Episode 403: "The False Bride" (SPOILERS!)

Jamie and Claire in Outlander Episode 403

Here are my reactions to Episode 403 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The False Bride". I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and I think it's the best one of the season so far.


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The opening shot shows the giant effigy of a stag that is featured at the Gathering near the end of the episode. A very striking image!

The episode opens in Inverness in 1970, with Roger moving out of the manse, and Fiona and her new husband Ernie moving in.

"You're leaving Scotland to go to a Scottish festival?" That made me giggle.

So Bree has transferred to MIT to study engineering, just as in the book. That's good.

"I may not read tea leaves like my grannie, but I can see you're in love with her," Fiona says. "Now go get her." I like that.

Meanwhile, back in the 18th century, we pick up where Episode 402 ("Do No Harm") left off, with Jamie and Claire preparing to leave River Run. Watching Jamie with his Aunt Jocasta, I kept thinking, doesn't he own a comb? Or at least have access to one he could borrow, in a house as grand as this?  That wig with the unkempt fringe is really starting to bother me.

"I heard there's a town with a great number of Scottish settlers there."
"Aye, Woolam's Creek."
"Claire can practice her healing, I can find work as a printer."

Town?? They're headed into the backcountry, aka the wilderness. In the book, there was nothing resembling a town in that area, certainly not a town large enough to need the services of a printer. But they got the name right, at least. In the books, Woolam's Creek is a little settlement that eventually developed at the base of Fraser's Ridge.

I liked the awkward little bit where Jamie tries to give Jocasta the bag of coins, but of course she doesn't react until he puts it into her hand. That seems realistic. Notice that he did take the money after all (watch what he's doing as she says, "And one last thing....")

The box with Jamie's mother's things is a nice touch. I have a feeling they'll make use of that, later.

The next scene, with Jamie and Young Ian, is very good. "You sailed to France when you were younger than I am now" is a bit of an exaggeration; Jamie didn't go to Paris until he was eighteen. But nitpicking aside, I liked the way Young Ian stood up for himself.

"I'm no the same lad ye kent in Scotland." No, he's not, and I like very much the way he's maturing this season. It's entirely appropriate for him to be the one to write to Jenny and Ian to inform them of his decision to stay in America.

The farewell scene between Claire and Jocasta is very awkward, made even more so by the physical distance between them. I didn't like the way Claire stayed by the door at first, not even coming close enough to speak to Jocasta face-to-face, as though she couldn't bear to be in her presence.

"If ye truly loved Jamie as much as ye say ye do, you'd want him to be the man he was born to be." This strikes me as very strong foreshadowing of the end of this episode.

I laughed out loud when I saw Clarence. Another piece of their future life falling into place. <g> And it's good to see John Quincy Myers again.

Back in 1970, Bree meets Roger on his arrival at the airport. "North Carolina, here we come." Wow, that's a long way to drive! I'm not sure what airport that's supposed to be, but it must be 900 miles, at least, from Boston to the North Carolina mountains, and easily 500 miles or more from NYC, if he arrived at JFK. In the book, the Celtic Festival is about 150 miles from Boston, a reasonable driving distance. I can understand that they wanted to show Roger and Bree in the mountains in the same location as Jamie and Claire, but the logistics don't make any sense. Oh, well.

At any rate, I'm glad to see Bree's blue Mustang. <g>

The view as they drive into the Blue Ridge Mountains is pretty realistic. Roger picked a particularly beautiful time of year to visit. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes from the book (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 3, "The Minister's Cat"), and I was pleased to see they at least attempted to include the word "coccygodynious", which is one of my favorites among all the unusual words in the OUTLANDER books. Too bad they mangled the pronunciation of both that word and "alagruous", though.

Sophie Skelton's American accent is much better in this episode than it was in previous seasons, IMHO. It sounds much more natural.

I loved the bit where Bree kisses Roger and nearly causes him to run off the road. <g> And the transition at the end of that scene, where the view of the blue Mustang heading toward the mountains morphs into a view of Jamie and Claire's wagon and horses heading toward the very same mountains, was very clever. It reminded me strongly of the scene in Episode 108 ("Both Sides Now") where we saw Frank on one side of a distinctive rock formation, heading toward his car, and Claire, on the other side of the same rock but in another century, being dragged off by the Redcoats.

Notice that Myers makes a point of showing them where Mt. Helicon is, and mentioning the Gathering held there every year.

