Want to relive Outlander Season 5 Episode 8? We do a minute-by-minute reaction to “Famous Last Words.”
[9:00 p.m.] Hello, friends! It’s been a minute since we last caught up — 20,160 of them to be exact. You look well… I hope you are well? I ask given the backdrop of the world and the <deep sigh> loss of Murtagh.
[9:01 p.m.] Dearest Starz, we appreciate the formulaic recap (tradition and whatnot), but rest assured — there is not one among us who will soon forget a single, gut-wrenching detail of the last episode.
[9:02 p.m.] We’ve entered Dead Poets Society and Roger Wakefield is our and these students’ John Keating. This scene is here to serve a deeper purpose connected to both the story and the episode title, but I also love the simple reminder of how confident Roger used to be in his own time, in his own element (with Bree to witness it and all). He’s struggled to find his footing as Roger Mac, but we know that the mildly arrogant, wildly charming Roger is still within biding his time to break to the surface.
[9:03 p.m.] Words truly are one of the most powerful tools available to us readily. My profession necessitates I dabble in them constantly, leaving me equal parts empowered and exhausted at the end of most days. When I find myself eye-rolling and struggling to string together more of them in some coherent, digestible way, I reflect on the impact of Proverbs 18:20: “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.” Ergo, you really can get me to understand anything by relating it to food.
[9:04 p.m.] “Let history forget my name, so long as my words and my deeds are remembered by those I love.” Wow. Not bad for spitting that out on the fly and under pressure, Mr. Wakefield.
[9:05 p.m.] A silent movie marathon? Love really is built on a mountain of compromise, isn’t it? Probably the same mountain that gets my husband to sit and watch most TV shows with me, sooooo I’ll shut up.
[9:06 p.m.] The cold open of words, words everywhere a word was a perfect lead-in to the silent film throwback accompanying the title card. And here I was wondering if my last words would be famous — now this dang show has me wondering if they’ll even be audible.
[9:07 p.m.] Well Happy Easter indeed. In my best ‘90s soap opera voiceover, the part of Jesus will now be played by Roger. Non-book readers, you can breathe now. He lived.
[9:08 p.m.] If this silent-film method for retelling Roger’s trauma continues throughout this episode, I suspect people will either intensely love or vehemently pan it. For the record, I’m in the former camp. Come join me. It’s nice here in this camp. I have an endless supply of adult beverages and s’mores.
[9:09 p.m.] Jamie, Roger might be alive and whole, but I’d give it a beat before deeming all “well.” Also, the purposeful editing in this scene to show only Roger’s face and none of the others making noise around him is its own outstanding supporting character.
[9:10 p.m.] And we’re back to silence and black and white. Yep, still here… campfire’s going. I’ll scoot my chair over and throw on another log if you want to join me at Camp Keep Calm and Silent Film Motif On.
[9:11 p.m.] The fear of actual drowning has always put my anxiety on a level 12, especially after having a child. I don’t fear my own demise, but rather anyone else’s who might wander into the water on my watch. The same holds for drowning in silence — witnessing another battle the unforgiving clutch that depression, anxiety or darkness has on them and not being able to do a damn thing to lessen it. In summary, I’d like to give Bree a hug right now.
[9:12 p.m.] I sometimes wonder if Claire and Bree hadn’t gone back through the stones, would the topics of their mother-daughter talks be quite so intense? I mean, we’ve covered abandonment, rape, pregnancy, grief, kidnapping, parenting, war, more trauma and thousand-yard stares in less than two years. A little tea and some gossip about the nosy brownstone neighbor or the latest Days of Our Lives shenanigans might look pretty good right about now.
[9:13 p.m.] In absence of Roger meeting his weekly singing quota (it’s okay, lad, take your time), I’ll gladly accept the stunning vocal stylings of Aunt Jocasta in replacement. I heart you, Maria Doyle Kennedy.
[9:14 p.m.] Jamie’s right — genetics are not an automatic prerequisite for grief. You get to feel whatever you want to feel for someone and their passing, whether their blood courses through you or not.
[9:15 p.m.] It’s been three months since Murtagh died and it takes 10 days to travel from River Run to The Big House. Math isn’t my strong suit, but the numbers say Aunt Jocasta came to grieve Murtagh publicly when she was emotionally ready, but don’t underestimate the physical toll she expended to get there.
