Need to catch up? Check out the previous Outlander recap here.
After years of wandering and doing the 18th-century equivalent of couch-surfing, Claire and Jamie finally find a location for their first home together in this week’s Outlander. And in case you were thinking of sending the Frasers a housewarming gift, be advised: I’ve already nabbed the “Home is where the skull is” doormat off their registry.
Indeed, this week’s episode brings Himself and the missus to a gorgeous swath of North Carolina forest they decide will make an excellent spot for their new abode. Strangely, the fact that a ghost was essentially their realtor seems to matter not a whit to the starry-eyed settlers. But then again, if Boo Berry himself presented me with unlimited square footage and zero closing costs, I’d probably shut up and say thank you, too.
Back in the 1970s, Brianna and Roger go on a road trip that ends in tears, a breakup and the burning of a giant, wooden deer. Read on for the highlights of “The False Bride.”
A PROPER HELLO | Let’s start with Rog and Bree, shall we? At the parsonage in Inverness in 1970, Roger hands the keys over to the house’s new owners: Fiona (granddaughter of previous housekeeper Mrs. Graham) and her husband. As the trio toasts the changing of hands and Roger prepares to attend a Scottish festival in the United States, Fiona gives us her man a quick catch-up on Roger’s love life. Bree is an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in America; she visited Roger at Oxford the previous summer, and he spent another Christmas in Boston. “But with my teaching and her studies…” Wakefield trails off, slightly woebegone. But Fiona says he’s clearly in love with the American redhead, and he should “go get her.”
So he packs various turtlenecks and flies across the Atlantic; Bree greets him at the airport. Though it’s awkward as they hug hello, they’re very happy to see each other. The weirdness wears off as they drive to the festival, which is in North Carolina. They’re playing The Minister’s Cat game in the car — which I learned about in the books but have never heard about in real life. Have any of you? — when Bree suddenly announces, “You’re pretty.” And then she climbs into his lap for a minute and kisses him. The car swerves as he’s taken aback, and it’s enough to distract me momentarily from the show’s trouble nailing greenscreens.
YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ‘ROUND | The Scottish festival is verra festive, lots of dancing and music and food and such. And plaid. SO much plaid. “My mother always said men in kilts were irresistible,” Bree purrs, making eyes at Roger’s bare legs as they walk onto the fairgrounds. “She was right.” (Side note: Dude, you’re inadvertently talking about the hotness of your dad here…. which, to be fair, is considerable. But c’mon.)
Inside some giant tents, Roger and Brianna sit for a sketched portrait and take part in a ceilidh dance, which involves much spinning in circles. By the time they get to the evening’s entertainment, which features Roger, they’re quite re-smitten with each other. He performs with a few other musicians, then takes the stage solo to sing “The False Bride.” (For those wondering, yes, that was actually Richard Rankin singing and playing up there.) In the audience, Bree wears the look of love.
And that’s why everything that happens afterwards feels so awful. Back at their motel, they’re about to retire to their separate cabins when Bree gives Roger a book on Scots in North Carolina and a bottle of moonshine; they decide to share “just a wee dram” in her room. And while Roger is trying out some of his finest taxidermy humor on a mounted deer head hanging on the wall, Bree’s blouse sails over his head and lands on the doomed creature’s antlers. He turns around, and she’s in her bra and skirt.
They kiss, grope and wind up on the floor, but he pulls away. “I want this to be perfect,” he says, scurrying away for a moment. (At this point, I start to quietly moan, “Noooooo Roger. Nooooo.”) He gives her a silver bracelet inscribed with the French words for “I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.” (“Stopppp, Roger. Stopppppp.”) He says it was just going to be a present, but now he thinks that it should be something MUCH more. (“There’s still time to pull baaaaaack, Roger.”) “I want you, Brianna. I cannot say it more plainly than that. I love you,” he says, getting down on one knee and completely ignoring the look of horror on her face: “Will you marry me?” (“Sigh.”)
IN WHICH ROG MAKES IT WORSE | When she answers that this is all happening very fast, he still fails to read the room. Instead, Rog goes on about how they’ll have a home, and four or five “wee MacKenzies” and some dogs. I give Bree a ton of credit for how gently and lovingly she stops him, telling him she’s not ready for any of that. Angry, Roger prepares to leave, so she kisses him to illustrate how much she still wants him, despite not being sure that she wants to be his wife. “Oh, you don’t want to marry me, but you’ll f—k me?” he snarls. (By now, I am in full facepalm mode, because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Oldlander, and I know this isn’t even the worst thing he’s going to say in this scene.) She takes offense at his harshness, but he’s not finished. “If all I wanted was to have my way with you, I would’ve had you on your back a dozen times last summer,” he spits. (Yep, there it is.) She slaps him.
There’s a brief, annoying conversation about double standards in male and female sexuality (she’s a virgin, he’s not — yet he‘s angry about her wanting to bed him), with Roger telling her he loves her… and her not saying it in return. As they both are on the verge of crying, he leaves.
At the festival the next night, neither of them have changed their minds. Brianna enumerates that she’s not sure she even believes in the idea of marriage, and Roger continues to hold fast to his traditional ways. So she tries to give him back the bracelet — he makes her keep it — before the calling of the clans. “Clan MacKenzie is here!” Roger yells, holding a torch aloft, and then he joins the rest of the Scots and Scot-adjacents in lighting a giant figure of a stag on fire. When he looks up, Brianna is gone.
