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“Journeycake” Takes Outlander Fans on a Roller Coaster Journey of their Own

Outlander Journeycake

“Journeycake” has Outlander author Diana Gabaldon taking us on our own emotional journey

“Journeycake”, Outlander‘s penultimate episode of season five has a lot going on. We begin with the Frasers returning from a trip. They come across a burnt out cabin where there’s been some foul play. But otherwise life ticks by on the Ridge. Jemmy(Andrew Adair, Matthew Adair) is playing with Otter Tooth’s opal, and he feels it heating up and hears it buzzing. He can travel! So a plan is set for Roger (Richard Rankin) & Bree (Sophie Skelton) to take him back to the future (no pun intended).

RELATED | Outlander Roundtable 5×10 “Mercy Shall Follow Me”

It’s time to read Young Ian (John Bell) on all the time traveling. He takes it well but wonders if he himself could time travel. Something terrible happened with his wife in the past and we don’t know about it yet. When Claire (Caitriona Balfe) assures him this isn’t the way it works, he remains sad. He does agree to bring Roger & Bree to the standing stones, though.

Bree & Roger spend time saying goodbye to the people they love on the Ridge. They make up a story about Roger being offered a position as a professor in Boston and say their farewells to Fergus (César Domboy) and Marsali (Lauren Lyle) and even poor Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan) who is pretty sad they’re not bringing her to “Boston”. Brianna even has time for a fond farewell to Lord John Grey (David Berry) who has come to tell Jamie that he’s returning to England and to bring him a new portrait of his illegitimate son Willy. Lord John is also taking Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) to England with him since he killed Forbes, so. That ties that up.

Meanwhile the Browns come to the Frasers asking Jamie to join their “Committee of Safety”. Jamie turns them down, but Lionel (Ned Dennehy) asks Claire for help setting his wife’s broken wrist. Not only is Claire snippy to him because she knows he’s the one who has broken her wrist, he sees that she has Dr. Rawlings’ medical kit. So while the Mackenzie family steps through the stones and end up god knows where, Claire gets kidnapped and Marsali gets bashed on the head. In a final moment of drama, Jamie grabs a torch and lights the fiery cross of battle.

There’s a lot going on here. Let’s roundtable!

Carole (@cbraunnj) – An obsessive knitter and tv binge watcher who is also a teacher and costumer. Admin of the group Outlander Forever.

Teri (@Teri8D)   My early career was the medical field in acute care hospitals for most of my working life, in various positions. I spent nearly 20 years in the operating room as a computer systems administrator. Went back to college to become a classroom teacher. Earned a BA from UNCO, 3 months short of my 50thbirthday. Worked about 10 years in elementary education. Now retired, enjoying my husband of nearly 40 years, my adult children, grandchildren, my passions for literature, history, and addiction to historical fiction. Outlander checks all my boxes.

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – 20-something living in Alabama. Current quarantine habits include trying to remember how to do my job from home (which I’m very grateful for), baking and making anything and everything with my new KitchenAid mixer, and afternoon solo dance party sessions. Will be spending the next week trying not to panic over Claire Fraser’s storyline. Stay home and stay safe, y’all!

Joan (@perrinjoan) I am a devoted follower of the book and the show, and I’m an active member of the Long Island Outlander Fans, and the Rank and File. I sell my Outlander inspired jewelry in my Etsy shop. I have given the cast several of my pieces as gifts. 

Janna (@janna_rpw) – Writer, Reader, Incurable Daydreamer

Outlander Claire Jamie

1. This episode was loaded with Easter eggs for book fans (some darker than others). If you are a reader, what did you think of the grisly discovery at the cabin, exploding opal, the window intimacy, & the microscope! Did they work for you? And if you aren’t a reader, did it work for you?

Carole (@cbraunnj) – An excellent episode! As a book reader, I knew about these various events, just not in the way it was presented in the episode. The fact that Diana wrote the episode gives me a better acceptance of the order of things. I also enjoyed the addition of the PB&J. 

Teri (@Teri8D)   I have not read The Fiery Cross yet. The cabin scene was terribly sad but believable for the time they are in. However, there seemed to be a set-up for a mass murder due to how Ian noted there were no scalps taken and they only found one arrow. It seems to be an unfinished storyline there. The broken opal was interesting, and the heat of the stone was new as well. Little Jemmy was awesome in that scene. Hot sex in a window, who would say no to that? Jamie was funny when he said he imagined germs having teeth and when he asked how Claire had gotten them. A little humor always works.

