‘Outlander’ 4×09 Review: Home is The People That Love You

I’ve been waiting to write this particular review for a while now. Probably as long as you’ve been waiting to see this moment. This is, after all, THE highlight of Season 4, just like the Jamie and Claire meeting was the highlight of Season 3, and it’s no overestimation to call Jamie and Brianna’s meeting one of the highlights of this entire show.

Sometimes the things we wait for, the things we look forward to the most, tend to disappoint us. Maybe it’s because we place too many, unfair expectations on them. Maybe it’s because reality very rarely lives up to our imagination. Or maybe it’s just because life is much more complicated than we make it out to be.

Either way, that moment between father and daughter, that long-awaited first meeting, was set up to be a disappointment, in a way. But, you want to hear a funny thing? It wasn’t – not one bit. In fact, if anything, it felt entirely too short, like we’d watch an entire episode of just that, just them, looking at each other, catching up, loving each other despite the fact that they barely know each other.

That’s family, after all.

Just like we’d watch much more of Brianna’s reunion with Claire, and her first meeting with her cousin Young Ian, and of course, Murtagh. Everything that had happened in the season before had led to this, after all, in the same way everything that happened last episode and, of course, in this one, will color the last four episodes of the season.

Before I go into this review, though, I want to once again warn you all that I will, at some point in this review, be talking about the aftermath of what happened to Brianna and the journey ahead for her. Skip that if you must. Remember to protect your spheres, and take care of you.

So now, let’s go into the beautiful reunions, the familial relationships and the guilt Brianna carries as we discuss “The Birds and the Bees”

REUNIONS

Reunion is not the correct word for Jamie and Brianna, as they had never met before, but in some ways, it still applies. Because Jamie gave up the possibility of his child, the child he so loved, just that she could be saved, and Brianna grew up so unlike the father she knew and so much like the father she didn’t even know about that I think it fair to say that, despite the distance, these two were very much a part of each other – always.

That’s the thing with love, and it’s a thing we see clearly with Claire, when she goes back through the stones again and leaves Jamie at the end of Season 2, she is never quite the same. Real love, the kind she experienced with Jamie, leaves a mark, one that never quite fades. And that’s the love both Jamie and Claire feel for their daughter, the love that, even as they were far a way from her, was always a part of Brianna, so much so that when she learned that something could happen to her mother and father, she didn’t hesitate to embark on a dangerous journey just to save them.

The rest, what comes after the reunion, especially with Jamie, it’s complicated. Loving him the way she loves him, depending on him, spending time with him, it feels, in a very real way, like a betrayal to the Frank Randall that raised her and loved her, but it isn’t. Frank was selfish in many ways, but he truly loved his daughter and he did his best, in many ways, to prepare her for this journey he never wanted her to take, because, if and when she decided she had to, he wanted her as safe as possible.

And his love, just like Jamie’s and Claire’s also left a mark, one that doesn’t, won’t fade if Brianna allows herself to love another man, to have a Da just as she once had a Daddy. No, it won’t ever fade, just like Jamie’s love didn’t while she grew up next to Frank. As I said before, that’s the thing about love, true love. It sticks with you, no matter what.

JAMIE AND BRIANNA

I lost my father what feels both like too long ago and yesterday, and so every second of the interaction between Jamie and Brianna tugged at my heartstrings, from the first meeting that was pure, unaltered emotion, to how cautious they were with each other every second after, despite the fact that it was obvious how they gravitated to each other, and then, of course, to that conversation in the woods that was pure emotion, and love, and acceptance, no matter what.

Brianna hasn’t had a father in so long, and she has never had this father. For her there’s a level of feeling like she’s betraying Frank, of course, but Frank is gone, and in her heart, despite the circumstances, she knows Frank would want the best for her. But that’s not the only thing holding her back, no. She’s also scared, nay, she’s terrified. She lost one father already, and in a much safer time, and if she lets herself get close to this one, she could lose him one day, be it because she decides to go through the stones, or because he judges her for what happened to her, or because he dies.

So, of course, she’s afraid. This is all so new and she wanted to be what Jamie saw in her, this perfect girl he’d always dreamed of, and right now, she feels anything but that. What she doesn’t understand yet, but what I think the conversation in the woods helped her see, is that for Jamie, she isn’t perfect because she is in any way, shape or form, objectively perfect, but because she’s his baby.

And nothing will change that, nothing.

CLAIRE AND BRIANNA

I enjoy Outlander, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my issues with it, and one of those has always been the way the books, and the show, has portrayed the relationship between Brianna and Claire as close, but maybe, deep down, lacking in something. You can be less than present in your marriage without being the same with your kid, and considering the Brianna was always the one thing Claire had of Jamie, the whole narrative that she was a good mother, yes, but …always made me shake my head a little bit, even if it was never overt.

This episode, thank God, does away with all of that and portrays Brianna and Claire as really close: Claire can see right through Brianna, and Brianna confides in her mother above anyone else. But the episode also frames Brianna’s relationship with Frank as separate from her relationship with her mother, which has been sorely needed, and opens the door for these two to bond in a way they haven’t really had many chances to do so before: without secrets between them.

