Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander Season 5, Episode 8, “Famous Last Words.”
Remember when Outlander took a two week break without telling us? Thankfully, it’s back. Last episode, “The Ballad of Roger Mac,” was, without question, the best episode in two years. I can still hear Sam Heughan’s Jamie screaming, “Help me,” and then begging Murtagh to live as Claire looked on helplessly. The episode ended with Brianna, Jamie and Claire seeing Roger’s hanging body. This episode, somebody returns, someone is more alive than we thought, and Jamie and Claire are the cutest freaking grandparents you will ever meet ever. Here we go.
Roger’s Last Words
We begin with a flashback to Roger and Bree in the future. At first, I thought Outlander was pulling a Jamie/Claire 20-year jump on us, and I would not have been able to handle it. Roger teaches his class in a very Roger-splainy way. Rogersplaining for those of you who don’t know is when Roger explains shit. And it’s boring. And I could do without it. Brianna seems to enjoy his ‘splaining. Roger’s class asks him what his last words will be. Get ready for this episode to beat us over the head with obvious Roger metaphors. We also kind of know Roger is not dead. Because Roger’s not-so-death was probably the worst kept secret.
Claire Brings Someone Back to Life
The episode then switches to a black and white silent film, which is kind of jarring. I think they’re trying to show this from Roger’s perspective. But it doesn’t really work.
It picks back up when Jamie, Claire and Brianna find Roger’s hanging body. Jamie screams, “He’s breathing!” Claire quickly performs a field-side tracheotomy, as Claire does! She sticks a wee little straw in Roger’s neck. Where Claire gets this straw from, we will never know, but she’s Claire and you just don’t question this, okay?!
The Sound of Silence
Three months later, Claire is checking on a very angry Roger. She tells him his throat is healing well and the scar has faded. Roger looks deeply upset. Claire tells him he needs to try and speak. But he just stares blankly and says nothing. Brianna says “I can pretend we’re in one of those silent movies that we used to see in Oxford.” Which explains the black and white silent film angle for this episode, I guess. (Outlander, when you have to have a character explain why you are using a visual tool, that means it’s probably not going to work well). In fact, @IAmNotTrisha’s reaction might be the most accurate as to how most of the audience felt.
Claire and Bree leave, and Roger flashes back to Buck and the soldiers hanging him. Okay, I do feel bad for Roger — he looks broken and has severe PTSD. But I really hope Roger’s trauma doesn’t saddle Brianna with placating Roger even more than she already has all season. Even Brianna’s trauma turned into Roger’s trauma since he made himself the focus by making it about the fact that he might not be Jemmy’s father. She didn’t cheat on you dude. She was assaulted and impregnated. You wanker. Wow, I’m still really mad at Roger. And the poor guy almost died. I might be a heartless monster.
Claire & Brianna
We finally get the mother/daughter scene we need when Brianna confides in Claire that she’s afraid Roger is lost. Claire says it’s just shell shock and then says, “No matter how lost he is, have faith you’ll find him.” This reminds me of all the times Jamie and Claire saved each other, specifically Jamie’s attack by Blackjack Randall in Season one — and, sorry, but Brianna and Roger have shown no potential to be that strong of a couple.
But it is good to finally see Claire with her daughter. The only other thing missing this season are significant Jamie and Brianna scenes. Last episode, we got one second of them looking at each other. That bond needs to be shown more. It’s a big miss for the show not to play up Brianna’s relationship with both her parents. Plus, Sophie Skelton shines most when playing opposite Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.
Jocasta Visits Murtagh’s Grave
Jocasta visits Jamie and they mourn Murtagh together. At Murtagh’s grave, Jocasta sings a song. (Maria Doyle Kennedy has the voice of an angel). Jocasta leaves and Jamie sits alone, with a single tear rolling down his cheek. The single-tear-cry always gets me. It’s good that they haven’t glossed over the loss of Murtagh for Jamie. In Sam Heughan’s performance, you can tell a part of Jamie has died.
Lord John Grey Gives Brianna a Gift
Lord John Grey delivers a letter to Jamie, Claire and Bree from Gov. Tryon apologizing for hanging Roger and granting him 5000 acres of land. Oopsie, here’s some land! Kisses. Is Lord John Grey just a mailman now? I kind of wish Bree was married to Lord John. Sure, he’s in love with her father and is not straight, but this seems like a minor thing they could get over!
