Jamie walks a fine line, Claire goes full doctor, and Bree & Roger reconnect in Outlander‘s “Between Two Fires”
Outlander is back, baby! Sorry we weren’t here for the premiere, but the Outlander roundtable is back! Were you feeling the burn from “Between Two Fires”? Jamie (Sam Heughan) has been called up as the colonel of the militia, charged with finding Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix). At first you think Lieutenant Knox might actually be a reasonably sympathetic guy, but this is Outlander, so no, he’s not. Meanwhile, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) fails to save a guy whose wife gives him mercury pills to cure his appendicitis and Claire decides this is a perfect time to do autopsies and bring Marsali (Lauren Lyle) on to help her out!
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Roger (Richard Rankin) is feeling useless and learning how not to shoot anything, dreaming of returning to the future. Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is right at home in the past, though, and wants to stick with her family. If she could just get those pesky nightmares about Stephen Bonnett (Ed Speelers) at bay. Which doesn’t seem very likely, because guess who pops up at the end of the episode, betting on a girl fight? Yeah, it’s Stephen Bonnet, to no one’s surprise. And instead of killing people he’s just blinding them, on account of the fact that he’s a father now. Cue ominous music.
We’re BACK! On to the roundtable.
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – An Outlander book reader first & foremost. The TV show, even with its inconsistencies, has some lovely moments.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – An obsessive knitter and tv binge watcher who is also a teacher and costumer.
Andee (@andeesings) – Singer, teacher, total nerd.
1. Murtagh is TARRING AND FEATHERING people now? What did you think of this dark development?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – It was generally a pretty in your face gory episode for me. Blood, guts & more guts. Autopsies, butchering, blinding & skin boiled off by hot tar. It just feels really out of character for Murtagh to be involved with the regulators at all, let alone the torture. He would never rescind his oath to Ellen Fraser, to follow & protect Jamie always. Murtagh not standing on the same side as Jamie is pretty telling of how the shoe writers don’t support these endearing book relationships.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – What a way to start an episode! I really think Murtagh believes he has no reason anymore not to risk everything and can go to a very dark place. Jamie has released him from his many decades long vow, he can’t return to the only family he knows and the woman he wants to be with.
Andee (@andeesings) – I actually really loved the tarring and feathering, I just hated that it was Murtagh doing it. He’s been ruthless before but it always seemed like I excused it because it was in service of Jamie and Claire. This just seems like straight up redcoat hatred. Maybe I should hate him? I’m just really confused.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Ruthless! Although we have seen him decapitating dukes and wondered why Dougal wasn’t killed sooner, this is a whole other side of the stones so to speak. He scared me.
2. Claire’s a doctor again, taking risks as usual. And she’s recruited Marsali and making penicillin! What are your thoughts on Dr. Claire this episode?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – There is no way, Dr. Claire would have stepped back so far, claiming there was nothing more she could do for the patient. She would have comforted him by holding his hand until he passed at the very least. More TV show inconsistencies. I’m also loving the development of Claire & Marsali’s relationship. These two actresses click very well. Everything this season seems to be overdone. The Big House, hiding a rotting corpse in the big root cellar & the 60 loaves of bread Claire has prepared for mold spores under glass. Is Claire playing God? Or can she pull off antibiotics 150 years before they are invented?
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Paging Dr Claire! Claire is still trying to apply 20th century medical know how to while dealing with suspicious 18th century people. I can understand the autopsy, since the dead man wasn’t just having a hot appy but also a poisoned one with the mercury. The fact that she’s taken Marsali as her apprentice I can work with, since she’s a level sort who knows how to keep quiet. But all that bread for penicillin experiments! I see a lot of French toast in the future!
Andee (@andeesings) – Oh, Claire. It felt weird when she stepped back from his body and then felt even weirder when she literally stole the body without consent to do experiments on it. And that was a days old rotting body in the 18th century with no way to preserve it. Was I meant to buy that it wasn’t going to be covered in maggots within a few days? It just didn’t track for me. I did love Marsali, though. I’m really glad that the writers elected to beef up her character by making her Claire’s assistant, even though I think that could have been accomplished by calling for her help for actual medical emergencies.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – I’m looking forward to seeing more Dr. Claire and her trusty sidekick Marsali the Butcher of Fraser’s Ridge play with moldy bread while sticking bodies beneath floor boards for good ol’ 18th century at-home science experiments.
3. Roger wants to return to the future. Bree wants to stay in the past. Claire’s on Roger’s side. Where do you fall, and why?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – Book Roger is one of my favorite characters. More so than Book Bree. She was a bit of a hot mess for me and Roger always seemed to level her out. Show Roger has nothing pulling him back to the future as his family is with him now, so why yearn for it? More conflict? I hate that the TV writers have weakened Roger’s character down so much prior to him being brutalized in the next few episodes. Also, for a historian, he certainly doesn’t seem to cherish the opportunity given to witness history in the making. Sometimes even the best actors can’t overcome crap writing. The shows perpetual changes in character development for the sake of conflict irritates me.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Do we stay or do we go? A very tough question for them. I completely understand Roger’s thinking. He feels completely useless in 18th century backwoods colonial North Carolina. He has absolutely no skills to help with living on the Ridge. Claire knows just how dangerous the world is for them right now, besides knowing that Roger isn’t cut out for this life. Bree on the other hand has family to lean on and wants to keep Jem safe by not trying to take him back through the stones.
