Sunday, February 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Fraser's Ridge Celebrates a Wedding as Jamie Prepares for a Hunt in 'The Fiery Cross'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 5.01 "The Fiery Cross"

Following celebrations in honor of Brianna and Roger's wedding, Governor Tryon reminds Jamie of his obligation to hunt down and kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons. He also expects Jamie to raise a militia to quell the Regulators if necessary. Meanwhile, Brianna is reminded of her past trauma when she inadvertently hears some devastating news.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Starz's Outlander.

"The Fiery Cross" was written by Matthew B. Roberts and directed by Stephen Woolfenden

The fifth season starts off with a celebration. The entire community at Fraser's Ridge comes together for Roger and Brianna's wedding. That takes up the bulk of this premiere. It's a happy occasion that starts off the season. It's one that allows these characters to relax into the family dynamics that define their current lives. It's not a messy narrative in which a bunch of fantastical things are continually happening to them and pulling them apart from one another. That may still be the undercurrent of the overall story. Governor Tryon has pitted Jamie against Murtagh after all. However, the foundation is clear. Jamie and Claire are building a home together. This is the life they have always wanted. It's what Claire hoped to find when she returned to the past. And now, they get to embrace this life with their daughter and the family that she is starting as well. Sure, it was traumatic how Brianna got pregnant and the perilous journey to reunite her with Roger. There was no certainty that he would even remain loyal and in love with her either. But all of those concerns are seemingly washed away completely. Roger will stand by Brianna and Jeremiah no matter what. He makes that pledge here. He does so on a number of occasions actually. First, it's in front of the entire community. He pledges his heart to Brianna during their wedding ceremony. She does the same. And then, he has to fight to honor his obligations with Aunt Jocasta who is essentially testing him to see if he has the right convictions as a member of this family. Finally, he makes these intentions known in private with Brianna and Jeremiah. He declares this child to be his son and his responsibility. He will care for him no matter what. With all of that being said, it should never be questioned again whether or not he'll stay devoted to a woman who gave birth to another man's child. Of course, Brianna is still traumatized by that rape as well. It turns out that Stephen Bonnet escaped his near certain death. As such, he still lurks around the area. He could antagonize this family once more. Or perhaps the perceived threat is all that it will take to terrify Brianna and prevent her from living the life she deserves. It's haunting while remaining an internal struggle for her too. These are the character dynamics at the moment. The Fraser family does not want to be divided. That may always be the threat on the horizon though. Roger still talks about returning to the future. He sees that as his present. This wedding is wonderful but he believes they could have another one when they return to the time they were born into. That feeling could create more conflict with the family because the Frasers stand united now. Through the power of time travel, they have happiness together. Murtagh points that out to Jamie. He is a happy and fulfilled man as a result. He is only torn and distraught because of the uncertainty that lingers over Murtagh's life. Murtagh refuses to step aside and quiet down his antics. He doesn't care that it will still be years before the American revolution rises up and pushes the English away for good. That is a concern for Jamie as his life is shaped by what comes from the centuries after all of these decisions. This is the life that Murtagh has. Everything is in the moment for him. This is his passion and his agency. Everything is at risk because he is speaking out. That is dangerous for him. It's still the right thing to do even though it could cost him everything. Jamie frees him from his oath to always protect him. That may be nothing more than symbolic at this point. But this is a family member potentially being lost as well. It's so joyous to see all the characters who celebrate together for Roger and Brianna's wedding. Murtagh's presence is felt as well. But that doubt casts a long shadow over the new season. One that is bound to create even more drama that may not be as simplistic and genuine as it is in this premiere. That is already in motion too. Jamie is preparing for the future by ensuring the community of potential soldiers around him swears their fealty to him and not the English crown that wants to dictate their actions. He does so proactively even though it may cause problems in the short term. The wisdom of the future may not help this family succeed and thrive. But they strive to do so for as long as possible and so long as they have each other to rely on.