"I love this land," says Young Ian. And really, looking out at that sweeping vista with the gorgeous autumn foliage, what's not to like? <g> That looks like a pretty realistic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to me. The waterfall is gorgeous. And I liked the bald eagle.

So Young Ian announces that he's going to go with Myers, evidently for no other reason than to get a closer look at the Indians, and Jamie agrees, saying only, "Dinna get your heids scalped."

Claire is right, of course, about Boston being dangerous soon. It's no more than a couple of years before the Boston Massacre, which took place in March 1770.

"I want us to make a home together. A place that's ours." Awwww! Good line. Notice the Jamie and Claire theme playing in the background.

I'm enjoying the glimpses of wildlife in this episode, including the pair of turkeys shown here.

Hearing thunder in the distance, Jamie says, "There's a storm coming. We'll abide in a tavern when we reach the town." Um, Jamie?  You realize you're in the middle of the woods, right? Do you see any towns nearby, let alone taverns?

It's nice to see them attempting a little light-hearted banter for once, though. Claire, teasing Jamie about living in a brothel, smiles in a way we've rarely seen before.

As the scene ends, we get a quick glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

"I thought ye said you wanted to live in a town, in the backcountry?"  That's an oxymoron, I think. They still don't really understand what living in the backcountry is going to involve.

This next bit comes from one of my favorite scenes in DRUMS, the "rowboat scene" in Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience".

"If it was only me, I would live as [an outlaw] again. And when I was auld, I would lie under a tree and let the wolves gnaw at my bones. But it's not just me. It's you. And Ian. Fergus, Marsali. You understand? I would lay the world at your feet, Claire, but I have nothing to give you."

But the emotional intensity of the original scene is mostly lost here, in Sam's calm delivery, which I found disappointing. Jamie doesn't seem anguished, or even particularly upset. And Claire? She just looks at him and says nothing. Quite a contrast from her reaction in the book:
He honestly thought it mattered.

I sat looking at him, searching for words. He was half turned away, shoulders slumped in despair.

Within an hour, I had gone from anguish at the thought of losing him in Scotland, to a strong desire to bed him in the herbaceous borders, and from that to a pronounced urge to hit him on the head with an oar. Now I was back to tenderness.

At last I took one big, callused hand and slid forward so I knelt on the boards between his knees. I laid my head against his chest, and felt his breath stir my hair. I had no words, but I had made my choice.

“ ‘Whither thou goest,’ ” I said, “ ‘I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.’ ” Be it Scottish hill or southern forest. “You do what you have to; I’ll be there.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience." Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Suddenly Clarence the mule runs off, carrying most of their baggage, and Claire takes off after him, leaving Jamie behind.

Meanwhile, back in 1970, Roger and Brianna are attending a Highland festival that looks very similar to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games held every year in Linville Gorge, NC, in the area where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located. Scottish dancing, caber-tossing, men in kilts everywhere! If you've never been to one of these gatherings, I highly recommend it. They're a lot of fun, even if you don't have a drop of Scottish blood. <g> Here's my blog post about my first visit to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in 2010.

Naturally, being surrounded by All Things Scottish makes Brianna think of her mother. Richard and Sophie are both very good through this whole sequence, very comfortable with one another. And maybe it's just me, but I'm finding Roger's Scots accent easier to understand in this episode.

The bit with the portrait was a surprise, but now we see where the sketch of Bree in the opening credit sequence may have come from.

I liked the ceilidh dancing scene. The fiddle music is upbeat and fun, Bree and Roger are clearly having a good time, and their enthusiasm is infectious. It's wonderful to see both of them looking so happy!

Back to Jamie, alone in the woods. Clarence has returned, but Claire is nowhere to be found. And Claire, for her part, is lost in the woods, alone without food or supplies, lying unconscious on the ground in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. And before we can even absorb all of that, the scene shifts again. (Building up the suspense for non-book-readers.)

I loved hearing Richard Rankin singing!  The song, "The False Bride", is not one I'm familiar with, but it's lovely. You can see the lyrics here.

So Bree gives Roger a book about "Scottish Settlers in Colonial America". It's not hard to guess where that's going to lead, if you know the books. Bet you anything there's a death notice buried in the pages of that book somewhere, and Roger's going to find it.

The scene with Roger and Bree in the cabin is very good, capturing the essence of the scene in the book (DRUMS, chapter 18, "Unseemly Lust"). I'm very glad they included the bracelet.

"This whole weekend's been perfect," Roger says -- and then it all comes crashing down in the next moment. He's talking about having a home, and kids, and she's clearly not ready, but he's not listening. Most of this scene is taken almost word-for-word from the book. Great job by both Richard and Sophie!

