There’s a lot of Outlander 5×11 “Journeycakes” that’s setup. Setup for another horrible event, setup for a season finale that’s sure to break our hearts, and setup for …well, the next stage of this journey for both The Frasers and The Mackenzies.
Because Roger and Brianna were always going to leave. That was the obvious writing decision. Except we didn’t expect them to leave now (did they actually manage to leave?), just as we didn’t expect to see this season end with Claire’s kidnapping. We thought we had more time to prepare.
And yet – would more time have allowed us to prepare for it? Have we ever been prepared, every time Outlander has pulled this card on us? The answer is, of course, no. There’s no way to be prepared for the violence that is sure to come out way, for the pain.
The worst part, in many ways, isn’t even the fact that this is almost surely happening again, the worst part is that we’ll also be subjected to the same old excuses. “That’s just the way things were back in the past,” they’ll say. “We’re just trying to be historically accurate,” they’ll claim, even as Ulysses is allowed to sail off and be free, helped by The Frasers and Lord John.
Let me be clear here: I didn’t want anything bad to happen to Ulysses. But I find it especially galling in moments like this that Outlander is willing to hand wave away the realities of slavery but is incapable of doing the same hand waving when it comes to the “typical” violence of the times.
Either you care about being historically accurate, or you don’t, not completely, and the truth is Outlander has only ever cared when it suited the show to care.
And the funny part? Outlander has never needed this part of “reality” to be an outstanding show. I don’t watch because I want a history lesson, I watch because I want a family drama, and a great romance. Neither of those requires the same recycled storyline, over and over again, just changing the victim.
It hasn’t happened yet, you might say. It could end up being not as bad as you think. And you are right, it could be. But Outlander hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt, so I absolutely refuse to give it to them.
What they’ve earned is my condemnation, and not even a mostly light episode with great character moments between all the characters we’ve grown to love, more of a focus on Marsali and Fergus, and an overdue great scene between Jamie and Brianna, not to mention some great Jamie and Claire scenes, is going to make me forget about this.
People ask me about my favorite shows often. There are tons that come to mind that don’t require a qualifier. Outlander rarely comes to mind, but even when it does, I always feel the need to warn people. “Only watch it if you can stomach violence, and a lot of it. Sexual violence, at that.”
I shouldn’t have to qualify a show that could have been amazing this way. I really shouldn’t.
And as I sit here writing I recognize this isn’t just on the show, this is on Diana Gabaldon as well. She’s the one who wrote the books (and this episode) and created so much good, so much stuff we love. But she’s also the one who made these characters go through the things they have, maybe in the misguided idea that this is the only way to add conflict, maybe because she really thinks THIS is the one reality from the past she absolutely has to show, I don’t know.
But I don’t like it. No, it’s more than that. I hate it. And I hate that I have to review next week’s episode, I really, really do.
Outlander is the only show that has ever made me feel that.
Things I think I think:
- If I were stuck in the past PB&J sandwiches wouldn’t be what I missed the most.
- No one’s shocked to hear Jemmy can travel.
- “We can protect ourselves.”
- Famous last words.
- There’s still a criminal lack of Fergus in this episode, even if there’s more than usual.
- Ian’s face when he gets it is precious. I’m glad he knows.
- This fantasy of the slave who really, really wants to stay a slave bugs the hell out of me. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure, Ulysses was free but he loved Jocasta so much he stayed and worked for free, and that was, of course, the norm, cause slavery wasn’t actually that bad.
- Imma puke.
- Brianna looks like the last thing she wants is to go back.
- We get it, show, you love Lord John. But why is he here again?
- “I remembered you for 20 years.”
- Straight to the heart.
- I love that there’s not even a whisper of a notion of Claire going back with Bree and Roger.
- Oh yay we get a love scene so we don’t feel so sad about what’s coming.
- Jamie, do you even really have to ask?
- Also, the hand waving away of the problematic nature of the HOW William was conceived is also pretty bad.
- “You have made my life whole.”
- Marsali’s “You have become like a sister to me” HURT ME.
- Aw, Lizzie and Brianna.
- WHY DO PEOPLE LEAVE SHIT THAT CAN GET THEM IN TROUBLE JUST LAYING AROUND?
- Roger and Ian is a relationship I surprisingly want more of.
- All this work for PB&J.
- Are they shocked at what’s going on in the future or did something go wrong?
- GO WITH HIM CLAIRE.
- Damn it.
- Marsali with the scissors.
- “The bad man took grandmamma.”
- I CRY.
- Well, there’s your fiery cross.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Journeycakes”? Share with us in the comments below!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.