Outlander finale recap: A story worth telling
Here we are folks, the conclusion of Outlander season 4 — and I hope you brought your tissues. Because wow does this finale hit you right in the feels.
We open on a snippet of time in the 1960s. Two young white children play in Indian headdresses, while a native man (the ghost Claire saw in the rain earlier this season), sits on a bench in stoic irritation.
But before long we’re back in 1770 — for those keeping track, we’ve covered about three to four years in Jamie and Claire’s lives this season. Jamie and Claire have finally reached the Mohawk, and Jamie observes them with a telescope, keeping his eyes out for Roger. They make their way into the village as Mohawk watch from the trees and Jamie tells them they’ve come in peace to trade.
Ian comes forward, being better versed in their language, and holds out his necklace, explaining they are looking for a man they sold to their people. When they show Bree’s drawing to the Mohawk, the tribe knows they mean “Dogface.” Again, poor Richard Rankin. The English-speaking Mohawk wants to know why this man is so important to them that they’d come all this way, and he takes them to the chief.
After meeting the Chief, they offer up nearly everything they have in exchange for Roger. Claire even removes her scarf to hand over, but this reveals the large stone necklace she is wearing, which is the stone she discovered alongside the ghostly skull at the start of the season. The tribe recognizes it as “Otter Tooth’s stone,” and they are extremely wary of it. They don’t want to trade for it — in fact, they want Claire, Jamie, and Ian to leave immediately.
Meanwhile, at River Run, Murtagh has returned after his daring prison break. Jocasta gives him a hearty meal and prods him about his escape. She wants to know what landed him in jail in the first place. The crown will be looking for him and she doesn’t want trouble at her house. He assures her he’s only come to check in on Bree. Jocasta says Bree basically spends all her time in her room or waiting on the porch looking for Roger. She was in better spirits when Lord John was around — and then she shocks Murtagh by explaining Bree and John are planning to get married.
Later, Murtagh checks in on Bree and questions her about her plans to marry Lord John. She explains it was a plot to stall for time and they don’t have any real intention of marrying each other. They’re just using it to delay Jocasta while they wait for Roger to get back.
Claire senses there’s a greater story to the Otter Tooth stone. Jamie wants to go back to rescue Roger in the dead of night, but Claire doesn’t think it’s safe. She’s right because almost immediately they find themselves surrounded by a group of Mohawk. They want the stone, but Jamie and Claire insist they’ll only hand it over if they help them get Roger back. They gather around the fire to get the real story, complete with helpful visual flashbacks for the viewing audience.
A man named Otter Tooth, who is hinted at being a time traveler, appeared to them one day and warned them of their future. He raved to the tribe and warned them to kill white men before their people are wiped out. He led a war dance and then took members of the tribe to gather white scalps. This angered the village, as they feared retribution, and so, Otter Tooth was banished. They believed he was possessed by an evil spirit, as he continued his mutterings and kept returning to the village until finally, they were forced to capture him and mark him for death. He escaped, but men pursued him for days into the woods and killed him. Still, his words went on ringing in their ears warning them that the Nations of the Iroquois will be no more. They beheaded his corpse to try to stop the sound of his ravings, but it still didn’t work. So their current chief took the man’s head and buried it far away, which is where Claire discovered it in a thunderstorm earlier this season.
The woman explains that they believe the stone has the power to show how their people’s story will end and that Otter Tooth’s ghost walks with whoever carries it. Claire admits she saw the man’s ghost when she was lost in a storm — and that she believes ghosts only exist when they have a message worth relaying. They make a deal to hand over the stone if they help them rescue Roger.
This enclave of the Mohawk travels down the river in canoes with Claire and Jamie under the cover of darkness. They sneak into the village and rescue Roger from the idiot hut. Roger is happy to see Claire but not so much Jamie. Jamie tells him “My name is Luke Skywalker and I’m here to rescue you” he will explain more later. Right now, they need to get going. They set off, but are quickly interrupted by a member of the tribe who fires off a musket in warning. All hell breaks loose with Claire trying to help a limping Roger toward the river, while Jamie fights them off with a club. It’s complete mayhem and it’s all for naught as they are soon surrounded, holding Jamie at gunpoint.
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The next day they are brought before the tribe to answer for their actions. The Chief banishes the woman who led the group of men trying to recover the stone. He says that the outsiders are not the cause of trouble — that it still is Otter Tooth’s legacy. They can take the stone and go. But they will not leave without Roger. Except there’s been no fair trade, so no deal. In desperation, Jamie volunteers as tribute. He sends Ian off to the council to negotiate the deal and promises Claire he will find a way to escape and return to her as quickly as he can. The two share a tearful farewell embrace (God, how many of these must this couple endure?!!).
The tribe pushes Roger forward, but Ian didn’t trade for Jamie — he traded for himself and he’s staying. Ian apologizes to Roger for what they did to them and vows to stay with the Mohawk because he gave his word. He makes Jamie promise he’ll leave and not come back for him. It’s his choice to stay. Then Jamie’s crying. Claire’s crying. Ian’s crying. I’m crying. We’re all crying.
