Need to catch up? Check out the previous Outlander recap here.
There’s a wee ceilidh going on in my heart right now, Outlander folk, and you’re all invited to join: Don those tartans and get to spinnin’, because Murtagh is back!
Jamie’s godfather pops up unexpectedly — like a bearded, cranky, early Secret Santa present — in this week’s episode, while Jamie looks for some North Carolina Scots to live on Fraser’s Ridge. His sudden appearance is as much a surprise to Oldlanders as it is to those who haven’t read Diana Gabaldon’s books: In the novels, Murtagh dies at Culloden. And while he showed up last season when Jamie was in Ardsmuir, not a single one of us kent where or how the grumpy do-gooder would surface after that.
But the episode isn’t all happy reunions: A tragic measles outbreak on the ridge has even more horrifying consequences for the Cherokee, thanks to one man’s out-of-control hatred. Read on for the highlights of “Savages.”
HOMESTEADIN’ | Claire and Adawehi sit by the stream, bundling herbs and trading words in their native languages. Using mostly hand gestures, Adawehi points out that one type of leaves can brew a tea that will help Petronella, a pregnant woman who lives nearby. The old woman asks if Claire is a mother; she responds that she is, but that her daughter lives far away. Adawehi adds that Claire’s daughter also lives in her mother’s heart.
Enough time has passed between the last episode and this one that Jamie and Claire’s house is completely built and filled with their belongings. As Jamie gets ready to go into town and recruit tenants, he worries about leaving Claire alone in the wilderness with only Rollo to keep her company. She maintains that she’ll be fine, because the only excitement on deck is Petronella’s impending labor and delivery. While Claire’s got her back turned, Jamie sneaks one of his mother’s candlesticks off the hearth and slips it into his bag.
Young Ian enters with Jamie’s missing hat in his hand — it was in the pig pen, because White Sow gotta White Sow — and Claire really commits to the layered look as she adds a few more wrappings ahead of going outside. Jamie stops her with a question: “Does Brianna have a birthmark on her neck?” Claire says yes, but she doesn’t think she’s ever mentioned it to him before. “I saw it in a dream last night,” he explains, her eyes going wide with surprise. “I kissed her there.”
THE OLD (SILVER) FOX | In town, Jamie goes looking for a silversmith but finds only the man’s wife at home. She sizes up Jamie like he’s a fresh-from-the-oven bannock drizzled in honey; Fraser seems rather oblivious as he inquires whether the smith will be back soon. “Not today,” she purrs, with a downward glance at Jamie’s… candlestick. He leaves her be.
Jamie and Ian hold a meeting for potential tenants, but they’re stymied by why no one will take them up on the offer of 100 acres of rent-free land. Finally, one man admits that most of the farmers around those parts have given up their farms because they couldn’t afford to pay the Crown’s exorbitant taxes and got sick of dealing with Gov. Tyron’s dishonest tax collectors. He adds that some like-minded Scots are going to meet on the matter soon, “if you’re interested.”
When two more gatherings net them zero potential tenants, Ian and Jamie cut their losses and pack for home. But the horse’s bit breaks just as they’re about to get on the road, making travel impossible. So Ian runs to the blacksmith (not to be confused with the MIA silversmith) and begs him to stay open late to fix it. From the moment Ian arrives in the ornery smith’s shop, we know who he’s talking to, but he has no clue. And when the smith finally turns around to face his visitor, IT’S MURTAGH. The older man, who’s become quite the silver fox since last we saw him, charges Ian way too much for the repair.
In the meantime, Jamie stops by one more time to see if he can get something made out of the candlestick. The silversmith is still away, but “If you care to wait inside, I’ll serve you a hearty piece o’ pie,” his wife offers. It feels so much like a line out of an Outlander-ripoff porn flick, I half expect Bear McCreary to compose a tasteful, Americana-influenced string arrangement of “Bow Chicka Wow-Wow” to accompany it. Jamie seems to understand better what’s going on this time around, so he mentions the fact that he’s married, and that’s the end of that.
LIKE OLD TIMES | Jamie hasn’t been able to recruit any men. He can’t find someone to melt down the silver. And his mounting frustration is so great that when he hears how much Ian had to pay to fix the bit, he’s like, THIS SHALLNA STAND. He angrily bursts into the smithy, where Murtagh once more has his back to the door. Murtagh recognizes Jamie’s voice instantly but turns around slowly; it takes Big Red a minute to realize who he’s addressing, but then they’re embracing. Jamie drops his chin into the crook of his godfather’s shoulder, and all is right with the world.
Jamie is very teary as he introduces Murtagh to Ian, who’s instantly starstruck, thanks to the yarns his uncle has spun over the years. “I have so much to tell ye,” Jamie says quietly. “I want to hear every word,” Murtagh replies. They are so smiley, and my heart is so full.
They catch up at a tavern. After Ardsmuir, Murtagh was an indentured servant for 12 years. He wound up property of a blacksmith, who taught him the trade. Jamie perks up at this and pulls out the silver, wondering if Murtagh can help him with a present. “A surprise for his wife,” Ian chimes in, which makes Murtagh think Jamie remarried. Ian, go get some more ales, will ye? The adults need to have some time-travel talk.
