Outlander Season 5 Episode 12 Recap: Never My Love
Want to relive the Outlander Season 5 Episode 12? We do a minute-by-minute reaction to “Never My Love.”
Happy Mother’s Day, and welcome to the mother of all episodes! You know, the final one where we exhaust everything we have to track down the ultimate mother hen and go medieval on any motherbrowner who laid so much as a pinky on her. Moral of the story: DON’T MESS WITH MAMA ON MOTHER’S DAY (or ever). Now let’s go get her, lads!
[9:00 p.m.] Why can’t this show enable a “choose your own adventure” function? Given this episode’s content warning, I’d prefer return to simpler penultimate times, pull a Wilson Pickett and dance my way through the land of 1000 goodbyes and PB&J sandwiches. Given the number of them I’ve consumed in the past week, I’m pretty sure we’re handfasted now.
[9:01 p.m.] Such a sharp move by the writers and editors to pivot away from the “previously on Outlander” recapping formula in favor of this wordless style. While silent movies might have helped Roger’s brain recount his horrific ordeal, this boom-flash drumbeat of haunting images matches ours and the way we’ve emotionally squirmed through the sequence of events that led us here.
[9:02 p.m.] Holy wall of windows, Claire, so much natural light! Yes girl. I’m all for mid-century modern architecture and decor, but I’m not sure coveting future you’s design taste is what I should OH MY GOD YOU FINALLY FOUND A HOME FOR THE VASE AND FUTURE JAMIE IN A LEATHER COAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE HOT EMBER THAT IGNITED THE BIG HOUSE IN THAT PAINTING AND AND AND
*takes huge breath*
You guys, if early warning signs are any indication, I’m not sure I’m who you need to help weather the category 5 nature of this episode.
[9:03 p.m.] Someone please let Lionel know that he’s no blue-ribbon prize. His wife avoids his bed for a plethora of reasons; Dr. Rawlings’ sage birth control advice is just one.
[9:04 p.m.] What a Hodgepile of shite. She’s no witch, but of all the future events Claire’s ever predicted, warning him of their collective deaths by dawn is the strongest one yet.
[9:05 p.m.] A breast gouge, cryptic man on the moon reference and drunken rapey banter all in the same minute. I surmise the only way to stomach this episode is to cling to the wistful bits Claire’s offering us to cope. So that’s how I’ll choose to remember this minute — by the comforting throwback to the first-ever episode where Jamie wrapped Claire in his tartan for warmth some 25-plus years ago.
[9:06 p.m.] Key takeaway: Be good to Tebbe. Also, just my two cents — let’s not feel the need to share with Tebbe about how the bread makes you think of that time you baked dozens of loaves to watch them mold so you could formulate life-saving medicine from the year nineteen hundred and sixty-eight.
[9:07 p.m.] Still over here on a singular mission to cope with hope. This minute brought to you by a delicious alternate universe in which Fergus starts his own French Beatles-esque boy band, sexy and happily married Uncle Murtagh has taken over for Don Draper in running Sterling Cooper and Claire’s greatest lesson to Marsali focuses on how to properly layer and slice a PB&J for her tiny humans.
[9:08 p.m.] “On your feet, bitch.” Okay now that’s just not cool. The same Outlander gods who gifted us a blue vase and chattering teeth made warmer by a hulking Scot also just bastardized the sacred term of endearment Claire always offers Jamie in some form or another. But then, they’ve also just tossed us back onto the battlefields of Culloden with this symbolic bunny, and we know how that ended for Jamie (alive — not well, but alive).
[9:09 p.m.] How ironic that of all the references this time-traveling goober could have leveraged to suss out Claire’s story while she’s tied to a tree in utter despair, he used Ringo Starr, the man whose voice continues to remind us how we get by with a little help from our friends.
[9:10 p.m.] Otter Tooth’s name was Bob, not unlike the overseas call-center rep who Americanizes his name before offering you tech support in increasing your data storage size.
[9:11 p.m.] Telling a woman whose life hinges on the mercy of 12 angry men intent on harmonizing their own 18th century version of “Yo Ho Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me” about how she “ought to act more afraid” is the most asshat statement ever muttered.
