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Outlander gives us the stirrings of love and war in 'The Fiery Cross'
Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 5 episode “The Fiery Cross.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Greetings, sassenachs! We're back once again for yet another season of Outlander, and once again, your intrepid recapper (that's me) has returned to give you a play-by-play of everything that went down in this week's episode. Who could've guessed that our stalwart faithfulness throughout this Droughtlander would reward us with the episode dropping a whopping two days early? Not I, which is why this recap is a leetle on the later side, but hopefully you're still in your feels enough to discuss all the happenings from the premiere. (And, if you want to hear what the cast themselves had to say about the episode, check out the first installment of our #InsideOutlander series over here!)
Last season on Outlander ... well, a lot went down, but it all culminated in not only Claire being back in the past with Jamie, but Brianna and Roger as well, and after a series of events that saw our favorite Frasers negotiating with a tribe of Mohawk to trade for Roger's safe return, Jamie's nephew Ian decided to take his place. The return trip back to Brianna gave Roger plenty of time to weigh over whether he wanted to stick around in the past after all — and meet their brand-new baby — but ultimately, the two were reunited in only the most sweeping, Outlander-type fashion and Season 4 culminated on the highest of high notes. But, as we soon discover in the premiere, some of that happiness may not be all that it appears to be on the surface.
When we pick up with our fearsome foursome in Season 5, it's a happy day — because Brianna and Roger are officially tying the knot! Of course, emotions are already at an all-time high, and there's a bittersweet undercurrent running through the conversations leading up to the ceremony. Claire expresses regret over not being able to give Brianna a showstopper of a wedding gown, while Jamie's definitely (albeit good-naturedly) been grumbling under his breath about his daughter marrying a Presbyterian rather than getting hitched in a Catholic church. But everyone's got their own nerves, including Roger — and when his soon-to-be father-in-law offers to assist him in shaving on the day with a "cutthroat razor," there's no doubt he's thinking about all the ways in which Jamie could wield that knife against him.
Aside from a brief accidental nicking (which Roger does to himself), the pre-ceremony preparations go off without a hitch, and as Claire walks down to the lovely wooded area on Fraser's Ridge where a wedding arch has been constructed for this very day, we're treated to a who's who reminder of all of our faves who are present to celebrate the happy occasion: Lord John Grey, Fergus and Marsali, Lizzie Wemyss, John Quincy Myers, Aunt Jocasta. Notably absent, however, is Murtagh, and no doubt it has something to do with the season-ending cliffhanger we got wherein Jamie was essentially tasked by Governor Tryon with hauling him into custody. Sure enough, it's because Tryon himself is here, and because he can't resist being the IRL epitome of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," he's going to rain on this wedding day a little by not-so-subtly reminding Jamie that he has a fugitive to apprehend — and he's brought more of his men down to the territory to assist in the task that has become a tad too delayed for his liking.
Jamie isn't the only one who gets the equivalent of a cold bucket of water dumped over him on what's supposed to be a happy occasion. As the wedding celebrations continue and the guests occupy themselves by offering their best tipsy tongue-twisters, Brianna inadvertently overhears her father and Lord John discussing a sensitive subject: the fact that Stephen Bonnet's body was never discovered after the explosion in the prison that enabled Murtagh's escape. It's a revelation that instantly prompts her to relive the night of her brutal rape at Bonnet's hands, on-screen flashback included, and after that, it's more than understandable that she's not exactly in the mood to enjoy her wedding night with Roger later on. That and, well, there's the fact that Roger keeps talking about the two of them going back through the stones together as a when, not an if.
But Roger, perhaps sensing some discomfort even if he doesn't know the specific reason for it, picks up a guitar and serenades her with his own cover of Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E" once they're alone in their cabin together, and, well ... how could you not swoon a little? They're not the only couple taking advantage of that lovin' feeling — in a montage set to an Outlander-themed version of the song, we see a few pairs celebrating in their own way. Marsali reveals to Fergus that she's pregnant (again). Claire and Jamie might be tasked with watching baby Jeremiah, but they're still Hot Grandparents who are going to try and get it on quietly. And Jocasta makes her way through the woods to a small shack for a little secret, sexy rendezvous with none other than Murtagh.
It's not all love and happiness, though; Brianna rolls over from a sleeping Roger with a visible frown on her face, and Jocasta later tells Murtagh that his compatriot and former prisoner-in-arms at Ardsmuir, Duncan Innes, has offered her his hand in marriage. She assures him that she hasn't made up her mind one way or another, but then he does the maddening thing and tells him he won't stand in the way of her happiness. Murtagh! She was giving you an obvious chance to tell her not to accept and you blew it! Why must you two break my heart like this?!
And Tryon finally brings the hammer down on Jamie first thing in the morning, so to speak; that militia he ordered him to assemble? Well, he's going to need that to happen right the heck now, and Jamie realizes that he's run out on attempts to delay the inevitable. He has a week to put his affairs in order — and that includes breaking the tough news to Claire. If he refuses to obey Tryon's order, the governor will take back the land they live on and brand him a traitor besides, so in order to protect his family and all they've built on Fraser's Ridge, Jamie has no choice. There might be a war ahead of them in a few years, and then maybe he can reconsider his oath, but right now he has no such luxury — and he has to make sure that those who live here are loyal to him, not the governor. Of course he has a plan, and after re-emerging dressed in his Highlands finest, right down to the plaid, he rallies the men of the Ridge to fight, setting fire to a cross as a symbol of impending war.
One by one, each man Jamie calls — Roger included — steps forward and pledges their loyalty to him, but it's plain that no one's happy about the situation. Even less happy? The inevitable conversation between Jamie and Murtagh, which bookends the episode after the flashback that kicked things off wherein Murtagh swore to protect a young Jamie Fraser, is as filled with all the emotion that their history demands. Since Murtagh is in Tryon's crosshairs and Jamie is bound by his agreement to follow the governor's orders, there's no way Murtagh can remain safely hidden on the Ridge. With tears in his eyes, Jamie proclaims Murtagh released from the vow of protection he made him all those years ago: "Go. Be hard to find." It's clear that both men know there's no turning back from this moment, but what the future has in store for them is unclear.
- The glasses are back! I'm such a sucker for all the little ways in which the show reminds us that the Frasers have aged (even if they're still ridiculously attractive people), and the fact that Jamie needs his spectacles for certain tasks will never not endear him further to me — or make him feel even more like a dad (granddad?).
- Ah, Outlander, proving that in-love couples will forever have more in-love and mushy feelings during someone else's wedding since 1770. It was really sweet to get a flashback to Jamie and Claire's own nuptials back in Season 1, though. They used to be such young, nervous babies, and look at them now!
- Maria Doyle Kennedy continues to remind me why I love Jocasta so very much. It's clear that she's prodding at Roger's soft spots for a reason (to drive him to finally claim Jem as his own child), but does she still plan on leaving her inheritance to Jeremiah? Or will she marry Duncan and essentially give up control of her money? Time will tell.
- I can't be the only one wondering where Formerly Young Ian is and whether he's doing OK, right? That emotional parting between Jamie and Murtagh got me to thinking about the last person he had to say goodbye to like that, and now I'm just hoping we'll be able to check in with Jamie's nephew sooner rather than later this season.
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. When will Brianna reveal that she knows the truth about Stephen Bonnet? What consequences will Jamie's friend break-up with Murtagh have for the rest of the season? And why is Jocasta, simply put, kind of the greatest? See you next week!