Episode 413: "Man of Worth" (SPOILERS!)
Here are my reactions to Episode 413 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Man of Worth".
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
I liked the opening shot, showing two kids playing "cowboys and Indians" in a park, in what appears to be a suburban American neighborhood, sometime in the 1960s. The long-haired Native American man reading the newspaper is clearly meant to be Robert Springer, aka Otter-Tooth, the time-traveler with silver fillings in his teeth.
As the episode begins, we see a little bit of everday life in the Mohawk village of Shadow Lake, including several canoes. Roger is still imprisoned in the "idiot hut", following his unsuccessful escape attempt at the end of Episode 412, "Providence". Suddenly we see Jamie, rifle in hand, peering cautiously out from behind a tree. He and Claire and Young Ian have arrived at the village in search of Roger. Jamie takes out a spyglass (that's convenient -- I wonder where he got it from?) and scans the village, but there's no sign of him.
Some of the Mohawk men are playing a game similar to lacrosse, with sticks. You may recall that Young Ian referred to this once. Good attention to detail there!
Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian make their way slowly into the village, with their trade goods. Immediately they are surrounded by Mohawk warriors. Jamie and Ian do their best to explain what they're doing there, speaking a few words of the Mohawk language. Young Ian shows them the sketch of Roger that Brianna gave Claire at River Run.
Kaheroton, the Mohawk warrior who brought Roger here, steps forward. Hearing that Young Ian wants to trade for "Dogface" (aka Roger), he asks why.
"What is he to you that you would come all this way?"
"He's important to our family," Ian says, with vast understatement.
Kaheroton orders the three of them to be taken to the chief of the village. As a crowd gathers around them, notice that there appear to be no children in this village, only adults. (I will suspend disbelief and assume that the kids are hiding somewhere out of sight of the strangers.)
The Mohawk chief (played by Tom Jackson) is an old man, immensely dignified, and I like him very much. I was startled by the fact that he speaks excellent English, but I think that works well here, saving them from having to have someone else interpret for him.
"You want him very badly."
"Aye," Jamie says. "We hope to trade with you."
Not the best basis on which to begin a negotiation, when the other party knows you're desperate! No wonder the chief looks so confident, certainly in no hurry to make a deal.
Young Ian calls to the other Mohawk, inviting them to inspect the trade goods they've brought, including whisky. Claire removes her kerchief to show to one of the women, revealing the large opal she wears on a cord about her neck. Seeing the stone, the others recoil in apparent fear and horror, backing away from her. Their reaction is based on a scene from DRUMS OF AUTUMN:
"Did you mention the opal to Acts Fast?”The chief's reaction on seeing the stone ("We will not trade with you. You must leave us at once.") increases the dramatic tension considerably, and seeing no alternative, Jamie leads Claire and Ian away. As they go, notice the young woman watching them. She'll be important later.
[Jamie] sat up straight at that, interested.
“Aye, I did. They couldna have been taken more aback had I pulled a snake from my sporran. They got verra excited--angry and fearful both, and I think they might well have done me harm, save I’d already mentioned the whisky.”
He reached into the breast of his coat and drew out the opal, dropping it into my hand.
“Best you take it, Sassenach. But I think you’ll maybe not want to show it to anyone.”
“How odd.” I looked down at the stone, its spiral petroglyph shimmering with color. “So it did mean something to them.”
“Oh, that it did,” he assured me. “I couldna say what, but whatever it was, they didna like it a bit. The war chief demanded to know where I’d got it, and I told them ye’d found it. That made them back off a bit, but they were like a kettle on the boil over it."
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 57, "A Shattered Smile". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Now the action shifts to River Run, where Murtagh has just arrived, following his escape from jail in Wilmington. I liked the scene where Jocasta interrogates him (politely, but thoroughly) about where he's been and what he was doing that got him locked up in the first place.
"Dinna fash," Murtagh says. "As I told your nephew, I'm no an easy man to kill." In the show, perhaps. Of course, book-readers will recall that Murtagh died at Culloden.
Jocasta tells Murtagh that Brianna has been spending most of her time alone in her chamber, which explains why she didn't even bother to come and greet Murtagh when he arrived.
I liked Murtagh's reaction to the news that Brianna is engaged to Lord John. "She canna marry a Redcoat!" He doesn't bother to mention the fact that this particular British officer was the governor of Ardsmuir Prison when he was imprisoned there with Jamie, but I'm sure he must have been thinking that, too.