[9:12 p.m.] And we’ve gone down the rapey rabbit hole, so I’m taking my cue from Claire in diverting my brain with something — anything — while it tries to process this brutality. Join me in memorizing the lyrics to “Never My Love” if you haven’t by now. Or take a walk down memory lane and relive the simple joy of childhood pillow fights.
[9:13 p.m.] Echoing Jamie’s toast to Claire, our stunning lady in red, and adding to it the ‘80s lyrics rolling through my head for comfort:
I’ve never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight
I’ve never seen you shine so bright, you were amazing
I’ve never seen so many people want to be there by your side
And when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away
And I have never had such a feeling
Such a feeling of complete and utter love, as I do tonight
[9:14 p.m.] We exist in a world full of distraction and demand where the pursuit of mindfulness — “be present, live in the moment” — often feels like its own billion-dollar industry. But the reality of Claire’s present is more horrendous than any of us, her included, can comprehend. So escape away, Sassenach. Check the turkey. Gaze longingly at the curly-haired Scot across the table. Host the most Hallmark-worthy holiday dinner there ever was. Do your ever-loving best to live anywhere but in this moment.
[9:15 p.m.] Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, this poor woman can’t even daydream in peace without tragedy. This beautiful picture is missing the only individuals who actually could be part of this futuristic look at Fraser Mac family life. Why must our brains kill the fun and cross enemy lines?
[9:17 p.m.] Home. Oh I see what you did there… neat. But for the record, please don’t look to me for more than a few vanilla tears the next time you two get another itch to time travel and stage an hour-long parade of goodbyes. I’m fresh out.
[9:18 p.m.] Hell hath no fury like a kilted James Fraser with a satchel full of jerky. IT’S ON.
Also, Jamie just shot Bree an “I’ll deal with this later” parenting face in reply to her “yeahhhhh, about that whole time traveling thing…” My mom has perfected the art of arching a single eyebrow to achieve a similar look — and yes, it still works.
[9:19 p.m.] We all attended the gathering and promised to stand by your side, as kin of your house. It’s for Mistress Claire, so we’re all coming.
[9:20 p.m.] “Never [F*CK with] My Love”: The alternate title Jamie just submitted for this episode. You’ve got my vote.
However, for those with small children in need of a more G rating, he’s got you covered too: “Going on a Claire Hunt.”
[9:21 p.m.] We’ve persevered through numerous battlefields in our five seasons of this show, none more important or impactful than the one we’re undertaking here. And given what Claire’s endured, the real battle hasn’t actually begun.
[9:22 p.m.] “Dinna be afraid, just the two of us now.” And I’m gone. Only Jamie could break her escapist trance. And when at a loss for words, only Jamie would know to borrow from reassuring sentiment used the last time he freed a loved one from the throes of death.
[9:23 p.m.] If there’s any silver-lining gift to this episode airing on Mother’s Day, it’s in seeing how the young boys mama bear Claire helped raise into men of worth are here in force for her, in her darkest hour.
[9:24 p.m.] “It is done.” Anyone else flashing back to Wentworth Prison? All that’s missing are a herd of Highland coos and a fired-up Murtagh. Sigh. Murtagh.
[9:25 p.m.] We’re all collectively wrapped up in the protection of that plaid, staring down the aftermath of Claire’s Culloden.
[9:26 p.m.] Even the exterminator always misses at least one bug when he sprays the house for pests. And naturally, here that bug is bad, bad Lionel Brown, baddest man in the whole damned town.
[9:27 p.m.] Ever the mother, her first collected thought is of Marsali’s welfare. Affix your own air mask before helping others — one of my standing life mottos. And one I, along with many other moms, toss aside in favor of that maternal instinct that immutably drives us toward a child’s needs over our own.
[9:28 p.m.] Frigging Donner or Blitzen or whatever that non-contributing zero called himself. He’s got another thing coming if and when we meet him later, and I suspect we will.
[9:29 p.m.] Dearest Emmy and Golden Globe voters, behold: the incomparable Caitriona Balfe. Please and thank you.
[9:30 p.m.] The men did their blood, sweat and tears thing. And now it’s the women’s turn. Just a reminder that no matter how deep or unstable the walls, we women will always jump in the hole to comfort each other and work together to claw a way out.
