It’s that time again, to be teased with all the wonders that await us in the season to come and make preemptive judgments about which book scenes we’re most likely to be cheated out of. Let’s take a look at the high points of the S4 trailer.
We open on Claire and Jamie cuddling under a horse and speaking about the Scottish-American Dream. Claire is telling Jamie the story of America…
…but leaving out most of the stuff that’s not really great pillow talk.
Then we get some Claire-Jamie lip congress, just so we know they’re still banging like fireworks.
We then get an aerial view of River Run, the North Carolina plantation owned by Jamie’s widowed Aunt Jocasta, sister to his mother Ellen. If Jocasta is any indication, the long tradition of ball-busting Mackenzie women is about to be HELLA UPHELD. Somewhere in Scotland, Jenny is chortling.
Jocasta is going to take her nephew in because family, but you better believe she’s going to read him to filth and that Claire is not going to stand for it. On a positive note, Claire and Jamie get to wear fancy clothes again, and it’s always good to see them clean and pressed.
After this there’s a brief clip of Tim Downie as Governor William Tryon trying to hard sell Jamie on North Carolina by saying it “offers wealth and prosperity.”
The only fly in the colonial ointment, is Claire, bless her 20th-Century morals. After a brief flash of her gazing out the window at the River Run field hands, she point-blank tells Jocasta she doesn’t agree with keeping people as property while Jocasta’s slave Phaedre is on her knees pinning her dress and casting the subtlest and most effective of shades.
Jocasta bless-your-heart’s her HARD, replying “You’re a lively one, are ye no’?” in the time-honored tradition of polite derision which perfectly marries Jo’s Southern and Scottish sides. It is, however, no match for a pushy English broad who’s used to pushing both buttons and boundaries.
This results in Jamie telling Claire that it’s time to do what they do best: GTFO. There follows a montage of what I’ll refer to as “Colonial MacGyver”, Jamie chops wood, Claire sharpens the axe (this might not be in strict chronological order) and then Jamie ensures no evil spirits claim his bride by carrying Claire over the threshold of their new home.
Claire pronounces the house “perfect,” and Jamie sweetly reveals he’s trying to leave something good behind for his daughter, so his “presence here now can be felt by Brianna later.” Back in the 20th century, his daughter is certainly feeling something: hunger for a Scottish biscuit.
A brief flash of Claire shooting a chopping block that probably asked for it, and then we meet Stephen Bonnet, the Big Bad of season 4 and charming PoS par excellence.
This is basically the cue for the “bad stuff happens to good people” portion of the trailer, where we find out all the messed-up things in the Frasers’ future. Cut to a concerned Jamie telling Young Ian that there are “savages” there.
Several quick cuts follow: Men with torches in the night; men with rope headed to River Run; Bonnet and masked men bursting into Jamie’s bunk; a surprised Jamie, Claire and Ian sitting up in bed and finally, Jamie being pulled into a boat as he shouts Claire’s name. It’s all very stressful so let’s take five for some deep breaths and a meditation on Scottish teddy bears.
I bet his face is like the finest velour.
Back to the 20th century, where Roger finds the land contract Gov. Tryon signed with Jamie and calls Bree in Boston to let her know he’s got news about her mother.
Flash back to the 18th century, and Jamie just looking worn out from all the plot. Poor Jamie. Boy just wants a cuddle with the Mrs. and maybe some pie or something, but stuff keeps going down.
More quick cuts: What I am guessing are Tuscarora coming over a hill and startling Jamie, Claire and Ian; a public hanging that should look familiar to book readers; Bonnet, on a ship, telling someone who looks suspiciously like a beloved Scottish history professor we all know that “Everything’s in my power” and an angry mob throwing a rock through a window at River Run. I bet Claire forgot how deadly the 18th century is on account of the sex haze.
During what appears to be an extensive tour of the North Carolina woods, Claire’s skull Spidey-sense once again hits pay dirt, this time in the form of a skull with several silver fillings that, she tells Jamie, won’t be invented for another hundred years. Their dental hygiene seems to have improved when they traveled to the past.
More quick cuts: Jamie dropping his dagger into the ground in front of the Tuscarora; another angle of the mob at River Run; an angry man being restrained in the street and over all of this, Claire’s voice saying that “This will lead us to fighting in another war. We will be on the wrong side of history again.” Right at the tail end of this, Roger is silhouetted in front of a bonfire with tears in his eyes, and a crying Bree stares at Roger. It’s very sad. It also looks very hot.
More quick cuts: A clock strikes midnight; a drum circle at night looks eerily like standing stones; a close-up on the noose hanging in the middle of the town square; a strangely dressed Brianna looks up; Claire on a horse, frantically looking around and Bree kneeling in front of what might be Frank’s grave. Back to Jamie and Claire at River Run, Jamie telling his wife that they can’t change the world without her.
Ramping up towards the end, we see Claire’s horse get spooked by lightning…
…Receive reassurance that Jamie’s back is still in working order…
…Get slight motion sickness for the very best of reasons…
Don’t mind me, just drunk on joy
Back to Jamie’s voice reassuring us that “A dream for some can be a nightmare for others.” Cut in between footage of storms on land and sea, there’s a flash of maybe Otter Tooth walking through the woods at night, Claire aiming a shotgun at an unknown target, people being tossed about what looks like a ship and Jamie angrily pinning Stephen Bonnet against a wall and giving him what appears to be a scathing Yelp review.
A quick flash of the fire at the Celtic festival Roger and Bree attend in the 20th-century fades into Bonnet jumping over a man’s body as he turns a corner. Now Jamie’s pointing a gun and Claire runs to hug him. The hug changes angles, but the hair peeking out from Claire’s arms is a darker red. The date of the premiere flashes quickly onscreen and then, in a beautiful bit seeming to guide his daughter onscreen, Frank’s voice: “Sometimes, life takes unexpected turns.”
Sometimes, those turns go backwards. Reverse clockwise, as it were.
When last we saw Jamie and Claire, they were newly arrived in Baby America, their copious enemy slate wiped clean. Miles and centuries away, Bree and Roger were newly in love and exploring each other’s um, oral traditions. By all rights, season four should be one long Ed Sheeran video. Instead, this trailer is rife with foreshadowing of trouble. It makes sense: no one is tuning in to watch Claire knit, and happily ever after is the kind of stasis that’s hard to maintain when you’re a time traveler with a brain built for science and a body built for sin. Still, the Frasers have some tough road ahead that will see the traditional Claire-Jamie focus expanded by events that will serve to emotionally attach you to their (bio and adopted) children. This is the season where our sci-fi-romance adds yet another category to its hypenate: Saga. Some might want the narrative to remain solely focused on Jamie and Claire but if the producers do right by us (and it seems they will), Outlander will once again pull moves like Jagger, giving us not what we might want but instead, what we need. Bree and Roger both amplify Claire and Jamie’s love, orphan children kept healthy and safe in the world because of people that loved them, and together their story (and Ian’s, and Fergus and Marsali’s) becomes the story of a fruitful love: a family whose determination to flourish despite the odds is a re-telling of the immigrant story that so many of us can identify as the American dream of our forefathers. The dream that we might build something good, so our presence may be felt through centuries.