I have been dragging heels on writing this review because the week has been a week, and well I was wrapping my head around another book diversion, that I think actually worked out rather well. Many people have been debating it all week.
As the episode Common Ground unfolds, we are on the Ridge with the Fraser’s and Ian making a stake at a claim, with dangerous results. We are back in the aftermath of Roger and Brianna having a break off after Brianna rejected Rogers wedding proposal.
Roger (Richard Rankin) is back in Oxford and Inverness, and while cleaning up some more of the ever growing boxes, Fiona shows him an article that the Reverend Wakefield had on a James Fraser of Fraser’s Ridge dying in a fire. This brings up that the Reverend must have been doing some research on Jamie Fraser as Frank Randall’s request, remember the letter Frank was writing when Claire went into labor in season 3? In the books, we also have an incident where Claire finds the tombstone of Jamie Fraser in Scotland, part of what drives her to keep Jamie from returning to Scotland during the next few books, her fear of his death. Fiona tells Roger he should warn Brianna(Sophie Skelton), and let’s on she has already known about Claire going back. She kens what her Gran told her, and suspected as much. Fiona becomes a great ally in the book Drums of Autumn and aids Roger in his quest to find Brianna. You guessed it, after calling and finding that Brianna has gone to Scotland, he concludes that she must have gone to the stones at Crag Na Dun and plans to go back in time. Now he must find her. In the books, we know that the fire festivals play a key role in when traveling time is best for the stones. However the series doesn’t seem to be following this much, just that the traveler must have a precious gem on their person for traveling. We’ll see in the next episode, 405: Savages.
Back in the 18th c., the Frasers are in Wilmington getting the land grant drawn up by Governor Tryon, who makes comments about savages in the vicinity, and if Jamie wants to leave the Missus with them while he stakes out his claim. There is a remark about that it is said there is not much difference between a Highlander and a savage, that Jamie handles in typical Jamie aplomb. Claire will not be left behind, much to the chagrin of young Marsali (Lauren Lyle), who of course did not care for Claire because of her mother Laoghaire, but has grown to trust her and the fact she is a healer, while Marsali is expecting her first child and wants someone around to help with the birth. Claire comforts where she can, but is determined to get to the Ridge.
The settling of the first Fraser’s on the Ridge is hindered by confrontations with the Indian tribe, who in the series are presented as Cherokee, not Mohawk or Tuscarora. Boundry stakes are pulled up, and a mysterious pile of animal dung is found. Claire discusses the North American bear and how dangerous they can be, however the should be hibernating. John Quicy Myres comes to the Frasers aid and tried to negotiate some truce between the Frasers and the tribe. The Frasers are woken in the night by bizarre noises and unsettled horses and Clarence braying. One horse comes back severely injured by what Clair identifies as a bear mark. On his way back, John Quincy Myers is attacked by a bear, and makes his way back to Claire who is trying to save him from his wounds. Jamie takes off with a gun to confront the bear.
All this time we see the chanting of the tribe in a ritualistic dance mimicking bear movements. It is not clear if they are foretelling the events as the unfold, or wishing the event to take place. Are they using a bear to rid themselves of the settlers? In departure from the book, Jamie does indeed do battle with a bear, however the bear is a manlike creature. We later learn after Jamie does battle with the demented man-bear, and brings the dead man to the Indians, that the man had been banished from the tribe and had gone mad, taken on the guise of tskili yona, and that they had wanted him to move on. Jamie still get’s the moniker “Bear Killer”, and a modicum of respect from the tribe. Jamie now has something he can build upon to find common ground with the neighbors.
The changes do work in this episode, and for whatever reason, JQM is operated on by Claire for a bear wound and not the famous scene fans were waiting for back in River Run. It does not mean that such an operation will not happen in the series, it may happen later. There is also another character I could see the writers deciding to do that one on. And he’s in the credits for 405: Savages. Get out your hankies.
Airing on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 8PM EST 5PM PST in the US on Starz®, at Midnight Drop on December 2 for the Starz App ( 9PM PST Dec 1 ). The show then airs on Amazon Prime UK on December 3, 2018. In Canada on the W Network.
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