***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 4, Episode 6, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn follow. Spoilers***
Did Outlander just outdo itself with doubly delightful and dramatic favorite character returns?
Why yes, I think it did. You see, the forest is dark, and full of terrors handsome gents . . .
You won’t hear me complaining at Lord John Grey’s (David Berry) surprise arrival at Fraser Ridge, though Claire might have a different viewpoint.
One can hardly blame her, what with John and Jamie’s interesting history, and the reminder her husband has another child, not her own. As Jamie happily greets his friend at the homestead, Claire and Murtagh run into young William Ransom (now played by Oliver Finnegan) — whose mother, Geneva Dunsany, died right after his birth — while gathering water, and Claire tends to his nasty leeches. Returning home, the group grows tense as relationships are carefully vetted live; an artful dance around who knows what. Over an uneasy dinner, Murtagh and John are each held at bay by Claire and Jamie, as discussions of the governor’s plans to build a tax-funded “true monument to elegance” and “exaggerated” accounts of the Regulators’ actions threaten relations. Willie’s (William’s) sudden recognition of Jamie’s name causes everyone to wonder how much the boy really knows.
The Frasers put off romance so John and Jamie can rekindle their love — of chess and drinking — only to be forced apart again when it turns out Grey has also contracted measles; Jamie has to keep Willie away from the highly contagious disease. Father and son head out to survey the ridge, while Claire tends to John as best she can. Through the haze of fever, Grey’s multiple confessions alternately irk and soften Claire; to her credit, though she bristles a time or two, she handles the difficult conversations with more grace than most could muster. Grey admits his necessary admiration: “You are a rather remarkable woman . . . I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone so devastatingly straightforward, male or female.”
Hunting and fishing, Jamie and William bond over catching and cleaning their prey; William’s fears of yet another parental figure’s loss take their toll; a kid needs his immediate rest. When the boy decides to have a hand at hand-catching breakfast, the Cherokee arrive to exact punishment for disrespected boundaries and after a dramatic save by Jamie (“No! The boy is my son; his blood is my blood. Take mine instead”), young William proves himself (“He’s not my father. He showed me the boundaries. I alone stole the fish.”) earning only a small cut — and Jamie’s respect.
His sickness abating, John begs Claire’s forgiveness and they share their similar sufferings over Jamie and Frank. As parting gift, Claire offers that he does indeed have something of Jamie, and the realization does seem to comfort Grey. Reunited at the house, the Frasers, John and William share assorted emotions and the next morning, all bid goodbye — but not without hope. Echoing their years-gone-by Helwater parting, William turns and smiles at Jamie, a sign they may well see each other again.
Since it’s been quite some time since the Frasers have . . . well, you know, the mister helps his wife with her evening bath. Ripe for a final surprise, Jamie presents Claire with the Murtagh-crafted ring, made from his mother’s silver candlestick. Inscribed just as her book ring was — Da mi basia mille (Give me a thousand kisses) — Claire offers back a thousand more.
Welcome back, David Berry as Lord John Grey — who continues his excellent and emotional performance record. That whole scene with Claire, when she says she was “born this way”, and he replies, “Me, too”, softly and broken-heartedly acknowledges his homosexuality (though he did perform as a husband to Isobel “in every way”). He also brings out interesting aspects of Jamie, who clearly deeply values his friendship with John; I love the relationship that’s developed between these two. Speaking of, Sam Heughan was exceptional this hour, in his scenes with everyone, but especially with John and William. While I have a tendency to focus more on Caitriona’s excellence (and she was great, as always), when there are particularly emotional situations, Sam is always quietly glorious.
Oliver Finnegan is well-cast as Jamie’s son; I actually see a physical resemblance, and he’s quite a good young actor, too. This moment about killed me.
This one, too:
It’s interesting how the series plays with whether or not William has any idea that Jamie is his father. You could make the case either way, and that’s a lovely way to let the viewers decide, for now.
I love that this whole conversation between John and Claire is directly quoted from Drums:
“You are a rather remarkable woman. You are neither circumspect nor circuitous.I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone so devastatingly straightforward, male or female.”
“Well, it’s not by choice. I was born that way.”
“So was I.”
Murtagh’s expressions during the dinner with John were grand.
Production did a great job with Claire’s gorgeous ring.
And now we delve into the Fraser moments we’ve all been missing so long, now.
I want my father.
I wanted to swing him into the air like I did when he was a wee lad.
You’re meant to drink it, John, not savor the scent.
Let me guess, it’s meant to be whiskey.
You, sir, are a lout.
They were here first.
Have you ever seen such a glorious thing before, sir?
I was an adequate husband to her in all ways.
You’re envious of the time Jamie and I shared together. That I’m raising Jamie’s son, are you not?
What if your son takes a good look at Jamie’s face and realizes . . .
I can still feel shame at least.
You should stop talking. You need your rest.
I don’t know the meaning of what they said, but I believe their mercy was due to you. Your courage.
My lack of discretion pierces my very core.
Do you know what it’s like to love someone, never be able to show them, simply because you weren’t born the right person for them?
I ran to you, but you did not look back at me? Why did you not look back at me?
I wanted to.
I didn’t look, because I didn’t want to give you false hope. I never expected to see you again.
Don’t lose hope. You too, deserve to have the look of satisfaction on your face.
Makes me jealous of the urn itself.