Warning. The season finale of Outlander Season 5 doesn’t hold back. As with past episodes dealing with extreme violence, you have been warned. You may want to have someone there to hold your hand. Yes, there will be some spoilers.
Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) has had a great deal of tragedy in her life. She was orphaned at 5, lived with her Uncle Lamb, explored the world, married first husband Frank, then war broke out. Seeing death and destruction as a WWII combat nurse, Claire has been banged around for years in two centuries. She has had to sacrifice herself, as in having sex with the King of France to secure Jamie Fraser’s release from prison, has been tortured by Black Jack Randall, forced to endure leaving Jamie behind to be raped. Her daughter followed her into the past and was raped. It’s inevitable that Claire would go through her own tragedy. Nearly losing Jamie to snakebite wasn’t enough. Leave it to the mind of author Diana Gabaldon and the writers of Outlander, in this particular episode Mathew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia, to hit us with one intense script and visceral imagery.
Claire’s abduction and Marsali’s (Lauren Lyle) beating at the end of “Journeycake” left us on edge for the finale, and some wondering if the abduction would carry on into season 6. But with great storytelling and a dream state sequence that invokes David Lynch in Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, we open with Claire in the 1960s in an amazing modern house putting the record on the turntable with the song “Never My Love” from 1967. She is young again, in a very 1960’s very red dress. The door opens and in comes a younger Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) short curls and killed. The table is set for Thanksgiving and guests to arrive from the 18th-century. It becomes clear that she is trying to escape her terrible ordeal as we cut to the dark reality, filmed in dark and muted tones, the story of her abduction and torture by Lionel Brown and associates. This contrasts with the bright, autumnal tones in the dissociative sequences with golds, yellows, oranges, blues in that dark color echoed in seasons 1-5 in sets and costumes. Claire escapes to a world where her friends and extended family are, and she barely speaks and watches everything is going on around her.
Claire has met with some formidable foes in the series, but one that truly echos that fiendish manipulation of Father Bain (Tim McInnerny). Remember him from season 1 and the witch trial? Who she outwitted with solving the mystery of poisonous plants killing children, only to be used by the good Father in her witch trial, where he admits to his advantage that she had saved the children, but uses it to bolster his position in town. Worse than that and rolled in with qualities of just pure savagery, is Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy). Lionel gets even. With villains like Black Jack Randall and Stephen Bonnet in her past, who were both manipulative in their way, they do not compare with the outright crushing of women’s rights that Lionel Brown shows us. He makes it personal. Claire dared to stand up to him about the abuse of his wife, and to top it off, has been writing under the name of Doctor Rawlings suggesting that women abstain from sex to prevent childbirth. Lionel makes his crushing of Claire a personal delight.
After Claire’s abduction and travels are told in sequencing with the arrivals of Ian dressed in 1960’s military attire, Marsali, Fergus and children, Murtagh, and Jocasta turning up for Thanksgiving dinner. The reality is that Lionel confronts her, who informs her in his righteous declarations that he was put on the earth to make Claire pay for the shame she has caused on all men of their women reading her Dr. Rawlings Recommends writings. One way to stop her is to intimidate and silence her. And that won’t happen with just killing her.
Claire is always quick thinking, and one of the abductors, a reluctant former slave Tibby, shows caution. He has heard she is a conjure woman. Claire seizes the opportunity and begins cursing them all to hell. The men start to have a fear of her. Hodgepile shoves her around roughly and they make camp. Claire continues to go in and out of dream states, and we see her tied to a tree, bloodied, and a big gash on her breast. Wendigo Donner comes to check on her, seeks that she is choking on her gag. He demands to know where she has come from, and when.
The next day, Tibby is put in charge of her while they make to cross a creek. She tries to talk Tibby into helping her escape, talking about the water horses taking her away and she won’t harm him. He is close to consenting but Lionel gets wind of something and confronts them. He has plans for dealing with her.
In her dreamscape, Murtagh and Jocasta turn up, they all sit at the dinner table.
