Or can Jamie save him from self-destruction?
Outlander Season 4 2018

When the opening scene of Outlander consists of a baby floating down the river in a basket, several thoughts spring to mind in one long train of thought. 

"Is this baby supposed to be in the river? Where are the child's parents? I'm getting a Moses vibe. Wait a minute, those little boys are trying to catch the baby. Is this an accident? Oh, there's Roger (Richard Rankin)! Run, Roger, run! Grab the baby before it reaches the waterfall! Why is Roger yelling at the children? Weren't they trying to help save the baby?"

Seriously, this was the first two minutes of the show and it didn't occur to me once that the boys running alongside the riverbank were the culprits of such a heinous crime. As Roger bellows for the guilty party to step forward, I realize that Henri-Christian is the baby in the basket. Germain confesses that the other young lads thought his newborn brother was the devil's seed. So they dumped him in the river.

Welcome to another happy storyline on Fraser's Ridge, folks! 

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) tends to Christian and manages to keep Marsali (Lauren Lyle) from stringing up the kids' parents. Jamie (Sam Heughan) instructs Germain to tell his little friends that they must come back to the big house before supper to receive their punishment. And Fergus (César Domboy) leaves the room a sullen shell of himself.

Claire follows and Fergus finally shares what's been bothering him since Christian's birth. First of all, he knows his son won't be treated like everyone else. He's not confident he will grow up happy. Second, when Fergus lived in the brothel, dwarves were considered "delicacies" for those who desired the exotic experience. He befriended a dwarf named Luc and found him one day in the alley with his throat cut. His master cut up Luc's body and sold the parts for divination. 

How Fergus is anywhere near functional is beyond me. Fergus agrees with me and praises Jamie for protecting him so long ago, but Jamie won't live forever. Neither will Fergus. What will happen to Christian then? Fergus also admits that it's his fault his son is a dwarf, because he wasn't there to protect Marsali from falling when Lionel attacked her. 

Claire does her best to try and convince Fergus he's wrong, but he marches off into the woods. She returns home to find Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) waiting for her to perform his hand surgery. When he refuses the ether, Jamie pipes in. Speaking from experience, hand surgery hurts like hell, and Tom should take Claire up on her offer to essentially knock him out. 

No way. If Jamie can take it, so can Tom. 

Alrighty then! Claire heats up her scalpel while Jamie offers Tom some whiskey and a stick to bite down on for the pain. Tom doesn't need either. He has the Bible and will speak the words of God to help him through the pain. Of course, when Tom is writhing in anguish, Jamie picks up the Bible and reads to Tom where he left off. Jamie finishes with Psalm 23, and all three recite the last verse from memory. 

Malva (Jessica Reynolds) watches through the window. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, that something is not right. Is she watching to see him in agony? Does Malva want to know how to heal an injured hand? Is she anxious that the surgery will work and her awful father will have use of that hand? (We see it in action later in the episode, as he beats his daughter.)

Ian (John Bell) interrupts Malva's spying and offers to walk her home. During this small jaunt, Ian does his best to try and figure out Malva's deal. Shouldn't she be dating someone by now? And why is her father worried about Malva's eternal fate? Surely, she's done nothing wrong at such a young age. 

Malva smiles at Ian, warning him that looks can be deceiving. She also casually mentions that her mother was hanged as a witch. Then she bids Ian adieu on the outskirts of her camp, unwilling for him to be seen by her brother. 

Outlander Young Ian (John Bell); Malva Christie (Jessica Reynolds)
Credit: Robert Wilson/Starz

These are the moments when my Spidey sense begins to tingle. Especially as Malva gets all up in Ian's personal space when asking him about the marks on his face and if he's a Christian. Is she going to rebel with the Mohawk? Something is amiss.

Speaking of amiss, Jamie gathers all six young boys in his parlor to watch him heat up the poker stick from the fire. He gives them a choice for their punishment. They can either touch baby Christian, or touch the hot poker. Luckily, all choose to squish Christian's cheeks and stand in awe as none are swallowed up into the pits of hell. Victory!

Except it's not technically a victory for Fergus. He's back to drinking and even forgets to feed his own children dinner. Marsali is done. She knows what a drunk husband looks like, thanks to her own father, and she vowed never to put up with it again. She wants to know how to help Fergus get back to his former self.

