Episode 604: "Hour of the Wolf" (SPOILERS!)

Ian in Episode 604

Here are my reactions to Episode 604 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Hour of the Wolf". This episode features a wonderful performance by John Bell as Ian Murray, and I really enjoyed it!


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









The episode opens with a flashback from Young Ian's point of view, showing the day he became a Mohawk. Ian looks young and a little frightened, sitting there as they shave his scalp and tattoo the dots on his face, but he doesn't make a sound.

The Mohawk ceremonially wash away his white blood, very much as it's described in DRUMS OF AUTUMN:

They took Ian to the bank of the river, just before sunset. He stripped and waded into the freezing water, accompanied by three women, who ducked and pummeled him, laughing and scrubbing him with handfuls of sand. Rollo ran up and down the bank, barking madly, then plunged into the river and joined in what he plainly saw as fun and games, coming close to drowning Ian in the process.

All of the spectators who lined the bank found it hilarious—save the three whites.

Once the white blood had been thus ceremonially scrubbed from Ian’s body, more women dried him, dressed him in fresh clothing, and took him to the Council longhouse for the naming ceremony.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 61, "The Office Of a Priest". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Looking at the Mohawk gathered by the stream to watch, we see a familiar face from Season 4: Kaheroton (played by Braeden Clarke), the man who brought Roger to the village. But we also see a beautiful young Mohawk woman who catches Ian's eye. This is Works With Her Hands (called Wahionhaweh in the show), or Emily, as Ian will come to call her.

The Mohawk chief formally welcomes Ian into the tribe, saying, "By the ceremony that was performed this day, every drop of white blood has been washed from your veins." He gives Ian a wampum armband.

"You are flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone."

I laughed a little, at the echo of the blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding:

‘Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.’

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "A Marriage Takes Place". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The chief gives Ian a new name, Okwaho'rohtsi'ah, meaning "Wolf's Brother", and all the men whoop in celebration. Ian smiles, relaxing at last, and then his eyes meet Emily's.

The "title card" shows a pair of wolves running through the woods. Beautiful animals! For book-readers, this is not just a reference to Ian's Mohawk name, but also a reminder of Ian's encounter with wolves in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES chapter 44, "Winter Wolves."

Back on Fraser's Ridge, we find Jamie and Claire having a quiet post-coital conversation.

“Greased lightning,” Jamie said with a drowsy air of satisfaction. He was still in bed, lying on his side to watch me dress.

“What?” I turned from my looking glass to eye him. “Who?”

“Me, I suppose. Or were ye not thunderstruck, there at the end?” He laughed, almost silently, rustling the bedclothes.

“Oh, you’ve been talking to Bree again,” I said tolerantly. I turned back to the glass. “That particular figure of speech is a metaphor for extreme speed, not lubricated brilliance.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Bird-Spring". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This scene comes almost verbatim from the book, and I liked the fact that they included it here. It's one of those quiet little moments that they often cut out of the show.

The scene between Jamie and Fergus is not in the book, but I liked it. Jamie is sending Fergus, with Mr. Bug, to Cross Creek, to sell their trade goods, stopping at River Run to visit Jocasta. Just as in Episode 602, "Allegiance", they're dropping subtle hints of what is to come with these references to Mr. Bug traveling to River Run.

"I know what you're doing," Fergus says quietly.
"What am I doing?"
"You believe if I put some distance between myself and my worries, I will heal."
"With time. Aye, I do."

I think a change of scenery is not a bad idea. It might do Fergus some good.

Fergus reminisces about working with Jamie in the printshop in Edinburgh. "I miss those times," he says. Book-readers will see this as foreshadowing, of course.

I liked the way Fergus smiles when he says, "You've saved my life more than once." He seems to have recovered from his depression over Henri-Christian's birth, and for the first time all season, he doesn't appear drunk. That's a relief!

In the next scene, Bree and Roger and some of the men are trying out the guns that Major MacDonald brought for the Cherokee. Roger actually manages to hit a target, to his astonishment (and mine!)

"Maybe [the Cherokee] should stick to their bows." Interesting comment, coming from Arch Bug. In the books, he was a skilled archer as a young man, before losing two fingers of his right hand in a confrontation with some Frasers. (ABOSAA chapter 23, "Anesthesia")

Major MacDonald refers to the Cherokee chief as "Bird-Who-Sings-in-the-Evening." Young Ian hears this and takes offense on Bird's behalf, correcting him. "Chief Bird-Who-Sings-in-the-Morning."

