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‘Outlander’ 4×03 Review: The Pursuit of Happiness

‘Outlander’ 4×03 Review: The Pursuit of Happiness

What is happiness? What it does it take to achieve it? Outlander goes into this question as it contrasts an already established Jamie and Claire with a still-figuring-it-out Roger and Brianna, and drops a lot of hints about what’s coming this season.

The contrast is, of course, unfair. Jamie and Claire went through their own ups and downs, and we’re already in Season 4, so if they look unbreakable, it’s because they’ve been through a lot together, they’ve weathered the storm and they’re ready to look forward, together. Roger and Brianna are not there yet, and they can never get there without facing their own issues, and especially, without complete and total honesty.

Relationships are tricky at the best of times, but it especially doesn’t help when there isn’t real communication. Jamie and Claire talk about their issues, Roger and Brianna bottle them up and then, when they realize they aren’t really on the same page about the future, they’re unable to find a compromise.

It’s early still, though, early for Roger and Brianna. This isn’t the end of their journey; it’s not even the middle of it. Both their issues came out in this episode, and that’s something that will happen to all of us, our personal baggage will affect us and the things we’re trying to build. Hopefully, we will find a way forward. Roger and Brianna will.

They just haven’t yet.

Still, this is Outlander, first and foremost a romance. For three years, it has been the Jamie and Claire romance above all things, but now, in Season 4, there’s space for another couple to come into the spotlight. Even if the spotlight means some hardship.

Let’s examine “The False Bride,” and talk about where each character is and where they need to get to, not without first, as a coda to last week’s episode, talking about…

THE PRIVILEGE OF WALKING AWAY

Courtesy Starz

I understand Jamie and Claire’s desire to walk away from River Run, I do, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fact that they can actually walk away is a privilege, one that isn’t afforded to the slaves – not just those owned by Aunt Jocasta, but all slaves.

Of course, it’s easier – and who can say what we would do, really? – for these two to say hey, I cannot live with this, I cannot abide it, and then walk away. They can. It would be much harder to try to do something about slavery, especially knowing that it might very well be a lost battle, as Claire does.

And no, I’m not in no way, shape or form judging Jamie and Claire for the decisions they made, but it felt important for me to point out that the fact that they are allowed to make them without consequences is a privilege, and the show doesn’t really present it as such in a clear way, even if we can all grasp the nuances of it.

In general, though, the show does a pretty decent job of not giving Claire and Jamie absolution for the choices and decisions they’re making, which is a positive thing. They’re not presented as heroes, and they shouldn’t be. They’re just two people trying to make their own way in the world, and that we can relate to.

ROGER + BRIANNA

Courtesy Starz

This had disaster written all over it from the beginning. We know what brought these two together, but from their first meeting in this episode, it seemed like for all the time they’d apparently spent together since their first meeting, they’d been doing very little actual communicating. And, in this episode, the proximity plus the circumstances put them in a position where both their issues exploded at the same time.

Let’s start with Roger, because his issues are more stereotypical, in a way, even if they do, in a typical Outlander fashion, defy gender stereotypes. He loves Brianna, he has no problem telling her, and for him that means, that if she loves him back, well, that’s it, isn’t it? What else is there to think about? They should be planning their future together!

Such a man, to think that because he has it figured out, there are no more questions, lol.

Brianna, however, is Claire Fraser’s daughter through and through, and she not only saw her mother all those years with Frank, she saw what it meant for Claire to find out Jamie was alive, she saw the difference in that love, and she’s scared. She loves Roger, but can she really say if that love is the kind of love her mother felt for Jamie or the kind she felt for Frank?

She can’t, not yet at least, and she just doesn’t know how to take that chance that Roger is not just asking, but demanding of her. She’ll get there, of course, and he’ll learn that patience is a freaking virtue and that when you love someone, you don’t give them ultimatums, because love is about compromise. There’s no other way to build a life together.

This, however, had to happen first if they were going to get there. So, I know it sucks, and I know it kinda bursts the bubble of finally seeing them happy and together, but hang tight, this is only episode three. Time for their journey.

JAMIE + CLAIRE

Courtesy Starz

In a way, Roger and Brianna come into the picture, with their respective issues, because the storyline can’t really rely on tearing Jamie and Claire apart every season. As viewers (and before, as readers) we would all reach a point where we’d be like: okay, this is too much. I don’t care anymore. So, it’s time for another couple to suffer through the trials and tribulations, while Jamie and Claire get to be sort of …happy.

