Outlander Season 5 Episode 1 Recap: The Fiery Cross

Outlander Season 5 Episode 1
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 1 (Photo Credit: Starz)

A brief recap of season four kicks off the much-anticipated fifth season of Starz’s Outlander. For those who need to be reminded of the key events in season four due to the agonizingly long Droughtlander, here goes: After a rocky start, Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) worked diligently on making their North Carolina land into a home. Ian sacrificed his freedom to take the place of Roger after Jamie mistook his son-in-law for the evil Stephen Bonnet and handed him off to the Indians. Brianna, unsure of the identity of her baby’s father, gave birth to a strapping baby boy shortly before Roger – still aggrieved about his treatment at the hands of Jamie and the Indians – arrived at Jocasta’s estate.

The season four finale ended with British soldiers arriving prompting Jocasta to tell her lover (yes, lover!), Murtagh, to hide away in the slave quarters. However, it turned out the soldiers were actually delivering a letter from the Governor to Jamie, charging him with mustering a militia to fight the Regulators. Oh, and also to kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons!

Season five episode one immediately pulls at our heartstrings with a flashback to Murtagh pledging his undying loyalty and support to Jamie following the passing of his mother. “I’ll always be with you. Always,” says a handsome young Murtagh to the devastated laddie.

The story then jumps forward to Fraser’s Ridge in North Carolina where Claire helps Brianna (Sophie Skelton) prepare for her wedding. Elsewhere, Jamie watches as Roger (Richard Rankin) shaves, warning him not to lose his head to the sharpness of the cut-throat razor. The atmosphere feels a bit crisp between the two; they appear to still be judging each other’s worth.

Jamie takes over shaving duty as Roger thanks the man behind the blade for building he and Brianna a wonderful home of their own. Roger admits he’s not really made for this time as he’s unable to wield a sword, build a house, gut a deer, or plant fields. Jamie assures him he’ll just have to rely on those who have the necessary skills for now.

Roger’s shocked when Jamie hands him a gorgeous ring for Brianna, one that Jamie claims is more befitting of his daughter. (Roger expected something a lot less fancy. He obviously doesn’t know our Jamie, does he?!)

In a voiceover, Claire describes making Fraser’s Ridge into their home with the help of their fellow settlers. A large – and helpful – community has transformed the empty canvass into an actual livable space complete with crops and houses. “We were making our mark on the land. Laying our foundations for the rest of our lives,” says Claire.

Outlander Season 5 Episode 1
Caitriona Balfe and Sophie Skelton in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 1 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Claire and Brianna share a sweet mother-daughter moment as Claire puts the finishing touches to Brianna’s wedding dress. Claire sounds wistful as she admits she’s dreamed of this day, and Brianna assures her mom this day couldn’t be more perfect.

Jamie’s gathering the requisite items for the wedding…something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…when Claire checks in on him. She’s holding up better than he is as he’s nearly an emotional wreck thinking about this wedding and giving his daughter away.

Jamie confesses he still doubts Roger, but Claire reminds him Roger returned and is deeply in love with their daughter. Still, Jamie worries Roger’s just not capable of taking care of Brianna in these hard times. Claire, ever the patient soul, believes Roger will be fine because Jamie will be there to guide him.

They go their separate ways after a loving kiss as it’s now Jamie’s turn for a quiet moment with Brianna. The look in his eyes as he sees his beautiful daughter is one of immense love and pride. He’s carrying the items he gathered and Brianna’s surprised and touched that he remembered. Murtagh contributed the lucky sixpence for her shoe, but he can’t be in attendance since he’s a wanted man.

Grab the tissues as they discuss how appreciative they are to be in each other’s presence and how fulfilled Brianna’s life is now that she’s met her father. “It is a blessing you came to me,” says Jamie before adding, “But having just gotten you back, must I give you away so soon?”

“No matter where I am, I will always be your wee girl,” says Brianna.

They toast to Brianna’s new life.



Jamie accompanies Brianna down the aisle, following in the footsteps of a beaming Claire. Claire gives Roger a short pep talk before taking her seat. Jamie hands his daughter off to Roger as the wedding ceremony commences, backed by the occasional happy squeal of their baby.

It’s impossible to determine who’s smiling broader as the vows are exchanged. Jamie has a flashback to his own wedding and he and Claire whisper “as long as you both shall live” after Roger and Brianna exchange those words.

