Starz Outlander, based on a book series by author Diana Gabaldon, in Series Four delivers Episodes 5 and 6, revealing the ongoing life Highland born Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), his unique wife from the future healer Claire Fraser (Catriona Balfe) and nephew Ian (John Bell).
They are living in a log cabin they have built on land in North Carolina, which has been gifted to Jamie by the British Governor. It is a beautiful place, which they have named Fraser’s Ridge North Carolina. The difficulty for them both is alongside their own pristine land surrounded by woodland teaming with wild life, plentiful rivers and creeks teaming with fish, live the peoples of the Cherokee nation.
While Jamie and Claire have already encountered and made their own fragile peace with their neighbours, they are considered by many of the local settllers to be savages and treated badly.
The one thing we are sure of is North Carolina is a long way from the magical standing stones at Craigh na Dun in Scotland where Claire first found, by touching one of them, she had unexpectedly travelled back to the past; an event, which would define her future.
Now much later Brianna, Jamie and Claire’s grown up daughter living in the early 1970’s, having heard from her sometime beau Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) how through research he has discovered her parents are destined to die in some sort of disaster.
He doesn’t know it yet but she has set her mind to following her mother’s footsteps by going back into the past to warn them.We want to shout a warning that trying to change history is a risky business.
Don’t Read Any More if You Don’t Want Spoilers.
Episode 5: Savages highlights the difficulties early European settlers had when taking on living in age of mistrust and short tempers, where men from entirely different cultures and experiences had to at first learn to respect each other.
Jamie and Ian arrive in town in a bid to find six men, who may take on working one hundred acres each of his land, in order to help him pay land taxes.
He finds great resistance to the idea, as the locals have already had experience of the Governor’s taxing them to excess and refuse him. Attempting to leave for home disillusioned, young Ian finds their cart horse has broken its bit and hastens to the local blacksmith to fix it.
Charging his nephew an excessive amount to do so only angers Jamie, who storms back to take the Smithy to take him to task only to discover he is his once upon a time guardian angel, his godfather and kinsman Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) whom he and Claire haven’t seen since the Battle of Culloden a long time ago.
Meanwhile back in the woods Claire has gone to a nearby property owned by the Mueller’s a German family, where she helps to deliver a healthy baby to the owner’s daughter who is very happy at the outcome, so much so she names her baby after her midwife.
While she is there an incident occurs, when the Indians come down to the creek outside the Mueller cabin to water the horses. The daughter’s father takes exception to the Cherokee watering their horses on his land. They regard water as being free, and Mueller disagrees and with his son, takes them on with rifles.
Claire, caught in the middle, and because she knows some of the local tribe who are present, soothes the situation. Using her diplomatic skills she has Mueller and his son lower their guns and requests respectfully of the Indians that now, and in the future, they will move further downstream to complete the task.
Back in Inverness in 1971 Roger has arrived in town to find Brianna, learning through a letter she has left him, where she has gone and he’s devastated to say the least. What he does next is still anyone’s guess.
Back in the eighteenth century when Claire arrives home, she’s alone in the cabin which hasn’t until now caused her too much anxiety as she has young Ian’s pet wolf beside her and her rifle to hand in case of any incidents.
However, the local clergyman comes to warn her the baby and its mother have died, having caught the measles. He relates how her father blamed their affliction on the Indians, who he thinks put a curse on the water in his creek, and has threatened retaliation because he believes it is all Claire’s fault.
When he comes to the cabin she again tries to offer him her knowledge of measles and how he probably brought it home with him from town where it is raging; he doesn’t believe her.
He hands her a small parcel, which she finds has the heart of the Cherokee healer she has grown to admire and respect, in it. Sending him into the night she sadly knows his fate is sealed; he arrives home to find his cabin alight, his wife on fire and receives an arrow through the heart.
Rough justice was indeed the order of the day.
In Episode Six: Blood of my Blood we find the English are still in charge and that local politics continue to be difficult. Murtagh arrives for a visit with Claire and she is overjoyed about his welcome return into their lives from the past.
Everything suddenly lights up when the dishy Lord John Grey (David Berry) suddenly and unexpected arrives to visit Jamie. Lord William (Jamie’s son) is by his side, although he doesn’t know or suspect the truth of his parentage. Lord John as his father and Jamie for one, want to both keep it that way.
They stay for a few days and Lord John is questioned by Murtagh about his relationship with the Governor, attempting to have the English noble see his building himself a palace by excessively taxing the locals, does not augur well for the future. He then graciously leaves, knowing his presence will cause only angst for Jamie who wants to spend time with his son, a secret his godfather will hold close like so many others.
Lord John, William, Jamie and Claire have a happy time together, but on the morning Lord John and William are ready to leave, Claire finds her guest is running a fever; coming down with the measles. As she and Jamie have both had them in childhood, she is anxious he take young William and leave the infectious zone.
While she attends to her unexpected patient, Jamie and William set out on their own sort of eighteenth century road trip around his ten thousand acres where he attempts to teach his son how to survive in the wilderness, as against living in comfort in a great country house back home, or the English governor’s palace.
Getting re-acquainted, William remembers fragments of their time together when he was young. He questions Jamie about why when he left their estate he didn’t look back or wave to him. He wisely interpreted that as meaning he would never see his friend again and it more or less broke his heart.
Their time together also involves a nearly fatal skirmish with the Indians when William strays onto their land, ignoring Jamie’s warning not to do so. However eventually, it is the young man’s courage that comes to the fore, saving them both.
Jamie is left feeling very proud and arriving home after six days they find Lord John is well on the road to recovery, having been looked after so well by Claire.
During their time together they had also made peace with each other from both envying the time Jamie had spent with the other. Claire informs him while Jamie may be with her, he has given him his greatest possession; his son. This ensures they part on good terms and as they ride off, William looks back to Jamie – offering him hope they will meet again.
Be sure to have your hanky handy, especially as Jamie and Claire are promising each other 1000 kisses as he bathes her body before taking her to bed.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019