Ian tweaking Major MacDonald as "Donald, son of Donald" is ironic, considering that Ian's own name in Gaelic is "Ian mac Ian mac Ian."

Bree and Jamie's brief conversation about the Trail of Tears comes straight from the book:

“About sixty years from now,” she said at last, eyes on the ground, “the American government will take the Cherokee from their land and move them. A long way--to a place called Oklahoma. It’s a thousand miles, at least, and hundreds and hundreds of them will starve and die on the way. That’s why they called it--will call it--the Trail of Tears.”

He was impressed to hear that there should be a government capable of doing such a thing, and said so. She shot him an angry glance.

“They’ll do it by cheating. They’ll talk some of the Cherokee leaders into agreeing by promising them things and not keeping their bargain.”

He shrugged. “That’s how most governments behave,” he observed mildly. “Why are ye telling me this, lass? I will--thank God--be safely dead before any of it happens.”

He saw a flicker cross her face at mention of his death, and was sorry to have caused her distress by his levity. Before he could apologize, though, she squared her shoulders and went on.

“I’m telling you because I thought you should know,” she said. “Not all of the Cherokee went--some of them went farther up into the mountains and hid; the army didn’t find them.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "The Gun-Smith". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

That shot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance is just breathtaking! I really like the cinematography in this episode.

Interesting that Ian and Jamie put their weapons away when they enter the Cherokee village. If they did that the last time they visited, I didn't notice.

Ian notices three horses wearing red and blue blankets. The Mohawk are here in the village. A moment later, Kaheroton comes over. He greets Ian cordially enough, as "Wolf's Brother", but Ian is wary.

Later that night, alone in their hut, Ian tells Jamie the story of what happened when he lived with the Mohawk. This extended flashback sequence is terrific, really well done, and I enjoyed it very much!

I like the way the girl, Wahionhaweh, and Ian smile at one another. She gives Ian a small carved image of a wolf's head as a gift. I thought that was a nice touch.

Ian gradually becomes friends with Kaheroton, just as he did with Sun Elk in the books. I think it makes sense for Kaheroton to assume Sun Elk's role in the story, because the viewers already know him well from Season 4.

"Will you choose another?" Another wife, Ian means.
"We do not choose, Okwaho'rotsi'ah. They choose." Kaheroton indicates the little carved wolf's-head. The message is clear: Wahionhaweh has already chosen Ian, whether he realizes it or not.

I liked the images of nature, showing the passage of time. Flowers blooming in spring, a flock of birds (possibly Canada geese?) flying south for the winter, and so on. Subtle but beautiful. 

Wahionhaweh teaching Ian her language is a sweet little moment. When Ian kisses her, notice the little carving (of an owl, maybe?) that she wears around her neck. I think that's another one she made herself.

Soon they're sleeping together. Wahionhaweh gives Ian a wampum arm-band as a keepsake, "to remind you of when we were joined together as one."

I thought the sex scene between the two of them was OK, but I was more intrigued by Ian's expression at the end. He has such sadness in his eyes, and I wonder why.

The next scene, with the Mohawk telling stories around the campfire, comes from the book, but since most of the dialogue is in Mohawk, without subtitles, we can't tell what they're saying. But here's a bit from the scene in the book:

The men around the fire whooped as Walking Elk became the glutton, who looked at first astonished at the noise, and then thrilled to have seen its prey. It leaped from its lair, uttering growls and sharp yips of rage. The hunter fell back, horrified, and turned to run. Walking Elk’s stubby legs churned the pounded earth of the longhouse, running in place. Then he threw up his arms and sprawled forward with a despairing “Ay-YIIIIII!” as the glutton struck him in the back.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 69, "A Stampede of Beavers". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I didn't care for Ian's singing in this scene. He's certainly not in Richard Rankin's league as a vocalist (understatement!), and since they mentioned "the woman with green eyes, the Bakra," I think they might have been better off showing us a brief bit of Ian's encounter with Geillis from Episode 312, "The Bakra", instead.

In the next scene, at night in bed together, we can see that Wahionhaweh is in an advanced state of pregnancy.

"Do you ever miss your home?" she asks.
"You are my home." [caressing her belly, and the child within] "Both of you."

