Outlander: The Fiery Cross

"Je suis prest."

An episode about vows, and not just of the wedding variety.

I should start with the wedding, though. From Jamie giving Brianna something old, new, borrowed and blue, and draping his mother's pearls around her throat, to the guest list that included practically everyone in the cast and couple of hundred extras, it was grand and memorable and a lot of fun to watch.

While Claire and Brianna had some lovely moments as mother and daughter (including, briefly, the mashed potato and the twist), the focus was mostly on Jamie's still combative relationship with Roger. The opening scene with the cutthroat razor was funny but adversarial as well, with Jamie aggressively positioning Roger's head for the razor while making conversational jabs about Roger not being able to provide for his new family.

And there were a number of derogatory remarks throughout the episode about Roger as a scholar, a singer, and god forbid, a Presbyterian. Let's face it, Jamie Fraser would be an extremely intimidating father-in-law for anyone to have. Even Claire, as pro-Roger as she is, wondered how Roger would manage fighting in Jamie's new militia. But interestingly, it was Auntie Jocasta's deliberate insults about changing her will that pushed Roger into a blood vow acknowledging baby Jemmy as his own son, a moment that made Bree very happy.

Bree didn't enjoy her wedding night, though. Overhearing Jamie and Lord John talking about the fact that Stephen Bonnet was still alive gave Bree flashbacks that clearly ruined the evening for her. But I have to give Outlander credit for that adorable three generational montage of love and sex set to the lighthearted sixties song "L-O-V-E" that Roger sang to Bree. For me, the best part was Jamie and Claire constantly interrupted by their grandson.

Alone in a shed somewhere, Murtagh and Jocasta made love for what felt like the last time. They talked about fairies and enchantment, but clearly, reality had finally come to call. Jocasta told him that Duncan Innes had proposed marriage to her and Murtagh said he wouldn't stand in the way, which was clearly not what Jocasta wanted to hear. But what else can Murtagh do? Governor Tryon had crashed the wedding with a platoon in tow, determined to "eradicate the Regulator pestilence," and Jamie couldn't put Tryon off any longer.

Since he is married to a time traveler, Jamie knows that the American Revolution is coming, and who will ultimately win. But in taking the Governor's huge land grant, Jamie has also committed himself to the Crown. The solution Jamie came up with to this massive problem was an oathtaking, much like the one for his uncle Colum back in season one's "The Gathering." Jamie asked the settlers at Fraser's Ridge to swear loyalty to himself as their chief, instead of the Crown, and that was smart. He even donned his kilt again for this particular occasion.

(I liked that Roger the historian already knew the oath and didn't need prompting from Jamie. Although who did that Morton guy think he was, pushing himself before Roger and Fergus?)

This episode was bookended by a flashback to Murtagh's vow to protect and serve Jamie, a child who had just lost his mother, and adult Jamie releasing Murtagh from that vow in the end. Jamie had tears in his eyes as he and Murtagh said goodbye. So did I.



A few more observations. The Outlander powers that be clearly rethought some of the hair, make-up and costume decisions they made in season four, and everyone in the cast looked terrific. Especially Jamie. It was nice to see all of Sam Heughan's face for a change, and I liked the new white in his hair. Claire's hair doesn't look so oddly streaked anymore, and Roger in particular looked better than he ever has – although after what happened to him in season four, any change would have been an improvement. (Brianna has always looked beautiful; no need for improvement there.)

It was also nice to see so many returning characters, as well as new ones. It was lovely that Lord John was able to attend. (William is conveniently in England, so that particular casting nightmare was averted; too bad he missed his sister's wedding, though.) Fergus and Marsali's eldest, Germain, was suddenly old enough to do lines. An obvious new addition was the young Josiah with the tonsilitis and the brand mark of "thief," whom Jamie recruited for his hunting skills.

