Jamie and Claire’s attempt to settle Fraser’s Ridge brings them into conflict with local Cherokee groups. But a bear attack provides the opportunity to find “Common Ground”… Our recap/review of this week’s Outlander.
Since the end of last week’s episode, Jamie, Claire, and Ian have made their way back to Wilmington, NC. “Common Ground” opens with Jamie with Governor Tryon signing a land grant for 10,000 acres of land that will become Fraser’s Ridge. Tryon inquires into whether Jamie has started to recruit settlers, and Jamie shares that his most trusted man (Fergus) is in town spreading the word. Tryon encourages Jamie to be cautious, to make sure that the settlers he brings to Fraser’s Ridge will respect the law and won’t become affiliated with the Regulators. Tryon is increasingly concerned with the growing agitation, resistance to tax payment, and corruption even among his own officials. Tryon makes an interesting pivot to remark that he knows Jamie has been associated with both princes and paupers. When Jamie agrees, Tryon comments again that it’s been said that Highlanders have a lot in common with Native Americans, “the Indian savage.” And Jamie, with the best response, “savagery can exist in many forms, Your Excellency.” YES, because the barbarism we’ve seen this season has been from the supposedly civilized Whites… See “Do No Harm”.
Tryon expresses his willingness to go outside of the law in order to contain those who challenge the rightful order of things. Jamie says what Tryon wants to hear: “Aye, well there is the law and there is what is done.”
Elsewhere, Claire, Marsali, and Ian have been gathering supplies for their trip back to Fraser’s Ridge. Marsali is heavily pregnant and Claire advises her about how to fight the nausea (peppermint) and eating many small meals. Marsali shares how she misses her mother, someone who could be there for support through her pregnancy. Claire sympathizes and offers to be there for Marsali. Marsali responds that there’s no other healer she’d want by her side, but what happens after the baby is delivered?
Claire: “Your mother did a fine job raising you, and I’m sure you’ll do just as well.”
And this is an important scene, because even though I despise Laoghaire as a person (and attempted murderer), we can see that she was a good mother to her daughters. This counts for something.
But this also triggers a longing in Claire… when she was pregnant with Bree, she desperately wanted her mother, too. What if Bree is needing her right now? What about when Bree is pregnant? Jamie offers support, sharing how he clung to memories of Claire when she was gone and how it provided some comfort. Jamie is sure that Bree will do the same.
After Jamie checks in with Fergus to make sure all is well, Jamie, Claire, and Ian make their trip back West, with the promise of a cabin waiting for Fergus, Marsali, and the bairn when the time comes.
Eventually, they arrive at the Ridge and that same view that first won them over. Using the charter, Jamie, Claire, and Ian demarcate the boundaries of their settlement with wooden posts. As they work, Claire quotes “America” to Jamie… “My country, ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing.” She tells how it’s sung to “God Save the King,” and they laugh about how Americans would steal that tune and make it their own. Claire refuses to sing for Jamie, even though he says hearing her sing in her prim and proper cadence gets him excited. But Ian interrupts before their playing can go too far… boo. Ian has found the Witness Trees that mark the farthest boundaries of their land. Jamie carves F.R. into the trees as a sign to those who approach that they enter Fraser’s Ridge. While doing so, Jamie steps into some animal dung, which prompts a warning from Claire, that there are many dangerous creatures in the wood, panthers, bears, etc. As they’re talking, a group of Cherokee warriors arrive, carrying guns and bows and arrows. Jamie approaches the group, drops his dagger to show that he’s unarmed, and introduces himself as James Fraser. The group of warriors turn and leave, for now.
Over time, we see Jamie, Claire, and Ian chopping down and sawing trees and gathering stones that they then use to build their cabins and sheds. Claire will even have her own space to see patients when the time comes. In the meantime, they have a shelter and have tied up their food and supplies to keep it from animals. There’s also a sweet scene with Claire and Ian together–she’s cleaning and cooking fish and he’s mending nets. Ian tells Claire about how everyone at Lallybroch could knit, even Jamie.
One day, while working, the Cherokee warriors return on horseback. They’ve dug up the demarcation posts and throw them down. They speak in Cherokee, but Jamie, Claire, Ian (nor we) understand.
That night, Jamie and Claire reflect on what to do. Maybe they can build somewhere else? But Jamie believes that location offers the best arable land and protection. Besides, if the Cherokee want to get rid of them, it doesn’t matter where they settle. Claire then reflects on her encounter with the Native American, traveler spirit. What if he wasn’t guiding them to the ridge… what if it was a warning? But Jamie already feels a kinship with this land. He wishes he knew how to speak to the Cherokee to say he wants to live in peace. When Claire suggests a gesture of goodwill, Jamie says he will get advice from John Quincy Meyers in the morning. Later on, their rest is disturbed when Rollo hears something. Jamie grabs his rifle and they all go investigate. Have the Cherokee returned? They see that their camp area has been ransacked and their meat and food supplies have been taken. When one of their horses, Finley comes running, they see that the horse has been attacked and has claw marks all over his body. It wasn’t the Cherokee. It was a bear.
