Outlander S4 Epi1 – America the Beautiful
Written by Matthew B. Roberts & Toni Graphia | Directed by Julian Holmes
G: Ah the eagle grabbing the fish. A symbol of the work and pain required in their new home.
This conversation is between Blacklanderz Amanda-Rae, Gwen and Evelyn. Arranged and edited by Vida. [For those who don’t know, I also interrupt at times – just because.]
CONTRASTING | FAMILIAL | UNCHARTED | TRAUMATIC | HOSTILE
Amanda-Rae: Overall, I believe this is a strong start to the season. The show hits the right notes and sets up the overarching themes of the season: Jamie and Claire settling down, being in yet another time period where missteps change history, how the Revolution begins outside of the Northeast since so much colonial history focuses on Boston or Philadelphia. It lived up to the preseason hype.
There were parts in the middle that the pace could have been faster. I’m not disappointed that Bree and Roger didn’t show up during this episode. They need to introduce North Carolina to the non-readers before snapping back to the present.
FRIENDSHIP | HEARTACHE | NEW BEGINNINGS | FEAR | FAMILY
Gwen: Two things stood out to me right away in this episode: 1) the original inhabitants building the stone towers (take that Frank – not Celtic giants) and 2) the eagle grabbing the fish out of the pond. Both are for telling the struggle our hero and heroine are about to encounter on their new adventure. Ian struggling with his kidnapping and rape at the hand of Geillis and Uncle Jamie stepping in to provide comfort and share his own pain. We are seeing Ian change from a young boy into a man. Losing old friends Lesley and Hayes and meeting a new foe (Stephen Bonnet) who looks to be a frightening foe.
There were also new beginnings with Marsali and Fergus as well as with Jamie and Claire making the decision to help support the country that Brianna will call home. Loved the internal struggles and that Jamie and Claire are both struggle to make sense of it all. And of course, the RING! Bonnet stealing Jamie’s ring and Claire being left with Franks – it seems she just can’t escape her past. As is noted, it is all cyclical.
I loved the addition of the folksy new theme and the Ray Charles version of America the Beautiful. The contrast between the words and the pain they endured; a striking warning that while they have left Scotland, troubles have seemed to have followed them.
WILD | CHALLENGING | OPPORTUNISTIC
Evelyn: This episode is about the promise of the future. Starting anew; A New Land and the possibility of a life together after so much time and challenges. The American dream, before it became known as it is today, was something that evolved over time. However, in the beginning, it was about colonialism and extending a country’s reach to new lands.
G: Loved the folksy opening credits. Paying homage to the American southern roots of their new home.
A-R: The bluegrass tones and folk chorus are a perfect way to introduce the characters’ arrival to the colonies and North Carolina.
E: The cold open showing the stones being built was interesting and a nice tie into Claire’s journey through the seasons. 2000 B.C. … I wasn’t sure if that was being built in the Americas or it was the original incarnation of the stones from the highlands. Claire’s voice over was another nice tie in to bring us back into her mindset…It’s been a long Drougthlander!
G: I loved it that they showed the natives building the stone circles! Take that Frank – not Celtic giants.
A-R: I was impressed it showed a bit of prehistoric America.
Too often history starts when Columbus arrived in the New World.
[V: Amanda-Rae, I agree with you. But it’s not just that he arrived, but that he ‘discovered’ the New World. How can you ‘discover’ a place that already exists and has inhabitants.]
Long before we ever started on the script, we had the idea for a scene where we see the building of an ancient stone circle. We had seen Craigh Na Dun, of course, and thought it would be fun to imagine where one of the first, if not the first, stone circle ever came from. So, we decided to show one being built by primitive man and how that would look. We wanted to set the stone circle in America, since our season takes place in North Carolina, and we thought about what could be different from the one we saw in Craigh Na Dun.
In doing research, we found that the Natives would often build circles with multi-stone cairns, as opposed to the giant monolith stones. However, we kept the center stone a monolith as an homage to Scotland when Claire first went through. We didn’t know what or where or how this scene would fit in with our season opener, and ultimately, we decided to use it as a cold-open as a cool and magical visual to kick-off the season, and a little glimpse for the audience for how these stone circles might have come about. To tie it to the episode, Claire’s voice over bridges the hanging we first see, and the stone circles; a nice metaphor linking the circle of stones to the hangman’s noose.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
For centuries humans have held an endless fascination with circles, attributing meaning where they are found.
