Inverness 1970 Roger sits on a lone chair, a few boxes scattered in the room, playing his guitar, as the Reverend’s house stands almost empty. Fiona and her husband Ernie arrive beginning to move into their new home. He has a gift for Fiona, a jar of salt and a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Ernie cracks open the bottle. There are no glasses so they all share a drink straight from the bottle… Roger presses a set of house keys into Fiona’s hand as she teases about Roger going to America for a Scottish festival. Roger has been invited to play. Ernie sees the irony of Roger going to America to play at a Scottish Festival, and Fiona points out it’s not the only reason. Roger is courting a lass from America. Fiona sends Ernie off to instruct the removal men so she can have a private word with Roger.
She asks when he saw Brianna last… Brianna visited Oxford over summer and they spent another Christmas together in Boston. They also write and have the occasional telephone conversation. Communications were much more difficult and expensive… it’s been hard, with Roger’s teaching and Brianna’s studies… Fiona says he has to tell her, Roger feigns ignorance. So she spells it out, that he is in love with Brianna, and she tells him to go get her!
Meanwhile at River Run we find see Claire, arms crossed, her eyes red rimmed from tears, chin dimpled in tension, unhappily standing on the porch. Inside, Jamie is telling Jocasta they must leave… the concept of owning slaves is untenable for them, they must move on and control their own destiny. Jamie will only be master to his own soul. They will keep to the plan they had before they came to River Run, to take Ian back to Wilmington to board a ship for Scotland and they will travel west into the mountains where Jamie has learned of a town with many Scottish settlers. Woolam’s Creek, Jocasta says. Jamie says Claire can practice her healing and he can find work as a printer. Jocasta scoffs at the suggestion, as Jamie hands back the pouch of money. Jocasta will not accept it back and admonishes that Jamie should not let his pride stand in the way of his family’s security. Ulysses has arranged horses and a wagon with provisions, along with a rifle and some pistols. Jamie expresses his gratitude as Jocasta moving to a table in the hallway says there is one last thing… a pair of silver candlesticks. They were Jamie’s mother’s and Jocasta “kens” she should want Jamie to have them. Jamie looks Jocasta directly in her eyes, then to the candlesticks. He gently reaches for one, picking it up he looks emotional and says he will treasure them. Jocasta comforts herself with the words “No good comes grieving over what is already lost” as she desperately wants to look upon the face of the only family she has, however denied by her blindness, she must settle for touching his cheek. He reaches for her hand and kisses it.
Jamie and Ian were walking briskly through the hallways, Jamie is telling Ian he has already told him “No”, he has promised Jenny and Ian that Young Ian will return home where he belongs. Ian objects, he doesn’t belong to anyone, and protests that he will not be on his own he will be with Jamie and Claire. Once more Jame insists Ian is going home and Ian retorts about Jamie sailing to France when he was younger than Ian is now. Jamie was fighting a war at Ian’s age. Jamie responds about that country, at least being civilised, compared to the savages and unknown dangers of the New World. Ian then gives Jamie a laundry list of events he has already faced. His is not the lad who left Scotland he is a man now, with free will to choose the place he calls home. Impressed by Ian fortitude and the logic of his statements, Jamie says he will not stand in Ian’s way any longer and that he will write to Ian’s parents. Ian, promptly says a man writes his own letter and word of his decision to stay in America will come from him. Jamie sends him away to write the letter as they are leaving that day. Smiling broadly Ian rushes off to do it.
Claire comes to say goodbye to Jocasta who wishes the events of the night before had been different. It’s an awkward meeting between the two women who love Jamie. Despite her blindness, Jocasta does understand how much Claire loves Jamie. Grudgingly, Claire gives Jocasta a compliment before saying her goodbye. Jocasta speaks up again, saying Claire is doing Jamie a disservice, his passion for Claire is the reason Jamie would not accept her offer, to fulfil his destiny. If Claire loved Jamie as much as she claims then she would want him to be the man he was born to be… a laird, a leader of men. Not stifling his potential as a small town printer. Claire’s final words to Jocasta are less than cordial, challenging what she knows about them after knowing them only a few days. Claire can stand no more, and thanks Jocasta for her hospitality and leaves the room.
Outside we find Jamie and Ulysses doing final checks of the harnesses of the animals… and we get to meet Clarence! A loud braying mule. Phaedre, smilingly, tells Claire she has packed some food for their journey. As Ulysses and Phaedre return up the path we see Jocasta standing on the porch.