Awwww! That's so poignant, especially on re-watching, when you know what's coming. And it seems a deliberate echo of Jamie's line, "You are my home now," from Episode 109, "The Reckoning".

Later that night, Ian wakes to hear Emily moaning in pain. This comes straight from the book:

She didn’t move or make the sound again, but something in those still dark curves cleft through his heart like a tomahawk striking home.

He gripped her shoulder fiercely, willing her to be all right. Her bones were small and hard through her flesh. He could find no proper words; all the Kahnyen’kehaka had fled out of his head, and so he spoke in the first words that came to him.

“Lass--love--are ye all right, then? Blessed Michael defend us, are ye well?”

She knew he was there, but didn’t turn to him. Something--a strange ripple, like a stone thrown in water--went through her, and the breath caught in her throat again, a small dry sound.

He didn’t wait, but scrambled naked from the furs, calling for help. People came tumbling out into the dim light of the longhouse, bulky shapes hurrying toward him in a fog of questions. He couldn’t speak; didn’t need to. Within moments, Tewaktenyonh was there, her strong old face set in grim calm, and the women of the longhouse rushed past him, pushing him aside as they carried Emily away, wrapped in a deer’s hide.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Winter Wolves". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

With blood soaking her shift, it's obvious that she's having a miscarriage. Just heartbreaking! The women carry her away, and Ian tries to follow, but one of the men stops him.

"If you must do something," Kaheroton says, "go into the woods and pray."

Ian tries to recite a Catholic prayer, but stops abruptly, unable to say the words, "Now, and at the hour of our death." Instead he looks up at the full moon and says, "If the Mohawk Creator is up there, please, dinna let this be the hour of her death!" I liked that, as a reminder of how conflicted he is, unsure if he is Mohawk or Scottish or something in between.

The next morning, Kaheroton tells Ian that Wahionhaweh is still alive, but the baby is dead.

We return to the present, where Ian is still telling Jamie the story. "I never saw her, the bairn. They'd already wrapped her up."

We see in flashback that Wahionhaweh became pregnant again, and miscarried again. That image of Wahionhaweh's blood turning the water red is chilling, and gets the message across far better than words.

A few months later, one of the village elders, a female called Tewaktenyonh in the book, comes to see Ian. She tells him about the Mohawk belief that a woman becomes pregnant when the man's spirit overcomes the woman's.

"You have been made Mohawk by an old custom, but your spirit is not Mohawk." Wow, that's harsh! She tells Ian he must leave the village and go back to his own people, adding, "Wahionhaweh agrees."

"No! I am flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone...." How can he possibly leave her?

Devastated, Ian makes his way back to his hut, only to find Wahionhaweh there -- with Kaheroton.

"Is this what you want?" Ian demands.
"It is what must be," Kaheroton says, and she echoes his words, with tears in her eyes, telling him to go.

It's a very sad story, and I think they did an excellent job of adapting it for TV. John Bell's performance throughout that whole sequence was just amazing to watch!

The next morning, Jamie and Ian meet a white man, Scotchee Cameron, who lives with the Cherokee. He's a real historical figure. The scene where we are introduced to him is based on ABOSAA chapter 44, "Scotchee".

Scotchee mentions Jamie's nickname of "Bear-Killer", but hearing it on the show doesn't have the same impact as it does in the books, because TV Jamie didn't actually kill a real bear in that encounter (Episode 404, "Common Ground"), only a man in a bearskin pretending to be a bear.

"The less said about that, the better," Jamie says. OK, we'll change the subject!

Scotchee gets drunk on the whisky Jamie offers him. He reveals that he's acquired land in Tennessee, across the Treaty Line. This is Indian territory, where whites are not allowed to settle. Scotchee offers to give him a good deal on this land, but Jamie refuses.

In the next scene, we're back on the Ridge. I liked this scene demonstrating how the ether works. It's very close to the book, only substituting Josiah Beardsley for Bobby Higgins, who hasn't appeared in the show yet.

“Oh, it does smell queer, doesn’t it?” [Malva] sniffed cautiously, face turned half away as she dripped ether onto the mask.

“Yes. Do be careful not to breathe too much of it yourself,” I said. “We don’t want you falling over in the midst of an operation.”

She laughed, but dutifully held the mask further away.

