Want to relive Outlander Season 4 Episode 9? We do a minute-by-minute reaction to “The Birds & The Bees.”[8:00 p.m.] I’ve forgotten many things in the past week – for example, the color of fresh vegetables and the health benefits of eating them – but the sequence of events in the last episode is not one of those things. No need for the replay this week. It’s still pretty vivid. [8:02 p.m.] Sunshine. Birds and the bees. Music reminiscent of the Country Bears Jamboree. Did we fall through the stones and onto Main Street in the Magic Kingdom? [8:03 p.m.] That banjo plucking carefree little ditty did not transition well into this scene. While this wasn’t a true cold open (jumping directly into the show before the opening credit sequence appears), it sure as hell felt like dumping a bucket of ice water over a nervous system still in overdrive from last week.
[8:04 p.m.] SOMEONE CALL CAPT. OLIVIA BENSON ASAP. This is far too Law & Order SVU for me. Bree’s body was treasured and worshiped before it was torn apart and casually dismissed – all in the span of a few hours.[8:05 p.m.] “Did he hurt you?” I can’t tell if Lizzie’s question is rhetorical or if she’s really that naive and oblivious? I think the former. We’ve all been the person that asks “are you okay?” in the aftermath of someone’s loss or trauma. We know they’re not… we just don’t know what to say, but we offer anything we can in solace.
[8:06 p.m.] Gee, Roger. Mildly lovely to see you. Would’ve been lovelier had you shown up last night or, I don’t know, NEVER LEFT AT ALL. There’s a reason the phrase “never go to bed angry” caught on like it did.
[8:07 p.m.] I thought I’d logged meticulous inventory of the creepiest things we’d seen Steven Bonnet do. As it turns out, I left off eating. Sorry, eating with multiple man rings on his fingers at that. His ring-fingered fidget eating while talking about his ways with women just made my toes subconsciously curl.[8:08 p.m.] Bree might be taking Frank’s “soldier on” mantra a bit far here, but I can’t fault her. In some way, I’m sure we’re all often our own worst enemy when it comes to taking the time needed to rest and care for ourselves, but always the first to instruct others to do so while we tend to them in their time of need.
[8:09 p.m.] I’ve just pieced together that Bree’s rape took place in the very inn where she and Lizzie were bunked. In the throes of that violent final scene last week, I didn’t put that together. Can you imagine having to stay the night and attempt sleep just feet above where your innocence was violated and life forever changed?
[8:10 p.m.] I love you a little, a lot, passionately, not at all. Ouch. Boy that takes on new meaning now. Also, Bree’s staring at that bracelet pondering whether it might fit jussssst around Roger’s neck. Or maybe that’s just me.[8:11 p.m.] Running isn’t lady-like? Dear god, I would never survive in this era.
[8:12 p.m.] I often wonder whether I’ll ever reach an age where the relief of knowing my mom and dad are within reach – physically or emotionally, in crisis or calm – won’t elicit a comforting exhale. Doubtful.[8:13 p.m.] Speaking of relief… [8:14 p.m.] He’s lovingly held photos of Bree a few times at this point, so it’s hard to fathom he doesn’t recognize her even a tiny bit. Then again, it’s not everyday you run into your daughter who lives in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-one while you’re taking a leak on the side of an 18th century wall. You get a pass, Fraser.
[8:15 p.m.] It’s you, it’s me, hell it’s ALL OF US. We’re all ugly girl crying. And it’s a welcome look.
[8:16 p.m.] asflhaaaaaaaaasudfhaw;oieadsfahkladsfh Forgive me. Keyboard malfunction. Apparently the modern electronic does not pair well with the timeless deluge of tears.
[8:17 p.m.] Hiiiiiii, Ian! Yes – hug, hug, exhale, exhale in relief at Bree’s presence, but let’s extend it to Ian as well. That kid disappears every 37 seconds and I’m never quite sure whether we’ll see him again. But he’s back… and boy is he chipper![8:18 p.m.] Lizzie and Ian? Let’s just table that, please. Rollo’s the only breed of puppy love we need right now. I’m having a hard enough time keeping up with the main couples at this point.
[8:19 p.m.] “Over one argument?” EXACTLY, CLAIRE. LISTEN TO MAMA, BREE. Hearing you recap time travel, profession of love, handfasting and consummation in a Pep Boys, one argument, a breakup and yet more time travel is more ludicrous than when I watched it go down last week.[8:20 p.m.] It’s hard to miss the look on Bree’s face when she realizes that a wedding ring is just a physical symbol of love, and oftimes, like here, replaceable. But the price she bore for the original cannot be repaid easily.
[8:21 p.m.] I seriously hope these Fraser-Randall-Murray kinfolk get group or bulk package rates for counseling given the number of them who’ve been sexually assaulted at this point.