As Claire, Jamie and Ian finish packing goods onto the wagon a man riding a horse arrives, whom Ian is delighted to introduce as John Quincy Myers. Jamie acknowledges Myers help in ridding Rollo of the stink of the skunk. Myers has been informed by Jocasta they are travelling west to Woolam’s Creek. He is going the same direction and would be pleased to guide them into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jamie tips his hat in thanks and they move off, being observed by a stoic Jocasta. As they move away Jamie waves his arm, holding his hat. As always, Ulysses serves as Jocasta’s eyes, and informs her that Jamie bids her farewell.
A departure, and next an arrival as we see Roger amidst other passengers entering an airport, smiling as he sees Brianna approaching him. He has arrived in Boston.
Stopping in front of Brianna and putting his luggage down she smiles broadly back at him. Awkwardly, they embrace, despite the fact they are pleased to see each other. Roger foreshadows turbulence, oh dear should we tell him? We see a sedan, Brianna’s blue Mustang, heading down the highway. “…Friends, inquisitive friends are asking what’s come over me?”… plays as their car travels many miles, leaving Boston behind for the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside the car we find Brianna and Roger sharing French fries and a chocolate malt. It is obvious they have been travelling for hours and it’s Roger’s turn to drive as they play a game. The minister’s cat is a lot of things as they playfully banter on the long drive. Brianna teases Roger by calling him pretty, even though he has ketchup on his cheek! The banter continues as Brianna reaches across and kisses him, the car swerves dangerously but they both laugh and giggle. Their car continues along the road, Grandfather Mountain in the background, as we seamlessly go back in time to see Jamie, Claire, Myers and Ian travel in the wagon and on horseback the same curve with the mountain backdrop. Myers tells them about the area, its background and current owners, the Cherokee. Ian’s interest is immediately sparked and he mentions Myer’s “interactions” with the Indian women, much to Claire and Jamie’s amusement.
We see a sweeping autumnal mountain vista as the wagon continues its journey, scenic waterfalls and tall trees… after dark, around a campfire Myers tells them he must make his own way the next day on a trading mission. Myers, promising Ian’s safety, has asked Ian to accompany him on the diversion. They will take the wagon and meet Jamie and Claire at Woolam’s Creek. Jamie gives his agreement. A grateful Ian goes off to help Myers with the horses (and Clarence!).
Jamie and Claire are alone at the fire while Ian and Myers attend to the horses. Claire is enjoying the open air and starry night, but Jamie is unsure, asking if she wouldn’t prefer to start a new life in Boston for example. Claire wants them to make a home together in a place of their own, not a place where she has already lived a life, especially as it is the origin of the seeds of a revolution.
Next morning finds Jamie and Claire alone, riding through forest, happy in their own company, talking about life in the future, Brianna and choices in life. Thunder rumbles and they both look skywards, a storm is brewing. They plan to find cover in a town (good luck with that Jamie!) but their progress is halted by a horse with a problem shoe. Rain is already falling as Jamie tends to the horse. Claire, her thoughts of Jamie’s future awakened by Jocasta’s prompting, talks of Jamie’s past occupations… tending horses, a printer, a smuggler, a seditionist, an outlaw. Jamie cares nothing about himself, he could live as an outlaw still, but now he has others to consider, Claire and Ian, Fergus and Marsali. He fears he has nothing to give her. A tremendous crash of thunder signals worsening of the storm, Clarence brays in alarm. They must camp where they are. More thunder alarms Clarence even more and he breaks free of his rope. Claire quickly mounts her horse to go and bring back the mule.
A magnificent willow stag and colourful balloons come into view… we’re not in the 18th century anymore. Cheery folk music plays, Scottish dancers perform, men in kilts and cars of the 70’s show we are at a Scottish festival in America. Roger and Brianna stroll through the crowds, smiling at each other and enjoying lighthearted conversation. We see them enter a large tent, Grandfather Mountain looms large in the background. Inside, people mill around enjoying the camaraderie of the festival. Brianna is surprised at the number of Scots in the area and Roger mentions the area was settled by Scots in the 18th century and is immediately concerned for her. Brianna says she is not upset, but she does wonder if Claire ever made it back and found Jamie. Their smiles fade slightly as they talk. Brianna notices a man doing Highland Clan portraits and she wants a drawing of the two of them.