From the eternal rotation of the planets around the sun to the movement of clock hands, to a simple wedding band.
And I more than most know full well just how a circle can affect one’s life.
Or death. ~ Claire
G: The flash from the standing stones to the noose awaiting Hayes was heartbreaking.
The Scots had to go somewhere, and where a lot of them went was the New World. A whole lot went up the Cape Fear river and into the mountains because it looked like home; one of every three colonists was from Scotland.
E: It was good for Hayes to talk Jaime out of the “jail break”. Jaime should know by now not to bring too much attention to himself so soon in a new land, especially when the colonies are still run by the British and the redcoats are everywhere.
I think he [Stephen Bonnet] comes from a very troubled past, and he’s a survivor. I think in any situation that he finds himself in, he’s always looking for his way out, to see who can help him get out of that situation, and what is the best outcome for him.
E: That Mr. Bonnet…What can I say about someone who has looks like a baby-faced assassin. That smooth Irish lilt and smile are so disarming that you have no idea you have been charmed or swindled. He manages to even barge in on an intimate conversation between Jaime and Hayes so he can get a swig of Rum…I can’t wait to see how his character grows throughout the season.
Going in this year, we knew we were going to have to allocate more money to visual effects, knowing that Scotland was going to have to play North Carolina. It’s our most challenging season.
A: Scotland does scrub up rather well as North Carolina in the 1760’s. I’ve only seen North Carolina on an Amtrak train but their locations definitely had a colonial American vibe.
We wanted to start the season with this tragedy of one of our beloved characters being sent to the gallows. Jamie knew Hayes at Ardsmuir, but in the new world, things are different, no matter how much Jamie cares for him.
We wanted to make a statement that we were in a new land now, with new laws, new culture, and new officials to which Jamie had no pull or connections to try and get Hayes out.
He wants here to plan a rescue, but Hayes will not allow it because he knows that he did commit the crime and doesn’t wish Jamie to lose his life in trying to save him.
We thought it was more poignant that Hayes decides to take his punishment and asks Jamie for nothing but a sip of whisky, and to smile at him so that he can see the face of a friend as he dies.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
G: We are so used to Jamie and his last-minute rescue attempts. Seeing Jamie so powerless was heartbreaking.
E: I cannot imagine the feelings and thoughts that run through you knowing you are going to be hung…Tout-Suite.
Jaime managing to keep that smile to the end was difficult and the look on his face when he looked back said it all.
A: But you know with Hayes and how Bonnet was caught for petty theft is one of the grievances that made it into the Declaration of Independence. It was the 18th Century version of police brutality.
E: Leave it to Bonnet to see an opportunity to escape…this season is going to be so good with this new villain.
[V: Evelyn, I wondered why no one tried to stop him. They just watched him run away. I can’t wait for him to get his comeuppance!]
Eisd ris! Eisd ris! Dh’fhàg thu, Gabhainn, sinn fo bhròn!
Eisd ris! Eisd ris! ‘S truagh nach eil thu fhathast glè òg.
Eisd ris! Eisd ris! Dh’fhàg thu, Gabhainn, sinn fo bhròn!
Eisd ris! Eisd ris! ‘S truagh nach eil thu fhathast glè òg!
G: Raise your glass and sing a Caithris to respect our fallen clansman. RIP Hayes.
E: I really liked that they sang that for Hayes. The entire pub got into it so it must have been a known Scottish/Gaelic place to be among your kin. I could not tell if Claire was sad or uncomfortable during the song. Could be Jaime was really off key, but by the sound of it, Sam held his own. HE is tone deaf in the books because of a smack on the head from Dougal years prior, but it really hasn’t been mentioned during the series.
G: Ian and his flashbacks of his captivity with Geillis.
E: Poor Ian has PTSD, but who wouldn’t after being a sex slave to Geillis. She did a job on him that will take some time to recover. I really like how the writers handle sexual assault in this show. It’s very real and doesn’t sweep things under the rug. They don’t always speak about it as soon as the event happens; which shows that over time, the person has lingering issues in dealing with it and how those around them help them deal and come to peace with it.
G: Sadly, the grave reminds him of Geillis and her blood bath.
