This review contains spoilers for Outlander season 6 episode 4
“The Hour of The Wolf” marks the halfway point in Outlander Season 6. It’s a turning point in both the political atmosphere, and also in the personal lives of the characters. Ian finally explains what happened when he lived with the Mohawk. Jamie realizes that his job as Indian Agent may not be enough to prevent what Brianna and Claire told him about the future. This episode is also super special in Outlander canon as it is the first to be directed by a Black woman: Christiana Ebohon-Green.
Ian sits as his tattoos and hair are styled in the Mohawk fashion in the cold open. The tribal adoption ceremony means for the Mohawk that Ian is no longer a white man, but he still carries his past with him. Viewers who didn’t read the book finally understand visually and through dialogue Ian’s journey to accepting a completely different life than he was used to. Through the episode, the cinematography and set design immerses the audience in the Mohawk world.
In the current timeline, Major McDonald camps out at the Ridge overnight as his men deliver the guns for Chief Bird. Ian is clearly annoyed by his micro aggressive comments but is willing to go with Jamie to deliver the guns. Fergus is also on his way to New Bern to sell whiskey. Jamie tells him to use the time away to build back faith in himself. Before Jamie and Ian leave, Bree reveals the shortened version of The Trail of Tears story. 60 years later, the US government will forcibly remove the Cherokee from the Carolinas and Georgia.
Chief Bird is happy that the governor delivered on his promise but the celebration for Ian is short-lived as the presence of Kaheroton and other Mohawk remind Ian of both the happy times and the painful events that led to him settling on the Ridge. Ian explains in a series of flashbacks to Jamie exactly what happened: he met a woman named Wahionhaweh who he nicknamed Emily because he wasn’t fluent in Mohawk. Ian and Wahionhaweh ended up happily married. Unfortunately Wahionhaweh miscarried a baby girl Ian already gave the name of Iseabail to. She lost a second pregnancy a few months later. The Mohawk believe successful conception is when the man overpowers the woman’s spirit and they blamed his white spirit for failing. As a result, he ended up being kicked out of the village. Ian tried to protest but he realized Wahionhaweh was already matched up with Kaheroton.
Ian tells Jamie he blames himself for not fighting harder, but Jamie reassures him that there was nothing he could have done at that point that wouldn’t have involved violence. Kaheroton telling him he and Wahionhaweh have a son drives Ian to put a knife to his throat. Ian’s completely convinced the man he considered a brother stabbed him in the back. Jamie pulls Ian away from the fight but it escalates after the other Indian Agent Scotchee tries to pass off a racist comment as a joke to Kaheroton. Jamie and the other men set up a duel with guns to settle the problem.
In-between the display of toxic masculinity, Jamie and Ian have a beautiful heart to heart over their shared grief of losing a stillborn child. Ian and Jamie also have a powerful bonding moment over losing Faith and Ishabeail. They may be uncle and nephew but their bond is so much deeper.
Despite the ill will, Ian gives Kaheroton Jamie’s gun so he can have a fair chance. Scotchee ends up humiliated for attempting to cheat. The fight and the duel make Ian realize that while his life with Wahionhaweh is over, this doesn’t mean he has to give up being a Mohawk. He can be both Brother Wolf and Ian Murray. His religious beliefs are a blend of Mohawk and Catholic. Jamie accepts Ian for who he is.
After the duel, Jamie tells Chief Bird about Claire and Brianna’s future knowledge. Jamie knows he can’t save everyone but if Chief Bird’s children and grandchildren can hide from the US Army that will still save lives. The symbolic importance of this episode addressing the history people love to ignore being directed by a Black woman cannot be overstated.
The Ridge scenes in between Ian’s revelations are centered on Malva crossing from “oh it’s a little odd but it’s fine” to firmly “what the hell are you doing” territory. Malva starts her plot in the episode attempting to learn new skills from Claire. She clearly admires Claire’s knowledge but like most of the people who are from the 18th Century do not fully understand Claire’s scientific approach to medicine. Claire wants Malva to help her during operations by administering either. Josiah and Lizzie pretended to be patients as Malva learns to apply the mask for the ether. They are a little freaked out by the medicine. Claire also puts Malva under to see what it feels like. Malva says it feels like the devils’ work but at least no one is calling Claire a witch. The 18th-century residents being curious about medicine is totally normal.
Later on, Malva starts flipping through Claire’s surgery journal without asking first. We’ve seen her in the previous episode be curious, but it feels like this time it’s almost as if she’s looking for anything suspicious. Claire tells Malva the book is filled with medicinal recipes and notes from previous cases. She notes that her brother Alan wouldn’t like it but she’s falling under the spell of medicine. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of horses outside. What is Malva hoping to find in that journal?
Claire leaves the surgery as she realizes Jamie and Ian are back from their trip to the Cherokee. As usual for Claire and Jamie, conversations frequently lead to lovemaking. Malva meanwhile decides to investigate what Claire is up to in the barn. The last thing viewers see on screen is Malva creepily watching Jamie and Claire undress each other which is a clear violation of their privacy. One could forgive a younger kid being curious about the birds and the bees, but Malva definitely had some ulterior motive to her behavior.
Why is Malva being incredibly nosy and creepy? Information from the book or future episodes may well undermine speculation, but it’s fun to guess! Malva flirted with Ian in the last episode. Tom already believes she has a wicked soul and could be led astray by a man. Could she try to get Ian’s attention again or possibly find another suitor on the Ridge? If sexual desire is removed from the occasion, she could use the ether in the surgery plus the barn as evidence Claire is practicing some kind of witchcraft. Tom may not believe it but he could potentially use some outlandish story about Jamie and Claire to control the more ignorant fisherfolk. Could Malva use this as a blackmail weapon in another future dispute on the Ridge? There are a lot more possibilities but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.