‘Outlander’ Season 5 Episode 12 Recap: “Never My Love” Season Finale

Outlander Season 5 Episode 12
Sam Heughan in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 12 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’s Outlander season five episode 11 left off with the fate of Claire (kidnapped by the Browns) and the whereabouts of Brianna and Roger dangling. Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy stepped through the stones but based on Roger’s reaction, they didn’t land where (or when) they expected to. With Jamie and the men tricked into inspecting an explosion at the whiskey mill, Claire and Marsali were left alone to fend off an attack by Lionel Brown and his men. Marsali was knocked out and Claire was taken away, head covered and struggling against her captors.

(Caution: Episode 12 is extremely violent, disturbing, and involves graphic sexual assaults.)

Episode 12, the season finale (no, it’s too soon!), begins with “Never My Love” by The Association playing on the record player. We pan through a large, beautifully decorated home to find a well put together Claire (Caitriona Balfe) staring at a painting of Fraser’s Ridge.

The scene swiftly cuts to Claire tied up and gagged.

Once again we find Claire in the ‘60s and this time Jamie (Sam Heughan) is with her.

We see the horrible treatment Claire receives after she’s taken away and hear the men discussing whether they should just kill her and leave her for “the beast.” She learns Lionel Brown knows she’s Dr. Rawlings and though she says she was just trying to help, Brown is furious. He plans on taking her to Brownsville and forcing her to confess.

In the ‘60s, young Ian (John Bell) arrives in full military uniform and Jamie welcomes him into their home.

Back in the 1770s, Claire briefly escapes before being caught and stabbed. One of the men warns they weren’t supposed to touch her or draw her blood because she’s a conjure woman. Now, they’re cursed. Claire plays into their fear, warning they’ll all be dead by dawn if they touch her again.

They tie her up and after night falls, she can hear them make crude jokes around the campfire about her legs not being bound.

In her ‘60s dream, Jamie comforts Claire in front of the fireplace. She’s shaking.

Claire’s placed in a wagon on the journey to Brownsville and Tebbe (Alexis Rodney) rides in the back with her. He reminds her of his name a few times, hoping she’ll tell her spirits not to hurt him because he was good to her.

The men prepare to take their horses across the creek and it’s Tebbe who holds onto Claire while the others get ready. She warns him to leave the group because the others will all die. She says the kelpies (mythical water horses) are her friends and if he lets her go, they’ll carry her away to freedom. She begs him to release her, assuring him he’ll be safe. He agrees but then she’s pulled away by another man.

Her vision of a future that could never be continues and now Murtagh and Jocasta are there, looking cool in their ‘60s attire and obviously very much in love. Marsali and Fergus are also seated at the dining room table for the Thanksgiving feast.

Claire fights back and refuses to step into the creek. She yells out, “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” and the men believe she’s cursing them again. They stuff a gag in her mouth and Brown snarls, “Not one more damn word!”

Claire continues to be abused during the trip to Brownsville. A rope’s placed around her neck as Brown threatens they’ll teach her some manners.

Her vision of the ‘60s shows the Frasers’ friends and family enjoying each other’s company around the dining room table. It’s important to note Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy are not part of the group. Empty chairs fill the space where they should be seated.

Claire’s in desperate shape as she chokes and struggles to breathe at night with the gag still firmly in her mouth. One of the men comes to check on her and asks, “Does the name Ringo Starr mean anything to you?” (What?! This man had been looking at her strangely throughout the trip.)

Claire nods yes and confirms he’s a drummer. The man knew Dr. Rawlings’ advice didn’t sound like anything from this era, but he never thought he’d encounter another traveler. Claire begs for help, but he can’t do anything without exposing himself. He thinks the men all believe she’s a witch so they’re too scared to actually do anything more than threaten her.

It turns out the man is Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin). He explains he traveled back with a group of American Indians from 1968 and Claire reveals she knows some of his fellow travelers. She’s sad to tell him she knows Robert Springer (Otter-Tooth) is dead and that the Mohawk killed him. Claire continues to beg him to free her, but Wendigo is terrified of Lionel.

Wendigo has been trying for years to return home. He asks for her gemstones and Claire confirms she knows where some are and where the stone circle is located. If he cuts her loose, she’ll take him there.

Wendigo agrees to help after the men fall asleep. The others call for him and he returns the gag to her mouth, warning her she needs to act more afraid.

