At long last, we were treated with an early release of episode 501, The Fiery Cross in the US and Canada if you had a subscription to the Starz® App. On the LA Premiere night Thursday, it was announced we would get the first episode dropped at midnight for Valentine’s treat.
Beginnings and Endings
While producers and cast have been stating that the theme this season is based on family and what Jamie and Claire will do to keep the family and extended family of Fraser Ridge safe, it’s the sad business of having to cast a family member aside that hit hard in this season opener. We knew it was coming when Governor Tryon charged Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) with hunting down and killing the leader of the Regulators, Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser (Duncan Lacroix).
Episode 501, The Fiery Cross, opens with a young Murtagh walking towards Lollybroch and a very young Jamie Fraser suffering the loss of his mother Ellen. Murtagh speaks his oath to always be there by Jamie’s side to protect him. We know deep down this is going to hurt. Jamie lost Murtagh after Culloden and found him again when he sacrificed himself for his family’s safety ending up in Ardsmuir Prison. He found Murtagh broke and fragile, barely surviving in the dank walls. Only to lose him again as the prison shut down and Murtagh was indentured to a cruel man in the colonies. When the Frasers end up in North Carolina in Season 4, Jamie and Murtagh are reunited. However, in true Outlander fashion, it is but a brief moment.
A Da’s Privilege
Roger (Richard Rankin) ends up in Jamie’s very focused conversational embrace as he gets a very close shave from a cutthroat razor after nicking himself. A bit of sacrificial blood for the day’s events. The nervous declarations of Roger promising to find some way to provide for his family, being the scholar that he is. Jamie all too well knows he cannot hunt, farm, build a house, and quite clearly Brianna wears the breeks at times. He admits that the cabin was so he didn’t have his grandchild growing up in the woods. Jamie in his not so subtle way reminding Roger that he will be watching.
Roger spends most of the next few days wondering when Jamie will ever trust him. Can he find some way to get that chance to prove himself?
Something Old, Something New
As you know the series is straying further away from scenes in the books, thankfully the long drawn out beginning of The Fiery Cross with Gathering on Mount Halcion being downsized to a gathering for Roger and Bree’s wedding makes perfect sense. Focusing on the Ridge and the grand reveal of the big house, the unfinished parts of the doors and ongoing building reflect the building of the community.
Claire is a proud mother, gushing and preparing Brianna for the wedding, finishing dress bits and being that rare soft side of Claire we don’t see very often. Jamie is fussing over all the accouterments of the tradition to have a bride prepared with something old, something new (whisky, not aged of course), something borrowed, something blue. He can’t help but have doubts about the day, and the loss of his daughter after only just finding her. It’s a matter that plays out for all fathers, to give away the daughter and trust that another will provide for her. When Brianna comes to greet him, she reminds him that he will always be a part of her life.
In further conversations, Claire tries to take Roger’s corner as she trusts Roger to do right by Brianna and Jemmy. Jamie questioning his initial hesitation at taking on the responsibility of the child. Claire reminds him that he did come round. There was, of course, a little matter of Roger being sold off to the Mowhawk and how that transpired that no one will bring upon such a day, and the shock of finding out what happened to Brianna when he was rescued. Scots and their grudges.
Weddings, Interfearing Aunts, and The Uninvited Guest
There’s always got to be someone who ruins the day. And someone hiding away. It wouldn’t be a wedding if something didn’t go wrong. You get that many Scots together and…
Because there is a price on his head, Murtagh must hide in his shack in the woods, watching the ceremony from afar. Unfortunately, Governor Tryon turns up with a platoon of Dragoons to aid the errant Jamie, who has spent nearly a year dancing around his responsibilities of the Governor’s orders to hunt and kill Murtagh. He is reminded of his duty once in a roundabout, coy way, then more firmly with Tryon announcing he is leaving the Dragoons to aid Jamie in this task. A father really doesn’t need such stress while trying to be all smiles for his daughter on her day.
Lord John Grey (David Berry), is one of the honored guests and pulls Jamie aside behind a wagon to discuss the private matter of locating Stephen Bonnet. Unfortunately, Brianna walks up to the other side of the wagon and overhears the conversation. Lord John tells Jamie of his inquiries, what scant intelligence he has that he is following. Brianna is in shock, the worst possible thing that could have happened on her day, hearing that Bonnet is indeed still alive. She stumbles off into the wedding night, trying to keep it all in and away from her family.