Andee (@andeesings) – I don’t really understand why Roger the historian doesn’t seem the least bit excited about living the American revolution. I get him wanting to head back to the future after what he went through in the past. But seeing as he was an orphan who didn’t really know his parents I would have expected him to be a little more sympathetic to Brianna for wanting to stay with her new found family. I also get so annoyed at the way Roger can’t shoot. Can’t they give the poor guy something? I liked their happy family life, though, and I loved the change where he found her drawings of Bonnet instead of diary entries, which always felt far too invasive.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Roger and I are gonna sing our way outta the 18th century because like him I’m ill-suited to this time traveling stuff. I need hot water, cars, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, and a membership to Tufty The Fluffytail club.
4. Colonel Fraser is walking a FINE LINE. Did this dilemma help to set the stage for this season’s conflict well enough for you?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – Yes, but I just wish Jamie’s conflict didn’t involve being on the opposite side as Murtagh.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Jamie’s loyalty isn’t to the Crown, it’s to his family and the people of the Ridge. He knows that he has an obligation to the Crown, it’s the only way for him to keep the Ridge and not be put in jail as a traitor. But his sympathies are definitely with the Regulators because of Murtagh.
Andee (@andeesings) – Sure, although when Knox killed that regulator and then spent his time justifying it it was a struggle for me to not roll my eyes so I don’t really understand how Jamie did. Jamie doesn’t want to rat out his uncle, and he also knows who is going to win the upcoming fight. It’s quite a struggle.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Clearly this was a transitional episode that for me set up Jamie’s conflict well. As we see Murtagh be a ruthless leader of the Regulators we need those high stakes to make it harder for Jamie to bare and resist.
5. New characters! Mrs. Chisholm making some candles, the Bugs being judgmental, even a glimpse of Herman Husband! Obviously we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them but what were your first impressions?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – Life on Fraser’s Ridge is something most fans want to see. Love the community aspect of groups of women coming together to make candles or at the men singing & drinking at the gathering. Per usual, if Jamie & Claire aren’t careful, they could lose it all.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – I really didn’t get to much of an impression of the new characters, we spent very little time with them. But knowing how much the Bugs become part of the Fraser’s lives, I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the near future, as well as the other new people
Andee (@andeesings) – Frankly I lived for that Mrs. Chisholm candle making scene. I don’t even care if we never see her again. Listening to her in the background being a busybody might have been my favorite part of the episode. I think she reminds me of me.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Blips on my radar! Although Blackbeard the Pirate called and he wants his costume back Herman Husband (this joke only works if I didn’t confuse the two guys in that scene).
6. Bonnet. Is. Back. And not just in Bree’s drawings! What did you think of this re-introduction to season 5’s big bad?
E. Margaret (@maggiehenry_) – Damn, Ed Speleers is a hawtie. That expressive face of his can spin on a dime. He’s basically an endearing psychopath/sadist. Bonnet connecting himself to Bree’s child will hopefully play out with Roger & Jamie joining forces to kill the beast who is Bonnet.
Carole (@cbraunnj) – Bonnet looks like he landed well on his feet again. Nice clothes, some money. But his psycho side definitely came right back out. He rather maim and torture someone than flat out kill them. And since he believes he is now a daddy, he’s going be looking for Bree and Jem.
Andee (@andeesings) – That last line was a burn. Ed Speelers is really great and a really fantastic piece of casting. His face is incredibly expressive and it’s difficult not to want to like him when he’s being charming. Oh but then he rapes or blinds someone and you remember he’s pretty much the worst. The girl fight was cheap, but whatever. I’m kind of interested to know what business he’s going to get up to with Neil Forbes, who I really didn’t expect to see again.
Jordyn (@urbanoutlander) – Ayyyyy! I NEVER want to hear him say “I’m a father now” EVER. How dare the writers go there and make my skin crawl. Also, never would I have thought that setting a better example should’ve been killing someone.
Final Verdict: Did we feel the heat in “Between Two Fires”?
We’re thrilled Outlander season 5 is back. So what did we think of “Between Two Fires”? After the excitement of the wedding (and the fire of the cross at the end of the last episode, misguided or not) it felt good to get down to the business of what the season is going to be about: Jamie’s dilemma with Tryon and the regulators, Roger as a fish out of water, and Bonnet threatening pretty much everyone in the Fraser family. The “between two fires” metaphor was a little on the nose, but that’s not unusual. It was apt, so we didn’t really mind.
We appreciated the quicker pacing of this season. It seems like the show is finally utilizing its large cast and allowing for multiple storylines per episode. Breath of fresh air! We liked following along with more story than just bloating out one storyline like in the past.
Is it just us, or is the acting uniformly better this season? Caitriona Balfe always turns in a good performance and Sam Heughan has really been killing it this year. But most improved goes to Sophie Skelton. She’s come a long way since season 2. Her reactions to both Claire and Roger this week were excellent. Best acting she’s done hands down. And bring on as much Lauren Lyle as you can, please. She’s so great it’s not a surprise the production staff decided to beef up her role.
We have no logical explanation for Claire thinking she could store a body inside the Big House to use for medical experiments without permission. It would decompose, everyone would smell it. Beyond that, it’s ridiculously unethical. Sometimes we wonder if the writers think the characters (and us, the viewing audience) are stupid. Regardless, it was dumb. Use Marsali to assist you while patients are alive. Don’t keep a body around. We don’t need any more witch burnings, thanks.
Three cheers for a Roger that’s singing! And invested in his family! Bring back our sweet history professor. We enjoyed tonight’s episode, even if Claire took the stupid pills this week. So far season five has been promising! Keep it up!