"I dinna recall asking your opinion on the matter," Jocasta says coldly. To me, that's a very strong echo of Charles Stuart in Paris in Episode 202 ("Not in Scotland Anymore"), saying almost exactly the same thing to Murtagh.
In the next scene, Bree and Phaedre are in Bree's bedchamber. Bree, very pregnant, is working on yet another charcoal drawing, but she's distracted, presumably with worry over Roger and her parents. Phaedre, acting as midwife, examines her and finds no problems, assuring her that "your bairn....will be perfect."
Back at the Mohawk village, Jamie tells Claire he intends to go back for Roger that night. When Claire protests, Jamie reminds her that he's done it before. "I ken a story. One where I went to Fort William and rescued you." Interesting. This isn't in the book, but I think it's believable that Jamie would be remembering that. Still, I agree with Claire that what Jamie is proposing seems awfully dangerous, even reckless, under the current circumstances.
Suddenly Jamie freezes, listening hard. "Don't move," he says, and a moment later several Mohawk men burst out of the woods. Jamie overpowers one of them, and then the same Mohawk woman we saw in the previous scene in the village steps into view. (I like her costume.) She tells them, "We're here for the stone. Give it to us. We will not harm you."
The young woman (I did not catch her name) tells them the story of Otter-Tooth. I liked this part very much. It's a slightly condensed version of the story that Tewaktenyonh told Claire in the book (DRUMS chapter 57, "A Shattered Smile"), and I think they captured the essence of it very well.
"He was a brave man,” she said, reflectively. “He didn’t beg. He told them the same things he had said before, but my brother said this time it was different. Before, he had been hot as fire; dying, he was cold as snow--and because they were so cold, his words terrified the warriors.As the woman telling the story says, "They returned with white scalps," notice the man throwing a tomahawk in the firelight. So we finally see where that bit from the opening credit sequence comes from.
“Even when the stranger lay dead in the snow, his words seemed to go on ringing in the warriors’ ears. They lay down to sleep, but his voice talked to them in their dreams, and kept them from sleeping. You will be forgotten, he said. The Nations of the Iroquois will be no more. No one will tell your stories. Everything you are and have been will be lost.
“They turned toward home, but his voice followed them. At night, they could not sleep for the evil words in their ears."
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 57, "A Shattered Smile". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"It is said that one who possesses the stone has the power to see how my people's story will end." That's certainly true, considering that both Otter-Tooth and Claire are time-travelers from the future!
In the next scene, Bree (very pregnant) and Murtagh are talking about recent events. She assures him that the engagement to Lord John is a sham, and tells him that Jamie advised her to try to forgive Stephen Bonnet.
"Do you think you could forgive your father?" Murtagh asks. "For your sake, as well as his?" I liked the way Bree smiles a little as she says, "I already have."
Back at the Mohawk village, three canoes approach the village at night, and Jamie, Claire, and Ian manage to sneak in without being discovered. Claire and Jamie find Roger in the "idiot hut", and Roger, quite understandably, reacts with alarm at the sight of the man who nearly beat him to death.
Claire speaks reassuringly to him. "It's all right. It's Jamie. He won't hurt you. We've come to get you out of here."
Jamie's reply is almost verbatim from the book (DRUMS chapter 60, "Trial by Fire") but condensed a bit: "I've done wrong to you, MacKenzie. I've come to put it right. For now, you have my apology."
I'm glad he said it, but in this context -- hurried, whispering -- in my opinion it doesn't have the same impact as it did in the book, when the two men were alone, with time to focus their full attention on one another.
Their female guide tries to talk the guard into letting them go, and he fires his rifle in the air. I found the ensuing commotion, with all these men fighting in the dark, tomahawks flying and torches blazing, to be very confusing and hard to follow, but I liked the way Claire more or less glues herself to Roger, making sure that he's safe.
Unfortunately, our people are vastly outnumbered. Eventually they are surrounded, and one of the men points a pistol at Jamie's face. Claire, panicked, screams the Mohawk word for "peace", desperate to stop the man with the gun from killing Jamie right then and there. (Which would put an abrupt end to the series....) Fortunately for all of us, her pleading has the desired effect, and the fighting stops.
At daybreak, the chief calls the villagers together, Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Ian kneeling on the ground before him. The chief orders the Mohawk who were involved in helping to rescue Roger (including the woman) to be exiled from the village. I'm not quite sure why he said that in English, unless he wanted to make sure Jamie and the others understood him.
