR FLESH, NOW PLEASE JUST GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND DON’T MIND ME WHILE I GO AND TREMBLE OVER THERE UNDER A PILE OF LEAVES! IAN!!!
Right on cue, Rollo starts to bark, and a crew of natives appears with guns and a large bow and arrow. Ian clutches at Claire, whom Jamie hands a dagger before slowly walking toward them all, arms outstretched. He drops his own knife as some music I can only describe as Strings of Savage Doom play ever so casually. Jamie points to himself and says his name, but they’re bored — the Scot isn’t even shirtless, and NO ONE here is naked, like, this is NOT the show they were promised — so they leave.
Then we get even murkier with how much time is passing. In Oxford it’s 1971; in North Carolina, Claire and Ian and Jamie are beginning to chop down trees and build living quarters for themselves JUST THE THREE OF THEM. Fergus is NOT being useful with the settlers, and for all we know we’ve jumped to a time when Marsali had the baby three months ago. And all of a sudden, they have a nice cabin that gives the three of them shelter. Claire wanders over, all, “Is that a cabin I see before me,” as if she skipped off to catch a fish and came back and Jamie and Ian had erected an entire building alone while she was gone. I know they both have a lot of suppressed and repressed sexual energy right now, but that would still be a miracle. Jamie has also mapped out, with more stakes, a rough blueprint that includes a meat shed — not a euphemism; it’s for their kills — and a separate healing office for Claire. They are just about to get down in THAT part of town when Ian comes running over to them screaming.
HELLO AUNTIE AND UNCLE I’M NOT SCARED
I’M JUST SCREAMING BECAUSE I’M HAPPY YOU’RE MY LAIRD.
BUT OH YES BY THE WAY
THE NATIVES ARE BACK TODAY
AND I’M VERY VERY MANLY AND BRAVE AND NOT AT ALL USING AUNTIE CLAIRE AS A HUMAN SHIELD; I JUST DON’T WANT OUR NEW NEIGHBORS TO SEE MY HAIR ALL DIRTY! IAN!!!!!
Once again, all the natives do is yell at them in Cherokee and then glare for a bit, and then leave. Jamie and Claire later debate whether they should move their house to a different part of the 10,000 acres, but Jamie correctly notes, “No matter where we settle, I foresee a problem.” Claire worries that she misunderstood the Ghost Traveler’s meaning, and that he was trying to warn her rather than bring her and Jamie together. Jamie squints and purrs that, no, the Spectral Savage was right: The mountain spoke to him, too. Oh, Jamie, you just don’t want to feel left out of all the hallucinating and soothsaying. “Trouble is, I canna speak with this tribe to tell them we mean to honor the boundary lines and be a considerate neighbor,” he frets. Yeah, dude, that’s… not their problem. They’re not pissed because you throw loud keggers and sometimes leave garbage on their lawn; they’re pissed because, to them, you ARE the garbage on their lawn. He and Claire decide it’s time for a gesture of goodwill. But what to give, and how to get it?
When the natives rage
In your neighborhood
Who you gonna call?
When Amazon Prime
Can’t find your woods.
Who you gonna call?
Before they can, there’s a disturbance in the force. Rollo does a LOT of running off and barking in this episode, and Claire and Jamie light a ton of torches and look nervously around the forest. Here, Jamie and Ian each take a gun and they all exit their cabin, outside of which they had left a huge blazing fire unattended, with the intent to sleep through the night. This is REAL POOR RISK MANAGEMENT, kids, although that is par for the course. A bunch of posts have been knocked over and their meat supply is gone, and then suddenly one of their horses limps out of the woods. It’s been mauled.
