Sunday, February 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Claire Battles Against Misinformation While Jamie Is Horrified by Murtagh's Actions in 'Between Two Fires'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 5.02 "Between Two Fires"

As Jamie continues to hunt Murtagh with the aid of the zealous Lieutenant Hamilton Knox, he's forced to consider whether or not he's on the right side of history. When a resident of Fraser's Ridge dies from a preventable ailment - which had been exacerbated by an ill-informed, though well-intentioned, use of folk medicine - Claire considers using modern methods to keep the settlers safe.

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 next episode of Starz's Outlander.

"Between Two Fires" was written by Toni Graphia & Luke Schelhaas and directed by Stephen Woolfenden

Against all the odds, the Fraser family found one another and are living happily together. And yet, the storytelling impulse is always there to pull them apart. Now, it's seen through the argument that it would be safer for Brianna and Roger to return to the future with their child. 1969 is simply a better and safer place for them to live. Claire made the choice to return to the 18th century to find love and happiness with Jamie. Brianna and Roger felt the urgency to do so in order to save their lives. And now, they have formed this family unit together. It allows each of them to have meaningful relationships full of contemplation of what they want in their lives. However, Claire and Roger are the ones advocating for a return to the 20th century. Claire doesn't want to go herself but she wants her child to be there. She is grateful to have this time with her daughter. She is happy that Jamie and Brianna got to meet and have a relationship. She just doesn't want anything bad to happen to her family during this more precarious time. America is on the verge of war after all. Claire and the other travelers from the future know exactly how brutal it is going to get. In fact, there is still the threat of Claire and Jamie's home burning down with them inside. The future may always be precarious. The show has delved into the idea that these time travel mechanics could actually change the world for the better. Claire and Jamie failed in that regard when they actively pursued it in the second season. They wanted to forge Scottish independence by relying on the French for help and support. It failed. History remained as is. Nothing this family does could change what is destined to occur. They are just now active participants in that history. Claire still believes she is making a difference. Her skills as a surgeon are very beneficial in that regard. She has the tools and skills to save lives. She has sworn an oath to do so no matter what. That makes it frustrating when she is powerless against the misinformation that is out there. This is a time in which people just don't understand how illnesses work and the proper way to treat them. A man dies because of the treatments given to him. There is no medical science behind his treatment before seeing Claire. She can't save his life. She also feels the need to perform an autopsy even though it will likely reaffirm the idea that she is a heretic. Brianna and Marsali are horrified to see a body cut open in that way. Brianna understands why her mother must do it. She is just concerned about her parents being condemned just like the other stories of time travelers trying to avoid disaster. She has heard those horror stories. She wants to make a difference. She doesn't know how because she remains fixated on the idea that Stephen Bonnet is still alive. That fear is confirmed at the end of this hour. He remains just as lethal too. But that threat is lackluster because it's a concept that lingers on past trauma instead of offering something new and exciting to the narrative. It just creates a sense of urgency where the family is always in peril. That can come in so many different forms and ways. The Frasers have to be very careful in that regard. They have to think before committing any action knowing that it could reflect badly on them because of the mindset of the time period. Claire doesn't think that way though. She just sees the benefit of serving her community no matter what. That may make her naive. She shouldn't be seen that way because she has spent more time in the past than other members of her family. She should know how to navigate all of this. It's a major risk to bring Marsali in to train as an apprentice. It may work out eventually. It's just a scary prospect. One that mostly occurs to keep her on equal footing with Jamie who also feels torn between two worlds. He presents one face to Lieutenant Knox and that builds his perception throughout the region. But he's actually incredibly supportive of Murtagh despite the lethal tactics he is willing to embrace. It's all destructive and will escalate quickly. The narrative just needs to know how to better calibrate that drama to make it personally thrilling for each of the characters. Right now, it just doesn't seem to be all that exciting or engaging.