"I love you, dammit! But you don't love me."
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to."

And as he walks out, I'm left wondering how on earth they're going to manage that long drive back home. "Awkward" doesn't begin to cover it. <g>

Thunder and lightning bring us back abruptly to Claire's situation, waking alone in the woods in the middle of a storm. I was actually less worried about her ability to survive this in the show than in the book, probably because it hasn't been all that long since we saw her in Episode 311 ("Uncharted"). We know she has very good survival skills and doesn't scare easily, even when left on her own.

She finds a bit of shelter under a fallen tree and takes her boots off, and then she notices the skull half-buried in the ground nearby. As if that isn't spooky enough, we hear the sound of wolves howling nearby, reminding us that she's alone and defenseless. (I thought that was a good addition.)

The opal is much bigger than I thought it would be, but there's no question what it is, or who it belonged to. When Otter-Tooth's ghost appears, he's wearing the opal on a cord around his neck. I didn't expect that, but I like it.

He's not nearly as scary or savage-looking in appearance as the description in the book:
He was tall, and he was naked. Beyond a breechclout, he wore nothing but paint; long stripes of red down arms and legs and torso, and his face was solid black, from chin to forehead. His hair was greased and dressed in a crest, from which two turkey feathers stiffly pointed.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Skull Beneath the Skin." Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
But as he turns around, you can see blood on the back of his head, in the same place where Claire noticed what appear to be cracks in the skull.

Back in 1970 at the Highland Festival, Roger and Bree attend the Calling of the Clans. At least they're still on speaking terms. But then Bree says, "Maybe I don't believe in marriage at all," and I start to wonder how Roger is going to talk her into the hand-fasting later on. Wait and see, I guess.

The Calling of the Clans was fun to watch, but what I saw in both Roger and Bree's faces as he said, "The MacKenzies are here!" was utter misery.

I liked the burning of the stag. A very dramatic visual, to say the least! But that shot of Roger standing there in front of the bonfire, feeling his dreams of life with Brianna go up in flames like the stag, is painful to watch.

Back in the 18th century, Claire wakes the next morning to find the storm has passed. Her boots are gone, but there are footprints leading away from her shelter. She takes the skull and the opal and follows the footprints, which eventually lead her back to Jamie.

And just as in the book, Claire's boots mysteriously appear out of nowhere. So we're meant to believe that the ghost led both Jamie and Claire to that spot by the stream? That's a little different from the book, but I'm not complaining. I liked Claire's reaction to the realization that the skull belonged to a time-traveler.

The scene in the strawberry field is well done, if truncated somewhat from the book. The landscape here is just gorgeous, and I can understand why Jamie says, "This must be the most beautiful land I've ever seen."

"I know that look on your face, Jamie Fraser. You're in love." That made me laugh, but it's true. He's found his place at last.

I'm so glad they included this bit from the book (Chapter 19, "Hearth Blessing"):

"Do ye trust me, Claire?"
"With my life."
"And with your heart?"

I love that last shot, looking out over the gorgeous scenery, as Jamie says, "And we'll call it Fraser's Ridge." Awwwww! Wonderful, just wonderful, and a perfect way to end this episode.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 404.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.


Anonymous said...

Did you notice Claire’s boots appeared to have zippers? I thought the only zipper in existence was on her corset?
Love the show,


Anonymous said...

Yes, I noticed the zippers as well. I hope there's an explanation for it somewhere.

Karen Henry said...

I didn't even notice the zippers on Claire's boots, to be honest, but I've heard from a number of fans who did. The explanation is simple. These are Claire's boots from 1968, and she's been wearing them since she came back to the 18th c. in Season 3.


Anonymous said...

Re: the boots - It has seemed to me since Season 3 that it would be dangerous for Claire to expose herself to potential discovery by keeping 20th century technology at hand. Lets call a spade a spade - those garter tabs on her straps and now the boots are sophomoric writers’ room in-jokes. (In the book there was a zipper on the Gutenberg dress, yes, but that garment was discarded immediately leaving no trace of its provenance. DG was never careless.)

Having said that, ever since ‘First Wife’ I’ve sat down to watch week by week with a perceptible sense of dread, wondering how the writers would toy with (destroy) the essential essence of the story. This week I was able to relax, finally. Details and the order of events were changed, yes, out of necessity, but with a sense of respect for the source material. I can only hope this commitment continues.