[8:22 p.m.] Splendid! There’s no better way to memorialize a family reunion than with an Olan Mills portrait with landscape backdrop. Sayyyy cheese!
[8:23 p.m.] In all seriousness, if this is surreal for me to see them together, imagine what they’re feeling. Jamie was fictitious for Bree, brought to life for her only through her mother’s stories. Likewise for Jamie with Bree, save for a few old photos from Claire. Now he’s real for her, and vice versa. They just keep staring at each other in disbelief, and I’m right there with them.[8:24 p.m.] Murtagh has got to be the best house and farm pet sitter ever. In fact, let’s all give him strong Yelp reviews in hopes of encouraging him to move this career forward and abandon that whole regulators one.
[8:25 p.m.] “What took ye so long, lass?” Every time. This man gets me every time.
[8:26 p.m.] I just capped off a week of holiday gatherings with my own clan yet find myself unnaturally (and possibly more) excited to sit in on this beloved family dinner as they meat and potatoes their way into a cozy banter together.[8:27 p.m.] “Ah, it’s good to have family around the table again.” This scene is everything I loved about our time at both Castle Leoch and Lallybroch but never got enough of to satiate my appetite. Super size these, please.
[8:28 p.m.] I have questions. You all have to pick up on something being off, right? Because it’s not that subtle, and she’s throwing off a forlorn aroma stronger than your run-of-the-mill lovesick. Also, where and what is the shelter? Did Jamie finally build guest bunks for the many planned and unplanned visitors continually stopping by the Ridge? If so, can I reserve a night or two on AirBnB?
[8:29 p.m.] “He knew you came back to Jamie.” To be fair, did she ever truly leave Jamie?[8:30 p.m.] I’m beginning to wonder whether Ed Speleers studied Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker from The Dark Knight. The jerky and maniacal mannerisms ring eerily similar.
[8:31 p.m.] I understand that Comcast currently offers an Outlander yuletide log option. That’s nice, but I’ll pass in favor of one where the Frasers do family farm chores and eat meals together set to this music on a running loop.
[8:32 p.m.] Holy fur-aser, Batman. Jamie possibly took that story of Daniel Boone a littttttle too seriously.
[8:33 p.m.] “Does everyone always call you Young Ian?” Nope, not everyone. Not me. I refuse. It’s about as senseless as the people who ask new parents how baby so-and-so is doing. How’s baby Travis? Um… still a baby, and fine? But no one ever asks how adult Ashley is doing. Ponder that.[8:34 p.m.] Wait, earlier in the season I learned a stramash was a disturbance. Now it’s also a bree? Someone please send me a Scottish word of the day calendar for 2019 so I can keep up. K? Thanks. [8:35 p.m.] First Willie and now Bree. Hunting/fishing/camping trips with illegitimate and legitimate but estranged children seem to be Jamie’s default bonding tactic.
[8:36 p.m.] She smiles in her sleep, just like daddy. Sigh.
[8:37 p.m.] Is Bree wearing zip-off cargo pants from REI? Those things are great for hiking and traveling… you know, LIKE WHAT YOU JUST DID IN SCOTLAND IN FAR LESS PRACTICAL CLOTHING.
[8:38 p.m.] The random thoughts rolling through my head in the past minute: One, I miss my dad and I just left him yesterday. Two, there apparently is sunshine in Western North Carolina. You’d never know it from the past six episodes. Three, I dislike Granny Smith apples. Blegh. And finally, like her mom, Bree’s hair has found its natural curl in the 18th century (or she left her flat iron in Boston). What? I warned you they were random.
[8:39 p.m.] This scene is putting my highly anaphylactic self in overdrive. Be right back – going to grab my Epipen. Just for good measure.
[8:42 p.m.] We’ve seen plenty of Caitriona Balfe and Sophie Skelton onscreen together. But until this wonderful moment, I didn’t realize how badly I needed to see Sam Heughan in scenes with Sophie to finally feel connected to Bree as a character, and Sophie as the actress playing her. It’s like… well, it’s like fresh honey that required a trek to find it and a few stings to collect it, but oh so worth it in the end.
[8:43 p.m.] Past few weeks?!? She’s been there that long already!?! I guess I shouldn’t question the passage of time in a place that sees the wood-planing of a few logs one day, and a complete Ethan Allen-filled cabin home the next.
[8:44 p.m.] “She’s a gift… from me to you… and you to me.” Damn you, James Fraser. You’re intent on destroying my newfangled keyboard for good, aren’t you?
[8:45 p.m.] Those birds? Actual footage of me visiting my parents this past week eating them out of house and home. My body is 90% cheese and dough at this point, and that’s a college A to wear proudly.[8:46 p.m.] Alternate titles considered for this episode included “Lizzie, I’m fine,” “Lizzie, please,” “Lizzie let it be” and “Lizzie, please just shut the hell up already.”
