Sunday, November 18, 2018

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Brianna and Roger's Lives in the 20th Century Are Revisited in 'The False Bride'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 4.03 "The False Bride"

Jamie and Claire search for a place to call home. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Brianna and Roger's romance heats up and then fizzles during a road trip that winds up highlighting their differences.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of Starz's Outlander.

"The False Bride" was written by Jennifer Yale and directed by Ben Bolt

Mysticism has always been a key component of Outlander. It's baked into the premise of the show with all of the time travel. However, it's always unfortunate whenever that becomes the predominate focus for characters of color whose particular race has had some very problematic stereotypes in that regard. The show has put in more of an effort to have conversations about race since Claire and Jamie traveled to the New World. And yet, there is nothing all that original or compelling about Claire seeing the ghost of a Native American soldier who is able to lead her back to Jamie as well as the land that they will one day settle. It's the show continuing to insist that there is always some master plan happening throughout the universe. The characters believe that they are making their own fates. But they are also very optimistic about trying to change the past to hopefully create a better future. Claire and Jamie want to actually make a life for themselves in America. They have had several offers to plant down roots here. They have decided to accept the governor's offer even though that is bound to carry several consequences moving forward. But again, all of this feels a little too neat and tidy. It is going for that sentimental feeling of this was all meant to be. This is the perfect land for Claire and Jamie to build their home. They see a potential here for a full and enriching life. Claire doesn't want to hold Jamie back with him ultimately just being a printer in his life. He is capable of so much more. Of course, all of this further suggests that mysticism will remain a significant part of the story too. Claire and Jamie were brought here for a reason. There is going to be more of an explanation for that skull Claire found and the ghost that she saw. This season has already mentioned the native Indians of this land a lot. This is the first time that one has actually been seen. It's just done through a character trope that is so formulaic. There is the hope that the show will have a meaningful conversation in this regard. In order to do so though, it will need to actually have those characters be central to the story and not just frame it through how Claire and Jamie are dealing with it. Sure, it's still happy that they continue to build their lives together. They are making major decisions about their futures. It's just not as exciting to talk about as this story is capable of being.

Moreover, it's fascinating that now the show decides to catch back up with Brianna and Roger in the 20th century. They were crucial characters at the start of the third season when Claire was still in that environment as well. After she traveled through the stones once more and reunited with Jamie, they were no longer seen. It was all a mystery as to what would happen with them. Claire was abandoning her daughter in her pursuit of love. She never knew if she would ever see her again. That was so tragic for her. Because the show is revisiting these characters though, it seems very likely that some grand reunion is coming. Right now, it's just eery to watch as all of these characters seem to be occupying the same space. There are all in the same area in North Carolina. Claire and Jamie are deciding to settle here. They accept Young Ian's demand to continue living with them as well. Meanwhile, Brianna and Roger travel here because there is a Scottish festival. This is a tradition in the area to help people feel connected to their roots. As such, the history lessons that they learn here are bound to inform them of what Claire and Jamie are up to in the past. Of course, that is mostly just teases for the future. Right now, the show is mostly concerned with Brianna and Roger's personal dynamic and how things have evolved over time. They have spent more time with each other. But they still live in separate countries. Of course, that doesn't stop Roger from proposing. That highlights how they are two completely different people. Roger wants to make this commitment. He needs it in order to feel comfortable having sex with her. That's an awkward proposition. She declines which turns this all into one big fight. It's unfortunate and shows that things are tense with them as well. Sure, Brianna has a sensible reaction to all of this. Plus, her view that marriage doesn't have to be the goal for her is very understandable given the household that she grew up in. However, this couple in this specific time isn't as compelling as what's happening in the past with Claire and Jamie. And so, patience may be very thin as this story continues this season.