Today, we’ve reached the end of the road for our Outlander perspectives series — at least in turns of raising questions about the exceptional Starz series. We’ve written about memorable characters, outstanding scenes, and today, we’re looking at things in terms of episodes. There are thirteen of them across season 4 and because of that, there’s really no sense in trying to narrow down the list to our own personal favorites.
Take a look at all of the candidates for best season 4 episode below — just remember that, on the other side of this, we want to hear from you! Let’s make this last post in the series as interactive as possible and have your thoughts head. We’ll keep this poll open until Wednesday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, which is when we will share the final results.
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Before getting to the episodes, remember to also check out our video at the bottom of this article for the latest discussion about Jamie Fraser and season 5! If you want to make sure you don’t miss any other updates on the show, be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube right away! We also have a full Outlander playlist with past videos and new ones are are posted every Sunday.
Episode 1, “America the Beautiful” – Obviously, the story that started it all for this season. A visual spectacle to behold plus also the arrival of Ed Speleers as the villainous Stephen Bonnet — this episode showed the true depths of his cruelty, and also set the stage for Jamie and Claire being forced to make a harsher decision regarding their new life. While it seemed as though they wanted to remain in America regardless of Bonnet’s robbery, this cemented their position and put their backs against the wall.
Episode 2, “Do No Harm” – A fantastic episode for Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, but also a painful one for Jamie and Claire Fraser. This episode marks the introduction of Maria Doyle Kennedy as Aunt Jocasta and also exemplifies the complicated dynamics of slavery in North Carolina. It puts the Frasers in a precarious position, but one thing Claire knew for sure in this episode was that she would stop at nothing to help someone — even a slave many white men in the area wanted dead. Her decisions allowed him to at least have a humane parting from this world.
Episode 3, “The False Bride” – Meet Fraser’s Ridge for the first time! Also, see things go from great to bad when it comes to Roger and Brianna! This was an episode about journeys, and moving the plot forward to some necessary places. You also had the introduction of some key mythology (including a fellow time-traveler!) who would prove to be important at the end of the season.
Episode 4, “Common Ground” – This is where Brianna makes the fateful decision to travel back in time, much to the surprise of Roger, and where you see how Jamie and Claire truly operate within their new home in relation to the local Native American tribe. It’s a reminder that peace and cooperation are possible, but also that sometimes, there is a thin line between this and chaos.
Episode 5, “Savages” – Speaking of which, this is chaos — this is where not even Claire’s attempts to be a peacekeeper can resolve a hyper-violent situation. Her life is put on the line and, through her social acumen and also understanding of the world, she is able to save herself. This is also where Jamie is reunited with Murtagh, which provides you a wonderful moment amidst the hardship with Claire.
Episode 6, “Blood of My Blood” – The work between Caitriona Balfe and David Berry in this episode is next-level, as it contains some of our favorite scenes of the entire season. Jamie takes William on a tour of the land, and the differences between the two are made crystal clear; yet, this is still a reminder of the sort of person and father Jamie can be, even to a young man who he’s had very little connection with since birth. It is almost a precursor to how far he will go to protect Brianna.
Episode 7, “Down the Rabbit Hole” – The biggest Roger and Brianna episode in the series’ history. This is about their epic journey, and the lengths that the two went in an effort to get to North Carolina. It brought you back the season 3 world of Scotland, and it also reintroduces Bonnet (alas) and gives you your first look at Lizzie, a character who becomes very important to this season’s saddest misunderstanding.
Episode 8, “Wilmington” – An episode with more range than any other. There are moments in here (Roger and Bree’s handfasting ceremony! Jamie going to great lengths to save Murtagh!) that are celebratory and incredible; then, there’s also one of the most painful moments of the entire series in Brianna’s assault, which comes about after Roger leaves following a heated argument and his decision to not tell Bree about the obituary. The ending of this episode is meant to linger and haunt you for some time after it ends.
Episode 9, “The Birds & The Bees” – The trauma for Brianna is still real, but you get to see arguably the most iconic moment of the season here: Brianna meeting her father for the first time! It’s everything we wanted it to be, and everything that the show needed. The storylines were finally converging! Yet, amidst all of the happy-tears and scenes of Brianna back at Fraser’s ridge, the remnants of the assault remained; that’s what led to the misunderstanding in the closing minutes (Lizzie misidentifying the assaulter) and Jamie putting Roger near death before he orders Young Ian to do away with him.
Episode 10, “The Deep Heart’s Core” – Is there a way to undo what’s been done? It’s such a simple question, but one that is explored in powerful ways here. Roger fights for his life under capture by the Mohawk while Jamie confronts the aftermath of what he did, realizing that he attacked the wrong man and there has to be a way to make things right. With Brianna pregnant, his journey with Claire and Young Ian to Shadow Lake begins.
Episode 11, “If Not for Hope” – While Jamie and Claire travel towards their destination, Brianna finds herself in the terrible position of River Run Bachelorette, where Jocasta wants her to hand out roses (metaphorical ones, at least) to some eligible local Bachelors. She’s not having it, which leads to Lord John Grey stepping in! Their arrangement helps her bide a little time; meanwhile, Murtagh, Fergus, and Marsali work to locate Stephen Bonnet. The good thing is that they find him, but the bad news is that Murtagh is arrested alongside the pirate.
Episode 12, “Providence” – Is Bonnet dead? Probably not, but this episode makes you think that after the prison explosion. It also gives you the Bree – Bonnet confrontation, Murtagh being freed, and then also the tragic story of Roger and his companions at Shadow Lake. Is there a way for him to continue to hold out hope, or is he forever Dogface, the name handed to him by the Mohawk tribe? This is perhaps the greatest acting performance of Richard Rankin’s career.
Episode 13, “Man of Worth” – The end, at least for now. It represents Young Ian’s sacrifice, a heartbreaking farewell, and eventually a reunion as Roger decides to come back to Brianna — even though he didn’t do it right away. Brianna also welcomes her baby into the world and despite everything the Frasers went through this season, there is a happy ending … until of course, Governor Tryon’s men become the ultimate Debbie Downers in telling Jamie he needs to go and build a militia.
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Now, it’s your turn
Let us know your favorite episode of season 4 below! (For us, “The Birds & The Bees” is likely the strongest overall, though we’re also partial to “Blood of My Blood.”) We look forward to seeing your votes and comments. (Photo: Starz.)