Lizzie had bravely offered to go first--with the clear intent of deflecting Bobby’s attention from Malva to her. This was working; she lay in a languid pose on the table, cap off, and her soft, pale hair displayed to best advantage on the pillow. Bobby sat beside her, earnestly holding her hand.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "Dress Rehearsal". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Claire, on the effects of ether: "It's different for everyone. Sometimes you dream, especially right before you wake up. And sometimes you see things, but it's all in your mind."

She's speaking from experience here, obviously, referring to the nightmare she had in Episode 601 ("Echoes") and other reactions we've seen so far this season. I took the "it's all in your mind" comment as an indication that she's trying hard to convince herself.

Looking at this whole scene in light of Claire's earlier use of ether to self-medicate, I had the impression that she's conducting these experiments in part to remind herself forcefully exactly what ether is supposed to be used for in the first place: for the treatment of her patients, not as a temporary oblivion for herself!<\/p>

This obviously wasn't Diana Gabaldon's intent in writing the scene, as Claire doesn't self-medicate in the book; it's just a thought that occurred to me while watching. Unlike in the book, she already knows that her homemade ether works. By focusing on testing, gathering data, fine-tuning the dosage and so forth, Claire is acting like a doctor and a scientist, which is exactly as it should be. To me, this means that TV Claire is getting her priorities straight at last, and that's reassuring to me.

Malva is intrigued by the effect of the ether, and intelligent enough to grasp the implications at once. She says her father would call it "the devil's work", and promises not to tell him what she's seen.

That shot of the wildflowers against the backdrop of the mountains is just gorgeous!

Back in the Cherokee village, Jamie formally presents the rifles to Chief Bird, who receives the gift with a loud WHOOP!, echoed by his men.

Ian goes to talk to one of the men who came with Kaheroton, who tells Ian that Wahionhaweh gave birth to a son, "who brings them much joy". I'm glad they mentioned the child, who is referred to in the books first as Digger, then Swiftest of Lizards, and finally, Tòtis.<\/p>

The news about the child enrages Ian, who goes at once to confront Kaheroton. "Ye've turned my wife against me. Ye stole her hand! Let's hear that story around the fire, shall we? How you saw one man's happiness and wanted it for yourself!"

They begin fighting, and Jamie and Scotchee break it up by dragging the two of them apart. Scotchee holds Kaheroton briefly with a knife, and as soon as he lets go, Kaheroton comes after Scotchee with an Iroquois war club, like the one shown here. Those of you who have read THE SCOTTISH PRISONER will recall that Major Siverly attacked Jamie with a similar club. (SP chapter 20, "Stalking Horse") This is definitely a lethal weapon!

"You want to fight?" Scotchee snarls. "We'll do it my way!" And he brandishes a pistol.

At this point I started having serious flashbacks to Sandringham's duel in Episode 110, "By the Pricking of My Thumbs." I hated the whole duel sequence in that episode, and I don't like this one either, at all.

I have two main questions, watching this. The first is: why?? Why would this fierce Mohawk warrior agree to a duel according to the strict rules of 18th-century dueling as practiced among gentlemen, as though this were taking place in London? The Mohawk play by their own rules, and yet Kaheroton submitted to this duel without a word of protest. (For that matter, Chief Bird didn't ask any questions, either, even though the duel is happening in his village and the custom is presumably as alien to the Cherokee as it is to the Mohawk.)

The second question is, why would the writers invent a plotline involving a real historical figure that puts him in such an unflattering light, showing him acting like a violent, drunken buffoon? Scotchee Cameron, as portrayed here, is belligerent, unlikeable, and reckless, with no thought of the possible consequences of his actions. Ask yourselves what the Mohawk would have done if this Indian Agent living among the Cherokee (and presumably under their protection) had succeeded in killing one of their men. I could see the Mohawk coming back with a war party, bent on revenge.

Moving on.... I liked the next scene, with Jamie and Ian, very much. Ian is still grieving for his baby girl, who was not baptized or given a name.

"The Kahnyen’kehaka dinna give a name to a child when it’s born. Not until later. If …” His voice trailed off, and he cleared his throat. “If it lives. They wouldna think of naming a child unborn.”

“But you did?” she asked gently.

He raised his head and took a breath that had a damp sound to it, like wet bandages pulled from a fresh wound.

“Iseabaìl,” he said, and she knew it was the first--perhaps would be the only--time he’d spoken it aloud.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70, "Emily". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Ian thinks God is punishing him, and Jamie responds rather lamely, "We need to trust that God has a plan." Not helpful, under the circumstances! So he tries again. "My daughter, Faith...she was also lost. I never held her either."

