Outlander season 5 episode one recap: The Fiery Cross

With season five of Outlander now officially kicked off, what did you think of the first episode?
Season five kicked off with a beautiful wedding (Photo: Starz)Season five kicked off with a beautiful wedding (Photo: Starz)
Season five kicked off with a beautiful wedding (Photo: Starz)

If you need a reminder, then this is everything that happened in the premiere of the time travelling drama’s new season.


The episode opens with a flashback to Lallybroch, with a young, brown-haired Murtagh.

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He approaches a young Jamie and launches into an emotional speech, “She’s gone. I swore an oath, Jamie Fraser. When you were no more than a week old, and only a lad at your mother’s breast.

“I knelt at Ellen’s feet, as I know kneel by yours, and I swore to her, by the name of the threefold God that I’d follow you always to do your bidding, and guard your back when you became a man grown and was needing such service. She’s gone now. But I’ll always be with you. Always.”

It’s here that the show launches into a new opening sequence, with a choral arrangement of the Skye Boat theme song, plus montage scenes of Revolutionary War era redcoats and water buffalo.

Getting ready for the wedding

The episode then catches up with grown up Jamie Fraser and the rest of the family at Fraser’s Ridge.

It’s the morning of Roger and Bree’s wedding, and Roger is struggling to shave with a straight edge razor. Roger manages to nick himself with the razor, which prompts Jamie to say, “It’s not called a cut throat razor for nothing.”

Jamie takes the razor from Roger and helps him shave, and the two discuss the housing situation - Jamie has gifted a cabin to Roger and Bree, and his own home is coming along nicely with the help of a few of the men. He comments that it’s his first day off from working on it in “a wee while”.

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After Roger laments on his inability to really live in and work in the 18th century, listing off the essential skills that he doesn’t possess. Jamie says that for now, he’ll have to live off the skills and help of others.

Jamie then passes a ring to Roger, saying, “The ring you asked Murtagh to make for Bree.” When Roger appears surprised at its quality, Jamie states that the ring is fit for his daughter, Bree.

Fraser’s Ridge

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Claire’s voiceover fills some of the gaps here, explaining that they’re living on Fraser’s Ridge amongst a much larger community of settlers.

Claire is helping Bree with her wedding dress, saying that it’s “even more beautiful” than she imagined. Claire explains that because her own mother wasn’t present for either of her weddings, she’s been dreaming of this day with her daughter for some time.

Jamie is seen fussing over making sure Bree has something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. He presents his findings to Bree, alongside a silver sixpence from Murtagh, who couldn’t attend the wedding because he’s still in hiding.

The two have an emotional conversation - about how they’ve only just come back together and now Jamie has to give her away so quickly.

Bree says, “No matter where I am, I will always be your wee girl.”

With that, it’s now time for the wedding - but not before Jamie sends Bree off with a glass of whisky.

Time for the ceremony

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It’s time for the wedding, and it seems like everyone has made an effort to be in attendance - Lord John Grey, Governor Tryon, Aunt Jocasta, Fergus, Marsali and Lizzie.

Claire gives Roger a quick pep talk before Bree makes it down the aisle with Jamie, saying, “It’ll all be fine. Remember, the two of you together can conquer the world.”

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The ceremony goes smoothly, despite Jamie’s issue with the fact that it’s not a Catholic priest marrying the two. Bree and Roger exchange their vows, leading us to a flashback of Jamie and Claire exchanging theirs.

After the ceremony, it seems like everyone is having a great time, with lots of food, drink, laughter and dancing. However, just below the surface, not everything is as harmonious as it seems.

Jamie is pulled aside by Governor Tryon, where they have a tense conversation that involves Governor Tryon hinting that his correspondence is no longer satisfactory.

“But I ask you,” Governor Tryon says to Jamie, “Is the man who delays paying his landlord more or less of a thief than, say, the letter writer who is parsimonious with his words?”

Affronted, Jamie responds, “When I write, Your Excellency, I aim to provide simple facts.”

Governor Tryon forces the issue of when Jamie will begin his hunt for the fugitive that is Murtagh.

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Elsewhere, there is also trouble. Aunt Jocasta wishes to speak with Roger alone. Roger is making off-hand comments of redoing the wedding when he and Bree return to their present day.

Later, Bree then also overhears Jamie and Lord John discussing how there may have been a sighting of Stephen Bonnet in the province, which prompts her to have traumatic flashbacks of when he raped her.

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The news is a shock as everyone had assumed Bonnet had died in the explosion at the prison in the last season. Bree keeps the fact that she overheard the awful news to herself, lying when Claire asks her if she’s okay.

Later that evening

Aunt Jocasta makes her way to her cabin, where she finds Murtagh inside. She says that he missed a beautiful ceremony, but he replies saying that he managed to see some from afar.

“Was that a red coat I saw?” He asks, to which she confirms. They flirt a little, discussing the condition of the cabin. When Aunt Jocasta describes it as a “shed”, Murtagh invites her to think of it more like an “enchanting woodland palace”.

We’re then transported to Jamie and Claire, who are acting as babysitters for Roger and Bree. Claire scoffs at the revelation that Jamie’s correspondence isn’t “satisfactory”. Jamie explains that he would prefer to try and keep Governor Tryon as a friend, rather than an enemy.