[9:16 p.m.] And even in death, Murtagh continues to keep watch on Jamie from his final resting place. I can’t. I AM STILL SHORT ON PAPER PRODUCTS FROM THE LAST EPISODE, YOU GUYS. Help me ration it out, Sam Heughan and Bear McCreary. These are precarious times.
[9:17 p.m.] Oh my. This feels like a fine time to update you on the conditions of my camp. The sky is perfectly dark and clear — optimal for stargazing tonight! Invite still stands. Fancy a dram and a fleece blanket to keep you warm?
[9:18 p.m.] The damage to Roger’s throat given both his hanging and Claire’s meadowside tracheotomy is understood. But wouldn’t his fingers also be severely injured from how long they bulged like cocktail wieners between his neck and the rope? Who knows, but either way I promise to never again complain about the pain of looping far too many grocery bags around my fingers just to unload them all in a single trip.
[9:19 p.m.] “I guess we don’t have all the answers.” “No, sometimes we must have patience.” Welp, less than 20 minutes in and this week’s tally of inadvertent PSAs for surviving a global pandemic is off to a noble start. Also, it’s refreshing to see Lord John Grey break from the wedding circuit to stop by and insert his calming presence and warmth into a house in dire need of it.
[9:20 p.m.] “Glad to see you’ve found a way to distract yourself.” — Claire, passively judging my nightly happy hour ritual amidst the Groundhog Day nature of sheltering in place.
[9:21 p.m.] There’s no formula for grief, no set timeline for how quickly one can or should heal — even if any physical wounds have long since mended. Also, grief is not necessarily the absence of life. It just tucks inside and goes along with you…
*cue montage of life on the Ridge, farm chores and leftovers and whatnot*
…as life continues on.
[9:22 p.m.] This just goes to show you can always find your voice when you — and others — need it the most.
[9:23 p.m.] “Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Roger Mac. You were lost and gone forever, oh my darling Roger Mac.” — Me, wondering if this might be a more fitting version of their favorite ditty given the direction this episode is headed.
[9:24 p.m.] Watching these unnaturally dreamy grandparents dote on their grandson is helping balance out my emotions in this doozy of an episode. And also, another fine and timely reminder that simple joys — whether it be playing hide and seek, coloring with sidewalk chalk or taking family walks — are a beautiful way to fill a day.
[9:25 p.m.] Roger and Ian both resurrected in one episode?! And don’t get me started on the bounding Rollo. It’s a trifecta of Easter miracles.
[9:26 p.m.] Until now, I had not fully grasped the magnitude of guilt Roger must have been harboring about Ian sparing his life by taking his place with the Mohawk. The pressure valve release in his facial expression and mannerisms once he saw Ian still in one piece helped it sink in.
[9:27 p.m.] Just how many wounded male eyes will we stare into within a single episode? I’ve started to lose count. So. Many. Depressed. Men.
[9:28 p.m.] “It’s big.” — Ian, and also Outlander producers, to Jon Gary Steele. I love the subtle wink to Jon and his team in having Caitriona’s lines mention the blood, sweat and tears that went into building this home. A magnificent send-off, sir!
[9:29 p.m.] “Ummm… best of three?” Nice, Marsali.
[9:30 p.m.] Guessing that Marsali should’ve taken a note from Mrs. Graham’s playbook. Reading tea leaves might have been a less visually haunting way to have a little fortune teller parlor fun with Roger than repeatedly showing him a card boasting an image of a man hanging.
[9:31 p.m.] Bree, in a nutshell: “Suck it up, buttercup.” Listen, every person and their respective experience is different, yet her point is valid. She soldiered on. She needs Roger to do the same. It’s also not lost on me that when she “fought for us” and battled back from her own darkness, she did so without the benefit of him at her side and without shutting down altogether.
[9:32 p.m.] Her pleading with him is a reminder that sometimes all we need is a glimmer of hope that the darkness hasn’t fully swallowed the light forever.
[9:33 p.m.] More yams anyone? I treasure these family meals on the Ridge, but also… here’s hoping your next holiday dinner isn’t as forced and full of trauma as this one.
[9:34 p.m.] Marsali and Fergus are trying to In Touch Weekly Ian’s “gap year” when he has yet to speak in full sentences or break a smile and shudders at the word “home.” Know your audience, Frasers 2.0 (wink to my pal, Nikki).