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – Holy cow, this episode really was a doozy. I have to come out of the gate with a thought that can honestly apply to this question and the other ones below. On its face, I liked a lot of this episode. I LIVE for family moments, and we got so much good stuff with Claire and with Jamie. I loved it for what it was. However, I have been stressed about the pacing this season. I feel like the first four to five episodes were very slow, and have forced production and the writers into a corner where they want to tackle everything and anything before that last minute in 5×12 concludes. I really wish this season had been paced better, because I think this episode was rushed in an underlying way that took away slightly from the episode as a whole. OKAY, on to the actual questions! (And I’m writing this from the spect I’ve of a bookreader).

The cabin discovery had the same element of creepiness that was in the book, which I liked. It was a dark but interesting way to see Claire, Jamie, Brianna, and Roger working together and figuring out if they could find the cause. The moment between Roger, Jamie, and the little girl was really nice. I do think it was a bit of an odd way to cold-open an episode, but it was a solid tie-in to the Browns’ visit later that episode. 

The exploding opal was executed well too, but I have to go back to my main frustration about pacing. I was watching this and thinking, “Yes! Jemmy can travel! He’s one of them! But why are we finding this out so late?” Since this episode ended with Bree, Roger, and Jemmy actually leaving, I wish there had been an episode or two in between the opal reveal and their family making a decision to leave. I love the time-traveler element of this story, so any references to it make my heart happy. 

The window scene was so lovely. I love that it started with Claire putting on perfume for Jamie, only to turn around and see him asleep. It was funny, lighthearted, and a good moment of peace for these two before everything goes to sh*t. Their banter was really natural here, and I enjoyed it a lot. 
And finally, the microscope scene was great but TOO SHORT. We were deprived of a certain someone wishing that his brilliant doctor wife gives the wee swimmers a proper burial! But a nice, lighthearted moment for this episode. I’m glad it was included. Claire’s tea drinking and humored demeanor was a great balance to Jamie’s outright confusion. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) I loved Episode 511, Journeycake! Of course herself would include easter eggs for her loyal fans. She made several references to all the previous books. The title card of Claire eating the PB & J sandwich, and the plastic wrap blowing away comes from Voyager. Roger telling Bree about their excuse fro leaving the Ridge is to, “Stay as close to the truth as possible.” Frank says this to Claire in Outlander. From Drums of Autumn comes Lord John Grey telling Bree, “You are really impossible not to like.” Two more Outlander references are the “window intimacy”, a repeat of Frank and Claire in the apothecary of Castle Leoch, and Claire setting the man’s dislocated collar bone. This was how she meets Jamie in season one. Bravo, Diana!

The burned cabin incident is a combination of two stories in A Breath of Snow & Ashes. It shows Roger’s compassionate side as he ends the young dying burned woman’s life. It also prevents Jamie from doing his second mercy killing of the season. The exploding opal was downgraded to a splitting opal. I loved young Jemmy’s comments, “It’s hot.” “I don’t want it anymore.” “I can hear it.” It’s mentioned that he feels the opal so strongly because both his parents are time travelers. Possible proof that Roger Mac is his true daddy. My only question was that Claire was wearing the same opal in Drums last episode and never felt anything from it. The “window intimacy” also reminded me of the time in Outlander when Murtagh interrupts Claire and Jamie in mid frolic.  I was so happy Diana included the microscope/sperm scene, but they left off Jamie saying, “Can ye not take them outside, and give them descent burial or something?” I think all these events enhanced the telling of the story.

Janna (@janna_rpw) – I’m a book reader but it’s been awhile, so I didn’t remember anything about the burned house, opal, or window sexy times. Oddly enough, I did remember the sperm-under-the-microscope bit, and Caitriona played the humor in that scene so well. As for everything else…I found the scene with Roger and the burned girl, besides being really tragic, to be an interesting choice. I can’t remember if that’s how it happens in the book; why have Roger be the one who finds her and offers her comfort, and not Claire the doctor? Taken in consideration with Roger’s interactions with a dying Jamie in episode 509, it seems like they’re intentionally laying a foundation for Roger’s future career change (which book readers know about). And finally, window sex was awkward, but I find all of Jamie and Claire’s on-screen love scenes to be awkward so maybe that’s just me.

