***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 5, Episode 8, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross follow. Spoilers***
Having left us hanging (sorry!) two full weeks after Roger was strung up in that tree, Outlander returned to finish the story in an inventive way. After a flashback to Roger’s teaching days gives a clue how he’d like to be remembered — “I’d say, let history forget my name so long as my words and my deeds are remembered by those I love” — we’re treated to a series of silent movies to dramatically demonstrate Wakefield’s very close call.
Quickly cutting him loose, Jamie realizes his son-in-law is still alive, though struggling to breathe. Claire jumps in to open Roger’s airway and thanks to him having freed a hand, Wakefield has a miraculous recovery …physically, that is. Just as has happened with most of the Fraser clan, it is now Roger’s turn to suffer intense emotional trauma; it is that which causes his speechlessness. When months later Brianna still can’t seem to help her husband find his way back, she begins to wonder if he’ll ever recover.
Even a trunk of treasures won’t bring Roger around, but Lord John coerces a smile (and a spark) from Bree with an astrolabe and his dreamy gaze. Despite Bree taking over Roger’s singing to Jemmy and threatening to teach their son American English, Roger keeps drowning in endless flashbacks, with only a single sharp exclamation escaping his lips when Jemmy nearly touches a hot pot.
Paying tribute to Murtagh with a mournful song, Jocasta and Jamie part company while sharing their deep grief; Jamie wonders if Claire’s got a future-cure and apropos of everything, she tells him it’s only time. A little hide and seek with Jemmy leads to a surprise reunion that fills everyone’s hearts; poor Ian has faced his own devastating losses and struggles to reintegrate.
Five-thousand acres won’t make up for the MacKenzies’ suffering and Marsali’s tarot reading only rubs salt in Roger’s wounds, but in the end, it’s saving Ian that gives Roger the strength to begin recovering himself. Realizing they still have reason to live and love to give, the pair return to Fraser Ridge forever changed by their experiences.
While I appreciated some of the stylistic choices in presenting the story this hour, overall it was fairly uneventful — lots of long stares communicated Roger’s trauma, but it wasn’t the most interesting episode.
That said, there were several delightfully bright spots, like Sophie Skelton’s unexpectedly gorgeous singing. That scene with Jemmy was so sweet and frankly, I prefer her rendition of Clementine.
Bree’s line to Roger — “Just know I’ll be teaching Jem to say sweater and aluminum; it’s not going to be jumper or Aluminium” was hilarious and a nice (failed) try to get a reaction from her husband!
Richard Rankin has generally done a great job of playing Roger and his chemistry with Sophie Skelton has improved …BUT, hot damn, David Berry’s Lord John Grey could drum up chemistry with a doorknob. His scene with Bree, that longing look Berry translates to anyone in a shot with him works every time. WHEW!
Claire and Jamie with Jemmy in the woods provided another adorable aside. That little Jemmy (played by Andy/Matthew Adair) is just darling.
Speaking of the woods, it was so good to see Ian again. I’ve missed the character and the actor, both. John Bell has that great ability to equally translate hopelessness and amusement and seriousness and loss, all necessary for young Ian Fraser Murray.
I didn’t much care about Jocasta singing for Murtagh — bittersweet that she was wearing his necklace — and I wish we’d had a bit more time with Jamie and his grief (and with Claire). Jocasta may have had her reasons to turn him away but for me, she never worked with and didn’t deserve Murtagh. Her grief didn’t matter to me, but Jamie’s reaction to his godfather’s death does.
Marsali — Lauren Lyle — is as charming and lovable as ever this week. I adored her flustered scene with Roger, even if it makes little sense with her background that she’d be into tarot.
Rankin’s reactions were pretty hilarious, too.
And now we wait … for the inevitable showdown with Stephen Bonnet. I’m guessing they’re going to drag out that waiting until season’s end.