Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 4 episode “Common Ground.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Howdy, sassenachs! Last week’s episode was a little kinder towards the Frasers, but less so for their daughter. During a couples’ trip to North Carolina, Roger and Brianna have it out once they realize they have two very different outlooks in regards to their relationship, leaving the future of said relationship very unclear. Back in the past, Claire and Jamie are briefly separated by a wayward donkey and a bad thunderstorm, Claire talks to a skull and meets a ghost, it’s a whole thing. Point is: they reunite and have now decided to settle down on an acreage of uncharted land that Jamie dubs Fraser’s Ridge. It’s all very domestic and sweet. What hijinks will our faves get up to this week? Let’s find out together, shall we?Jamie and Claire
So apparently, building a home in the backcountry of North Carolina isn’t as simple as just rolling up to a patch of land and staking a claim, and Jamie decides to take up Governor Tryon on his offer, culminating in the signing of a very official-looking contract. Of course, the demands start right away, with Tryon alluding to the fact that he may require Jamie’s services in the future in terms of enforcing things like tax collection or keeping an eye on any neighbors. Something tells me that there are going to be more drawbacks than advantages to this deal, considering Tryon’s backhanded insult about the commonalities between Highlanders and Native Americans (a point the show seems compelled to hit home at least once per week, varying in heavy-handedness).
Leave it to Jamie to turn pounding stakes into the ground into a conversation with Claire about a different kind of pounding, if you catch my drift. Obviously, they can’t get up to any kind of shenanigans with Young Ian and Rollo a short distance away, but it’s nice to see the two of them back to their flirty ways. Shortly thereafter, Jamie steps in poop, and then their new neighbors show up to welcome them to the neighborhood. It’s unclear at first what their intentions are; Ian recognizes them as Cherokee and says that the members of the tribe he and John Quincy Myers encountered were friendly, but after Jamie introduces himself they leave without a word, only to return later to toss their spears into the ground at Jamie’s feet in a move that could very well be interpreted as a warning. Who can blame them? They certainly weren’t consulted about anyone moving in.
Claire starts to harbor suspicions that the skull she found, the ghost she witnessed, could have been a warning to direct them away from this land, but Jamie is insistent that something about this place feels right to him in a way he can’t describe. However, that all goes down before the best alert dog in the world, Rollo, sounds the alarm and wakes them all up in the middle of the night — the Cherokee aren’t the only ones knocking at their door. Remember that poop Jamie stepped in earlier? Well, there’s presumably a bear behind it and it’s just rolled up to steal all their meat and attack one of their horses. Looks like Jamie’s going to have to go hunting, especially after the bear strikes again — and this time, it’s John Quincy Myers who’s been mauled and in danger of potentially dying. Claire’s forced to administer some serious triage in order to save Myers’ life as Jamie leaves to take on the bear once and for all. It’s definitely a risky move considering how long it takes to reload a gun in this day and age, and then Claire has the horrifying realization thanks to some very human-looking bites that it wasn’t a bear who attacked Myers after all — it was a man clothed in bear fur and brandishing Wolverine-esque bear claws tied to his fingers. But a man is no match for The Man Jamie Fraser, and this one meets a particularly impaled end thanks to one of those trusty stakes.
Jamie presents the dead Bear Man to the Cherokee, presumably as a gesture of goodwill, and later learns that he had been banished from the tribe for assaulting a woman, cast out for his actions. He promises nothing but peace between them, and when they pop by for a visit later everyone cautiously agrees not to spill any more blood. One of the Cherokee women informs Claire she’s had a dream about her, full of plenty of symbols and meaning she can’t even begin to grasp yet, but one line that sticks out is the fact that when Claire has gone fully grey, she will have “wisdom beyond time.”Brianna and Roger
Back in the '70s, Roger is all mopey after his epic blowout with Brianna, so naturally, that’s the moment when he stumbles across a photo caption in the book Brianna had bought him at the Scottish Festival, a caption that specifically references Fraser’s Ridge by name. He gets more information mailed to him, including a copy of - you guessed it - the contract Jamie signed with Tryon.
Roger rings up Brianna in the States and it’s clear they haven’t spoken since their big fight, but she seems to miss him as much as he does her. she’s even more thrilled once she realizes that her parents found each other in the past, and touched by his gesture. The call ends but it’s definitely given them both something to think about in terms of potentially rekindling their romance.
But all may not be well in the Frasers’ future after all, as Roger soon discovers thanks to his friend Fiona Graham; there’s also a copy of an obituary that lists the deaths of both Jamie and Claire in a fire that destroys their home and settlement on Fraser’s Ridge, but the date listed, half-smudged, is sometime in the next twelve years. Roger decides he can’t tell Brianna what could happen, but Fiona argues on her behalf. Claire and Jamie may technically be dead by now, but if there’s information on what happens to them in their immediate future, shouldn’t she know? When Roger finally works up the nerve to call Brianna, he learns from her roommate that she’s gone to Scotland. The reason? To visit her mother. Dun dun duuuuun .
- I love that Jamie, in his more mature years, requires the use of spectacles in order to be able to read more clearly. Although the show hasn’t made significant efforts to age both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe more drastically on-screen aside from the subtle streaks of grey in Claire’s hair (because these two are going to forever be pretty and the same holds true for their counterparts in the books, regardless of the passage of time), but glasses are an equally quiet reminder of the fact that even Jamie has his own signs of aging.
- I also appreciate that the show is taking time to afford Claire moments to miss Brianna; her conversation with a very pregnant Marsali leads her to realize that the girl is about the same age as her own daughter and that her being in the past means she will likely miss out on getting to see her own grandchildren someday.
- Get you a man who will literally build you a house from the ground up; given what we’ve seen of Claire and Jamie’s future cabin from episode promos, they’re destined to have quite the cozy home soon. Think they’d turn it into an Airbnb for interested renters?
- This episode also bestows us with the precious information that Jamie knows how to knit, as well as the fact that Claire’s a pretty good shot with a rifle. These two are going to fare just fine in the wilderness if they can survive everything that life throws at them.
- CLAIRE. IN. PANTS. That is all.
- The image of Claire and Jamie embracing within the foundation of their new home shortly before the scene crossfades to a roaring fire is MEAN, SHOW.
That’s it for now, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for where this season will go, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. How will Claire and Jamie adjust to woodland living? When will Brianna find out about the fate of her parents, and how will she cope? There's SO MUCH to take in. See you next week!