SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Blood Of My Blood,” the sixth episode of “Outlander” Season 4.
The action in “Blood of My Blood” picked up almost immediately after the previous week’s episode, as evidenced by the fact that Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) was still staying with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) at Fraser’s Ridge. But Murtagh quickly became old news in terms of reunions when Lord John Grey (David Berry) showed up — with young William (Oliver Finnegan) in tow.
The last time Jamie saw his son, Willie was just six years old, so Lord John cautioned Jamie that he probably won’t remember him. But Jamie was just happy to get to see both him and his old friend for a little while. Lord John informed Jamie that Isobel perished on their journey across the Atlantic, which was especially hard on William because she was the only mother he’s ever known.
After getting a small amount of alone time with Jamie, Lord John was delighted to see Claire and Murtagh again — remember, he knows Murtagh from Ardsmuir too — or at least he put on a good face in pretending to be delighted to see them. Lord John has a complicated relationship with Jamie and therefore some complicated feelings about Jamie’s wife.
It turned out Lord John also had complicated feelings about Murtagh, which he admitted over dinner that first night. The two men were on very different sides of the coming American Colonies-British Crown conflict, which put Jamie in an awkward position between his two close friends. Lord John’s position was that the Regulators were a violent band of criminals, while Murtagh maintained they were simply responding to the unreasonable taxes imposed by the governor and other British representatives.
Jamie was able to slip away before things got too heated by showing William where the bathroom was. The way Jamie talked to the horses during that scene stirred a memory in William’s mind about their time at Helwater, which hurt his feelings a little that Jamie didn’t mention it when they first saw each other.
Jamie and William’s absence gave Claire and Lord John a chance to “chat” — if “chatting” means posturing to one another about their positions in Jamie’s life. Claire was convinced Lord John was there to spy on Jamie at the behest of the governor, while Lord John maintained he simply wanted the council of an old and trusted friend.
Similarly, Murtagh was suspicious of Lord John’s visit, and he advised Jamie to find out what John knew about the governor’s dealings. They argued about Jamie taking advantage of his friendship with John, during which it came out that William is actually Jamie’s son. Jamie didn’t want to jeopardize Lord John’s standing in any way after William lost two mothers already, though, and Murtagh promised to back off and to keep Jamie’s secret.
The next morning, John and William were set to leave, but John had fallen ill with the measles. William, being a young man and never having had them, would be particularly susceptible to contracting them and possibly dying, so Jamie took William on a little father-son camping trip while Claire tended to John at the cabin.
The camping trip allowed William to get a taste of frontier life, killing and dressing a deer and encountering some hostile Cherokee after he crossed the territory line and was going to take one of the Cherokee’s fish. In the encounter with the Native Americans, Jamie was forced to admit that William was his son in an effort to save his life, but William denied it and took responsibility for his actions. For one intense moment, it looked as though the Cherokee might kill the boy, but they simply cut him and left them with a warning.
William later asked Jamie about the day he left Helwater and why Jamie did not look back at him when he was running and shouting. Jamie said it was because he didn’t want to give William false hope that they would ever see each other again. In this moment it seemed as though a look passed over William’s face that made him wonder if Jamie really was his father or if he was just saying that to save him from the Cherokee.
While Jamie and William were gone, Claire and John took a few shots at each other over raising Jamie’s two children, culminating in Claire calling out John for being in love with her husband (although she was slightly more tactful than using those exact words). Lord John didn’t deny it, confessing later that he came to see Jamie because he wanted to see if he could still feel after he felt nothing when Isobel died. John also revealed to Claire that Jamie offered John his body in exchange for taking in William, which of course John refused. The two scenes were some excellent work on the parts of Berry and Balfe, conveying so much without speaking.
The next morning, the two came to an uneasy truce over their feelings for Jamie. These characters have such an interesting relationship and the actors have been so good together, it’s a shame there isn’t more Claire-John material — though book readers know there could be some intriguing Claire-John stuff coming in the later seasons.
Anyway, Lord John managed to fight off his illness, and he and William departed that day. Claire was quite kind in telling John that maybe someday he would find someone to love who loves him back because he deserves to have that, and everyone parted on good terms, with William turning around to look at Jamie one last time. It felt like he knew on some level that Jamie is actually his father then.
The episode ended with Jamie and Claire getting some much needed alone time and Jamie presenting Claire with a replacement wedding ring that he had made. Since this episode didn’t return to Brianna (Sophie Skelton) having passed through the stones, it will undoubtedly pick up there next week.
“Outlander” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.