As we head towards our penultimate episodes of Outlander season 5, we are treated to an episode that shows the bonds of friendship and trust, preparing oneself for mortality and unfinished business. There are doubts about purpose, and what it truly means to be of value and worth. Oh, and more Outlander animals, two iconic book moments to keep book fans happy, and a young man who has truly come of age. As always, if you haven’t seen episode 509 Monsters and Heros, turn back now.
This is a Fraser’s Ridge Story of bonding and relationships; Two sets of men, one older, one younger, and how they bond over tragedy and the women of the Ridge who must always keep the organic glue together on the Ridge. Fall is a time for preparing and reflecting on the last year, to muster before the cold of winter.
Opening the episode, we have Claire (Caitriona Balfe) examining a very round Marsali (Lauren Lyle), declaring that everything looks ready and a baby should be coming any time now. Marsali is radiant and tells Claire she is happy she will be around for this birth, not off on some adventure. She is glad to share having the baby with her other “Ma”, Claire. Claire beams.
Roger (Richard Rankin) has failed at having a private moment with Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and is interrupted by wee Jemmy who is wide awake and watching. Parents trying to keep the cabin G-rated on the Ridge joke about young Jemmy’s first word being a swear word of course. After much debate on where that came from, Brianna proposes an interlude later in the afternoon with Jemmy being conveniently gone, when Father Fraser (Sam Heughan) comes a banging on the door remarking about it not being time to laze about, there’s hunting to be had. The Beardsley Twins (Paul Gorman) have found big game, a herd of mysteriously large game. It is the fall, and meat will be hard to come by in the winter. Jamie, being careful in wording remarks that it would be good to have another expert marksman or woman in this case along. Of course he really means Brianna.
Brianna begs off to work with the other women on the Ridge, dropping the hint that Roger needs to be included and learn skills of hunting. Jamie takes the cue, as he is still struggling with bonding with his son-in-law. Brianna thinking this is a good time for male bonding leaves them to it. Roger has another chance to prove himself useful which he has been trying to accomplish since he came to the Ridge. Of course you know what luck Roger has.
The men of the Ridge, Jamie, Roger, Fergus, Ian, and the twins set off across the Ridge and beyond. After several hours they decide to split up, Jamie choosing Roger to go with him. You can see the hesitation and affirmation between the two. Jamie and Roger set off on one side while the other group fans out on the other.
Jamie and Roger don’t get far when luck runs out, just when Jamie and Roger discover that there really is something big afoot, Roger makes cow patty remarks, big ones. Jamie passes a tree, and wap gets bit by a viper. The big proud warrior goes down. Roger tries to help Jamie, Jamie questioning what would have been done in his time for such a thing, Roger tries to explain antivenom. Then Roger decides he must cut the bite and suck out the blood. This is the beginning of very crankit Jamie. The man does not like appearing weak or out of control of the situation. Roger leaves to find help, then returns to find Jamie growing weaker by the moment.
Women and Wisdom
Brianna, Claire, and the other women are gathered boiling and dying cloth. Brianna enters a conversation with Claire asking how long she knew she was meant to be a doctor. Claire explains that not all people know their calling right away, she knew that she wanted to do something medically since the war, but that others may try a few paths. Brianna remarks that she and Roger have been trying to find a purpose, they are highly educated, but not in professions admired or required really in the 18th-century. Claire reminds Brianna that her engineering will be needed somehow, she will just have to find it.
The rest of the men show back up on the Ridge late. Ian remarks that they have not seen Jamie or Roger for hours, that they have come back empty-handed.
Remorse and Sin
It’s been a long time coming, due to a serious potentially deadly tragedy, Roger and Jamie are forced to finally place trust in one another. A role reversal in their dynamic comes into play, Roger must lead the way, and Jamie must follow as he has become helpless. And yes, Jamie doesn’t handle this well at all.
It’s night and Jamie and Roger are forced to camp. Roger keeps vigilance over Jamie and does so over the rest of the episode. Jamie is gravely ill, the toxins have mixed with his blood, he is cold and numb in his extremities. Roger keeps insisting he will not die. While by their small campfire Jamie tells Roger he must do what Jamie could not, put an end to Stephan Bonnet. Too many have suffered because Jamie took pity on the man at his hanging, he lost his friend Lesley and Claire was attacked by Bonnet. And later, Brianna suffered because of him. Roger says he cannot kill a man, he has never done such a thing. Jamie insists he must, if he dies Roger must continue it. Jamie is nothing if not stubborn and wills his “son” Roger to take on his sins and failings, and put it right.
Roger is desperate to get Jamie back to the Ridge, back to Claire. The next day, after Jamie barely makes it through he night, he builds a fledge to drag Jamie out. Half the time they are joking and insulting one another, the other half Jamie is fighting against the toxin, and also against his perceived weakness. He feels he is failing everyone, that the weight of the Ridge is on him. Roger grows frustrated with trying to get Jamie out and back to the others. By the morning the men of the ridge realise when one of the horses comes back, that something is wrong. The search party goes out. So fine acting with Sam Heughan and Richard Rankin portraying father-in-law and son trying to find a common ground to unite, and of course they find it in protecting the ridge. Sam is very good at being the stubborn bull-like Jamie, that it must be just so, and Rankin starts taking a more serious approach, and shows that his character can overcome his perceived bad luck, because really it was Jamie that had the bad luck. Roger reminded Jamie that they bother read the obituary that drove Brianna to come back. That he dies in a fire, not by snake bite. Roger, using his educated reasoning.