The next day, Jamie goes to see Meyers. He’s also heard about a bear from the Cherokee, “Tskili Yona”, an evil spirit in the form of a bear. Meyers offers jerky meat for Jamie to take back. The Cherokee returning those posts is a clear warning. Meyers says they should put off building their cabin until the matter is resolved. He suggests that the Cherokee might take kindly to a gift of tobacco. Meyers also teaches Jamie how to greet the Cherokee with respect, “Siyo ginali.” Meyers even offers to intercede with the Cherokee on their behalf, since he already has good relations with the group.
That night, we see that Meyers has been mauled… he’s bleeding profusely and keeps chanting “Tskili Yona”. While Claire and Ian try to save Meyers, Jamie goes after the bear. In their work, Claire sees that Meyers has been bitten, but by a HUMAN. Simultaneously, the Cherokee perform a ceremony led by one of their women elders. And Jamie soon comes into contact with “Tskili Yona,” a Native American man who wears the skin and claws of a bear. They fight, but Jamie is eventually able to kill “Tskili Yona” with a stake to the gut. Jamie then builds a pallet and returns the body of “Tskili Yona” to the the Cherokee group, greeting them with “Siyo ginali.”
The leader of the band of warriors comes forward and speaks in English to Jamie… ‘Oftentimes, man is monster.” “Tskili Yona” was once a member of their tribe, but was banished after raping a woman. “Tskili Yona” refused to leave and returned to the tribe to cause mischief. Over time, he lost his senses and became like a wild animal in his mind. However, since he was dead to the tribe, they couldn’t engage with him. Only an outsider could have killed “Tskili Yona,” so Jamie has done them a favor. Jamie gives them his word that he’s not Tskili, he and his family only want to live in peace.
Later, we see Claire has saved Meyers, who is recovering. While they prepare food around the fire, the Cherokee warriors return again, this time with their chief Nawohali. Jamie invites them to join them for a meal, and the Cherokee visitors say that they want no more bad blood between them. Among their tribe, Jamie will be known as “Yona Dihi”, Bear Killer.
Two Cherokee women has also come, Giduhwa and her husband’s grandmother, Adawehi. Adawehi is the elder who was leading the ceremony before. She is also a great healer and has had a dream about Claire: “The moon was in the water and you became a white raven. You flew over the water and swallowed the moon. The white raven flew back and laid an egg in the palm of her hand. The egg split open and there was a shining stone inside. She knew this was great magic, that the stone could heal sickness.”
Adawehi believes that Claire’s healing abilities and wisdom will also continue to grow. But: “You must not be troubled. Death is sent from the gods. It will not be your fault.”
But……….. Whose death is Adawehi referencing?!
Now that the conflict has been resolved, construction continues. When the foundation of their cabin is laid down, Jamie carries Claire across the threshold into their new home. (P.S. I live for Claire’s buckskin pants!)
Meanwhile, in the 20th Century, it’s been several months since Roger and Bree had their argument at the Highland Festival. Roger is back at Oxford and teaching, but he’s also been doing some research with the book Bree gave him about the Scottish settlers of North Carolina. He’s particularly intrigued by a mention of Fraser’s Ridge. Roger reaches out to the author of the book (Dr. Karen Bailey) for any artifacts and documentary support she may have. Dr. Bailey mails Roger a copy of the charter Jamie signs and maps of Fraser’s Ridge. There’s also a letter from one of the settlers in Fraser’s Ridge that comments on Jamie and his wife Claire, a healer.
Roger calls Bree in Boston to share this news, and they’re both thrilled. Not only has Claire found Jamie, but also, during the festival, Bree and Roger were so close to Fraser’s Ridge. It’s clear that they’re both wanting more from the conversation, but they say their goodbyes.
Some weeks later, Roger is back in Inverness to collect boxes from the Reverend’s old house. In conversation with Fiona, she reveals that she knows about Claire, Bree, and time travelling. Besides, her grandmother, Mrs. Graham, led the dances of the druids. While cleaning the house, Fiona has come across some of the Reverend’s old research, an obituary that says that Jamie and Claire Fraser die in a fire sometime in the 1770s (the date is smudged, so it’s unclear). Roger doesn’t want to tell Bree… her mother has been dead for 200 years. Why cause more heartbreak? But Fiona is insistent that Bree should know.
The episode ends with Roger calling Bree in Boston. This time, Bree’s roommate Gayle picks up the phone and is surprised. Bree left for Scotland a couple weeks ago… shouldn’t Roger have seen her by now? Why was Bree in Scotland? According to Gayle, Bree is going to visit her mother… Yes, y’all, that look on Roger’s face lets us know that Bree is going through the stones!
What did you think of “Common Ground”? Share with us in the comments, and make sure to check out our WSN REVIEWS Outlander series on Youtube every Sunday after the new episode airs!