Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 1

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

(And hurray! While the season officially starts tonight, Starz made the first episode available early!)



I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 501: “The Fiery Cross”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Following celebrations in honor of Brianna and Roger’s wedding, Governor Tryon reminds Jamie of his obligation to hunt down and kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons.

My take:

Major plot points:

It’s Brianna and Roger’s wedding day!

  • Claire and Jamie help Brianna and Roger prepare for their wedding at Fraser’s Ridge.
  • Lots of familiar faces in the crowd, including Lord John, Governor Tryon, and Aunt Jocasta.
  • Tryon seems unhappy with Jamie.
  • Roger doesn’t particularly fit in in the 18th century.
  • Lots of couples seem to enjoy the wedding night!
  • Jamie calls upon the Scots of the Ridge to stand by him, when and if there’s a need to go to war.
  • Jamie puts on his kilt!!


For Outlander, it’s a surprisingly happy season opener!

We start with a flashback to Scotland, as a much younger Murtagh finds young boy Jamie and tells him that his mother has died, but swears to follow and serve Jamie forever. It’s sad and sweet, and little Jamie is adorable.

But quick, it’s time for a wedding!

Claire and Brianna share a sweet moment together before the big event. Jamie and Roger’s scene is funny and a bit more tense. Jamie’s still not completely sold on Roger as husband material, and Roger is well aware that he is ill equipped for this time period. He’s a historian and a scholar. He can’t hunt or farm or shoot. Or even shave his own face, apparently.

Still, it’s very sweet to see Jamie’s emotions as he talks with Brianna before the ceremony, and even though he’d have preferred a Catholic priest, Jamie does give Brianna away, and he and Claire are both beaming by the time the wedding ceremony is over. Plus, they share a sweet flashback to their own wedding day, now over 20 years in their past.

Food and drink and music make for a good time, and it’s nothing but happy faces and lots of drunkenness all around. The day is marred for Brianna when she overhears Jamie and Lord John discussing the fact that Stephen Bonnet has been seen in North Carolina. Why can’t awful people die and stay dead?

Fergus and Marsali are adorable as always, and apparently, baby #3 is on the way!

Jamie and Claire spend a passionate night together, in between tending to baby Jem. Brianna and Roger have a romantic wedding night, after Roger serenades Brianna with L-O-V-E and his guitar, and while they do make love, Brianna appears to be troubled by the memories stirred up by thoughts of Stephen Bonnet. And there’s a third couple enjoying some wedding night sparks — Jocasta and Murtagh rendezvous in a shack in the woods. Murtagh is still a fugitive (whom Jamie’s supposed to be hunting down). Jocasta shares that Duncan Innes has asked her to marry him, clearly giving Murtagh a chance to declare himself. He doesn’t. Is this the end for Jocasta and Murtagh?

Next day, Jocasta confronts Roger about the parentage of wee Jem — quite intentionally — provoking him into an angry outburst in which he declares Jem to be his son. He goes back to Brianna and Jem and formally claims the baby as blood of his blood, bone of his bone.

Governor Tryon made clear to Jamie that he expects him to gather up a militia of Scots within a week, to serve the crown’s interests and specifically, to find the traitor Murtagh. Jamie decides that if it’s a Scot the Governor wants, it’s a Scot he’ll get. He takes out his precious kilt and puts it on for the first time in years… and looks pretty darn spectacular in it.

Lighting a giant cross made of straw, Jamie invokes the old worlds used by lairds in Scotland. The men of Fraser’s Ridge aren’t a clan and he’s not their chief, but he asks them for their fealty and to swear to stand by him when the time comes. He calls Roger to his side and calls him “Captain Mackenzie”, and Roger swears to Jamie alongside all the others.

Claire and Jamie gaze out over their land, yet another straw cross by their side.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Another season, another terrific new version of the theme song. The season 1 version will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’m liking this one too!

For once, it’s nice to start a season of Outlander without violence or bodily harm or terrible occurrences. While there were hints of tension and upcoming conflict, it was mostly a happy episode, and that was fine by me.

It was such fun to see the “big house”, still under construction but looking pretty impressive, especially seeing Claire’s new surgery, her thriving doctor business, and how she’s apparently attempted to explain the concept of bacteria and germs to Jamie.

I love seeing Jamie and Claire, a little older, a few more gray hairs, but still as passionately in love as always. In contrast, Brianna and Roger, while clearly in love, have a bumpy road ahead of them. Roger has already said something about “going back”, and Brianna didn’t look particularly enthused. Plus, with his lack of ability to fit in and be useful, and the fact that he’s a Presbyterian (gasp!), and Brianna’s PTSD, and the baby’s unknown paternity… well, let’s just say that they certainly won’t lack for drama.

Seeing Jamie release Murtagh from his vow and send him away so was sad… particularly seeing the tears falling down Jamie’s face as Murtagh walks away. Back in season 3, readers speculated that Murtagh would take over the role played by Duncan Innes in the book in regard to Jocasta, and it had appeared to be working out (more or less) that way… but now Duncan is around after all? Hmmm. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?

The Fiery Cross isn’t particularly my favorite book of the Outlander series, and while it’s super long, there are also long stretches where not that much happens. (After all, the first two hundred pages or so are devoted to a single day!). The show seems to be off to a good start in terms of consolidating storylines and keeping the action rolling along.

And furthermore…

It’s just so wonderful to be back in the world of Outlander! At this point, it’s like visiting family, seeing all the beloved faces — especially when the season opens with a joyous occasion. Outlander threw a wedding and we were all invited! So sweet.





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