America the Beautiful
Season 4 Ep 401
Written by Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia
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Jamie, Claire, Marsali, Fergus, Young Ian, Lesley, and Hayes are in Wilmington, NC. There’s a hanging. Young Ian gets a dog. The Frasers are going to a party. They are broke and need to sell a gemstone for passage back to Scotland. A greedy pastor, flashbacks, and a stowaway complicate the burial. Assistance is given to an escaped convict. Jamie and Claire sleep rough. The Governor makes Jamie an offer. They decide to stay in America. On the way to River Run, there’s trouble.
With good there is bad. There are opportunities in the new world, but there is also cruelty and opportunistic savagery that takes place against others in the process.
Circles have significance from the broader to the personal, impact lives, and are here to make a point this season.
- There is so much excellent dialogue to provide warmth to devoted Outlander readers.
- Jamie stands out as a good friend and leader.
- Claire’s humor and emotional range are coming into view. She’s less a constipated shrew and more emotionally rounded.
- The choice to highlight Young Ian’s trauma after being scared and sexually assaulted by Geillis “The Bakra” Abernathy.
- Rollo is joining the crew.
- Marsali and Fergus are expecting a child. SURPRISE. Apparently, she likes sex quite fine and having a child won’t stop that.
- Jamie’s gift of the medicine box for their 24th anniversary is a deep home run. He’s sentimental and knows Claire is not the type to want baubles and fancy things.
- Ed Speleers gives an excellent performance as Stephen Bonnet, at once likable, over the top schmoozer, maybe kind, and then morphing into a malevolent mercenary he returns to steal Claire’s rings and the gems he overheard them talking about when he was a stowaway. He even murders Lesley when he fights back.
- Caitriona’s performance during the robbery is stunning. With minimal sound, her emotions, facial expressions, and body movements scream volumes.
Jamie’s wig with bangs is hands down is THE worst thing in this episode. Claire’s wig and the funky North Carolina CGI are next in line. Everyone else’s wigs are fantastic. I just don’t get it. It seems the hair team is trying to mimic Sam’s hair before he donned a wig. Someone, PLEASE give Jamie an all over shoulder length wig that can be properly plaited. The utter distraction makes for difficult viewing.
Who the hell is Lillington and how did they get an invite to a party? It was an abrupt non-sequitur without context while they’re riding to the kirkyard to bury Gavin. Unless you’re a book reader, this came out of left field.
The hanging of Gavin barely ticked the emotional box because there was so little character development of him and Lesley even though they were at Ardsmuir and worked for Jamie in Edinburgh. Except for Lesley’s heartfelt tavern singing, and the shocking nature of his death, they felt superfluous to a storytelling end
Why was Jamie so determined for them all to go back to Scotland? Claire mildly talking him into staying is a bit off-putting.
Fergus being so mild and mousy and seemingly lacking the wit and fire his younger counterpart displayed is a slight turn off as a viewer.
- The snarky dinner party guest Judith Wylie being jealous of Claire and trash talking her to Claire’s “whatever” face.
- Jamie’s “more trees” response to Claire.
- Jamie’s response to sweet devastated Young Ian, “What it comes down to is your cock doesn’t have a conscience, but you have.”
- Young Ian to Uncle Jamie, “I didna ken. She’ll be saying it in Scotland won’t she.”
Claire’s voiceover in the opening scene of native peoples building a cairn circle around a standing stone, Hey there! Circles of ALL kinds (nooses, wedding rings, the movement of clock hands, and planetary orbits) are super-duper important. Especially stone circles in America.” (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink). Then Stephen Bonnet focusing on the rings and the importance of an eternal circle. Then Stephen attempting to take Claire’s wedding rings.
Overall, I liked this episode and look forward to what’s coming. A lot of ground was covered to move the story along nicely. I don’t envy the task of adapting such detailed and lengthy work. Outlander viewers are pretty darned smart and don’t need to be spoon-fed foreshadowing, hit in the face with themes or points the producers and writers want to be certain we don’t miss. I promise, if the writing is good, viewers with getting it.
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