This next part is extremely well done, emotionally intense and riveting to watch.
"Take the stone. Leave the village. Never return," the chief says. But he is adamant that "Dogface will stay in the village."
Suddenly Jamie is on his feet, offering himself in exchange for Roger. (This is something they discussed briefly in the book, but he never actually did.) Watching both Jamie and Claire here, it's impossible to miss the very strong echoes of Jamie at Wentworth, offering himself to Black Jack Randall in exchange for Claire's freedom. And you can see the memory of that in their eyes, and especially in Claire's face, as she hugs Jamie tight.
Watch Young Ian there, too, as he looks first at Roger, then at Jamie and Claire. You can see him coming to his decision.
"I'm staying," he tells Jamie, very firmly.
And then he adds something that is not in the book, but it's very fitting and absolutely in character for Ian: "You must promise that ye'll leave and no come back for me. I've chosen this."
A quick glimpse of Roger, watching this sacrifice on his behalf, not understanding the full significance of it, but clearly seeing the three of them grieving, staggering under the emotional impact.
Claire comes foreward and hugs Ian, crying, but she knows she can't change his mind. And then it's Jamie's turn.
"Ye once said ye wished me to become a man of worth."
"Ye dinna ken how worthy you are," Jamie says, and embraces him. "Cuimhnich," he whispers. "Remember."
"I willna forget. Never."
I like this very much! The words are slightly different from the book, but the emotional impact is just as great.
Jamie bows formally to the chief and turns to lead Claire and Roger away. Ian takes a single step toward them, then stops himself. The look on his face is just heartbreaking.
John Bell is really amazing in this scene. It's been fascinating to watch his transformation from a boy to a man in the space of just a season and a half on the show (counting from his first appearance in Episode 307), and I am really going to miss him in Season 5.
Meanwhile, back at River Run, Jocasta and Murtagh are drinkiing whisky together in her parlor. I liked this whole scene, particularly the part where Jocasta stands up and tells him in no uncertain terms exactly what she's alway thought of him:
"Truth be told, i never liked ye. you used to descend on Leoch like a dark cloud of rain, stayin' well past your welcome, drinkin' our ale, and gripin' about everything! The way you glower and stare, you make folks uneasy. You were stubborn as a mule then, and you haven't changed a bit. I canna believe I allowed ye to darken my door."
I laughed when she threw her drink in his face. For a blind woman, she has pretty good aim!
HOWEVER.... I absolutely hated the next scene, where Murtagh and Jocasta are in her bedroom after having sex. No. Just...no. Jumping into bed with one another on the spur of the moment like that, as though they're a young couple hooking up in 2019? Sorry, I don't buy that at all, and I'm going to try very hard to un-see it and pretend it never happened.
Meanwhile, in a clearing somewhere on the road home from the Mohawk village, Claire asks, "How are you going to tell Jenny?' Good question, considering that in the books, this incident caused a major rupture in Jamie's relationship with his sister that was not mended for nearly two years.
Roger's temper suddenly snaps, and he takes a swing at Jamie, who is caught by surprise. Jamie doesn't seem upset at all. He simply lets Roger hit him as many times as he wants, taking his punishment for his part in the ordeal Roger has been through.
I liked the way they cut between Jamie and Roger's fight and Young Ian, back in the Mohawk village, running the gauntlet. Roger fights better than I expected, considering that he still has one arm in a sling.
As for Ian, he did a lot better than Roger in running the gauntlet, but then again, he's younger, much better nourished, and not worn down by weeks of captivity and being forced to walk 700 miles. I liked the bit where Ian dove between the warrior's legs. <g>
I was rather put off by how happy and excited Ian looked when he learned he would be adopted into the tribe. Grinning from ear to ear, as though he's forgotten all about the fact that he's leaving his old life and his family behind -- forever, as far as he knows. It just seemed inappropriate to me, under the circumstances.
The scene with Roger, Claire, and Jamie in which All Is Revealed to Roger is just wonderful, very well-written and well-acted, and very, very faithful to the book! Richard Rankin, especially, does a terrific job with this very pivotal scene, as he tries to absorb the life-altering news that a) Bree was raped by Stephen Bonnet just after Roger left her, b) she's pregnant, and c) it might be Roger's child, but then again it might be Bonnet's.
