Outlander, Season 4, Episode 4, Common Ground

The title card for this episode shows a Native American dressing.

We then find ourselves with Jamie and Governor Tyron, as Jamie dips a quill in an inkwell to sign his name to very formal looking document. Tryon commends Jamie on his decision to take up the offer of land, 10,000 acres. Jamie is handed a chart of the land as Tyron begins to say that arrangements can be made for Mrs Fraser to stay in Wilmington while Jamie goes into he wilderness to establish their new home. Jamie tells Tryon that Claire is coming with him, she is a healer with great experience and could not do it without her. Tyron further questions Jamie on what men he will have to help him create Fraser’s Ridge. Jamie tells him he has his best man in Wilmington tasked with finding the right settlers. 

DB14D0D8-EFDC-4DD4-8C58-0ECAF1B3A690

We then have some very polite verbal sparring. With Tyron saying it is difficult to determine friend from foe, mentioning the Regulator’s who are stirring up trouble for his tax collectors. Trouble is not too far under the surface in North Carolina, with collected taxes not reaching the treasurer and Tryon knows not all the tax collectors are honest.

Tyron observes Highlanders have much in common with the Indian savage. Does Jamie agree? Jamie is extremely diplomatic, answering that savagery can exist in many forms, and he has seen it in both prince and pauper. A very honest statement!

Tryon is impressed by Jamie’s answers, his worldly wisdom. He states that those who defy His Majesty are no better than barbarians and the law is inefficient in dealing with them. Before Jamie leaves he says “There is the law and there is what is done.” Jamie knows this land deal is a deal with the devil, however, it is his opportunity to make the system work for him this time and allow him to get back the opportunity which had been taken from him.

Inside a tavern we see Claire, Ian and Marsali. Claire is arranging goods to take with them into the back country, blankets and food are being dealt with as Claire and Marsali converse. Marsali shares with Claire that she can barely think of food, her pregnancy causing her to be queasy, likening it o seasickness. Claire gives her some advice and Marsali breaks down, choking away tears as she confesses to Claire that she misses her mother. Claire shows compassion and reassures her that her mother, even if she and Claire did not get on, did a fine job raising her, and likewise she will be good at raising her own child. It is a touching moment, with young Marsali so far from home showing her vulnerability.

4960FEF6-C853-4306-AA7F-8F99C232977E

Jamie, Fergus and Ian arrive at the tavern, with Jamie instructing Fergus to take care in choosing settlers, preferably Highlanders, to look for the men who were in Ardsmuir who were sent to the colony. Jamie asks Fergus how he and Marsali are coping in Wilmington. They have enough money with Fergus doing some work and Marsali was taking in sewing.

Ian is all smiles, excited to get underway. The wagon is loaded he announces! Jamie and Claire farewell Marsali and Fergus. The three of them can join them at Fraser’s Ridge when a cabin is ready and the bairn is born. 

Claire is thoughtful, and concerned, which Jamie notices. Jamie says Marsali is almost the same age as Brianna. Claire doesn’t recall much of her own mother and she worries about Brianna, she won’t be there for Bree, or a grandchild.  Jamie recalls how he too missed Claire, he survived by clinging to her memory and Brianna will do the same. These recollections give us insight into the quiet moments between Jamie and Claire.

The wagon is loaded, passengers aboard and they make their way along a muddy street, farewelling Marsali and Fergus. After leaving the town they are travelling at a steady pace for two weeks until they arrive back at the place Jamie has chosen… Fraser’s Ridge. Claire immediately goes to look out over the vista followed by Jamie, while Ian hangs back unsure of the drop.

Jamie goes to work staking the borders of his land, hammering in posts with a scrap of red fabric tied to the top. The new settlers have been hard at work setting the posts into the ground, defining the borders of their land, with Claire consulting a map and giving directions. Despite the hard work they are elated and energetic with Ian excitedly saying “We must have placed 100 posts!”, while Jamie remarks on how wondrous it is that the land is theirs. Claire is moved to quote from a patriotic song… My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing…” Jamie asks if it is a poem from “her time”, Claire tells him it is a song called “America” which has the same melody as “God Save Great George Our King”  they both smile at the thought of the tune being stolen and made “their own”. Jamie approves and asks her to sing. Claire declines, Jamie comments on her “prim and proper” singing makes him want to do indecent things! She encourages him… where to begin? They are interrupted by Ian calling out for Jamie. Ian has found the “witness trees” Tryon told Jamie about. They mark the furthest boundary of their land. Jamie carves a marker into a tree, signalling to all who may pass that they are entering Fraser’s Ridge. Stepping down from the tree Jamie puts his foot into, well, a pile of poo! Ian speculates on what animal left it, raccoon or wolves? Claire feels it’s a larger animal, perhaps, mountain lions, known as panthers in these parts, or a bear. 

