We’ve skipped ahead in time a bit this week to 1768, giving Jamie enough time to complete his and Claire’s first home on Fraser’s Ridge. They seem to have settled into life there nicely and established a fragile peace with the local native tribes.
Claire herself has befriended Adawehi, the Cherokee healer who gave her a prophecy at the end of last week’s episode. The two clean and organize herbs near the side of the river, while Adawehi teaches Claire some Cherokee words. Claire tells Adawehi she has a daughter, but she lives far away; Adawehi responds, “She is here.” Claire takes that as a spiritual meaning, pointing to her heart and agreeing, but by episode’s end, it might be that Adawehi meant this much more literally.
The cabin is a thing of beauty, complete with a pig they’re fattening up for Christmas and a pen for their horses and Clarence the mule. Jamie and Ian are heading into town to try to recruit settlers, which he assumes will be easy since he’s offering land free of charge. Claire is off to visit a local family in the wilderness, the German Muellers, because one of the women, Petronella, is expecting a baby and Claire is going to help her deliver. But before they part ways, Jamie asks about Bree and whether she has a diamond-shaped birthmark behind her ear. He saw it in a dream and kissed his daughter there. The words fill Claire with emotion, having forgotten about the mark often covered by Bree’s hair.
Speaking of Bree, back in 1971 Inverness, Roger is desperate to track her down. A local tells him Bree purchased a one-way ticket to Craigh na Dun (dun, dun dun! — sorry I had to), which we all know is home to the time traveling stones that first brought Claire to the past. Roger visits the bed and breakfast where Bree stayed, and the woman insists Bree left nothing behind. Eventually, she relents and hands him a letter that Bree asked the woman to wait a year before mailing. The proprietress suggests Roger move on with a nice Scottish lass (oh if only you knew Miss Baird!).
Jamie and Ian have made it to town, and Jamie sends Ian off with flyers to recruit potential settlers for an informational meeting. But first, Jamie is up to something with one of the silver candlestick holders that once belonged to his mother. He seeks the local silversmith, Mr. MacNeill, but he’s away in Cross Creek, and his overly flirtatious wife sends Jamie away.
Jamie’s meetings don’t exactly go as planned – he’s stunned when after offering 100 acres with no rent until the land yields a good harvest, the men stand to go. Jamie approaches one of them, Brian, at the bar to find out more, befriending him over their fellow imprisonment and experiences fighting at Culloden. Brian tells Jamie many of these men spent years cultivating land, but the governor’s tax collectors were greedy and continually seeking more than they were owed. The men ultimately had no choice but to give up the land when they couldn’t pay.
Claire successfully delivers Petronella’s baby, a girl. Gerhard Mueller and his son return to find the baby in good health, and they reveal they are naming the child Clara in Claire’s honor. Gerhard gives the baby a small doll he bought in Cross Creek, but this moment of domestic bliss is interrupted by the Cherokee gathering water from the stream. Gerhard calls them “savages” and rushes to load his musket. Claire tries to intervene, explaining that no one owns the water. Mueller stands off with the tribe, muskets versus arrows, but Claire desperately tries to prevent bloodshed. The Cherokee who can speak English recognizes her as the wife of the “Bear Killer” and friend to Adawehi and agrees to leave in peace – but not before sprinkling a blessing along the banks of the river, which Herr Mueller does not appreciate. Claire returns home alone, utterly exhausted. She begins a daily routine, feeding the horses, treating Clarence the mule, knitting, and toasting Rollo with some whiskey.
Ian and Jamie are heading home after three meetings and not a single settler to show for it. Jamie wants to tell the men he can offer them protection from the tax collectors since it’s his land. But before they can leave town, the horse’s bit breaks and Ian heads to the nearest blacksmith to get it fixed. The blacksmith refuses to take the work, insisting he’s closed for the day, but Ian pushes until the man says he will do it for 21 shillings, Jamie’s entire purse. We, the audience, know this blacksmith is also Murtagh, Jamie’s godfather, and one-time constant companion. But Ian doesn’t yet.
Jamie tries the silversmith again but still finds only the lady of the house trying to seduce him inside. He and Ian finally prepare to leave, but Jamie is outraged when Ian reveals the blacksmith charged him 21 shillings to fix the bit. He goes into the man’s shop and takes him to task for the cost – but he is astonished when the man finally turns to face him. Murtagh and Jamie reunite for the first time since they were imprisoned together at Ardsmuir. It’s a reunion almost as touching as Claire and Jamie’s last season. The old friends touch each other to ensure the moment is real, and their eyes well with tears. Jamie explains to Ian who Murtagh is and tells Murtagh that they’ve been trying to recruit settlers.
While Claire is out feeding the horses, a man bangs at her door – it’s Pastor Gottfried, and he’s come to warn Claire that Petronella and baby Clara have died from the measles. She thinks the pastor has come to ask her to tend to the other members of the Mueller family, but he has come to warn her. Herr Mueller believes that Claire let the Indians curse their water when they made the blessing. The pastor fears he will come after Claire and urges her to go to safety elsewhere. She stays, but she loads her rifle and keeps it by her at all times.
