***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 5, Episode 1, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross follow. Spoilers***
Bookended by two beautiful scenes between Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser and his godson, Jamie, Outlander kicked off its fifth round with a surprisingly emotional episode and quite a bit of fanfare over Brianna and Roger’s long-awaited wedding. There was hardly a dull moment, as we jumped right into the action (drinking and intrigue and sexytimes, oh my!) and considering the source material, the series writers did an excellent job of condensing would-be monotonous events (*coughTheGatheringcough*).
With a flashback to the once and ever gorgeous Murtagh explaining the oath he’d made to Jamie’s mother long ago, the elder Fraser declares he will follow the boy, do his bidding, and always be with him. Alas, by hour’s end, Jamie has no choice but to release his Ghoistidh (godfather) in the hopes of keeping Murtagh alive and if you weren’t crying alongside these gentlemen, are you even human?
As you may recall, at the end of Season 4, Jamies was ordered to “Hunt down and murder the fugitive Murtagh Fitzgibbons” and since that’s certainly not going to happen, Murtagh is forced to flee.
On a happier note, immediately following the lovely new opening credits (and Bear McCreary’s newest arrangement of The Skye Boat Song), the Fraser family finishes preparations for Brianna’s big day. As Claire puts the final stitches in her daughter’s dress, Jamie helps his about-to-be son-in-law with an amusingly terrifying, very close shave (“It’s not called a cutthroat razor for nothing“).
Leaving nothing to chance, Jamie gifts Bree her something borrowed, blue, old and new (and a silver sixpence from Murtagh); gives Roger, a stunning ring for the ceremony; the couple a new cabin home, and prepares stiff drinks for himself and anyone who happens to be around. His nerves, improper ceremony (not in Latin, nor performed by a Catholic priest) and heretical new family member aside, the proud father gamely escorts his “wee girl” down a lovely, rustic aisle, while Claire simply beams with joy at the day.
Attended by a crowd of family and friends old and new, from the always welcome Lord John Grey to the ever strangely harsh Jocasta, and unexpected Redcoats, just as the ceremony ends and festivities commence, darker circumstances begin to unfold. Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) — along with Lieutenant Knox (Michael D. Xavier) and a group of men in tow — alerts Jamie that stalling on his land debt will not be tolerated and that Colonel Fraser is expected to set out on the hunt within a week. If that’s not enough, the newly crowned Mrs. Wakefield walks up on her father just in time (of course) to overhear that her rapist lives, setting off a disturbing round of flashback emotions and her recollected images of the attack.
Jocasta plays dangerous games with both Murtagh and Roger, and though she seems pleased with making Wakefield irate (“… cram it up your hole, ay!“), her Murtagh test severely backfires and if we never see them together again it will be too soon. In between mystifying montages (more on that later), Marsali lets Fergus in on a little secret,
Lord Grey gives Jamie an update on wee Willie (no, not that kind!),
Claire diagnoses Josiah the Hunter (and thief) with tonsilitis, and Roger claims Jeramiah Alexander Mackenzie Fraser as his own son.
A flash of knees and boots peeking out from his kilt, Jamie lights up the titular cross. And in perhaps the evening’s biggest surprise scene, after recounting its purpose and a bit of Scottish history, he calls for “Captain” Roger to stand by his side and pledge himself — without missing a beat, the wide-eyed Wakefield(-Mackenzie) drops to his knees and from memory, recites the oath.
His small army set, Jamie settles into the final, heartbreaking scene where he and Murtagh do their best to understand each other through things they must say and things they must not. Though Fraser attempts to reassure his godfather that time will eventually have them on the same side, Murtagh explains he will do what he must. Knowing about (and believing in) time travel isn’t quite the same as experiencing it and so these Fraser men set about making their own history.
This premiere was so much better than I dare hoped (sorry but, The Fiery Cross novel is a bit slow-going); I am very pleasantly surprised and as I mentioned, emotional. There may have been tears over both the beginning and ending scenes between the Fraser men — well-done everyone!
I do think Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton are doing slightly better with the whole chemistry thing; they had a few good moments where things felt very natural between them. The cake-feeding scenes were actually funny, and a couple of kisses came through as heartfelt. That’s something!
That said, dear Outlander, we have to talk. As hot as Claire and Jamie sexytimes scenes are, please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY/UNHOLY/WHATEVER YOUR BELIEFS MIGHT BE, please never again intersperse mother and daughter sexytimes scenes. That was disturbing. I’m not sure I can articulate it, but when we have been conditioned to see a young woman as the main couple’s daughter, mixing that daughter’s sex scenes with her parents’ sex scenes is just plain weird, odd, and even a little creepy. I don’t consider myself in any way prudish, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting those scenes intercut together. Thank you, and have a nice day.
I will say a big thank you to the writers for not giving me what I expected in that after Bree heard about Stephen Bonnet still being alive and suffering through the attack in her mind again, I was convinced she wouldn’t be able to enjoy her wedding night with Roger.
Next up, if you thought Bree and Roger had little to no chemistry, let me direct your attention to the new king and queen in that department:
NO, NO, NO and NO. Never have I seen such a dull, lifeless (also strangely intercut with the other two couples – is this now Orgylander?) “sex scene” in my life. And Murtagh is sexy as all get out! I don’t know if it’s the way Maria Doyle Kennedy is playing Jocasta or if the two actors don’t care for each other, but this combination doesn’t work at all. All we can do now is hope that Duncan Innes is eventually introduced on the show (***Possible Spoiler***: Alastair Findlay is listed for the role on IMDb), because I cannot go on if the writers actually put these two together instead. “I’ll no stand in the way of your happiness“, indeed — get on with someone else, Jocasta!
Back to some good stuff. Jamie’s speech about the meaning of the fiery cross was so well done. Not only is Sam Heughan an engaging storyteller; the story was also interesting and the way the scene was set up added to the magical feeling of it all.
In the Highlands, when a chieftain sets himself to war, he’ll burn the fiery cross, sending a sign throughout the lands of his clan. It was a call for his men to gather their weapons, come prepared for battle, We are friends, neighbors, countrymen. But we’re not a clan. I’m not your chief. But I hope that if the time comes, you will all stand by my side. We canna say what might befall us. But we must not only be willing to make oaths to our wives and loved ones, but to our brothers in arms in this new country. Stand by my hand.”
And I have to give huge props to Richard Rankin for the scene where Roger went from looking terrified to nodding and walking over to Jamie, dropping to his knees and perfectly reciting his oath. That was by far one of his best-ever scenes — truly moving. His claiming of Jemmy was darned good as well.
Even with only a couple of small scenes, David Berry lights up as Lord John Grey. I do hope we see more of him.
Claire and Jamie’s wedding flashbacks were so sweet, and Caitriona Balfe was simply beaming this whole hour. She’s come so very far as an actress on this show from Season 1, and the way Claire lit up walking down the aisle and nodding at guests was perfection.
This moment … le sigh.
And nobody does sexytimes like these two — they are simply magical together.
It’s worth noting that Tim Downie’s Governor is delightfully smarmy.
I very much enjoyed Marsali’s tongue twister.
There was an old pheasant and he’s not too pleasant, and though I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’ll be plucking pheasants till the pheasant plucking’s done.
Outlander airs on Starz (app or through a provider) Sundays at 8:00 EST, and can also be accessed for a fee through Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, or Hulu.