Finally they are discovered by Ian (John Bell), Fergus and the gang. The race is on to save Jamie.
The Infallible Man
Jamie is not infallible, and thus his decline and internal fight begins. Claire is also not infallible. While she can make many seeming miracles happen, she is at a loss. Jamie talks with Claire in the surgery, the whole Ridge is involved in hunting for magots at Marsali’s direction (to clean the wounds). Jamie remarks to Claire that he knows it’s not good, Claire usually scolds him about getting injured, as he frequently does. Instead she is avoiding him, and quiet. She agrees that it is dire. She admits to Jamie that she doesn’t know how to treat snake bite, it was not a common occurrence. Cranky Jamie remarks that Claire should work on her bedside manner. The conversation turns to the fact that she may not be able to stop the infection. Damn the Browns for breaking the syringe! They have been giving Jamie penicillin in a broth, however it’s not as effective. The talk centers on Jamie not wanting to give up his leg, he will be no use to Claire or the others. He makes Claire swear to not cut off his leg.
A Large creature shows up in the Garden right next to Lizzie tending laundry and Jemmy. She freaks out and Claire and Brianna rush out. Brianna tries to lure the bison away from Lizzie and Jemmy, she gets charged and flipped, and Claire shoots the bison.
Jamie, despite the Ridge’s Magot hunt, (think Easter egg hunt but squirming), application by Claire of said creatures, Jamie’s leg is looking really bad. I have to give a hand to the special effects and makeup team, this is one rotten leg. Claire has been having doubts and confides in Brianna that she may have to go against her promise and take the leg off. She remarks to Brianna that the magots won’t be able to reach the infection, it is so deep.
In the MacKenzie cabin, Brianna is frustrated because Claire has told her that the penicillin would be more effective if they could inject it. Sadly, the rotten Browns ruined her nice modern glass and steel syringe. Roger tells Brianna of the plan put in motion by Jamie and Claire to lure Bonnet out to Wylie’s Landing. Roger is looking at the severed head he had kept of the snake, the rest of which was B-B-Qed by Jamie seeking sustenance and justice. He doesn’t know why he kept it, thinking Claire could identify the snake or how to treat Jamie. Off go the 18th century equivalents to light bulbs and Brianiac Brianna grabs it.
Later Roger is keeping an eye on Jamie again, and Jamie asks Roger to get him up to his own bed. We see Jamie as a man resigned to the fact that even with all the care, he may not make it. Being the big bulky and crankit creature he has begun. Roger gets Ian to help. Jamie’s choices for not amputation and that he would rather die has reached everybody. Young Ian is sick with feeling and finally calls out Jamie on how selfish he is being. He points out that when he was young, he did not support his father who had lost a leg, rather idolized Jamie and wanted Jamie as a father and that is why he left Lollybroch. He confesses he was terribly wrong, and that his father had lost the leg due to battle and was courageous, just as a very young Fergus had lost his hand trying to protect Jamie. Both men had gone on living and being productive in some way. Jamie needs to forgive himself and fight to come back. Ian declaires he never thought there would be a day he was ashamed of his uncle. They are saved, by scolding, by Claire who has come racing upstairs after finding Jamie gone from her surgery.
“You’re a Terrible Liar”
Later Ian comes downstairs and finds Fergus has brought in some of the bison meat. Ian is quiet and after Fergus asks what is wrong, he says that he knows that look on Ian’s face. He asks about M’Lord and going up. Ian warns him it may not be a good idea. He tells Fergus of what he just said to Jamie. Ian explains Claire may have to amputate. Fergus asks if the thinks Jamie couldn’t handle seeing Fergus right now. Ian confesses he is concerned after what he just said he couldn’t handle it and was being stubborn. Fergus tells Ian about what happened when he lost his hand, how M’Lord had said that is fergus had lost a hand or limb in service to him, and that Jamie would become a man of leisure. They discuss that they should be there for Jamie. It’s another man hug moment.
It’s a long and desperate night. Jamie is lying in bed and is at a crisis, and Claire believes him to be dead at one point. In another great performance, great emo delivered by Caitriona Balfe over Sam Heughan’s near corpse like apparition.
Mother of Invention
Later Claire is preparing to amputate Jamie’s leg after a very long night with the penicillin broth barely working for Jamie. She is preparing her tools and saw, very nervously having Ian help prepare Jamie for surgery. At the very last moment, Brianna living up to the Scotish for beer, meaning a short disturbance or wind, lives up to that name and stops the surgery. She comes in totalling geeking out on her contrivence, a fang syringe for Claire to work with. Of course next comes the really cool gruesome administration of penicillin directly into the festering snake bite wound. The show should get a BAFTA for the leg effects on this episode.
Later Jamie is much better and Roger gloats about being right, he didn’t die after all. Jamie talks with Claire about what he saw in his dreams, this choice that lay before him. His only choice was to come back to Claire. A war is coming and he must do his duty. And there’s a Adso caMeow.
Marsali has finally accepted Claire as Mother Claire.
Fergus is finally having deep conversations again, he has been very aloof for most of the season. Perhaps he was saving up for just this moment.
Will Claire start farming magots like the Penicillin factory she has going?
Watch episode 510 “Mercy Shall Follow Me” at midnight on the Starz® App April 25, Sunday April 26 at 8:05 PM EST/5:05 PM PST, and Mondays on Amazon UK and AU.