Yes, spoilers. Enter at your own risk.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good romance. It’s just you see Murtagh’s a favorite of mine, a very special character that’s had a lot of grief in his life, a survivor. One we know would not be content to just live after all the hardships, well the easy life won’t do for him. He’s feisty to the end. Many were so quick to jump to the pairing of two unlikely characters, the fandom’s big fantasy of many fans on Murtagh taking the place of Duncan Innes came to life. He was a Drums of Autumn and Fiery Cross book character, who eventually weds Jocasta to secure River Run against marauding neighboring landowning and non-landowning suitors . You see, Jocasta in the series has been pretty tame so far. She’s smoldering under the surface. However her machinations and control aspect, as a MacKenzie, have barely begun to surface. It’s a tale of survival by wits and how else can a woman retain power in the man’s world of the 18th Century?
So why am I taking the angle here, it’s certainly not the popular one? I just don’t see that they have a future, really. Can Outlander handle another power couple? I mean I am rooting for a change up on Jocasta, maybe Murtagh can change her so, get her to see the truth. When you are in a healthy relationship, growing together is one thing, having to make someone change, or trying to make them change, doesn’t always bode well. Murky waters ahead for sure.
Believe it or not, there were those of us cringing when this coupling happened. Many of us book readers know a different Jocasta. Granted, very few things from the books have been in this season, or at least not the way they went in the book Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. To be fair, you have to give screen Jocasta a chance. But I believe we really haven’t seen her true self. It’s true that Ron Moore warned at New York Comic Con 2018 that the books will be there in essence, some books may be split, some mixed in timelines, and characters changed. So here’s my take on why I see Murcasta heading for sweet disaster:
Jocasta Cameron, played by Maria Doyle Kennedy to perfection, has been mistress at River Run for many years, and relies heavily on Ulysses, her slave, to run the plantation. Indeed, you come to find that really it is he who runs the plantation, and quite a bit more. She has been fending off many influential men herself since her forth husband died. She may be almost totally blind, however her other senses are very, very sharp, and she runs things like a fist of iron through Ulysses. She has avoided several offers of marriage herself, as she knows that the suitors are after River Run. When Jaimie and Claire turn up, she finally has a solution: her nephew can help her run the place, thus she makes him her heir. She tries to control another pawn piece. It’s a game to keep control, especially when she has lost her sight and her youth. Claire picks up on her manipulations to control Jamie, and when Jamie and Claire make the decision to take up Governor Tryon’s sign-in-blood offer for land, Jocasta tells her she is doing her nephew a disservice by persuading him to leave River Run. Because, she has to blame someone, Jamie cannot make a decision for himself. Claire, in her usually stand up fashion, tells it like it is. Really, Jamie is his own man, and wants his own land and opportunities on his terms. Unfortunately he makes a deal with a devil to do it. However, he can chose his devil. Really, we don’t like that Jocasta tried to come in between Jamie and Claire.
In the book storyline, and in the series, we see Jocasta latch on to the next best thing for some control over River Run’s future, the saving of Brianna’s reputation, and perhaps naming a new heir. She spends a great deal of effort to try and secure a wealthy influential neighbor for Brianna’s and child’s security, which really is about the family saving face. And well, having a familial ally to help her just is another card in her game. Brianna’s resistance and quick thinking finds a temporary ally in Lord John Grey. By keeping up appearances and having a beneficial betrothal, and well, having a Lord in the family with property does just as well, Jocasta has made quite a coup. Jocasta, being a busy body and manipulating others in such a way, really doesn’t score high on the redeemable qualities. In the book. Ever a MacKenzie. Is Jocasta redeemable?