Outlander Claire Ian Bree

2. Ian finally knows the truth, and has a mixed reaction to the time travelers. What were your thoughts on his struggle?

Carole (@cbraunnj) – Ian always knew something was different about Auntie Claire, and she’s not a wee fairie. I do understand about his not quite full grasp of what the time traveling is. I wish there could have been more of explaining to Ian about how it works, because it felt too glossed over. Also we need to start having a better explanation of what Ian’s marital issues were. Because having just a sad face, close mouth Ian is not going to last long. 

Teri (Teri8D)   Given the Scottish superstitions he grew up with and the deep, cultural beliefs of the Mohawk, he easily accepts the unexplainable magic of time travel. I think his real struggle is wanting to go back to a time where he could undo whatever happened with the Mohawk and a wife and/or Mohawk family. He still physically backs away from telling his story.

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – I am so glad they told him!! The scene with Young Ian and Jamie and Claire is an excellent one that was well-adapted, and I loved how Claire told him. His scene with Bree and Claire by river broke my heart. His experiences over the years (along with time) have aged him, but he is still a young man who is processing this life-changing revelation. The questions he asks them, about wanting to go back and fix something that happened with him and his wife… it’s all so devastating. And for him to be the one to take Roger and Bree back to the stones is a full-circle moment for his experience with this element of Claire, Bree, and Roger’s lives. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) Ian always suspected that Auntie Claire was special, one of the faeries. Now knowing that Bree, Roger, and Jemmy are time travelers as well, he beseeches them to take him with them so he can go back in time, and change something that happened when he was with the Mohawks. Sadly they can’t. His sad story comes out I think in the next book. I liked that Roger gifts Ian with his Tryon’s “I’m sorry I hung you” land grant.

Janna (@janna_rpw) – Ian is finally in the circle of trust!! I loved his reaction, it was classic Ian. “I knew you were a fairy, Auntie!” Clever boy. His immediate desire to try and go back in time to undo his loss and heartbreak was so relatable-wouldn’t we all take that chance if presented to us? His despair at having that hope ripped away from him was one of the more moving parts of this episode for me. I know there probably isn’t time, but I would really love to see flashbacks of Ian’s time with the Mohawk and his relationship with (redacted). John Bell has really matured into the role of Young Ian and honestly the more we see of him, the better.

Outlander Journeycake

3. Ulysses is not a slave? And he’s leaving with Lord John? Huh. Tell us what you thought.

Carole (@cbraunnj) – Good to see Ulysses again, hiding out in Jocasta’s love shack. Ulysses was more than a slave to Jocasta, glad to see that she thought so as well. And the look on Jamie’s face showed that he understood that too. Lord John is helping save another member of the family, by taking Ulysses to England. As long as Ulysses is still in the colonies, he will never be completely free.

Teri (Teri8D)   For some reason, I never thought of Ulysses as a slave. I believe Ulysses has been (is) in love with Jocasta and there is an unfinished story there too. Leaving with Lord John is the perfect escape plan and he will be able to live free in England.

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – The actors did a really great job with this material, but I thought it was a waste of time for this episode. There were at least 10 minutes we could’ve used for other things (like the set up for Claire’s abduction). And I have never loved how they have handled the topic of slavery in this show. But, as an option for Ulysses, I hope he is able to escape safely and live a good life! I like him a lot.

Joan (@perrinjoan) In the book, Ulysses kills Lieutenant Wolff, not Forbes. I did like it when he shows Claire and Jamie his document of emancipation signed by Jocasta, and witnessed by Gerald Forbes. I laughed when Ulysses utters, “Rather ironic.” I believes he runs off to live with the Indians in the book, but this maybe another Murtagh effort by the producers to keep the wonderful actor engaged in latter books. I wanted to see more of his intimate relationship with Jocasta, but I’m okay with him going off with Lord John Grey. Can you say rewrite!

