Outlander: America The Beautiful

Outlander: America The Beautiful | Season 4, Episode 1 | Rating: 9.9/11 |

For those of us who dream of Lallybroch and Fraser’s, it’s time to cheer as droughtlander is officially over! Hooray! Should you need a quick refresher on where things left off at the end of season three, read this.

Season Four finds us in 1767 North Carolina. There’s a theme of circles to this episode, starting with the construction of some standing stones in North America in 2000 BC and yet another tribal dance. Maybe the circle theme is set as a reminder that what comes around, goes around. Or more simply set to emphasize the circle of life.

Jamie and Claire are seeking passage back to Scotland and are planning to sell gemstones found in their ship’s wreckage to pay the way. However a dinner with Governor Tryon turns their heads towards settling in America when the Governor offers Jamie a land grant in North Carolina in exchange for what we’ll call protection from a seasoned solider. After all the American Revolutionary War is only eight years away and those who have experienced war before can feel it coming again. Claire encourages Jamie not to be on the wrong side of history again, but war doesn’t seem to frighten Jamie. And thus the decision is made to start a home in the land that will become their daughter Brianna’s country, the country in which she was born — a sentiment that means a lot to Jamie.

Fergus and Marsali are staying in North Carolina as well since Marsali is pregnant (and the long journey home would not suit her well). While young Ian is set to head back to Scotland, against his own hopes. But before the ship is set to sail young Ian accompanies Jamie & Claire to River Run to visit Jamie’s aunt. The journey is interrupted when pirates attack stealing the remaining gemstones, Claire’s wedding band and whatever other valuables they could find. What’s worse, the piracy was spearheaded by a man Jamie & Claire involuntarily save from the gallows earlier that episode: Mr. Stephen Bonnet (played by Downton Abbey alum Ed Speleers). Mr. Bonnet had been eyeing Claire’s rings, “Something about the notion of an infinite circle that fascinates me.”


Music has always provided more than just atmosphere and emotion to Outlander, it also provides insight and history. Once again we find a new rendition of “The Skye Boat Song” (Outlander‘s opening theme), this time providing a folk music setting to key us into the American landscape season four finds us in. It’s really incredibly how composer Bear McCreary transforms this theme each time, maintaining its familiarity while becoming entirely new.

The closing scene of America The Beautiful also features an interesting song choice. Initially found to be off-putting, our season premiere closes with a very violent vandalism scene set to the song “America The Beautiful.” A very patriotic song that often brings tears of joy to the proudest Americans. What was a song that wouldn’t even be written until 1895 or set to music until 1910 doing here? Upon a re-watch, leaving the emotional shock of the scene aside, I found this song placement to be a very indicative foreshadowing of the times to come and the scene itself a political nod to the ideals America was founded on: Freedom and the American Way. And there we find our circle again.


There’s two noticeable changes from the book Drums of Autumn found in America The Beautiful. The first being the ring that Mr. Bonnet steals from Claire. He’s demanding that Claire give him both wedding bands, but only successfully takes one. In the book he takes the gold band (Frank’s ring), but in tonight’s episode Mr. Bonnet ends up with the key to Lallybroch. This change definitely makes the scene more emotional as Claire’s just spent time exclaiming to Jamie that “this ring is all I need.” But the gold band is also all Claire has left of Frank. However, for cinematic sake, I’m very much okay with this subtle change.

The other change was how young Ian comes to win his new companion Rollo a wolf/dog hybrid. In the book Rollo was won in a card game, but on the show young Ian tells us of his dice victory hence naming the dog “Rollo” since one rolls dice. On a related side note, Rollo is played by two Northern Inuit puppies. Adorable! These pups very much look like a wolf hybrid while not being the exact breed match from the book, but getting an Irish Wolfhound to mate with an actual wolf might be a bit much.


Jamie says this to young Ian, and it’s wise words for the ages: “Some ghosts can only be banished by speaking their name and foul deeds out loud.”

Outlander Season 4 Episode 2 airs on Sunday, Nov 11th at 8pm EST/PST.