Claire coughs and continues to struggle for breath. Lionel leads his nephew Cody to her and warns him to remember Claire affects the wind and water. Cody tells her not to struggle but, of course, Claire attempts to fight him off, despite being bound and gagged. She slips in and out of her comforting ‘60s dream as he rapes her.

Lionel slaps and kicks her before also raping Claire. (At this point I had to stop watching for a few hours. These scenes are too realistic and too much to bear.)

Claire dissolves into her ‘60s dream to escape the horror. Jamie helps set the Thanksgiving table as she notices a leak in the ceiling. The dream then shows Claire seated at the head of the table opposite Jamie, all the guests in place except Brianna and Roger. Jamie thanks the family for being there as Claire glances at the two empty chairs. Jamie rises to deliver a toast. The vision’s disrupted by the appearance of Lionel at the table participating in the toast.

In reality, Lionel has just finished his assault and calls for the next man to rape the “hedge whore.” As more men approach, Claire lapses into her dreamworld. The Thanksgiving celebration is interrupted by the doorbell. Claire answers and it’s Lionel Brown (dressed as a cop) and he delivers the news Brianna and Roger were killed in a car accident. Jemmy was also killed.

Fortunately, we leave Claire’s story – for now – to catch up with Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin). It’s revealed what Jemmy ran toward at the end of episode 11…Ian is seated just feet away! They’re all confused, and Brianna and Roger confirm they were thinking about home when they touched the stones.

They head back to Fraser’s Ridge but decide to make camp for the night, rather than pushing themselves. As they’re preparing to unpack, Brianna spots Jamie’s cross blazing on the hill. They immediately get back on the road.

Jamie’s men have assembled and are about to head out when Ian, Brianna, and Roger arrive. Jamie’s shocked to see them and Brianna confirms it didn’t work. He fills them in on the attack and reveals Claire’s been taken. Jamie swears they’ll get her back but turns down Brianna’s offer to accompany them. Roger says he’s coming and reminds Jamie he specifically called him at the gathering and Roger pledged to stand by his side.

“There are times for men of peace and there are times for men of blood. I will stand by you,” says Roger.

Outlander Season 5 Episode 12
John Bell as Ian in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 12 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Ian prepares by, literally, putting on his war face.

Claire flits in and out of consciousness to watch Jamie and his men launch their attack. Ian is a wicked fighter, channeling all he’s learned from his time with the Mohawks. Ian lets a hatchet sail and splits one man’s head. Roger makes his first kill in hand-to-hand combat while Jamie displays the skills that kept him alive in numerous battles.

As Jamie fights, he calls out for Claire. She’s too weak to respond. Plus, her gag is still in place.

Jamie eventually spots her and races to her side. She makes a few small, gutwrenching noises as he sinks to his knees. He’s gentle as he takes away her gag and cuts away her bindings. She’s been viciously beaten and her face is swollen and battered.

“You are alive. You are whole,” says Jamie.

Ian and Fergus (César Domboy) join Jamie, and Claire learns some of the men who held her captive are still alive. Claire continues whimpering when she’s offered a knife to exact her revenge. She turns her head and Jamie explains Claire’s bound by an oath and can’t kill. However, he’s not under any such oath. He will kill for her; Ian and Fergus also take that pledge.

Jamie asks who and how many and Claire whispers, “I don’t know.”

“Kill them all,” commands Jamie.

Ian and Fergus return to lead their men in killing all the prisoners/rapists. Jamie has remained with his traumatized wife as their dying screams can be heard. Ian returns to deliver the news the prisoners are dead.

Jamie ever-so-tenderly lifts Claire into his arms. She continues her heartbreaking whimpering as Jamie brings her to the fire. Her abusers are scattered around the campfire and Jamie wants her to see they are all dead.

However, they discover Lionel Brown is badly injured but still breathing. Roger stops them from shooting him, believing they can get answers from him before he dies. Jamie wants to take Claire home and has the men follow them with Lionel.

They stop on their journey home and in the morning hours, Claire asks about Marsali. Jamie assures her she’s still alive and so is her unborn baby. Claire wonders if an Indian was among the dead and Jamie says there wasn’t. She reveals the Indian is like her – a time-traveler. She’s angry when she explains he didn’t hurt her but he also didn’t help her.

Claire thinks her mind’s playing tricks on her as she confesses she saw Roger among Jamie’s men. Jamie breaks the news Roger, Brianna, and Jemmy have come home.

