There have been a number of departures with Outlander season 4 from the books, but Sunday night’s “Common Ground” may have one of the most notable ones. In the end, we think this one actually works in terms of an emotional undercurrent.
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One of the most-iconic scenes within the source material Drums of Autumn is when Jamie Fraser gets in to a fight with a bear. We imagine that, for production reasons, finding a way in order to mimic that on the series was not altogether easy (or cost effective). There aren’t exactly many bears roaming around in Scotland where the series films! Rather than try to deal with the extreme challenges of pitting Sam Heughan against an actual bear, the story instead pivoted so that this “bear” was really just a man, one who had adopted wild and bear-like tendencies after a descent into madness. He was shunned by his Cherokee community after he started to turn violent towards a woman within the tribe and in eliminating him from the world, Jamie was actually able to build a bridge between his family and the local tribe.
It all comes back to the title of this episode, as over the course of this episode Jamie had to struggle to see if there was any sort of commonality that linked him, Claire, and Ian to these people. Understandably, the Cherokee were threatened by his presence. They felt like he could be yet another white man intent on murdering their people without regard for the ramifications. Upon killing the bear-man (as good of a story twist as the writers could have constructed, all things considered), the bridge was built and Jamie made it clear that he wanted nothing more than peace between the people.
For those of you who wanted to see more of Jamie the fighter, this was your episode. In between this, the political intrigue of his meeting with the Governor, and also some of his scenes with Claire, this was arguably the best Sam Heughan episode of the entire season. He had a little bit to do across the board and that’s something we certainly do embrace.
Is Brianna set to meet her dad?
We knew that we would be inching closer to Bree going through the stones at some point this season, but surprisingly, she may be already on her way. After making a discovery regarding Claire and Jamie in the material Brianna gave him, Roger called her up to make it clear that Claire had reunited with Jamie. Beyond just that, the two of them were in North Carolina together, roughly around the same place in which they visited the Highland Festival. This phone call was a chance for the two to reconnect, but whether it be due to Roger’s own insecurity or the awkwardness that stemmed from their last encounter, the two kept things fairly short.
Yet, this one conversations seems to have been enough in order to inspire Brianna to go back to Scotland, presumably to visit her mother based on what she told her roommate, who in turn told Roger. He was calling her up after the second major revelation he had uncovered, this time from Fiona — Jamie and Claire both apparently die in a fire at Fraser’s Ridge, at some point in the 1770’s. It remains unclear if this is in the near future, or on the other side of the American Revolution. Roger waffled as to whether or not to tell her the truth, fearing as though the information could only cause her more pain. Yet, he eventually opted to give her a call, and that’s when he was told the news about her already departing to Scotland.
What we’re left to wonder now is this: Did Brianna find out some information about Claire on her own, or is knowing that her mother and Jamie are together really the only motivation that she needed in order to travel through time in over to see them? We’re hoping that season 4 episode 5 next week at least does enough to fill in here some of the narrative cracks.
The twist with the bear is almost sure to be polarizing, but if you can separate the series from the books we rather like the message behind it. You have to treat the two as almost two different stories, and both can work perfectly in their own right. This was an episode with a lot of slow-building drama and constant uncertainty, which worked well as you were put in Jamie and Claire’s shoes, struggling at Fraser’s Ridge and not knowing whether it was the Cherokee or a bear who were threatening their livelihood.
Whether it be the story of Jamie and Claire finding their way or Roger desperate for a connection to Brianna, there was a lot of emotional material to unpack within this episode. Beyond all of that, we also think that Bree’s journey to Scotland sets up the biggest cliffhanger of the entire season so far.
What do you think about Outlander season 4 episode 4 as a whole? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments! (Photo: Starz.)