[8:47 p.m.] Yes, Bree, mothers can always do that. It’s just innate.
[8:49 p.m.] For your consideration: Caitriona Balfe for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama at the 2019 Emmys. This is the clip to submit. The face alone. No offense, Sophie… but as both a mother and a daughter, I have to give this one to Cait.
[8:50 p.m.] For the record, anytime I find a deliciously bespeckled Jamie Fraser reading while lounged in a fireside wingback chair, talking is not the first activity that comes to mind. But this is serious, so I’ll support Claire in the talking. This time.[8:51 p.m.] That’s the three-second look of a protective father conjuring up no less than 27 ways to dismember the man who harmed his child. [8:52 p.m.] Ah hell. The moment we should all start shaking our heads and face palming at what’s about to go down. [8:53 p.m.] THAT DAMN RING WON’T QUIT. Seriously, Frodo. Enough. [8:54 p.m.] LIZZIE, STOP TALKING. For a gal who who had no words in our first encounters with her, she’s certainly found them all. She means well here, but she’s reminding me of my six-year old excitedly telling a story, vein bulging out his neck, taking no breaths: “and then… and and and… and then this other thing…”
[8:55 p.m.] If last week’s episode was brought to you by immaturity and trauma, this week’s is compliments of mistaken identity, promised secrets and my hands tented over my mouth shaking my head in disbelief that we’re doing this. We’re doing this? Yep, this is happening.[8:56 p.m.] Well good day to you too, Sir! If this is the Fraser blend of welcoming hospitality, I’ve changed my mind. I shall not be booking my stay at the Fraser’s Ridge B&B. [8:57 p.m.] Annnnnd there goes Ian, again. But this time, he’s got a bloodied buddy for the road. Oy.
Murtagh, it’s a good thing you like company… because this episode just nestled itself solidly right next to your reappearance in “Savages” as my favorite of this season. The list of things to love about this family reunion episode Outlander gifted us runneth over (let’s banter happily together about it in the comments), so I’ll focus my thoughts exclusively on the thing it gave me that I didn’t realize until now how badly I needed – an opportunity to fully and finally believe in Sam Heughan’s ability to play an aged Jamie Fraser.
Before you skewer me, never to return to these rambling recaps ever again, let me explain. Until now, he’s felt to me a bit like an actor who donned some nifty glasses and a few weathered lines via a talented makeup team to play a man aged 20+ years before our eyes. And for the most part, it’s worked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a card-carrying member of the Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser fan club just like you. Also like you, I’ve seen every episode enough times to know he’s lived more life than four men combined, especially in the years he endured without Claire, in the time since we first laid eyes on the handsome young warrior disguised as a stable hand. But where Caitriona Balfe has pulled off an aged Claire and all her story has entailed in spades, something’s been lacking for me with Sam Heughan’s portrayal of a 50-something Jamie.
However, as quickly as “the why” finally made itself apparent to me this episode, it just as quickly disappeared. Like watching The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense and kicking yourself, realizing that the clues/answers had been right in front of you the whole time. Seeing Sam Heughan with Sophie Skelton, playing a father to her daughter. That’s what was missing. Maybe it’s because I just spent a week with my own dad and my heart is full. Maybe it’s because we’d benefited from seeing Caitriona Balfe as Claire the mother to Sophie Skelton’s Bree. I can’t put my finger exactly on why and possibly (highly probably) cannot properly explain, but this episode’s provision of Jamie Fraser the family man brought more dimension and vibrancy to Sam Heughan’s aged characterization than I’ve seen in the dozen-plus episodes before it.
If there ever was a face to love, it’s Jamie’s (well, duh)… but, specifically, Jamie’s here, finally discovering his daughter for himself. And Sam Heughan gave us reunion face in a way that was different than all the ones he’s given us before. It was, well, fatherly. The tears! The quizzical looks! The subdued, then not-so-subdued pride! It was all there and then some, including the disbelief, anger, fear, rage, tunnel-visioned retaliation and everything else that instinctively comes with learning someone has hurt your baby. The man gave us some dynamic range this episode (yes, of course Cait did too) and it was as welcome a sight as a silver-haired Murtagh sucking back moonshine on a sunny Western Carolina day.
Sam Heughan, whatever delightful concoction you served up in this episode, we’ll all have another. Heck, make it a few more what with it being New Year’s and all. Until next week, friends…
If you’ve missed any of our Season 4 episode recaps, you can catch up with them here:
Episode 4.01: “God Bless America”
Episode 4.02: “Do No Harm”
Episode 4.03: “The False Bride”
Episode 4.04: “Common Ground”
Episode 4.05: “Savages”
Episode 4.06: “Blood of My Blood”
Episode 4.07: “Down the Rabbit Hole”
Episode 4.08: “Wilmington”
A complete library of recaps from Seasons 2-3 is also available here.