[9:35 p.m.] Then again half of Frasers 1.0 might also take a cue. Jamie’s asking Bree if she and Roger have discussed accepting Tryon’s land offer. Meanwhile the entire episode has focused on the man not uttering a word in three months. But by all means, they did chat it up about the real estate market over morning coffee.
[9:36 p.m.] “You’re welcome to the bed in the kitchen.” I have waited my whole life for someone to say those words to me. Ian, say yes… for us.
[9:37 p.m.] Aside from Bree, music is Roger’s constant. I’m hopeful either or both will help him find his voice again. Also, he’s strumming that guitar quite capably. I have my answer to 9:18.
[9:38 p.m.] I stare at my bed every night like that too, Ian. However, mine’s usually in the spirit of “There you are, you cozy beast. Have you missed me? I’ve been longing for you all day.”
[9:39 p.m.] “But ye seem out of sorts.” I’ll take understatements for $500, Alex. I get it, though. The rhythm Jamie fell into with an adoring boy has long since gone. He’s now got to figure out how to connect with his grown nephew. But as we’re reminded here, sometimes all a person needs is for someone to sit with them quietly in the darkness for a bit, not trying to fix it.
[9:40 p.m.] …Annnnd when all else fails, kittens and adorable, apple-cheeked toddlers can help break through even the most hardened of souls.
[9:41 p.m.] I’ve adored Lauren Lyle and her comedic ability this entire season, but love how this porch stoop conversation is underscoring the range she brings to her portrayal of Marsali. Fire, sarcasm, spirit, focus, loyalty, empathy and warmth — she brings it all and then some, when and where needed. You want me to babble while you stare aloof? I got you, cuz.
[9:42 p.m.] While we’re heaping praise — hellooooo and welcome back, John Bell! Can this possibly be the same bumbling ginger boy we first met in a brothel in Edinburgh years ago? I know time has aged the actor physically, but that’s only partly a factor here in his introducing us to the man Ian’s become. He’s clearly endured the pain of a man twice his age, and I’m buying what Bell’s performance is selling hard. He’s long since proven we can drop the “young” from his name.
[9:43 p.m.] Words — per Roger, just focus on her words. Or go back to singing “Oh, My Darling Clementine” in my head. Because Sophie Skelton’s acting (and the cheesy paper airplane toss) in this scene feels off to me (Hi! I can read my lines.) and I want to stay in the bliss of this episode.
P.s. Have these two really already been married a year?! We haven’t been in quarantine that long, right? Asking for me.
[9:44 p.m.] Practical question: Ever noticed how every room in every house on the Ridge always has the most perfect fire blazing in the fireplace? Who’s starting and stoking them? Everyone’s always enjoying one, but never touching them and always leaving the room with them fully ablaze. I digress.
[9:45 p.m.] Okay stop me if you’ve heard this one before* — a mute man, a Mohawk teen and a trusty dog all walk into the woods…
*Nope, me neither. But as you were…
[9:46 p.m.] These two are a match made in heaven for each other to combat their individual hells. Both tortured, ambling about aimlessly trying to find their place in time and space — while toting an astrolabe, to boot.
[9:47 p.m.] Oh God no — YOU GUYS, THE WATER HEMLOCK IS GONE. Quick question, what the frack is water hemlock?
[9:48 p.m.] A few more sessions leaned up against this tree under the banner of sunshine and Ian’s banter and we might find Roger 2.0 (or 3.0 at this point?) after all.
[9:49 p.m.] “Wherever you thought you were, we’re both still here.” — Ian, and also my husband to me when he finds me on our front porch these days staring blankly in thought.
[9:50 p.m.] Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Something to keep in mind as you stare down the water hemlock or cliff’s edge, Roger.
[9:51 p.m.] Oh fresh hell, we’re back in color and I am so not having a Dorothy-like wondrous reaction to it. I don’t need this. I’ m not a developing baby — I get it without all the bright colors and loud sounds.
[9:52 p.m.] Okay, full disclosure: full sarcasm above. I completely understand why Roger needed to walk through his hanging fully and vividly in order to find Bree’s face as his constant. In doing so, it finally loosened the hold the noose still had on him. I also love the paper as therapy symmetry of Brianna burning her drawings, Jamie burning the prison manifest and Roger now letting his fly off a cliff.