Book versus series

Book five of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is entitled The Fiery Cross and we indeed saw one at the oathtaking, although fortunately, they went more Celtish than reminiscent of the KKK. The opening scenes in the book indeed included Bree and Roger's wedding, Jocasta insulting Roger, Claire treating patients and Tryon (remotely) making life difficult for Jamie, but it all took place at the fall Gathering instead of at Fraser's Ridge. I thought setting it in the summer at the new "big house" was a good decision on the part of the producers. Definitely less chaotic than tents and campfires in an open field in the rain.



Season four ended in June of 1770. Time has clearly passed, although Jemmy is still in a cradle. No date was given in this premiere, but the action in The Fiery Cross began in October of 1770.

Bits:

— New credits for a change, with the theme song in a choral arrangement. I didn't hate it. Let's see how I feel by the end of the season.

— The title card vignette was Bree's wedding dress and the decorations in her hair.

— Loved the drunken tongue twisters, and that pregnant Marsali won.

— Poor Lord John was sitting all alone while everyone else was dancing, having sex or passing out. John needs a love interest other than Jamie, stat.

— Roger mentioned having another wedding when they "went back," and Bree didn't respond. How can they possibly go back to their own time with a baby, though?

— It was lovely to see Lallybroch again, even in flashback. I've missed it.

— Jamie observed that Claire needs a medical assistant. Although she does finally have a doctor's office now. Did you notice the two beds in the corners?

— The music during the oathtaking was also heard in season two's "Je Suis Prest."

— I started watching Outlander this past summer, 2019, became a huge fan of the show, and went on a reviewing blitz. So this was my first Droughtlander. My next will be a lot longer, sadly.

— Starz released this episode on demand at midnight on Valentine's Day. I wasn't sure when I should post this review but decided on Sunday, when everyone would have had a chance to see it.

Quotes:

Bree: "The best thing, I don't have to imagine you."
Jamie: "It is a blessing you came to me. But having just gotten you back, must I give you away so soon?"
Bree: "Da, no matter where I am, I will always be your wee girl."
Awwwwwwwww.

Roger: "So your father thinks I'm a heretic."
Bree: "Oh, it's not just you. He thinks all Presbyterians are."

Marsali: "There was an old pheasant and he's not too pleasant, and though I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'll be plucking pheasants till the pheasant plucking's done."

Roger: "A wise man once said, no one dances sober unless he's insane. Let's grab a drink."

Claire: "Frank would have been so proud of you. And he'd be delighted that you're marrying an Oxford man. We used to joke, living in Boston, that you'd end up with a Chad or a Chip."

Jamie: "I'll leave you to your patients and to wage war with your wee invisible beasties."
Claire: "Bacteria. Certainly does feel like a war."
Jamie: "Then you must find yourself a lieutenant."



Jamie: (to Murtagh) "Go, please. Be hard to find."

Was this episode really good, or was I just wildly happy that there is finally new Outlander to watch? Four out of four wee beasties,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

15 comments:

gingerp said...

Great observations and recollections of our show's Season 5 Episode 1! I thought it was wildly good and love the new version of the theme song. I happily sated by this episode but do look forward to MORE!

Unknown said...

I loved this episode so much! Have watched it over, and over...still funny, and in parts, I still weep.

milostanfield said...

Droughtlander’s over! (but now we have to wait a whole week!). I think the choral theme for the opening is a way to say that this is now about more than just Jamie and Claire in the wilderness. That they are part of a community now, and as Claire, Bree, and Roger know, it’s soon going to be "interesting times" on that level.

That wedding night montage was so moving. Every stage in a married life woven into a DNA like tapestry. We’ve come to know these characters so well now that it only takes a glance, a head movement, a facial tick, and we know everything that is going on. Knowing all that made the montage so wordlessly possible. Other than the song lyrics (and a few baby waahs) I don’t think anyone even said a word. It was like plucking a musical string. And we could hear (see!) all of the overtones and how they interrelate.

