Ah, the "Hour of the Wolf." What is this hour, you may wonder? It's the hour between night and dawn, a moment of deep darkness before the light breaks through. I tried to look up the actual meaning but got the absolute creeps, so suffice it to say that this is a scary hour where people die, babies are born, and all manner of stuff goes on. It also fits all the major themes of this episode, so let's start recapping, shall we?
Spoiler Alert: We are recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You've been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.
The episode opens with a flashback to the ceremony where Ian is adopted by the Mohawk. After he has been welcomed into their family and named Okwaho'rohtsi'ah, or "Wolf’s Brother," he and a young woman lock eyes, and we automatically know this is the woman from his mysterious past. 'Cause, why else would they share that level of prolonged eye contact?
With the central story now set up, we cut to "present-day" at the Ridge, where Jamie sends Fergus on a journey to sell goods and check on Jamie's aunt Jocasta. Fergus sees through Jamie’s plans to give him some space from his worries as a way for him to heal, and Fergus shares his gratitude that Jamie saved his life. Jamie responds that he’s simply balanced the scales. The score was as uplifting as my super sappy smile at Fergus appearing hopeful once again.
Meanwhile, Major MacDonald is staying with the Frasers and sneezing all over the place because of his cat allergy. The Fraser clan is outside firing the newly delivered muskets, and Roger’s aim is improving (he wasn’t the best shot last season). I was happy to see Brianna (who’s a great shot, considering she shot her rapist and much-hated villain Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) in the head at a considerable distance) out there, as well. The major tells Jamie that the guns he brought for the Cherokee are tried and true, but he calls the chief by the wrong name. Ian promptly corrects him, in true clapback style, and the now-miffed major conveys that the Governor wants the chief to swear loyalty to the Crown.
At that point, Brianna excuses herself. Jamie finds her on their porch, where she explains that the guns won’t be enough to protect the Cherokee. They discuss the cruelty that the American government would show toward the indigenous people in about 50 years, and Jamie expresses that he knows what governments are capable of. His history as a highlander in Scotland around the time of the Highland Clearances gives him a unique, personal perspective of what's coming. When Brianna shares that the removal of indigenous tribes from their homes will be known by history as the Trail of Tears, Jamie is visibly moved.
He carries this knowledge with him when he and Ian take the guns to the Cherokee. Ian sees Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke), a member of the Mohawk tribe who was pretty much a brother to him, but Ian is not–I repeat not–happy to see him. Later, he tells Jamie the full story about the woman we saw in the opening of the episode. Her name is Wahionhaweh, though he called her “Emily" while he was still learning the language. We cut to a flashback where she gives him a small amulet she had carved in the shape of a wolf’s head. While hunting in the woods, Kaheroton flicks the wolf’s head amulet, now on Ian’s necklace, explaining Wahionhaweh (Morgan Holmstrom) has chosen him as a partner.
As is the nature of flashbacks, things progress fast. We see some glimpses of their relationship, and boom, she’s pregnant. Sadly, there are complications, and while Wahionhaweh lives, their baby does not. Ian was not able to see his daughter’s face before he buried her. Jamie and Claire lost a child as well, so Jamie sympathizes deeply with Ian’s pain. Wahionhaweh and Ian continue to have trouble conceiving, so the Mohawk tell him to return to his family, the Frasers, believing that the reason they’re having so much trouble conceiving is because his spirit isn’t Mohawk. Angry, Ian storms back to Wahionhaweh, only to see her with Kaheroton. And yikes, the betrayal is real. She sends Ian away, but she is clearly very unhappy for having to follow this cultural tradition of moving on to another partner for the sake of producing children.
Meanwhile, on the Ridge, Claire is testing her ether. She shows Malva how to administer it, and Malva gets quite excited about the prospect of being able to operate on someone without them feeling it. She still makes me a wee bit nervous, but I’m still withholding my judgment… for now. In case you can’t tell, I’m a bit back and forth about his character. Is she cool peeps, or is she suspicious? I haven’t decided yet. Whatever my feelings maybe, she and Claire are getting along well. They’re being super sneaky and aren’t telling her father all the medical stuff she does while helping Claire.
Back with the Cherokee, Jamie delivers the guns, and Ian confronts his Mohawk family. He learns that Kaheroton and Wahionhaweh had a son. It’s heartbreaking for Ian; his friend has a son, but he lost his daughter. Ian stalks over to Kaheroton, draws a knife on him, and a fight ensues. Jamie and another Indian agent named Alexander Cameron (Michael Geary) break up the fight, but Alexander is clearly not the type of person we want our characters hanging around. He's like that friend someone brings home who you just know is bad news. Alexander draws a knife on Kaheroton and tells him to pack and leave, but things don't stop there. Alexander is drunk and taunts the Mohawk. Just super, super disrespectful. Kaheroton is about to club him, and I was 100% here for it, but Jamie convinces him not to. Instead, Kaheroton demands an apology, and rightfully so. But Alexander pulls a gun… because he’s horrible and unfair bringing a gun to a knife fight. When Kaheroton readily accepted Alexander's challenge to a duel, my heart sank. Jamie tries to dissuade Alexander, but he refuses to reconsider.
