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Outlander Season 4, Episode 1 – America The Beautiful

Here is my recap of Outlander Season 4 Episode 1 – America The Beautiful 

I write recaps, not critical reviews, and I try to find insights which link back to previous episodes and which may foreshadow future events. 

2000 BC, people clad in skins and furs build cairns around a standing stone monolith, add fire and dancing around the stone circle we are flung back in time reminded of the ancient traditions associated with stone circles. Fast forward and we see Native Indians repeating their celebration of the myth, mystery and superstitions of the stones. The circle of life is never far away.

With some voice over from Claire we are taken forward in time once more, to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1767 and a hanging.

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The noose is directly in our sight, completely unavoidable. Just like being hung is unavoidable for poor Gavin Hayes who we see being visited by Jamie who suggests a plan to rescue him. Hayes knows this would only bring the people he loves into further jeopardy, and he is willing to accept his fate.

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Jamie’s humanity has not gone unnoticed. Another prisoner eyes him speculatively and asks for a drink of the rum Jamie brought for Gavin. Unhesitatingly, Jamie shares the bottle with the man. Keen of eye and ear Bonnet immediately imposes on Jamie. As much as I find absolute horror in hanging at least Hayes wasn’t condemned for a petty crime.

The prisoners are led to their fate. The gallows await. Hayes is first. All he wants at this moment is to see Jamie’s face. Jamie rushes forward to give his friend some degree of comfort, his smiling face. The worst happens, Hayes is hung. It’s not a pretty sight. Lesley is distraught at what has happened to his close friend. He cries out, rushing forward as arms reach out to stop him. During the stramash Bonnet, opportunity taker that he is, escapes.

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Jamie asks Fergus and Lesley to claim Gavin’s body. Jamie, Claire and Marsali leave to find Ian. Ian is found, but he is not alone! It seems Ian has been gambling. Jamie does not approve! But Ian has been lucky winning some cash and a huge dog, introduced to us as Rollo (taken from “a roll of the dice”).

They all meet up at a tavern. Fergus reports that the Minister will not allow Gavin to be buried in consecrated ground without substantial payment. Jamie knows Gavin was afeared of bad spirits and decides they will bury him in the graveyard themselves. 

Lesley begins to sing a caithris for his friend Gavin Hayes. All join in…

Marsali is looking tired and pale and wishes to rest. 

They head off to bury Hayes in the churchyard. Lesley staying with Claire at the wagon and Jamie and Ian digging Gavin’s grave. 

Jamie is alarmed when Ian freaks out… the pit of the grave recalling haunting memories Geillis stepping out of her bloodbath, of sexual assault and attempted murder. He feels guilt as a festering pain inside… How could he have felt pleasure?  How you can do it without wishing to and all the while it feels pleasing. Jamie tells Ian “your cock hasna a conscience, but you have”. Mirroring Jamie’s own trauma in Season If there is anyone who understands Ian’s situation it is Jamie.

As they are about to unload the wagon Lesley reminisces about Gavin Hayes… “life wi’out him doesn’t seem right”.  Foreshadowing his own demise.

Rollo growls, there is a stramash in the wagon… Bonnet is hiding there. He begs Jamie to convey him to safety. He imposes upon Jamie’s humanity. After Hayes is buried Jamie and Claire head out in the wagon with Bonnet hidden in the tray. After the escape of the condemned prisoner sentries abound. Redcoats stop them, stab the “body” – Bonnet… and they go on their way. Bonnet’s leg is slightly wounded… Claire tends him. He sees her wedding bands. You can see his mind ticking over. Nothing escapes him. He truly is a scoundrel.

He tells Claire he is not afraid of the noose…  and a story of being plagued by thoughts of drowning… one day we will know if that really bothers him. He’s clever. Finding a way to get Claire to empathise with him. Bonnet sets off to find his associates on the river. He states “And I won’t bother you again. You have my word.”

Jamie and Claire, at last, find themselves alone. A night in the woods! Yay! What can happen… oh wow! Jamie’s chest!

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First law of thermodynamics! I want to be alive with you! Both birth and death makes us want to live our lives to the fullest, to be more alive. Both Jamie and Claire feel desire rise in them, needing an affirmation of life. They find it in each other. We rejoice!

Next morning we see Jamie and Claire ready themselves for the day, pausing to take in the magnificent views. They talk of the American Dream… what of the native Americans… Jamie has empathy and realises the parallel of the Highlanders being dispossessed. 

