'Outlander' season 4 finale review: An unnecessary fairytale ending and a triumphant 'Man of Worth'
'Outlander' neatly tied the storyline of Roger's reunion with Brianna, but that would not have been necessary, while it is still a mystery if Bonnet escaped from the explosion
Brianna Randall Fraser and Roger MacKenzie reunite in the season finale titled 'Man of Worth' but the real revelation is that Roger isn't a man of worth, nor is Jamie Fraser. It is in fact, Young Ian, who proves his worth not only with his heartbreaking selfless sacrifice but also by triumphing over the odds and carving his own significance in the heart of New York City's Shadow Lake.
The finale wastes no time in finding Roger. The Frasers reach the Mohawk village and cite they have come there to "trade", immediately exhibiting the utensils and goods they had carried all the way from North Carolina.
Claire Fraser's grey scarf attracts a young girl, and when she unties it from her neck to give it to her, Claire's opal stone is revealed and the villagers gasp in fright. Clueless as the Frasers are about the stone and the reaction, Young Ian figures that the opal stone that Claire wears has something bad to do with the people of Shadow Lake as the village head chief declares his final word that they will not trade with the Frasers, come what may, and "Dogface" aka Roger, will be held a captive there.
It's a so-close-but-yet-so-far moment for the Frasers who traveled two months or more to come to New York and take Roger to Brianna after he was brutally bashed by Jamie Fraser mistaking him for Brianna's rapist, Stephen Bonnet.
The Frasers decide to camp outside the village and sneak in at night to rescue Roger, but before they could, they are attacked by a group of Mohawks who ask Claire for the stone. Claire says that they can have the stone if they help them with Roger's escape and further questions the importance of the opal.
It is narrated that the stone belonged to Otter Tooth, the Native American ghost Claire encountered in episode 3, who leads her to Jamie when she was lost in the woods. Claire was quick to find out that the ghost was a time traveler like her because his skull featured a silver filling, which was not invented during that time.
The opening scene of the episode as 'Outlander's intro music carries on with acoustic strumming, Otter Tooth is seen wearing white shirt and denims, unlike how he appeared as a ghost with black paint smeared across his face. The story of Otter Tooth is what haunts the villagers of Shadow Lake. He was a man, who knew much more than anyone else and oftentimes felt like a man from the future. He preached to kill white men and he had a set of followers. But his preaching turned into rants and he was dismissed as a man who wanted to cause disharmony when all the villagers wanted was peace. Otter Tooth was beheaded, but his ghost still haunted the village, so they took his head as far as possible and erased him once and for all. That is where Claire had found him, his skull, and his stone in episode 3.
However, the mission to rescue Roger fails and the leading lady of the Mohawk group, who led the rescue is banished from the tribe. As for the Frasers, Jamie says he will turn himself in, in place of Roger, for the sake of Brianna, his heavily pregnant daughter. Claire rebukes the idea. "No. There has to be another way," she says, but the Scottish Highlander is determined there is no other way, "But I will return to you Sassenach," he assures her, and they melt into an embrace, the one that rips 'Outlander' fans' heart apart. Jamie tells Young Ian to let the Mohawks counsel know about the "fair trade", and when he does, Roger is freed, and Young Ian tells his uncle Jamie "I am staying". The realization dawns that Young Ian made a deal for himself instead of his uncle.
Young Ian turning into a man seals him as a 'Man of Worth'
His ultimate sacrifice earns him the respect of both his uncle and aunt, but as heartbreaking as it may seem that Young Ian will be staying back in a village that tortured the hell out of Roger and Father Alexandre Ferigault, Young Ian wins the Mohawk test which Roger miserably failed. With swift dexterity, Young Ian, who is no longer 'Young' now, dodges the men who strike him and almost effortlessly reaches for the feet of the village chief who declares "You will be one of us." The Mohawks howl and celebrate the addition of one more member, actually two, we need to count Rollo, the dog, as well.
As Roger, Jamie and Claire make their return, they briefly talk about Young Ian and his quest for adventure. We know that in this fate-driven drama, Young Ian did find his place. Roger, who still seems to be reeling from everything that happened to him, has a cowered body position throughout until he decides to charge at Jamie Fraser with animal-like force and throw massive blows with one unbroken hand. Claire interrupts, but Jamie tells her to stay put and let Roger beat him because according to Jamie, he has the right to do so.
The fight between these two men, who love Brianna, is filled with emotional aggression. Jamie is taking the blow for Brianna because Roger already took a bit too many for her. After Roger wears himself from beating the Highlander, he asks "Where is she?".
Claire, who is obviously not happy with the ongoing scene, replies that Brianna is safe and she sent them to rescue Roger from the Mohawks. Roger's realization that the girl he loves still loves him despite the horrible exchange of words makes him question why Jamie Fraser beat him to death in the first place.
Claire is tasked with the duty to tell Roger the truth, the truth about Brianna's rape and pregnancy. In one of the most powerful episodes this season, and admittedly there are many, Claire sits beside Roger and gently explains "she was attacked". Jamie quips that "she was raped". Roger's expression reveals what's in his mind: confusion, hurt, pain and sadness. When Jamie tells him it was Stephen Bonnet who did the deed, Roger is shocked and disturbed as he was the evil captain who Roger worked for ever since coming to the 18th Century.
"Where were you when Brianna was attacked?" Jamie shakes Roger, who answers him with another blow. Jamie is quick to point out that it will be the last of Roger's "unanswered blows".
"I did not leave her because we argued. I left her because she told me to go," replies Roger, and leaves Jamie bewildered.
The news of Brianna's pregnancy at first delights Roger, but when they reveal that it could not be his, he spirals into a deep contemplation. The major question if he will accept the child or not, even if he is reunited with Brianna, had been a long pending mystery that fans had been inquiring. While Claire believes Roger needs time to think since it is a big decision regarding their daughter, Jamie is quick to let him know that his daughter does not deserve a "coward" like him.
Meanwhile, Brianna gives birth to a baby boy in River Run.
Also, happening in River Run, is an unexpected love story between Aunt Jocasta and Murtagh Fitzgibbons, who hook up after raging tension and differences between them. There is a mixed feeling about this unforeseen love story, but it is definitely between two fan-favorite characters, so they are likely to be shipped. The bigger question is how long will it last since Jamie gets a letter from the governor, tasked with the duty to kill the revolutionary Murtagh Fitzgibbons, his beloved godfather.
When Jamie and Claire return to River Run, there is no sight of Roger and Young Ian. While we know Ian settled with the Mohawks, we realize Roger failed to accept Brianna's child as his own. Brianna, as you can imagine, is heartbroken, and is melancholic for days, but puts on a brave front as her mother tends to her and gives her the support she needs. When the Frasers are about to return to Frasers' Ridge, Brianna sees the silhouette of a man descending from the hill. Knowing full well that it is Roger, she runs to him and they finally reunite.
However, this reunion felt less than gratifying. Why Roger has to be typically himself all the time, doing the right things but all in the wrong way?
As much as we had hoped that his return would spark so much joy, we are, in fact, disappointed with his return. We are happy for Brianna, but the question is why did it take so long for him to return if he was absolutely sure he loved her and went through all that pain for her sake? What if he was a day late in arriving to River Run? He would not meet her and he would go through another bad adventure and later claim he went through all that because of Brianna and for her sake?
The fairytale ending was not necessary, Brianna had managed to be her own prince charming by overcoming her sadness and venturing out of her room to finally feast with her family.