Jamie and Murtagh are catching up over some ale and whiskey after so many years apart. Murtagh came to America as an indentured servant and worked for 12 years. His master’s widow agreed to sell Murtagh the smithy. Murtagh learned every type of smithing, which means he can tackle Jamie’s silver candlestick problem – it turns out Jamie wants to use it to make a surprise for his wife. Murtagh assumes Jamie remarried, having been privy to the knowledge that Claire returned to the future through the stones. Jamie sends Ian for more drinks (first Murtagh has to return some of their coins!) and explains to Murtagh that Claire came back to him after 20 years. Their daughter Brianna is also safe at university in Boston in the year 1971. Jamie wants Murtagh to return to the Ridge with them, but Murtagh is troubled by the fact that Jamie’s land grant is from Governor Tryon. He wants Jamie to come to a meeting with him.
At that meeting, Murtagh is the spokesperson. He drinks to the tax collectors who stole their land. “What’s stolen from one of us is stolen from all of us,” Murtagh pledges. The day is coming, he explains, where they will take their stand for what’s right, paying the taxes they owe and no more. Raise a glass to freedom to the tax collectors on their last night of comfort, he tells the crowd. He wants them to be ready to march, rifles in hand. Murtagh, as it turns out, is stoking the fires of the American Revolution.
After the meeting, he collects signatures for his cause. Murtagh explains to Ian he is not a leader, simply an old man who’s seen some s–t. He wants Jamie to join his cause, but Jamie fears it will turn violent and besides, he doesn’t feel right joining the cause given he accepted the governor’s land grant with the promise he would help quell any unrest. “I won’t join you, but I won’t try to stop you,” he tells Murtagh.
Claire is jumpy at the cabin by herself, dozing by the fire with her rifle and jumping at every whine and whimper from Rollo. At first it’s just the wind, but eventually, Herr Mueller is there banging down the door. He says he just wants to talk and Claire reluctantly lets him in, still keeping her rifle trained on him. He tells her he was worried the measles would have taken her too. She tries to explain that the measles are very fast and spread easily between people. Mueller says he knows, that he and his wife had them back in Germany and were sick for a week. But Mueller doesn’t believe the measles killed Petronella and the baby – they died too quickly. It had to have been the curse because the “savages” hate them and want their land. As individuals who believe in God, they should live and the Indians should die of the pox.
Claire is stunned by his rant, but Mueller eventually calms and says he took care of it. He hands Claire a package from his bag, which she thinks is the baby’s doll, but is horrified to see is actually a bloody scalp. Recognizing the hair, she realizes the scalp belongs to her friend Adawehi. Claire tells Mueller the woman was a healer, like her, but he insists the woman was a witch and therefore responsible for the curse. Heartbroken and in disbelief that all this would come simply from some people wanting a drink of water, Claire dismisses Mueller from her home. When he goes, she tenderly wraps up the scalp, places it in a wooden box, says a prayer and puts it on a funeral pyre in her fireplace.
Back at the Mueller’s cabin, the Cherokee have come to take their revenge. They shoot flaming arrows into the house, and it quickly catches fire. Frau Mueller stumbles out the front door and collapses, a burning arrow in her back. Mueller arrives home to this fiery scene, and he is quickly dispatched with some arrows as well. The Cherokee stay and watch the flames consume the house, including the baby’s small doll – which was possibly what carried the germs and illness to the house to begin with.
At last, Jamie and Ian return home. Claire has barely slept and is a wreck in her nightshift. She runs to Jamie when she hears him, and he knows something is wrong. But she doesn’t tell him her story, she simply asks for him to hold her. Can I get some of that the next time I have a bad day, please? Sometime after Murtagh comes to Fraser’s Ridge. He surprises Claire while she stacks wood, whistling the tune to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” They embrace in warm reunion, and she invites him inside.
We close on the stones at Craigh na Dun – Bree is there, dressed in an outfit that is clearly meant to blend into the past. As she surveys the stones, we hear her voice reading the letter she left for Roger (which he forlornly reads on a bench back in Inverness). She tells him that if he’s reading it, she didn’t make it back. She found out something terrible was going to happen to Claire and Jamie (presumably the fire Roger also knows about) and is going back to try to help them. She tells Roger she cared about him very much, and we see her touch her silver bracelet from him as she prepares to go through the stones. “You told me to think of my mother happily in the past and that’s how I want you to think of me,” she writes, begging Roger not to try to follow her. She touches the stones as we pan around the back of it, and when the camera comes back to front, she is gone.
What do you think Sassenachs? Is Mueller’s violence destined to bring more trouble to Fraser’s Ridge? What does Murtagh’s return mean for Claire and Jamie? And has he simply traded one bloody uprising for another? Will Bree reach her destination and be able to save her parents? And will Roger heed her plea not to follow (and should he)? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up @themaureenlee.
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