Spoilers below for Outlander season four.
Forget long-lost lovers reuniting in a print shop, bring on long-lost father-and-son figures reuniting in a smithy! Throughout Outlander’s third season, everyone knew Jamie and Claire would eventually find their way back to each other. But in season four’s “Savages,” which aired Sunday night, the show gave us a reunion we could only have hoped for: Murtagh is back, people! While Jamie and Young Ian are in town looking for farmers to settle on Fraser’s Ridge, they require the services of the local blacksmith to fix a broken horse bit — and that blacksmith is none other than Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Murtagh (since season three’s “All Debts Paid” to be exact), so even the most diligent Outlander fan might be hazy on what his deal is, besides making Jamie cry out of overwhelming joy. Not to worry! In honor of this grizzly highlander’s triumphant return to the world of Outlander, here’s a refresher on all things Murtagh. It’s best to read while listening to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
It’s great to see Murtagh again, but can you remind me of his backstory?
With pleasure. Murtagh Fraser is Jamie’s godfather. He swore that he’d spend his entire life protecting Jamie. Mind you, that oath was not simply given because Murtagh is Jamie’s father Brian’s second cousin — it’s because Murtagh was very much in love with Jamie’s mother, Ellen. In season one, Murtagh, ever the curmudgeon, revealed his softer side to Claire when he told her about how he attempted to win Ellen MacKenzie’s hand in marriage by killing a wild boar at a Gathering ceremony; she chose to marry Brian instead. Brokenhearted, he made bracelets out of the boar’s tusks and presented them to her as a wedding gift. Years later, when Jamie began to be manipulated by his MacKenzie uncles Colum and Dougal, Murtagh was the only one who truly had his back. In short, Murtagh and Claire are the two people who love Jamie the most in this world. I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about it! Oh, and he’s one of the few people Jamie and Claire have told about all this time-travel business, so you know they trust him.
How the heck did Murtagh end up in North Carolina?
The last we laid eyes on this now-silver fox was when Jamie found him on the brink of death in Ardsmuir Prison, years after the battle of Culloden. While in prison, Jamie cut a deal with Lord John Grey and ensured that Murtagh got the medicine and food he needed. When Ardsmuir Prison was shut down, Murtagh was among the prisoners sent over to the New World for indentured servitude. Jamie was sent to Helwater (where some major drama — ahem — William, goes down), and was forced once more to say goodbye to his godfather. It turns out that many of the men from Ardsmuir Prison were sent to North Carolina. What a world!
Wait, wasn’t there something important about Murtagh showing up at Ardsmuir Prison?
Indeed! Jamie’s finding Murtagh at the prison was a huge departure from the Outlander novels. In the books, Murtagh dies at Culloden. Once he was revealed to be alive on the show and shipped off to the New World, it was assumed he’d pop up again eventually. Some fans believe the show will use Murtagh to pick up the storyline for another book character, Duncan Innes, but honestly, anything that happens with Murtagh from here on out is completely new! Isn’t that exciting and also terrifying?!
So what’s Murtagh up to now?
After hugging it out with Jamie and making us all weep into our tartans, Murtagh explains that after years of indentured servitude under the local blacksmith, that dude died and left his business to Murtagh. But he’s also involved in some Top Secret Meetings. Remember the regulators that Governor Tryon told Jamie about? The men refusing to pay their taxes and talking of rebellion? Yeah, well, Murtagh is basically their leader. Jamie wants to keep things above board on Fraser’s Ridge, so he tells his godfather that there’s no way he can join him in his fight — but he won’t stop him either. It’ll probably become a much bigger issue at some point, but for now, Murtagh comes to visit the Frasers at their new home, much to the delight of his BFF Claire. Aw, you guys, remember when they traveled the Scottish countryside performing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in search of Jamie and bonded for life? Those were the days!