We’re in the home stretch here in season 4 of Outlander, which brings us an episode that mentions the word “hope” more times than Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
Bree is adjusting to life at River Run. She passes her days drawing sketches, exorcizing her trauma by creating images that would most likely be an automatic referral to therapy if she were in the present day. Lizzie is aghast at the pictures and apologizes again for her error, but Bree still blames Jamie for all of it and refuses to forgive him for the things he said to her.
Ian is showing his necklace to the Cherokee looking for information, while Claire tells Jamie about the little she’s gleaned of the Mohawk from movies in the present day. Spoiler alert: they are not positive representations. Ian says the Cherokee think the jewelry is from a village called Shadow Lake, a ride approximately two months north from them. The Cherokee won’t join them, so they must make their way alone — and Jamie is quite tortured by the worry Bree is suffering. Ian wants Claire to make things right with Jamie and also apologizes for his part in it all once again. Claire isn’t angry at either of them, but she can’t stop worrying about Bree and Roger.
Fergus goes to the tavern to ask after Stephen Bonnet, who should be returning to Wilmington in a week’s time. He sees a “Wanted” poster for Murtagh on the wall and tears it down. Returning home, Marsali asks after his job prospects, but no one wants to hire a one-handed man so there’s no work for him in Wilmington. Murtagh is holding meetings with regulators in the backroom. Marsali is uneasy about harboring a wanted man, but Fergus insists Murtagh would do the same if the tables were turned. He tells Murtagh about Bonnet’s expected return.
Phaedra wants to make Bree a new dress for a dinner party Jocasta is having – a dress designed to hide her pregnancy. Bree isn’t interested in meeting anyone and distracts Phaedra by getting her to sit for a portrait. Later, Jocasta brings earrings for Bree and talks her into agreeing to the dinner, where they will welcome a “Lord” to River Run. Bree insists she’s happier alone, reading and drawing, but Jocasta changes her mind when she tells her about Bree’s grandmother and her sister, Ellen. She tells Bree she’s very much like Ellen, headstrong and always following her heart. Ellen refused to marry until after her father died and then chose the man she loved, Brian Fraser.
Marsali purposely wakes Murtagh in the night while getting a drink of water. She asks him to invite Fergus to join the regulators — she wants Fergus to feel like he’s wanted and appreciated because of the insecurities he has about being turned away repeatedly due to his missing hand.
It’s time for a dinner party at River Run, which turns out to be a 17th-century version of The Bachelorette where Jocasta is Chris Harrison. Bree’s milkshake brings all the boys to the plantation. She descends the stairs trussed up in a gown to meet a host of suitors, including our favorite sneaky little hobbitses — Pippin!!! Sorry, I mean, Gerald Forbes as portrayed by Lord of the Rings actor Billy Boyd. Lt. Wolf is back, as well as another new suitor, Judge Alderdyce. Girl, go for the hobbit!
Bree shocks the crowd with her revelation that she’s drawn a portrait of Phaedra. Wolf tries to pick her up with a line about his new empathy for Jocasta’s loss of sight and offers to take her on a trip to New Bern to show her some magnificent sights (yeah, Lt. Wolf, I can guess what those entail). Mr. Forbes brings her into the parlor and asks her to choose from four gemstones — sapphire, emerald, topaz, and diamond — to make one into jewelry. Bree defers to Mr. Alderdyce’s mother. The party is interrupted by the arrival of their guest of honor, who as it turns out, is Lord John Grey. Yay! Bree is happy to learn he’s an acquaintance of her parents.
Back in Wilmington, Murtagh asks Fergus to join the regulator’s militia because he has courage and he trusts him. Fergus says he is honored, but that his place is at home with Marsali and his baby. Marsali tells them Bonnet’s ship has been spotted in port, and as they go, she draws Murtagh aside to thank him.
At the dinner party, Lord John regales the crowd with tales from Jamaica, but Forbes wants Bree to tell a story. She doesn’t have one but instead plays a psychological game where she asks the guests to close their eyes and imagine themselves walking with a person in the forest and encountering an animal. She will use their answers to analyze something about them. Judge Alderdyce was walking with Christ and encountered a squirrel from his mother’s garden. She says that means he is seeking forgiveness for something and his life’s problems, as represented by the squirrel, are secrets. This makes him uncomfortable enough to leave the room.
She turns next to Lord John. The person he envisioned in the forest was Jamie. Naturally. He makes up an excuse that it’s because Bree is sitting right here, and it was Jamie who asked him to come to River Run to check on her. Forbes wants his go at being psycho-analyzed, but Bree faints and John catches her and escorts her to the parlor.
Lizzie, who has an incurable case of foot-in-mouth disease, walks in flustered about Bree fainting “in her condition.” So, now Lord John knows Bree is pregnant. Great job Lizzie! John assures Bree Jamie did not tell him. He asks after her husband, and she explains Jamie allowed him to be traded to the Mohawk and is searching for him now. She wanted to go, but could not because of the baby. She knows Jocasta had this dinner to see her married off, but John is confused since she is already married. She explains she was only hand-fast and had no witnesses. John passes along a letter from Jamie.
Diana Gabaldon’s genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in Starz’s series.