A: I believe that this is another instance of the novel using rape trauma where maybe a different form of PTSD would have served better.
There was a lot of discussion over this scene and at certain points in the editing, it was cut for time. However, we felt strongly that it was a crucial scene for the episode. We wanted to do justice to the trauma Young Ian suffered at the hands of Geillis, a trauma which mirrored what his uncle Jamie suffered at the hands of Black Jack in S1.
We felt it was very important to show a scene where uncle and nephew bond in an emotional conversation. Jamie lets Ian know that what happened wasn’t his fault, which is a large step in Ian’s healing. The flashbacks to Geillis were added later in editing to make the scene more visceral, as Ian suffers post-traumatic stress from his attack in remembering what Geillis put him through—not only the terror of sexual assault, but the fear of being killed.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
G: Loved Jamie and his words of wisdom, unfortunately it is from his past experiences. My mind went to Geneva initially instead of Black Jack.
A: Me too. This scene was very touching; they understand each other in a way that’s closer to the father/son relationship.
G: So, Stephen Bonnet has been hiding in the wagon and overheard their conversations about the stones. Jamie is off his game and didn’t think that the information could be used against him.
Of course, he is using their grief against them.
E: Hitching a ride in a wagon with a body, being found, then offering to help bury a person he does not know, along with quoting that dead man on friendship. He is a total scammer and schemer. Zero shame in his game!
I think that’s what’s interesting about him. You never quite know which route he’s going to use to get something out of a situation. Is he going to try and charm people or woo people or be aggressive and intimidating, or tactical?
E: As soon as he said, If you give me conveyance, I will be on my way and won’t bother you any-longer; I give you my word, I knew that was all smoke and mirrors. He is so slimy. Claire was skeptical, which is not normally part of her “gut” feelings. Jaime was abnormally trusting…it will come back to haunt them later.
G: Risking so much him. Ugh! I thought Claire was so trusting. Then again, Bonnet seems to know the right questions to ask/manipulate.
E: He surely is Mr. Chatty Charles after all is clear. It is how he disarms his next targets while he sizes them up. His eye sure brighten up when he sees Claire’s rings. I thought the story of drowning was a bit odd. Everyone has to cross the ocean to get to America, so I’m sure they all have some sort of fear of the ocean and never making it. Of course he never fears the noose; he seems to know how to slip away unnoticed, if given the opportunity.
A: I hated his “fake nice” mess from the very first second he appeared! He’s clearly a frenemy and of course he played on Jamie’s sentiments against the government and Claire’s helpful demeanor.
We do have a new villain, Stephen Bonnet. I think what makes him worse than Black Jack is he’s charming. Black Jack Randall was an incredible foil to Jamie and Claire, but this is the new world now. We’re going into new territories and new villains.
E: When he takes his leave of the Fraser’s, you have that feeling that he will pop up when you least expect it.
A: I’m really excited for Ed Speleers to step into the Big Time and get a bigger role post-Downton Abbey. Overall, I really like the energy he’s bringing to this season.
G: Jamie is truly able to be himself and grieve with Claire. Their love for each other is the balm that both need. Claire with the thermodynamics jokes when Jamie is trying to be sentimental. Oh, and it’s sexy too.
E: Well, I was with Jaime; I was done with the redcoats and Bonnet. Time to wash and rest. We are not getting a lot of skin in this episode; however, they did manage to get Sam in a scene without his shirt on…I’m not complaining.
A: It’s funny, I’m not as super obsessed with the Jamie/Claire sex scenes as other fans, but I can tell for those who disliked Seasons 2 & 3 for their lack of bonding that this scene was exactly what some people are looking for.
E: It’s a tender scene when they wash each other. I enjoy this show so much because of chemistry between Sam and Cait – That’s Faith and how they will always be bound to each other even when they die. Its interesting they used “Faith” as it was the name of their first child. Claire thought Mother Hildegarde had a odd sense of humor, but it seems to come back full circle.
I went to North Carolina, as [Outlander author] Diana Gabaldon kindly instructed me to visit some places. And it’s remarkable how similar Scotland actually does look to places in North Carolina. Filming in Scotland, you’re really transported somewhere. It’s something to do with the woods and the vast landscape — obviously, we’re not as big as America, but there is something in that heritage. Just learning about America… it’s a land of immigrants and different cultures. It’s a melting pot. It’s a dangerous place and an exciting place of opportunity. So you have a really great country here, and we’re going to try to show you a little bit of its infancy.
