Outlander 5×08 “Famous Last Words” is as emotional as last episode, albeit in a very different way. We lost Murtagh last week, and we lost him suddenly and that was a gut punch, a shock, sudden pain the type that makes you stop and try to take a breath. This episode is more about grief, the one that stays with you, the one that makes you a different person.
Not just for Jamie (and Claire) in regards to Murtagh, but for Roger – who no one really thought we’d lose – and in many ways, for all of them in regards to Roger. Because he went through hell as well, even if the cinematic choices this episode makes in that regard give us a sense of separation from what actually happened to him.
The PTSD is still real, and the Roger of today, the man who came out of that traumatic experience, much like the Jamie who survived Black Jack Randall, is not the same person he used to be. He can’t be. And sometimes, figuring out who you are after such a traumatic experience, well, it’s a journey.
Special props to Richard Rankin, who has rarely gotten as good a material to showcase his action as he gets this week. I’ve been both ambivalent and hard on Roger as a character, but I always felt Rankin had it in him to be this good – as long as the show gave him the opportunity. I’m glad to see I was right, and that after the gut punch after gut punch that was last week, this show can also deliver a different kind of emotional episode, one that’s quiet and character focused.
So let’s go into grief, into change and into the curative power of love as we discuss “Famous Last Words”:
Grief is not linear, and losing Murtagh isn’t just something Jamie – or any of the people that loved him, will get over anytime soon. So, in a way, it’s very good that this episode pauses, that it jumps forward in time, that it allows the characters to grieve and to take the time to feel crappy and to rail against the world.
The truth, of course, is that three months won’t take away the pain, nor will three years, or even three decades. Some losses cut too deep. Some losses change you. And that’s what losing Murtagh will do to not just Jamie, but Claire as well.
As an aside, I would like to say that in an otherwise great episode that allowed the character moments that were required – like a moment for Jocasta to grieve, which was very much needed – the show didn’t feel the need to allow Fergus the same courtesy. Let’s remember that Fergus has known Murtagh since he was a kid, and though his relationship with Murtagh isn’t nearly as close as Jamie’s, he’s the one person, outside of Jamie, Claire and Jocasta who really had a relationship with him. In fact, let’s not forget Fergus once risked his life to break Murtagh out of prison. I didn’t need much, but I did need a moment, an acknowledgment, anything.
Not that this is the last chance the show will get. As I said, grief doesn’t just go away. You don’t stop mourning someone you lost in an x amount of time, and there’s not just one way to get better. There’s just getting through the day and leaning on the people you love, over and over again.
A NEW PERSON
This is Roger’s journey, and in many ways, Ian’s journey as well. They’ve both been changed by their experiences, and how could they not be? Going back to normal is not just absurd, it’s impossible. There are events in life that mark a before and an after, you can never go back because you just cannot inhabit the shoes of the person you were before, not ever again.
Which doesn’t mean you can’t be, well, you. There’s this idea that the person you are is static, and that once you change you somehow lose yourself, but that isn’t true. You are you, no matter how much you change. Change isn’t inherently bad, even if it sometimes comes out of bad circumstances.
Roger has changed, yes. And he’s lost himself, and he’s hurting and bottling his feelings in. Same with Ian. He’s changed, and he doesn’t want anyone to know it. Surprisingly enough, what these two men need to be able to break through, not to heal, because healing takes time, but to take that first step, is to recognize the same brokenness in each other.
Grief is complicated, and grief isn’t only about losing someone to death, you can absolutely feel grief about leaving someone behind, or losing a part of yourself. And sometimes, despite the love that surrounds us, sometimes the best thing to break you out of that darkness is just the certainty that someone else needs you.
Roger and Ian have spent very little time together, but for now and forever on, they’re bonded – not just by a shared grief, but a shared sense that the only way to move forward is to keep walking, as hard as that is. Well, that and the certainty that they won’t have to walk alone.
THE POWER OF LOVE
The episode spends a lot of time considering what we would all do or say if we knew our end was coming. The truth is, no one can know for certain. But I think we can all more or less agree that, when you feel like things are about to end, you focus on the things that really matter, the people that really matter.
