Title: The False Bride
Written by Jennifer Yale
Directed by Ben Holt
The podcast for this episode was narrated by executive producers Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia.
The title card for the episode was the wicker stag (also the symbol of Clan Fraser)
These season 4 Recaps on Steroids incorporate an OLA writers’ opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts along with comments from the official episode script including things changed or edited for television.
The script and the show have two different openings. In the script, we begin with River Run and it is the next morning after the horrific scene with the lynch mob and Rufus. In the show, they started with Roger selling Wakefield house. This recap will follow the script and for the beginning and then the two sources converge.
On the porch at River Run, Jamie and Claire discuss how they cannot stay any longer. (This discussion was edited out, one of several unfortunate edits in what was a stellar script.) In the show, all we see is Claire looking at the slaves on the plantation. The writers struggled with what to say about the night before and chose to say nothing more than the decision that they must leave. (Matt thinks Claire may even have told him about Joe Abernathy and how much he had to overcome to be a doctor.) In the book, they took 3-4 months to make this decision but the TV show must continue to move the story along as they only have 13 episodes for 1000 pages.
Jamie goes inside to tell Aunt Jocasta that they can no longer stay. Matt Roberts notes that Jocasta is a product of her time, this is not excusing being a slave owner but it does help understand why she thinks the way she does. (Some may argue after seeing how the British oppressed the Highlanders but I believe she left for the US long before that.) Jamie hates to disappoint her but as he notes “I will only be master of my own soul”. She convinces him to keep the money he was given and gifts him with his mother’s candlesticks. The candlestick scene was added later as they became important in another episode. The scene was beautifully played by Sam Heughan and Maria Doyle Kennedy (who was wonderful as Jocasta). Jamie is grateful for another memory of his mother. Matt notes that Sam played this wonderfully as he continued to make eye contact with his aunt, even though she is blind.
Jamie and Ian argue up the stairs about Ian returning to Scotland. (The script actually calls for them to argue down the stairs so the director must have shot it both ways.) Ian convinces Jamie that he’s experienced enough in these past few weeks to make his own decisions and Jamie agrees. John Bell does a great job showing Ian growing up and taking charge of his own life. In the book, his parents write him to stay in America (I believe he misses his ship) but the writers felt it was important for Ian to make this mature move in support of his future story arc.
Claire goes to say goodbye to Jocasta. Toni Graphia loved this scene. Both women love Jamie even though they disagree about what is right for him. Jocasta challenges Claire about whether Jamie can be fulfilled being a printer when he’s a born leader. Claire reminds her she barely knows the man. Matt Roberts said this is when both women are right and that those are great scenes to write and watch play out.
As they pack up the wagon, we meet Clarence the mule. The writers said they decide at the start of the season which animals they will need and felt they must include Clarence as a fan favorite. John Quincy Myers (JQM) rides up and offers to escort them to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jocasta, in her way, was looking out for them by sending word to JQM that they were leaving. Jamie tips his hat to the plantation. The show edited out a voiceover by Claire that they were sad to leave as they really wanted to change things but the events of the previous night showed them that they really couldn’t stay.
The script then takes up to Inverness 1970 and Wakefield House. The show begins here and then shifts to the River Run scenes just described. Roger has sold his house to Fiona and her new husband, Ernie. He is playing a guitar and tells them he’s been invited to a Scottish festival in the States. They toast to their home and the show edited out Roger playing more while Fiona and Ernie dance a jig. Fiona does some exposition here by saying Roger is courting Briana and Roger admits they only spent last summer in Oxford and Christmas in Boston again. (This mean Claire has been gone about 18 months.) Since this is 1970 and they do not have the technology of today to communicate, they resorted to letters and expensive international calls. Not the best thing to move a relationship forward.
Sidenote: I can see Bree getting into Harvard since her father taught there but it is hard to get into MIT, harder for women in the 1070’s and she likely had minimal courses in high school to fit Engineering. I always thought it was a stretch for the books to just pop her into MIT as an engineering major.
We see Roger coming through the small concourse at Logan Airport in Boston where Bree greets him in a place that you can no longer do in today’s airports due to security. Their greeting is one of happy to see you but not sure if we should kiss. In the script, they kiss but in the show they do not.
