Outlander season 5 episode 2 review: A new apprentice

Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ /

This week’s episode of Outlander finds Claire and Jamie doing what they do best: navigating the political and social complexities of the past.

When we last left off with Outlander, Jamie had asked his guardian and friend, Murtagh, to “be hard to find” as Governor Tryon’s mandate to hunt down the Regulators was looming closer and closer. This week, Murtagh is unfortunately not doing a very good job at laying low. In fact, he’s literally tarring and feathering the justice of the peace in the name of the Regulators’ cause.

Unfortunately, Jamie’s Redcoat partner, Lieutenant Knox, is so devoted to the Crown he can’t even fathom sympathy for the Regulators. So when they get word of the riots, he’s all too happy to crack skulls for answers.

And Outlander finds itself back in excellent waters with Jamie, as he is once again forced to navigate the most precarious political situations with hundreds of lives in the balance. It’s what Outlander does best (aside from having lots of pretty faces for us to look at).

Jamie is undeniably shaken by the actions of the Regulators. He didn’t count on his godfather being so destructive. But he, ultimately, still sides with the Scots and has to find a way to help out the men who were captured, none of whom were Murtagh.

Thus, Jamie convinces Knox to let him talk to the captured Regulators first, Highlander to Highlander. Like true rebels, they stand up to Jamie and Knox, and Knox gets angrier and angrier as he demands to know where Murtagh is.

One of the men tries to pull a Spartacus and says he is Murtagh, and out of nowhere, Knox stabs him and kills him. A very freaked out Jamie tells him he just killed a man extrajudicially, but when the townsfolk who are keeping the men prisoner come in, Jamie tells them it was an act of self-defense.

That night, Jamie goes to free the Regulators and tells them to tell Murtagh to stay away and that it isn’t safe, but they respond that they have an army full of men with nothing left to lose. Once they get back to the Regulators’ camp, Murtagh says there must be good reason that Jamie told them not to go back.

The episode title, “Between Two Fires,” refers to Jamie having to weave between his true loyalty to Scotland and his alliance with Tryon, along with Murtagh’s loyalty to Jamie and his devotion to the Regulators’ cause. It’s a tricky place for our heroes to be in, but one we love to watch.

Meanwhile, Claire is keeping herself busy with a new patient in her amazing home clinic at Fraser’s Ridge. Unfortunately, his wife had given him mercury pills thinking it would help, but instead, the pills are accelerating the man’s death.

Claire tells the wife there’s nothing she can do for her husband, and Claire herself is very frustrated by the truth of it. A little later, Brianna comes in to see if Claire needs any help, only to walk in on Claire doing a full blown autopsy. We’re talking the guy’s ribcage is open and everything!

Some of the most fun Outlander has is when it very intentionally collides past with present. Through Claire, the writers seem to take very seriously the question, what would you do if you traveled back in time?

As a physician, Claire wants to help people wherever she is. So it only makes sense that she would keep up her medical cause, despite Brianna’s reservations. But as Claire makes her plans, there’s still a funeral to be had and a body to bury. And Claire keeps staring at Marsali for some reason…

Only Claire doesn’t bury the body at all, which she reveals to Marsali in one of the most amazing scenes to happen on this show in a long time. Turns out, Claire has been eyeing Marsali’s way with a knife because she thinks she’d make a fantastic apprentice surgeon.

The whole thing is really kind of sweet, once Claire moves past her Hannibal Lecter moment and Marsali is able to wrap her head around it (and concede that Claire is, indeed, not a witch).

You’d think that having a secret cadaver and recruiting Marsali into her cult would be enough, but not for Claire. She also has time to manufacture a pamphlet of recommendations with Brianna’s help (forged under the local doctor’s name so it’s more trustworthy).

And best of all, Claire bakes an insane amount of bread, hoping it will mold so she can invent Penicillin! This is what I’m talking about!

Outlander has never really stated what its thesis is on time travel, for example, whether the Butterfly Effect applies. It seems mostly content to have fun adventures happen in the past and stay in the past.

But with this bold move, Brianna asks her mom whether it isn’t a little like playing God, and Claire basically responds that time is a flat circle. They’ve both been back and forth through the stones and affected people dead and alive in both times. If she can help people in the past, why not?

It’s still an ethically questionable decision, but one that I’m here for as Claire has been a little too passive for too long. And Dr. Claire is also the best Claire, let’s be real.

Lastly, we have to talk about Roger. Ugh.

I don’t think this man has done anything but whine since he showed up on the scene. He’s married to a gorgeous woman whom he claims to love. He’s a history nerd living in the past. What more could he want? Okay, the safety of modern times, sure. But still, he is so selfish.

Roger in one breath complains about Jamie being his captain and not his family, while also complaining about being left behind, not realizing that Jamie did so to protect his weak 20th-century academic self. Worst of all, he can’t accept that he’s with his wife and son and be happy with that. Near the end of the episode, Jemmy takes his first steps, and Roger misses it because he find Brianna’s drawings of Bonnet.

I’m hoping that this revelation propels him toward wanting to help Brianna recover from her trauma and find a way to make her feel safe, not what I fear it’s leaning toward, which is him continuing to have his masculinity threatened because Bonnet may be the father of Jemmy.

Speaking of which, the slimy dude is like Beetlejuice. Say his name three times and he comes back from the dead. We already knew he was “around,” but now we see him onscreen officially, blinding a man instead of outright killing him because he’s trying to set a good example as he’s “a father now…”

Next. Outlander season 5 premiere review: A Fraser's Ridge wedding. dark

What did you think of this week’s episode of Outlander? Sound off in the comments below!