Season four episode nine of Starz’ Outlander is one of those episodes that’s key to the entire season. Each season has THAT episode: the wedding in season one, the trip back through the stones in season two, the print shop in season three, and here we are with “The Birds & The Bees.” The Outlander stories are so jam-packed with meaningful events…don’t get me wrong, there are a ton in each season that are meaningful…but there’s that scene for our couple that’s an emotional pivot point. Je Suis Prest! You’ll see what I mean.
The episode kicks off with Brianna (Sophie Skelton) returning to the room she and Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) share in the tavern. Brianna, still in a state of shock from the rape, tries to get undressed and into bed, but Lizzie keeps pointing out Brianna’s injuries as she disrobes. Brianna admits she was with Roger (Richard Rankin) all night, which she was. She doesn’t admit she was raped after she left Roger and before coming to the room.
The morning sun rises and Roger’s back at the tavern attempting to find Brianna. Unfortunately, Steven Bonnet (Ed Speleers) is also still there eating breakfast. In the book, Roger sought Bonnet out to get gems from him for both his and Bree’s trip back through the stones since Roger had seen the gems on the trip over from Scotland. In the show, Roger’s pressed back into service on the Glorianna until the trip can be completed in Philadelphia. Roger asks the tavern keeper to tell Brianna he was there as Bonnet’s men drag him away.
Brianna wakes up past noon as Lizzie’s tending to things in the room. She washed Brianna’s soiled laundry that morning and Brianna asks her not to trouble herself since Lizzie’s been ill much of the journey. The book went into detail about the struggles that Brianna had with trying to beat time but having to go slowly due to Lizzie’s illness. Lizzie contracted malaria, but they don’t go into detail about it in the show. (Claire just makes a passing comment to acknowledge the disease.)
Brianna hurriedly gets dressed and tells Lizzie they’re to leave Wilmington that very day. The tavern keeper passes on the message Roger was there looking for her but went with the crew back to the Glorianna. Brianna heads to the docks as quickly as she can, but the ship’s gone.
Lizzie discovers some excellent news so she chases after Brianna to find her at the docks. Lizzie heard Claire performed surgery on a man which brought the play the previous night to a halt. Lizzie also learned Claire was with her husband, Mr. James Fraser (Sam Heughan), at the theatre.
Brianna’s overjoyed for the first time that day at the news that her parents are right there in the same city. She begins her search for Claire and Jamie and learns from a shopkeeper that Mr. Fraser went around back of the building just then. (They did make this moment just as the book depicted it.)
Brianna comes upon her Da as he’s relieving himself behind the building. He asks what she wants and she replies that she wants him. He says he’s married and tries to walk away. She asks if he’s Jamie Fraser which stops him in his tracks. He turns to face Brianna, asking if she has a message for him. The tears already forming in her eyes, Brianna tells him her name. Jamie whispers her name, trying it on for size as if it were the first time he ever said it. He slowly moves toward her, tears blurring his vision as he gets within arm’s reach of his daughter. They share an emotional embrace, and Brianna admits she hasn’t seen her mother yet.
Claire emerges from a store with her basket of goods to find Jamie and Brianna talking while seated on a nearby bench. Claire’s dumbfounded as Brianna rushes into her arms to give her a crushing hug. Brianna immediately tells them what she made the perilous trip to say. She shows them the obituary with news of their deaths. In the book, she didn’t bring the paper clipping with her, but she does admit to knowing about the deaths and circumstances that caused it.
Ian comes up while they’re talking and is introduced for the first time to his cousin. The group board a barge and head back toward Fraser’s Ridge. Inside the cabin, Brianna informs Claire that Roger’s in the past as well and reveals what happened between them, providing details on the handfasting and the argument. All of those details came out over a lengthy period of time in the book.
Bree is sitting with Ian outside the cabin of the barge when it reaches a certain point in the river – the spot where Bonnet and his band killed Leslie and robbed them all. Ian recounts the experience for Bree and she learns more than just about that nightmare from the conversation. As Ian’s explaining things, Brianna realizes Jamie had set Bonnet free from his death sentence and is full of regret over the mistake. She also learns Bonnet took her mother’s ring. That’s when Brianna figures out he’s the man who raped her. The book has this knowledge come out in a different way and over a much longer period of time.
