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Bittersweet farewells and dangerous new enemies in Outlander's 'Journeycake'
Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 5 episode “Journeycake.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
If anyone thought that our Outlander faves would be entitled to a little bit of a break after last week's episode concluded with putting a nail in Stephen Bonnet's coffin once and for all, well, apparently that was wishful thinking. The penultimate(!) episode of this season, written by Outlander series author herself Diana Gabaldon, had so much going for it in terms of what this show knows how to do best: high heat, high drama, high devastation, and a cliffhanger that I'm sure very few of us actually saw coming. With one episode left until this season ends, it's anyone's guess what will go down.
Previously: It was the culmination of something many fans had been waiting to see play out on screen — Stephen Bonnet popped up in town with his sights set on kidnapping Brianna and forcing her and Jemmy to play house with him, although he learned very quickly that no one messes with a Fraser, especially when that family consists of many passionate Scots who would stop at nothing to get her home safe. Plus, after Gerald Forbes revealed his terrible intentions in helping Bonnet steal River Run via his questionable paternity claim, he tried to murder Aunt Jocasta! She's fine, don't worry, but the same might not be said for Ulysses, who saved his mistress by snapping the man's neck.
More seasons come and go, and by the time we catch up with our main foursome, it's autumn 1772 and they're on their way back to Fraser's Ridge after procuring some necessary items and food for the homestead. Claire's latest impulse buy is peanuts — because, as she tells Jamie, she wants to master the art of making a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her grandson. Methinks Claire has a craving of her own she wants to satisfy, but I can't blame her for it. Nothing beats a solid PB&J. Along the route, they come across a cabin that's been completely burned, reduced to little more but ash and its foundations. But they find that the Dutch family inside were all dead before the fire started, save one: a young girl, very badly burned and still clinging to life. As Jamie prays, Roger decides to ease her suffering, and before the group sets out again, they give the entire family a proper burial. But this chilling discovery begs its own question: Who's responsible for all of this, and why?
Back home, Ian's playing with young Jemmy, dangling an opal in front of the boy. When Jemmy touches the stone, he claims it's hot, almost burning — and in his tiny hands a second later, it gets warm enough to crack apart. A sudden buzzing fills the air, but only certain members of the group can hear it — Claire, Brianna, Roger, Jemmy — and they're the same ones the stone feels warm for. It's the proof that Bree and Roger have been waiting for; Jemmy's a time traveler, and now he's old enough to pass through the stones. Now, it's really just a question of when the family will go, and how long they'll take to say their goodbyes. They concoct a story to tell others about where they're headed and decide to stick to the truth as much as they possibly can, but within a month, they'll be back in their own time.
There's another interesting wrinkle that Jamie might be forced to deal with now: the Brown brothers, Lionel and Richard, and the men they've enlisted swing by the Ridge to tell him that they've formed a Committee of Safety in order to protect local residents after hearing word of land ransacked, people killed, and cabins burned. Someone in the Browns' group floats the belief that it was Indians responsible, but Ian vehemently rejects the idea, insisting that no tribe would participate in something like that. Richard Brown extends an official invitation to Jamie and the men of the Ridge to join the group, reminding him that it wasn't all that long ago that he took up the call to arms from Jamie when Tryon needed willing and able-bodied soldiers.
Another old friend shows up on the Frasers' doorstep: It's Lord John Grey! He's got news of his own for Jamie, though; old Lord Dunsany has finally passed away, and Grey must return to England in order to handle the affairs of the estate and be a presence to support his wife (Dunsany's daughter, Isabel) as well as William, who needs to be prepared to inherit it all. He admits that the both of them will likely return someday, but for now they'll have to say goodbye, and offers Jamie a small portrait of William for him to remember his face by. Seeing his son seems to spark something in Jamie, because he decides not to let the opportunity pass to tell Brianna the truth about her half-brother, especially since they're destined to go back through the stones already and she'll probably never meet him face to face.
Preparing for bed, Claire decides to apply a special perfume in the hopes of getting some attention from her loving husband, but turns to find he's already fallen asleep. In the middle of the night, however, she wakes up feeling warm — hot flashes as a sign of menopause, maybe? — and opens a window to try and cool down. Jamie's instantly alerted to the absence of her presence in bed and comes over to check on her, which leads to the two of them sharing soft kisses and investigating the complexities of each other's scent. Jamie recognizes the traces of Claire's perfume still lingering and decides to make up for what he missed out on earlier in the evening, taking care of his wife's, ahem, needs while she dangles out of the open window and lets the cool night air roll over her. In the morning, Claire's investigating something in the microscope Lord John brought for her; Jamie seems convinced they're germs, but Claire reveals they're tiny sperm, taken from a sample she woke up "in custody of." These two are hot dorks and I love them.
Lionel Brown shows up at the Ridge again, partly to implore Jamie to join the Committee again (which he politely, finally declines) and also in search of Claire's help. His new wife Rose has a broken wrist, and Claire immediately deciphers Lionel as the cause of the injury. When she finds an excuse to send Lionel out of the room to speak privately, she learns that the man had twisted his wife's arm after she refused to sleep with him, but Rose reveals that she's been trying to avoid getting pregnant so that there's no possibility of him hurting a child. When Lionel starts sniffing around Claire's surgery, he notices the name on her medical box — Dr. D. Rawlings, the same Dr. Rawlings whose advice was accidentally published in the newspaper once upon a time. I can't imagine he's going to do anything good with this information.
After a final family dinner (consisting of Claire's best attempt at PB&J, among other more traditional dishes), morning comes around and it's time for the MacKenzies to travel to the standing stones. With the three of them tied together so no one will get lost, each clutching a gem in their hand, they say their last farewells to Ian watching on and reach out toward the stone. One moment they're there and the next they're gone, and when they wake up on the other side ... well, they seem a little confused about where they might have ended up. Meanwhile, back at Fraser's Ridge, Jamie, Fergus and the other men are lured away from the main house by an explosion in the distance at the still. A group of men swarm the surgery, knocking Marsali unconscious and kidnapping Claire. Jamie and the others return to find Claire gone, and in desperation he ventures to the top of the hill to light the fiery cross that, at the start of this season, once signaled war on the horizon.
- I'm glad Jamie and Claire finally told Ian the truth about, well, everything; it was time and he's definitely grown up enough to be able to handle that reveal. (Although the mention of Murtagh, however brief it was, definitely made me miss the man all over again.) His devastation over not being able to go back through the stones himself to stop something terrible from happening with his own family was such a heartbreaking moment that I have to wonder if we'll get that backstory sooner rather than later.
- Another loose end I'm glad to see sorted: Ulysses's safety. The man had been in hiding ever since his hand in Gerald Forbes' death, but when Lord John agrees to take the man with him back to England to escape any threat on his life, it was a big sigh of relief there — even if I'm sad he had to part ways from a dear friend.
- It's a lot of tearful goodbyes now for Brianna and Roger, but among the most emotional might be between Bree and Lizzie Wemyss. Lizzie's been a loyal helper to their family for so long and she can't grasp initially why she can't accompany them now, but they part on more of an understanding, even if it's bittersweet.
That’s it for this week, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for where the next episode will take us, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. Where have Bree and Roger ended up? Will Jamie come to Claire's rescue before the season ends? See you next week!