Outlander 5×06 “Better to Marry than Burn” feels much more like an episode where things actually happen in a season that has taken a lot of time to get to the point. Still, the episode doesn’t have the breakneck pace this show has had in its better moments, though to be honest, sometimes we’re glad that is the case.
Especially as this show isn’t known for always picking the best plot points to explore.
This week, however, everyone (or most people) get some character development, as the show focuses on conflicts within and around the established couples. Which is why we’re going to break it down by couple this week, as we discuss “Better to Marry than Burn”
JOCASTA AND MURTAGH
The sad thing about these two is that, at one point, we thought they might make it. Murtagh is – has always been – a man of honor, a man who will fight the wars he needs to fight, but he has always been a man of family. So there was a tiny sliver of hope that he would react the way he finally reacted this episode and ask Jocasta to wait for him.
And yet, it all feels like too little, too late at this point. Not just because Murtagh should have said something before Jocasta decided, but because the fact that he didn’t cemented in Jocasta’s head that he would never put her before his convictions, before his honor, and that he would never find a way to truly reconcile those.
It was one or the other.
Every character in this show has had to make that choice, if you think about it. What’s more important, the person you love or the things you wanted to do, the things you thought you were meant to do? Jamie has put his family first again and again, and so has Roger. But Murtagh couldn’t do that, not now, and that’s why this feels so final.
And so heartbreaking.
We understand how she feels – in fact, we even celebrate the fact that she took a stand. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand where Murtagh is coming from, especially when we’ve known him and loved him for so long.
Can these two still find a happy ending? Answer’s likely no, but this is Outlander, so I’m not counting anyone – or anything out.
MARSALI AND FERGUS
I’m adding them here not because something has happened with them, but because absolutely nothing has, and that’s just depressing. Why are Marsali and Fergus reduced to standing in the background and accompanying the main characters here and there, when we know Fergus is recognized as Jamie’s son, and Marsali is capable of so much more?
Look, you can’t sell us the family is not just blood narrative and then not actually give these characters, who are as much family as Brianna and Roger, even if they don’t share Jamie and Claire’s blood, any screen time. And I’m not even asking for them to take the lead, but a conversation between Fergus and Roger about the threat? Was that less important than Wylie parading around? Or Lord John dancing?
Same with Marsali and Bree, who had a very good moment a few episodes back, and it’s now all been forgotten. Except that’s not how life works, one doesn’t make emotional attachments and then just forgets them the next episode. And we really, really need Fergus and Marsali to start feeling like they’re part of this story, part of this family, instead of just on the outskirts of it.
BRIANNA AND ROGER
Roger finally gets a long-overdue chance to shine this episode, and it all starts not just with his knowledge of what might help, knowledge, I might add, that Roger has because he is who he is, but with his decision to finally take charge. Maybe it helps that Jamie isn’t there, because all the sudden he wants Jamie to like him and respect him, which doesn’t actually help because he just gets more tentative around him.
And no, I’m not going to go into how that, in itself, is a 180 and the show didn’t set it up right. I’m just going to praise the show for finally allowing Roger to be the character we all knew he could be.
He will never be Jamie – but he doesn’t have to be Jamie. He just has to be Roger, and be confident in what he knows, and what he can do. And this episode showed that perfectly, just as it showed that, when push comes to shove, he can Bree can and will work effectively together.
It’s a welcome sight because these two haven’t really been allowed a chance to work together, to get through obstacles as partners, and that’s what the future has in store for them, a shared journey of ups and downs that they must face as a unit. That’s what true partnership is all about.
CLAIRE AND JAMIE
Sometimes you have a fight and both are in the wrong. That’s what happens with Jamie and Claire this episode. Sure, Jamie is being led by his pride, by his desire to get revenge on Bonnet not wholly because of Bree, but because of what he feels, what he thinks he needs to do. But Claire isn’t exactly being rational when she accuses Jamie of something he has never been guilty of, which is resenting Frank.
Not to say that Jamie’s feelings about Frank are not complicated, because it’s totally normal for Jamie to feel like Frank got everything he should have gotten. But the biggest part of Jamie feels, will always feel, an immense debt of gratitude to Frank for taking care of Claire and Brianna.
Feelings, however, are not a monolith. You don’t feel – or have to feel – just one thing about one person or situation at any time. There are a multitude of things going on in every person’s mind at any given time, and that’s also why Claire overreacts, because a part of HER feels guilty that she spent all those years with Frank, that she didn’t figure out Jamie was alive before, that she didn’t come back to him much earlier.
The fight is resolved, thankfully, as the anger explodes and then kind of fizzles in a physical way, which allows them to then finally be able to talk to each other, be honest, and let go of the anger they were carrying at being misunderstood.
Jamie got what he wanted – though that is sure to go badly – and Claire got what she wanted. A little bump in the road, but they’re still on the same road, together.
Things I think I think:
- Now this is an auspicious beginning.
- My heart breaks for Jocasta.
- Jocasta being like nah to Duncan is a mood.
- In the end she’s marrying the man who will allow her to leave everything to Jeremiah.
- HAS ANYONE even discussed the notion that Roger and Bree might want to take Jeremiah back to the future?
- No? No.
- Adso is too cute.
- Lord John is literally everywhere. I think the production loves the actor so much that they jump at any chance to include him.
- Roger at least looks confident. It’s the beard, I think.
- To be honest, I’m shocked Claire’s modern opinions haven’t gotten her into more trouble than they have.
- Oh, Roger has an idea.
- Ah, Claire being after Bonnet makes sense.
- Fine, Roger looks kinda handsome this episode. Again, it’s the beard.
- Ugh, that man. To think that, as women, we’re always supposed to “see it coming” and protect ourselves. No one is like: men, behave.
- Ah, Jamie in the right place at the right time.
- Well, that’s an overreaction Claire.
- Looks like the idiot got in your head.
- Marsali looking at Fergus as Brianna and Roger kiss like well, what are YOU waiting for?
- Well, this Jamie and Claire scene is …something. LOL.
- Not something I expected, either.
- You ask a lot, Murtagh. Especially when you didn’t ask in time.
- “Made from the gold that took her from me”
- It all makes so much more sense.
- Including Jocasta. Absolutely. I’d probably do the same as her. Why put her faith in the fact that Murtagh loves her more than the cause, when experience has taught her the cause comes first?
- Well, THAT escalated.
- Oh, joy, war.
- Fuck Bonnet.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Outlander 5×06 “Better to Marry than Burn”? Share with us in the comments below!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.