Last week’s Outlander saw Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) burdened with white guilt and complicity when caught in the daily workings of Aunt Jocasta’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) slave-fueled plantation. This week, “The False Bride” finds them making a number of intuition-driven decisions that lead them away from that.
The episode opens with Jamie telling Jocasta that he unequivocally will not stay if it means owning slaves. She is sorry to see him go, but she sends him off with gifts of money, horses, goods, guns, a wagon, a donkey and his mother’s candlesticks. Originally, he plans to escort Young Ian (John Bell) to a ship bound for Scotland, then make his way west to find a town to live in with Claire. Young Ian makes a compelling enough argument in favor of his own agency and determination to stay that Jamie scraps the first part of the plan and welcomes Young Ian to their New World family.
As they leave, Jocasta tells Claire she thinks she’s robbing Jamie of the life he deserves as a Laird. Jocasta is appalled that Jamie would consider going back to his career in printing, and she believes Claire’s influence is leading him astray. Claire carries this seed of doubt with her as she climbs into the wagon bound for the unknown.
John Quincy Myers (Kyle Rees), the mountain man who helped Young Ian get the skunk smell off of Rollo last week, joins their party as a guide, and they set off into the wilderness.
When they make camp one night, Mr. Myers explains that they’ll arrive at their destination, a town settled by Scots in North Carolina, soon. He wants to break off with Young Ian and take their wagon to trade with the Native Americans while Claire and Jamie take the horses into town. Jamie agrees to this.
Once Claire and Jamie are alone in the woods, she starts feeling him out about the plan they’ve made. He insists that he doesn’t regret returning to printing if it means he’s able to safely enjoy the family that’s grown to include her, Young Ian, Fergus and Marsali. Before she can pursue the issue further, thunder crashes and the donkey runs away into the woods. Claire leaves Jamie to tend to his horse’s broken shoe and pursues the donkey.
Unfortunately, the storm hits and it gets dark before Claire finds the donkey. The donkey makes its way back to Jamie, and Claire winds up lost in the North Carolina wilderness. Lighting strikes a tree in front of her, and her horse throws her, knocking her unconscious.
Jamie searches through the stormy night for Claire, but the conditions make it near impossible to track her and completely impossible for them to see or hear each other anyway. When she comes to, her horse is gone and she scrambles into the shelter of a tree, where she realizes she’s sitting on a human skull. Under the skull is a large gemstone. She takes off her shoes, dumps the water out of them, and examines a deep slice through the crown of the skull.
In a flash of lightning, a torch appears moving towards her. Claire jumps up, thinking Jamie has found her, but instead a native man approaches. He flickers completely out of sight every time lightning isn’t flashing. He moves silently. When he arrives in front of Claire, it’s clear that he is actually disappearing between lightning flashes. He is also wearing the gem she’s just found. He turns away from her, and she can see that he’s been scalped and has a wound on his head that matches the one on the skull. He disappears completely.
Claire falls asleep in the little nook she’s found, and in the morning she wakes to find her boots missing. She tucks the skull and gem into her satchel and notices shoe prints in the soft earth. She follows the footprints left by her own boots to a stream, where she finds Jamie and the horses. He tells her he followed her shoe prints there and found her boots. She tells him about the ghost who helped them find each other, and he expresses gratitude for it.
She cleans the skull in the stream before they leave, and discovers silver fillings in its teeth. They won’t be invented for a hundred years, so the skull belonged to a time traveler, like her!
Reunited, Claire and Jamie continue their journey towards town. On the way, they find a ridge covered in wild strawberries and stop to pick some. Jamie comments that his family originated in France and that the strawberry is the emblem of the Fraser clan and the source of their name.
While snacking on the fruit, he walks up the ridge a bit and discovers a stunning view. In his heart, he immediately recognizes that he’s found his new home. They consult briefly, and they know that claiming this land will mean making a deal with the devil, but it feels right to make their home here, on Fraser’s Ridge.
Meanwhile, in 1970, Roger (Richard Rankin) has sold his family home to Fiona Graham (Iona Claire) and her husband, and he’s bound for the United States to see Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and play music at a Scottish festival in… North Carolina.
At first, the reunion between Roger and Brianna is awkwardly sweet and full of potential. They road trip from Boston to North Carolina, rediscovering their affection along the way. By the time she listens to him singing to a rapt audience at the festival, she’s completely smitten.
After a day of being immersed in Scottish culture, Roger walks Brianna back to her cabin at the motel where they’ve booked separate rooms. She gives him a book about the early Scottish settlers in the area and offers him a drink from a bottle of Scotch Whiskey she’s procured.
They go into her room to drink, and she makes a very clear pass at him. They’re having a wonderful time when Roger halts everything so he can give her an engraved bracelet, declare his love and spontaneously propose.
Brianna is caught off guard, and she tells him she isn’t ready for that yet. He gets suuuuuuper pissy and basically tells her she’s slutty for being willing to sleep with him without marrying him. She knows he’s not a virgin and calls him on his hypocrisy, but his wounded pride makes him storm out like a complete d**k.
On the final night of the festival, there’s a calling of the clans that culminates in the clan representatives setting an effigy of a stag alight for a bonfire. Brianna comes to Roger there to make peace, but he’s still convinced that he can only love her all the way or not at all, so she takes off, and he’s left alone with his fellow Scots.
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