Anonymous said...

Yikes- I meant to say ‘Creme De Menthe’ not ‘First Wife’ - can you make the correction before publishing? Thank you.

Diane said...

When Otter Tooth turned around to walk away from Claire...did you notice that Otter tooth had been SCALPED! That would add to the after-death ghost image of this man.

Anonymous said...

I, also, wondered how Brianna and Roger were going to handle leaving the festival together. It was a long drive back!

KMC said...

I liked this episode. I have not been a fan of Brianna, but I agree with Karen that Sophie Skelton does a much better job as an 'American' than in prior seasons. I have always liked Richard Rankin's Roger and loved his singing. I did worry about how Roger got home when he looked into the audience and saw that Brianna was gone. But, Outlander is all about Claire and Jamie for me, to be honest. And, for Claire and Jamie to finally find a place to build their home was great.

Anonymous said...

Knowing how close Roger and Jamie are going to be in the books, did anyone catch the similarity between his comment (something about her being a good Catholic girl) and offering her virginity to him and Jamies's similar outrage (somehting about her being a lady of fine breeding) when Geneva propositioned him in the last season?

Dahlia B. said...

The decision to keep the corset and boots was Terry Dresbach's, not the writers. Yes, it was obviously approved by the director and on-set producers, but think logically for a moment: Who besides Jamie is ever going to see Claire's converted Playtex longline bra/corset, and when/where on earth would she have had time to get another, more era-appropriate one?? Same with the boots -- besides, with the zippers on the inside ankles and with those long skirts, it isn't likely that anyone is going to be looking at Claire's feet.

Please stop blaming everything "wrong" with the show on the writers. Blaming the costumes on the writers is like blaming them for the printshop set or the filming location choices.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen loved this eisode and it was fun and warm heartning and loved seeing Young Ian telling Jamie that he was staying with them and it was a bout time someone knock Jamie down a peg or too , AUnt Jocasta seems to blame Claire as to Jamie 's decision to move on , be he made the decision on his own moving scene with her giving Jamie the candle sticks and loved seeing Roger and Bree again and loved the NC scenery and John Quincy Myers was perfect and a lot better than the book version , love the Scottish Festival and it was so lively and fun and the music , I go to an Scottish Festival every Summer and it wouldn't be the same without it , the dancing scene was fun , loved seeing Roger and Bree go through the seriousness of their relationship and at the moment they are at a stand still the storm scenes were very well sone and the scenes with the Ghost of the Indian was very supernatural and seeing Claire find the skull was right from the book , so was Jamie searching for her , the calling of the Clans was very powerful and sad at the same time , seeing the footprints leading Claire to Jamie was very symbolic , it meant they were meant to be , seeing the Stawberry fields was beautiful and well as Finding their home was beautiful and love how connected Jamie and CLaire are in season 4 here I hope to see more great episodes like this in the near future . will be watching more soon. please post more soon. Happy Holiday Week. Loving Outlander.

Anonymous said...

I am still not sure where Claire found zippered boots! Can't be the ones she brought with her from the future as they would have been lost in the shipwreck!

Rebecca said...

I'm enjoying this season so far even though the comments I've read on other sites seem to want to impose 21st century values on both the 18th century and the late 1960s. I was a little surprised at the appearance of the actor playing John Quincy Myers--not at all how I pictured him in Drums. I see why the writers changed the scene at River Run where Claire repaired his inguinal hernia! The transitions always feel a bit choppy to me, but I believe that comes from the luxury a novel writer has that TV writers don't. I don't think the relationship between Brianna and Roger has the compelling quality that
Claire and Jaimie's does in either the novels or the TV series. I assume that was a deliberate choice of Diana Gabaldon's. I don't consider myself able to judge the artistic merit of either the TV series or the novels because the story is so compelling and enjoyable to me that I can't be objective.

Geoff C. said...

Jamie's mother's things, that box bothers me. Why would Jocasta have them and not Jennie the daughter?

Susan said...

I agree with you Karen, this was the best episode so far. I loved the scene of Roger and Bree driving down the road and the transition to Jaime and Claire riding down that same path. Gave me goosebumps. Thanks for another great recap! Can't wait for the next episode!

DeeDee said...

I am a avid Outlander fan of many years.Do you know the exact location of Fraser’s Ridge as per Diane Gabaldon?I live in North Carolina foothills and own property on small river near base of Grandfather Mountain.I love the series but am having a hard time with the geographical references many which you have noted.Thank you and Happy Holidays

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