[9:53 p.m.] What is it, girl? Has Timmy fallen down the well? Nothing tugs at my heartstrings quite like a dog expressing emotion over his human.
[9:54 p.m.] “And now he is quite literally burying the hatchet.” — My husband. Back off ladies, he’s mine.
[9:55 p.m.] Not to downplay this brotherhood of commonality and solace, but I do hope that when these two wrap up their surveying road trip, they score a package deal on therapy from whoever handles that at the Ridge.
[9:56 p.m.] Her name doesn’t matter now, which brings us back to Roger’s Oxford lesson. History (or Ian’s telling of it) might not remember her name, so as long as her words and deeds are remembered by those she loved. By looking at Ian’s face, I’d say she’s well on her way.
[9:57 p.m.] 9:22, all day everyday, and twice on Outlander Sunday. Also, Ian saved Roger last season, and now Roger has returned the gesture.
[9:58 p.m.] Surveying and bro therapy done! We’re on the road to recovery… and home. Notice how the light shines more brightly now.
[9:59 p.m.] “Don’t tell me you’re at a loss for words now.” There’s the Roger we know — trademark quick wit and openness contributing to his dreaminess.
[10:00 p.m.] “Everybody wants the old Roger back” sounds like a societal conversation playing out on repeat these days, as we wonder if the “new normal” will ever resemble the one we recognize from before — even after the crisis has passed.
[10:01 p.m.] “I’ll always sing for you.” Cheesy… but also, swoon. These two are due a cheesy moment or two now that we’ve seen “How Roger Got His Groove Back” (my vote for alternate episode title).
[10:02 p.m.] Apparently kittens, toddlers and this duet over the end credits. Precious, just precious.
Yasssss sir, Outlander Season 1 is truly back! Please add it to the resurrection tally I was maintaining above on this Easter Sunday episode. This season has felt like a slow climb up a hill that finally found some upward velocity with the undisputed high quality of “The Ballad of Roger Mac.” In loving it as I did, I also hoped we hadn’t crested the top midway through the season only to take a sharp downward slope into a lackluster back half unable to keep up the high-bar momentum. This was not an episode for that doubt, clearly.
It was, however, an episode for sadness (so_much_sadness) and bro time. We welcomed back don’t-call-me-young Ian, and much earlier than it happens in The Fiery Cross as book readers know. I love the creative liberties taken here as it allowed us to see two men suffering deeply and leaning into each other for solace — something we primarily only ever see with women. It was fitting, too, that it be Ian working to bring Roger out of the darkness, and Roger vice versa for Ian given both their history and relationship that’s just close enough, but also far enough removed. You just never know who in your world will be the one to finally break through your iron-clad shell. All in on this bromance, for the record.
Speaking of darkness, the play on light and dark was rampant this episode — beyond just what these characters experienced within. I don’t think we ever saw either Roger or Ian truly suffer in a light environment. Everything had a blue-greenish or cloudy sky haze of sadness to it when outside, or they were in thinly lit rooms trying to find light in the people around them. The sun only shone when they bantered under the tree and, ultimately, found their way home together. And then there was the silent movie motif, an unconventional choice to focus on some pretty heavy themes. But if you think about it, the horrific trauma Roger experienced was first told silently, in black and white words on the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s book. Book readers had only their minds to convert the imagery into color and sound. Now book readers and show watchers have an oddly similar experience in learning of Roger’s fate. If not for Richard Rankin’s superb performance, the storytelling choice might not have taken flight (pretty much like every paper airplane I’ve ever made). But that wasn’t the case, and we spent an episode drowning in silence with him.
Oh, and Murtagh <sigh>, sweet silver fox Murtagh. I’m still not alright, thank you so much for asking. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but Aunt Jocasta, Jamie and I are also accepting warm cookie deliveries to aid in our comfort during this truly difficult time. Thank you kindly. Until next week, friends…
If you’ve missed any of our Season 5 episode recaps, you can catch up with them here:
Episode 5.01: “The Fiery Cross”
Episode 5.02: “Between Two Fires”
Episode 5.03: “Free Will”
Episode 5.04: “The Company We Keep”
Episode 5.05: “Perpetual Adoration”
Episode 5.06: “Better to Marry than Burn”
Episode 5.07: “The Ballad of Roger Mac”
A complete library of recaps from Seasons 2-4 is also available here.