Jamie kills a man, Claire invents penicillin, and somebody adopts a cat. It’s a big week in Outlander, as Tara Ward recaps episode five of season five.
We open with some important news, friends: the first verse of the Outlander theme song is the perfect length to wash your hands to. That’s science for you, so sing ‘Skye Boat Song’ like you’ve never sung it before. Scream it like you’re a boozy wench watching a ginger giant perform a light-footed sword dance, and soap those palms like you’re a time-travelling surgeon preparing for a midnight sponge bath with a husband you’ve not seen in two centuries. We’ve been foaming over Outlander for years, and now’s our chance to really lean into it.
Other important news: Outlander has a cat now.
Cats are cool, and surprise cats are even better. This episode was about how you never know what’s coming in life, and it was as if Outlander captured 2020’s mood and sent it through the stones to 1770. Surprises were everywhere in the 18th century, like Claire injecting penicillin into Keziah Beardsley’s arse and Jamie killing a man during a game of chess, and Roger finding out Bonnet was still alive. In the 21st century, I saw someone at the supermarket pushing a trolley filled to the brim with milk and butter. Like Claire said, surprises around every corner.
Claire had plenty on her mind this week, like echoes and second chances and spiderwebs, which makes me worry she’s eating too much cheese at bedtime. In 1960s Boston, Claire grieved the loss of a Scottish patient, but Graham Menzies’ death led to unexpected things. Without it, Claire wouldn’t have decided to take Brianna to London, and they wouldn’t have gone to Reverend Wakefield’s funeral, or met Roger, or discovered Jamie was still alive.
Without Graham Menzies’ septic gallbladder, Claire and Jamie wouldn’t have reunited and we wouldn’t be blessed with the magical scene where Jamie Fraser eat grapes in a brothel. Thank you for your service, Mr Menzies. Middle aged women around the globe salute you.
Let’s also salute the new cat with this lovely image that you can hold close to your heart, or wallpaper your house with, or wipe down with antibacterial spray, whatever works for you right now. I’m not here to judge, unless you have a shopping trolley filled with milk and butter, and even then, I only ask to be included in whatever dairy-heavy extravaganza you might have planned over the next month or two.
Jamie Fraser could also do with a nice cold glass of milk, because he killed a man for the second time in three episodes. After Lieutenant Knox discovered Jamie was a prisoner at Ardsmuir and that Murtagh was his godfather, traitor Jamie found himself between a rock and a tiny kitten. “Which one of us is righteous?” Lieutenant Knox asked, which is maybe what I should have asked the milk and butter lady, but it’s too late now. Jamie strangled the Redcoat using his giant paws and then set fire to Knox’s room, so let that be a warning to never try to beat Jamie Fraser in a game of chess.
It was all on at Bree and Roger’s too, after Bree admitted she’d told Bonnet he was father of her baby. Roger was fuming, but came right after Claire reminded him that marriage sucks a lot of the time. He apologised with a charming bouquet of mushrooms, and told Bree they’ll head back to the future as soon as Jemmy is old enough. Bree looked miserable. Maybe she doesn’t want to go back, maybe she hates mushrooms. It’s hard to know.
Claire, meanwhile, had only gone and bloody discovered penicillin. She managed to grow mould in the shape of hairbrushes from the comfort of her own home, so screw you, Alexander Fleming, you snooze, you lose. Claire whipped up a batch to use on the Beardsley twins, whose infected tonsils were threatening to take over the Ridge and become Jamie’s newest tenants. She might have been having a shitter of a time in 1968, but in 1770, Claire was smashing it, and we should all raise a nice glass of milk and butter in her honour.
“Do you ever feel like everything is pointing you towards something?” Claire asked old mate Joe in 1968, as she struggled to understand why Menzies’ death affected her so deeply. Everything in Outlander points somewhere, you just have to know which way the arrow goes. The mushrooms pointed Roger back to Bree, the kitten pointed Jamie back to Claire, and Claire’s cauteriser was pointed directly at the Beardsleys’ tonsils.
Jamie’s moral compass might be wavering, but in the words of clever people who are good with directions: Never eat soggy Weetbix. And always, always wash your hands.
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