Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 4 episode “Blood of My Blood.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Hey, sassenachs! All caught up on this week's episode? In case you need a refresher on last week's events, there were some definite high points (Murtagh's return! Murtagh's reunion with Jamie! Murtagh in general!) and some moments that were a little harder to swallow. Once again, Claire seems to have to learn the hard way that not everyone is as determined to maintain peace with their Cherokee neighbors as she and Jamie are, not to mention the fact that old superstitions held by some of their fellow settlers can have dangerous repercussions on everyone, not just the tentative truce they're trying to maintain. Oh, and Brianna skip-hop-jumped through the stones, apparently. That's a thing that also happened. Time to find out where everyone ended up this week!
Fraser’s Ridge is playing host to a number of guests all of a sudden: first Murtagh, and now a tricorne-wearing Lord John Grey, who pops up out of the blue because Jamie’s apparently done such a good job of painting the beauty of the North Carolina backcountry in his letters that he just had to come and see it for himself. He’s not alone, though; he’s brought Jamie’s son William (who doesn’t know he’s Jamie’s son) along with him, and it’s a pretty unexpected surprise for the Scotsman but meanwhile, I’m incredibly distracted by how Jamie’s hair looks in this scene. Bathing in water from a woodland stream has done wonders for those locks. The body! The curls! It’s a beauty to behold.
Grey doesn’t ambush Jamie with his son right away; he’s left young William behind at the stream for him to run into Murtagh and Claire, conveniently right in time for the latter to help him with some leeches. We all know Claire’s a medical weirdo but the look William gives her when she suggests leaving the leeches on to fall off once they’ve consumed their fill of his blood is priceless. The other layer to this scene is that Claire doesn’t know he’s Jamie’s son yet (even though she does know Jamie has a son as of last season) until they all rendezvous back at the cabin for a very awkward round of intros. We learn that Grey’s wife Isabelle died on the crossing between England and Jamaica, and William especially is Not Handling It Well given that she was the only mother he ever knew.
There are a lot of secrets in play at this point: William doesn’t remember meeting Jamie, and Jamie decides not to refresh his memory; William also doesn’t know Grey’s connection to Jamie and Murtagh (read: their time in prison); oh, and Grey is over in the corner telegraphing his real reasons for just popping in on Jamie even though North Carolina is a leetle bit out of the way from his intended stop in Virginia. Some tensions do boil over between Murtagh and Grey at dinner, mostly in regards to Tryon’s seemingly endless supply of funds for building what is literally described as a palace. One guess as to where all that money is coming from. Grey considers the Regulators unreasonable and potentially dangerous, but Murtagh manages to curb the impulse to tell the other man to shove it.
The first of the secrets comes out when William overhears Jamie speaking Gaelic to some of the horses outside and identifies him as his ol’ buddy Mac-the-groom. He hasn’t kept the wooden snake Jamie carved for him once upon a time, though, issuing the declaration that he’s too old for toys now. Back inside the cabin, the latter secret threatens to reveal itself when Claire teases at the strands of Grey’s decision to visit. First, she questions whether he’s been sent as Tryon’s eyes and ears to assure the governor of Jamie’s loyalty, but we all know that’s not why Grey’s rolled up, even if Claire can’t see it yet.
Murtagh can’t understand why Jamie and Grey are even friends at first until he finds out why, exactly, Jamie is so concerned with young William’s wellbeing. But Jamie urges Murtagh not to tell a soul for fear of what would happen if Lord William Ransom’s true origins were to be revealed, and Murtagh assures Jamie he’s kept hundreds of his secrets and will continue to do so as he disappears into the night carrying a stack of logs like a boss.
Unfortunately, Jamie and Claire’s plans to fully enjoy their time alone once their guests depart are scrapped when Grey, after a night of drinking and playing chess with Jamie (not a euphemism, by the way) wakes up the next morning with the measles. Claire’s immune thanks to the modern advances of inoculation, and Jamie had the measles as a child, but William needs to be taken somewhere for the next week while Grey recovers - or dies, whichever comes first. So the latter half of the episode becomes about father and unknowing son off in the woods on an outdoors adventure, camping under the stars, and Jamie basically uses the week to teach William about the ins and outs of wilderness survival, including showing him how to skin and dress a deer carcass and catch fish with his bare hands like a manly man of the wild.
But William gets into a bit of a sticky situation because of course he does, crossing past the boundary of the land known as Fraser’s Ridge to try and catch a fish for breakfast while Jamie’s still sleeping. Naturally, the small band of Cherokee men patrolling their territory are not happy about this and threaten to take payment for it - in William’s blood. Jamie’s quick to try and fall on a sword for his son, and even admits that William is his son OUT LOUD, but then William fesses up to his culpability and earns a small cut on his hand for his honesty, apparently all the shedding of blood that is required to set things straight.
Meanwhile, Claire’s clearly less-than-thrilled to be cooped up in a cabin tending to a man who only has eyes for her husband, a truth that makes itself even more known thanks to Grey’s delirious state. The resulting conversation gets somewhat heavy-handed in regards to the collective acknowledgment of Grey’s homosexuality and love for Jamie, including a moment where Grey all but says he was “born this way,” but the unexpected proximity forces both parties to get some truths out in the open. Grey implies that Claire’s jealous of the time he spent with Jamie while she was gone, that he’s raising Jamie’s son, but Claire doesn’t let that slide without informing Grey that she had to raise Jamie’s daughter without the benefit of her real father around, too. That’s not where the drama ends between them, because the more measley Grey gets the more he starts to babble, and when he seemingly takes a turn for the worst he lets it slip that Jamie did once offer himself in exchange for being William’s surrogate father. “You should stop talking,” Claire tells him, and she is RIGHT.
Naturally, things are a little awkward when Grey begins to improve, but he and Claire appear to understand each other more - even if there’s another slightly cringe-inducing moment when Claire basically offers him the equivalent of an “it gets better” pep talk. Oh, and then there’s the part where Grey’s still in love with Jamie, so that will forever be a sticky wicket. But, as Claire soon reminds Grey, it’s not as if he doesn’t have anything of Jamie at all, not while he’s still raising William.
After sending their Grey and now-Little Man William on their way again, Jamie and Claire have the Ridge to themselves and decide to take advantage of some grown-up married time, beginning with Jamie sensually bathing Claire and then presenting her with the replacement ring he’d had Murtagh make for her at some point off-screen. It’s a notable upgrade from the first one, complete with an inscription that reads “give me a thousand kisses and I’ll give you a thousand more.” And then Jamie picks Claire out of the tub and carries her to bed to make good on giving her his half of those thousand kisses. Claire loses count, which is very understandable.
- There’s no sign of Brianna this week, but the show seems content to reunite Jamie with one child he’s at least met already before surprising him with the shock of his fully grown daughter, so... maybe next week?
- Young Ian is also absent this week, though Jamie makes a point to mention that he’s out hunting with some of their Cherokee neighbors. Perhaps we’ll get an Ian-centric episode letting us in on what he’s been up to this season?
- Once again, I have to give all the props to David Berry, who plays Lord John Grey. If there were ever a more perfect piece of casting from book to screen I haven’t found it yet, and it’s going to be hard for me to go back and re-read Diana Gabaldon's source material without picturing Berry’s carefully disguised expressions of longing in Jamie’s direction.
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 old will William be the next time we encounter him on the show? What about those rising tensions between the Governor and the Regulators? And what the devil has happened to Brianna? See you next week!