‘Outlander’ Review: Episode 604, “Hour of the Wolf”

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  [This is not a spoiler-free review of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]

Episode 604: Hour of the Wolf

Written by Luke Schelhaas, Directed by Christiana Ebohon-Green

“The Hour of the Wolf,” just in title, hints that the subject of this hour of Outlander season six will be Ian (John Bell).  The majority of the episode is set in a Cherokee village where Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Ian go to deliver rifles to the tribe as agreed upon by the Governor and provided by Major MacDonald (Robin Laing).

Prior to Jamie and Ian setting off, the Frasers and Major MacDonald test out the merchandise.  We learn that rifles are not new but used.  Regardless, they still shoot well, hence the need to test the rifles.  If the rifles were defective, it would not look good for the Crown to disappoint the tribe while looking for their support.  Later we learn that the Cherokee were only given 20 rifles which isn’t going to do much for their protection in the long run.

Amid an afternoon of shooting rifles, Brianna (Sophie Skelton) leaves the area, seemingly troubled by something.  Jamie follows her and finds out about the Trail of Tears when Native Americans were forced to leave their lands and move elsewhere.  If you have watched Outlander from the beginning, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Brianna’s information sharing about the future hasn’t panned out to change much of anything in terms of historical events.  I found it touching that Jamie tells Chief Bird (Glen Gould) of Brianna and Claire’s “gifts” and forewarns him of future events.  The Native Americans’ religions are more prone to believing someone who has second sight or visions.

The meat of the episode revolves around Ian telling Jamie what happened to him after he decided to stay with the Mohawk.  At the beginning of the episode, Ian is cleansed of his “whiteness” and made a Mohawk through every possible way according to their beliefs.  He is named Wolf’s Brother by the Mohawk.  Already, “Emily,” as Ian refers to her because he cannot pronounce her name well, is making eyes at him.

When Ian and Jamie arrive at the Cherokee village, Ian notices Mohawk present as well.  Much to his dismay, Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke) and Tehhonahtake (Marty Wildman) have made the trek to trade with the Cherokee.  Upon seeing Kaheroton, Ian is immediately put off by his unexpected reappearance.  It is the trigger to let everything go and tell Jamie what transpired with Emily.  Being the aunt and uncle they are, Jamie and Claire never pushed or asked what happened to Ian.  It was a blessing that he came back as they assumed they might never see him again.  We saw last season that there was some depression and anger held by Ian, and his trauma was somewhat healed while going through things with Roger (Richard Rankin) after he was hanged.  We learn through this episode that he was married to Emily, and she became pregnant twice.  One child was close to term, while the other was a miscarriage earlier on in the pregnancy.  Because of these failed pregnancies, it was determined by the Mohawk that Wolf’s Brother was at fault.  He had not fully let go of his previous life, and because he was not fully Mohawk, no viable children would come from their marriage.  Ian was quite simply forced out of the tribe and told to leave and not come back.  Before altogether leaving, he found out that Emily had chosen Kaheroton, his closest friend, to become her new husband.

Now knowing all that had passed while Ian was away from Fraser’s Ridge, the audience can empathize more with Ian and his struggles.  We understand why Kaheroton is a divisive figure in Ian’s life.  And why uncle Jamie will always be a father figure to Ian, especially when he offers his experience with Faith as a comparison to Ian’s loss.

A small part of the episode focuses on Claire continuing to experiment with ether; thankfully, it is not on herself this time.  She continues to take Malva (Jessica Reynolds) under her wing as an apprentice, and learning how to administer ether is one of her first lessons.  We can only assume that Marsali (Lauren Lyle) now has her hands full with children and cannot assist Claire as much anymore.  Claire uses Josiah (Paul Gorman) and Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) as experimental volunteers.  Immediately, there is some one-up(wo)manship as Lizzie demonstrates how strong she is to Malva by going first before Josiah.  Later on, Lizzie explains how it felt to Kezzie (Paul Gorman).

We open the episode post-opening credits with some post-coital conversation between Claire and Jamie, and we get the beginnings of another love scene at the end of the episode.  However, as fans seem to love the intimate scenes between them, the ending was not just for intimacy’s sake.  Malva has crept into the stables and is on her tiptoes, trying to see the love-making in action.  It seems that Tom has not whipped all the “wickedness” out of her, and she is determined to get in trouble no matter how much she is counseled.

There was an addition of another Indian agent, Scotchee Cameron (Mike Geary), into the surroundings of the Cherokee Village.  His purpose in this episode appeared to be to juxtapose Jamie’s Indian agent against the conduct of Scotchee, as well as being a vehicle for forgiveness between Ian and Kaheroton.  Ian may not like Kaheroton anymore, but he certainly would not wish any deathly harm to him.

Since my review of the first episode of this season, there is an issue that I have not read anyone else point out in my limited watching of videos and readings of articles about this season.  We continue to acknowledge Claire’s PTSD but have negated other characters’ struggles, one of which I am having difficulty rectifying.  Kezzie Beardsley was deaf, could not speak well or at all, and used a form of sign language to communicate with his brother, Josiah.  All of these elements about Kezzie’s disability were addressed last season in Paul Gorman’s dynamic performance.  This season, Kezzie can speak normally and can apparently hear enough or can read people’s lips rather well.  There has not been an acknowledgment of his situation or how he has progressed in lessening his disability in season six.  Considering the lengths the production went to for developing Kezzie’s character in season five, it is disappointing that this work has been negated this season.  Speaking with Ginger from the Outlander Podcast on this subject, she also brought up how Roger has no physical after-effects of his hanging in season five.  In the books, Roger’s disability, especially his struggle to sing, continues to be mentioned.  It is beyond frustrating that Outlander has moved away from the continuity of their characters’ disabilities to focus only on certain characters’ issues.  Outlander has really done a disservice to the disabled community by demonstrating that it wasn’t worth continuing to tell Kezzie’s deafness as a part of this season.

Considering this episode followed an emotionally heavy third episode, Fergus (César Domboy) wasn’t completely forgotten as Jamie sends him on errands and keeps him busy.  I can only hope that we will continue to see Fergus as more of a part of the story going forward.

“Hour of the Wolf” met all expectations of its guessed content.  It is always great to see blanks filled in on beloved characters.  Considering Ian will stay around a while if the show follows the books, it allows the non-readers some clarification of a missing piece of time in his life.  I don’t necessarily think the show had to go so in-depth with Ian’s story for the audience, but it is always nice to allow a certain character or actor the room to shine, much like Fergus last week.  We are at the halfway mark for season five, and I don’t think anyone is looking forward to this season being wrapped up in four more hours.  There are still many stories to cover, and I sincerely hope that Outlander chooses well.

NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, APRIL 3RD AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 605: “GIVE ME LIBERTY”

Synopsis: “Claire and Jamie experience the rising tensions in the colonies first-hand when they attend a Loyalist event in Wilmington in honor of the Scottish heroine, Flora MacDonald.”

Photos courtesy of Starz