64BDACB9-B9BD-476E-B38E-FBECDDC26F33

As they stand by the remarkable pair of trees (which are real trees)  Rollo barks a warning. Slowly Jamie and Ian turn… to see Indians observing them. Jamie tells Claire to give him the knife and to step behind him, Ian bravely wants to stay by Jamie’s side as he approaches them, but Jamie tells him to stay with Claire. Jamie walks towards the men, into a leafy clearing, arms spread. He makes a point of dropping the knife. The Indians look on without any display of emotion. Clearly Jamie is unarmed, he introduces himself and slowly the Indians turn and walk away.

Oxford University 1971

The exterior shot of the solid brown stonework sets the tone. Brown is definitely a theme! Roger’s officemate is talking, but Roger is distracted and not listening. Roger apologises, and sits. Peter his fellow office occupant, leaves for “a scotch and a smoke” and invites Roger to join him, but Roger remains… his mind is elsewhere. He reaches into a drawer and picks up the book Brianna gave him as a gift at the Scottish Festival. “A Home from Home: Scottish Settlers in Colonial America”. Inside the book is the drawing of Bree and himself… he looks at it and sets it aside. Idly looking at the open pages of the book he sees something of interest, and takes a closer look.

C1FD3594-6FF0-439C-96E7-1995FCFDA473

Over scenes of tree chopping and felling, stump and stone clearing we hear VO by Roger reading from the book, describing the settlement of the area, which mentions “Fraser’s Ridge”. Jamie, Ian and Claire are all working hard, while Rollo watches on! Just as well he earns his keep as a guard dog! During the clearing process Ian finds a stone arrowhead. 

Roger says the words “Fraser’s Ridge” over, and looks up the author information on the cover of the book. He is intrigued, the historian in him bristling with questions.

Back in time, Jamie is placing a post into the ground, the last of many connected by rope, marking out the shape of their cabin. Jamie gives Claire a tour of the facilities to come, including a meat store and smokehouse. In the meantime their meat supply is suspended high above the ground, away from predators. Jamie’s plans include a “wee shed” for Claire’s herbs and to tend patients when they have settlers. Jamie is fixing a post when we hear Ian’s voice raised in alarm. He and Rollo are running back to camp, pursued by Indians on horseback. The men look more aggressive this time, speaking in Cherokee they thrust several of the boundary marker stakes into the ground before riding off. They have shown their displeasure at their land be appropriated by Jamie.

4E40C1FE-C22D-4565-9D8E-1B0095DC80DB

Weeks later, at Oxford, a large envelope from the US has arrived for Roger. It contains copies of research documents sent by the author of the book Brianna gave him. It truly is a goosebump moment when Roger leafs through the papers, realising Claire made it back to Jamie. The documentary evidence is right in front of him. He phones Brianna, unsure of the time difference. After a slightly awkward exchange of obligatory pleasantries, Roger’s tone becomes more formal. He tells Bree he has some news “about your mother”. He tells Bree about Fraser’s Ridge, near Grandfather Mountain, where the Scottish festival was held, and of the land grant of 10,000 acres. He goes on to quote from a letter  from a woman to her family in England … “his wife Claire, a healer”. Bree is overwhelmed, it means so much to her to know that her mother was reunited with Jamie. She thanks Roger for looking, despite what happened between them. There is more awkwardness as Roger makes excuses and they say goodbye.

359EBB98-01B9-466E-A7E6-39192FF39F6B

In the dark, a fire burns outside the lean-to which is the Fraser’s temporary home. Inside a fire crackles, as Claire suggests they could build elsewhere on their 10,000 acres. Jamie, says no, this is the place, a stream, tillable soil, and sheltered from the east wind. Again, Claire says perhaps they could move further away from the shared border, but Jamie knows a line on a map won’t stop the Indians. Claire is concerned that her Indian ghost was a warning to them, but ghost or no ghost, Jamie’s feeling for this land is deep, the mountain has spoken to him, this is the place they will settle. Jamie is frustrated he cannot communicate with the tribe to let them know he means to honour the boundary lines, and be a considerate neighbor. Claire suggests a gesture of goodwill is needed. Jamie agrees and decides to speak to John Quincy Myers the next day. They settle down to sleep, until Rollo starts barking. Awakened, they prepare to face the Cherokee. They exit their lean-to hut, armed, scanning the woods for the Indians. Their stash of meat has been stolen. The sound of cracking branches is heard, Jamie and Ian aim their rifles towards a slight movement in the distance. However instead of Indians they find Finley the horse limping towards camp. The horse has gashes consistent with being clawed by a bear.