Claire keeps cursing at the men as they try to tie her up again and make camp. While Hodgepile and the other rough her up, she shouts out an infamous, ” Jesus H Roosevelt Christ!” Wendigo then knows she is like him as he suspected. Lionel and Chisholm tie her to a tree. While lying there she sees a small rabbit. She is choking on her dried, bloody nose, while gagged. Wendigo comes at night and loosens the gag.
“Does the name Ringo Starr mean anything to you?”. Claire is stunned, she realises he is a traveler like her. “He’s a drummer.” Wendigo tells her he knew that Dr, Rawlings had to be like him, someone from his time would know the medical things written down, not a local doctor in the 18th-century. He never thought he would meet another. He advises her that she should have behaved more like the women of this time, not been so forward. She has angered many men, made them feel threatened.
Wendigo tells her his story. He traveled back in time with a group of 4 other men and said it was evident it was too late for the Indians. Claire realizes he was a companion of Ottertooth and asks him. “Where is Bob?” he asks. She tells him the Mohawk killed him. “I need gemstones!” She asks him to help her get back to Fraser Ridge, she has stones and knows where the stone circle is. Wendigo says no, Lionel will kill him. It has become very evident by now that Lionel is one of the ones that has been going causing the crimes that the Committee of Safety claimed to be protecting people from. They are interrupted by Lionel, who has brought a young boy to rape her, to have his first go at dominating a woman.
Claire returns to her alternate dissociation and police officers arrive at the Thanksgiving dinner that everyone is at and have been waiting for Bree, Roger, and Jemmy. All the time everyone had been saying it must be the traffic keeping them. The police inform her that Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie and their son were all killed in a car accident. Claire has been fearing what befell them. This is all going while a series of men take Claire.
Back To The…
Stones. Roger, Brianna wake near the stones, and young Jemmy is very excited…to find cousin Ian sitting on a mossy boulder asking where they went. The trip failed. Brianna and Roger realize they had been thinking of home, and that the Ridge had become their home. They go back with Ian to the Ridge, and just as they are planning to camp for the night, Brianna sees the Fiery Cross burning on Fraser’s Ridge at a distance. They rush home to find the men of the Ridge preparing to go after Claire.
Josiah and Roger pledge to find Claire and seek justice for Claire. Roger begs to come along with Jamie if he will allow it? Jamie is glad to have him and the men set out.
Claire slowly comes out of her fog and the reality becomes a dream sequence. Men shouting, musket fire, battle scenes in the camp. Jamie finds Claire tied to the tree, and he indicates that he knows what has happened to her.
“You are alive, you are whole Mo Nighan Donn.”
The men come to tell them they have killed all but one of the party. Ronnie Sinclaire asks if Claire would wish to take her vengeance.
“It is myself who kills for her,” says Jamie, with Ian and Fergus echoing, “And I!”. Jamie asks how many raped her, she says nothing. “Jamie gives the command to kill them all. The men of the ridge decimate the abductors, killing all but Lionel Brown. Claire listens in shock. Jamie takes her to view them all, to show her they cannot hurt her. Wendigo is nowhere to be found. Roger asks if they should question him now. They take the injured Lionel with them back to the Ridge.
Claire finally speaks and asks about Marsali. Jamie and Fergus tell her that Marsali is okay, the baby is fine and she is still pregnant. She asks about Wendigo, tells them that he was from the future like her. No one has seen him. How is it that Roger is there? Whats happened, why are they back? Roger remarks that there’s no place like home.
While the series has received a lot of criticizing and praise in how it deals with abuse (Jamie’s Rape in season 1, Brianna’s in season 4), this time it is very real for Claire as the one who had to heal both Jamie and Brianna. This time, it will need to be Claire that needs healing. The fact of the matter was that in these times, women were not in power, and often subjected to terror in any way to keep them from having control by men.
Physician, Heal Thyself
Brianna races out to greet them as they come back to the Ridge and it is a long healing process for Claire. Marsali comes out, with a blackened eye healing. She and Claire embrace with Brianna. Brianna takes care of Claire, bathing her, comforting her. Marsali is left to deal with Lionel Brown. Brianna (Sophie Skelton) tells her that she will take care of her, she is there to listen to her.