Janna (@janna_rpw) –  I’m happy for Ulysses, getting to live as a free man in England. But he was in love with Jocasta this whole time…and that didn’t even warrant a goodbye scene with her? After ALL THE DRAMATIC SCENES with Murtagh? Ulysses served her devotedly, even after being freed, murdered a man to protect her, and we didn’t get to see Jocasta react, or give any indication that she cared. I know it was probably a “time constraint”, but Ulysses was robbed and I hope he finds happiness in England. Jocasta didn’t deserve him.

Outlander Journeycake

4. Bree & Jamie finally get a heart to heart, and it’s about… Willy. Give us your reaction.

Carole (@cbraunnj) – Jamie knows that he may never see Bree again, and this is a secret that he doesn’t want to keep from her any longer. His sharing of Willie gives another bond of trust between father and daughter. 

Teri (Teri8D)   It was a sweet scene, I love those! I liked how they kept the truth about Willy from her until she was more settled and a mom herself. Sophie Skelton does an excellent job of telling stories with her eyes and facial expressions. Sam Heughan does the same, they both have extraordinary performances. If you watch closely, they both audibly express a sigh expelled from their noses, one after the other. I wonder if that was scripted or coincidence?

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – I really, really didn’t like this. I don’t mind that Jamie told Bree about Willie, and I did think the end was very tender, but this was not great timing. They’ve had, what, two great moments together this season? And then their final encounter on the show is overshadowed by Willie? And the show’s refusal to acknowledge what Geneva did also bothers me. This was a better step, but it frustrated me. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) The showing of the new portrait of William is another throwback to Voyager. Bree seems happy to hear about a new sibling, but Lord John tells her that he may never know about her. Willy doesn’t appear in The Fiery Cross or A Breath of Snow and Ashes, not till An Echo in the Bone, I believe. I can’t wait to see who is cast in the role.

Janna (@janna_rpw) – One of this show’s biggest flaws is how it’s neglected Bree and Jamie’s relationship, so I guess I wasn’t surprised that their big goodbye would be half about Jamie’s other kid. Remember in Season 3, when Claire is showing him pictures of Bree for the first time, and his response is “Cool cool, but hey! I’ve got a son! Here’s HIS picture!” READ THE ROOM, JAMIE. Book readers know that Jamie heavily invested in his relationship with Bree, so it’s so aggravating to see that they’ve chosen to ignore that and make most their few scenes together centered around other people. It ended on a sweet note, but still didn’t feel like an adequate farewell to their brief relationship.

Outlander Roger Bree Fergus Marsali

5. When Bree & Roger were making plans to leave this whole episode, saying goodbye, etc, did you actually think they’d go? And what are your predictions for where they ended up?

Carole (@cbraunnj) – I really thought someone or something was going to stop them, because in Outlander anything can happen. But they really wanted it to happen and made it to the stones. I’m glad that they took Ian with them on the journey, because they were able to show him how it works and they trust him. Where did they end up, good question. But I don’t think they left 1772 North Carolina.

Teri (Teri8D)   I was vacillating between them really leaving and something happening to keep them at the ridge. Something seems off-kilter there. I think maybe they have been rejected for some reason (their minds on life at the ridge or Jamie & Claire maybe) and they are still at the Ridge. Bree & Roger did not talk about setting their minds to pull them into the correct future time. Also, Little Jemmy seemed to know knew someone and started happily walking toward them–I think it was Ian. 

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – I also have mixed feelings about this. The moments leading up to their farewell were really lovely, and provided beautiful moments for the characters (I loved Bree and Lizzie’s farewell!), but now it looks like the stones didn’t even work. I do think they will be there for what happens next week, so I’m a little frustrated that they spent a lot of time on these goodbyes if they’re not even saying goodbye for good. Part of me thinks Jem will be the one guiding them to somewhere in the immediate future (maybe a week or two?) and will be guided to Jamie’s camp of men that go to rescue Claire. But, I think they made it clear that they aren’t back in the 1960s — so it’s making me scratch my head a little bit. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) I was quite gobsmacked by the early departure of the Mackenzie family. I kept hoping that there would be a reason that would prevent it. After all Bree hasn’t had Mandy [her daughter in the books] yet. I hope it is not an effort by the producers to combine books 6 and 7. I can’t believe Diana would be okay with removing them from the book 6 story line. Roger does say, “What the devil,” and Jemmy is running towards something he sees. My fervent guess is that Roger and Bree were still thinking about the Ridge and Jamie, and Claire, and therefore did not go anywhere, but returned to the time they were in. I wanted to hear Roger commit to staying as Jamie’s Son of the House. This is a very awful cliffhanger for me.

