Once it was revealed that Murtagh would be returning in Season Four of Outlander, I have been wondering how, where, and when it was going to happen.
One screen grab appeared to show him walking through the gates at River Run – after Jamie and Claire left for Fraser’s Ridge. “He’s missed them!” I said to myself. Perhaps Jocasta would point him in the right direction. But I was wrong, or that scene was cut (no matter). Murtagh has set up a flourishing blacksmith business for himself in a nearby town, and that’s where the long-awaited reunion takes place between Jamie and Murtagh (with introductions between Murtagh and Young Ian).
They’ve not seen or heard from each other for 12 years. So much has changed, and so have they as individuals. It’s almost like they’re meeting again for the first time. That brings to mind the myriad of emotions that one feels at a first introduction. Perhaps meeting for the first time is easier – you’re not required to reveal too much about yourself. If you’re not compatible, you can just go your separate ways with a polite handshake and, “It was nice to meet you.” There’s little or no investment of emotional attachment or feelings of obligation.
Meeting someone after a prolonged absence is quite another matter. If the relationship was memorable, there probably was a significant sharing of feelings, emotions, and trust in the general knowledge of that individual as a person. They are the one you came to know and care about, and the person you revealed parts of you to them and them alone. You lived part of your life with them and trusted them to keep your confidences sacred. Is the person you see in front of you now the same person you knew then? Yes and no.
I think Jamie and Murtagh are fundamentally the same people they’ve always been. Their bond with each other, values, and moral compass have remained intact. Their affection for each other is genuine and true. But their individual experiences have changed who they are as individuals. Murtagh was indentured and then apprenticed at the blacksmith shop he now owns. Claire returned to Jamie, and they are trying to forge a peaceful life together on Fraser’s Ridge.
As joyful as the reunion was, Jamie and Murtagh now find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict that threatens tear their relationship apart. It was as though a dark cloud is hovering on the horizon of this joyous, unexpected time in Jamie’s life.
I’ve always felt that Claire and Murtagh had a special bond – one that was forged when they both went looking for Jamie after he was captured by the Redcoats. What a clever way for him to announce his arrival by whistling the tune sung at the performances on their search! I wanted to accompany them inside and hear their conversation as they catch up on the years (and centuries) of being apart! Perhaps more will be revealed in future episodes (fingers crossed!).
Reunions are tricky. I’ve experienced some that brought nothing but joy, and others that filled me with regret. People I hadn’t seen for years remained as loyal and unchanged (fundamentally) as when we first became friends. It was like we’d never been apart – confidences intact, trust maintained, and values unchanged. It was comfortable, safe, and fulfilling. Another, painful reunion revealed ulterior motives, deceit, and exploitation that left me feeling worthless and shamed. Those are the hard ones to resolve, especially when you went in with a clear, open heart only to be met with someone other than who you once considered a trusted friend.
It will be fascinating to see how the relationships between Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh evolve. I think they are basically the same people we’ve come to know and love. But the forces in the world are pulling at them, and I hope their bond is strong enough to hold them together.