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Outlander – S4E4 – Common Ground

Previously on Outlander, “The False Bride”

Images: Starz

Well, Jamie Fraser is a bonafide land-owning American. 10,000 (!) acres of pre-owned North Carolina land comes with the low, low price of owing Governor Tryon a favor later on, probably right about the time the unruly mob of settlers turn on their state officials.

Marselis’ pregnancy is moving along, and she’s thankful Claire is the best healer she knows for when the baby arrives… except that Claire is leaving to settle the Ridge and Marselis is staying in town. In fact, Claire and Jamie are going to be days away and Fergus is leaving to recruit settlers for Jamie, so it’s no wonder Marseli misses her witch of a mother right now.

It’s confusing how sympathetic Jamie is towards the Native American tribes being forced from their land when he is in fact now one of those very land thieves. Seriously, 10,000 acres?! It’s excessive, and the previous land owners seem to feel the same way when they show up with arrows and rifles. The Cherokee men give zero fucks that his name is Jamie Fraser and he’s no longer holding his knife.

But the Fraser’s decide that the Natives probably won’t be a threat to these fine white land-owners and proceed to plot out their new cabin, replete with a meat smoker and a she-shed. And then the Cherokees do in fact threaten them. Maybe. It’s hard to tell, since none of them actually speak Cherokee—it would have been handy if Ian could have learned some when he went trading with Myers. But when the Natives throw Jamie’s boundary markers at his feet and angrily ride off on their horses, it’s probably not to make the new family feel welcome.

Maybe they should move? I mean, they do have 10,000 acres to pick from, although according to Jamie they’d have the same problem anywhere they go. Man, how the mighty have fallen, Jamie Fraser! Remember last episode when you didn’t blame the Natives for not wanting strangers on their land? Now this land “is speaking to you”, even though it probably also spoke to the people that currently live there.

It’s time to get help from the only person they know who speaks Cherokee, and why it took so long to come up with that solution is a mystery. Also, a bear came in the middle of the night, wrecking their makeshift home and stealing every last bit of their food; the wilderness is kind of kicking their ass. Actually, the Cherokee have been having a bear problem of their own, which is not surprising since they live in the same 300-foot radius. According to Myers it’s a Tskili Yona, some sort of especially evil ghostie monster bear. (Not an exact translation.)

The Tskili Yona returns that night and does a number on Myers, probably for giving all of the inside scoop to Jamie and Claire. It’s lucky for Myers that Claire gets to him before he bleeds out, but it’s curious that the Cherokee are holding a bear-themed ceremony in their village as Myers is attacked. Are they really having a bear problem, or are they controlling it and using it to attack their new neighbors?

Jamie has to deal with this demon bear while it’s still close. He tracks out it into the woods and holy shit it is a man in a bear costume! This guy knows how to use his bear claws, and Jamie loses a lot of skin and blood before he stakes the bear with one of his own boundary markers. So this is the Tskili Yona…a Cherokee man dressed in a bear skin. Jamie returns the body to the Cherokee, and it’s impossible to tell if he’s brought the body back as an offering or as an omen, something he doesn’t realize until they ask him point blank if he killed the ghost bear. Is the answer “Yes, now don’t fuck with me again”? Or is it “Yes, you’re welcome”? Tense standoff in 3, 2, 1…

It’s okay, guys! The Cherokee knew the Tskili Yona — he was one of them, once, before he was excommunicated. Tawodi (who not only speaks English, but is a damn poet) overshares the backstory: how the former tribesman raped his wife, was forced out of the village, and lost his mind in the woods, becoming a bear. He also drops in more particulars about the sex lives of Native women, because why wouldn’t these seemingly irrelevant details keep coming up in conversation? Jamie did them a solid by killing the ghost bear man, and in return the tribe promises absolutely nothing in regards to his family’s safety. “Death follows white men”, indeed.

A few days later the Cherokee visit the Fraser camp, but they come in a heavily-armed peace. Chief Nawohali bestows Jamie with the nickname Yona dihi, or “bear killer”, and Claire meets Adawehi, a grandmotherly healer. Adawehi had a weird dream about Claire, where she turns into a bird and swallows the moon and births a shiny rock egg that can heal. Also, she promises more wisdom as she gets older, which is a very nice thing to say but is kind of a no-brainer, and also that Death is sent from the gods and it will not be Claire’s fault. Wait, what? What is the hell is she supposed to do with that?

In a more present time, sad-faced Roger is back at Oxford and finally reading the book Brianna gave him at the Highlands Festival. You know, the one about Scottish settlers in North Carolina, the one that directly references the same Fraser’s Ridge that Jamie is building. Even though he and Brianna aren’t even speaking anymore and they parted on pretty terrible terms, he still makes a transatlantic call to make some expensive awkward small talk and also to tell her what he’s discovered: her mother made it back to Jamie, and they settled in North Carolina.

When Roger goes to collect the rest of his stuff out of storage (storage being Fiona’s new house), they get to talking about the debacle of a relationship he and Brianna are in. Fiona casually mentions how of course she knows that Claire went back in time to find Jamie Fraser, which is a) hilarious, because Roger has zero poker face, and b) not at all surprising, since her granny knew about Jamie, too. But Fiona has some news of her own about Claire and Jamie, and it’s not so great. Granny left some papers behind for Fiona, and one of them is the Fraser’s obituary. Shit, is Roger going to have to tell Brianna that Claire went all the back in time to find Jamie just so they could die in a house fire?

I wouldn’t. Roger shouldn’t… but he decides he has to. Another awkward transatlantic call, this time with roommate Gayle, Roger finds out that Brianna’s been gone for weeks. She left for Scotland to “visit her mother”. Brianna, you dummy, your mom is 200 years in the past, and in America, and oh my gosh Brianna is going to go through the stones!

Outlander S4E4 Review Score
  • 9/10
    Plot - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Dialogue - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Performance - 9/10

"Common Ground"

Outlander – S4E4 – Common Ground | Starring: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe

User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

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