RECAP: ‘Outlander,” Episode 501, Season 5: ‘The Fiery Cross’ by Denny S. Bryce

Outlander Season 5

Hello Frolic!

I am back, bringing you recaps of the show that has had me in its clutches (or its rapture) for five freaking years! And they owe me something for my devotion and for surviving another Droughtlander (which may be one and the same).  So what have they done for me lately? The answer is (drumroll, please) – gave me the best season opener in the history of Outlander season openers (debate me if you dare–😀).

The Fiery Cross was wondrous from opening shot to closing tears.

Summary provided by StarzFollowing celebrations in honor of Brianna and Roger’s wedding, Governor Tryon reminds Jamie of his obligation to hunt down and kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons. He also expects Jamie to raise a militia to quell the Regulators if necessary. Brianna, meanwhile, is reminded of her past trauma when she inadvertently hears some devastating news.

Photo: Starz. Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser)


The most prominent spoiler was from Starz when they announced the early release of episode 501 on the app so that fans could celebrate Valentine’s Day with the Frasers. So, kudos!

Now for the recap, right off, I want to give a generous round of applause for the new opening credits–beautiful. It touched my heart as did the opening scene.

A younger Murtagh walks in slow-motion toward Jamie (a wee Jamie☺), shortly after Ellen, Jamie’s mother’s passing. Devotion is pledged and promises made, which hits at the heart of the episode’s key themes– nostalgia, accepting what is, and preparing for what will come.

Next, we move on to adult Jamie who is nervously watching the unskilled Roger attempt to shave using a ‘cut-throat’ razor. It’s Roger and Bree’s wedding day, and Jamie doesn’t want Roger to kill himself before he weds. Jamie pulls out his spectacles and takes the blade out of Roger’s hands. It’s endearing, considering the beating Jamie gave Roger last season. The entire “trust-me” moment is well-played. 

Claire’s voice-over then catches us up on the changes to Frasers Ridge. The community has grown. The house Jamie has built is substantial and befits a man (and a family) of his stature. It is also one of several on Fraser’s Ridge. 

Claire and Brianna are preparing for Bree’s wedding. Jamie is also on the scene as he gathers some traditional gifts for the bride-to-be—something borrowed, something blue, something new (funny moment, because the ‘new’ is whiskey). They touch upon a frequently mentioned concern throughout the episode: Roger’s lack of useful skills for a man living in pre-Revolutionary War America. Jamie also throws some serious shade (whenever he can) at Roger’s only ability, his singing, which won’t keep food on the MacKenzie table.

But Brianna is undaunted. When Jamie asks, “Are you ready?” Brianna’s response is Je seus prest. Jamie’s word from season one Outlander before he faced off with one of his uncles. So, we know Brianna will make this marriage work.

The wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch. There’s even a flashback to the wedding of Jamie and Claire. Remember, I mentioned nostalgia? The post-wedding celebration is a community affair, as well, as that season one wedding. There are familiar faces in attendance, including Aunt Jocasta and her manservant Ulysses, Fergus and his wife, Marsali, Lord John, and Governor Tryon, who brought Lieutenant Knox (and other British soldiers), who provide the underlying tension of the episode. Lest we forget, Jamie is on the wrong side of the approaching American Revolution. And his charge from Tryon has been to track down the notorious Murtagh Fitzgibbons.

Outlander Starz Season 5
Photo: Starz. Richard Rankin (Roger MacKenzie) Sophie Skelton (Brianna MacKenzie) Caitriona Balfe (Clare Fraser) Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser)
Funny Moment

There were several smiles in this episode, but one stayed with me. A young boy tells Roger not to touch his hair because Protestants (Roger) have hair tics. Roger is confused until he realizes the child overheard Jamie call Roger, a non-Catholic, a heretic. Okay, maybe you’ve got to see it …😀

Trouble Ahead

During the ceremonial cake-cutting, Aunt Jacosta asks Roger to join her for a chat before she returns to River Run (more about this later).

Another problem emerges when Brianna overhears a conversation between Lord John (who looks quite dapper in every scene and from every angle) and Jamie. Stephen Bonnet lives (we thought he’d met his maker in the fire at the end of last season, but no). She’s devastated at the news.

Oujtlander Season 5 Starz
Photo: Starz. David Berry (Lord John)
A Night of L-O-V-E

Next, we are treated to a cinematic collage focusing on the lovers of Frasers Ridge, and we have quite a few couples to observe. Murtagh may have missed the wedding (purposely because of Tryon’s men), but he won’t miss spending time with Jacosta. When she returns to the hut the Frasers have prepared for her, Murtagh is waiting. 

Meanwhile, the newly married MacKenzie’s are alone — Jeremiah is with his grandparents — and Roger treats his bride to a serenade. He sings L.O.V.E, written by Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler, and recorded in 1965 by Nat King Cole. We also have Jamie and Claire, who attempt to make love while hoping for no interruptions from Brianna’s son. We also learn Fergus and Marsali are expecting a second child. And eventually, Roger puts his guitar aside to make love with Brianna.

The sequence wraps, however, with foreboding—the woeful look in Brianna’s eyes. We know she’s thinking of Bonnet. Then Jacosta announces to Murtagh that Duncan has proposed marriage. Murtagh’s reaction is to say: do what makes you happy.

The next day, Jacosta baits Roger and implies that he’s not a devoted father to his son because of the question of parentage (Is Jeremiah Bonnet’s son). Roger delivers some harsh words and returns home to make a blood pledge of devotion to his son, Jeremiah, and his wife.

Pressure. Pressure. Pressure.

Of course, Tryon delivers an ultimatum to Jamie–he must track down the fugitive Murtagh Fitzgibbons. If he doesn’t get the job done, Jamie risks his land and his life, if labeled a traitor.

Jamie needs the loyalty of the men of Frasers Ridge. He burns the ceremonial Scottish cross and makes a grand speech. Then, he eyeballs Roger, who doesn’t step forward, another man takes the pledge first. But Jamie calls Roger out, makes him a captain, and promises to keep the stunned Roger safe by his side. It’s all very sexy (bromance and all, people). But Jamie is a long-range thinker. He won’t light the cross again until they must do battle. But when Jamie invites Fergus into the fold, the look of pride in the Frenchman’s eyes, well, yes, I got choked up!

Photo: Starz. Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix)

The closing scene is the perfect bookend. Murtagh and Jamie are in a forest again. The difference, Jamie is releasing Murtagh from the vow he made to Jamie’s mother. He no longer needs Murtagh to watch over him. And when Murtagh exits, and Jamie breaks down, well, damn, I’m choked up, all over again!

Frankly, the early release was an excellent call by Outlander_Starz. So, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

So, I’ll return next week for episode 502, Between the Fires


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