Janna (@janna_rpw) – Even if I hadn’t read the book, I still would have believed they would go, as they’ve been setting it up all season. But it really didn’t feel as heart-wrenching as I imagined a theoretically permanent goodbye would be. Leads one to believe that it probably wasn’t, nudge nudge wink wink. But hey, it got Jamie to (sort of) hold his own grandson so I’m not complaining. Loved the PB&J send-off dinner, with the sandwiches cut the correct way.

Outlander Lord John

6. Lord John is going back to England. What did you think of his role in this episode and do you think we’ll see him next season?

Carole (@cbraunnj) – Lord John Grey seemed to be an interesting filler for the episode. A messenger, delivery person, a way for Ulysses to escape. A useful character. I do think that he will be back at some point in season 6, possibly to reintroduce Willie or his older brother, The Duke of Pardloe.

Teri (Teri8D)   Lord John said to Bree, “You really are impossible not to like,” while I am sitting here thinking the same of him. I can never get enough of that beautiful man, David Berry, flashing his excellent smile to perfection. He was happily relieved that Bree knew about Willy and she understands why the truth must be kept from Willy. Lord John can do no wrong, forever Jamie’s “fixer.” We must see him next season, and the next, forever after!

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – Honestly, I’m a bit confused why he was in this episode too. It feels like this may be a for-good departure for him as well, though, so I understand the time dedicated to this character. I was not a fan of the timing of the Willy reveal, but understand why it needed to happen before Bree left, so I have a lot of mixed feelings (that has been my word of the ep!) I don’t think we will be seeing him next season – and I personally am okay with that. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) In both book 5 & 6, Lord John Grey only appears in letters to Jamie. I did like his scene with Bree about William, and I am very fond of David Berry’s portrayal of him. So I am okay if some tampering of story to keep his appearance alive.

Janna (@janna_rpw) – As with every other scene he’s been in this season, one has to ask “Did Lord John really need to be here?” It’s always a pleasure to see David Berry’s lovely face, but they really haven’t given him much to do in person that couldn’t have been put in a letter. It was nice for him to get a goodbye scene with Bree (they will always have oodles of chemistry), but surprise! They mostly talked about Willy. There hasn’t been jack squat about that kid for 15+ episodes, and now he’s all anyone can talk about. If Season 6 is the final season like many are predicting, then I imagine we’ll see him again. Meanwhile, I hope that in London Lord John can find love while also solving fascinating mysteries *cough*SPINOFF*cough*

Outlander Journeycake

7. The Browns are back, again, with their “Committee of Safety”. Jamie isn’t joining, and Claire, well. Looks like the cat is out of the bag with Dr. Rawlings. And Claire was TAKEN! What are your thoughts?

Carole (@cbraunnj) – Can I just say that whether in the books or the show, I can’t stand the Browns. Mean, slimy, and disgusting. Lionel Brown is the worst. The fact that they are the Committee of Safety seems to be an oxymoron. The Dr Rawlings advice column is the gift that keeps on giving, and not in a good way. The attack on the Ridge by the Browns is happening in this episode rather than for next season seems like a weird twist, but Diana wrote it, so I’m going to see how it plays out. 

Teri (Teri8D)   I do not know what is up there. Why did they kidnap Claire? What does Dr. Rawlings have to do with it? (Other than the printed leaflet.) Do the Brown cretins even know how to read? Those menacing Browns, if they did not have a devious plan, could they have a plan at all? The air darkens and reeks of contempt whenever they are around.  

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – I need this storyline to be given justice. It’s a big, traumatic storyline for Claire, and we spend the entire time in her POV. I don’t think we will be with her the entire time (based on my theory that I talk about in the next question), but I really hope Claire is given the time to process what happened to her and to talk about it OUT LOUD. She is long overdue for emotional release in this show. It made me slightly nervous that this happened so late in the episode, so I’m hoping we get a lot of time dedicated to her in the finale. 

