Outlander review: Brianna and Roger take center stage in ‘The False Bride’


Brianna shows her backbone, Roger proves he’s no Jamie and Claire has a run-in with a time-traveling ghost in an uneven Outlander.

I never thought I would say this, but I actually enjoyed watching Brianna and Roger more than Claire and Jamie on Outlander this week. In fact “The False Bride” is probably the most I’ve ever liked Brianna (Sophie Skelton). She truly proved herself to be her mother’s daughter during her ill-fated road trip with Roger (Richard Rankin).

In 1970, after selling his father’s home, Roger meets up with Bree in Boston and the two make their way to North Carolina for a Scottish festival. (And, yes, they happen to walk the same land Claire and Jamie explore back in the 18th century. What a coincidence!) The trip is off to a promising start: they flirt, take advantage of the wonders of Dairy Queen, have their portrait drawn, dance and make fun of the rustic decor in Bree’s cabin. Things are perfect until they’re not.

Both Brianna and Roger obviously want to have sex with each other. And it seems they are going to do just that until Roger stops things, declares his love for Bree with a bracelet and proposes. Mind you, the couple has never slept together before and have only hung out in person three or four times. Caught off guard, Brianna understandably tells her beau she isn’t ready for that kind of commitment. He throws a tantrum.

Actually, it’s worse than a tantrum: he completely humiliates and shames Brianna. Although he’s slept with other women, he’s disgusted that “a nice Catholic girl” like herself could ever want to have sex without also wanting to get married. He defends himself as “old-fashioned” when Brianna calls him out on his hypocrisy.

I think Claire would have been proud of Brianna in this moment. She, too, has fought against the ridiculous expectations men subject women too — ones they never consider living up to themselves.

I, for one, was 100 percent in Bree’s corner in “The False Bride,” especially in her last scene with Roger. She goes to find him at the festival the following day and tries to make him understand where she’s coming from. Considering the debacle that is her family life — finding out the man who raised her isn’t actually her father, knowing her mother married for love but later fell more in love with someone else — Brianna isn’t even sure she wants to marry anyone, ever. This does not stoke any compassion in Roger. “I love you all or not at all,” he says, which is as dismissive as it sounds. Brianna leaves. Who could blame her?

As for Claire and Jamie, they also go on a trip this episode. Jamie respectfully declines his aunt’s offer of River Run and he and Claire go west to find their own home. This arc is a mixed bag to say the least. Jocasta messes with Claire, suggesting that Jamie is wasting his life and talents thanks to his wife’s unrealistic principles. Claire, for some reason, takes the bait and wonders if she’s costing Jamie any happiness. Ian pleads to stay in America (again). Claire and Jamie remember they have a kid who’s 200 years in the future and spend a hot minute talking about her career prospects. Claire puts herself in danger after ignoring Jamie’s advice (again).

The big development, however, is Claire’s latest brush with the supernatural. Despite Jamie’s protests, Claire goes to find their runaway mule as a storm gears up. Her horse gets spooked, throws her and she finds herself deserted in an unfamiliar forest, in the pitch black and pouring rain. Because this is Outlander it’s not enough for Claire to be stranded and freaked out: nope, she also finds a skull and precious stone. And then she’s visited by a ghost, the owner of the aforementioned skull and stone.

This ghost is a taciturn Native American who disappears as soon as he’s arrived. When Claire wakes up the next morning there are footprints leading her back to her beloved Jamie. (Which, okay, what?) Later she notices the skull has silver fillings. Whoever the person was, he traveled through time, too.

It’s not as if Outlander hasn’t dealt with ghosts before. Jamie appeared as one in 1945 in the series’ first episode. I don’t really object to there being a spirit, but I am annoyed the show is trying to cram so much into one plot point. Not only does Claire encounter a ghost, she encounters a ghost who’s also her guardian angel, straddling the racial stereotype line and is another piece in the puzzle of time travel. That’s way too much. Plus, the ghost just seems to be a device for the show, a way to kind-of-but-not-really deal with the effect colonization had on Native Americans.

Apparently, the show will unpack the mysteries of The Mystical Time-Traveling Native American Ghost another time. “The False Bride” sets aside the skull, the spirit and its very corporeal footprints and ends on a less ambiguous note. Claire and Jamie find some wild strawberries, fall in love with a CGI valley and stake out their own land, Fraser’s Ridge. Home sweet home.

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  • The episode opens on Roger playing guitar in his empty house. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him.
  • I loved Outlander lampshading its own drama via Ian: “I’ve been set upon by pirates twice, kidnapped, thrown into a pit, [and] sailed through a hurricane.”
  • During Jocasta’s argument with Claire, I actually shivered a bit when she stood up. Classic power move.
  • “My mother always said men in kilts were irresistible.” Indeed, Brianna, indeed.
  • Was anyone else distracted by the fact that Roger, a UK citizen, had no issues driving on the right side of the road?
  • I’m glad Claire acknowledged that Brianna shared a stronger bond with Frank. It makes it a little more believable that she would be able to leave Bree.
  • Speaking of which, Bree doesn’t even know if her mother made it back to the 18th century or ever found Jamie. Yet she doesn’t seem to bear any ill will toward Claire, which is impressive.
  • Roger really knows how to dole out a sick burn: “That makes no sense.” “Well, neither do you!”