As Jamie and Claire are riding behind the wagon holding Ian and Brianna, they discuss the news Brianna brought about their deaths. Jamie points out they haven’t had much luck in changing things that happened in the past.
The group reach the overlook with the breathtaking view of Fraser’s Ridge and the lands below. Brianna says it makes her think of Daniel Boone. Jamie just smirks at the fact that she does the same thing Claire does about pointing out events in the present as if they were past tense.
As the party gets to the cabin on the ridge, Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) emerges. Given the Governor is hunting for him, it’s best he stay at the ridge for a while. This is the first time Jamie has an opportunity to tell him about what the Governor revealed at the play. And, Murtagh’s treated to the introduction of Brianna.
At dinner that night, the typical family story time begins with tales of Jamie as a boy after Brianna shares her news of meeting Ian’s father. She delivers Ian’s dad’s message, telling her cousin to write his mother more often. The Godfather regales the table with a story of Jamie’s stay at his Uncle Dougal’s house one summer. Claire shares some news she believes will excite Brianna; she tells her daughter she met George Washington. The reaction’s anticlimactic as Brianna says that’s amazing and she wants to go to bed all in the same breath.
Claire takes her out to the shed so she can check on Lizzie as well. Their departure gives Jamie and Murtagh a moment alone after Ian goes to fetch more wood. Murtagh reflects on how much Brianna looks like Jamie’s mother and how happy he is for Jamie that she’s there.
The next morning Brianna’s helping Claire with the herbs she has drying when she admits Frank (Tobias Menzies) knew about the obituary. Claire’s surprised by the news but confesses she knew Frank was aware her heart was always here with Jamie. Brianna reveals she could see it between the two of them.
Brianna’s out of sorts and Claire believes it has to do with Roger, and some portion of Bree’s emotions do have to do with him. No one knows about the rape.
In Philadelphia, Bonnet’s paying the crew their wages when Roger notices Bonnet has some gems lying on the table as well. He asks Bonnet to pay him with two gems instead of money, but Bonnet only gives over one very small gem at the request. Roger takes his leave of Bonnet and the Glorianna, heading back to North Carolina.
Life on the ridge continues. Brianna helps with daily chores as the days turn into weeks. Claire can tell something’s up with her daughter and that it’s more than just Roger. Still, she continues to wait for Bree to confide in her about what bothers her.
One day Jamie has Brianna with him performing target practice while Claire works in her garden. Jamie notices how well Brianna can shoot and asks how she learned. Brianna admits it was her father who taught her. Jamie says Claire told him about Frank. Touchy subject but it can’t be avoided given that Frank raised Brianna.
Brianna heads to the still to help tend the whiskey. She asks if everyone always calls Ian ‘Young Ian’ and Ian admits when he was very young it was ‘Wee Ian.’ Brianna then confides that everyone always just called her Bree. All the Scots smirk at each other given that bit of news. Jamie lies that it’s a Scottish word and says it doesn’t translate. He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. He offers her a drink of what is to be whiskey in the future. Slainte Mhath!
Later that night, Jamie reveals to Claire that a Bree means ‘a disturbance.’ Claire says he could have told Brianna that; she not as fragile as he thinks. Jamie confesses he can tell she’s heartsick over Roger and didn’t want to hurt her. Claire mentions that he and Bree have been tip-toeing around each other about Frank. She suggests that Jamie take Brianna hunting to talk some of that out.
The early hours of the next morning find Jamie quietly entering the shed where Brianna and Lizzie sleep. Jamie pauses, taking a moment to watch his daughter sleeping. She has the same smile that he usually has when he sleeps. You can see the joy on his face at watching the child he never thought he would meet resting just feet away. He gently calls her name to wake her, careful not to disturb Lizzie. Jamie asks Brianna to join him hunting.
They walk among the hills as the sun rises. Brianna asks what they’re hunting, and Jamie replies that it’s bees. In his answer Jamie used a couple Gaelic endearments so Brianna asks what they mean. One means ‘my darlin’ and the other ‘my blessing.’ Brianna smiles at the kind sentiment.
