Oh, okay, Outlander. I’m not going to say it was completely “worth the wait” but it did certainly feel like this excellent season finale was a gift bestowed upon us all for powering through the more tedious sections of season four. Like a good finale should, “Man of Worth” ties up a few lingering storylines while also setting up some major conflict for season five. There’s kissing and forehead touching and people throwing drinks on other people in hopes of dousing out the undeniable sexual tension that exists between them. There’s reunions and farewells and one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the entire series. No amount of replaying Jamie putting on his Hold Me Closer Tiny Glasses will ever rid me of the sight of his lip quivering. HIS LIP QUIVERS, YOU GUYS. Anyway, let us make like Claire and don our fiercest headband, because we have some serious business to attend to.
And that business, first and foremost, is to celebrate the fact that beloved Silver Fox Murtagh Fitzgibbons gets plopped down into his very own romcom. I’m still sweating! He arrives at River Run to “check up on Bree” but he spends most of his time with Jocasta. And they get into it. They fight because Murtagh doesn’t approve of Brianna marrying a Red Coat. They fight because he thinks Jocasta could be doing so much more to help the Regulator cause. They fight because she’s always hated him and the trouble he constantly brings upon himself and all those around him. She even throws her drink in his face. (And that whisky is precious, so you know she’s fired up.) Any good romcom fan knows that this type of fighting almost always leads to kissing. It’s science.
Unfortunately, we are robbed of Murtagh and Jocasta’s first make-out sesh, which definitely took place immediately following the drink throwing and I’m sure was furious and wonderful. However, we do cut right to those two lovebirds waking up together the next morning. Murtagh’s silver locks are untied and flowing. Sure, he is a fugitive and things could easily take a turn, but for now they are very cute and so happy, which is a rarity on this show. “Breakfast is waiting,” she says. “Let it wait,” he tells her. Anyway, I’m a dead person now. Murtagh also hangs out with Bree’s newborn son, so there’s nothing left for me here anyway.
From this welcome moment of pure happiness, we must take a dark turn. Roger’s Rescue Team has finally arrived at the Mohawk village in New York and as with most adventures Claire and Jamie take, things get complicated.
From the moment they walk into Shadow Lake, things are tense. They have goods they’d like to trade in exchange for Roger, but negotiations are immediately halted when they see Claire wearing the stone she found out in the woods with that skull. You just knew that skull with the silver filling was going to be trouble! Why the Frasers didn’t bring backwoods hunk John Quincy Myers along on this trek is a mystery, he would be very helpful in this moment. But they didn’t and Ian’s mediation skills are not up to snuff, so they are banished from the village.
It doesn’t take long before a group of Mohawk descend on the Rescue Team as they discuss a plan B. They want the stone. They explain that it belonged to a man named Otter Tooth who arrived many, many years ago and warned of the Mohawk’s destruction and the end to the Native American way of life. They thought he was possessed, kicked him out of their tribe fearing he’d only bring trouble, and eventually had to kill him. The legend of Otter Tooth haunts the tribe. But some Mohawk believe what he was saying was true and that anyone who possesses his stone will be able see what befalls the Mohawk in the future. Claire is all like, yeah, you can have this stone — once we get Roger back. So that’s plan B!
It fails spectacularly. You’re not just going to walk into the Mohawk village in the dark with a small group, remove a person from the Idiot Hut, and walk out unnoticed. Chaos ensues and it does not end well for the Frasers. The rebel Mohawk are banished. Jamie, Claire, and Ian are told to leave, with the stone, and since no fair trade was made for Roger, he has to stay. So what does Jamie, still atoning for how he treated Bree, do? He volunteers as tribute. YOU GUYS. He doesn’t even hesitate. They can have him if they hand over Roger. Claire is gutted because it’s not like she traveled back in time to hang out with Clarence the Donkey. Jamie, sweet Jamie, promises he’ll return to her and they say their good-byes as they send Ian to settle the terms with the Mohawk.
And then Ian volunteers as tribute! It’s a double volunteer-as-tribute situation! There is nothing Jamie can do, Ian’s already settled it with the Mohawk. He’s doing this as penance for what he did to Bree and Roger and because, as he’s proven before, he stans Jamie and Claire more than anyone. Jamie having to say goodbye to his nephew, who is really a son to him, is one of the saddest things to happen on this show — and that is saying something! Sam Heughan, already having a great season, is outstanding in this scene. He’s devastated to lose Ian, but proud of him for stepping up. He’s become the titular “Man of Worth.” There are tears streaming down his face. It is almost too much to take.
I’d like to point out at this juncture that not once does Roger step in and tell them to leave without him. Like, I know he’s been through some things and wants to get the hell out of there, and doesn’t particularly owe anything to either Jamie or Ian who did beat him up and sell him off, but he cares about Claire, doesn’t he? And he loves Bree. Jamie and Claire would never actually leave without him, but he’s watching this little family be ripped apart in front of him, he could at least attempt an offer. In conclusion: Roger is still the World’s Worst.
Jamie and Claire have to walk away from Ian. It’s awful. Although there is a small silver lining: Later we see Ian make it through the Mohawk gauntlet and become a part of the tribe. He’s so happy! It still does not make up for watching Jamie’s lip quiver. Nothing ever will!
Once alone with Roger, Jamie and Claire have some explaining to do. Okay, first, Jamie lets Roger beat him up to get all that anger out — it’s very cute, Rog. Jamie eventually bellowing, “That’s the last unanswered blow!” made me feel things. But after all that, they brief Roger on a whole bunch of information we already know. It could easily be a total snoozefest of a scene, but thanks to all three performances it’s incredibly compelling. See, this is why you keep Balfe and Heughan in every episode, people.
Once Roger knows the entire story, Jamie and Claire give him a choice: He either comes back with them and loves Bree and her child fully, no matter who the father is, or he can leave now. They won’t have him returning just to break Brianna’s heart again. THEY ARE HER PARENTS. If you can even believe it, Roger needs time to think about it!!!! I mean, I can believe it because this is self-righteous Roger we’re talking about and I’m still not over that whole slut-shaming business for which he has never apologized. But still. He has suffered so much just to be with Brianna and now he has to think about it because of an intense trauma SHE suffered. Roger is not the victim here! Anyway, he’s left out there in the woods to ponder what a dick he is and Claire and Jamie return to River Run to tell their distraught daughter that Roger is alive but is so-so on if he’s still into her. Brianna deserves better and that is saying something because you know I’m very lukewarm on Brianna.
Jamie and Claire, now officially the hottest grandparents in history, try to soften the blow by assuring her they will always, always be there for her. Then, just as they are preparing to return to Fraser’s Ridge, ol’ Rog turns up! He loves her, he’ll always love her, and he would very much like to meet his son. Okay, so that’s very nice. Still, I feel like Brianna is owed a debt for all the waiting around she had to endure.
But wait! The drama’s not over yet! Red Coats arrive at River Run. Everyone assumes they’re there to arrest Murtagh. While everyone’s freaking out trying to figure out a way to hide him, Murtagh and Jocasta hold one another. They are so in love! And I am so in love with the side-eye Jamie can’t help but serve when he sees his godfather and his aunt canoodling. It’s the stuff dreams are made of!
Murtagh makes it out of there, but the panic is all for naught. The men are only there to deliver a letter to Jamie from Governor Tryon. Tryon has ordered Jamie to build a militia in order to fight the Regulators. His first mission: find and kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons.
Okay, so maybe the panic is necessary, because that’s going to be a big problem.