Need to catch up? Check out the previous Outlander recap here.
Outlander finishes Season 4 down an Ian but up a bairn, and somehow manages to have a happy ending and a cliffhanger all at the same time.
Diehards (and I count myself among them) will be quick to point out that the episode did not fit in all of the good stuff that fills the end of Diana Gabaldon’s fourth Outlander novel, Drums of Autumn. Where are all the people who are supposed to attend the birth of Brianna’s baby? Why don’t Jamie and Roger get to bond/argue in the hut? Fer good God’s sake, where’s the Gathering?!
But I’m pretty quick to forgive most of that, given that we get the key stuff — namely, Roger and Bree’s reunion — as well as a verra interesting quandary involving one James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser and his godfather. Also: Those back-to-back scenes with Murtagh and Jocasta? WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION ALONE.
Read on for highlights of the finale, “Man of Worth.” (And then make sure to check out what executive producer Toni Graphia has to say about the episode here.)
DOGFACE AFTERNOON | In the dialogue-free footage that accompanies the episode’s title card, we see a Native American man in 1960s or ’70s clothing sitting on a bench and wearing the opal that Claire found alongside the skull in this season’s third installment. File that away for later, aye?
Then we’re in 1770 New York, as Jamie, Claire, Young Ian and Rollo approach the Mohawk village where Roger is being held captive. The Mohawk are suspicious of the Frasers’ claims that they’re only there to trade, so Kaheroton brings them to the elder we’ve seen in previous episdoes. As he and Jamie talk, Claire removes her scarf to show it to one of the Mohawk who seem interested in it. Unfortunately, doing so also reveals that she’s wearing that giant opal that she found with the skull, and everyone around her recognizes the gem and recoils as though she’s slapped them with it.
Misinterpreting the tribe’s interest in the stone, Claire hastily offers to trade it for Roger. But the elder tells them to leave, as soon as Fraserly possible. So they do, but Jamie is planning to go back and free MacKenzie that evening. Claire says she’s sure there’s a story behind her pendant. “I ken a story. One where I went to Fort William and rescued you,” he says — and let’s all heave a wistful sigh for “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife” — but Claire points out that that rescue worked because Jamie had a bit of help and knew the layout of the fort; in the Mohawk camp, he’s essentially alone and virtually blind.
THE STONE’S STORY | Just then, the Mohawk woman who yelled at Roger in the previous episode arrives with a band of men: They’re there to take the stone, by force if necessary. Claire again offers to trade it for Roger, wondering why the opal is so important. So the woman tells the story of Otter Tooth, a man who showed up years before, wore the opal and announced that the tribe would have to kill white men in order to survive. He lived among the Mohawk, but when he led a scalping expedition one day, the elders booted him from the village. Still, he lived in the forest, ranting; the tribe believed he was possessed. Eventually, the tribe chased and caught him. “Everything you are will be lost,” he warned, but they killed him. And when his voice wouldn’t stop following them, they cut off his head — but Otter Tooth’s voice stuck around. Eventually the chief, who was a young warrior then, buried the head far away. “He said that the one who possesses the stone has the power to see how my people’s story will end, and that Otter Tooth’s ghost walks with whoever carries it,” the woman notes.
Claire tells her that she saw Otter Tooth the night she was lost in the storm. In turn, the woman says that she actually believes what the dead man prophesied, as well as that the opal will help the Mohawk see what’s ahead. Seeing an opportunity, Claire again makes a bargain: Help them get Roger back, and the woman can have the stone.
IAN’S NEW TRIBE | That night, the Frasers sneak into camp with the help of the Mohawk they met with earlier in the day. When they find Roger in the hut, he’s dumbfounded to realize how small his rescue party is. “What were you expecting, the whole MacKenzie clan?” Jamie snarks. Their fleeing is hindered by the fact that Roger has had the brogue beat outta him pretty much every day for the past month. The Frasers wind up passing him back and forth like a big, reeking rag doll, stumbling through the underbrush. “COME ON, ROGER,” Claire says at one point, pretty exasperated, and the way Caitriona Balfe fills the three-word phrase with so much frustration makes me giggle. Like, dude, you’re even screwing up WALKING.
Eventually, of course, the Frasers and Ian are surrounded by Mohawk. Claire yells “Peace!” in the tribe’s tongue, but that’s a pretty weak case to make, especially moments after your husband was swinging a lit torch at them. Eventually, the chief banishes the Mohawk woman who helped them and orders Jamie & Co. to leave. But “Dogface will stay in the village.”
You can see the valiant-yet-stupid idea forming in Jamie’s mind before he does it. “Take me,” he cries, and Balfe gives her second-best line reading of the hour when she stretches Claire’s “Whaaaaaaaaat?” into a 10-syllable affair. Jamie tells Ian to iron out the details, and while he does, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser have a desperate, clinging goodbye. But — twist! — Ian has actually made arrangements for him to take Roger’s place with the Mohawk.
Jamie calls the move “brave and canny,” and assumes he’ll return to help his nephew escape as soon as possible. But Ian offered himself up for realsies, he tells Jamie. “How can I part with you?” Jamie asks, a lone man tear tracking down his cheeks as he realizes that Ian is a fully grown man capable of choosing his own fate. That’s not to say that Ian isn’t on the verge of ugly-crying throughout the farewells — because he surely is — but he holds it together for the most part until Jamie bows and the Fraser party turns to leave. Meanwhile, Roger is clinging to Claire throughout the soggy leave-taking like, “DYING HERE, IF ANYONE RECALLS?”