While they prepare for the duel, Ian shares with Jamie his concerns for his daughter’s afterlife, fearing God brought Kaheroton to the village to punish Ian for something. Jamie reminds him that God is merciful, and tells him he lost a daughter as well. Based on Ian’s reaction, he didn’t know. For some reason, I thought Jamie had told him before now, but this was good timing. It’s a very emotional moment (there are a lot of these this season), and they pray that Jamie’s daughter will find Ian’s in Heaven. This brings Ian comfort and a sense of peace. Afterward, Ian offers Kaheroton Jamie’s pistol in a moment of forgiveness. Kaheroton takes the pistol and gives Ian his war club in return. Kaheroton then expresses concern he may die. He asks Ian to look after his wife and son if that happens, and he gives Ian a beaded bracelet like the one that Wahionhaweh had originally given Ian during their time together. Ian accepts by taking the bracelet, and it's a bit of a complicated brotherhood there, but I’m here for it.
As far as political matters go, the chief does swear loyalty to the Crown. Jamie pulls him aside, however, and, once they're in private, tells him about the Trail of Tears. He does this in a veiled way by explaining that the women in his family see the future in dreams. Pretty clever cover if you ask me! The chief agrees to tell his children and grandchildren about this warning, so when the time comes they may hope to survive the events. This is where Jamie drops his line from the Season 6 trailer, "Whoever you fight for… fight for yourselves."
They all get ready for the duel, but Alexander, the dirtbag that he is, cheats and turns early. Ian stays ready, though, and knocks the gun out of Alexander's hand with the weapon Kaheroton had given him, effectively saving Kaheroton’s life. Cue the meaningful eye contact. Jamie, once again bringing the "well damn, bruh" to the screen, says Kaheroton can return fire at will. Alexander turns into a sniveling mess real quick, and Kaheroton lets him off easy, choosing to let him live in his cowardly shame. Ian gives Kaheroton the bracelet back, and Kaheroton departs. Before leaving for the Ridge, Ian lets go of his wife’s memory by sending the wolf’s head amulet down a calm part of a nearby creek. He decides he doesn’t have to live conflicting lives but can merge them together. This ties up a long storyline, and I'm happy to see Ian has made peace with his past.
Back on the Ridge, Malva is helping Claire with some work when Jamie returns from his time with the Cherokee. Claire excuses herself, leaving Malva to stay and clean up. In the stables, Jamie drops another line from the trailer, telling Claire he’s struggling between his life as a rebel and a loyalist, an Agent for the Crown and an enemy of the King. He says he’ll resign as an Indian agent, and Claire is her lovely supportive self. They get down to their regularly scheduled roll in the hay, which I use as a euphemism because they’re in a barn so it seemed appropriate… and, wait for it: Malva is watching through a window.
Okay, we need to talk about it. 'Cause… ewww. Malva stood all up on her tiptoes just to peek through a window and watch Mr. and Mrs. Fraser knock boots… and other things. I knew it! Something was just off about her. She's got guts like I said in my other recap, but yikes. Maybe she's got a bit too many guts. Too much guts? You know what I mean! Outlander is a sex-positive show, but watching without permission is a no-no, and Malva seemed mighty interested. Creeeepyyyyy…
It's taking me considerable effort to get away from the creep factor that is Malva right now. I really want to know what her significance will be to the greater story. For her to be this much of a focus character, it must be something important. Will she be helpful somehow? Will she stir some stuff up? I haven't read the books, and we show-only peeps have yet to see what's up.
All the yuck aside, this episode drives home the point of "choosing a side." Tying in with the title, "The Hour of the Wolf," Ian confronts his worst fears, and his past is resolved. Loose ends are tied up. Jamie, seeing Ian's journey and hearing what Brianna has told him, has chosen his side: enemy of the Crown. After seeing how Alexander behaved, it may have even given him even more clarity that most European colonists are just in it for themselves. Even Malva's true colors showing fit the overarching theme. There's no more time for false pretenses, and the show is going to jump right into the conflict.
Something I've been a bit suspicious about is coming to the surface and requires a bit of explanation because I haven't really focused on this side story in my previous recaps. Remember the woman that Roger “rescued” from a supposed haunting by discovering a stowaway bullfrog in her milk pail? Welp, he's been helping her out, building her house, and such. She's a widow with some kids, and they've been spending a lot of time together. Now, we aren't jumping to conclusions, but based on the next episode preview, something is afoot. Brianna expresses concern about the time Roger and the woman spend together, and this jumps us right into the theme of loyalty. Jamie is breaking his oath to the Crown and is worried about what his family might think. We get some glimpses of his aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and his friend John Grey (David Berry) presumably reacting to the news. John Grey, who I am super happy to see returning to the screen, is a ride-or-die character. I think he'll understand where Jamie's coming from. But Jocasta… we’ll see how she reacts. In short, the tide has turned, and we're probably getting some more action in the next episode. The Frasers' allegiance is to the new nation being born, and it's a rare birth that's without blood.
How do you think Jocasta and John Grey will react to Jamie's decision? I do like some good old-fashioned fictional family drama, but Jocasta didn't look too pleased…