They continue to hunt for flowers that entice bees while Jamie explains what he’s doing to track them down. He also explains how he’ll capture them once they find the honey tree near a crop of flowers. Brianna’s impressed and intrigued by it all. They need to wait until dark so the swarm is in the hive. As Jamie’s explaining the transplant of the bees from the honey tree to where he’ll keep them near the cabin, the conversation turns to Frank and Jamie. Jamie admits he’s indebted to Frank for raising a child not his own. They finally get around to what to call Jamie. In the book they got to that question much sooner than a couple of weeks down the line. In both instances Jamie says she can call him Da.
They arrive back at the cabin the next morning with the honey and the bees.
That night Claire wakes up to find Jamie sitting up in bed unable to sleep. Jamie admits it’s over a regret that’s eating at him. He doesn’t want Bree to go back and to lose her again. Claire admits she wants her to say too, for a while. Claire points out the wisdom of Brianna going back at some point because it’s safer and there are more opportunities for women in the future. Jamie confesses he watched her smile in her sleep. He admits to Claire that he could watch her sleep and never tire of the sight. He claims Brianna’s a gift to them both and then admits she called him Da. Okay, if your heart is not bursting by this point, I’m worried about you.
One morning some time later Brianna’s outside the shed watching a mother bird feed her chicks in a nest in a nearby tree. Those of us who’ve read the book know exactly what her thoughts are during this scene. Brianna picks herbs with Claire and most of the hidden news spills out. While they’re alone, Claire probes for more answers because she knows Brianna has been hiding more than just pain over Roger.
Claire asks how far along Bree is in her pregnancy and Bree lets out a sigh of relief. Bree reveals she doesn’t think the baby is Roger’s given the rape that occurred that same night. Claire asks how she could be certain it isn’t Roger’s and Bree explains they used the withdrawal method and the rapist did not. In the book, Claire tells Bree there’s a word for couples who use the withdrawal method to prevent pregnancy…parents. They don’t use that line in the show, pity.
That night Claire has the unenviable task of telling Jamie about the rape and about Brianna’s pregnancy. Jamie’s beside himself about the entire thing, as you might expect.
The next day Roger manages to make it to Fraser’s Ridge. Lizzie and Ian are on their way back from the still when Lizzie recognizes the man as the one who took Brianna away from the tavern for hours on the night of the rape. Roger’s not in for a warm welcome, I’m afraid.
Claire enters the shed to gather things to wash and as she picks up one of Brianna’s belongings, her silver ring falls onto the bed. In the book, Brianna told Claire it was Bonnet and then showed Claire the gold ring, but this is a logical way for Claire to learn of it in the show.
Ian and Lizzie run to tell Jamie the man who Lizzie believes raped Brianna has arrived at the ridge. Lizzie’s sure it was the man who attacked Brianna, but of course she doesn’t know what really happened.
Claire asks Brianna where she got the ring and Brianna admits it was Bonnet who raped her in exchange for the ring. Brianna didn’t want Claire to be upset about Bonnet and she definitely didn’t want Jamie to search him out. She makes Claire swear not to say anything to Jamie about it.
Jamie sees the man in the woods. Roger turns as Jamie stalks up with fire in his eyes. Roger’s asking if Fraser’s Ridge is nearby as Jamie hits him with a crushing blow to the face. The fury of the Highlander is completely unleashed on poor Roger. He’s on the ground, a bloody mass as Ian comes upon Jamie beating on him. Roger didn’t even have time to defend himself. Someone is nearby by so Jamie stops. After the wagon passes, Jamie puts Roger on a horse and has Ian take him away but not kill him. Jamie doesn’t care where; he just wants the man gone.
Whew, that was a lot of ground to travel in one quick hour. Part of the misunderstanding in the book included Roger’s use of MacKenzie in the past versus Brianna and Claire’s knowledge of his adopted name, Wakefield. The show lets this point slide, but in the book it was a key reason for the misunderstanding given the handfast wedding night and the rape happened a couple days apart.
Have a happy and safe New Year! Slainte!
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