You know what’s behind those trees?
G: Beautiful fall foliage. Jamie with the jokes “more trees”.
G: Claire giving Jamie hope that they can create their new life there. Perhaps America will be better than Scotland.
A: But her foreshadowing America’s future also sets up the main conflicts for the season pretty well.
E: Their conversation was interesting. Claire saw it as idyllic, as it is portrayed. Come here and, without limitations, you can do and become whatever you want. It’s an opportunity to start over and make something of yourself.
G: Yeah, the foreshadowing was also shown with Jamie thinking of the Native Americans and her drawing the comparison to what he and his family went through with the British. There is the law and then there is what is done. Just like Scotland.
E: Jaime comes from a place where an invading force takes over the land and displaces the original inhabitants. He was right to ask about the people already here – A dream for some can be a nightmare for others. Definitely, things we grapple with today. It brings Claire down a peg or two since her experience in America has been different and in the 20th century.
May I request the pleasure of
your company for dinner ma’dam?
E: Here we go again. I love how opportunity is constantly thrown at Jaime. It’s like he has a good luck ticket that always has a double meaning. I forgot they had the stones because it wasn’t mentioned upfront to remind the viewers they did make it out of the Caribbean with them. The ruby drop was beautiful and perfect length for Claire’s décolletage.
G: And now we finally meet Paul Whylie and his sister. It seems they are up to no good. A lot of interest in his Aunt’s River Run estate. Hmmm what are they up too?
[V: Jealous much, Judith?!]
Such a beautiful stone. Mistress Fraser.
You will permit me to look more closely?
E: The Barron did get awfully close to said décolletage to see that ruby…LOL.
[V: That he did and pulled out a damn jewelers loupe at the table at a dinner party. The nerve!]
G: Look at him, trying to coax Jamie into settling a plot of land. “There is the law, and then there is what’s done”. Seems being a Papist isn’t that big of a deal if Jamie can form a settlement and calm the regulators.
A: History note: Most colonial Americans lived 100 miles or less from the coast. The land grants to men like Jamie in interior regions served two purposes sometimes even three. First, their settlements were a buffer zone between Native settlements and the very valuable cities/farmland.
[V: I’ve always loved libraries and this set was a delight to see. However, Jon Gary Steele responded to me that it is actually a real Historic home in Scotland and not a set design.]
A: Secondly, granting former Jacobites, Irish independence seekers, Catholics, Quakers, and Puritans allowed colonial governors a way to control former political enemies. Thirdly, and this is not necessarily the case of North Carolina, these settlements were also the first line of defense against French or Spanish territory expansion. I don’t think this dude sees the writing on the wall with the entirety of the Revolution though, he seems more concerned that Jamie doesn’t back his political enemies.
We call this scene the “deal with the devil scene,” and always conceived it as the governor making an offer to Jamie to give him land—though Jamie knows everything comes with a price. The key line in this scene is Tryon’s line, “There is the law and then there is what is done.” This is the motto Tryon lives by, which is his subtle way of letting Jamie know that he is willing to cut corners and operate in whatever shadowy way he must to accomplish his agenda. The governor offers to give him land, but clearly there is a price for this generous offer…
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
E: I thought Jaime was going to flip out! 100 pounds Sterling is A LOT of money at that time!
G: The bed reminds me of the wedding and the blue of the Laird’s room at Lallybroch.
A: LOL Claire still has the stays she made even after the drowning and the other drama last season!
E: Leave it to Claire to point out the underlying motives of the British – sounds like a Scot to me. She’s right though…be wary of them granting gifts of land since we all know how the American revolution is going to turn out. I’m sure Jamie doesn’t want to lose his land again even if he can make something out of it for Briana.
G: But at least they are back on the same page. Their closeness in their relationship and the way they communicate are enduring.
G: Bees that have honey in their mouth, have a sting in their tail. You don’t know the half Jamie! Do it for Bree!!!! Loving the closeness of Jamie and Claire!
A: The conversation they have about settling down are so important for their character development.
A: ROLLO IS A GOOD DOGGO! SO CUTE! I want a Rollo plushie. You can tell his bond with Young Ian is immediate.