Murtagh’s glee at learning that Claire came back and is living nearby is palpable; he’s also chuffed to know that their daughter was a girl and she’s living in 1971 Boston. But when Jamie asks his godfather to take some land on the ridge, he turns him down and offers to bring him to a meeting that will explain his refusal.
So they all attend the event, where it becomes quite clear that Murtagh isn’t just part of the Regulator (read: anti-British tax collector) movement, he’s an organizer. “What’s stolen from one of us is stolen from all of us!” he cries, working the group into a frenzy. “The corruption of the governor’s sheriffs and tax collectors must end!” It’s no sword dance, but it’s a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.
Afterward, Jamie sadly tells his godfather that his deal with Gov. Tryon “came with my assurance that I would help quell any unrest.” So he can’t join the Regulators, but he also won’t try to stop them. And he hopes that Murtagh will come find them one day.
ADAWEHI’S SAD END | Back at home, Claire attends to Petronella Mueller during her daughter’s birth: The grateful new mother names the baby Clara in her honor. Even Petronella’s anti-Native American blowhard of a father is in a good mood… until a few Cherokee stop to let their horses drink in the stream outside the Mueller home. Only Claire’s frantic involvement — she literally puts her body between Gerhard Mueller’s rifle and the tribesmen — stops violence from breaking out. The Cherokee agree to water their animals elsewhere to keep the peace, and before they leave, one sprinkles some dirt (?) over the water in a blessing. Mueller thinks the gesture is a curse, but Claire strenuously corrects him.
She returns home and spends the next several days just puttering around, drinking some horrible-tasting homemade spirits and waiting for Jamie to return. But when the Mueller family’s pastor stops by, things go south: He tells Claire that Petronella and the baby are dead from measles, Frau Mueller is sick, and Gerhard blames Claire for the deaths. The pastor says she’s not safe, but Claire notes that she’s got a gun, and Jamie will be home soon. Then she primes the rifle and waits.
Gerhard eventually arrives while Claire is dozing. She’s ready to shoot him if needed, but he’s not angry at her. He’s very sad as he explains how quickly his loved ones passed, railing about how the “savages” — and “not the ones who believe in God” — are supposed to die, But it’s OK now, he adds, because he took care of them, “for us, and for you.” He then hands her a wrapped bundle, which she’s horrified to realize contains Adawehi’s scalp. As Claire tries to process what’s happened, he explains that he killed the tribe’s witch to end the curse. Claire coldly bids him leave, and he does.
While Claire reverently prepares the healer’s remains, places them in a box and then puts the box on the fire, some of the Cherokee shoot fiery arrows into the Mueller home. When Gerhard’s ailing wife comes out to see what’s happening, she winds up with an arrow through her torso. Gerhard arrives home just in time to see her die, then he, too, is shot. The Cherokee watch everything burn for a moment, then leave. (Side note: I know this is so not the point, but I can’t stand the burning smell when a few strands of my hair get caught in the wrong end of the hairdryer sometimes. Can you imagine what the cabin smells like after Claire’s memorial service is done?)
(Another side note: In the book, Lord John is visiting Fraser’s Ridge when Herr Mueller loses his mind. I understand why the show chose to break up these events, and I see pluses and minuses to both arrangements. If you want to have a deep Outlander-dork dive about it on Twitter, I’m so game. Hit me up.)
OFF SHE GOES | Let’s check in with Roger, who is having a day that probably isn’t made any better by the fact that he’s wearing a pom-pom-topped knit hat that makes him look like a preschooler. He’s in Inverness, trying to track down Bree’s movements. The innkeeper at the bed-and-breakfast where Brianna stayed takes pity on him (probably because of the hat) and gives him a letter that she was supposed to wait a year to send; in it, Bree tells him that she found out “something terrible is going to happen to my mother and Jamie” and begs him not to follow her.
While he’s reading it, we watch Bree, dressed in period garb and with her hair in an updo, approach a stone at Craig na Dun and disappear.
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER | Back on the ridge, Jamie arrives home one morning, and Claire nearly collapses with relief in his arms. I do love how Sam Heughan’s face goes from “Who’s happy to see me?” to “Oh good God what happened now?!” in about .08 seconds. Claire asks him to hold her, and he does. I wonder aloud why no one in the 1700s can seem to make sleeves that go all the way to the wrist, but get no answer. (Yes, I’m sure there is a very good, historical fact-sourced reason for the costume decision. I worship at the Church of Terry Dresbach, too, y’all.)
Some days later, Claire is gathering firewood in the yard when she hears someone whistling “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” She turns to see Murtagh walking toward her. He does a little dance step as he finishes off the last few notes, and — dare I say it? — their reunion is even more joyful than Jamie and Murtagh’s. The pair walks arm-in-arm back to the house.
Now it’s your turn. Were you as happy to see Murtagh as I was? Hit the comments with your thoughts!