Outlander season 5 episode 6 review: Still a woman

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

This week’s episode of Outlander is one of the better ones this season, providing a moving backstory for Jocasta on the eve of her wedding.

If, like me, you are a Jocasta and Murtagh shipper (What do we call them? Mocasta? Jurtagh?), you’ll likely find this week’s episode of Outlander to be one of the better of the season so far.

“Better to Marry Than Burn” begins with a flashback to Jocasta’s life shortly after the failed Scottish uprising at the Battle of Culloden. As she, her husband, and their daughter flee Scotland for the United States, they’re stopped by Redcoats, and her daughter tragically gets shot in the melee.

This incident informs present-day Jacosta’s decision to marry Duncan Innis, a man so meaningless (at this point) we’ve barely heard two words from him, but it’s clear that Jocasta can hardly stand the sight of him.

However, it’s also clear that a marriage to boring old Duncan is far safer than what her heart truly desires: Murtagh Fitzgibbons.

And the marriage to Duncan is what is bringing everyone together this week, including Jamie and Governor Tryon once again. Of course, the regulator drama is the main propulsion behind everything this season, but Outlander is really starting to lose me here, and I’m (obviously) following things quite closely.

Last week, we learned that the Redcoats were going to stop the hunt for Murtagh and the Regulators, and this appeared to be true throughout the first half of this episode. By the end, however, Tryon (who is on his way to becoming governor of New York) is telling Jamie to get ready for full-on war.

Once again, Outlander kind of whiffs it, saving something that should be an exciting cliffhanger for a moment that instead feels shoehorned and anticlimactic. I’m hoping the series can get the political intrigue and action back on track this season because it has always excelled with these stories.

Outlander almost gets there with Claire and Jamie’s main conflict this week, a trap they attempt to set through Mr. Wylie and a game of whist in order to ensnare a mutual acquaintance: one Stephen Bonnet. Jamie becomes so single-minded in his quest for vengeance that he is willing to gamble Claire’s wedding ring from Frank. However, we lose much of the conflict between Jamie/Claire/Wylie, and it is again anticlimactic.

The conflict between Jamie and Claire over how to treat the situation is a good one, though, and one that begs questioning: What is Jamie’s motivation? Is he hunting down Bonnet because of Bree? Or for himself?

This culminates in a very first-season moment between Claire and Jamie after he’s won the game with Wylie and come to brag, but Claire is still upset. He reminds her, “You’re a woman like no other, Sassenach. But don’t forget. You’re still a woman.”

Claire rightly slaps him, but because this is Outlander, they’re soon having sex and making up. This wouldn’t bug me so much except that, once again, it all feels rushed and hurried, like everyone is just going through the motions.

There aren’t even that many sex scenes on Outlander anymore, and this one felt overdue somehow, but also kind of boring, which is very sad for a show that never used to have that problem in the romance department. (Not a hair was mussed, nor a cravat crumpled.)

(Sidebar: Speaking of anticlimactic, we get to see Lord John Grey again, but what is his purpose being there? In the show at large, I mean. We just get random glimpses of him to react to news alongside Jamie. I so badly want more for his character.)

Again, the big heart in this episode comes from Jocasta and Murtagh. Murtagh somehow manages to sneak his way into River Run with all the Redcoats around unscathed in order to make one last play before Jocasta gets married.

Jocasta is rightly frustrated, as she had told Murtagh about Duncan before she had accepted his proposal. But ultimately, she explains that she can never marry a man like Murtagh after surviving the death of her daughter and the Jacobite Rebellion, explaining that Murtagh is no different than her former husband.

While Murtagh swears he would put her first — after the Regulator war ends, of course — Jocasta knows there will always be a cause for men like Murtagh, that he is, “The sort of man I swore I would never give my heart to again.”

It’s a heartbreaking scene that gives the much-needed backstory for Jocasta as well as a compelling reason for fans to see Murtagh again. Yet after all that, Jocasta is literally never seen outside of her house for this whole episode. We don’t even see her wedding!

Jocasta’s nuptials may not be the most important thing, but good lord, could anything more obviously be a plot device?

However, there is still time for us to see Bonnet once again (ugh) as he learns that his “son” has inherited River Run officially from Jocasta. Now that Jamie and Claire are set to spring a trap on him, things will come to a head with him once again, and that’s not good for anyone.

dark. Next. Outlander season 5 episode 5 review: An underwhelming reunion

What did you think of this week’s episode of Outlander? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!