Which Brings Us To Murtagh
So, many of you will be rewatching Season 4, probably already have, and certainly rewatch the finale Episode 413 Man of Worth, again, if anything just to watch and hear the Murtagh and Jocasta dialog. Some funny things have niggled at me, as I like to look at storylines from all angles. Murtagh, played intrepidly by Duncan Lacroix, was an indentured man for 14 years, then stayed on as smithy in a small town a few days up river from River Run. Now, Jocasta, who has her pulse on everything going on from the coastal waters to the mountains and beyond, did not know that a “Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser” was in the vicinity? Someone she knew from the old days, someone she had a little crush from the side on because he was in actually in love with her sister? Or did she know full well, and didn’t want to tarnish her reputation and estate with such acknowledgement? Indeed in the Murtagh and Jo tête-à-tête, where many short heated accusations occurred from their past, I was waiting for her to slip up that she knew where he was and had not contacted him because he was the trouble maker he was. This could still turn up in an outtake. Of course, when the sparks flew with two old adversaries, the reality set in that Jo did like him, and was just too proud to do anything about it, or knew that her families’ many machinations to get her married and allied for their gain, would stand in the way. Remember, the man we all love has never had more than two sticks to rub together, except when he ran the smithy. Sadly we know that what little he had gained with his smithy, he has had to forfeit because he is fighting in a just cause.
When Murtagh shows up after his jail escape, Jo is tells him to fill up and be on his way. She does give him a whiskey and the conversation turns. Of course, not one to back down from a fight or pointing out injustice, Murtagh sets right in with tearing apart her perfect River Run life. He tries to reason with her, point out that others have lost all they had, she of course goes on about how others had made something out of themselves. He brings up he did not come there by choice, but he did make something, and the over taxation was strangling him and others. He had been and seen the same cruelty play out in the past. It happened to many a Highlander up to Culloden, and the subsequent crushing of the Scottish people after that forced many of them out of Scotland. It would continue as long as The Government exploited the king’s subjects. Of course, when the two pair up, and somehow she conceals him at River Run, while there have been search parties for weeks, we are wondering how she managed that. Jamie and Claire notice the relationship it in the mad dash to get Murtagh out to the slave quarters to hide. They are not sure about this new development either.
More spoilers ahead. Turn back now. If you think Jocasta hasn’t lead her own interesting life, there’s a few mysteries about her that end up coming to light in subsequent books. You then start seeing her more robust self, the woman she was before she lost most of her sight. She has survived several husbands. She has her own uprising story to tell, and subsequent fleeing to the colonies.
Her right hand man has been Ulysses. He has run everything for her for years and has been closer to her than you think. Is he willing to just step aside for another man? Or will Jocasta have to wed again for convenience sake, since she can’t openly do so with Murtagh, a wanted man? Or, will the wily pair contrive an existence of Jo hiding and running guns through her plantation to help Murtagh’s cause, while keeping up appearances? Would Ulysses ultimately manipulate this himself?
Then there is the conflict with Jamie and Murtagh having to be on opposing sides now that Governor Tryon has declared war on the Regulator Uprising. Murtagh will be conflicted, Jamie will be conflicted. Jamie will have to make it look like he is keeping the Regulators in check, and hunt his Godfather. This means separation for the couple. Will there be coded letters and messages? Will Jocasta decide to stick to her old ways and not endanger her lifestyle? Or will she by the end of season 5, break from it all and follow Murtagh and live in hiding. Will Murtagh allow that sacrifice?
Ultimately, I hope that Jocasta can change, she can come around a little to the reasoning of Murtagh, that she can actually see ahead despite her physical limitations, that owning slaves is wrong, and that over taxation is cruel. That she should meet the man she loves at least half way. That the rebelliousness that had her flee Scotland to seek a better life, could include a full, real life. However that would be too easy, and perhaps will be a long hard lesson for her. It will certainly add some spice and make sparks fly in the coming season.
Then there’s that other Duncan Innes plot twist book readers know about. Hmmm, that could twist things up a bit.
I’m digging out my Season 1 part one DVD set. I have been a fan of Murtagh from the beginning, and Jocasta better live up to that man’s love. Let’s hope she proves it in Season 5.