Or, at least content, because one thing I truly appreciate is that Outlander isn’t doing anything remotely resembling and they lived happily ever after, bye. That’s not the way life works, and it’s especially not the way it worked in the time Jamie and Claire find themselves in, but for once, the obstacles can be external to their relationship, instead of internal, like in past seasons.

They’re the center right now, Claire and Jamie and boy, will they hold.

An example of this is the whole situation with Jocasta. Jamie and Claire make a decision to leave, and they make it like they do everything, together, as a couple, but the show never tries to paint the decision as an easy one, and it’s not above having characters reconsider if the choices they made are the correct ones, which is something I do about five times a day, even if my only consequential choices are what I decided to wear in the morning.

Second guessing things is human nature, and Claire has a moment of second guessing if the decision they’re making is the best for Jamie, only for them to – after a scare (IMAGINE SPENDING THE NIGHT LIKE THAT, ALONE IN THE WOODS, OR BETTER YET, DON’T) – come to a middle ground, of sorts, a compromise, that allows them to embark on the life they always dreamed of having, together.

It’s almost like they mean to hit us over the head with the parallels. Almoooost.

See Also

AND NOW?

Courtesy Starz

For Roger and Brianna, who need to find their way back to each other, it seems like some tragedy – or the possibility of one – might be in the cards. There was already a hint for that in this episode, if you’ve read the books, or if you’re really, really good at picking up on foreshadowing.

As for Jamie and Claire, it’s time to play with the devil, or at least, one of the devils in this scenario. In the end, that was always going to be the way forward for them, especially after Stephen Bonnett robbed them, which hey, if you need more reasons to hate Bonnett, here we go!

How do they get the land they want? How do they get started on the life they always dreamed of? And, can they do that without agreeing to be on the wrong side of another war, in a few years? That’s the hurdle for Jamie and Claire now, but no hurdle seems unsurmountable for those two, not as long as they face it together.

“Do you trust me?”

“With my life.”

“And with your heart?”

“Always.”

Things I think I think:

  • The song, still, always, makes me happy. It gets me in the right mood.
  • “Salt, for life’s tears. May they always be happy ones. May you have flavor in your life.”
  • Gah, I love this heartwarming gift so much.
  • But I really, really haven’t missed full conversations between people speaking in that thick accent.
  • Studying Engineering. AT MIT.
  • I’m not crying, you are.
  • Aunt Jocasta talks about accepting differences as if all Jamie and Claire had to accept was some horrible curtains.
  • “No good comes of grieving what is already lost,” sounds like nice, comforting words, but they’re empty ones. We can’t really control grief. It’s basically another way of saying: Suck it up.
  • She is not a bad woman, Jocasta, but she is also not as good as she thinks she is.
  • “I’m a man, free to call the place I choose home.”
  • YOUNG IAN, MY BABY.
  • Still not dropping the Young, sorry.
  • “My blindness doesn’t prevent me from seeing how much you love my nephew.” Ironic, especially considering what comes next.
  • “You know nothing about me or my husband.” TELL HER CLAIRE.
  • The drive from Boston to NC is about 13 hours. How do they look so happy to be in the car?
  • “You’re pretty.” The beard doesn’t do it for me, but he’s not bad.
  • THOUGH NO ONE SHOULD BE PRETTY AFTER SO LONG IN THE CAR.
  • Just saying.
  • I hate that Jocasta got into Claire’s head, but I love that she brings it up.
  • “I would lay the world at your feet, Claire, but I have nothing to give you.”
  • And yet, Claire has never wanted anything but you, Jamie. Just you. She left a life of comfort to come seek you out in the dangerous past.
  • I’m not very coordinated, so I’d be horrible at this thing Brianna and Roger are dancing.
  • How is she even good on the first try? LIES.
  • Brianna looks a lot like Jamie, but boy, is she Claire through and through.
  • Oh, Roger, baby. USE YOUR WORDS. USE. YOUR. WORDS. All of them.
  • This whole discussion about Brianna’s virginity is both jarring – I always somehow forget they’re in the 70’s and how far we’ve come in some ways since then – and heartbreaking.
  • What was that thing you found, Claire? Is that what I think it is?
  • Drama Queen much, Roger? Take a chill pill. Or twenty.
  • ALL OR NOTHING is a little too intense, my dude. Give her time to breathe.
  • The way out, and the way forward?
  • Outlander is walking a thin line with another minority, the natives – we shall see how nuanced they can be in their depictions.
  • Another time traveler? Whaaat?
  • “I know that look on your face, Jamie Fraser.”
  • The reminders of how much they know each other give me life.
  • Fraser’s Ridge is a good name. A real good name.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

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