Outlander 5×09 “Monsters and Heroes” is the best episode of season 5, by far. This is a tall order in a season that, as of late, has delivered emotion after emotion, great performance after great performance, and unforgettable moments after unforgettable moments.
There’s all of that and more in this episode, but perhaps what makes this one stand apart from the others is the exquisite balance of the storyline and the characters. Yes, Jamie and Claire get their moments to shine, as they should. Yes, there’s enough Bree and Roger to make our journey into truly shipping them feel seamless.
But there’s also Roger and Jamie, finally bonding, Claire and Bree, having casual and not so casual conversations, Fergus and Marsali being part of this family, Ian getting to call his uncle out when he needs it, all of it showcased in an hour that, despite our brains telling us would end okay, still has us at the edge of our seats.
All’s well that ends well – because Bree, our Bree, finally got a chance to the hero we always knew she could be – but it isn’t just the happy ending that makes this episode spectacular. It’s the minutes that got us there, the characters we’ve learned to love.
It’s the reminder that this show is about this: about love, the kind that transcends time and space, the kind that cannot be stopped, even by death.
So let’s talk about the family moments, Bree’s breakthrough, Roger and Jamie bonding and, of course, Jamie and Claire, as we discuss “Monsters and Heroes”:
Sometimes, when a tragedy happens, family pulls together by the teeth and just …gets through it. That’s what the Frasers did this episode, and that includes not just Jamie and Claire, Bree and Roger, but Marsali and Fergus and Ian, as well. They all played a part in the conclusion, they all did their best to help the situation, and more importantly, to keep the ship on course.
We can’t all play each other’s roles, but that doesn’t mean all roles aren’t important. Fergus cannot be the nephew, or talk to Jamie like he was, because his relationship with Jamie is different. Ian cannot understand what it’s like to be Fergus, because he didn’t live it.
Likewise, Bree cannot pretend she’s anything other than a woman with an education, and Roger cannot pretend he’s a fighter. That doesn’t mean their particular skills, the things they know, the people they are, cannot find a place in this time, in this family. If it weren’t for Roger and Bree, after all, Jamie would be sans a leg at this point.
He thoughts of taking the snake, and literally carried Jamie through the freaking forest on his back, she actually fashioned a syringe out of snake fangs. If that isn’t winning the day, then I don’t know what is.
More importantly, Roger and Jamie found their moment this episode, the one where they could finally see each other for who they are and appreciate that. It was a long time coming, and I wish we hadn’t needed to suffer so much for it, but it was still great to see these two on the same side not because they needed to be, but because they chose to.
And, of course, if it weren’t for Claire – well, Jamie wouldn’t even be around. Not just this time, either. And though you could say that this episode shows more clearly what their bond means, the show has never been shy about focusing on the power of their love.
It isn’t just about loving making you want to fight, though it is. It isn’t even about love making you want to take chances, though of course, we wouldn’t be here without that. And it, of course, isn’t about needing love to exist, because both Jamie and Claire have proven they could – and would – go on if necessary. It’s about love making your life better, happier, fuller.
Perhaps you don’t need love to actually breathe, to exist. But love, of all kinds, is what makes life worth living, and that’s always been the message of Outlander.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE …
With only three episodes left, I can’t but wait and dread what’s coming at the end of the season. Something big is coming, it always is, and without even going into big spoilers, my main concern is that, big in Outlander almost always means one thing: sexual assault to push the plot forward!
And I’m tired. It’s the year of our Lord 2020, and we’re all stuck in a freaking quarantine that might never, ever end. I don’t want more of the same story, I don’t want to have to deal with these characters getting through another ordeal of this kind. I don’t care about the emotional journeys that might mean, or the great performances it would elicit.
I just don’t want it. Please, make it stop. I beg of you, Outlander. Don’t make this your legacy any more than it already is.
Things I think I think:
- “As my ma”
- Look, we’re on quarantine, I’m emotional, and this was like two seconds in, but I had to stop the episode and let myself cry for a bit. Marsali and Claire have come SO FAR.
- Is Roger Mac sticking? Because I’m not sure I like it.
- There was really no hurry, Jamie. Come on, a little tact.
- I need way more Fergus than what I’m getting. Though I really appreciate how he never seems to be unsure about his place in Jamie’s life. There’s no need to doubt that he’s Jamie’s son, and he never doubts it.
- Like, I know you want to bond with Roger and all of that, Jamie, but come on.
- Aw, Jamie has learned some things from Claire.
- Well, THIS is a bonding experience.
- Smart, Roger. Smart. Take the snake.
- Claire/Brianna moments are gold. I just wish we got Brianna/Jamie moments as well. Father/Daughter relationships are important too.
- Roger’s face when he returns after not being able to find the others.
- HIS FACE.
- “For my mistakes, you must do this.”
- Part of me is like this isn’t really YOUR choice to make, and the rest is like if this were the only thing the show did in an old-fashioned way, I would never complain.
- This is a good Jamie and Roger scene, in the woods. Probably the best we’ve ever gotten.
- “You’re gonna have to teach me to fight.”
- Roger dragging Jamie is giving me so many feels.
- Jamie is right, if he were to die, they should all try to go to the future. It just hurts to have him say it.
- And Roger praying broke me. It broke me. Roger doesn’t care as much for Jamie, not personally. But he cares for Bree, and Claire, and this family that he’s found that’s not complete without Jamie.
- Plus, fine, he might be starting to care for Jamie a bit.
- Marsali and Claire give me life. They’re a team.
- “Only one of us gets to be frightened at any time. Right now is my turn.”
- The moment of hesitation is perfectly valid. It’s a part of him they’re talking about.
- They said the word.
- Even that feels big.
- Brianna trying to save HER baby, and then Claire saving HERS.
- This episode will not let up.
- And God, Jamie is so pale and he still somehow made it outside.
- “Would you say that to my father, or Fergus?”
- Ian with the TEA.
- “I never thought I’d see the day I’d be ashamed of you, uncle.”
- The conversation between Fergus and Ian is perfection. They balance each other well. Fergus has always been way more kind and tender-hearted than you would think for someone with his life experience.
- “You and I have a father, and an uncle. We should be there for him when he needs us.”
- I could never leave you indeed.
- Do you ever watch this show and remember that line from The Princess Bride about how death cannot stop true love, only delay it for a while?
- I appreciate Jamie’s journey to this decision.
- Marsali is gonna have this baby, by herself, in the woods, cause that’s how badass she is.
- “You were right to say it.”
- Bree made a syringe.
- She MADE A SYRYNGE.
- Awww, baby.
- Now they’re buddies.
- “I knew you were the one thing to bring me back.”
- God, this ship.
- “Whether I’m dead, or you, whether we’re together or apart, I will always love you.”
- That was a perfect final scene. Perfect.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Monsters and Heroes”? Share with us in the comments below!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.