Except, right now, they are, of course, both keeping a secret from Jamie, and we all know how well that will go, but whatever, I’m focusing on the good, in the middle of all the bad that Brianna has lived through and will still have to go through. She’s got a family, and a mother and a father who love her and who will stand by her, no matter what.

GUILT

If there’s one thing I hate, and yet I get, and yet I abhor is the narrative that women are somehow responsible for the violence that has been inflicted upon them. I hate it because it’s not true, you are never responsible for the actions of others, and nothing you ever do means that you “wanted it” or you “got what was coming.” That’s a lie, and a way to victimize victims once again, to make them feel like they are responsible for what happened to them.

But, considering the society we live in, and considering Brianna was raised in an era that, even if it was more progressive than when she is now, was still plenty backwards, is it any surprise that she blames herself? That she feels like she didn’t fight enough? It isn’t to me, though that doesn’t make the words any less heartbreaking.

However she might feel, though, and whatever the society of the time she grew up in or the time she is in now might react, what matters now to Brianna is how the people around her react, the fact that her mother was able to take her into her arms and assure Brianna that, no matter what she thought, it wasn’t her fault, that her father was taking out his anger on a man – the wrong man, but that’s a story for another episode – and not on her, that Young Ian and Lizzie weren’t looking at her like she was less for what happened to her.

The aftermath of violence is often as traumatizing as the actual violence, and the support of those around you helps a great deal. Most of the characters on this show know that, they’ve lived it, and it’s great to see them coming together now, that Brianna needs them the most.

Things I think I think:

  • Why do we have to open with the aftermath when we didn’t get to see what happened to Brianna? This is, once again, a narrative technique meant to make clear what happened, while making it palatable for viewers and it remains something I truly disagree with. If you’re going to show rape, you owe the millions of people who have suffered from rape to show not only the aftermath, but the actual act.
  • I don’t blame Brianna for not saying anything, let’s be clear. I don’t blame Brianna for anything. She gets to process her trauma any way she wants to.
  • But so much of what happens later is built on assumptions and miscommunications, which I guess is life.
  • “You have my hand here, and my ear if you need it.”
  • Female friendships, something I have desperately needed more on this show.
  • But I should need an act of violence to make them real.
  • Roger, I knew you weren’t going to leave, but you need to start not fucking up in ways that require groveling.
  • This strange fascination Bonnet has with Roger is certainly not something I want to delve deep into.
  • Fuck everyone who’s laughing.
  • And also, Bonnet.
  • Mostly Bonnet.
  • This thing you two do, Brianna, where you yell awful things at each other and then come back together like it’s nothing after a big gesture? That’s not healthy at all.
  • Is that how they’re gonna meet?
  • SERIOUSLY?
  • I have second hand embarrassment.
  • It’s weird to look at people while they pee, even if they are your long-lost father.
  • Very weird.
  • I keep thinking he hasn’t watched this hands. I can’t help it.
  • But, God, Sam Heughan can really tell a whole tale with his expression. He’s gotten remarkably little credit for how good of an actor he is, but there’s so much going on with his expression, so much joy and sorry and wonder, it’s truly beautiful to see.
  • Can I just watch this reunion on a loop? Who cares about the rest of the episode?
  • Fine, I take that back, that and the reunion with Claire.
  • Young Ian is like, eh, no, don’t explain, Auntie Claire. Really. Don’t.
  • No, Lizzie, he’s not handsome, he’s just Young Ian.
  • Brianna, honey, look at me when I say this: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s his.
  • Watching Bree make the connection with Bonnet is painful.
  • I don’t think she got it, really, till she saw her parents together. Why they couldn’t live without each other.
  • MURTAGH.
  • “What took you so long, lass?”
  • And he’s the only one who knows!
  • Give her time indeed.
  • “Daddy knew.”
  • Fuck Frank again.
  • I knew we were gonna get a time jump of sorts, and this is about as good a way of doing that as possible.
  • I want to forward through every moment of Roger and the idiot in this episode.
  • Isn’t it ironic that Frank taught her how to survive in the past he never wanted her to go to?
  • A disturbance, but a real good one.
  • She is, indeed, heartsick, but for many more reasons than Rogert.
  • “When I thought I lost you forever breathing was a chore.”
  • Jamie staring at Bree as she sleeps. MY HEART.
  • “He loved you, even if he didn’t see himself in you.” That is true, but this whole making Frank into a saint thing again is getting on my last nerve.
  • Da
  • Da
  • Da
  • Family, at long last.
  • “She’s a gift, from me to you, and you to me.”
  • That’s so pure.
  • Mom’s do see right through you, don’t they?
  • No, Brianna, this is not on you. Not on you at all.
  • Caitriona plays the heartbreak in Claire’s face perfectly. This show is so lucky to have such talented actors that never fail to deliver.
  • I can’t tell you how much I love that Claire tells him right away.
  • Almost as much as I love that he doesn’t react like in the books.
  • But let’s not even talk about that.
  • ROGER
  • Dang it Lizzie. Dang it, Ian.
  • DANG IT, BRIANNA. Don’t make her promise that.
  • Now we’re going to spend the rest of the season trying to fix this shit.

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

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

Lawyer. Dreamer. Geek. Eternal optimist. Fangirl since the dawn of time. Hates the color yellow, olives and cigarettes. Has a recurring nightmare where she’s forced to choose between sports and books. Falls in love with fictional characters.