And just like that, it’s the end of season 5. Here’s my final “Insta-Reaction” post for the season!
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 512: “Never My Love”
The official synopsis (via Starz):
Claire struggles to survive brutal treatment from her captors, as Jamie gathers a group of loyal men to help him rescue his wife. Roger and Brianna’s journey takes a surprising turn.
Tough, painful episode. I’m not even going to try to recap it.
The show has now gone to the most difficult and awful section of book six. I was hoping (but without really thinking there was a chance) that the show would for once decide that it doesn’t need to show every single rape that happens in the books. Sadly, that’s not what happened.
Look, I love Outlander, but I think it has a rape problem. Maybe because the books are so long, and so many years go by in between the publication of each book, it just doesn’t feel like being hit over the head quite as much as it does when viewing the TV show. I was just thinking back — has there been a single season of TV Outlander that hasn’t had at least one character being raped? Sadly, the answer is no.
This segment of the book is so disturbing and awful. I just can’t say it strongly enough. It’s what makes me flinch whenever I think about re-reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes (which happens to be a book with a LOT of terrible things — probably the bleakest of the books).
Couldn’t the show have included the abduction, if it needed to, without including rape? I think it could have. Book purists will argue that it had to be included because it happpened in the book, but I think the trauma and violence and fallout from this incident could have been conveyed regardless. Then again, I made the same argument when it came to Brianna in season 4, but no one else agreed with me!
I absolutely applaud the fine acting in this episode, particularly Caitriona Balfe, who just shone. She was splendid in every scene, and I respect her accomplishment and dedication so much. Really, the entire cast was excellent.
But still… it was a tough episode, and a downer of a season finale.
At least we got one of my favorite classic Jamie lines:
Sigh. Oh, Jamie.
Brianna and Roger’s return is practically an afterthought — yes, they went through the stones, but because they were both thinking of home, they ended up right back in the same place. They both now realize that they belong at Fraser’s Ridge, with Jamie and Claire.
I did think the opening was quite well done. As Claire is being abused and assaulted, she dissociates and in her mind, goes to a 1960s-era home where she’s surrounded by her loved ones — Jamie, enfolding her in his plaid, and then a Thanksgiving dinner with Ian, Murtagh, Jocasta, Marsali and Fergus. They all look super mod and it would be adorable if it weren’t a fantasy that’s keeping Claire from having to live in her pain and trauma.
Overall, this was a terribly painful episode to watch, and I wish this wasn’t the final note of the season, because this is the tone and content that we’ll all be left with over the long months (years?) until the next season airs.
This has been a very uneven season — not because of the acting, which is as excellent as ever — but because of the strange pacing, the downplaying of certain traumatic events, and the inclusion of others that I wasn’t expecting until next season. It leaves me wondering what’s next. Will the show circle back to the pieces of book six (such as the Christie family) that didn’t get included here? Or will we be moving directly on to season 7 and the looming war?
I love Outlander, and always will, but this season has left me with very mixed feelings.
Of course, after watching today’s episode, it may just be that I haven’t dealt with the impact yet. Maybe with time and a rewatch, I’ll feel better about the season as a whole. Still, right now, I’m uneasy and feeling not quite satisfied.