Joan (@perrinjoan) The whole abduction plot was taken from book 6. I think the producers felt that Claire didn’t have a spotlighted story as did Jamie, Bree, and Roger this season. Lionel Brown is another one of Diana’s superb villains. I didn’t think Jamie lit the Fiery Cross till the Revolutionary War starts. I guess it was needed to summon the Ridge to help find Claire. 

Janna (@janna_rpw) – They’re playing pretty fast and loose with the timeline this season, and I can only hope they’ll play just as fast and loose with that thoroughly terrible kidnapping story line that’s coming up. If there was anything to change about the books, please god let it be that. Sorry book purists; I have no desire to see that particular sequence of events happen.

Outlander Claire Bree Ian

8. Next week is the SEASON FINALE!! Give the surprises in this episode, tell us your predictions for the finale next week!

Carole (@cbraunnj) – I can’t believe that we’re at the end of the season! And who knows when season 6 is going to happen? Only the Corona knows. As for the next episode, I think Bree and Roger show up on the Ridge, since they didn’t get too far. Roger and Ian are going to join the hunt for Claire. Will there be a cliffhanger? I’m thinking there will be. 

Teri (Teri8D)   The preview for next week showed Jamie with his full-on Highlander kilt and his looks-could-kill face. Someone should be shaking in their boots or running for their lives. I know [from interviews] Sam Heughan’s favorite line this season is “Kill them all,” and we have not heard that yet. Jamie will get his Claire back and that miserable gang is going to die—all of them! Also, I think Roger and Bree will be back at the ridge. 

How they tie up all the loose storylines, I cannot even guess. Maybe because there will be an extra-long droughtlander, due to the pandemic and filming schedules still unknown, they will not have to. Will we even remember? I mean, if we get our Jamie and Claire adventures, we will be happy.

Liesel (@rhymewithdiesel) – Oh, God. Well, I’m going to put this out in the universe — A storyline that centers Claire and lets her tell her story. I do think there will be flashbacks (and likely voiceovers) included in how it’s told. And I don’t want Bree and Roger’s revelation to take up too much time. Please, give this storyline justice! And I want to hear the epic monologue!!

Joan (@perrinjoan) The season finale going to be spectacular! I hope it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. Roger and Bree must return so that he can beat the bodhran during the rescue. I know we will hear Jamie utter his call for revenge. My greatest wish is that the season ends with Jamie telling Claire the words that end the Fiery Cross. “If my last words were not ‘I love you’…”

Janna (@janna_rpw) –  I’m honestly stymied about what kind of shocking cliffhanger they could have in store for Roger and Bree. Did they end up in the wrong time? I know what should happen according to the book (and don’t want to be spoilery), but who knows what surprises they’ll throw at us? I look forward to finding out. As for the Claire bit, see my answer to Question 7. 

Outlander Claire Bree

Final Verdict: An action packed character driven episode makes “Journeycake” one to love

We knew Diana Gabaldon wouldn’t let us down. Her clear love and familiarity with the characters made “Journeycake” feel like Outlander. This is despite their being massive departures from their source material. That’s not to say there weren’t issues. Nothing is perfect. But “Journeycake” was certainly one of the better season 5 episodes.

Because Gabaldon knows where the plot of the story has been and where it’s going, it’s far easier for her to pull threads of connection and weave them through the story. Using the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (the journeycake in this instance, instead of a cornbread “johnnycake”) as a thread didn’t just tie things in this episode together but also provided Claire and Brianna a touching moment together while hearkening back to moments in earlier seasons. Outlander doesn’t have a consistent or experienced writing staff, and we’ve been critical before that characters occasionally act like they’ve had brain transplants. Well nobody knows these people like Gabaldon does. And it shows.

Scenes between parents and children, cousins, and friends all pulled at the heartstrings. Particularly poignant is a scene where Young Ian asks Claire to take him back in time so he can fix something that went wrong with his wife. Ian doesn’t expand on this yet, but both Gabaldon’s dialogue and Bell’s acting deserve praise here. Despite not coming from the pages of the novel, the scene works. It’s also reminiscent of a particular scene from book 7 of the series with Jenny Fraser Murray. As Laura Donnelly has stated she probably won’t return to play Jenny again, is it possible this scene is a nod to that future storyline that must be dropped?

