Jamie’s away with the lads, Claire’s elbow deep in a dead man’s abdomen, and Roger wants to go back to the future. Tara Ward recaps episode two of season five of Outlander.
Well, my thirstly little Outlander cherubs, that was something else, wasn’t it? It’s been many a moon since I watched an episode of our favourite drama and had to turn away from the screen screaming “FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF THE GHOST OF FRANK, NO!”
This week, however, I averted my eyes so often that I have whiplash in my retinas. I am strained and sore and all afluster, and nearly all the blame rests with Roger for trying to murder an innocent squirrel named Tufty Fluffytail.
Let’s forget the gruesome bits. We won’t mention Mr Fabish’s intestines that were scattered around Claire’s surgery while she muttered “I hope nobody finds out about this”. We’ll skip Murtagh’s men tarring and feathering the taxmen, and the Highlander who died with a sword through his stomach. Not a word will fall from our lips about the gratuitous final scenes where two women beat the crap out of each other for entertainment, or when Stephen Bonnet slashed a man through the eyes and across the hamstrings. Like a time-traveller trapped in an Idiot Hut of misfortune, I refuse to draw your attention to any of it.
Instead, let’s remember the good things. Drape me in a soft macrame curtain and tell me the sweet story of Tufty the Squirrel, and how the women of Fraser’s Ridge gathered to make candles, and how Roger played the guitar and warbled a 20th century pop song at his son. Let’s rejoice over how Brianna was full of sensible advice and how Marsali agreed to become Claire’s apprentice after Claire saw her butcher a wild beast with the precision of a neurosurgeon. See? That’s better. I love candles and squirrels in tiny blazers and I love having internal organs, so for now that’s all we need to know about each other.
Life’s slowly going down the crapper in North Carolina, as Jamie and Claire scramble to keep control. Jamie joined the Redcoat search for Murtagh, and struggled to reconcile aligning himself with the British with his natural loyalty to his fellow Scots. Our hero has climbed astride both the Regulators and the Redcoats, one thigh firmly esconsoned across each piece of the colonial political pie. Now he’s stuck there, having to squeeze both sides until one of them explodes. It’s going to leave a mark.
How will Colonel Fraser convince his fellow Scots that he’s still Jamie from the ‘broch, while reassuring the Redcoats that a man who was once imprisoned by the Crown now loves the Crown enough to fight for the Crown and wear the Crown and be the Crown? I don’t need any of Claire’s special willowbark tea to see that Jamie and Murtagh will end up fighting on opposite sides, a Redcoat against a Silver Fox, and there’ll be many more ‘sword through stomach’ scenes and definitely not enough squirrels. It makes me nervous. I am Roger trying to shoot a tree, and missing.
Over at Fraser’s Ridge, Claire tried to propel 18th century medicine forward by performing a secret autopsy on her neighbour to discover why he died. My money’s on the mercury pills he took, but I am a squirrel loving idiot, I know nothing. She also tried to whip up a batch of pencillin with some mouldy bread, because it turns out you can save the world just by chucking a piece of crusty sourdough under a belljar. Consider myself influenced.
Jamie and Claire blurred the lines between good and evil this week, and it was a welcome return to them as complex, layered characters. They lied and abused trust to protect their own interests, because Claire wants medicine that works, Jamie wants to keep his family safe, and Roger wants to strum the guitar until wee Jemmy’s old enough to time travel. Listen, some of us want a pet squirrel who likes icecream and road safety, but not every dream can come true.
With Stephen Bonnet on the loose and war approaching, things look grim for the Frasers. That’s even before Claire tells Jamie that she filled a dead man’s coffin with rocks, comforted the grieving wife and then returned home to tickle a corpse’s kidneys in the name of medical progress. But look, who hasn’t had their spouse perform a DIY autopsy while they’ve been away on a boys weekend? We just need a few more loaves of bread and a few more belljars, and everything will be fine.
New episodes of Outlander arrive weekly on Lightbox every Monday.
Read the rest of Tara Ward’s Outlander recaps here.