Later, Brianna rushes from the house and hugs her mom tight. They gently touch each other’s faces as Claire says, “I thought I’d never see you again.” Brianna responds, “I’m home.”

Marsali (Lauren Lyle), bruised face but otherwise healthy, joins in on the hug.

Brianna takes care of her mom, gently washing her in the bathtub in front of the fireplace. Claire doesn’t speak and as Brianna leaves her to soak, she reminds her mother she’s there for her whatever she needs, whenever she needs it.

After Claire’s dressed for bed, Jamie confesses the sight of her “tears his heart” and fills him with rage. He wants to kill someone and Claire asks if Lionel’s still alive. Jamie reveals the men have beat him and he’s tied up in her office. She admits she’s glad the others are dead.

She asks Jamie not to worry about her and then breaks down as she lists everything in her life she’s survived up to this point. “I am supposed to be shattered by this, but I won’t be!” she cries.

That night in bed, Roger confesses he killed a man.

Claire dresses and returns to her office. Lionel’s aware enough to ask for mercy and for his bonds to be loosened. Marsali warns him to be quiet. He won’t stop talking and asks Claire to tell Jamie not to kill him.

Claire still hasn’t spoken to him as she asks Marsali to prepare the syringe. When Marsali leaves, Claire picks up a scalpel. Lionel continues to beg for his life and Claire can’t go against her oath, despite the fact Lionel deserves a slow, torturous death.

Marsali returns as Claire leaves but not before she tells Lionel she won’t do him any harm.

Away from everyone, Claire kneels on the floor, alone, and cries. (This is an absolutely heart-wrenching scene.)

Marsali’s alone with Lionel when he makes a crude remark while asking for food. He demands his food served with a smile, unaware Marsali is drawing up a syringe. He warns Marsali if he’s not treated well, his brother will attack them.

Marsali pretends to care that he returns home strong. She taps the syringe and injects him in the neck while explaining Claire took an oath to do no harm, but she has not. “I’ll watch you burn in hell before I let you harm another soul in this house,” says Marsali.

Marsali injected him with water hemlock root and he dies an unfortunately quick death.

Marsali’s seated on the floor in the operating room not far from Lionel’s dead body when Jamie checks in on them. He’s not in the least bit upset Lionel’s dead and tries to assure poor Marsali she’s not going to be either haunted or go to hell – her two main concerns.

Jamie, alone, returns Lionel’s body to his brother, Richard (Chris Larkin). Jamie explains Lionel’s men came onto his land and kidnapped and raped his wife. Those men are all dead along with Lionel. He only brought Lionel back so he can be buried in Brownsville.

Richard admits his brother reaped what he sowed. He understands Jamie did what he needed to do. But Richard warns that when the time comes, he will also do what he must do.

Days pass and life’s peaceful on Fraser’s Ridge. Ian plays with the kids and Rollo as the rest of the community goes about their daily lives.

Roger and Brianna stroll up to the big house and Roger reminiscences about how he thought they’d never approach this house again. “We always seem to be on the road less traveled,” he remarks, adding, “Nothing’s ever easy.”

Brianna wonders whether Roger’s disappointed to still be on Fraser’s Ridge. He’s not. “We wanted the stones to take us home and they did,” he says to a beaming Brianna.

Claire’s face is healing as she has a quiet chat with Jamie. She wants to enjoy this time, not knowing when the peace will end. They’ll meet the upcoming rocky times the best they can.

“I love you,” says Claire. Jamie holds her hand and replies, “When the day shall come that we do part, if my last words are not I love you, you ken it’s because I didn’t have time.”

Thunder rumbles in the distance.

Jamie and Claire embrace, naked, in bed. Her body’s still covered with bruises and Jamie tells his gorgeous wife she’s brave. She feels safe in his arms as they hold each other even tighter.

The episode – and the season – ends with a soulful version of “The Skye Boat Song.”

Season five did an impressive job of moving the stories of the key characters forward, while also showcasing the evolution and maturity of Ian, Marsali, and, to a lesser degree, Fergus. Season five was a vast improvement over season four, even though it’s sending us off to Droughtlander with one of the series’ most disturbing and difficult to watch episodes (right up there with Jamie’s rape in the season one finale).

Please stay safe during these tumultous times. And remember, we’re all in this together.