Oh, Outlander friends, we will get to Claire’s staycation from hell in a moment, but first (and always): Murtagh. Murtagh is back! Murtagh is back and he’s rocking a gorgeous white ponytail and molding metal with fire and I am feeling things.
Sure, it was a given that Jamie’s godfather would show up again once the TV series saved him from his book death (in the novels, Murtagh dies at Culloden). They wouldn’t reveal him to be alive at Ardsmuir Prison only to be shipped off to the Americas for a life of indentured servitude never to be heard from again. Outlander loves tragedy, but that would’ve been overkill. So, since he was sent off back in last season’s “All Debts Paid,” many of us have been anxiously awaiting his return, especially once Claire and Jamie settled in North Carolina, amongst a whole heap of other Scottish settlers. Even though I was counting the episodes until Murtagh returned to us, when Young Ian goes into the local smithy seeking assistance with a broken horse bit from the cranky old blacksmith and that cranky old blacksmith turns around to reveal he is, in fact, Murtagh — reader, I yelped.
As wonderful as the Murtagh reveal was, I worried for a hot second that they might try to stretch this reunion out — see previous note on Outlander’s obsession with tragedy. Jamie — who, yes, donned his tiny glasses once again because when you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em — is ready to head back to Fraser’s Ridge and the warm embrace of his wife after failing in his mission to come to town and persuade some Scottish farmers to settle on his land. They all refuse him because of the tax shenanigans going on in these parts thanks to Governor Tryon. Jamie’s also failed in his top secret secondary mission — to have a silversmith do something with his mother’s candlesticks (make Claire a ring, right?). Instead of finding a silversmith, he’s only found the guy’s wife, who gets one look at Jamie and invites him inside for a “hearty piece of pie,” but Jamie declines, telling her that his wife is a very good cook. Even the passerby in the street are like WINK WINK GET IT? Anyway, has Jamie ever been hotter than turning down the horny silversmith’s wife?
All of this is to say that by the time Ian informs his uncle that the dick at the smithy charged him 21 shillings to fix a horse bit, Jamie has NO TIME for townies trying to extort him. He marches into that smithy to give the blacksmith a piece of his mind and Murtagh immediately recognizes the voice, and finally, after decades, Jamie is face-to-face with his godfather. Oh, you guys, Jamie gets teary-eyed and Murtagh has never been so happy and the men embrace and it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
But it gets better. You know how happy Jamie was when Claire showed up at that print shop after 20 years? Murtagh is like 10 times as happy when Jamie tells him that Claire came back to him (away from Ian, of course). It’s adorable! Jamie tells him all about Claire, and Fraser’s Ridge, and his daughter Brianna who is going to University in 1971. Wait, scratch what I said before, Jamie has never been hotter than he is when beaming with pride while bragging that his daughter is in college. Someone get me a fan.
The reunion is not completely without tension, unfortunately. Murtagh reveals himself to not only be a regulator, angry with Governor Tryon and his tax collectors for taking money from honest people, but he’s like King Regulator. He invites Jamie and Ian to attend a backroom meeting in which Murtagh gets all the Scots riled up talking about fighting back against unfair taxation. It puts Jamie in a tough spot since he took 10,000 acres of land from Tryon and promised to support him. Jamie doesn’t believe that what the tax collectors are doing is right, but he doesn’t believe in mobs, either. He won’t stop his godfather, but he won’t join him either. The two men part ways, uncertain when they’ll see each other again.
Listen, I’m sad that Jamie and Murtagh leave things up in the air (I mean, obviously they’ll work it out, they are BFFs), but also the entire time Jamie’s just hanging out in town, I’m like, “please get home to your wife, please get home to your wife,” because uh, things have gotten out of hand while Claire is alone on Fraser’s Ridge.
When Jamie leaves Claire for a few days, it seems like everything will be fine. I mean, he doesn’t love the idea of leaving his wife, but Claire is like — seriously, dude, have you met me? She has a lot to do, anyway. She’s hanging out with her new bestie Adawehi, who continues to tell her ominous things like that Claire’s daughter is here, even though Claire doesn’t understand them at all. She has to think about how she feels simultaneously sad and turned on after Jamie tells her about a dream he had in which he saw Brianna’s hidden diamond-shaped birthmark even though Claire never told him about that. She also has to deliver a baby!
Claire’s Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman-ing all over the backcountry of North Carolina. Today, she’s taking care of Herr and Frau Mueller’s daughter who is having a daughter of her own. They name the baby Clara after their midwife and everything seems to be going great — until Herr Mueller notices some of the Cherokee letting their horses drink from the creek in front of his house. This is his land! This is his water! Basically, he’s like a crazy dick about the whole thing and it ends with Claire having to stand in between Mueller and his son holding rifles and the Cherokee, also armed. It takes some real convincing on Claire’s part, but because she is friends with Adawehi, the Cherokee agree to leave in order to keep peace — but not before giving the water a blessing. Something that completely offends Mueller.
Claire goes home and collapses into bed. She has had such a day that she doesn’t even have time for that rigorous skincare routine we all know you’re doing, Claire. But, like, same girl. Thankfully, now that the baby has been born, she can spend her me-time on the homestead hanging out with her farm animals and drinking moonshine. Consider it 18th-century colonial American self-care. But her solo farm lady routine only lasts so long: The local pastor comes to inform her that Mueller’s son, daughter, and little baby Clara all died of the measles. Herr Mueller is convinced the Cherokee cursed his water, and not only does he blame them, but he also blames Claire. So, like, she should fear for her life or whatever. This pastor is the worst!
Claire gathers her gun, Rollo, and some decent beef jerky, and hunkers down in the cabin. She’s terrified, but in a very badass way. Mueller finally arrives, but not to kill Claire — he wants to make sure she’s okay. He also wants to give her a gift. In a horrifying reveal, Claire opens the package to find Adawehi’s scalp. I’m sorry, but the fact that Claire hasn’t had some type of breakdown yet after suffering through an unreal amount of atrocities just seems ridiculous at this point. But she soldiers on. She throws Mueller out, gives Adawehi a proper (as proper as she can) send off, and still, the carnage continues. In retaliation, the Cherokee burn Herr Mueller’s cabin down and kill both him and his wife.
So, uh, yeah, when Jamie returns to Fraser’s Ridge, Claire is a little more than relieved. “Just hold me,” she tells her husband, who senses something is wrong. It’s pretty unfair that only Claire gets to be reassured by Jamie’s strong arms, but I guess that’s life in the backcountry.
At least Claire has reason to cheer up pretty quickly. While out collecting firewood — Claire has really taken to this farm life, huh? She seems alive! — Claire hears the familiar whistle of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and instantly she knows it’s Murtagh. Oh, if you thought Jamie and Murtagh’s embrace could solve all the world’s problems, wait until you see Claire and Murtagh reunite. They’re buddies, remember? Now that Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh are together again, things can’t go wrong anymore, right?
LOL. In 1971, we see Brianna go through the stones at Craigh na Dun — so it seems like a whole new set of problems are on their way to the Frasers’s front door.