Then the reveal about Bonnet rips through the whole night like a knife. I felt so badly for Bree. With Jamie up to his neck in redcoats and "the hunt", is he even going to have time to deal with Bonnet? Will that be up to Claire, Bree, and Roger? Does Bonnet come back for "his" son? Interesting times.

Billie, you watched this whole show in one summer?! Wow. I’d be a weepy puddle if I tried that. We’re glad you came through the stones to join us.

Billie Doux said...

milostanfield, I not only watched the entire series several times since July, I wrote 42 episode reviews so that the entire series would be covered. I haven't been this obsessed with a show since Buffy the Vampire Slayer. :)

Maggie said...

I didn’t discover Outlander until mid-September and fell in love. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it now. Your review of S5E1 was spot on. You even mentioned a few things I hadn’t thought about, such as the Celtic cross as opposed to a traditional cross. I’m looking forward to episode two.
Have you started reading the books? I started in mid-January and am starting An Echo in the Bone today. I love them as much, if not more, than the series.

Billie Doux said...

Maggie, thanks so much -- and I am indeed a fan of the books now, too. As soon as I finished watching season four (the first time), I started on the books and am eagerly awaiting book nine. Hopefully it will be published right about the time season five finishes airing. That would be a nice beginning-of-Droughtlander treat.

Anonymous said...

So glad that you're finally one of us, Billie :P

Juliette said...

Bille, I love your spoiler free notes about the books - I'm fascinated by book adaptations and what gets changed adn I haven't read these ones (yet)!

Billie Doux said...

Juls, thanks so much! The Outlander books are so long and dense that the last time I read them, I took extensive notes so I could keep them separate in my head from the series. The Outlander producers do use a *lot* of Diana Gabaldon's plotting and dialogue, and they consult with her a great deal. She wrote a season two episode, "Vengeance is Mine," and also the penultimate episode of season five, not yet aired.

Krisha said...

Ahh Billie I feel the same...except my past obsession was Alias. And since I finished amidst season 5 at least I didn’t have droughtlander as of yet. And yes I’m afraid the next one will be longer than ever.

Krisha said...

You captured many of my favorite moments as well! Another one for me was that small moment when Bree said Je Suis Prest to Jamie just before they walked out to the wedding

Billie Doux said...

Krisha, season five already! I'm impressed. :)

ChrisB said...

I love the new version of the theme song. I was crazy about last season's as well, but there is something about the choral element of this one that spoke to me.

Good episode that I enjoyed. I always like the happy times as they are so few and far between. This was not a perfect day, but there was a lot to be happy about in it.

Jamie making himself the laird was a stroke of genius. Can't wait to see where this goes.

And, because God loves us, Jamie is back in his kilt. Oh how I have missed that!

Josie Kafka said...

Poor Lord John was sitting all alone while everyone else was dancing, having sex or passing out. John needs a love interest other than Jamie, stat.

I liked that scene, but was a bit disappointed. I wanted Lord John to realize everyone around him was passed out, so he could finally recite some Shakespeare. (I really convinced myself it was coming, too. Hence the disappointment.)

Billie Doux said...

Here's the rundown on the Blu-ray's podcast for this episode. I'm posting these on a Facebook Outlander group:

I'm listening to the season five podcasts on my new Blu-ray set (birthday present). Matt Roberts does the podcast alone for "The Fiery Cross" (5x1) this time, and here are a few things he said.

Roberts talks a lot about the differences between the book and the series, and why they made the choices they did. "The Fiery Cross" begins with several hundred pages in only one day, which would have been very difficult to film, so they went off book and made a bigger deal of the wedding, essentially combining the wedding and the Gathering at the new Big House.

Roberts said they wanted to show more of the personal, small moments between characters that they maybe didn't do enough of in season four. He said very good things about Sam Heughan's acting skills, several times and during specific scenes. Mentioned that it's a production and time commitment when they show Jamie's back -- several hours in prep for Sam, of course -- so they carefully consider when to do it.

Finally, in post while editing, there were a lot of tears in the room when Jamie released Murtagh from his vow and sent him away at the end of the episode.