***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 4, Episode 4, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn follow. Spoilers***
Depending upon personal preferences and level of devotion, readers may find the various Outlander novels range from exhilarating to a slog, and everywhere in between. While the first two books held me fairly rapt, with Voyager, things slowed a bit too much for my own taste and so with Drums of Autumn, I opted to try the audiobook — which is delightfully brought to life by award-winning narrator, Davina Porter. Even as I’ve rounded the bend on Chapter 21 (of 71!), not much has occurred plotwise, a formula the show writers appear to be following, possibly to the series’ detriment. For as much as we love Jamie and Claire and the characters who circle around the couple, there is only so much taking in the gorgeous backdrop, scenes of nature and wood-chopping, and fairly meaningless dialogue viewers can sit through without feeling utterly bored. By this point — Episode 4 — in Season 1 (while realizing it’s impossible to replicate that particular momentum), Claire had traveled through the stones, been thrown into battle, and met up with Jack Randall, Jamie and many important characters; it was a whirlwind of action. In this fourth season, we’re instead left gazing at the North Carolina landscape ad nauseam and for two episodes now, locked into the lifeless conversations between Brianna and Roger, that even with the exciting news that Claire made it back to Jamie, only magnifies the lack of connection between two of its primary characters. Heck, Ian and Rollo have more excitement and chemistry in a thirty-second shot together than this will-they-or-will-we-even-care couple, whose snore-worthy phone scene can easily convey viewers’ similar lack of enthusiasm in a single gif.
While the hour starts off full of promise, the thrill for Jamie, Claire and Ian heading out to settle their newly acquired ten thousand acres of His Majesty’s land, Marsali offers Claire a reminder she left a daughter behind; Jamie does his best to comfort. Claire sings, giving Jamie a quick explanation of how Americans stole the song (God Save the King/Queen) as they work their also stolen land — an issue that quite quickly makes itself known. Making fast progress on their new home, the trio is interrupted by wordless Native Americans, who later turn out to have much to say and quite the handle on their invaders’ language.
But first, we’re treated to frights when Fraser Ridge is awakened several nights by Rollo’s (good boy!) alternating whining or barking, alerting the group to either a bear or the Cherokee … or, as it turns out, both. After John Henry (attempting to broker peace with the tribe on behalf of the Frasers) and Jamie are attacked by what seems to be a bear, we discover — as related by Tawodi (Will Strongheart) — it is actually a delusional former (kicked out after he raped a woman) tribe member decked out in bearskin and claws. By killing “Tskili Yona” (Flint Eagle), Jamie is heralded as a heroic “Bear Killer”, the group shares their foodless version of Thanksgiving …
…and Claire receives an ominous message from Adawehi (Tantoo Cardinal) through her granddaughter, Giduhwa (Crystle Lightning); “You must not worry. Death is sent from the gods. It will not be your fault.”
Setting up future events, Roger first makes that aforementioned dreary call to Brianna after having discovered evidence of her parents’ reuniting in the book Brianna gave him at the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Festival (held exactly on Fraser Ridge grounds). Unfortunately, instead of — as Roger hopes — sparking their own reunion, Brianna seems to have decided on a solo journey, leaving her roommate, Gayle ( Simona Brown) to field Roger’s next communique, in which he might have told Bree a new bit of horrible news. Having gone back to his family home to retrieve some stored boxes, Roger is shown Jamie and Claire’s obituary by Fiona, which declares the Frasers’ death by fire in January 177 – something and despite himself, Wakefield knows he must tell their daughter the devastating truth about her parents.
I don’t necessarily mind the twist on the bear attack; as explained in the afterward, to bring together the Frasers and the Native Americans. That said, Tawodi going from silence to speaking only his language, and then to perfect and free-flowing English was oddly jarring.
I did love the look on Ian’s face when Tawodi said the chief had dubbed Jamie “Bear Killer”.
In odd coincidence with the Tskili Yona story, the actor portraying Tawodi — Will Strongheart — was previously convicted of multiple counts of assault against women. Diana Gabaldon was (inexplicably) questioned about his casting on Outlander.
Adawehi’s dream about Claire: The moon was in the water, and you became a white raven, swallowed the moon, laid an egg, egg opened, skull inside … You have medicine now, you will have more. When you have hair white like snow, you will have wisdom.
Let’s hope with what looks like a big book event happening next week — please, no false advertising and dragging that out — (***Book SPOILERS*** Brianna and Roger going back through the stones ***END Book SPOILERS***) the pace finally picks up a bit. I really cannot watch Jamie and Claire staring at various forest views endlessly.
Do we want/need to see Jamie knitting?
Songs This Hour:
Claire covering America
Savagery can exist in many forms, your excellency, I’ve seen it in both prince and pauper.
When you sing, I must confess, it makes me want to do indecent things.
Well, I have essays to mark.
Often times, man is monster.