E: I love Rollo!! Great choice on their part with the pups!!
It’s the classic story of immigrants coming to the new world. There was a wave of people coming in the 18th century, and Claire and Jamie are just two more of them, along with the family and friends they bring with them. It’s a great retelling of the American foundational myth, as they come to North Carolina and put down stakes and decide this is the place they will call home.
A: They’ve spent most of the time in past seasons apart or fighting a bigger enemy. Settling down and home building was something they should have had after Culloden, but they didn’t.
G: Ugh, but he is still paying Laoghaire.
E: Everyone, especially Ian, wants to stay in America! He is not going back to Scotland, even if Jaime dragged him back and tied him up.
E: I really have warmed up to him after S3. I had envisioned him a little different in my mind and it took a while until I warmed up to John Bell as Ian.
G: Marsali is pregnant? Ah, like what happened to not wanting to get pregnant right away? Claire is like, I gave you a plan. LOL
A: I thought their announcement of their little one was absolutely adorable! I want to see more of them in S4.
E: Their announcement was exciting to some. Did you see Claire’s side eye?
G: Things are starting to look up! Claire and Jamie are going to be grandparents!
E: Wait, Fergus and Marsali are staying in Wilmington? I thought they stayed in the Caribbean in the book; but again, I have not read it in years so my memory is a bit blurry.
[V: Evelyn, you are right. This is a change from the book. Marsali got pregnant and stayed in Jamaica. It will be interesting to see other changes they made.]
[V: This is an incredible shot. I was glad to see Julian Holmes use these types of scene transitions.]
Although Claire saw slaves in Jamaica and was greatly disturbed by it, Eutroclus is the first “slave” she interacts with in the new world, but she soon learns that Eutroclus is not a slave but a free man. We wanted to highlight that he earned his freedom by saving the captain’s life, an idea that plants a seed in Jamie’s head that will affect a later storyline.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
E: I don’t think I have ever seen a riverboat like this one, but it is quaint. Who knew it would hold that many people and a dog.
[V: As I mentioned while live-tweeting, Eutroclus is so stately. Although he had very few lines, I loved how he (Leon Herbert) purposefully enunciated each word when he spoke.]
A: Eutroclus rowing reminds me that this season has to walk a really fine line with showing race relations without sugar coating or being disingenuous about the past. I am glad that we’re seeing a freedman because later on, we will see actual slaves.
E: You’re right. The writers have a lot of challenges with this season’s stories, not any less than the past, but they have to straddle the line of factual and 21st century sensitivities to not turn viewers off. I think they did a good job in this episode.
G: Jamie is the ultimate statesman in his father’s jacket.
G: Auntie Jocasta really didn’t want to change her last name.
E: The stories about her were hilarious. I thought they were talking about my grandmother. She could put some men in the ground and on to the next one!
She’s seen what happens with slavery and indentured servitude, and it disgusts her. Our writers have said they don’t try to make this show political, but just by telling a story, that is a statement. A lot of people like to forget the past and forget history. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to give people a reminder.
G: Look at Claire being hypersensitive to the issue of slavery. She is also learning that there were people of color who were free.
[V: Proud freed man personified.]
E: It’s her high-minded assumption that every Black person is a slave. At that time, there was the slave trade, but there were also free Black folks during the pre-revolutionary time. She did get put in her place by the Captain after he heard her talking about “elderly slaves need to rest”.
G: The medicine box is so beautiful. Jamie surely knows the way to a women’s heart.
A: Ah this is one scene I remember from the book! Although the New World is very unfamiliar, she continues to tend to the wounds Jamie and others have as a doctor. It’s one of the few constant parts of her identity.
The art department, set decorators, and prop department did a fantastic job in building us our own river boat (as you don’t find any of these hanging around in Scotland) and the medical kit in particular, which was very authentic and very cool.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
Twenty-four years ago, I married ye,
Sassenach. I hope you willna have
cause yet to regret it.
Not for one single day.
From the very beginning of writing the script, we always knew we wanted “America the Beautiful” to play over the sequence of the river boat getting attacked by Stephen Bonnet and his gang. It was originally conceived as an instrumental version, however after watching the scene in editing, it was decided to use the amazing and soulful Ray Charles version. We love the irony of “America the Beautiful” and again, the darker side that Jamie and Claire are encountering in this brave new world.