Fergus explodes. He was supposed to protect his wife and children. Marsali barks that he can't save anyone when he's drunk. Besides, she can protect herself. Just like she did with Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) when she killed him stone cold. And she feels no regret. 

This is what we call a mic drop, people. 

Fergus doesn't see it that way. Instead, he feels emasculated because his wife is protecting herself. He roars for Marsali to get him another drink and she does. Marsali pours the whiskey right over his head and kicks him out of the house. She instructs him to come back when he's acting like a man. Ouch. 

While Fergus stumbles around for somewhere to sleep through the night, Claire is spooked by the voice and reflection of Lionel Brown in her mirror. She tiptoes downstairs presumably to take a hit of ether, but remembers Tom has stayed over for observation. She checks his bandaged hand as Tom fidgets uncomfortably. He also randomly comments on her "great deal of hair." 

Claire gets Tom something to eat and has a quick chat with the cat. Tom overhears and wonders who is in the kitchen. Claire skips to the good part and asks Tom if he thinks she's a witch. He quickly answers no, but confirms that he does believe in witches. He never mentions his witchy wife, though.

Instead, he speaks of Jamie in prison and how he took on the flogging that should have been for an old man. Tom sees this as an act of extraordinary courage, but is confused as to why Jamie would do such a thing. What is Tom's point, you ask? He wants to know if Jamie stayed during his surgery because he feels like Tom is one of "his men." Because SPOILER: he's not. 

This guy is the worst. 

Claire assures Tom that it was an act of kindness on Jamie's part. He would have done it for a stranger. Then she excuses herself to go upstairs to ask Jamie why Tom is such an oddball. Is he afraid of women? Is he tempted to sin? 

Jamie explains that Tom turned inward after prison, when he was sent to the colonies. Claire does some quick math, trying to figure out when Malva was conceived. According to her age, wouldn't she have been born when Tom as in prison? Jamie assumes Tom must have met Marlva's mother when he was here. Then he changes the subject. 

We learn the truth when Jamie finds Malva picking mushrooms for her father in the woods. They visit about her family and Jamie nonchalantly asks if she and Alan have the same mother and if she was born in Scotland. Malva thinks Jamie's third degree is weird, but she affirms both questions. If Claire's math is correct, this means that Malva can't be Tom's biological child. Or someone lied to Malva about where she was born. 

Further proof that Tom is the worst. Claire helps him with his hand exercises, which will provide the opportunity for him to whip his daughter. They bond over books and how Tom no longer thinks fiction is a way for the devil to induce idleness. Jamie often recited stories in prison and it helped distract the men. Prayer would have been a better pastime, but Tom will allow it. 

Claire offers him the book Tom Jones and he takes it. Later, he returns the borrowed book with the note, "This is filth. I thought better of you." Two steps forward, three steps back. 

It's the same with Fergus. While drunk, he picks a fight with a couple who think Christian is "grotesque." Claire comes to Fergus' defense, along with Tom, who says they should respect Fergus and Christian with pity and kindness. 

Later, Jamie notices Fergus walking strangely through the forest. He screams his name when Fergus pulls out a very big knife to cut off his hand. Jamie knocks him to the ground as Fergus begs for death. He feels it's the only way to save his family. Marsali can marry again. Someone who will protect her and the children. 

Jamie realizes what Fergus is saying. Roger saved Christian from the river. Jamie doled out the punishment. Even Marsali took matters into her own hands. He vows that he is nothing. Useless. Done.

Jamie forces Fergus to look him in the eye, reminding him of everything he has done for the family. He kept them together while Jamie was in prison. He helped Jamie at the print shop and makes the finest whiskey in the land. And Fergus did it all with one hand. The world called Fergus useless. He's the only person who can show his son what a useless man can do.

And now I'm crying. 

Jamie assures Fergus that he can do this. He kisses him on the forehead, hoists him off the ground, and takes him home to Marsali. Here come the waterworks again. 

Just when my emotions can't handle anymore, the redcoats come riding up to Fraser's Ridge with a cart full of guns. Major MacDonald is happy to give the Cherokee ammunition as Jamie requested. In fact, the thought was well-received. This surprises everyone, until MacDonald hands over the day's paper. Claire reads a headline the Boston Tea Party and lowers her gaze. 

War is coming. 

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Outlander Season 4 2018

Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in the Starz series.

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