Sunday, January 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Claire, Jamie and Young Ian Negotiate with the Mohawk for Roger's Freedom in 'Man of Worth'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 4.13 "Man of Worth"

Jamie, Claire and Young Ian's attempt to rescue Roger from his Mohawk captors goes awry when a ghost from Claire's past lays waste to their plan. Brianna worries Claire, Jamie and Roger might not return.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of Starz's Outlander.

"Man of Worth" was written by Toni Graphia and directed by Stephen Woolfenden

Outlander ends its fourth season with a big romantic reunion between Brianna and Roger. That's not completely surprising just because of how overwhelming that coupling got during the second half of the season. It sort of took over the focus from everything else happening. As such, development of Fraser's Ridge and Murtagh's political rebellion had to take the back burner a little bit. Sure, there were still modest developments in other storylines. But Claire, Jamie and Young Ian were on the road where their sole focus was on finding Roger. Meanwhile, Brianna was at River Run interacting with new people and worrying about the future life she would have in this century. Neither Brianna nor Roger expected to stay in the 18th century for the rest of their lives. They still may not stay here indefinitely. The twists of this narrative have proven time and time again that nothing is set in stone. They are just committing to that path at the moment solely because Claire doesn't know if Brianna and Roger will be able to take their son with them to the 20th century. And yes, Roger has decided to raise this child as his own. That's the big decision that he has to make after being freed from his Mohawk captors. However, there was never any doubt in that regard either. The previous episode featured Roger talking about his deep feelings for Brianna and how he keeps wanting to return to her over and over again despite the hardships that have come his way this season. He is hopelessly in love with her. He has an extreme reaction upon learning that Brianna was raped by Stephen Bonnet and is pregnant. He is furious for the circumstances that led to him being a prisoner of the Mohawk in the first place. He's not quick to forgive Jamie for his role in all of this. However, the show still fakes the audience out into believing that Roger survived all of this but was too old-fashioned to raise a child that wasn't his. That just wouldn't make any sense at all. And so, the show gets a lot of dramatic beats out of Brianna giving birth and then being excited to learn that her family has returned. Then, it's shocking when Roger isn't there with her parents. And finally, things end with Roger appearing at the last moment ready to be a family with Brianna. They are in love and nothing can break this bond. It was the expected outcome. It just has a little too much melodrama after Roger is rescued to ensure that things stay just as dramatic as the first half of the finale.

Jamie and Claire apparently traveled hundreds of miles to New York just to get answers about the skull they discovered in the woods before settling Fraser's Ridge. That was a mystery introduced very briefly this season. It was important for one episode. It wasn't even a big deal that Claire was wearing the stone from that skull until this finale. And yet, that immediately changes the negotiations with the Mohawk. They have seen the stone before and believe it only brings chaos and destruction to their tribe. The man who once wore it was also a time traveler who came back to motivate his people into fighting against the white man in order to preserve their culture. It's a noble goal. It once again shows the futile nature of trying to change the past even when that opportunity presents itself through the stones. It may be impossible of doing so. That should certainly fill the audience with dread when it comes to the fire that is destined to kill Jamie and Claire at some point during the next decade. That's the whole reason that Brianna and Roger came back in time in the first place. That hasn't been a concern for anyone in awhile though. As such, it should just be in the back of the audience's minds about what to expect from the future. This season didn't want to wrap up everything in nice way to ensure that the next could focus on an entirely new story. This one has such a complicated ending. Claire, Jamie and Young Ian actually make an assault on the Mohawk camp in order to break Roger free. It doesn't work. It leads to their new Mohawk allies being banished from the community. That's devastating for people they've just met. All of this only comes to a conclusion once Young Ian decides to trade his life for Roger's. This is a way for him to do penance because of his role in this entire misunderstanding. It's just dramatic because it is once again ripping the family apart with no idea if they'll ever see each other again. Sure, the audience can guess that this isn't the end of Young Ian's story simply because he is actually welcomed amongst the Mohawk. He passes the test of the gauntlet. He did what Roger failed to do. That could represent a dramatically different life for him in this community even though it's also fundamentally taking him away from a future with his family.

It's notable how this season doesn't end with a sudden change to the status quo that Jamie and Claire then have to deal with. The first season ended with the two of them sailing to France in the hopes of changing the future for the better. The second season ended with the two being separated through time with Claire going back to the 20th century to raise Brianna with Frank. The third season ended with them being shipwrecked in the American colonies. This season always suggested that Jamie and Claire were finally trying to plant down some roots for once as a family. Their home at Fraser's Ridge hasn't been seen in a couple of episodes now. And yet, that's a fate that is still awaiting all of them. It's a chance for happiness that will be just what is needed for Claire, Jamie, Brianna and Roger. They can grow together in that place. Moreover, the season actually ends with Jamie receiving a letter from Governor Tryon. In it, it details that Jamie is obligated to start up a militia with the intention of wiping out the rising rebellion amongst the citizens against the tax policies of the state. It also says his first mission is to kill Murtagh after his escape from prison. That's very precarious because Jamie and Murtagh have been close for so many years. Plus, it comes at a time when Murtagh is welcoming some love and romance into his life with Jocasta. Sure, the introduction of that romance is very jarring and sudden. However, it also presents the idea that Jocasta herself could become a more active member of the resistance moving forward. She hasn't always offered the most progressive opinion in the world. But she does support her family. That includes hiding Murtagh when the red coats show up to deliver this message. It means the season does end on a cliffhanger. It just ensures that things may not see a dramatic shift in Season 5 just like all of the previous seasons which saw the characters fighting for their own survival.