BYE, AUNTIE | In Claire and Jamie’s time, they’re preparing to leave River Run. The whole violent-racism-and-euthanasia cocktail didn’t sit well with either of them, and Jamie informs his aunt that there’s no way they can stay. His new plan: Send Ian back to Scotland via Wilmington, then travel west “toward the mountains,” where he’ll eventually set up shop as a printer… or something. She scoffs, but she won’t let him return the bag o’ cash she gave him in the previous episode. She’s also going to outfit him for his trip (food, horses, Clarence the mule!, etc.), and she’s got one more parting gift: his mother Ellen’s silver candlesticks. “I ken she would want you to have them,” Jocasta says, which makes her nephew misty.
Claire’s farewell with Jocasta is a wee bit different. After the women agree that they wish the Rufus incident had ended differently, Jocasta acknowledges that Claire is a woman of conviction who loves Jamie fiercely. Oh, and also? “You’re doing him a great disservice, ye ken?” Oblivious to the steam billowing out of Claire’s dainty ears, Jocasta continues. “If you truly loved Jamie as much as you say you do, you’d want him to be the man he was born to be.” Auntie, I know you can’t see, so I’m going to describe what Claire’s face is saying right now: OH NO YOU DIDNA.
“You know nothing about me or my husband,” Claire says icily. But Jo stands to tell her niece-in-law that wasting Jamie’s time as a printer is a shame, and is it me, or does the Sassenach wilt just an eence? Before it can get real nasty, Claire curtly thanks Jocasta again and leaves.
WESTWARD, HO! | Somewhere in there, Young Ian convinces Jamie to let him stay in the colonies, Jenny’s long-distance wrath be damned. So the teen rides with the Frasers and John Quincy Myers, who will lead them part of the way. Early in the journey, Ian asks if he can accompany Myers as he trades with a nearby group of Native Americans; though Claire and Jamie are wary, Myers promises that it’s completely safe, so they make plans to meet up in town in a few days.
While Jamie and Claire ride on alone, he tests the idea of their settling in Boston, which seems to offend her a little. She’s already had a life there, she explains, plus, “That’s where the revolution starts.” All she wants is for them to have a home together, she adds, “a place that’s ours.” Eventually Jamie’s steed throws a shoe, so they stop so he can fix it; you’ll pardon me if the details in this next section are fuzzy, because I can’t focus on anything aside from the fact that Jamie and his horse are sporting the exact same frizzy bangs. (Go ahead, check your DVR. I’ll wait.)
CLAIRE MAKES A FRIEND | Anyway, there’s a storm approaching, and a giant clap of thunder sends a frightened Clarence running off with all of their supplies. Claire rides off after him, but eventually gets lost. And when lightning strikes a tree directly in her path, her horse is so spooked that it rears and dumps her on the ground, knocking her out, before galloping off in terror. The pouring rain rouses her, and after some panicked and fruitless cries for Jamie, she crawls into the hollow made by a fallen tree and takes off her shoes.
(Question: Why does she take off her shoes? In the book, she does so to cross a stream. Here, it’s maybe because she hurt her foot? I watched the episode twice and it wasn’t clear to me, but it’s possible I missed something. Be sure to educate me in the comments, if you caught something I didn’t.)
Anyway, when Claire puts her hand on the ground behind her, she realizes she’s sitting on a partially buried human skull with a big wound in the back. In the hole where the dead head was, she also finds a sparkly gem. “Did this belong to you?” Claire wonders aloud. Just then, someone holding a torch approaches. A flash of lightning reveals it’s a man dressed in Native American clothing, with black paint surrounding his eyes and the rock Claire’s holding on a string around his neck. “Who are you? What do you want?” she asks. He says nothing, just turns and walks away. And as he goes, she notices that he’s got a bleeding cleave mark down the back of his head.
REUNITED, AND IT FEELS SO EERIE | When Claire wakes up the next morning, having chosen not to follow the oozing, mute, probably dead guy into the pitch black wilderness, the storm is gone and there are a set of footprints leading from her makeshift shelter. So she puts the stone and skull in her purse, because scientists gotta science!, and follows the imprints.
They lead her to a creek… where Jamie just happens to be filling his canteen! The two rush to each other and have a relieved hug, during which we learn that Jamie followed her footprints to the water. Funny thing, though: Claire didn’t pass by the water during her wanderings the night before. Yet her boots are on the ground near the stream!
I love that when Claire’s explanation is that she met the ghost of an Indian, Highland-raised and superstition-primed Jamie is all, “Yes, yes, sure,” adding that they should be grateful to whatever spirit reunited them. And then stuff gets even weirder: Claire realizes that the newly acquired noggin has several silver fillings, “something that won’t be invented for another hundred years.” Preliminary hypothesis? The skull’s previous owner was a time-traveler like herself.
WELCOME TO FRASER’S RIDGE | How is it possible that lingering too long in a sweaty sports bra on a spring afternoon makes me want to microwave a Snuggie and crawl into it, but Claire is soaked to the bone in 10 layers of sopping wet wool and a bum roll and she’s jazzed to continue their trek through the forest? She and Jamie find a patch of wild strawberries — the emblem of his clan — and eat a few as they pause to look out over a dazzling vista.
“This must be the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen,” he says, and Claire knows that he’s falling in love with North Carolina. Though they planned to live in a town, he likes it right where they are — and settling there means they’ll have to accept Tryon’s offer and deal with all of the trouble that eventually will go along with it. But after Claire reaffirms that she trusts Jamie with her life and her heart, he declares, “Then this will be our home. And we’ll call it Fraser’s Ridge.” Then they throw an arm around each other and look out over their new dominion.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!