Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 11

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.



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 511: “Journeycake”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

A revelation about Jemmy forces Roger and Brianna to choose between staying in the eighteenth century and returning to the safety of the future.  Jamie finds that unrest in the backcountry has given rise to a new power – an organization led by the unpredictable Brown brothers.  Claire finds that her attempts to make this time safer for her family have dire, unintended consequences

My take:

Major plot points:

We’re really and truly into book #6 now. Major events this episode:

  • After discovering that Jemmy has the ability to time travel, Roger and Brianna decide it’s time to go back to their own time
  • Jamie tells Brianna about her brother William.
  • The Browns form a Safety Committee and want Jamie to join, along with his men, but he declines.
  • Later, Lionel Brown brings his wife to Claire for treatment, and discovers that she’s the “Doctor Rawlings” whose advice has been circulating.
  • Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy leave.
  • Claire is abducted by the Browns. (Scum.)


Wow. The show is serious about covering a lot of ground. It’s been a year since the events of the last episode. It’s now 1772, and there’s a LOT going on.

It’s full speed ahead into territory covered in book #6, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. We open with the same disturbing setting as the opening of the book, the “Dutch cabin”, where a family of settlers has been killed and their cabin burned to the ground. The Frasers find the bodies and wonder what could have happened. One woman, horribly burned, is found still alive. Jamie and Roger give her a mercy killing and a final blessing, and the family buries the dead.

Back at the Ridge, Ian plays with Jemmy using the opal left by Otter Tooth. Jemmy touches it and says that it’s hot. The stone is hot to the touch for Claire, Roger, and Brianna, not to Jamie and Young Ian. The time travelers can also hear the hum that they associate with the standing stones, and when Jemmy holds the opal again, it cracks. This must be a sign that Jemmy is a time traveler, like his parents, and — Brianna hopefully adds — perhaps this is finally the proof that Roger is Jemmy’s biological father.

Roger and Brianna decide that it’s time for them to go back to their own time, and agree to leave in a month, to give them time for proper good-byes. Young Ian learns the truth about Claire and time travel, and begs Brianna and then Claire to take him with them, so he can then attempt to go back to an earlier time and fix his mistakes. He’s devastated when they turn him down, explaining that it doesn’t work that way — either you’re born a time traveler, or you’re not, and since he didn’t feel any heat from the opal, he’s not. We still don’t know much about Ian’s time with the Mohawks, but he does mention a situation between husband and wife. Book readers know what happened, but this is another clue for show-only fans that Ian has a romantic past that’s yet to be revealed.

A group of armed men led by the Browns show up at the Ridge, calling on Jamie to gather his men and join their Committee for Safety, to patrol the region and ensure peace. They do not have the blessing of the new governor. Despite some attempts at intimidation, Jamie says he needs time to think. This does not please the Browns.

Lord John comes for a visit, and hey, it’s always great to see Lord John. He’s preparing to return to England. William’s grandfather has died, which means that William is now the heir to both the Ellesmere title (he’s an Earl, don’t you know) and the Dunsany estate, and John needs to prepare him for what that will mean for him as an adult. He leaves Jamie with a portrait of the lad. Later, Jamie shows the portrait to Brianna and explains that she has a brother. He tells her the story of how William was conceived and what his life is like, and suggests that when she’s back in her own time, she look in the historical records to see if she can find him.

Lionel Brown returns to the Ridge for Jamie’s answer, and he declines to join the Brown endeavor. This is not going to sit well with the Browns. Before leaving, Lionel wants Claire to tend to his injured wife. The poor woman, married to Lionel for only a year, has a broken wrist and has clearly been abused. When Lionel leaves the room, she confesses to Claire that Lionel became angry when she wouldn’t sleep with him, and she didn’t want to because she read Doctor Rawlings’s advice about when to avoid intercourse if a woman doesn’t want to conceive. Uh oh. And then Lionel comes back into the room and sees a notebook with Dr. Rawling’s name on it. Double uh oh.

Brianna and Roger make tearful good-byes. Their cover story is that they’re moving to Boston, where Roger has been offered a professorship. Kind of a flimsy alibi, isn’t it? Won’t everyone wonder why they never come back for a visit or write a single letter to their parents? In any case, it’s all quite sad. Poor Lizzie fully expects to go with Bree, and seems heartbroken when she’s told that she’ll have to stay at the Ridge.

After a farewell dinner of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Jamie and Ian are not impressed), Brianna and Roger head to the stones, with Ian along to make sure they arrive okay. Roger ties ropes around himself, Brianna, and Jemmy so they won’t get separated, and they touch the stones… and are gone. They wake up, somewhere, and apparently see something shocking. But we don’t know what! Let’s hope we find out next episode that they arrived back in the 20th century safe and sound.

When the Fraser’s Ridge still explodes, Jamie and the men go running, leaving Claire and Marsali alone in the house tending to a patient. A gang of Brown’s men burst in, knock out Marsali, and abduct Claire. Damn, damn, damn.

The episode ends with Jamie lighting the fiery cross, calling his loyal men together. It’s a sign of readying for battle. They’re going to get Claire back.

Other tidbits:

  • Ulysses is hiding out at Fraser’s Ridge, after killing Gerald Forbes in the previous episode. He’s going to sail to England with Lord John, posing as his servant. Once out of the Carolinas, he’ll finally be free.

  • Jamie and Claire make love in a window (straight out of the book). The next day, Claire shows Jamie his sperm under a microscope. Um, thanks? Weird scene, and now we’ve all seen Jamie Fraser’s sperm.

  • This episode was written by Herself, aka Diana Gabaldon. It’s always nice to get her imprint on an episode! And now, I’d like for her to finish up the next book, pretty please.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Damn it. The preview for next week makes it clear where the storyline is going — straight toward the part of A Breath of Snow and Ashes that makes me truly unhappy, and that I’d prefer to be spared, or at least not forced to watch this season. There’s been quite enough trauma already, thank you very much.

Given the speed with which the show is moving through books 5 and 6, does that mean that next season will pick up with season 7? Frankly, book 6 contains a lot of pretty disturbing material, so if we could be done with all that, I’d be fine with it.

The cast is turning is really strong performances, and I just hope that Brianna and Roger’s departure doesn’t mean that the actors and characters will be disappearing from the story. (The books include their 20th century lives… we’ll see what happens in the show).

Next week’s episode is the season finale. I really and truly hope that they don’t follow the absolute letter of the book with this next set of events. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. That would be an awful way to end the season. Please, please let us end with something upbeat!

Ack. I’m feeling upset already, and we’re not even there yet. Keeping my fingers crossed that the show finds a different way to bring this season to a close.






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