Your loved ones.
It’s easy to see the parallels between Roger (and Ian, to an extent) and Jamie. It’s been four seasons, but what Jamie went through at the end of season one broke him. And yes, there was a moment of giving up, there was a moment of darkness, and even when he broke out of it there was a deep sense of grief that stayed with him. But Jamie got through it in the end. He survived. And though he survived because he chose to keep taking one step after the other, he also survived because he wasn’t alone.
He survived because he had love.
Because of Claire being there, every step of the way, through good times and bad times. Later, when he lost Claire, after Culloden, he survived because Fergus was counting on him, and he couldn’t leave the boy alone. Love made him survive.
And it’s love that helps Roger finally try, just as it was love that enveloped him when he thought he was going to die. And it’s love that’ll help him every step of the way forward, same as it’ll help Ian.
Love cannot make you want to live, but it can help you get through life.
Both Roger and Ian, like Jamie did back in the day, have plenty of that.
Things I think I think:
- Starting where they did, with the flashback, with this idea of what your last words be, your last minutes, was an inspired choice.
- “People live and die by their words” is fuuuuun setup.
- The showing Roger’s rescue as sort of a documentary? That wasn’t.
- It robbed us of about 90% of the emotion the moment was meant to have.
- This is the moment we were waiting for, and I hate how we got it.
- As much as this is straight from the book, the idea that Roger had to go through trauma like Jamie to sorta be more like Jamie, who is our ideal man, has never sat well with me.
- The problem with Roger’s character has never been that he’s too unlike Jamie, but that the show seems to act like Jamie is the only man of worth, and if you’re not like him, you suck.
- Of course Claire saved him, of course.
- I do appreciate the parallel between losing who he is/losing his voice.
- Like we didn’t hate the Governor enough already.
- “It’s like he’s drowning in silence.”
- Good actors don’t need words, and what Rankin does in this episode with his eyes alone is outstanding. Awards-worthy.
- This would be a good time for Claire to share more about her and Jamie’s relationship, in the beginning. Bree would really appreciate it, and it would give her perspective.
- Aw, Jocasta and Jamie grieving together is a nice touch, especially as Jocasta has very little to do in this episode other than that.
- But the Tryon thing is unforgivable. He was at Roger’s wedding, for crying out loud.
- This show sure loves to have Lord John around. And it’s not like we hate Lord John, or can even attempt to hate him, as he’s just a good friend all around.
- “There’s no medicine for grief.”
- But I appreciate this little moment between Jamie and Claire. Losing Murtagh is not the kind of thing one would get over right away.
- I get very emotional seeing Jamie with his grandson.
- And of course Roger CAN speak.
- LOL and Brianna was like I can’t sing.
- I might have teared up at seeing Ian.
- The emotion that’s present in the Roger and Ian meeting, even without words, is palpable.
- “You’re still you.”
- I’m not sure you’re helping, Bree. I know you really want to, I’m just not sure you are.
- Do they have family dinner often? Is this a daily thing? How come we hadn’t seen it before? I love it.
- How come we didn’t get to see Fergus mourn Murtagh?
- YOU GET PTSD, YOU GET PTSD AND YOU GET PTSD!
- What a family.
- Jamie might not get Ian anymore, but that doesn’t mean their bond is broken and he’ll leave Ian alone.
- He will always worry, Ian.
- I love these little Marsali moments, and I love that she gets to articulate what we all know: this is her family.
- But more Fergus too, please. And more of the two of them together. Thank you.
- “Adjust our own expectations, to bend and reshape ourselves.”
- Isn’t that growth?
- Funnily enough, Ian and Roger needed each other to come out on the other side.
- Of course the last thing he saw was Bree.
- “Come home with me until you do.”
- I AM CRYING.
- Roger and Bree in this scene at the end …perfection.
- “I’ll always sing for you, no matter what, no matter where.”
- And the credits to the two of them singing together…my feels.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Famous Last Words”? Share with us in the comments below!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.