Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Outlander: Common Ground

"It's said that the Highlander has much in common with the Indian savage. Do you think it so?"

"Common Ground" referred to the obvious: Jamie Fraser finding a way to get along with his brand new Cherokee neighbors, plus Jamie's careful diplomacy with the prickly Governor Tryon. Not to mention Roger's now awkward relationship with Brianna.

The episode began with Jamie and his cute spectacles signing his life away as Governor Tryon made insulting comments about Highlanders, while hinting that Jamie had better not even think of betraying the Crown. The Governor also offered to find lodging for the little woman while Jamie was busy doing manly things in the wilderness. I always enjoy when Jamie talks about Claire with other people, this time explaining that she wasn't planning to stay behind in Wilmington and knit. Claire ran field hospitals while Jamie fought during the Rising of '45. Building a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Lions and tigers and bears? Piece of cake.

Jamie certainly did his best to get off on the right foot with their new Cherokee neighbors, dropping his knife on the ground and introducing himself, although that clearly wasn't enough. Killing the "Tskili Yona" sealed the deal, though. I thought the fight in the dark, intercut with the Cherokee ceremony and the creepy vocalizations, was really interesting to watch. This episode's Most Obvious Symbolism was Jamie killing the not-exactly-a-bear with one of his rejected boundary posts.

(I also really enjoyed Ian's "my uncle is so freaking cool" expression when the Cherokee dubbed Jamie "Bear-Killer.")

I thought it was a clever change from the book, making the bear into a crazy person who'd been shunned by his tribe for committing rape. Jamie did fight and kill an actual bear in Drums of Autumn, but staging such a thing would have been really difficult, not to mention dangerous for Sam Heughan. (We cannot endanger Sam!) Plus there are no bears in Scotland, and apparently, there was already a huge man versus bear fight in a big recent movie I haven't seen.

Claire also acquired a Cherokee name when the elderly healer Adawehi, through her grandson's wife, told Claire that she had dreamed about her as a white raven. And, chillingly, that "Death is sent from the gods. It will not be your fault." That doesn't sound good. Especially since wise women and their words about the future always seem to come true on Outlander.

While winding up things in Wilmington and making a start on their new home, Jamie picked up on the fact that Claire was missing Brianna, which was also highlighted in the scene where pregnant Marsali talked about missing her mother. It's nice to see Claire treating Marsali like a substitute daughter these days. Although the real thing might be showing up in the eighteenth century pretty darned soon.

In 1971, Roger indeed found something important in that book about Scottish settlers in North Carolina, and called Brianna in Boston with the happy news that he had found Claire and Jamie. Unfortunately, almost immediately afterward Roger learned that Claire and Jamie died, or will die, in a fire.

A brief segue, because sometimes the librarian in me simply has to say things. The newspaper date was smudged – January 21, 177. What about the other pages in the original source? Newspapers don't usually consist of a single page. And even in the unlikely event that the entire Wilmington Gazette archive was completely lost or that only that section still existed, what about the rest of what was on the page? When you're cataloging something undated, there are usually dates or dateable events in the content of the work. I know the Outlander writers were smudging the year for dramatic purposes, but it didn't work for me.

Roger then proceeded to make an ass of himself for the second time. How could he decide not to tell Brianna that her parents were going to die, or had died? (We really need verb tenses for time travel situations.) This wasn't a decision that anyone should make for Brianna. And she clearly found out, anyway; according to her roommate Gayle, Brianna went to Scotland to "visit her mother" a couple of weeks ago. Oops.

Honestly, the best thing about the 1971 scenes was Roger's face when Fiona casually mentioned Claire going back in time to find Jamie Fraser. As Frank Randall once mentioned in a similar situation, it's an old house.


— The title card vignette was Chief Nawohali getting dressed. They've done the getting dressed thing a time or two before, and it works for me.

— Jamie went out to confront a monster in the dark. Which is why he's the lead character in an adventure story and I'm not.

— A note from the podcast: the producers and writers went to a lot of effort to research Cherokee customs and dress; it showed. Plus they cast a wonderful actress I recognized: Tantoo Cardinal as Adawehi.

— I thought for a moment that Claire was going to do another Wizard of Oz quote about lions and tigers and bears.

— Those witness trees were gorgeous.

— Fiona is decorating the Reverend's old house with abstract art. Good for her. Even though I don't think it goes with the dark woodwork and original architectural features.

— If you're interested, here is the date given in Drums of Autumn when Jamie and Claire are supposed to die in the house fire. I'll white it out in case you don't want to be spoiled; highlight to read: January 21, 1776.

— Jamie often wears clothing that he wore in other seasons, which makes sense since he is far from rich. Here, it was his father's badass leather coat that we saw several times in the first season.

— In this week's hair report, Jamie's ponytail finally went away, but sadly, only briefly. Give me the wild hair again, please.

— Ian told Claire that all Highland men know how to knit. I would pay good money to see Jamie knit a pair of stockings for Claire.


Claire: "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing."
Jamie: "A poem from your time?"
Claire: "It's a song called America. It has the same melody as God Save Great George Our King."
Jamie: "You're telling me the Americans stole it from King George and made it their own?"
Claire: "We did."
Jamie: "Heartily applauded, then."

(So Claire thinks of herself as an American, then. Did she ever get citizenship? Frank didn't like the idea.)

Jamie: "He's only a man. Not a monster."
Tawodi: "Oftentimes, man is monster."

(Below is the entire speech by Adawehi, translated by Giduhwa. The whole thing feels relevant.)

Giduhwa: "She had a dream about you. The moon was in the water, and you became a white raven. You flew over the water and swallowed the moon. The white raven flew back and laid an egg in the palm of her hand. The egg split open, and there was a shining stone inside. She knew this was great magic, that the stone could heal sickness."
Claire: "She's a healer."
Giduhwa: "A very powerful healer. My husband's grandmother says that you have medicine now, but you will have more. When your hair is white like snow, you will have wisdom beyond time. You must not be troubled. Death is sent from the gods. It will not be your fault."

Roger: "I'm not sure if she was happy to hear from me, or if it was the news I'd found that her mother... um... took a trip and found a lost love of hers."
Fiona: "You mean when she went back in time to find Jamie Fraser?"

An interesting episode. Three out of four boundary posts,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. The bear scenes were really frightening. I was vaguely reassured that it was just a man. If a real bear was acting like that, I'd hope MiniClan Fraser would just move elsewhere.

    Speaking of which: so are they still filming this in Scotland? I had no idea!

    I really like John Quincey Myers, although I am worried that everyone refers to him by all three names. Is he a serial killer?

  2. So far, they have filmed nearly everything in Scotland, and that's where the studio is. They did bits of season two's Paris in Prague and there were a few bits filmed in a castle in northern England. And South Africa stood in for the Caribbean and the beach stuff.

    All of the actors are from the U.K. and Europe. The native Americans are all First Nation actors from Canada.

  3. I love how all the Native American characters we've met so far are the only ones two have "American" accents.

    "American" is in quotation marks there because I just learned they have Canadian accents. :-)


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.