Claire keeps her resolve to heal herself, somehow. She keeps examining herself, feeling her bones to see if it’s really her. Her face and body are battered. Jamie comes in. She tells him she will survive this. She declared that she has been through so much war in her own time and other trials, she will not be shattered by this.
Everyone on the Ridge wants to kill Lionel. Jamie tells her that Lionel is still alive. He is only kept alive to get information out of him, and because Claire has her oath to do no harm. He asks her if her oath is so strong?
Roger (Richard Rankin) is shaken by what has happened in rescuing Claire. He did what he promised he would do, defended and avenged Claire. However, Roger’s life was also changed that night. Brianna and Roger are getting ready for bed, and Roger is deeply troubled and asks Brianna if Jamie told her about what had happened. He begs to confess what has happened and asks her to blow out the candle. In the dark, he declares that he has killed someone. Roger was the last hold out, the educated man who struggled with being violent, even in defense of those he loved. Coming from an era of law and the idea of a fair trial, it hasn’t been easy for Roger to cross that line. Now he has.
Hell Hath No Resolve Like a Marsali
Claire finally goes down to the surgery and starts trying to check on Lionel, with Lionel begging for mercy, to loosen his bonds. Lionel tries to manipulate Claire into not harming him. He keeps begging and Marsali tells him to keep quiet. Claire instructs her to make the comfrey tea. Lionel will not stop, Marsali tells him to be quiet. Claire unrolls her surgical kit, picking up a scalpel. She considers it for a moment. She puts it down, then states she will do him no harm. She leaves the surgery then collapses upstairs in the hallway weeping.
Lionel is emboldened and snide. Because Claire has said she will do no harm to him, he thinks he’s been saved. He is abusive and bragging about how he has to be treated well, Marsali keeps telling him to mind his manners. He is bossy still. If he is not treated well, his brother will come along with his men. He will slaughter them all in their sleep. Marsali is getting the new syringe filled with something and we are all cheering her on. Oh, Marsali, you go, girl, you tell him.
Marsali, in a deep, matter of fact and a righteous voice says, “She took an oath to do no harm. But I have taken no such oath. You hurt my family, my man, I’ll burn in hell before I let you harm another soul in this house,” and injects Lionel with the liquid, that as we all hoped and suspected, was the Water Hemlock root. Good riddance.
Afterward, she is sitting on the floor, shaking and Jamie comes in and sees Lionel is dead. She asks if she will be haunted by him. Jamie assures her that no harm will come to her. He then wraps the body in a shroud and takes it to Brownsville, alone, and delivers it to Richard Brown, throwing it to the floor. He explained that a group of men including his brother attacked the Ridge and abducted and harmed his wife. He killed all of them. He is indicating that he is to blame, no other.
Richard thanks him for giving him back his brother, he reaped what he sewed. He understands that Jamie must do what he must to protect his family….as he will do when the time comes. The Frasers and Browns feud begins.
When Will We See Season 6?
We have now officially entered Droughtlander 6, yes that’s counting the first one between the two-part first season. Pre-production has halted due to the pandemic, where work on episode 601 had started. And we will face a good 10 months of filming at the very least. So it will probably be Summer or Fall 2021 before we have season 6, which will be based on A Breath of Snow and Ashes, with possibly the 7th book, An Echo in the Bone being adapted in.
How Many Easter Eggs Did You Spot?
A Dragonfly Sculpture – Dragonfly in Amber, Season 2, and symbolic of Claire’s being trapped.
The Red Dress – In season 2 Paris Claire comes up with an extravagant and very revealing red dress for the Versailles court.
An orange – Reference to the orange picks up after having slept with the king to get Jamie out of the Bastille after his duel with BJR
Rabbit – Jamie sees a rabbit on the battlefield of Culloden in season 3 after the battle and he lies wounded before Claire shows up in a vision.
Claire wrapped in Fraser tartan – Season 1 Jamie comforting Claire after several bad things, well most of them.
Claire and Jamie Talking after the rescue, more reminders of season 1 with Claire stabbing soldier in shock.
Car Accident – Frank Randall dies in a car accident in Boston, freeing Claire up to search for Jamie.
Blue Vase – A blue vase finally in a home for Claire, from the series pilot.