Outlander: Old Friends, New Enemies – Review, Ep. 405, Savages

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This will probably be the shortest review I’ve written – because of my weekend jaunt to Thru the Stones, I’m very late getting this done, and the next episode is sitting in my screener account hollering at me to watch it. So let’s talk highlights of Savages!

I loved the little home-building touches in this episode. The things we do every day – looking for a hat, talking to a friend, feeding the animals. The Outlander story is, as Diana says, the story of a marriage. Each book doesn’t have a crisis and a resolution. But TV episodes work a little differently, and time is at a premium, so those little touches are hard to work in. As Ron Moore told us this weekend at Thru the Stones, if they did a completely literal adaptation of the books, it would take longer than the already HUGE audio books do – “it takes longer to show ‘he ran up a hill’ than it does to say that sentence.” So how do you take the time to show the sweet everyday moments that are so beloved from the books?

Every once in a while, you just have to put them in. You have to see the hard-won serenity of being able to have a normal life, after 20 years of absence (and face it, the couple of years they had before they were separated didn’t give them much peace either) in order to see what they would have to lose through tragedy. We need to see the love and life that Jamie and Claire share, moments that look much like our own lives, so we can empathize and appreciate.

One moment I really loved was Jamie’s vision of Brianna’s birthmark. He has these infrequently throughout the books – a dream here, a little vision there. She came through to him in the islands with Margaret Campbell – they have a psychic connection, even though they haven’t (at this point) met. It’s a fascinating little bit that Diana puts into her books, one of those wonderful pieces of the supernatural that she weaves throughout the story. This season’s writers seem to like those pieces, and they’ve incorporated them more into these episodes than we’ve really had in the past.

We needed to see the friendship between Claire and Adawehi, those moments sitting by the stream sharing their language and knowledge. You know that wasn’t the first time they had done that. And the wonderful touches within that – the reappearance of the rabbit motif was one. But I was most struck by Adawehi’s turn of the head, like she was hearing something from far away, and telling Claire that her daughter was here – Claire, of course, interpreted it as “here in my heart,” but we, the audience, know that there’s more to it than that. Bri has, 200 years now, stepped through that portal, and, we assume, come out the other side, into the 18th century.

This  moment made the later vicious scalping so much worse. We felt, along with Claire, the traumatic shock that Gerhard Mueller has caused – such an amazing woman, killed out of fear and revenge for something she had no hand in. But in the previous episode, remember that Adawehi’s granddaughter-in-law (does that apply to the Indians?) tells Claire that death will come, but it will not be her fault – the women accept these things, but obviously, the men don’t. Mueller’s prejudice and mistaken anger has caused even more tragedy, the death of his own family.


So Jamie comes to your door, your man isn’t home…. uh huh. You, too, could be a household hoor. I see a line forming. This was a cute, light touch in an emotional episode. Does it have any further meaning? I guess we’ll see. But she knew the goods when she saw them.

The Return of the Old Coot

It’s no surprise, I shouldn’t think, that Murtagh would show up this season somewhere. What would the reunion be? Where would we find him? Prosperous? Married? Destitute? Old and broken? Apparently, he’s living fairly happily as a smith, his indenture having ended. That’s not the important thing right now though.

No, what’s important is – MURTAGH!!! We knew as soon as he told Ian that he was done for the day. As soon as he turned. And Ian had no idea who this was, since Jamie had no iPhone pictures. And when Jamie comes in and yells about highway robbery….. ohhh, give them all the awards. That tear in Jamie’s eye, the emotions playing over both of those beautiful faces – how many of you choked up? I told my friends that this episode made me smile, then sob, then smile, and sob again.

But why didn’t they know this? As Jenny spat at Claire last season, “Family writes letters.” It’s not like Murtagh wouldn’t have any idea where to start looking for Jamie. Maybe he couldn’t have done it during his indenture, but he’s had the time since! Or has he? if you do the math, it’s likely the indenture hasn’t been over for too long. He tells Ian it was 12 years. Jamie and Claire were apart 20 years; the Ardsmuir period didn’t start until 7 years after Culloden, and lasted how long, 2 years? So how long, really, could he have been on his own since the indenture? I’m not sure the time works out real well, but in the vast scheme of things, how important is this?

And then we get the second reunion – Murtagh and Claire. How sweet was this? This is completely new territory for the Outlander story. The tune he whistles as he walks toward her – he remembers their shared fear and adventures, and isn’t just excited for Jamie, he’s thrilled for himself that this important figure has returned, improbably and impossibly.

Yes, there have been changes in previous seasons, and there will be more coming, I’m sure. But we have no roadmap to figure this one out. Murtagh and Claire are closer in the TV show than they were in the books, and have a different relationship. And what role will Murtagh play going forward? As a leader of the Regulators, even though he tells Jamie that they don’t have leaders, will he be pulling Jamie along in revolution, as Jamie did for him earlier (as reluctant as Jamie was with that conflict)? Or will Jamie convince him of the value of the long game? The Outlander writers teased in yesterday’s Twitter Q&A that they have some “intriguing” storylines coming for us. There are some book events that could happen with the return of Murtagh – will they? Or will certain events just be cut? What do you think? Leave a comment below with what you think could happen this season!

Back in the Present…

I know there’s a lot I’m not commenting on from this episode, but I just can’t leave without saying what a wonderful performance we saw from Rik Rankin! The heartbreak, confusion, anguish and worry that crossed his face was amazing. Despite the brown beanie (and sorry, I think it was a very Roger-like hat), he was the complete picture of lost love. I didn’t like the note Brianna left – it seemed too distant, but seeing as how they hadn’t reconciled since Roger’s proposal and her rejection, I guess we couldn’t have expected something warmer. Still, it doesn’t seem like the basis of a relationship that Roger should act upon – yet we know he does.

If you’re reading this, it means I couldn’t make it back. I found out something terrible is going to happen to my mother and Jamie. If I didn’t try to go and help them, I would never have forgiven myself. I need you to know that I cared about you very much. Please don’t follow me, Roger. You told me to think of my mother happily in the past, and that’s how I want you to think of me.

Go get her, Roger!

Outlander Radio

Have you been listening to our radio show, The Outlander Gab on the Air? Join us every Tuesday night (we’ll have to see about Christmas and New Year’s Day, since they fall on Tuesdays – we may move the show to another night for a few episodes) at 9 pm Eastern/8 Central to discuss the episode, chat with some guests, and take your phone calls! Next week, we’ll talk with Gerry McMullan, Scottish tour guide, about planning your Scotland trip, what a tour guide can do for you, and some highlights you should work into your trip! Click here to listen to past episodes or listen live and get the call-in phone number!

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Erin Conrad