[9:31 p.m.] When compared to watching a bloodied Claire contemplate scrubbing her skin raw, I much preferred the last time we saw her soaking in a tub over this one. Also, 9:29… again.
[9:32 p.m.] The sight of her tears our hearts too, Jamie… but hold up, we kept that bastard alive?!
[9:33 p.m.] “I’ll be alright; I’m just a little shaken…” Don’t you love how we often downplay the severity of our struggles or emotions? Time for another quiz! Is that because:
A) we fear looking weak
B) we don’t want to burden others with our pain
C) it’s easier to convince ourselves it’s not that bad than to admit and start to unpack how truly awful it really is
D) anything else a therapist has ever told me
E) any combo of the above
[9:34 p.m.] Insert laundry list of atrocities, nevertheless she persisted. It’s a war cry for Claire, and for Outlander fans as well. That list was a nasty reminder of the excessive volume of violence we’ve endured in five seasons. But life doesn’t spare victims the abuse, so why would you invest in a show that glosses over that reality? It’s not always sunshine and giggles and bubbles.
[9:35 p.m.] “What a horrific combination of words for anyone to have to find within themselves… and utter to another being.” Well said, Roger Mac. These two know as well as anyone that when you’re the victim of a brutal assault, you find your voice and “your person” in your own timing, and only your timing.
[9:36 p.m.] I understand this pillow confession is necessary for evolving Roger’s character. But does he think Bree assumed he rode off with this version of her father then just stayed on his horse snacking on jerky and reciting poetry, keeping his hands clean while the others did all the dirty killing? Hmm.
[9:37 p.m.] Well well… not so high and mighty now, are we, Lionel? MERCY SHALL NOT FOLLOW THEE.
[9:38 p.m.] Do it now, and don’t be gentle. And what’s with the vitamin C metaphor? Did she finetune her surgical skills by practicing on an orange? Someone please explain to this Florida native the significance of citrus I’m missing here.
[9:39 p.m.] Doctors often take to hallways and stairwells alone to unleash a flood of tears they’ve stored up about the fragility of life or grief of losing a patient. But this is a spin on it I don’t care to see for Dr. Claire.
Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken “Never My Love” record: 9:29… on repeat.
[9:40 p.m.] Did Rapey McPherson just sling more disparaging remarks about women and thinly veiled threats at Marsali while restrained on his deathbed? Well that’s a choice.
…annnd Season 5 rounds to a close with reason #1922 why Marsali is a badass. That water hemlock finally found its rightful owner.
[9:41 p.m.] I guess Roger’s not the only one logging (and second-guessing) his first kill this episode.
[9:42 p.m.] And only the King of Men would still march this dead arsehole home for a proper burial by his family. Thump.
[9:43 p.m.] Richard Brown’s face was all “well that’s no whisky.” If Claire’s Hippocratic oath guides her to first do no harm, then this gesture suggests Jamie’s leadership oath implores him to do what he must to prevent more harm.
[9:44 p.m.] Donner, Blitzen and Brown: your Colonial accounting firm and also the growing list of a-holes we’ll apparently still have to deal with later.
[9:45 p.m.] “There was a time not so long ago that I wasn’t sure we’d ever be walking up to this house again.” Um, that’s because it was last week, Roger. Also, he just made those home-seeking stones sound like Dorothy’s slippers.
[9:46 p.m.] Who but Claire can turn the world on with her honey-do lists and smile? Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well it’s you girl, and you should know it. You’re going to make it after all.
[9:47 p.m.] Jamie’s wisely dipping back into that “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” bag of word tricks to meet Claire where she is, soothing her after this storm and before the next.
Side note: Did Lord John Grey predict more than one storm? I don’t recall that, which means I retract what I said previously about the reliability of his meteorology forecasts over most.
[9:48 p.m.] In the wake of his Wentworth Prison hell, Jamie felt as if he was naked and scrambling for cover under a blade of grass until Claire finally built him a metaphorical lean-to for shelter. And now a naked Jamie is all the lean-to and more Claire could ever need for security and comfort after her own trauma.
[9:49 p.m.] Wait, it’s over?! SCOOCH OVER, CLAIRE. MAKE ROOM FOR ME.