This is a nice family moment. Claire is, of course, handing out the drinks, as Claire does! She is either performing surgery or having a drink, there is no middle ground! But then Bree storms out and says Tryon can keep his land, she needs her husband back.
Meanwhile, Roger flashes back (hi, annoying black and white silent film) and we see how he survived. Great, now both Roger and Bree have PTSD. (Did not mean for that to rhyme).
Lord John Grey and Brianna have real chemistry. He gives her a compass/watch device. In this 2 min scene, Lord John and Bree have more chemistry than Roger and Bree. Period. Fight me.
Jamie and Claire Grieve Murtagh
Jamie enters and puts down his glass of beer. He looks a little sloshed and sad. Sad and sloshed JAMMF. Jamie asks Claire if there is a cure for grief in her time? Claire says just time and that time heals all wounds. And then the scene abruptly cuts out. What?! Time heals all wounds? I think we saw that time doesn’t always heal all wounds with the 20 years Jamie and Claire were apart.
We needed more time to see them grieve Murtagh together. They legit cut right as the intimacy was starting. Murtagh has been with Jamie and Claire since the moment they met. He was the reason they did, in fact! He saved Claire all those years ago. The three of them deserved a much longer scene that included flashbacks. Besides Ian, Jenny, Jamie and Claire, Murtagh is the only original character.
And what did they cut to? A montage of the sky and people doing laundry! Cutting Jamie and Claire in favor of a weird laundry montage by the river!! Really? Wow, what an epic waste of minutes. The editing is so bad here, I thought my computer broke and had skipped a scene. I actually REWOUND it to make sure. Here’s how they could have made that stronger, have Jamie and Claire finish their scene, then cut to, “Four months later.”
The show released a promo photo (pictured below, on the left) that we do not even get to see in the scene! It ends before this happens. Outlander, don’t be releasing exciting promo photos and then not play the whole scene. It’s uncool in these times. What we see, is what we want to get.
Roger Scares Jemmy
Jamie and Claire arrive at Roger and Bree’s cabin. Roger is woodworking and Jamie seems annoyed by this. I LOVE how he still shades him! (Wait, is Jamie hungover?) Hard to tell if he’s hungover or annoyed with Roger, or both. Let’s go with both.
Jemmy is now a toddler. How much time passed? Pretty sure this is another new baby actor playing Jemmy. But he’s hella cute. They’re all enjoying sweet family time, where Jamie uses a Gaelic word to affectionately refer to Jemmy. But then Roger screams when Jemmy almost touches the hot tea kettle. Jemmy is scared AF. But Roger spoke! Claire and Jamie take a crying Jemmy out and Bree asks Roger if he can speak. She says, “Try for me,” but he walks away.
Bree sings, “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” to Jemmy and Roger breaks down alone outside. Wow, Sophie Skelton can sing! She sounds like a beautiful bird. Why have they not let her sing before? Oh yeah, the Roger show, where Bree is a supporting character.
Jamie and Claire are the Grandparents We All Want
Then the cutest scene of the whole season happens. Claire and Jamie play hide and seek with Jemmy. Ugh, these two were robbed of raising a child together. Go ahead and watch this on repeat, care of @clairress on Twitter.
Jamie is not very good at hiding, guys — like really bad at it. All of sudden hide and seek turns into a horror show. Jamie hears something that sounds like a bear in the bushes to me! He tells Claire to go inside with Jemmy and pulls out his knife, when a huge hog jumps out. But then it’s swiftly killed by an arrow! Enter Young Ian, who is now a Mohawk. Claire and Jamie are elated to see him. Ian doesn’t seem as happy. Jamie hugs their nephew and Ian looks sad. And, of course, Rollo, Ian’s dog, is back too.
They bring Ian back to see Roger and Bree. And when Roger hugs Ian, it’s one of the most powerful moments of the episode. In Season 4, Ian stayed with the Mohawk in exchange for Roger’s freedom. Then Ian and Bree hug, and Jamie and Claire and Jemmy look like the happiest family ever. Remember when young Ian proposed to Bree! Not your cousin little dude!