Drawing in hand, they wander away from the tent looking happy. Energetic folk music is heard and they are drawn to it… Inside another tent musicians play and people dance. Brianna wants to join the fun, so they do! Grab his hand and spin for 16 beats! Wow! I’d be dizzy and falling over! The vision slows, focusing solely on Brianna and Roger, in their own bubble amongst the crowd.
Back in the 18th century Jamie has finished shoeing his horse as the rain and thunder continues. Braying madly, Clarence returns, but not Claire. Jamie calls for her, she is nowhere to be seen.
Claire is riding through the forest calling out for Clarence. Just as she realises she is lost lightning strikes a tree directly in front of her. Her horse rears and she falls. Claire lays unconscious on the leaf strewn ground as her frightened horse runs off.
Returning to the Scottish Festival we see Roger has taken his place on stage for his performance. He plays the guitar as Brianna, smiling widely, sits in the audience. A jaunty instrumental song ends and Roger takes centre stage, he sits to play a more gentle tune and sing a Scottish folk song. “I once loved a lass. I loved her sae weel.” “She’s gone to be wed to another…” a song of love and loss. Brianna sits enraptured by Roger’s singing and the song. The lyrics turn mystical “How many strawberries grow in the south sea?” Brianna removes the drawing from her satchel and admires it. There is much cheering and applause as the song ends.
Night has fallen and we see a sign showing details of Brianna’s lodging for the evening. North Carolina Highlander Lodges, Est. 1944, cabin number 10. Brianna praises Roger for his musical talents and teases about what other hidden talents he may have. He kisses her goodnight, and she kisses back. They are both breathless. He turns to go to his own cabin, next door, when Bree asks him to wait. She has bought him something, a book. “A Home from Home: Scottish Settlers in Colonial America.” He thanks her. Then she presents him with a bottle of Mountain Moonshine, and she entices him in for a wee dram.
The mounted head of a deer surveys the room. The level in the bottle of whisky is substantially down, as Bree and Roger continue to drink. They both find the deer head creepy, Roger approaches it for a closer look and make some jokes. Suddenly a white garment, Brianna’s blouse, is tossed over the antlers and Roger turns wide eyed to find Brianna partially undressed. He reaches over to kiss her and they embrace. His hand slides down her back and cups her body. Out of breath and off balance they tumble to the floor, wrapt up in the moment until Roger (good old fashioned minister’s son that he is) breaks their embrace. He wants it to be perfect, it seems an idea has created a mind over matter situation. She protests that it IS perfect. He steps away and goes to get a small box. Embarrassed, Brianna sits on the floor, her arms crossed protectively over her body. Roger retrieves her blouse from the deer head and places it over her shoulders. He helps her up from the floor, and she sits, shrugging her arms into her blouse as he hands her the box asking her to open it. Brianna opens the box to find a silver bangle, engraved inside with the words “je t’aime un peu, beacoup, passionnement, pas du tout.” “I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all.”? Words from a French children’s rhyme Roger tells Bree. It was just meant to be a gift, but Bree is right, the weekend has been perfect. Roger has a declaration, he takes a deep breath and tells Brianna “I want you, Brianna. I cannot say it more plainly than that.” He loves her and she reciprocates the feeling. He goes down on one knee, clasping her hands and asks her to marry him.
Brianna is taken aback as Roger explains he wants her by his side, as his wife, to have a home together with dogs and children… even if it means a long engagement. But Brianna is just not ready for such a huge commitment and she stops him. Now he is embarrassed, stepping away to pick up his jacket. Brianna launches herself at him, he is now shocked and she is dismayed. Their values clash, after angry words from Roger, Brianna retaliates and slaps him across the face. If Brianna doesn’t care enough to marry him, then he doesn’t care enough to have her in his bed.
Nothing is making sense to either of them at this point. They argue, they love each other but both end up miserable. He leaves her alone in the cabin, eyes full of tears.
In darkness lightning lights the sky and rain falls as Claire finally wakes after her fall. She groans and grunts getting to her feet in the downpour, calling out for Jamie as she looks around for some shelter. The large base of a fallen tree provides some respite from the rain.
In another part of the forest Jamie is riding, calling out for Claire.
