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This uneven season has finally come to a close. The season finale episode, Man of Worth, has had me worried for a couple of weeks. Would they be able to wrap everything up, how would the show’s changes from the book (most notably the reintroduction of Murtagh) affect the story? What would be sacrificed to get us to the end of the season, and how would they set up Season 5? While not a perfect episode, in this season of some really great ones and some unfortunate stinkers, the finale did a reasonably good job of putting my worries to rest.
Once again, this episode really showcased the amazing talents of the behind the scenes people. I’ll get into more of this when I do a season wrapup, but I continue to be astonished and amazed by the richness and detail in the costumes and sets. Both of the major locations we saw tonight, the Indian village and River Run, were vibrant and alive, and couldn’t have been more different from each other. The variety of the clothing among the Indians was astounding. You could see, maybe, the status each person held by their clothing, from those in homespun to elaborately decorated coats and hairstyles. And River Run always astounds – the beauty of the furnishings, the detail in the rooms draws you in and makes you feel like you’ve walked into this elaborate, wealthy home. I can’t wait to see some of the party scenes that I hope we’ll get next season.
But for right now, let’s just talk about this episode and where it leaves us for Season 5!
There were two major stories woven together in this episode. The first, and most successful of the two, i think, was Ian’s story. We’ve seen him for the last two seasons discover the wider world, and the need within himself to see everything beyond Lallybroch. While his brothers and sisters may be content not moving beyond the homestead (except for Michael, as we learn in “The Space Between”), Ian doesn’t seem to have a “stay put” button. All this season, from the first moment he heard about the Indians, he’s moved closer and closer to the decision he made tonight. He didn’t seem to spend much time anywhere other than with the Indians, accompanying John Quincy Meyers on excursions, learning quite a bit about their language and culture.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise that he made the decision to trade himself for Roger. He might not have seen this path if Jamie hadn’t made the offer first, but once he did, he committed to it. John Bell was absolutely terrific. He seemed to grow up in an instant – even his face looked more mature – at least until we saw him after the gauntlet! I cried when he told Jamie to promise not to come back for him, that he had given his word to stay there. “You once told me you wanted me to be a man of worth,” Ian reminds his uncle. “You have no idea how worthy you are,” Jamie replies, choking up. It isn’t what Jamie had planned for this wonderful young man, but Jamie understands Ian’s nature, and values the sacrifice he’s making.
And that gauntlet! Compare the way Ian went through with Roger’s run. Of course, two completely different situations – Ian wanted to be accepted, and quickly figured out the rules of the game. Roger, shell shocked and exhausted after months of travel and deprivation, had no idea what was happening, and didn’t want to be part of the tribe (although if he understood that he would have been treated better as a member rather than a slave, who knows). But Ian seemed to relish the challenge, leaping over and crawling under the Indians, stretching to reach the toe of the chief and prove his worth. I cheered with him as he yelped his joy at his success – even as I was crying!
(And book readers, do you think we saw Emily in a group shot???)
Will Jenny’s reaction to her son’s decision be different than it was in the books? Jamie seems to think she’ll understand, but knowing how protective and fiery she is, I’m not quite so sure. “She knows her son,” Jamie tells Claire. “She won’t be happy, but she’ll understand. She knows his restless nature and need for adventure.” I just hope we see him throughout Season 5.
Otter Tooth (Slight Detour)
Interwoven with both Ian and Roger’s journey is the story of Otter Tooth. You knew that ghost that Claire saw several episodes back was going to return, didn’t you? And have you caught on to who – or what – he is? “He would only talk about from when he came.” In the episode’s short opening sequence, we saw a man on a bench wearing the stone that Claire found – could he be Otter Tooth before he goes through the stones? While his fate is gruesome, his motives are almost noble, to warn the Indians that they were in danger of being hunted and wiped out.
There was one small omission from the book that could possibly come back in another season, since this story is brought back in one of the later books – I kept waiting for the Indian woman (played by Carmen Moore, but I couldn’t catch her character’s name) to refer to the stone as his “tikkiba” – his ticket back. How tough would it have been to get that in? The sequence of Otter Tooth’s war dance was very well done – along with the (I assume authentic) singing, it was emotional and haunting. Of course, we know that the US treated the native people shamefully, and while Otter Tooth’s plea for the Mohawk to slaughter the European invaders is horrific, it’s understandable. This part wasn’t fiction – this is history.
Murtagh & Jocasta (Another Detour)
This was not a surprise, was it! From the moment Murtagh stepped through the ornate doors at River Run, and knelt down to take Jocasta’s hand, you KNEW something was going to happen. Yes, we know Diana said that he wasn’t going to take book character Duncan Innes’ place – that just means that he wasn’t going to follow the same exact storyline. Duncan was a one-armed man, seemingly impotent… Murtagh is none of these. He IS, however, a wanted criminal, and in no position, at least for right now, to marry a wealthy and influential landowner. That doesn’t mean that the Silver Fox can’t still charm said wealthy and influential landowner and have a romance of his own! That was sweet, and I was very happy to see him happy. (I wonder, however, if this all means that a book storyline involving Ulysses won’t be part of the TV storyline.)
Jocasta’s outraged speech to him made me wonder, too, if she had had feelings for him, all those years ago, and was jealous of her sister. She tells him, “Truth be told, I never liked you. You used to descend on Leoch like a dark cloud of rain, overstaying your welcome, drinking our ale, making folks uneasy.” Seems like she is trying to convince herself more than him. Girls often like the strong, silent dark cloud type. Especially when their popular sisters get all the attention.