In the book, the Scottish festival is in New England but they changed it to North Carolina so that Bree could walk the same paths as her parents-although she does not yet know in the story that they migrated there. The writers also felt a multi-day drive would be good for them to get to know each other even better. There was debate in the writer’s room whether to keep the Minister’s Cat scene, it seemed to be split. (I think it is too old fashioned, I remember seeing it in A Christmas Carol.) The reason it was kept was that the writers knew that some tough talks were coming and they wanted a moment of levity. Bree kisses Roger and he swerves off the road (that scene was done with a stunt driver). Dairy Queen got some free product placement in that scene, albeit with old school cups. The road they are driving by Grandfather Mountain morphs into an unpaved road by the same Mountain being traveled by her parents 200 years earlier. (The best use of CGI in Season 4 so far.)
The Frasers, JQM and Ian are riding and talking. Ian is fascinated with the Indians and the land. JWM’s story telling reminded me of Rupert. It was important in this scene to show the beauty of the land so that Jamie could fall in love with it. Many Scots settled here because it was far from the coast and reminded them of the Highlands. In some ways, they could make their own rules.
They make camp where JQM tells them he will part with them to trade with the Cherokee. The writers chose to change from Tuscarora to Cherokee as there was no information on the Tuscarora ways and Cherokee also settled in that area. Ian wants to go and his aunt and uncle agree with some trepidation. Jamie asks Claire where they should go and suggests perhaps Boston since she knows the area. She wants to start somewhere new and reminds him that Boston is soon to be the epicenter of the American Revolution.
Jamie and Claire ride on the next day and chat about Bree and what her life is like in 1970. The writers planned to have Jamie always ask about Bree so that he can continue to make a connection to her even though he will never see her. Claire talks about how close Bree and Frank were and I watched Jamie’s face to see if this bothers him. I personally thought Claire was too cavalier here, not caring that mentioning Frank raise his daughter may sting a bit for Jamie. Matt Roberts comments that Sam and Caitriona do much of their own riding and are both accomplished at it.
Jamie must repair the shoe on his horse and Claire decides to “test the waters’ about what Jocasta had said to her earlier. The editors slashed a lot of dialogue in this scene and that was extremely unfortunate. It was well-written and I have no doubt, well-acted. In the edited out parts, Claire admits she is still shook over the attack on the river boat. Jamie admits he’s a violent man and in some ways may be no better than Stephen Bonnet. Claire disagrees vehemently. He explains to her that it’s one thing to live as an outlaw and he’d be just fine with it if he was alone. But he has to provide for his family and especially Claire, who he wants to give the world to if he could. The scene was still good but it was really disappointing to read the edited parts, perhaps they will include the full scene on the DVD.
There is a crack of thunder and Clarence bolts. (Real life Clarence is too nice and liked hanging around Sam so they had to coax him to run.) Claire, being Claire, takes off after him before waiting for Jamie. He yells after her but assumes she’ll be right back with the mule. Instead, she gets lost as it gets dark and windy.
We return to the Scottish festival which was recreated by the set and costume team. They also bought 30-40 American vintage cars. Toni Graphia attended a few Scottish festivals after Season 1 and they looked a lot like this one, just updated for clothing. They shot the inside and outside scenes at different times.
The Scottish festival begins to remind Bree of her mother and whether she made it back and found Jamie. They enter a tent and are asked if they want to dance the ceilidh dance and we see them arm in arm in a circle. (I thought the slo-mo-added in post-production- was a little bit of a cliché.) Next stop is an artist and Bree wants a picture drawn. She indicates that her “boyfriend” is a Mackenzie and Roger is both encouraged by the term boyfriend and that she asked for two Mackenzie tartans. The other pictures on the wall are the crew. They edited out a scene where Roger and Bree bang heads in the dance.
Back in the 18th century, Claire is still missing. Clarence returns so Jamie gets on his horse to look for her. Claire realizes she’s lost and then a bolt of lightning hits a tree, startling her horse and throwing her to the ground where she hits her head to the point of losing consciousness.
An abrupt edit here back to the festival where Roger is singing on a stage and Bree sees a new side of him. He sings a ballad called the False Bride (hence the episode title). The writers had toyed with the idea of an American folk song from the period but realized he himself was Scottish and it made more sense to do a Scottish ballad. Richard Ranking rehearsed for days and recorded it in advance. The show is a blend of him singing the song and lip-syncing to his own studio performance.