Luckily Roger blissfully ignorant of the situation serenades his wife with a very 1960s song on their wedding night. The next day, the heads are swelling with grog and overindulgence. Roger is summoned to meet with Aunt Jocasta in her pavilion. She tells Roger that she is changing her will, Brianna will no longer be her heir, that she is leaving it all to Jemmy. Roger explodes and tells her where she can put her decisions, that no wife or son of his will take her money. He storms off. Jocasta, of course, being the MacKenzie she is and finding no evidence of Roger MacKenzie’s family, tests him to see if it’s all about the money. As Ulysses asks her if she had the outcome she had hoped for, she agrees. Perhaps Roger has passed her test.
Murtaghs Waters Deepen
Murtagh is a man of conviction. Too long has he an others suffered at the hands of the Crown. The injustices of over taxation and corrupt justice systems in the colony cause him to become one of the leaders of the Regulators, who are not united under one leader but split among North and South Carolina. It is because of this that Jamie is being forced to create a militia to hunt him down. It appears that after years of loss and reconnection, finally finding a home with Jamie again on the Ridge, he must make his decision. Be true to himself, or be true to his kin. Can Murtagh survive with the anchor of the family about to be ripped away?
To add to his losses, while having a love tryst in the love shack with Jocasta, she reveals that a Duncan Inness has asked her to marry him. Book readers will remember that this character was in Ardsmuir with Jamie and had originally been the companion who traveled with him and Claire through the Carribean). In season 4, Murcasta seemed to supplant that book storyline.
It’s not easy for Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), is the widow with a wealthy plantation, there have been many trying to wed her to control such wealth. She and Murtagh cannot be open about their relationship. Her plantation could be taken from her, she could be jailed. Murtagh backs up and tells her he releases her from their relationship. The rollercoaster has left the platform. That sinking drop is hitting home for Murtagh. He is about to lose all he holds dear, and make a sacrifice so that others don’t lose what they hold dear.
The Fiery Cross
We’ve been waiting to see Jamie don a kilt again. The tartans were outlawed after Culloden, and while everyone is gathered in the night, he lights a wicker cross. The Fiery Cross is a symbol of call to arms in the highlands, where clans and those who give fealty to them are called to action against a foe. Jamie uses this time to finally give Roger a purpose and feel that he has earned a place by his side by naming him a captain. It’s a bold move to go in a full kilt in front of the Dragoons, the tartan is outlawed and still punishable by imprisonment or death. The risk is worth it as Jamie knows it’s the only way to rally so many men from different clans to form a new one in the new world.
Breaking of Bonds
In the final scene, we have Jamie walking up to a secret meeting with Murtagh in the woods. He must do what he has been dreading for a year. The stakes are too high. He releases Murtagh from his oath to protect him and his family. If anyone found out that Murtagh was his Godfather, he could lose everything, all the families relying on him for a home and protection would lose. Heavy is the responsibility of being the Laird.
Murtagh is of course in shock but at the same time knew it would come to this eventually. He has been hit from all sides with loss. Murtagh makes an attempt to have Jamie consider time travel, perhaps Claire, Brianna, or Roger could change time? Jamie is taken aback. Murtagh is hit with the relationship with Jocasta ending, because really he has been putting her in danger, and now his surrogate son says to him, “Please– be hard to find”. He walks away from everything that holds him.
We now have set in motion two people who have loved and cared for each other over the years, their kinship, gone. They will now be on opposing sides of a situation Jamie does not wish to be dragged into, and Murtagh stubbornly will not leave. It is a conflict with his political past that he too has sympathy for, but he is haunted by the pain and suffering of the disbanded clans of Scotland after Culloden. He knows that there is a promise of a bigger war to come, that there is a conflict with The Regulators as told by Claire, Roger, and Brianna is the beginnings of a parting with the Crown by the colonists. The colonies are on a slow burn.
Stay tuned for Between Two Fires Episode 502 next Saturday, 22nd of February at midnight on the Starz App, Starz Channel Sunday, 23rd of February at 5:05 pm ET 8:05 PT, Canada on W Network at 9:00. UK Monday on Amazon Prime.
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