DISCLAIMER: This recap of Outlander Season 7 Episode 3, “Death Be Not Proud,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, time travelers! “Death Be Not Proud” is named after the poem by John Donne. This episode artfully connects the past and present timelines. Everything is woven together beautifully in that regard. We get some closure on a few narrative beats, from the obituary Brianna had claiming her parents died in a fire to the real story behind the Jacobite gold. Murdina’s death is a shock to the soul, but it more so provides Arch the ammo to exact his revenge at a later date. On another note, Bree and Roger finding Lallybroch and potentially purchasing it is more connective tissue between the 1970s and the 1770s. Lovely.
Once more, the Frasers cannot live in peace because life finds a way to muck things up. “Death Be Not Proud” isn’t quite as action-packed, moving a little slower to let the narrative breathe. Of course, that’s not to say it wasn’t eventful, as evidenced by what I mentioned above. I love it when a show takes time to be with its characters and let them flourish within the story sans nonstop action.
Ready to delve into “Death Be Not Proud”? Let’s get to it.
We open in Inverness, Scotland, in the 1970s, with a box bearing “Jeremiah Alexander Ian Frasier MacKenzie” as it’s delivered to a doorstep. Fiona Graham Buchanan (Iona Claire) gives Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) said box. Side note: Baby Amanda saw a doctor and is well. They open it to find letters from Jamie and Claire and some musket balls. Brianna starts reading one letter from 1776, wherein the Frasers claim they’re alive and well. We return to that night on Fraser’s Ridge. Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin) holds the lit match while Claire (Caitríona Balfe) urges him not to set the house on fire because of the ether in the air.
Jamie (Sam Heughan) pushes Mr. and Mrs. Bug (Hugh Ross and Sarah Collier) outside, with Claire hot on their heels. Wendigo passes out, dropping the lit match. Then, the house goes up in flames. The explosion propels Jamie and Claire further into their yard. Ian (John Bell) and the others arrive, and they all try to douse the fire with pails of water. However, Jamie realizes it’s a lost cause. The flames have consumed too much of the house beyond the point of saving. He orders the group to stop.
Meanwhile, Roger realizes that Bree introducing those matches in the 1770s meant she was responsible for the fire. But this is a different occasion than the fire mentioned in that obituary — the one that purportedly kills Jamie and Claire. So, either the “bloody newspaper” got it wrong, or Bree changed history and saved her parents. It’s Outlander. The possibilities are endless. The following morning after the fire, Claire and Jamie try to salvage what they can. Ian discovers a picture of young William, which he gives to Jamie. He knows that William is Jamie’s son. He vows not to tell anyone about it.
Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) and Josiah (Paul Gorman) give Claire some parsnip soup and other necessities to help her replace what she lost in the fire. The gesture touches Claire. They also report that her cat is missing. They checked the debris left in the wake of the fire. The feline is nowhere to be found. Poor kitty. Meanwhile, Jamie confronts Mr. Bug, aka Arch, after Wendigo’s men found the Jacobite gold in Mrs. Bug’s sewing basket. Bug finally discloses the truth. According to Arch, he, Dougal MacKenzie and Hector Cameron were in Scotland when the gold arrived. Arch and Dougal took it to their clans. Hector, on the other hand, carried it with him to America. He used it to finance the River Run plantation.
Later, Arch traveled to River Run and retrieved the gold, bringing it back to Scotland. Jamie asks where the rest is, but Arch refuses to divulge its location. Jamie officially declares that Arch is free from his oath. He gives Arch and Mrs. Bug, aka Murdina, the boot. He orders they never return to Fraser’s Ridge. Ouch. Arch tells Murdina what happened. She insists they’ll be okay. At least now they’re free to live on their own.
That evening, Jamie and Ian follow Arch to the house ruins. They find him digging underneath the house for, presumably, the remaining Jacobite gold. Jamie and Ian approach him with weapons at the ready should the latter resist. When Arch fires at Jamie, Ian lets loose an arrow, piercing the older man and sending him groundward. Ian rolls Arch over to discover it’s not really Arch — it’s Murdina. Murdina dies. Uh-oh. Arch doesn’t need another reason to despise the Frasers.
Next, Claire comforts Ian the following day, who blames himself for Murdina’s death. He thought he was shooting at Arch. Ian recalls how kind Murdina was to him. She took care of him. John Bell delivers beautiful, heartstring-tugging work in this episode. Claire reminds Ian that he was merely protecting Jamie. Later, Jamie, Claire and Lizzie lead a funeral procession for Murdina to the Fraser’s Ridge graveyard. Arch appears, hoping they’ll allow him to attend his wife’s funeral. He only asks that Claire sing. She sings “Ave Maria” while they prepare to lower Murdina’s casket into the ground. Arch weeps over his wife’s body. He places a gold pin on her before covering her face.
After the funeral, Ian approaches Arch. He offers an apology and a blade—a life for a life. Arch refuses to kill Ian; however, he’ll take something Ian loves. What about his dog? Oh, no, Outlander. No dog deaths are allowed on this day. Ian emphatically rejects that idea. Arch vows to return one day to kill whatever Ian loves more than his dog. He will exact his revenge someday.
Later, Claire and Jamie admire the view on a sunny day. Jamie points out where he’d like to build their next house. Claire loves the location. On another note, Jamie would also like to fulfill the promise he made to his sister — he wants to take Ian back to Lallybroch in Scotland. They’ll leave in a few months. Next, after a night of fervent praying and restlessness, Jamie details an odd dream he had. He saw Bree and Roger visiting Fiona in Scotland in the 1970s. Jemmy was playing with a telephone. Jamie even described the strange contraption correctly. Claire points out what it is, to Jamie’s surprise. She notes how she wishes they had a phone to talk to their family.
Then, Claire, Jamie and Ian melt down the Jacobite gold and turn some into musket balls. Could those said balls be what Roger and Bree found in their box 200ish years later? Ian expresses his fears about returning to Lallybroch, but Jamie reassures him that his parents will be the same as always. Next, Claire and Jamie hide the remaining gold in a cave he found with Jemmy during a hunting trip. There’s a skeleton of a Spaniard in there who guards treasures.
Roger and Bree read Jamie’s letter about the Jacobite gold and its location. Jemmy will know precisely where it is because of the skeleton. The gold is there if they need it. Bree and Roger are simultaneously curious and hesitant. They’ve heard stories about that gold being cursed. Plus, they don’t require it now, right? Bree tells Roger she wants to save the rest of the letters for another time. If they read them all at once, it’ll solidify her parents’ death. The family is soon bound for Boston, so they can continue reading them at home.
Meanwhile, in 1776, Jamie gives Claire a new knife since hers was lost in the house fire. They christen it by slicing their thumbs. You must activate its protective abilities by spilling blood. I know they’re married and whatnot, but them pressing their bloody thumbs together made me squirm. Bacteria and diseases! In the 1970s, Bree and Roger make a pitstop somewhere else in Scotland before becoming America-bound. We see them pull into the driveway o Lallybroch. Roger tries to peek inside by removing one of the boards in front of a window. A bevy of pigeons burst out of said window.