DFFB539B-1FA9-44D4-9488-2756CF833CEC

Next morning we find Jamie at John Quincy Myers camp discussing the bear as Myers places strips of meat laid on sticks over a smoky fire.  Myers recalls the Cherokee have mentioned being troubled by a Tskili Yona, an evil spirit in the form of a bear. Myers offers Jamie meat to help replace what was stolen, and while Jamie is reluctant to accept Myers is down to earth in telling Jamie that food is essential to keep their wits about them. He tells Myers about the boundary posts being returned, and that he wishes to make a gesture of goodwill to the Indians. Luckily Myers has some tobacco to gift to the Indians ease the situation. Myers also tells Jamie the Cherokee words “Siyo ginali”, a respectful greeting, however he says perhaps it is best that he make contact with the Cherokee on Jamie’s behalf. 

Back in camp Ian and Claire sit side by side, Ian mending a net (torn by a large fish) and Claire gutting trout. Claire admires Ian skill with mending the net, likening it to knitting. Claire confesses she can’t knit. Ian tells Claire that everyone at Lallybroch can “clickit”, yes, even Jamie. Ian promises to teach Claire when he can get his hands on a skein of wool. 

16F47A8D-AF03-491D-8B2F-8A4A7200E147

Ian is still concerned about the bear. Claire hopes it has gone back into hibernation. Ian and Claire go about their work in camp, all the while we feel they are being observed. 

As Jamie approaches we see Claire doing some shooting practice, just in case the bear decides to come back to camp. She aims and shoots a block of wood on a stump. She is accurate, but Jamie can tell the powder wasn’t properly tamped down. Claire mentions how difficult it must be for men to properly load a rifle in the heat of battle. Jamie loads the rifle, tamping the powder more firmly, and shoots a similar target, it vaporises! 

93D3F884-4276-4E86-8196-8F1FA6A39E97

Later, in the dark we see Native Americans silently walking through the woods, carrying flaming torches to light their path. Back at Fraser’s Ridge Rollo begins to rouse from sleep, whimpering. Jamie wakes, instantly reaching for his rifle, Claire and Ian also. Cut to another scene of the Indians carrying their torches aloft. Jamie ventures outside of their shelter, aiming down the barrel of his rifle and he swivels looking for whatever disturbed Rollo, who begins to bark. Neither Ian or Jamie can see anything out of place, but Rollo continues to bark and they hear a noise, a human groan. They hurry to find John Quincy Myers laying injured on the ground. His stomach slashed and bleeding, he utters the words Tskili Yona as Claire attempts to staunch the blood with her bare hands.

605FDDDE-1BAD-4A8A-8294-6A653F32EFBA

The procession of Indians have arrived at their destination, the Council House where a ceremony is taking place. Adawehi is present, performing a ritual, surrounded by the tribe. 

Jamie instructs Ian to stay and help Claire with Myers. He goes off to find the bear, walking deeper into the forest. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest the Indian ceremony continues.

Jamie hears rustling and sets down his torch. Snuffling noises are heard, Jamie shoots and must reload his rifle, it’s time consuming. The Indian ceremony continues. Claire is treating Myers and notices bite marks, made by a human.

Jamie is set upon from behind, by a crazed man wearing a bearskin, with bear claws tied to his hand. Tskili Yona is a man. Jamie fights him barehanded, sustaining injury from the claws. The Tskili Yona attacks Jamie with a knife. Jamie falls to the ground, and he battles the man in desperate close combat until he is able to rise and run, still pursued. Jamie grabs a marker post and as his attacker lurches towards him he spears him with the post. The attacker is dead. Back at the Indian ceremony Adawehi seems to sense a change in the atmosphere.

Next morning, we see Jamie dragging a timber framed litter, weighed down by the dead man. Jamie is uncertain of the reaction which awaits him as he enters the Indian camp. The men are stern faced as Jamie speaks the respectful Cherokee greeting Myers had taught him. Tawodi pointedly asks Jamie if he killed the man. Jamie says he did. Tawodi repeats the words Tskili Yona and tensions abate, the Indians lowering their weapons. Jamie says it is a man not a monster. Tawodi wisely says “oftentimes, man is monster.” The Indians knew the monster was a man. One who was banished from the tribe to live alone in the forest, but returned to the tribe again and again. He was invisible to the tribe, their rejection having made him lose his mind, and take the form of a bear. He returned to the tribe, destroying shelters and stealing food. The tribe  could not kill him, as he was already dead to them. Jamie says he is not Tskili, he and his family wish to live peacefully and he pledges his word to the Cherokee who stand looking very serious.