When Claire squats down to speak eye-to-eye with Roger, I was struck by the calm, matter-of-fact way she delivers the news of Bree's rape, and it occurred to me that Dr. Claire Randall must have delivered bad news to patients and their families in just that same tone of voice many, many times over the course of her medical career. Odd that I've never had that thought when reading this part of the book.
Suddenly Jamie's fury boils over and he shouts in Roger's face. "Coward! Bree was angry with you, so you left her! You ran away!"
Roger punches him again, and Jamie shakes a fist at him, furious. "That was the last unanswered blow!" He seems about ready to send Roger back to the Mohawk.
"I didn't leave because we argued. I left because she told me to go." Um, yes -- in the course of an argument! This line makes no sense, IMHO. But it's a very small thing.
The rest of this scene is virtually word-for-word from the book, except for this exchange between Roger and Claire:
"I need time."
"Well, if you need time, you'd better take it, because this is our daughter, and you'd better be sure."
I like that very much! We don't often see Claire in mama-bear mode.
Meanwhile, back at River Run, Brianna is in labor, assisted by Phaedre and Jocasta. I understand why Claire and Jamie couldn't be there for Jemmy's birth, and while that's disappointing, I'm fine with the way they did it. Except for one thing.
"Where is he?"
"Phaedre's cleaned him up, and she'll bring him in, if you're ready to see him now."
I don't understand. This was presumably a natural childbirth, without painkillers of any kind, with no complications that we know of. So why didn't Bree see the baby immediately after he was born? Why did they not even let her hold him until after he was cleaned and wrapped in a blanket, and Bree herself was dressed in fresh clothes?
In their eagerness to make this scene closely parallel what we saw of Bree's own birth as shown in Episode 301, they seem to have forgotten that this isn't 1948, she's not recovering from ether or any other anesthesia, and there's no reason (as far as we know) why she should be unaware of her surroundings immediately after the birth. I've never had children of my own, but I've watched plenty of childbirth scenes on TV, and this just struck me as contrived and not realistic.
On the other hand, that little baby is awfully cute! <g> The next time we see him, he's two months old. Phaedre rushes in to announce that riders are approaching, and one of them is Claire.
Bree is obviously shocked and devastated that Roger didn't return with Jamie and Claire. "He's alive," is all Jamie says. Rather cold comfort under the circumstances, to say the least!
Murtagh fills Jamie in on the situation at the jail, but he assumes that Bonnet died in the explosion. ("I got out. He didn't.") Um, Murtagh? You're forgetting my number one rule when it comes to OUTLANDER: Don't make assumptions, because most of the time they turn out to be wrong. <g> And if the events of this season haven't demonstrated that, I don't know what would.
Claire and Bree finally have a moment alone, and Claire says she wants to take Bree and the baby home to Fraser's Ridge. Bree nods but says nothing, and they have a nice little mother-daughter hug.
The dinner scene that follows is Extremely Awkward, filled with the deafening silence caused by Roger's absence, aka the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
Finally, just as Jamie, Claire, and Bree are preparing to take their leave of River Run, Bree looks out the window and sees a rider coming up the path. It's Roger, of course, and Bree flies down the stairs and across the lawn as fast as she can. I liked their reunion, though I was disappointed that Roger didn't even get to see the baby, let alone claim him as his own son.
"I may be stubborn, but I'm not a fool. I love you! I always will."
[Much frantic kissing, hugging, etc.]
"I love you, too."
Just then a group of Redcoats on horseback gallops down the path, nearly trampling Bree and Roger. All that commotion, and what did they want? Merely to deliver a letter from Governor Tryon to Jamie.
"He's ordered me to muster a militia to fight the Regulators." All right, that's more or less consistent with the books. "Hunt down and kill the fugitive, Murtagh FitzGibbons."
Kill him? Kill him? Not "arrest him", "bring him to justice", or any other actions that the colonial governor in charge of enforcing British law in North Carolina might reasonably be expected to order someone else to perform. Just plain murder. (And presumably, although they didn't say it, Jamie will risk losing his 10,000 acres if he refuses to comply.) I really don't like that.
I thought this episode was quite good overall, but I was rather underwhelmed by this cliffhanger ending. It doesn't seem like such a difficult problem for Jamie to deal with, and the ethical questions left a bad taste in my mouth at the very end. For me, this was the least satisfying ending of all four seasons so far.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes.
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