‘Outlander’ EP Explains Ian’s Surprising Choice in the Season 4 Finale

Spoilers for the Outlander Season 4 finale are below:

The latest Outlander finale wrapped up most of the Season 4 storylines, while also providing a couple fun new threads to carry over into the fifth season. The episode was titled “Man of Worth” and it featured all three main male characters working to prove themselves worthy of that episode title.

Jamie (Sam Heughan) tried to make good on his promise to return Roger (Richard Rankin) to Brianna (Sophie Skelton) after beating the man bloody and selling him to a Native American tribe (because Jamie mistakenly believed Roger to be his daughter’s rapist). Roger, meanwhile, struggled with the decision to return to Brianna and raise a child with her who might not be his biological offspring. He eventually came back to his wife, though his hesitation will undoubtedly cause some tension next season, especially between Roger and his father-in-law.

But perhaps the biggest surprise came when young Ian (John Bell) sacrificed his freedom by giving himself over to the Mohawk tribe in exchange for them letting Roger go. Book readers know that there is actually a lot that goes into Ian’s decision, not the least of which is a budding relationship with a Mohawk woman. Unfortunately, since the show always has to omit certain details in the interest of time, Ian’s choice may have felt like it came a bit out of nowhere for viewers who haven’t read the books

Image via Starz

But executive producer Toni Graphia tells Collider that it shouldn’t have been too much of a shock. Ian has always been adventurous — sometimes to the point of recklessness — and this was no exception.

“Ian is an adventurous spirit to begin with and that’s why he’s so closely bonded with Jamie,” Graphia says. “That’s why he follows Jamie and wants to learn from Jamie, rather than stay home and learn farming at Lallybroch. So this adventure shows that he’s that kind of person.”

But she adds that it’s also part of Ian’s own search for a place to belong. In Season 4, he formed quite a bond with the local Native Americans, which is something that deserved more screen time. But either way, Ian definitely feels more at home with them than perhaps anyone else.

“Ian became fascinated with the Native Americans when he met John Quincy Myers, who opened him up to other cultures and learning about other people. He hung out with a lot of the Cherokee, he went hunting with them,” Graphia says, adding that the costume designer actually started “slipping little Native American things into his wardrobe” because she wanted Ian’s costumes to reflect that “like any teenager, he starts to take on the habits and the clothing of the friends he’s hanging out with. So he’s already sliding a little bit into the Indian culture.”

Finally, Graphia says that Ian’s decision is also a part of his wanting to prove himself a “Man of Worth,” to make up for the part he played in Roger’s ordeal.

Image via Starz

“Ian is also a really good person who feels responsible because he’s the one who sold Roger to the Mohawk, even though he didn’t know at the time who Roger was,” Graphia says. “But he still feels responsible and is regretful of that and he wants to make it up to Brianna and he would do anything for Jamie, so when Jamie offers to trade himself, Ian steps up.

“I think it was in the first episode when Ian wanted to stay in America with Jamie and Jamie says no, you have to go and do something else with your life. You have to be a man of worth, you can’t just be a vagabond following me around. And ever since Jamie put that challenge out to him, he’s been looking for a way to become a man of worth and sees this as an opportunity to do something incredible and unselfish.”

“I think it’ll be interesting to see where Ian’s story goes from here and what happens with him,” Graphia concludes, reassuring fans that this is definitely not the last they’ve seen of Jamie’s young nephew.