John Quincy Myers, by the way, apparently lives right nearby. Not on their land, but you know, close enough to where Jamie knows exactly how to find him and they can walk there very quickly. I don’t know why he doesn’t just live with them, as their first settler, but I suppose they’d like to date awhile first. Myers, as he makes some jerky at his camp, explains that bears are fearsome creatures and that the Cherokees use a term for them which implies they believe it’s more than a bear; it’s a demonic spirit. He also think the Cherokees disrupted their camp to send a message, and suggests a peace offering of some tobacco, which he’d be more than happy to deliver for them because he’s trusted. Jamie is like, “Oh, yeah, great,” except shouldn’t the point be for them to SEE HIM to trust his sincerity? Shouldn’t they go together? Jamie, don’t delegate the important stuff.
Next, it’s Coffee Talk with Ian and Claire.
HEY AUNTIE WATCH ME GUT THIS FISH!
IT IS MY MOST VERY FONDEST WISH
THAT MY SKILL WITH MY HANDS
COULD SOON MAYBE LAND
ME A SAUCY HOT BIT OF STUFF SO THAT I COULD GO SLEEP SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR A FEW NIGHTS BECAUSE THE PENT-UP SEXUAL TENSION IN OUR HOUSE IS VERY ODD! IAN!!!
Dear nephew, I agree, it’s the pits.
Tell me more about how you know how to knit.
You say Jamie knows, too? Hey, thanks for, boo!
If he won’t make some scarves, I’ll give him shit.
OKAY!!! I’LL GO CHECK ON OUR HORSE.
I’M SUPER DUPER UNSCARED, OF COURSE.
BUT DO YOU THINK THE BEAR
IS STILL LURKING OUT THERE?
NO MATTER; I’M ABSOLUTELY GOING TO LOOK AT THE ANIMAL AND NOT AT ALL TO CHANGE MY BREECHES TO ACCOUNT FOR A SUDDEN WETNESS! IAN!!!!!!
While Ian is off definitely not wetting himself from fear, Claire practices her shot. Jamie shows up and takes the rifle and cleans it for her, which is all so that a) Jamie can pump something in a manner which would make dear John Grey faint, and b) they can have a whole conversation about how she’s impressed anyone can clean and reload during the heat of battle and not die. This is extremely clunky foreshadowing, and sure enough, this comes back around during our THIRD scene in which Rollo runs off barking and Team Fraser lights some torches and follows. We see several of the natives marching through the woods with their own firelight, intercut with sweaty and panting and scared Frasers. This time, Rollo starts whimpering, and they realize he’s discovered the bleeding, torn-up human form of John Quincy Myers.
The natives are actually gathering at their Medicine Woman’s tent, where she passes a peace pipe and scatters some powder over a campfire, and they perform a ritual dance. Claire frantically tries to patch JQM’s wounds, and Jamie grabs a rifle and sets off after the bear. We’re meant to think that perhaps the natives are somehow summoning the bear, or the curse they think inhabits it, to torture the newcomers. As they strike up some drums, Jamie tracks the bear and slowly SETS HIS TORCH DOWN ON THE GROUND, and somehow absolutely nothing at all catches fire. This is teaching him very bad lessons about fire safety, for real. Jamie shoots in the direction of the bear, and misses, and — SURPRISE! — has to try and reload while it is stalking him. It pounces; he is too late. But Claire has spotted a bite mark on JQM’s neck that is not ursine, and when we return to Jamie, we see he’s actually being mauled by a man wearing the skin of a bear and its paws and its claws. He’s like the Jame Gumb of the 1700s. After a mighty battle, Jamie scrambles over to one of their land stakes and impales Ursa Minor on it.
Jamie gets a stretcher and drags the man’s carcass to the natives’ village. He tries to repeat a Cherokee phrase of respect that JQM taught him, but they speak to him in English: “You killed him?” Jamie nods. The young man motions for everyone to stand down as Jamie says, “He’s only a man, not a monster.” The young man intones, “Often times, a man is a monster.” He then explains that Ursa Minor is a former tribesman of theirs who “harmed his woman a year ago. He lay with her against her wishes. That is not our way.” They banished him to live alone, but he kept returning, and they kept expelling him. Consequently, he went insane and then would pop up occasionally for a wee spot of torture. So basically, we have Jamie, the Great White Savior, rescuing the grateful tribe from this crackpot. It would be more interesting if those tables turned. Jamie insists they just want to live peacefully in coexistence, and no one points out that it’s hard to do that on land that’s been stolen. Which I wouldn’t expect Jamie to understand, except that he’s got Claire in his ear, and she ought to have been explaining SOME of this stuff to him, if nothing else than to further his ability to communicate with them.
