Common Ground Ep 155

Season 4 Episode 404

“Common Ground”

Directed by: Ben Bolt

Written by: Joy Blake

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Summary:  Jamie becomes a landowner. Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian leave Marsali and Fergus, turning toward the mountains. The boundaries of Fraser’s Ridge are marked. The land is prepared for a cabin. They meet the locals who are unhappy at their presence. Roger makes a discovery. An awkward phone call ensues. Jamie receives council. Jamie believes the land spoke to him. Actions are taken to be peaceable neighbors. A threat bonds them and the Cherokee in friendship. Claire receives a prophecy. Fiona surprises Roger and shares a terrible discovery. Roger finally calls Brianna, but it’s too late.

What is the common ground? Merriam-Webster states the definition to be, “a basis of mutual interest or agreement.”

The Indian Tribes and the Highlanders:

Prejudice exists about the Cherokee (and other tribes) by the non-native colonialist peoples. They are called savages and compared to the Highland Scots by the Governor himself after Jamie signs the land agreement. The opening scene also provides a comparison as it shows the Cherokee Chief dressing. It harkens back to the opening scene that shows Jamie going through the same ritual of dressing in the Highland fashion. There are also similarities in the ways of life and difficulties with their way of life being compromised by encroachment, war, and politics.  This, of course, is a highly simplistic comparison, and I urge you to do your research on the history of the Cherokee and other tribes.

As a side note, Jamie wanting this land for his and his family’s greater purpose and reclamation of all that was lost, believing the land spoke to him, coupled with his desire to be a good and peaceable neighbor creates conflict in me. The land is available because of deals the colonialists have made with the Cherokee. Jamie is now the Governor’s man and by extension the Crown’s man. He is the face of colonialism — the face of western Europe expansionism. Can one be a kinder gentler colonialist or rather take advantage of a colonialist offering and not be an oppressor? I know this is a modernist view and who wouldn’t jump at a chance to finally have something of value and worth? Who wouldn’t seek the avenue of legacy? Jamie Fraser is a good man who wants to do what is right and just. He strives to have a solid moral compass. Jamie Fraser is also a man who prizes his family’s safety, security, and prosperity above all else. He’s had so little ability in his life to take care of those in his charge without usurping the law or being an unstable caretaker.

Finding Common Ground

The episode did an excellent job in showing the growing pains of having settlers on the land, whether or not they are on the right side of the boundary lines. The local Cherokees do not take kindly to Jamie and Claire while they are clearing an area to build a shed and cabin. They even go so far as to threaten them with the return of several land marker poles. Jamie has no issue having his family brandish weapons when the Cherokee approach, yet in wisdom seeks council to somehow establish a harmonious and peaceful relationship between his family and the Cherokee. John Quincy Myers promises to take a gift of tobacco from Jamie as an offering. Jamie inadvertently finds the better alternative to forging a respectful and healthy friendship; he kills the bear that has been wreaking havoc in the area. It isn’t an ordinary bear; it’s a shunned Cherokee who has taken on the spirit, skin, and claws of a bear. To the Cherokee he is dead, so they have no means to kill the Tskili Yona man-bear. When the bear attacked friend John Quincy Myers and threatened in the forest, Jamie goes on the hunt. He discovers it is a bear-man when it attacks him. He ironically kills the monster with one of the land marker poles. When he returns the corpse to the Cherokee, they accept it and being to respect his place on the land.

The Cherokee offers friendship to Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian and the chief names Jamie, Bear Killer, as he will be known to the Cherokee. Jamie now has mountain cred. Through his actions, a bond of mutual respect is formed.

Claire also finds common ground with Adawehi, a great healer, who is Giduhwa’s husband’s grandmother. Adawehi dreams of Claire and gives her a prophecy that she will have great power when her hair turns all white. She also tells Claire something ominous about death coming that won’t be her fault. Claire stands to learn much from Adawehi and will undoubtedly become a stronger herbalist for it.

Common ground is also secured between Jamie and Claire as he maps out their new cabin that includes a clinic room for Claire to see patients. He considers both their needs in the design. This is the Jamie we expect and adore.

Where Common Ground Lacks

The painful awkwardness between Roger and Brianna when he calls to tell her the discovery about her mother and Jamie. She’s cool and distant to Roger while seeming to be less than enthused at the news. You’d think she’d be more excited and express deep gratitude for him continuing to research in the past. What’s a guy have to do to get a rise from her? After Roger finds out Fiona knows about Claire being a traveler and sharing devastating news from an article she found in her grandmother’s belongings, they also disagree on whether Roger should tell Brianna about the obituary with a blurred date. At some point after, Roger decides to phone Brianna but is told she left for Scotland a couple of weeks ago to visit her mother. She never told him or contacted him. The divide between them grows. Was he calling to tell her about the obituary? How much time had passed since Fiona shared it with him? Why was Brianna traveling into the past without telling Roger? From this vantage point, I think he has the right to be angry.

The other area where common grounds lacks is in Tryon’s views of the regulators and the Indians. He stands for King and Crown, where Jamie is using the land grant for his purposes knowing he’ll have to choose sides in the future when the American Revolution breaks out.

Into the Future

This episode resolves one serious issue but opens up pathways to many unanswered questions.

  • Will Roger discover when and why Brianna time traveled?
  • Will Brianna find her parents?
  • Why didn’t Brianna tell Roger?
  • Will Roger follow Brianna into the past?
  • Will life be calm on Fraser’s Ridge now that friendship is secured between the Cherokee and those on the Ridge?
  • When will we see Marsali and Fergus?
  • Who will Fergus recruit to live on Fraser’s Ridge?
  • How long before Governor Tryon calls in favors from Jamie and his men in the backcountry?

Links of Interest:

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The entire Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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