Claire says that there’s nothing much they can do about it tonight, and suggests that they try and get some sleep.

Then we’re taken to Roger and Bree, enjoying their rare, child-free night. The newlyweds enjoy a drink and Roger performs an 18th century version of Love by Nat King Cole, completed by his rustic guitar.

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His singing ushers in a montage of happy couples - Murtagh and Jocasta, Claire and Jamie and Roger and Bree - all kissing.

In the aftermath of their lovemaking, Bree is clearly still haunted by the news of Bonnet, but Roger doesn’t appear to notice, instead, sleeping soundly.

The next morning

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The morning after the wedding, we see Jocasta and Murtagh discussing how, if things were different, they might have more time together. It’s then that Jocasta confesses that her circumstances might be changing soon, as she reveals that Duncan Innes has proposed to her. Murtagh is aware that he and Jocasta can never really have a life together, so he tells her that he won’t stand in the way of her happiness.

Elsewhere, Josiah Beardsley chats with Lizzie for a moment about the creatures he hunts, before he’s interrupted by Jamie. Jamie says that he hopes that Josiah might consider settling there, at the Ridge.

Josiah is actually interested in seeing Claire about an ailment. He tells Jamie that his throat hurts, and upon seeing Claire, it’s revealed that he has abscessed tonsils. She explains that she can remove them, and while it will be better in the long run, it will hurt.

Jamie says, “If Claire does this for you lad, you’ll settle at the Ridge? Do the hunting when I’m away.”

After seeing Josiah off, Claire expresses some reservations about Jamie’s proposal, explaining that the brand mark he bears on his hand is that of a thief. Jamie is much more forgiving of Josiah’s past, saying, “Well, who’s not stolen something in his time?”

Jamie is impressed by Josiah’s hunting skills, and is keen to have him permanently settled at the Ridge.

Meeting with Jocasta

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Roger also honours his promise to meet Jocasta before she leaves. Jocasta tells Roger that she has decided not to make Bree her heir, but is instead going to leave everything to Jeremiah.

She explains, “You’ll doubtless ken that a woman’s property becomes her husband’s once she’s wed, and I ken also that protestants are partial to divorce. I thought, if you can’t love the lad for himself, you might treat him well for the sake of his prospects.”

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Angered by this, Roger replies, “Are you saying you think I don’t believe that he’s my son?”

The whole situation has upset Roger, with him telling Jocasta she can have her money. As it happens, this is exactly what Jocasta wanted.

Roger later storms to the cabin and claims Jem as his own son with a blood oath, swearing, “I claim thee as my son before all men for this day and forever.”

An oath to fulfil

After leaving Claire, it doesn’t take long for Governor Tryon to find Jamie and discuss the matter that is fulfilling his oath - both to the crown, and to the Governor, as his benefactor.

“Gather your men. I want Murtagh Fitzgibbons and his insurgents brought to justice,” the Governor states.

After the Governor leaves him, Jamie goes to Claire, caught in the dilemma. If he refuses to hunt for Murtagh, then he'll lose his land.

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Jamie also explains that, if a war is coming as Claire says, then he needs to make sure that his men are loyal to him, and not to the Governor.

Jamie leaves Claire, saying, “If Tryon wants a Scot, I’ll give him a Scot.”

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A Gaelic song underlined by bagpipes plays as Jamie goes to his chest, where we can see him lovingly looking over his kilt, his dirk and his tartan, all of his Highlander gear. After Culloden, wearing tartan or a kilt was banned in the Highlands as the British considered it to be a symbol of the Jacobite Rebellion. This ban wasn’t lifted until 1782.

It is an emotional moment for Jamie, as he dons his tartan legally for the first time.

The fiery cross

Here, we see the moment that gave this episode (and the book it's based on) it’s name. Marching out into the darkness, Jamie sets alight the Celtic cross amongst the settlers.

Addressing the others who have gathered, including the red coats, he says, “In the highlands, when a chieftain sets himself to war, he’ll burn the fiery cross, sending a sign through the lands of his clan. It was a call for his men to gather their weapons, come, prepared for battle.

“We are friends, neighbours, countrymen. But we’re not a clan. I’m not your chief. But I hope that if the time comes, you will all stand by my side. We can’t say what might befall us. But we must not only be willing to make oaths to our wives and loved ones, but to our brothers in arms in this new country.”

He ends his speech, saying, “Stand by my hand.”

Jamie calls for Roger, dubbing him “son of my house”, and names him Captain Roger MacKenzie. Roger then gives his oath to Jamie.

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Jamie addresses the people again, saying that he will not light the cross again until it is time for battle. The scene ends with men lining up to swear their oath to Jamie.

Releasing Murtagh

The episode is bookended by another scene of Jamie and Murtagh, but this time in their adult forms.

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Murtagh explains that he can’t wait for action any longer, even though Jamie insists that if he can wait, they’ll eventually be fighting on the same side.

Murtagh notes that there’s always a war coming. Making a half hearted small stone circle in the grass, he states that those who travelled through time made it so that Jamie could have everything he ever wanted.

Jamie realises that Murtagh is right, and he releases him from the vow he swore when Jamie was a child. He sends him off, telling him to go, and to be difficult to find.

The episode ends with Murtagh and Jamie sharing an unspoken moment before Murtagh takes off into the trees.

The next episode will be available next Monday (24 February) on Amazon Prime.