After the Scots leave, Ian passes through the gauntlet — aka the double line of men whaling on him — far better than Roger did. When he’s done, the tribe starts to yelp in celebration, and a joyful Ian joins in with them, sounding like a particularly pleased Chihuahua.
JOCASTA, YOU LITTLE MINX | Let’s take a break and head over to River Run, where Murtagh is mightily relieved to find out that Brianna’s engagement to Lord John is just for show. He asks if she can forgive Jamie, “for your sake, as well as his.” She answers that she already has.
That night, Murtagh and Jocasta are having a whisky by the fire when he announces that he’s going back to fight with the Regulators. “Have ye learned nothing?” she wonders. As he points out that there are ways she can use her influence to help those who’d oppose the Brits, she calls him out for having an ulterior motive to his visit, saying, “In your head, you’re always scheming on how to get what you want.” He calls her a lunatic. She says she never liked him, and he’s stubborn as a mule. They’re fighting, but there’s something more underneath the surface, I might add. And when he grabs her arm and calls her “Woman!,” then she tosses her drink in his face, it feels like a tipping point. But then the scene ends. Verbatim from my notes while watching the episode: “This did not end in the hot makeout sesh for which I so fervently hoped. Och well.”
BUT WAIT. The very next scene takes place the next morning. Jocasta, hair unbound, stands before her bedroom window in her nightgown and robe. The camera pans over and YES I KNEW IT Murtagh is in her bed, shirtless. Is this a forest glen? Because I certainly see a silver fox getting cozy. “Come back to bed,” he says softly. “Must ye go?” she asks in return. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. She mentions that breakfast is waiting. “Let it wait,” he says, and she drops that robe and climbs back into bed so they can kiss. Guys, this is the romantic pairing I never knew I always wanted.
ROGER’S REVENGE | Back in the woods of New York, Jamie and Claire joke about telling Jenny that her son is now a Mohawk. Well, that went from grave to lighthearted quickly, didn’t it? Then out of nowhere, Roger starts beating the stuffing out of Jamie. Claire yells for him to cut it out, but Jamie stops her with a. “Leave him be. This is between us.”
Highland Fight Club doesna last long, given that Roger is in absolutely no shape to take on Big Red. When he finally runs out of steam, he’s relieved to hear that Bree sent them for him: He’d secretly worried that perhaps she orchestrated the whole beat-down/selling thing herself. Eventually, Roger learns everything, including that Brianna was raped (“after you left my daughter,” Jamie sneers) and is pregnant. That’s another blow to the wounded historian: He tells them about the stone circle he found nearby, hinting that he’d thought he and Bree might return that way. Jamie nastily points out that Roger could still go, and when Rog looks confused, Claire winces as she points out that the baby might not be his, so he’s therefore not beholden to return to Bree to raise it. MAKE YER CHOICE NOW! Jamie demands five seconds after the revelation, and even Claire has had enough of her man’s Alpha Male-ing. “Jamie, for God’s sake,” she says, “just give him a moment to think!”
But Jamie doesn’t stop, telling the gobsmacked Roger that “You cost me a lad that I love. And my daughter doesna need a coward.” Is it any wonder that Rog decides he needs time to decide what to do?
ROGER RETURNS | Back at River Run, Bree goes into labor. Jocasta attends to her, with the help of Phadre and some other slaves. (In case you were wondering, this is the scene I’ve said I wished had played out closer to what happens in the book, where Jamie and Claire return in time and both of them coach her through the birth at Fraser’s Ridge.) Murtagh paces nervously in the hallway. But all ends well: Bree has a son, “and we shall choose his birthday wisely,” Jocasta says, a sly nod to the kid’s technical bastard status. When Phaedre and Lizzie bring the boy to his mother, Bree immediately is smitten.
Two months later, Phaedre rushes into the big house and announces that some riders, including Claire, have been spotted. Bree runs out to the porch with her son in hand, but stops short when she sees only Jamie and Claire. “He’s alive,” Jamie says. “We told him everything,” Claire adds sadly. And then everyone’s unhappy, including the baby, who begins to fuss.
They all make plans to return to the Ridge, but Bree halts her packing when she sees a lone man on a horse coming up the path. She runs downstairs and out to meet Roger, who dismounts and runs to her, as well. They hug, then she says she wasn’t sure he would come. “I may be stubborn, but I’m not a fool,” he counters, then they exchange “I love yous” and kiss. She had a boy, she tells him. “Take me to see my son,” he replies.
ALL’S WELL THAT… OH, WAIT | The happy reunion is interrupted by a phalanx of Redcoats coming up the drive. “Murtagh,” Bree whispers. Inside, there’s a flurry of activity as Jocasta tells Jamie’s godfather to hide in the slave quarters. He calls her “Jo” and draws her close, and if you think that little, soft moment escapes Jamie and/or Claire’s notice, IT DOESNA.
After Murtagh leaves to hide, the soldiers arrive with a letter for Jamie from Governor Tryon. “He’s order me to muster and lead a militia to fight the regulators,” Jamie says, brow furrowed as he reads. “My first mission is to hunt down and kill the fugitive: Murtagh Fitzgibbons.”
Now it’s your turn. To kick off Droughtlander, grade the finale via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts! (And I know you have some…)