Awwww!! It's impossible for me to hear those words without thinking of Jamie in Episode 207, "Faith", begging Claire just to tell him if their child was a boy or a girl. So sad!

"At the end of life comes death." Um, yeah, Jamie, we knew that. A very clunky line, if you ask me.

But I love the idea that they'll ask Faith to look after her cousin's child. In the book, it was Bree asking Frank to look after Ian's baby girl. I think what they did here works very well.

The next scene, where Jamie tells Bird what he knows about what will happen to the Cherokee, is very well done. Much of it is based on the book, but this line is not, and I liked it very much:

"I will tell my sons, and my sons' sons, and we will remember."

It's a reminder that the events Jamie is warning him about won't happen for another sixty years. The warning will do no good unless they make an effort to pass on the knowledge to those who come after them.

I'm really glad they included this exchange from the book:

“This wife you have,” Bird said at last, deeply contemplative, “did you pay a great deal for her?”

“She cost me almost everything I had,” he said, with a wry tone that made the others laugh. “But worth it.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 44, "Scotchee". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

In the next scene, we're on a dueling ground somewhere in 18th-century London, um, sorry, I mean, in the Cherokee village, preparing to witness the duel between Scotchee Cameron and Kaheroton.

Scotchee was already portrayed as thoroughly unlikeable. Now we can add "dishonorable" to that list, for the way he turned to fire before his opponent was ready. I really didn't like that at all, nor did I like the way Scotchee turned into a sniveling coward, begging the Mohawk warrior not to shoot him.

"Never let it be said that Scotchee Cameron met his end over some whisky and a comment made in jest." I agree, because he didn't! As I mentioned earlier, he was a real historical figure who died in 1781.

And then Kaheroton, who has evidently read up on British dueling, gives us all a demonstration of what "delope" means. As fans of HAMILTON will recall, and as we saw in Diana Gabaldon's story, "The Custom of the Army", firing one's pistol in the air was an accepted tactic in dueling.

"He has proven himself a coward," Kaheroton says. "Let him live with his shame." And he walks away in disgust.

Ian intercepts him. "God chose you to be with her," he says, conceding their argument.

Before leaving the Cherokee village, Ian takes the little carved wolf's head Wahionhaweh gave him and puts it in the river. That was very touching.

"I thought I had to choose who to be, Wolf's Brother or Ian Murray. I know now I can be both." I'm glad he realized that.

I love that shot of the house with the sun setting behind it. Beautiful!

The scene in the surgery with Claire and Malva comes straight from the book:

“I’ll tell [my father] I’ve had a keek at your black book, and it’s no by way of being spells in it, at all, but only receipts for teas and purges. I’ll maybe not say about the drawings, though,” she added.

“Spells?” I asked incredulously. “Is that what he thought?”

“Oh, aye,” she assured me. “He warned me not to touch it, for fear of ensorcellment.”

“Ensorcellment,” I murmured, bemused. Well, Thomas Christie was a schoolmaster, after all. In fact, he might have been right, I thought; Malva glanced back at the book as I went with her to the door, obvious fascination on her face.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Ensorcellment". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Ensorcellment is exactly the word for it, but Malva isn't the one being bewitched here!

Jamie returns home, and Claire goes to greet him in the barn. Jamie explains that Ian has found a way to be both Mohawk and Scottish.

"But I canna be two things at once, Claire. A rebel, a Loyalist, agent for the Crown and an enemy of the King. It's pulling me apart." So Jamie decides to resign as Indian Agent.

Jamie and Claire are so anxious to have sex that they go at it right there in the barn, rather than in their bedroom. Then we notice Malva, peering at them through the slats of the barn like a Peeping Tom. That was very creepy, and an ominous note with which to end the episode!

I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes, and please come back next week for my recap of Episode 605.

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1 comment

GRACEH953 said...

Do you really think they are going to include the French gold storyline, including the Bugs? There was nothing in the Jocasta wedding episode referring to Bonnett being at River Run, and he is now dead. None of the other threatening characters appeared in that episode either. Jocasta did say something about the gold being used to buy/build River Run, but it could be assumed that it was all spent. I just thought it was a storyline they decided to skip in the interest of time. So much to cover, so little time…

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