While the wedding guests celebrate with food and drink, the Frasers greet Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) who has put in an unexpected appearance. Jamie’s sorry he didn’t know in advance and that accommodations weren’t prepared. However, the Governor travels with a pavilion tent – courtesy of the King.

Jamie and the Governor break off for a chat and it seems there are more soldiers on or near Fraser’s Ridge than Jamie expected. He attempts not to appear concerned as the Governor explains he fears Jamie hasn’t been completely forthcoming in his letters. The Governor is anxious to see Murtagh captured.

As Brianna and Roger cut the cake, Roger whispers that he just learned Jamie believes he’s a heretic. Brianna smiles and shrugs it off, explaining her dad believes all Presbyterians are. Roger also can’t believe Jamie’s still holding his very brief and regrettable separation from Brianna against him. Again, Brianna laughs it off, knowing her dad will come around in due time.

As the happy couple shove cake in each other’s mouths, Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) walks up to congratulate the two. Jocasta asks for a meeting alone with Roger before she leaves to return home.

After she walks away, Roger jokes that at least Brianna’s aunt likes him. He doesn’t notice the look of alarm on Brianna’s face when he makes a comment about in the future when they return to their own time.

Hours later and the party’s still going strong, complete with drinking games. Roger accurately observes weddings are exhausting, no matter the century.

Next, it’s Lord John Grey’s (David Berry) turn to speak one on one with Jamie. Their talk is about family and children, and Jamie is genuinely happy to be together with his friend. That is, until Lord Grey delivers the news that Bonnet’s been spotted in the province. (News that Brianna overhears!)

They both assumed Bonnet’s dead and Jamie notes even Hell won’t let Bonnet in.

Brianna returns to her mom’s side and the talk turns to cameras, preserving memories, and finally to Frank. Claire’s sure Frank would have approved of Roger, an Oxford man.

Roger interrupts to invite one of the two lovely ladies to dance. Claire accepts as Brianna holds her son tight.

Jocasta retires to bed and finds Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) has already made himself at home. He admits he snuck a peek at the wedding ceremony and spotted a redcoat. Jocasta discusses the rustic setting (she calls her guest quarters a “shed”) and Murtagh jokes she should think of it as a woodland palace built by wood nymphs.

The wedding festivities are dying down when Claire finally gets a chance to discuss the Governor’s visit with her husband in the privacy of their bedroom. Jamie cradles his grandson as Claire readies for bed, and he assures her he wants to make sure they remain on the Governor’s good side.

Meanwhile, the newlyweds have a drink and then Roger sings his bride the romantic hit, “L-O-V-E.” Brianna breaks out in her first genuine smile in hours. (The poor girl’s got a lot on her mind, given Roger’s talk of returning to their time and the reappearance of Bonnet.)

Roger’s song is the backdrop to flashes of sweet romantic scenes featuring Jamie & Claire, Murtagh & Jocasta, and Brianna and Roger. Plus, Fergus (Cesar Domboy) learns his wife, Marsali (Lauren Lyle), is expecting while outside dancing with the remaining wedding guests as “L-O-V-E” fills the air.

Jamie and Claire’s first bedroom scene of season five is a playful one as they have to try and be quiet so as not to wake the baby.

The sun rises and Jocasta wants to know where she and Murtagh stand. Murtagh wishes his circumstances were different so that he could remain by her side. Jocasta has a confession of her own: Duncan Innes proposed marriage. (Book readers have been wondering what’s happening with that particular character since it was announced he’d appear in season five.)

Murtagh doesn’t appear shocked by the revelation, and Jocasta admits she hasn’t responded to the proposal. “I won’t stand in the way of your happiness,” says Murtagh. His expression, which Jocasta can’t see, reveals he’s devastated.

Roger pays a visit to Jocasta as requested. She asks if Brianna informed him she offered to make her heir to her estate. When Roger says she has, Jocasta reveals she’s changed her mind. She’s now going to leave River Run to Jeremiah. Roger’s taken aback, not sure how to accept the news his son is now the heir. Jocasta explains she altered her plans since Protestants are “partial to divorce” and Brianna’s property becomes her husband’s once she’s wed. By leaving her estate to Jemmy, she believes Roger will treat his son (or maybe Bonnet’s) better because of his promised wealth.

Roger’s upset and shows it. He can’t believe Jocasta doesn’t think Roger views the child as his son. He even adds an impertinent “how dare you” to his heated reply. Jocasta apologizes and extends her hand. He takes it but then angrily strides away after she again implies the child is not his and he likely won’t treat Jemmy as his own.

