Is Roger alive? Can Marsali predict the future? Will Fraser’s Ridge ever have enough candles? Tara Ward recaps season five, episode eight of Outlander.
If you were planning on escaping through the stones to 1771 for some light relief from this mad old world of ours, think again. Turn back, you shall not pass. It was a grim time in North Carolina this week, with nearly all of Outlander‘s characters weighed down by grief and trauma. Jamie and Jocasta mourned their beloved Murtagh, a forlorn Ian returned to Fraser’s Ridge, Roger survived but could not speak, Brianna worried about everything, and Marsali’s tarot talents went up the wazoo. There were no cute goats or or jovial Lord John dancing scenes, and I don’t know about you, but I could really do with a jovial Lord John dancing scene right now.
The last episode left us unsure if Roger was dead or alive, and Outlander teased out this cliffhanger like it was a grape in Jamie Fraser’s hand and we were his hungry time-travelling wife feasting on a grazing platter in a dodgy Scottish brothel. We began in 1969, with Roger very much alive and teaching at Oxford University.
Roger has a big brain and a lovely turtleneck jumper, and no idea that when he travels back in time he will end up nearly dead and robbed of the ability to speak, and will experience recurring flashbacks of this traumatic experience in the form of a 1920s black-and-white silent film. Let’s not focus on why. Life is full of unexpected surprises.
Back in 1771, Claire performed an emergency tracheotomy and saved Roger’s life. Jamie tried to comfort his semi-conscious son-in-law by telling him that “all is well”, which is right up there with “it’s just a flesh wound” and “I’ll give the book back when I’m finished”. Three months later, things were still a bit shit for Roger, who couldn’t escape his trauma. He self-isolated and social-distanced, probably washed his hands a lot, definitely cried a lot of silent tears. We’ve all been there, either in 1771 or March 2020.
There was another level four situation up at the big house, where Jamie and Jocasta grieved the loss of old mate Murtagh. A hungover Jamie perked up during a hectic game of hide and seek, until his nephew Young Ian turned up out of the blue and shot a wild boar. Ian was miserable too, even sadder than that dead pig, so he came to the right place. Ian’s reunion with the Frasers was quietly emotional, and Roger and I cried a few more silent tears and then I washed my hands again and took 4,000 screenshots of Jamie Fraser hiding behind a tree and felt a little bit better.
With everyone on Fraser’s Ridge struggling with their own inner turmoil, it was up to Marsali to brighten the mood. Marsali is the light in our lives, the gem in our 18th-century crown, the life-saving balm trapped inside Outlander’s emotional glass cloche. She tried to cheer Roger up with a tarot reading, but stopped after turning over the Hanged Man card. Twice. Not cool, Marsali. Not cool.
What else happened? My vision was shrouded by the torrential downpour of feelings, but there was something about Tryon giving Roger a shitload of free land to make up for almost killing him, and Roger and Ian going on a lads’ weekend and bonding over their shared grief. Roger had an epiphany on top of a mountaintop, regained control of his vocal cords and came home to tell Brianna that he will always sing for her. Ian literally buried his hatchet, but sadly, neither Roger nor Ian wanted to play hide and seek in the forest.
We’ve been through dark times on Outlander before, so let’s count this week’s positives. Marsali’s about to have another baby, Claire and Jamie are on solid ground, and the candle situation on the Ridge looks extremely healthy. It was an emotional week, but these are emotional times, and when all else fails we must make like Jamie Fraser in an 18th-century forest. Find a tree, hunker down behind it and wait for the good times to find us again.