5879568A-43AC-4ED4-8F00-8413807B204B

Back at camp Claire is giving Myers instructions on keeping well, Jamie and Ian are also present as the Cherokee arrive. Jamie is unsure of their intentions and approaches them looking fierce, pistol in hand.

The Cherokee chief speaks, Tawodi translates that the chief prays no more blood is spilled between them, Jamie agrees that it is their wish as well. More Cherokee words are exchanged, including yona dihi, Tawodi explains it means “Bear Killer” and that is how Jamie will be known to the Cherokee. Jamie realises the honour and asks the Indians to join them to make their acquaintance now that they have reached Common Ground.

DC9DE76A-F102-4124-AF66-A55FA2AF7822

Claire meets Giduhwa and Adawehi, her husband’s grandmother. Adawehi has a message for Claire, she dreamed about Claire… the moon was in the water, Claire became a white raven, flew over the water and swallowed the moon. The white raven flew back and laid an egg in the palm of Adawehi’s hand. The egg split open to reveal a shining stone inside, it had great magic to heal sickness. Claire understands Adawehi is a healer, Giduhwa confirms this, saying she is a very powerful healer. Adawehi has another message. While Claire has medicine now, her power will be full when Claire has white hair.  Wisdom beyond time will come to Claire when she has hair as white as snow. Further, Claire must not be troubled, death is sent from the gods. It will not be Claire’s fault. The Indian ladies look kindly upon Claire as she says she is not sure she understands.

A0C387AA-05C4-41F0-9B71-33284A1D9B48

Back at Inverness… Roger brings a box downstairs, thanking Fiona for storing them. Fiona asks if Roger has spoken to “her”. The answer is yes, Roger did talk to Bree for 5 minutes, though he isn’t sure if she was pleased to hear from him or at the news he brought. Roger is being cagey in what he says to Fiona, but Fiona knows exactly what happened before, with Claire going back in time to find Jamie Fraser. Roger’s open mouthed expression is priceless as he realises Fiona knows everything, but tries to make out he doesn’t understand what she’s just said.

D176A011-758D-475A-A6C3-28A6AD6669DF

Fiona explains she overheard everything, and with her Granny being a caller at the stones knows about people disappearing. Fiona was concerned about Bree, being separated from her mother. Roger tells her he kept searching for evidence that Claire had found Jamie. At least Bree knows now, but she hasn’t contacted Roger again. He is crestfallen, but senses Fiona knows more. Fiona tells him her Granny used to help the Reverend with his research, as she goes to a drawer, taking out a folder of some of her Granny’s papers, she opens it revealing a copy of an obituary notice stating James MacKenzie Fraser and his wife died in a conflagration in their settlement of Fraser’s Ridge on 21 January 1770… something… the date is smudged.

50BFC986-149B-478A-BD6B-88199C07CA0A

Roger know they received the land in 1968, so sometime in the next 12 years they die. He knows Brianna will be devastated, but he says to Fiona that he can’t tell her. Fiona feels Bree should know the truth, that her mother is dead. A distressed Roger raises his voice, saying Claire has been dead for over 200 years (time travel conundrum!), which Brianna knows, but this news will break her heart all over again. Fiona returns the folder to the drawer.

Back on Fraser’s Ridge, Jamie, very much alive, is chopping down a tree while Claire sharpens an axe… and Ian also pitches in to build their new home, once again observed by Rollo. The shape of the cabin rises from the cleared ground, steps rising to nowhere as Jamie carries Claire over the threshold. Jamie gives Claire a tour of their new home and happily embrace, with Claire saying “It’s perfect.”

B41DCDB3-8669-43EE-8EC4-41A54A795380

Back in Oxford Roger sits grimly at his desk, eventually deciding to pick up the phone. He dials Brianna. Brianna’s roommate Gayle, answers, checking he is “the Roger”.

68EC27D3-929B-4F0B-95F0-1A59D72F874E

Gayle tells Roger Brianna is not home, surprised that Brianna didn’t tell him that she went to Scotland to visit her mother. Brianna went a couple of weeks ago, and Gayle thought he would have seen Brianna by now. Roger is silent with shock and after a while tells Gayle he’ll try her again. He hangs up the phone, sitting back in his chair.

The end.