After the emotional intensity of “Do No Harm,” it was only fair that Outlander give us an episode chock-full of Jamie and Claire and romance. “The False Bride” mostly does that! Sure, there’s no sex in the woods, even though there was ample time to get the job done, but Jamie says some very swoony things to Claire and there is a lot of butterfly-inducing forehead touching. The plot might not advance much and we might have to put up with Brianna and Roger, but at least we get forehead touching. For now, that’s enough.
It’s a forgone conclusion that after all the horribleness that went down, Jamie and Claire are leaving River Run. Auntie Jocasta can try all the guilt-trip manipulations she wants — she is wistful around Jamie, having hoped he would come to love River Run, and she plainly tells Claire that she’s holding back her husband from becoming the man he could and truly wants to be — but Jamie and Claire are still getting the hell out of there. At least Jamie and Jocasta part on good terms: She gives him candlestick holders that belonged to Jamie’s mother and they cry over their grief together. Will I ever be able to look at candlestick holders without getting misty-eyed now? HAS THIS SHOW RUINED CANDLESTICK HOLDERS FOR ME?
As tough as Claire is, Jocasta’s words about “doing Jamie a disservice” sting. Once the Frasers allow Young Ian — who is his own man and will NOT go back to Scotland, thank you very much — to go off on a trading expedition with burly backcountry heartthrob John Quincy Myers, Jamie wonders if maybe they should think about settling in Boston, somewhere familiar to Claire. She, of course, would prefer something new and fresh with her husband — and do they really want to live with Frank’s ghost hanging around? We might be relishing the forehead touching this conversation brings about, but the offer makes Claire wonder if there was some truth to Jocasta’s admonishment about Claire letting Jamie give up everything for her.
And so, the next day, as Mr. and Mrs. Fraser are riding through the forest worrying if Brianna will get her life together, because parents are parents even when they’re living 200 years apart from their children, Claire tells Jamie how she’s feeling. He shouldn’t be making decisions solely based on what he thinks Claire wants. I mean, could he really be happy being a printer for the rest of his life? He admits that being a printer isn’t, like #CareerGoals or anything, but it did keep both his mind and his body in shape. Claire doesn’t say, “Uh, yeah it did,” which feels like a missed opportunity. Regardless, Jamie tells his wife that sure, he was doing more exciting things before but now he’s thinking about her … and Ian and Fergus and Marsali. He has people to take care of, and he likes that. This isn’t a sacrifice for him. “I would lay the world at your feet, Claire, but I have nothing to give you,” he tells her as I wonder why I don’t have a fainting couch for moments just like these.
Jamie and Claire are more in love than ever and standing so close to each other and maybe forest sex will happen again … but no, a big thunderstorm has different ideas. Why do you hate love, thunderstorm? You should talk to your therapist about that. The storm spooks Jamie and Claire’s mule, which is carrying all of their supplies, and Claire goes after it because Claire has no time to wait around for a man to do things for her. Unfortunately, Claire’s horse doesn’t care about ladies doing it for themselves because that horse also gets spooked, bucks Claire off, and leaves our heroine unconscious on the wet forest floor as the storm really starts rolling in.
Jamie’s out in the dark woods calling out for his lass, but the storm makes it impossible. They’ll have to spend the night separated. Fuck this storm, guys. Claire comes to and finds some questionable shelter under a large tree branch and proceeds to take off her boots … to let them dry? To become a plot contrivance? No one knows. Your girl also finds a skull with a very traumatic-looking head wound under that tree, and instead of kicking it away and screaming “ew” like a normal person, she inspects it, finds a pretty gemstone next to it, and starts talking to it. Never change, Claire Fraser.
Then things get really weird! Claire hallucinates a Native American walking toward her in the dark. He has the same head wound as the skull and is wearing the gemstone. When Claire wakes up the next morning, post-storm, her boots are missing but she finds tracks in the mud. She follows those tracks all the way to a stream where her boots are sitting nicely next to … Jamie! Jamie also followed tracks to this location, assuming Claire would come back here for her boots. But Claire’s never been there! What kind of New World Forest Magic is this? The whole creepy incident is punctuated by Claire showing her husband the cool new skull she found in the woods, only to discover that there are silver fillings in the teeth. A thing that won’t be invented for another 100 years! This skull belonged to a fellow traveler! No but seriously, what kind of New World Forest Magic is this?
Forget all the strangeness for a moment, because now that the storm has passed, we get to watch Jamie and Claire make their way through some glorious nature, almost as beautiful as the two of them. Almost! When they come upon some unreal views and some wild strawberries, the emblem of the Fraser clan, Jamie takes it as a sign: He’ll made a deal with Governor Tryon and this land shall be their land. Welcome to Fraser’s Ridge, everybody.
Not to rain on the gloriousness that is Jamie and Claire’s holding each other and looking at nature, but Brianna and Roger are back. It’s the 1970s and they are sort of doing the long-distance thing, since you can’t really break up with the only other person who knows time travel is real. They’re reuniting for a road trip down to a Scottish festival down in, ahem, North Carolina. Roger is some sort of secret highlander-John Mayer type, so he’ll be playing some music. There will also be traditional dancing, a traditional “burning of the stag” ceremony, and traditional caricature drawing. As the highlanders would want it.
As fun as hanging out in a remote North Carolina location doing Scottish things sounds, it all gets ruined when Roger reveals himself to be the biggest douchebag in the history of douchebags. Brianna gets all hot and bothered after seeing Roger singing the sad, Scottish version of “Your Body Is a Wonderland” while wearing a kilt, so she makes some big, shirtless moves on him. Only, Roger isn’t down to clown — instead, he wants to propose. Like, way to be a buzzkill, dude. When Brianna tells him this is way too fast and she’s nowhere near ready to talk about marriage or kids — AS IS HER RIGHT — he gets pissed. He’s actually disgusted that a “nice, Catholic girl” like Brianna would sleep with him but not marry him. Brianna calls him out on the fact that he’ll sleep with women, but only wants to marry a virgin. Girl, Roger is The Actual Worst and you should get the hell out of North Carolina immediately.
Of course, this is Brianna we’re talking about, so she finds him the next day in an attempt to make amends. It’s impossible. If she won’t change her mind on the marriage thing, Roger isn’t interested. Are you screaming at your television? I’m screaming at my television. Surely, this won’t be the end for these two, but for now it is almost enough to see Brianna leave Roger all alone in his kilt.