Claire hugs him goodbye, and Ian reminds Jamie of his wish that he become a man of worth. Jamie tells him he doesn’t know how worthy he is. If you weren’t crying hard enough already, they include a shot of Rollo — who is also staying alongside Ian. Noble dog standing by his master is a surefire recipe for waterworks.
Back at River Run, Murtagh and Jocasta continue to argue about their values, which is apparently their version of flirting. She questions his decision to return to the regulators, fighting the same old battles that can’t be won. But he pushes back, insisting it’s better to fight than sit in your cozy house while other people suffer. He urges her to remember where she came from and fight back — she can use her influence for good. She accuses him of only being here for that reason, always scheming to get what he wants. They argue and she throws his drink in his face.
Apparently, a shot of whiskey straight to the face is a huge turn-on for a Scotsman (can’t say I’m surprised) because the next morning Jocasta and Murtagh are in bed together after a bonny night of lovemaking. He insists he has to go, but she’s had a change of heart after Murtagh’s good loving. She asks him to stay, saying they’ll face trouble together when it arrives. I officially ship it — Mocasta forever. Or is it Jurtagh?
In the New York woods, Claire frets over how Jamie will tell Jenny about what Ian did. He insists she’ll understand because it’s in Ian’s restless nature. Roger is sitting there stewing and he takes a swing at Jamie calling him a “f—-ng bastard.” Jamie tells Claire not to interfere and let’s Roger wail on him without fighting back.
This fight is intercut with another sequence of violence. It’s now Ian’s turn to face the Mohawk gauntlet. But considering he wasn’t recently beaten within an inch of his life, he fares far better than Roger did. He jumps over and crawls under many of the blows, fighting back against the Mohawk until he reaches the end of the line. They tell him he’s proven himself and is now one of them. The tribe cheers and Ian joins in with the doofiest smile of all time.
Roger finally gives up his attempts to bring Jamie down and wants to know where Bree is. Claire explains she’s with Jocasta in North Carolina. Roger starts to cry realizing Bree sent them after him — he thought maybe Bree had turned them against him. Jamie admits it was his own mistake. Claire tells him that Brianna was attacked after he left her, but Jamie is done with niceties and blurts out that Bree was raped. The whole ugly truth comes out on both sides. Roger shows Claire the gemstones he took as payment from Bonnet and explains he was planning to take Bree home. He tells Claire about the other stone circle he found.
It’s time for the biggest truth bomb of all — Claire tells Roger Bree can’t go back anymore because she’s pregnant and will probably have the baby by the time they get back. She has to stay, but Roger doesn’t. He’s incredulous that they think he could leave her since she’s his wife and carrying his child. But, Claire reminds him, the baby might not be his. Can he go back to her knowing the baby could be Bonnet’s child? Jamie is menacing in his questioning, but Claire wants them to give Roger time as it’s not a decision he should take lightly. It’s too much for him to take in, and they tell him to take his time because they don’t want Bree’s heart broken all over again.
This season has had plenty of standout acting moments – but this intricate dance between Claire, Jamie, and Roger is a particular highlight. Richard Rankin more than holds his own opposite Balfe and Heughan, who have had far more time to mellow into their characters over the last four seasons. His attempts to grapple with what has happened to him and to Bree, in the midst of Jamie’s wrath and Claire’s compassion is masterful. Roger may have made some questionable choices in the past, but Rankin’s acting makes the character number one in my heart. His ability to convey his torturous struggles with all that has occurred with such deep humanity and soulful understanding wounds straight to the heart.
Back at River Run, it’s time for Bree’s baby to arrive. She gives birth to a son. Two more months pass as Murtagh admires Bree’s sturdy, tall lad. Phaedra is told of riders in the field and informs Bree that one of them is her mother. Bree runs out to the porch with the baby, but she is stricken to see Roger is not with them. Claire and Bree have a tearful reunion, as Jamie tells her Roger is alive and they told him everything.
Jamie inquires after Bonnet with Murtagh. Murtagh tells Jamie about the jail explosion and how Bonnet did not escape. Jamie regrets not getting to kill Bonnet with his own hands.
Claire decides to take Bree home to Fraser’s Ridge where she can be surrounded by supportive, caring family. Bree agrees and we see the preparations being made for them to go. As Bree folds her things, she looks out the window and sees a lone rider coming down the path. She runs down the stairs and sprints out into the lawn, running towards him arms outstretched. We see that it is indeed Roger on the horse. He jumps off, and they’re running toward each other, crying, and embracing in the fields. Anyone else getting major Melanie and Ashley Wilkes vibes here? They are on a plantation after all.
Bree confesses she didn’t know if Roger would come back, but he insists he’s not a fool and he loves her. They kiss more and she tells him she loves him too. “Take me to see my son,” he proclaims. ?????
This happy reunion is cut short as a legion of redcoats ride up the drive. Jocasta sends Murtagh to hide in the slave’s quarters (which doesn’t escape Claire and Jamie’s notice). But they’re not after Murtagh, it’s Jamie they want. They have a letter for him from Governor Tyron. It orders Jamie to muster and lead a militia to fight the regulators, telling him their first mission is to hunt down and kill the fugitive Murtagh Fitzgibbons.
And just like that, it’s the Droughtlander again…