Bree gives Roger a book of Scottish settlers in colonial America (totally created by their art department) and a bottle of moonshine as this was a dry county in 1970. They go into her cabin to drink it. Roger is looking at a mounted deer head when Brianna takes off her shirt and tosses it on the deer. They begin to kiss and end up on the floor when Roger stops and says he wants it to be perfect. (As an aside, the script called for much more nudity and “hands on”) He covers her with her shirt and gets a silver bracelet. He tells her he wants her and then really gets carried away talking about marriage, kids, etc. Bree’s head is spinning and she rightfully says it’s too fast and she’s not ready. (Research shows that in the UK in that time period, a ring was not always used for a proposal.)
The writers explained that they tried to show a balance of the positions of both Roger and Bree so you don’t end up hating either one. I don’t think they succeeded. Roger showed a bit of double-standard here by not liking that she wanted to have sex when he himself has had sex. He was rude and chauvinistic in the scene. Matt pointed out that the era of American free-love hadn’t reached a minister’s son in the highlands of Scotland and he was still old-fashioned. He felt this was another scene where they were both right. Matt and I will have to agree to disagree on that one. They also edited out a scene where he forcefully kissed her and she bit him. That explained why his mouth was beating from what looked like a simple slap. I didn’t understand that when I watched the episode. That’s a miss by the editing, IMO. One of many in this episode.
Back in the forest, Claire wakes up and it is now raining. The writers joked that this was one of the few times in Scotland where they had to create rain. It’s usually a rule of thumb in the writer’s room that you don’t write weather.
Claire finds a large uprooted tree for shelter. In the book, it was a cave but there are few inhabitable caves in Scotland to shoot. (Jamie’s had to be somewhat created for the first part of S3.) She takes her boots off and finds a skull with a crack in the top and an opal stone. They had to film the stone a few times to get it to show up. Claire sees a torch in the distance and thinks it is Jamie but instead sees an Indian who we will later know as Otter Tooth. The writers discussed how to make this look like a spirit. Should he flicker, should you see through him? Claire knows something is up, his torch isn’t going out in the rain and he comes and goes. It was Matt’s idea to have him turn so she could see he was scalped like her newly found skull. I thought this was one of the best scenes in the episode.
It is evening at the Festival and time for the calling of the clans. This was filmed in an over-night shoot, likely around 3 AM. Brianna tries to talk to Roger but he digs in and wants all or nothing. The clan caller (UK producer David Brown) starts by calling the Gordons. When MacKenzies are called, Roger gets up to announce the clan but Bree has gone. They filmed her leaving but decided to have an empty seat had more impact. The wicker stag falls away as Roger realizes a beautiful weekend was also burning down as well. (Fun fact-Sam’s uncle, a renowned wicker artist, created the stag.)
Claire wakes up the next day and her boots are gone. She sees mud tracks and decides to follow them. They actually cast the foot prints in cement to make them come out right on film. She follows them to a stream where Jamie (and her boots) are there. She sees him with such relief and he runs to her. They are confused because both don’t realize that the boots got there on their own or with a little mystical help. The writers had a hard time explaining to Jamie what Claire saw and what probably happened but in the end, Matt says you have to believe in magic. She’s a time-traveler and he is a superstitious Highlander so it isn’t a stretch. She also notices that the skull has silver fillings indicating that her late-night visitor was a time traveler too. Maril Davis and Toni Graphia debated whether this should be in the trailer but decided the spoiler provided a bit of excitement. Matt noted that they added more than one filling so that it showed up well on camera.
Claire finds strawberries on a cliff and Jamie tells her the story of the first Fraser, a Mr Freseliere. There was a lot of discussion about the view by the writers. They wanted to make it epic and majestic. Matt knows that even though the theme of the season is “what is home”, he knows Jamie’s home is Claire. Yet, Jamie wants to give her four walls of her own. Jamie already can see his entire vision for what to do with the land and Claire knows that look. He needs to know if she trusts him because if they stay, they must make a dangerous deal with governor Tryon. I get the sense it becomes a cross that Boston Tea Party bridge when we come to it scenario. The first law of thermodynamics scene was originally meant to be here but they ended up editing it out and refilming it in episode 401 at the very end of the filming season when it was warmer. I think it was a good decision but more book dialogue for this scene would have been a nice replacement.
The scene ends with some beautiful music by Bear McCreary so that they realize it’s home and it will be called Fraser’s Ridge. The laird is back.
Image Sources with thanks to: laid-brochtuarach, ecampbellsoup, nighean-donn, Starz