***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 4, Episode 3, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn follow. Spoilers***
Offering recovery after the harsh events of last week‘s hour, “The False Bride” may have gone a little too far, leaving a sickly sweet and not so satisfying taste in our mouths. Between the still-struggling-to-find-their-chemistry pairing of Roger and Brianna (whose book segment was oddly sanitized), and a near-ludicrous Claire-lost-just-long-enough-to-skip-a-hot-sexytimes-scene, this episode felt like something that would bore even the most fervent Outlander fan.
In 1970 Inverness, Roger Wakefield sells his family home to a young couple, wishing them well — “May the roof never fall in, and may we below never fall out” — before he leaves on a trip to America to sing at a Scottish festival … and reunite with Bree. Meanwhile (in 1767), Jamie tells his Aunt Jacosta that he wants to be master of his own soul; he and Claire will head to Woolam’s Creek with newly self-declare man, Ian — and John Quincy Adams along as their guide for a spell (he and Ian quickly split off).
Flipping back and forth between the two couples, both Claire and Jamie and Bree and Roger traverse North Carolina’s lands, the former by horse, donkey and carriage; the latter by car. Mother and daughter simultaneously wonder where their paths led, and while Jamie speaks fondly of his life as a criminal, he and Roger have similar future goals in their pursuit of happiness — to fulfill their lives with respective brides … speaking of, after the dullest of date nights and Bree trying to hustle a kilted man into her bed, Roger declares he’d rather marry her first.
In an impossibly awkward scene that carries none of the spark Diana Gabaldon wrote, Wakefield attempts to give Brianna a bracelet and his heart; she accepts the first and soundly rejects the second, though in a nice role reversal, for her, sex is apparently not off the table (Roger’s the hypocritical prude). Though she tries to make nice at the next day’s clan calling, a burning stag reduced to ashes seems to symbolize their relationship’s current status.
Back in time, a different (literal) type of storm approaches, scaring off the Fraser’s supply-laden mule, which Claire immediately takes as her time to shine as an independent woman. Unfortunately for her, a lightning strike startles her horse and Claire is thrown, leaving her knocked out and delirious for a time … which is the only possible explanation for taking off one’s boots in the rain to huddle near a log that doesn’t even begin to protect. (Seriously, though, who sits in the rain and thinks, “Hey, I should take off my shoes so I can more thoroughly get wet!”) Of course, the audience knows this is the only way the rest of the hour’s storyline can play out so that a ghostly figure can *steal* said footwear, leave muddy prints for Claire to find her way back to Jamie, and for Jamie to find her boots, knowing to sit pretty until she arrives back in his arms. (*insert all your appropriate groans here*)
In the blink of an eye one of the slowest–ever-moving episodes, the reunited Frasers set back on their journey, only to come across a field of wild strawberries (the emblem of Clan Fraser) that along with a gorgeous view and the nearby stream, herald their arrival at “the most beautiful land” Jamie’s ever seen — aka where they’ll make their new home. As he declares the place “Fraser Ridge”, Claire makes a discovery of her own; the skull she found near the log that didn’t protect her from the rain — the one belonging to the ghost that led her back and that she brought in her bag — has a silver filling, “… Something that won’t be invented for another hundred years.” And, with that hint at more interesting things to come (please), we know that yet another time traveler has been introduced to this Outlander world.
Good gods, that was one of the dullest Outlander episodes in the series’ history. I don’t know who thought any of that was intriguing (from the Starz after-video, apparently the writers did believe all that festival stuff was). I’m still on the “Let’s give Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin time to develop and gel together” train, but it’s proving a rough ride. This pair has zero chemistry, not a speck of the onscreen magic that Balfe and Heughan share, and it’s pretty excruciating to sit through their scenes. Here’s hoping things get better soon, because they’re major characters.
At least in The Drums of Autumn, there’s a great sexual tension in the air before Roger proposes; in the way this scene was rewritten, it’s almost as if the writers purposely sucked even the possibility of heat between Bree and Roger out — a freaking moose lodge? Really? That was so disappointing …
At least Bree did point out Roger’s dated and hypocritical thinking about sleeping with people. I liked the reversal of roles in that she was still ready to go to bed with him, and he was stuck in the dark ages (sleeps with people he doesn’t love, yet wants to marry a virgin). That’s something, and we’ll take it.
The episode’s title, “The False Bride” is also another name for the folk song Roger sings, known in Scotland as I Once Loved a Lass. The lyrics speak of unrequited love and a jilted man.
Is that the last we’ll see of Maria Kennedy Doyle as Jacosta? Seems a terrible waste of such a fantastic actress.
***Book Spoilers Follow *** Readers know that the skull Claire found and the accompanying ghost belonged to Robert Springer, aka Ta’wineonawira aka Otter Tooth, a character that crosses several volumes. Through a diary Ian finds, the Frasers learn about Springer’s misadventures time-traveling to attempt to influence Native Americans. As you might guess from the state of his appearance, his attempts don’t end well. ***End Book Spoilers***
Songs This Hour:
The Parliaments, I Wanna Testify
Richard Rankin, The False Bride (aka I Once Loved a Lass)
Before we came here, I saw things through the eyes of a boy — I’m a man, free to choose the place I call home.
You know nothing about me or my husband.
My mother always said men in kilts were irresistible; she was right.
I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.
You don’t want to marry me, but you’ll fuck me.
If you don’t love me enough to marry me, you don’t need to be in my bed.