***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 4, Episode 5, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn follow. Spoilers***
After a couple of weeks with little to no excitement, Outlander threw a wonderfully welcome surprise return party worthy of myriad gifs and believe you me, Tumblr is celebrating. With “Savages”, though there are more than a few happenings that demanded attention — Flirty wives, and fires, and hair, oh my! — I’m heading straight to the main (*cough mane cough*) event.
In 1768 North Carolina, while Claire heads out to help deliver the newest member of the at-first-friendly-then-suddenly-terrifying Mueller clan, Jamie and Ian head into town to spread the word about Fraser Ridge, and hopefully entice some settlers. Unfortunately for them, they’re rejected by all the farmers they encounter, what with the outrageous British taxing “system”, but a bit of better luck comes their (and our) way after Jamie sends Ian to find a blacksmith who can repair a broken horseshoe. After finagling every bit of their money out of Ian for the job, Jamie heads to the shop to give a smith the what for, a strikingly handsome grey-haired grump
— aka Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix), last seen at Ardsmuir Prison — turns to face his irked godson, and cue the hugs and waterworks.
Even though theirs was a lovely reunion, the later scene when Claire hears the whistle of a familiar-to-her tune,
and turns to see Murtagh’s adorable prancing …
… and their subsequent jubilant smiling and hugging festival
was far more thrilling and just as moving as Jamie’s watery eyes. Honestly, it almost makes me forget about the whole rest of the hour — even that big held-to-the-last-minute moment, which …
… by the way, provides the show with a most opportune moment (though I’m certain tptb won’t take it). You see, much has been made over the — let me be as kind as I can — less than stellar onscreen presence of Brianna Fraser. As much as I’ve wanted to give Sophie Skelton time to grow into the role, thus far I haven’t seen much to give hope for better. Even the narration of Bree’s letter to Roger conveyed zero emotion (take a hint, Roger), and in some altered version of Outlander, the best thing this series could do when the Fraser daughter turns up in another time and place is to have a new person take over the role.
In between the Murtagh hoopla, somber Roger, and vanishing Bree, there’s a truly heartbreaking occurrence that reminds how dangerous ignorance of other cultures can be. After baby Mueller contracts measles (likely from her grandparents), both she and her mother die. Meanwhile, Claire discovers — and temporarily holds off violence — how Herr Mueller handles perceived threats in the form of the Cherokee letting their horses drink from water on “his” property (“Water belongs to no one”). After having become close to fellow healer, Adawehi, Claire receives a horrifying package from the crazed Mueller in the form of the woman’s scalp — repayment for what he believed was a curse on his family; was actually a Native American blessing of the water.
Back in 1971 Inverness, Roger manages to coax the Bed and Breakfast owner who hosted Brianna before she left for Craigh na Dun to give him his letter a little (about twelve months) early, and so he sulks as we listen to Bree’s voice informing him she already discovered her parents were in danger and had to try to warn them. Knowing he’s as stubborn as any of these Outlander characters and despite her plea, Roger will surely follow Brianna … and so it goes. At least amid the life lessons and losses (including the last of the Muellers), we can take solace in the glee of a lovely grey-haired gent’s triumphant return.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Duncan Lacroix’s Murtagh back, especially with his gorgeous grey hair — actually a very itchy wig. Most amusingly, his beard also is “part wig”, and after some coaxing, Lacroix admitted he nicknamed the beard wig “Granny’s muff“! If we had to lose Graham McTavish’s Dougal, at least we’ve gained Murtagh (who died in the books, at the Battle of Culloden), and Lacroix plays his return to the hilt. In comparison to the past few snore-worthy episodes, his presence lit up the whole hour.
Conversely, I really don’t intend or want to be unkind to Sophie Skelton — I just don’t know how to deal with her utterly bland and lifeless line readings. Perhaps it’s unfair to suggest that she be replaced, but at the very least, I wish the show would get her a coach. And since it’s highly unlikely she actually will be replaced, I guess we’ll all have to hope she gets better over time. On the plus side, I loved the style makeover, hair and all, for her trip into the past.
I also squealed a bit when Adawehi knowingly said of Brianna to Claire, “She is here.”
Nayawenne’s book story was handed off to Adawehi, who was well played by Tantoo Cardinal. That package scene was crushing.
The silversmith’s wife … um, er, well, that was awkward. Poor Jamie. Meanwhile, Claire seems to have noticed the missing candlesticks, but I’ll bet she doesn’t guess Jamie’s having a replacement ring made for her (I think).
Unfortunately, Jamie and his Regulator godfather, they are on opposite sides of a revolution … I’m curious how that will play out.
Thank goodness for Rollo, who warns of every type of danger. How many times did he bark or growl this hour? Such a good boy!
Good on Claire, learning to knit.
Urs Rechn was excellent, well cast and truly scary, as Herr Mueller.
You’ve no idea you’re just a Christmas pork chop, do you?