Claire unzips her 1968 boots, and empties water from them as she tries to find a comfortable place to sit and rest. Settling further under the canopy formed by the fallen tree she sees the shine of a white object. Brushing away soggy leaves she uncovers a skull with an obvious crack at the back. Wolves howl, unsettling Claire even more as she looks out into dark depths of the forest illuminated only by lightning.
Jamie rides on, eventually finding Claire’s horse which he ties to his own amidst the tumult of the storm.
Claire observes the massive crack in the skull and sees a glimmer amongst the leaves, it is a large opal. She cleans off the stone asking if it belonged to the long dead person whose skull she hold in her hands. As if in response a flaming torch appears in the forest. Claire calls out for Jamie until she backs off quickly upon realising it is not him. The man, painted face and dressed in Indian garb, approaches her relentlessly. The man, unsmiling, stands looking directly at her, the opal hung from a cord around his neck. Wordlessly, he turns, and an injury equal to the crack on the skull is clearly seen. He walks off and is gone leaving a confused Claire.
Metal drums hold fires amid a circle of elevated seating, taking pride of place in the center is a large willow work stag. It is the Calling of The Clans. A man playing bagpipes lead a procession of men proudly holding their Clan banners and others including Roger, holding unlit torches. He scans the crowd looking for Brianna, but is disappointed as he takes a seat. Belatedly, Brianna arrives and asks his permission to join him. He shuffles along, making room. They both begin to apologise to each other, but Roger pushes the envelope asking Brianna if she has changed her mind. Her answer is no… It’s complicated for Brianna, who has seen a marriage of obligation and she is not at all sure that marriage is for her. But Roger doesn’t understand and as she cannot commit to him, feels rejected. The Calling of the Clans begins. A man from each clan in turn announce their presence, light their torches and stand around the stag.
Finally Roger says, “I’ll have you all or not at all”. Brianna tries to return the silver bangle, but he insists she keeps the gift. They look seriously and unhappily into each other’s eyes. Clan Mackenzie is called and Roger moves off to take his part in the calling. He looks towards her seated before turning towards the stag. All cheer as the stag quickly ignites, flames reaching high. When Roger looks back to where Bree was sitting he finds an empty seat. He looks anxiously around the crowd… no Bree. He looks despondent as the stag continues to burn.
Daylight has returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The bright light and chirping birds wake Claire. She takes in her situation, looking around for her boots, but they’re are nowhere to be seen. It doesn’t make sense to her. She stands, continuing to search for them, and rather than seeing her boots she sees footprints. She starts to follow them, still confused she goes back for the skull and opal. The footprints lead into the forest to a stream where she sees Jamie crouching by the water. They run to each other.
He asks if Claire is hurt. She says no, she is just glad she found him. He is grateful she had the wits to come back to this spot, but Claire says she’s never been there before. Jamie says “What about those?” Pointing to Claire’s boots. She asks where he got them. He tells her they were there, by the stream and he wondered why she had gone off in stockinged feet. She asks if he saw anyone nearby, or, hesitatingly, anything. Jamie has not, just Claire’s horse. Jamie has been led to the stream himself by following the footprints, Claire says “Me too.”, she has never seen the stream before, and she didn’t walk there in her boots. Sensibly, Jamie asks who did! Claire explains she saw an Indian, or a ghost of an Indian who has brought them back together. They embrace… Jamie says Claire should wash and rest after her harrowing night. Later we see Claire by the water’s edge cleaning dirt from the skull, revealing silver fillings, something which won’t be invented for another 100 years. The skull of another time traveller.
After riding once more through the tall trees, they stop to rest. Claire finds wild strawberries growing and picks some. She hands one to Jamie who tells her they are the emblem of the Fraser clan, harking back to the Frenchman, Monsieur Freseliere who came to Scotland and took land in the Highlands. They share a wee joke about Mister Strawberry, did he grow them or was he just fond of eating them?
Jamie rises from the strawberry patch, looking out over the vast view before them… he says this is the most beautiful land he has ever seen. Sighing Claire agrees as Jamie envisions crops and animals on the land. Claire looks to Jamie saying she knows the look on his face. He is in love! With the land.
Pushing aside any thoughts of town living, Jamie knows this is where they must settle, however that means doing a deal with the devil, Governor Tryon, and later dealing with what Claire knows is to come.
Does Claire trust him with her life, with her heart? Yes, she does… always.
Jamie announces they will call the land Fraser’s Ridge, as we see them embrace, turned towards the stunning vista.