He settles himself, slightly, and then warns Jocasta that he will give all of his time to Brianna and Jeremiah. He isn’t wealthy, but he will be devoted to his family. Bending close to Jocasta’s face, Roger snarls, “Let me put this very plainly. I do not want your money. My wife does not want your money, and my son will not have it. Cram it up your hole.”

With that, he charges off in a huff.

Jocasta lightly chuckles and Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) reveals that’s exactly the reaction she had hoped for. Her plan worked perfectly.

Life goes on at Fraser Ridge and Claire’s busy seeing patients, including one who needs his tonsils removed. Josiah’s a strapping young lad with a reputation as a great hunter and Jamie makes him promise he’ll settle on the Ridge and hunt whenever Jamie’s away. (He does this even though Josiah has the brand of a thief on his hand.)

Her waiting room is full when Jamie finally leaves to go attend to his own duties. He suggests she recruit her own lieutenant as he departs.

Governor Tryon meets Jamie as he exits his home and commands him to immediately gather his men to hunt down Murtagh and the insurgents. Governor Tryon warns him he wants Murtagh’s body hanging for all to see as a warning to others who feel like revolting against the King.

Jamie has one week to get his affairs in order.

Outlander Season 5 Episode 1
Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 1 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Roger returns home, more determined than ever to keep his family together. He tells Brianna it will be the three of them against the world. He then slices his thumb and lives a bloody print on Jemmy’s forehead. “Jeremiah Alexander Ian Fraser MacKenzie, you are blood of my blood,” says Roger, claiming the baby as his son forever.

Later in the day, Jamie finally fills Claire in on what he’s been commanded to do. She gives him a hug, knowing her husband will be declared a traitor if he doesn’t fulfill his oath. However, she’s equally aware the Governor would break his oath to Jamie if he needed to. Jamie will stick to his word – for now – but will reconsider when the war actually begins. Jamie’s determined to do what needs to be done to make sure the men of the Ridge are loyal to him, not the Governor, once war breaks out.

Claire’s worried about Roger, well aware he’s not fit for battle. She asks her husband to keep Roger out of it.

Jamie has an idea and says, “If Tryon wants a Scot, I’ll give him a Scot.”

And here comes the scene we’ve all been waiting for… Jamie opens his trunk and handles his kilt and sword. He returns to Claire, but this time he’s fully decked out in his kilt. He’s fulfilling his promise to give Tryon a Scot!

It’s night and the camera pans down to follow Jamie’s lower half, focusing on the kilt and boots, as he strides through the grass. He calls his neighbors together and explains that in the Highlands a chieftain will burn the fiery cross before going to war. It’s a call for his men to gather their weapons and come prepared for a battle,” says Jamie. “We are friends, neighbors, countrymen. We are not a clan and I’m not your chief. But I hope that if the time comes, you will all stand by my side,” says Jamie.

He asks them to make oaths to their brothers in arms in this new country. He extends his arm and declares, “Stand by my hand.” He’s looking directly at Roger but his son-in-law does not react. Another man does and pledges to stand by Jamie’s side.

The man kneels in front of Jamie and swears by the cross that he’ll be loyal. Jamie calls out to Roger MacKenzie, telling him to be a shield for their family. He names him a Captain and whispers he’ll be safe by his side. Although Jamie tells him to repeat what he says, Roger pledges his oath on his own, repeating the words just spoken on bended knee.

Jamie can’t help but be impressed.

Jamie continues to speak to the other men, promising he’ll serve them as they are promising to serve him. He also explains he will not light the fiery cross again until the time comes to do battle. He then turns to Fergus and Fergus takes the pledge. Men from the community follow suit.

The next day Jamie meets with Murtagh to deliver Governor Tryon’s order. Jamie has already filled him in on what he knows about the upcoming war (courtesy of Claire), but not anything about the fate of the Regulators. Jamie explains that if Murtagh can wait, they’ll soon be fighting on the same side.

Murtagh fashions a circle and asks if Jamie can send his kin back through the stones to change this time. He notes Jamie’s gotten everything he wanted, but he hasn’t. Still, he’s not resentful. Murtagh hopes whatever happens Jamie won’t resent him. Jamie promises he won’t and releases Murtagh from the vow he made decades ago to always protect him.

Jamie urges Murtagh to flee and to make himself hard to find. When Murtagh walks away (for what could be the final time), Jamie lets out a deep breath and breaks down in tears.