They return to town, a dinner party awaits at one on the grandest homes in Wilmington, following an invitation by a Mr Lillington . They prepare for the dinner, dressed in their finest clothes. Jamie’s obviously salvaged from a chest which survived the shipwreck of the Artemis, and Claire dressed in clothes which she seems a little unsure about, maybe given to her by Mrs Olivier in Georgia. Jamie gives Claire a necklet with a large ruby set in gold. He had arranged for one of the gems retrieved from the box found on the Silkies Isle, (and subsequently stolen by Geillis) to be set by a local jeweller. Their aim is to sell the gem to another dinner guest, Baron Penzler to raise funds to secure their future.

The dinner goes well, the Baron unable to resist the ruby or Claire, nor can the other men ignore her charms. Another guest, the sister of man about town Phillip Wylie, Judith Wylie is obviously jealous of Claire and cuttingly comments on her hairstyle. 

Jamie is called to a private audience with Governor Tryon (played by Sam Heughan’s old friend Tim Downie, check out their commercials for Tennants lager if you haven’t seen them already – saddle the unicorns!)

Both Lillington and the Governor make it clear they understand Jamie’s association with River Run and Jocasta Cameron. 

Jamie is invited to have a private meeting with Governor Tryon. The Governor speaks of land grants and opportunity for industrious folk with skills to work the land. The Governor makes it clear that rules about payment can be broken. Jamie has (due to necessity) untaken an oath of loyalty to the Crown. The offer is intriguing, but requires more consideration. There may be hope of a fresh start in the New World, perhaps…

Back in their room post dinner Jamie says they now have enough money for their passage back to Scotland (where is now safe to return, Lord John Grey having stepped in to get the warrant against Jamie withdrawn) and to get a new printing press and set Claire up as Healer. They have a lot to think about. Claire appraises Jamie of facts of the future of the Colony. Jamie considers the options. Knowing this country will become Brianna’s home in the future weighs heavily on his mind. Despite the knowledge of troubles to come, the concept that he can contribute to making the New World a better place for Brianna sways him. They make a decision.

Next morning at the tavern, Jamie announces that he and Claire have decided to stay in America. Ian think is is a fine idea!However, Jamie is still firm that Ian must return to Scotland for Jenny’s sake. 

Lesley, Fergus and Marsali can make their own decisions about their futures and Jamie distributes funds from the sale of the ruby to them, and there is extra to pay as alimony to Marsali’s mother (we dont really want to say her name do we?).

Lesley want to stay at Jamie’s side. Fergus and Marsali have news of their own. Marsali is pregnant (despite efforts by Claire to give her advice on preventing pregnancy!), and they also wish to stay, in Wilmington, where Marsali intends to find work as a seamstress, and Fergus will seek employment.

Young Ian’s return to Scotland on the Campagnia is planned for a few weeks, in the meantime he will accompany Jamie, Claire and Lesley to River Run.

The trip by riverboat awaits… their worldly goods are loaded aboard and there is conversation about the future, meeting Jocasta (she’s a MacKenzie!) who Jamie has not seen since he was a wee lad. Claire is distressed at the sight of a elderly man she presumes is a slave constantly standing to propel the riverboat. The Captain Freeman tells them that Eutroclus is now a free man, having been instrumental in saving his life, and is earning a fair wage for his work. I believe this scene is to demonstrate to Claire that slaves can be freed.

The trip proceeds apparently uneventful. Jamie brings Claire a box, a small chest. Claire is thrilled, almost overcome, to find the medical chest filled with bottles and instruments. Jamie is delighted to be able to give Claire a gift, since his ability to give her things such as jewels has been very limited. It’s of no matter to Claire, his ring is all she needs. Claire has left Jamie’s mother’s pearls with Brianna. They are happy, their mutual love undoubted.

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Night falls and the riverboat is moored to the bank. All is calm as the travellers sleep. It is Rollo who first senses danger. Stephen Bonnet with his pirate compatriots are attacking them. In violent confrontations Jamie, Lesley, Ian and Claire are attacked. Jamie is taken outside, outnumbered and robbed. In a heartless stroke Bonnet slices Lesley’s throat open when he turns to help Claire.

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Bonnet turns to Claire seeking her rings, stopping her from helping Lesley. She twists off both rings and tries to swallow them. He violently grabs her, holding her by the throat.

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Bonnet puts his fingers in her mouth trying to get at them (for me I had a big flashback to Randall putting his fingers in Jenny’s mouth at Lallybroch). Bonnet manages to get Jamie’s ring out of her mouth as she chokes trying to swallow Frank’s ring. After the pirates leave Claire manages to cough up the gold ring.

They have been attacked, pummelled, robbed and worse, Lesley has been murdered. So, from a position of having money and resources for their future they find themselves penniless.