So let’s talk about those pivots from the book, shall we? We had a suspicion that Claire’s kidnapping, which happens in A Breath of Snow and Ashes (book 6) would be happening this season. The book has a complicated subplot regarding Hodgepile (who did appear in this episode, as the man who suggested it was the Native Americans who had burned the cabin) and his involvement with alcohol smuggling. Here the focus has shifted to Lionel Brown and his discovery that Claire is the inflammatory Dr. Rawlings, who was dispensing advice about the rhythm method of birth control. It’s smart, since we don’t really care about a whiskey subplot and the stakes feel more immediate this way anyway.

There were a few things we just weren’t buying. One was how the chose to deal with the Ulysses/Forbes issue. We were hoping they’d eschew the Jocasta/Ulysses romance subplot because of complicated slavery issues. Instead they seem to have done it a further injustice and make it worse by saying that Ulysses has been free the entire time, and instead he chose to live in slavery because he loved Jocasta? And now he’s just moving to England with Lord John? We’re not even sure there’s any more you can say about this.

We’ve been waiting for Brianna and Jamie to have a father daughter moment almost the entire season. And then when they do, they talk about… Willy? Remember in season three when Claire told Jamie about Brianna and he immediately pivoted to William? Towards the end of this scene at least Jamie has SOME dialogue about Brianna and what she means to him, but it’s too little, too late. Overall the pacing of the season was so off that one line in the penultimate episode doesn’t make up for the woeful lack of development this relationship received.

We were shocked about the other borrowed season 6 plot line. The entire episode Brianna and Roger were talking about leaving and going back to the future, we didn’t think it was going to happen! We assumed Claire’s kidnapping was going to foil this plan, but boy were we wrong. Bree & Roger have gone somewhere, with only one baby. This leads us to believe season 6 will be pulling storylines from book 7, unless Skelton and Rankin aren’t going to appear in season 6 at all or they’ve ended up somewhere they didn’t intend to.

Placing Roger and Brianna’s departure here feels strange given the structure of events from the books. But the show has been making a huge issue of their desire to return or not return a central part of of Roger and Brianna’s marriage. It seems odd that they would choose to go when you have the books as your frame of reference, but for the show feels predictable given how much they’ve harped on Roger’s desire to go back all season. But just where did they end up? If Roger and Brianna are not back in the future, it undermines the entire episode. The bulk of it was spent with them spending emotional moments with their friends and family. Even though it was nice to be surprised and gave the opportunity for some acting flex for everyone, if they’re not in the future why waste the bulk of an episode having them make emotional farewells? We’re actually excited to see how this plays out.

There were so many easter eggs for book lovers in this episode it was an embarrassment of riches. And they were book scenes placed in the episode in ways that made sense, and not just placed there because the creators thought that they were iconic scenes so they should be there (*coughs* buffalo in the front yard *coughs*). Sure, it might be fan service. But don’t tell us you didn’t love Jamie looking into that microscope. We’d watch it all day.

Overall, it was nice to spend time with characters that we know and love written by the person who knows them best. This episode had pathos and a lot of action, and was adept and juggling the storylines of various actors with aplomb. We can only wonder what it was like for Gabaldon to write some of the scenes that represented a departure from her books. Since she isn’t known for mincing words, we can’t wait to hear what she has to say about it.

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Andee Galeno
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  • Anna Bolic
    May 4, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    They’re still in 1772. Maybe a few minutes have passed at best.

    Think about all the threads of the episode, all the lines about the ties that bind family together, about how Bree and Roger never had grandparents, and now Jemmy wouldn’t have his grandparents either, and about Jemmy’s awesome power and what was likely thinking about when they went through the stones.

    No. They didn’t go anywhere — and that’s the point.

    • Andee Galeno
      May 4, 2020 at 11:31 pm

      Can’t wait to see if you’re right! Thought it was a GREAT cliffhanger for the episode!

  • Anna Bolic
    May 4, 2020 at 11:20 pm

    Oh — Ulysses being a free man who chose to stay, is directly from the book. Unsavory or not.

    • Andee Galeno
      May 4, 2020 at 11:30 pm

      Not precisely the same. In the book, the papers are not approved by the assembly. But if we’re meant to think of the show and books as separate entities, and people often want us to, this was something that should have just been left out. Didn’t like. it.

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