Season five of Outlander closes harshly and brutally. Tara Ward recaps the finale.
If you came to this Outlander recap looking for lighthearted hijinks about fluffy kittens and mouldy bread, then go back through the stones, do not pass go, and do not collect $200. There was little joy in this series finale, with our beloved peanut butter sandwich scenes and Lord John dance sequences replaced by an hour of violence and trauma, as Claire suffered at the hands of the Browns. Claire has already survived a lot of tragedy in her life, including the time she was imprisoned with a talking coconut. Enough is enough.
Outlander has been criticised for its over-reliance on sexual assault as a plot device, and the finale leaned so hard into this theme that the whole show tumbled through the stones. The first 20 minutes were brutal, as Claire was beaten and abused by the Brownsville men. Claire’s brain tried to escape her reality by travelling to her safe place, a stylish 1960s house filled with all the people she loves and more fabulous mid-century furniture than you can shake a ginger wig at.
We’ve all wondered what Jamie Fraser would look like in the 20th century, and guess what? He looks exactly the same as in the 1700s, but with bouncier hair. Liquid shampoo has a lot to answer for.
Claire’s hazy hallucination showed Marsali, Fergus, Murtagh and Jocasta all loving life in the 20th century, with Murtagh rocking a snazzy turtleneck that would make Frank spin in his grave with jealousy. All the precious pieces of Claire’s life were laid out before us, like her longed-for vase from Inverness and the orange from Versailles, but the ceiling was dripping. It was probably my tears. Remember when all we had to worry about were feral goats in a cabin? I miss those guys.
Bree and Roger weren’t in Claire’s futuristic dream, because two police officers (one was Lionel Brown, but with tidier hair) announced they’d been killed in a car accident. In the real world, Bree and Roger weren’t dead, but they definitely weren’t in the 20th century. After trying to travel back to the future, the standing stones spat the Mackenzies back into the 18th century, because their hearts wanted to stay in 1772.
Yep, after all of last week’s angst and worry, Bree and Roger decided they’d rather live in a time when educating women about their own bodies means you get kidnapped, beaten and raped by a gang of hurt men. Straight to the Idiot Hut for a 14-day quarantine for the Mackenzies, but like the time Roger wore those knickerbockers in season four, there’s no judgement here. OK, maybe a little. Wait, a lot. The heart wants what the heart wants, but also, OMFG.
Thank goodness for Jamie and the men of the Ridge, who flooded Brown’s camp with a tsunami of testosterone and saved the day. They rescued Claire and slaughtered all the men apart from Lionel Brown, who they brought home to, um, ask him questions. Sure, why not. The only man to escape the siege was Wendigo Donner, a fellow time traveller who bonded with Claire over Ringo Starr. Donner didn’t help Claire when she needed it, and you know he’s going to turn up next season and Claire will save his life even though he didn’t save hers. Ugh. Claire should not have to put up with this crap any more.
Marsali reckoned so too, and killed Brown in an act of vengeance by injecting him in the neck with hemlock. Marsali’s been the star of season five, fierce and funny and probably the only sensible one on Fraser’s Ridge. Let’s hope next season Outlander gives her more to do than just “be pregnant” and “butcher dead animals” and “wear lovely bonnets”. Marsali for president would be a great start, just saying.
“Am I going to hell?” Marsali asked Jamie, but she’s asking the wrong person. Jamie’s quite the serial killer these days, but it’s fine, just fine. While Bree and Roger rambled on about taking the road less travelled, Jamie returned Brown’s body to Brownsville and revealed what he’d done. Not the smartest move if the Frasers want to live the quiet life, but hey ho, from here on Jamie and Claire will definitely live happily ever after.
Outlander doesn’t do subtle, and while this finale packed one heck of an emotional punch, the graphic violence made it a tough watch. We didn’t need to see Claire’s suffering in such explicit detail to understand her trauma, even though Catriona Balfe gave the performance of the series. Season five disappeared through the stones as Jamie and Claire declared their love for each other again, just a time traveller and a ginger warrior safe together in their little yellow house on the hill. Is the ceiling dripping again? Nope, that’s still me.