Jamie and Claire show Ian Fraser’s Ridge, and he says what we all think every time we see it, “It’s big.” That’s what he said. Sorry. But it’s ridiculously huge. Too big.
Ian says, “I’ll butcher the pig.” Claire tells him to relax someone else can do it. But he replies, “I killed him. I’ll do it.” Something is NOT right with Young Ian. It’s like his humanity seems to be gone. Claire says, “You do whatever you want, boo.”
Marsali Reads Roger’s Tarot Cards
Marsali and Roger are hanging out. Poor choice of words. Marsali has her handy dandy tarot cards out. She pulls out the Hang Man card. Too soon, Marsali! Roger freaks. Let me just say, he is not a fun tarot card friend! Flashes back to his hanging (via black and white silent film, AGAIN). Poor Marsali! Bree comes in and Marsali runs out.
And then something amazing happens. Bree finds her voice. Literally. (And I don’t mean when she sings like that beautiful bird). Bree tells Roger they’re just cards. Roger cries. And then Bree gets mad. She references her rape and says she felt like giving up but fought for them. She says that she and Jemmy need Roger. I see she is going for the tough love approach here. (Like her Mom did in season one with Jamie). Roger stays quiet. Bree asks him if he will fight for them.
Where is Fergus? Why has he been off screen for most of this season? Où est Le Fergus Fraser? (A little French in honor of Fergus, you’re welcome, though that translates badly to “Where is The Fergus Fraser.”)
Fraser Family Dinner
Ooh, we get a fun fam dinner, complete with Lizzy hitting on Ian. Lizzy needs to get some, she hits on every available guy in every episode. Hi Beardsley twins, Lizzy saw one of your butts, and I’m pretty sure she liked it. Jamie says a prayer thanking god for young Ian coming home. But Young Ian looks super angry! Not my favorite dinner guest! Jamie sort of notices and Claire definitely does. Marsali asks Ian about the Mohawk. He says they were good people. Everyone is awkwardly quiet and Claire asks if he plans to return to the Mohawk. He replies, “No.” Good talk, Ian.
Marsali might be my favorite in these scenes. She’s basically everyone’s inner voice, except she says it out loud, and does not give a sh*t. Lauren Lyle has comic timing and chemistry with virtually every character. Okay, Fergus is in this dinner scene. But he doesn’t talk. How is it possible that Roger, who has no voice, talks more than Fergus? Explain yourself, show.
Jamie asks Bree about the land and she says Roger isn’t ready. He then says Ian can go with you to measure the land! Jamie is the cutest clueless dad here. Young Ian continues to look pissed, and Claire is like, “Um, let’s give him some time.”
Young Ian and his bad attitude kind of ruined Jamie and Claire’s fam dinner scene for me! Their only big dinner scene in a long time, and he made it super awkward. Like those awkward office parties we all have, where there’s no music and everyone just stares at each other, not wanting to be the first one to eat the weird office snacks.
Later that night, Roger plays the guitar and whisper sings and flashes back to his hanging. Again. Okay show, too many flashbacks. I get it, he’s got trauma. But stop it with the flashbacks.
Jamie & Young Ian
Jamie finds Ian on the porch and asks what’s wrong. He says, “I can’t tell you, but there are things you keep hidden from others. You and Claire both.” Ian has always known something’s up with his Uncle Jamie and Auntie Claire, and he just chooses not to ask questions. Jamie says he’s heartsick seeing Ian so sad, and Ian says not to worry. So Jamie just sits with him. Such a good uncle.
Then the cutest character in all of Outlander, Marsali and Fergus’s son, has a scene with Young Ian and kind of melts his angry heart. Marsali and Ian talk about their sisters. Man, he’s angry. Marsali says she misses her sister and feels guilty for how happy she is with her Fraser fam. Let’s just pause one more time to enjoy that Marsali’s mother, Laoghaire, probably hates the Frasers now more than ever. Her arch enemy, Claire, is basically Marsali’s mother now! I don’t like Laoghaire, in case I have not made that Claire, er clear.
Roger & Young Ian’s Depressing Camping Trip
Roger and Ian decide to go measure the new land. Before Roger leaves, Brianna makes him a paper airplane and gives a really good speech about love and marriage. Roger puts the airplane is his Urban Outfitters leather bag, and he and Ian set out. Two sad guys. Measuring shit.