~ Toni Graphia, Outlander Community
G: What a haunting version of America the Beautiful.
E: I knew something was up when Rollo started growling. His bark is the last thing you hear when “America the beautiful” starts.
Oh beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
G: That bastard, Stephen Bonnet, is back. Ugh!!!
Who more than self, our country loved,
And mercy more than life,
A: I was completely surprised by Bonnet robbing the riverboat!! I gasped because I thought he returned much later on to cause trouble for our favorite characters.
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain devined.
I thought this scene was very Tarantino-esque. (It’s been ages since I’ve seen one of his films, but this is what first came to my mind.) The heightened emotions, Claire’s trauma, the very peaceful Ray Charles’ America. It’s definitely NOT what Outlander usually is about.
And you know when I was in school,
We used to sing it something like this,
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain,
It’s perfect for showing that Bonnet and others like him caused problems for the colonists. He plays the frenemy and that’s what makes him dangerous.
You know, I wish I had somebody to help me sing this
(America, America, God shed his grace on thee)
E: Having that song play while Bonnet and his team beat Jaime, kill Lesley and Bonnet strangles Claire and steals everything, except the medical kit, makes that entire scene eerily scary.
Wait a minute,
America, sweet America,
God done shed his grace on thee,
G: Oh god not Lesley too!
A: It’s all about the corruption of the American Dream and also a test for Jamie and Claire’s relationship since this is a moment of transition in their lives.
Jamie’s been pinned down outside, and everything sort of slows down. I found it was quite a powerful way to be working. [Caitriona Balfe] is a great actress who brings an enormous level of emotional truth to her role. At times it was quite difficult—[Bonnet] is particularly aggressive and the physical nature of what he does is abhorrent, in any world. And in conversation, Cait and I had to talk about what was the best way to go. But from a purely creative point of view it was an amazing scene to shoot. Julian [Holmes], the director, I’d worked with years ago, so there was a trust and a rapport there.
Oh yes he did,
He crowned thy good, don’t you remember, in a brotherhood,
[V: Hell, I even jumped at this moment even though I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Now that is some kinda acting by both, right there!]
From sea to shining sea.
G: This is the first time she has taken Frank’s ring off since her wedding to Jamie.
You know, I wish I had somebody to help me sing this
E: She was smart to try to swallow the rings, but she wasn’t fast enough. She is lucky he didn’t kill her and everyone else.
God shed his grace on thee
America, I love you America,
G: And how ironic that he gets Jamie’s ring instead of Franks (gold).
A: It’s so tragically ironic that she lost the wedding ring that meant MORE to her on her anniversary. This scene makes me wonder why awards shows keep snubbing Caitriona Balfe.
You ought to love him for it,
My God he done shed his grace on thee,
He, crowned thy good,
E: I heard the cast had no idea that the music would block out the cast, but I think it was effective in showing the dichotomy of opportunity and this new untamed and wild country. “Welcome to America”
G: Poor Jamie, I’m sure he regrets helping him now.
He told me he would, with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.
Oh Lord, I want to thank you Lord.
~ Ray Charles, America the Beautiful
E: Bonnet is an evil man. No doubt, he is a force to be reckoned with and, like Black Jack Randal, will not cease to disgust us.
But I think it’s completely effective with the music. I think it’s a really clever choice as well. It makes it much more emotive. The great thing is that we’ve been through that process creatively with the dialogue anyway, and hit all the parts the we wanted to hit, so that music can be more powerful in the final edit.
Episode Rating (1-5 Shots)
Our rating for this episode is 4-Shots!
The cold open was incredible highlighting prehistoric times when inhabitants of the land, thousands of years ago, built the stone circles. This is the third time they have shown a different culture and their rituals around the stones.
As Claire’s voice over mentioned, people have always had a fascination with circles. However here, it is also interesting that circles is one of the themes of this episode. With a circle, the distance from any point is the constant. Although they have embarked on this journey in a new country far from Scotland, the dangers they faced in Scotland exists in America too.
We loved the title card that now includes shots from this season, yet kept some scenes from previous seasons and we couldn’t wait to see how Bear and Yara would remix the Skye Boat theme song this season. The bluegrass tones and folk chorus are a perfect way to introduce the characters’ arrival to the colonies and North Carolina. We also liked that they are featuring the geography of the colonies along with the usual character shots. It will be interesting to see if it changes any during the back half of the season.