Roger & Bree (Back on Track)
They’ve argued and loved, come together and split once again. But their reunion was inevitable. Roger’s speech to Father Perigault about being an idiot and looking out for number 1 last episode – part of him may have thought so, and part of him may have just been saying it to try to get the doomed priest to find another path, but ultimately, we knew – KNEW FOR CERTAIN – that this was as fated a love story as Jamie and Claire. And Roger’s declaration to Claire that he loves Bree was no surprise.
Neither was his anger at Jamie. It was a testament to Jamie’s character that he apologized and accepted Roger’s punches without retaliating, even though I’m sure he would have wanted to – not because of Roger’s anger, but his own terrible sadness over Ian’s choice. But I’m glad the writers (Toni Graphia was the lead writer for this episode) understood this part of Jamie’s nature well enough, since I think they frequently minimize his essential character.
And – another detour – I just want to say how outstanding Sam was this episode, especially saying goodbye to Ian. Why this man hasn’t received ALL THE AWARDS, I don’t know. I know there are a lot of people who have been unhappy with this season because they believe Jamie and Claire haven’t been on screen enough, but so much of this part of the story just isn’t about them. And as we go through the story in the books, there are bigger and bigger chunks that don’t touch Jamie and Claire directly, but circle back to them and use them as a touchstone. After all, how much drama can two people endure? (A lot, apparently, because Diana Gabaldon is cruel…)
I was disappointed in Brianna’s portion of the story. The timeline seemed off to me – not only was a wonderful original material chunk missing – Jamie being part of the baby’s birth – but that birth itself, as it was on screen was just a little strange. To clarify, not the actual birth, since we didn’t see much of that (and having gone through it twice myself, how much screaming and grunting do you want to hear?), but what happened to Bree? Did she pass out that she didn’t know until later that she had had a boy? There was no reason for that scene to be written that way – it just sounded false. She didn’t have any anesthetic, like women from her original time would have had, so she would have been awake through the whole thing, and there’s no indication that there were complications that would have caused her to faint. And she looked much too cleaned up to have passed out, then moved, unconscious, to the bed…..
It just took me out of the scene, threw me for a loop. And for Jocasta to tell her that they would choose wisely on the baby’s BIRTHDATE so they could say he was born in wedlock? Yet two months later, when Jamie and Claire finally return, Roger-less, to River Run, she’s still not married? (Yes, I know, she wasn’t actually going to go through with it.) Somebody’s going to notice that that unnamed, undated baby is awfully big for a newborn once she and Lord John finally get around to a wedding.
I liked Bree’s talk with Murtagh – godfather to the next generation as well. “Do ye think you could forgive your father for his sake as well as yours?” he asks her. He knows how hard it is to get past the terrible wrongs that have been done, and went through all of this with Jamie – the soul-poisoning nature of hate. And he doesn’t want either Jamie, who he’s loved all his life, or Bree, a newcomer to his heart, to go through this. “I already have,” she answers. But yet, when Jamie and Claire return, FINALLY, to River Run, she barely glances at him. The writers should have given one minute to this reunion as well, beyond Jamie telling her that Roger is alive. I think that was truly a missed opportunity.
Roger has his own journey, both emotionally and physically, to get back to Bree. After learning what happened to her, and the potential results, he feels the need to step back and figure out whether despite his love for her, if he can live with the knowledge. Even in the book, I hated this – what’s there to think about? Had she had a consensual affair, sure, but she has no fault in this. Frank did it – loved Brianna, knowing that the child wasn’t his – and that WAS Claire’s fault! Throughout this book series, one major theme is building family by love, not by blood – William, Fergus, Brianna, and others in later books come into the family and are accepted without reservation. So, again, what’s there to think about?
Fortunately, Roger realizes this. I liked the way the show didn’t drag out his return, like it was in the books. There was really no indication here of the time between Jamie and Claire’s return and Roger’s return, but it can’t have been long. Roger is perhaps my favorite character in the entire series, but the time he spent trying to make up his mind was definitely a strike against him. Here at least, this is corrected. “I may be stubborn, but I’m not a fool. I love you. I always will,” he tells her. And Brianna has forgiven him as well, and kept her heart open. Finally, she’s made up her mind – for sure.
Despite what was said in more than one preview article, the final moments of this episode weren’t all that shocking. Yes, the letter from Governor Tryon was a bit of a surprise, but only because that comes in during the first (yes, very long, but one of my favorites) part of the next book, The Fiery Cross. Now I’m worried about how the show will treat that first segment, the Gathering. Yes, I realize that not everyone has my deep love for that entire piece of the book – SO much happens, and it’s so lovely to see them reacting to life and not just to drama; but much of what happens in that part echoes not only in that book, but in the next books in the series. So Jamie knows much earlier that Governor Tryon is calling in his IOU – Jamie says earlier that he’s made a deal with the devil, and the devil has come to collect, putting Jamie’s loyalties to the test.
But the other part – that his first mission is to “hunt down and kill the fugitive, Murtagh Fitzgibbons”…. well, there had to be some conflict there, right? Jamie hasn’t been happy with Murtagh’s association with the Regulators, despite having his own sympathies in that direction. You didn’t expect that all that would be forgotten, did you? Of course not. So this was a bit of a surprise, but not a shock by any means. How will he resolve this? The bigger question is how he’ll resolve the newfound knowledge that Jocasta and Murtagh are an item, as evidenced by their tender moment as Murtagh runs to hide from the Redcoats, that he assumes are coming for him.
We head once more into Droughtlander… that vast void where we can dissect, rewatch, rediscover our families. Season 3 of the trading cards come out in a couple of weeks; there will be announcements of events, I’m sure; hopefully Book 9 will be released before the end of the year. So we’re not completely Outlander-deprived – everyone needs a break!
Like I said at the beginning of this article, we’ll talk about this episode, and the season, this week on the radio. Join us!!
Thanks once again to Outlander-Online.com for their excellent episode screencaps!
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