Meanwhile, Claire says some water hemlock is missing. Water hemlock is dangerous! (Google it, it is). So did Ian or Roger take it? Who’s up here stealing the water hemlock?!
Speaking of those sad sacks, Roger and Ian bond under a tree. It’s a sweet scene, which is hard to do when one of them can’t speak. Roger’s PTSD trauma (and ours with the damn black and white flashback) happens again.
Jamie, Claire & Adso
Jamie and Claire are in bed with their cat, Adso. And Jamie is inexplicably wearing his boots in bed. Though as we saw in episode 5.1, they are not easy to take off, so maybe that’s why.
Note: Adso only appears for 1.5 seconds. This seems unfair to us and that cute-ass cat. Claire asks Jamie if he thinks Roger might not come home, then tells him about the water hemlock. Claire says, “When you were suffering, all those years ago…” Jamie finishes, “I didn’t want to go on living.” Remember how powerful those scenes were? That season one magic was definitely in the last episode.
Roger stands on the edge of a cliff and flashes back to his hanging again. We learn that when he was being hung, the last face he saw was Brianna’s. He throws the paper plane off the ledge, and then steps away from the ledge. The next morning, Roger wakes up and Young Ian missing. We see him burying his ax under some leaves. Roger and Ian are both having a lot of angst in these woods. Young Ian then pulls out what I believe to be are french fries at first, but are clearly not. Omg, it’s the water hemlock! Roger kicks it away! Young Ian was going to kill himself!
Two suicidal boys on the worst camping trip ever. Never going camping with them.
How does Ian repay Roger for saving him? He leaps on him. They have a heated discussion on top of each other and we learn that Ian lost a love. A girl who is not dead, but is lost to him. He felt killing himself would be more peaceful. And Roger speaks.
Roger Finds His Voice
Roger returns home to Brianna and says her name. She’s speechless. Roger says he will never be who he was, but he’ll always sing for her. I’m going to be honest. They should have had Roger not have a voice for two episodes at least. This felt rushed.
The episode ends with Bree and Roger singing, “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” over the credits. Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin have very good voices. Nice way to go out. I’m kind of on board with Brianna and Roger becoming the 18th century Von Trapp Family. Outlander: the Musical? Okay, I’ll stop. (Claire and Murtagh basically did that in Season 1).
What Worked and What Didn’t in “Famous Last Words”
Overall, this episode could have lost the silent film flashbacks, had smoother, less jumpy editing, and let us enjoy more of the family moments. With a good script and good acting, it’s a shame for the episode to fall apart in editing. It was disjointed and choppy. And nobody needs seven Roger hanging flashbacks. Why?! (Yes, I counted, which means I had to watch this numerous times to calculate that).
The black and white effect diminished the emotion of these scenes for me, personally. I think it would have been much sadder and more emotional, had they not used a campy tool like this. If they were going to do anything from Roger’s point of view, it should have been filmed with no sound. Imagine how disconcerting that would have been. Silence is very unnerving.
This episode should have included more substantial Jamie and Claire scenes. Theirs felt more ornamental. And the audience, like @TinyTunney from Twitter, noticed! I would have skipped three or four of the hanging flashbacks in favor of Jamie and Claire finishing their scene about Jamie’s Murtagh grief, and added two more scenes with Jamie and Claire with their grandson. That hide and seek scene was the gold in this very confusing episode.
Next episode: *Spoilers: This. Episode. Looks. Good. Jamie tells Roger that if he can’t kill Stephen Bonnet, then Roger must. Roger tells Brianna that Jamie believes Bonnet has the right to take Jemmy away from them. Come again? How so, exactly? Claire tells Brianna if she were to lose her or Jamie, she would never be whole. Uh oh, is that an omen? Then we see Brianna running for her life. Claire tells someone, “Only one of us is allowed to be frightened at once, right now it’s my turn.” There are a lot of guns and shooting in this episode. Jamie shoots a gun and then Claire does. I mean she really shoots right at the camera. That gun looks bigger than Caitriona Balfe, but somehow this look works for Claire. And I don’t even like guns!
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org or text “START” to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.
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