Anyway, if you were worried about JQM, he’s fine — after all, when you knock down Hercules Mulligan, he gets the f*ck back up again. Jamie invites him to stay, and then they all rise to greet the natives’ chief, who says — translated by the young buck — that he hopes no more blood will be spilled between them. “Bear Killer. That is how you will be known to our people,” the young’un translates.
When your year’s been a real psycho-thriller
Thanks to a batshit blood-spiller,
Who’ll save you all with a 15-second brawl?
Why, James Fraser, known now as Bear Killer.
Jamie invites them to sit with them, and they do, leaving Claire to meet the womenfolk — the medicine woman, Adawehi, and a younger one, Giduhwa, who calls Adawehi “my husband’s grandmother.” Giduhwa now translates as Adawehi gazes with steady and smiling eyes at Claire: Apparently, Adawehi had a dream about Claire in which she flew over the water, became a white raven, and swallowed the moon, then laid an egg in the palm of Adawehi’s hand that turned out to be a shining stone. “She knew that this was great magic — that the stone could heal sickness,” Giduhwa explains. Claire looks confused, like she’s never heard a prophecy before, which, come on, Claire, ABANDAWEEEEE that false notion please. “You have medicine now. But you will have more when your hair is white like snow. You will have wisdom beyond time,” adds Giduhwa. Then Adawehi squeezes Claire’s arm as Giduhwa relays, “You must not be troubled. Death is sent from the gods. It will not be your fault.” Claire’s face is like, “Well, f*ck THAT.”
Meanwhile, in Oxford…
It’s now 1971, and Roger is pouting. He is sadly, sexistly staring out a sad, sexist window, because he is not married to Brianna. He’s also being totally anti-social, due to the heartbreak that this heathen has inflicted upon his wang.
i just wish
that you weren’t such a slutty slutface
Roger opens his desk drawer and takes out the book Brianna gave him. Tucked in the pages is their sketch, and he pulls it out, then casts it and the book aside. The book, being a prop, stays neatly open to the page the drawing had marked, despite the fact that he clearly has not read it and hardback volumes do not lie open like that unless they’ve been worked out like a HOOR WHO WOULD REMOVE HER KNICKERS WITHOUT MARRIAGE. And just as conveniently, the page it’s open to catches Roger’s eye because it mentions a Scottish settlement near present-day Grandfather Mountain called Fraser’s Ridge. Excitedly, he looks up the professor in America who wrote the book.
Later, Roger tears into an envelope the professor has sent back to him, with a whole bunch of documentation about Fraser’s Ridge, including the deed and a map and a letter dated February 1769. It’s from a woman who settled in Fraser’s Ridge, and is writing to her parents all about that nice Jamie Fraser and his wife, Claire the Healer. Here, I am confused again, because I had thought Claire went exactly 200 years back and not, like, 203, or whatever. Shouldn’t we be well past 1769 in Claire’s timeline, where there are not yet any settlers to be found? How much time has passed? WHERE ARE WE? I should look this up, but I know Fug Nation’s Outlander readers can help me without all the spoilers that lurk in Wikipedia’s dark corners.