[9:50 p.m.] In an episode full of music (and my own rambling connections to more), what an emotionally appropriate way to close this episode by offering Raya Yarbrough’s voice and nothing more. Sometimes we have to quiet the noise in our head to hear only the clarity of our own voice, and that’s a steep uphill challenge Claire will continue to have ahead of her.
Give me just a moment with the calming rainfall of the Outlander sound machine I assume they’ve placed here thinking it will help ease us to sleep tonight after this episode. Not likely, but thanks for the gesture.
Breathe. Reminder to myself, and all of us. Season 5 has not been short on difficult moments to swallow, but they unequivocally saved the toughest for last. This show has never shied away from wrenching material, and the current count of “crimes of an especially heinous nature” would overwhelm even the most hardened investigative team. Jamie, Claire, Roger, Ian, Fergus, Bree — at this point, they could just wordlessly look at each offering an empathetic “yeah, I know” at shared membership in a club no one willingly joins. And while I could donkey-kick Outlander in the teeth for the nature of this episode, if we stop exploring the ugly underbelly of assault (of any kind) and its long-term effects because it’s not “fun to watch,” then we become assailants of another sort.
The silver lining? In an episode full of emotional right hooks, I found plenty of gifts worth passing around in my continued attempt to cope with hope. Because I like meaningful numbers, here are 5 to close out Season 5:
Today’s forecast calls for powerful performances all around. I’m looking squarely at you, Caitriona Balfe (though, honorable mentions to Sam Heughan and Lauren Lyle). Simply incredible and worthy of any industry trophy, though you’ve already got a mantle of them if it were up to us. For any naysayer who has ever suggested this “historical romance” show is “soapy,” dare them to watch this episode and see hard evidence of how Outlander tackles the raw and often gritty realities of human life and emotion.
The kids are all right. The Outlander youth has encountered more turbulence and hardship in their short lives than anyone should have to bear over a lifetime. And yet, it hasn’t stymied their ability to become all-around kickass humans. The next generation is intently listening — both in word and through action — on every purposeful and inadvertent lesson tossed their way by life circumstances or Jamie and Claire. And they showed up en masse here to remind us of that when it counted the most, not unlike how today’s youth is teaching us about how to stand tall during this particularly trying time in the world. Don’t doubt their resiliency, or that they’re listening. Happy Mother’s Day indeed.
Grab those Easter baskets, friends. For a Mother’s Day-timed episode, we sure enjoyed one hell of an Easter egg hunt! Skip the chocolate bunnies — what a decadent treat for diehard fans to feast on all the nods to past seasons. I’ll spare you an “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” look at the eggs I gathered. Instead, look for a forthcoming Outlander Cast blog post from fellow writer Karen K. Rutledge later this week detailing them all.
That ‘70s Show. While the show pulled this gruesome event straight from the book, only the medium of TV could offer a stylized look into how Claire’s brain might choose to pass the painstaking minutes of her ordeal. Ever pondered a hypothetical world where everyone jumps through the stones to a safer, shinier life in a different ‘70s era? Boom, you got it. From the fashion and hairstyles to million-watt smiles and renewed relationships, this was the unexpected Outlander gift you didn’t ask for, and never knew you desperately needed.
Put your finger here. The final present was in how Outlander chose to tie it up with a bow as best as they could given what transpired in the 40-plus minutes before. Was it all rainbows? Of course not. It shouldn’t be. They did what they could to offer a responsible look into the Frasers’ long recovery road ahead while also serving us a hug and a cup of hot tea before sending us off into the great Droughtlander unknown.
And that’s a wrap, folks! Thanks for joining me in the weekly wild ride that was Season 5 and the minute-by-minute recaps. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I appreciate your patronage here more than words can express. I’m no Claire, boasting no clear vision for when we’ll meet again in this setting. However, please know you can always find me in this humble little corner of the Outlander world. It’s my tightly wrapped tartan plaid or warm Jamie spoon of sorts. Until then, 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”
Episode 5.08: “Famous Last Words”
Episode 5.09: “Monsters and Heroes ”
Episode 5.10: “Mercy Shall Follow Me”
Episode 5.11: “Journeycake”
A complete library of recaps from Seasons 2-4 is also available here.