For the most part, we thought it was a good episode that exceeded expectations; though the pace was a little slow in places for some of us. The script was brilliantly written by Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia and hit the right notes that set up the themes of the season. We also appreciated that the dialog was trimmed, especially at the end, allowing the music and actors to show not tell what was happening. It had a much-more powerful impact on the viewer.
Julian Holmes (director) did an outstanding job in the manner in which he directed this episode. We appreciate his eye for catching just the right scenery – aerial shots of the stone circles, fall foliage, full moon, daybreak on the water – to transition from one scene to another. We were impressed with his ability to take such care in shooting Hayes’ hanging from different angles, from Hayes’ perspective to his clansmen, then twirling around with Bonnet escaping, and with the intimate scenes of Claire and Jamie to the end with all the action and violence. We look forward to other episodes he directs.
The acting was superb and expressed a range of emotions. It amazes us that the show and actors are not acknowledged enough by receiving awards for their performances; this episode was no exception. As with some of the previous seasons, this episode brought an end to two more characters: Hayes and Lesley whose deaths were equally brutal; one for breaking the law and being hung for his punishment and the other having his throat sliced for protecting his friend. We were also introduced to the new villain, Stephen Bonnet. You think Black Jack was bad? On the one hand, we all knew where BJR was coming from, an equal opportunity masochist. On the other hand, Bonnet uses his charm and gains personal information to use against his victims. He does not care how he gets what he wants, as long as he gets it.
Bear McCreary was on point last night with the music arrangements and the use of volume levels in which the music played. However, the use of Ray Charles’ America the Beautiful threw some people into a tizzy, even though it is also the name of the episode and there were no qualms about that. Although it was somewhat anachronistic to use a modern song for that period, the lyrics illustrated the juxtaposition of the American Dream versus the harsh realities of the times. It was a powerfully brutal ending to the episode that started with such hope. Ray Charles’ rendition is one of only a very few that includes more than the most popular verse. We think the selection was a brilliant choice and loved it!
How did you rate the episode and why? Let us know in the comments section.
What we are looking forward to in the upcoming episode.
Gwen: I’m looking forward to Jamie and Claire trying to rebound after the death of both Lesley, Hayes, and the robbery. I can’t wait to meet Aunt Jocasta and to see all the events that are going to challenge Claire’s modern sensibilities with slavery. Follow Gwen on Twitter: @autonomy_6.
Amanda-Rae: I am really looking forward to River Run. Jocasta Cameron is a very complicated character and I am also curious to see how they will handle slavery this season. I definitely want to see the characters, people of color, as flushed out people and not plot accessories. I’m also looking forward to seeing Roger and Bree coming together. Follow Amanda-Rae on Twitter: @amandarprescott.
Evelyn: I am looking forward to what happens after the robbery. I can’t wait to see Aunt Jocasta and the evolution of Stephen Bonnet. Follow Evelyn on Twitter: @ELoran.
Outlander S4 Epi2 – Do No Harm ~ Video via TV Promos
Written by Karen Campbell | Directed by Julian Holmes
Claire and Jamie visit his Aunt Jocasta at her plantation, River Run; when tragedy strikes at the plantation, Jamie and Claire find themselves caught between what’s right and the law of the land.
7 thoughts on “Blacklanderz® Convos! Outlander S4 Epi1”
Excellent convos, great insight and description. Looking forward to episode 402 convos!
Hello Everyone! I’m new to the group after finding this discussion posted by “I Love Outlander” on Facebook.
This season in particular warrants a deeper introspective view of America and how the country began. As a DOS (Descendant of Slaves) I hope the show runners provide a respectful interpretation of that time period. There were some cringeworthy moments for me last season in the Caribbean.
Anyway, I’m happy to be here to enjoy stimulating conversations about our favorite book and series show, Outlander.😘
Glad you found us. We are also on Twitter – @Blacklanderz. A lot of us live-tweet during the episode. I am with you and hope they will do the people of that time justice. However, I doubt they will spend too much time on the matter, since the focus is Jamie and Claire. But, we will see.
@kisslena18 Are you on Twitter?
Yes, this was excellent and insightful. I love reading recaps from our perspective. Welcome to the group Kisslena.
Same here. Should be a great season.
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