So, Roger calls Brianna, and dammit, she’s both shocked and shyly delighted to hear from Roger. Her roommate, Gail, is in the background giving her a starry-eyed, “Ooooooh,” when she finds out it’s Roger, which is not what most awesome budding feminists of the 70s would do if their roommate had once come home and said, “Well, Roger and I were going to have sex, and then he basically called me trash; how was YOUR weekend?” Brianna is all soft and nibbling on her lip, and I want so badly for her to be madder at him — about what he said, about how he’s not apologizing, about how he’s sadsacking his way through life (which she doesn’t know, but let’s be real, it’s a logical assumption). Brianna cooes, “I was just thinking about you.” I hope she was thinking about chopping his balls off. Roger gently sets out to tell her his news.
she found jamie
they live near that mountain
the one where we didn’t get engaged
you know the one
you left me there
i had to get a ride home
from some randos
she’s having married sex with your dad
married sex is prolly fun
k well gotta go
unless you’re not still a hobag?
Roger, Roger, Roger. Brianna is deeply grateful to him for finding and sharing this, especially “despite everything that happened.” She is way more generous with him than I would be. And as someone pointed out, this book was written in 1996, a time when plenty of women would not have enjoyed reading any of Roger’s bullshit any more than a 2018 person would; yes, trying to slide into the mindset of the ’70s is relevant, but Gabaldon gave Brianna the more modern and relatable views in that scene, and we’re meant to think she’s also so spirited. It doesn’t seem like a huge leap for an author in 1996, imagining a feminist in the ’70s, to have had her STICK IT TO HIM MANY TIMES rather than being all doe-eyed and full of yearning. Then again… I mean, we’ve all had the toxic man-crush. The problem is that Outlander didn’t cast the kind of Roger who would exude powerful enough pheromones to wipe away the memories of his cruelty.
Roger then goes up to Inverness, because I guess he has more boxes of things in the old house. Fiona, his friend who is living there now, is actually the granddaughter of the old housekeeper. I missed that the first time. She wants to know what’s up with Brianna, and Roger shrugs that they spoke for about five minutes recently. “Was that the first time since…” Fiona begins. “Since my proposal,” Roger cuts her off, and hopefully it’s because he’s afraid she was going to say, “Since you told her she was about to sully herself beyond repair.” As Roger fumbles through an adapted explanation of why he was calling Brianna with news of Claire, Fiona very casually admits she knows the whole story because the walls of the old house are thin and she could totally hear all their conversations. Well done, Fiona. THAT is at least realistic.
Roger says Brianna was endlessly worrying about Claire (since when), so he couldn’t stop looking for proof of Claire’s survival. LIES! He saw it by happenstance! I’m sure in the books it was different, but in this very hour we’ve seen that all he was doing was staring out a window and then having a mild tantrum that led to the book opening to a certain page. Then he wrote a letter, and now he’s recasting that as a major amount of labor? Cork it, son.
Fiona, though, has some bad news. It seems her grandmother helped the reverend with research now and again, and she’d found an obituary stating that Jamie and Claire die in a catastrophic fire at Fraser’s Ridge. I TOLD YOU SO, JAMIE. Seriously, this entire episode — especially with the wildfires that we just had in California — was an ode to Dumb Things To Do With Flame That Should Have Had Consequences Yet Somehow Did Not, and if that was intentional foreshadowing, then my hat is off to Outlander because it was brilliant. I seriously spent the whole time, as you know, concerned that they were going to burn the entire forest before Fraser’s Ridge even got as far as growing into Fraser’s Sex Yurt. TURNS OUT I WAS RIGHT.
The date is smudged, so Roger only knows that it happened in a February in the 1770s. He quickly decides not to tell Brianna anything, because it will shred any happiness she might’ve felt at knowing Claire and Jamie found each other again, and that is the only highway he knows of that might lead back into her trousers.
But, after a sequence in which we see Jamie has mapped out the main house and is gleefully telling Claire where all their things will go, a bummed-out Roger has second thoughts and once again picks up the phone to call Brianna. Except this time, she isn’t there. Gail tells him that she went to Scotland weeks ago. Why? To visit her mother.
who gave her permission
to have an inner life?
this is my gaze
but also fire
they’re all gonna die
god i’m sad