Outlander Season 5, Episode 12 recap: Never My Love

Outlander Season 5 -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander Season 5 -- Courtesy of STARZ /

Grab your tissue boxes, Outlander fans–the season 5 finale is as emotional and terrifying as it gets.

Outlander season 5 has come to an end, and I find myself at a loss for words. This finale is unlike any finale the series has ever done before, and it’s one that will go down in history as one of its strongest and most emotional.

I’d like to preface this recap with a trigger warning as this episode contains graphic sexual assault and violence. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, watch this episode and read this recap at your own discretion.

At the end of last week’s episode of Outlander, Claire was abducted by Lionel Brown, and Marsali was left behind unconscious. But don’t worry, Marsali is alive and well, a bit bruised, but she and her baby’s lives are not in danger.

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Claire, on the other hand, is anything but okay. Her captors are dragging her to Burnsville, and along the way, she’s subject to some horrendous torture. I thought we’d never seen someone worse than Blackjack Randall, but somehow, Lionel Brown has managed to take over as Outlander’s worst villain ever.

You might be trying to recall what Lionel Brown has against Claire. Remember her medical column under the pseudonym “Dr. Rawlings”? In the advice she gave out, she also wrote out about this century’s version of birth control, and how women can prevent pregnancy. After Lionel puts two and two together, his wrath led him to abduct, torture, and rape Claire as a consequence.

But it doesn’t stop there. Lionel’s men joined in on the torture and each got a turn to have their way with Claire. As I said previously, it’s a very difficult scene to watch during the finale.

You can see the light leave from Claire’s eyes, and it’s incredibly devastating. Caitriona Balfe gives her series-best performance in the Outlander season 5 finale, and I hope come award season, she is acknowledged for it.

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Prior to this horrendous scene, one of Lionel’s men attempts to talk to her and reveals that he too is a time traveler. He prefaces the conversation with “Does Ringo Starr mean anything to you?”. I was caught by surprise as I’m sure many of you were to hear him ask that.

As it turns out, season 4 started laying the foundation for this moment when we first saw Claire find a human skull that had dental fillings in it, something that wouldn’t come to be for years.

It’s always been in the back of our minds that perhaps other time travelers were around, but the season 5 finale confirms it. This guy time-traveled with American Indians from 1968, and now he’s trying to find his way back, but does not have gemstones.

Claire promises to give him gemstone in exchange for her freedom, but the guy does not do anything to help her out. He’s too afraid of Lionel and would rather concentrate on going home. It’s a really disappointing moment and I was disgusted by this man’s inability to give Claire protection and a safe haven.

To escape the horror of what was happening to her, Claire drifted into a dissociative state in which she imagined that she and her family were living in the 1960s. In the vision, she lived in this beautiful house decorated with Easter Eggs from Outlander including but not limited to a painting of Fraser’s Ridge, an orange (throwback to season 2), a dragonfly (throwback to Battle of Culloden), and the vase she once admired in a shop window.

Throughout the vision, we see a 1960s version of Fergus, Marsali, their kids, Murtagh, Jocasta, and Jamie (who still was in his Scottish attire). It’s Thanksgiving, and the family is coming together for it sans Roger, Brianna, and Jemmy who are “still on their way”.

Of course, in reality, they are supposed to be traveling back to their time via the stones. But that doesn’t pan out as they expected, and I have to say, I was not surprised. Instead of waking up to find that they had traveled to their time, Roger and Brianna realize they actually haven’t gone anywhere at all. Their shocked reaction to this realization is because they see Ian.

The reasoning for this time travel fail? Both Roger and Brianna imagined home when they walked up to the stones, and it looks like they ended up there after all. I never thought Roger would have imagined finding this century and place home, but it seems like he’s warmed up to it after all.

Unfortunately, this is all short-lived as they head home and spot that Jamie lit the cross, which can only mean disaster and chaos have arrived. Luckily, they catch Jamie and his men before they head out to find and save Claire, and Roger ends up joining them.

I was relieved to see that the process to save Claire wasn’t unnecessarily dragged on. They head out, find her, save her, and kill all the men involved–including the useless time traveler. The only man they keep alive is Lionel Brown because that demon doesn’t deserve anyone’s mercy.

It’s devastating to see how broken Claire appears, but there is a calming sense of relief because Jamie is with her now, and she’s safe. And when they return to Fraser’s Ridge, she’s happy to see Marsali is okay, and that Brianna is there waiting for her. Can you imagine what something like this might have felt like if Brianna really was gone? Ugh.

Claire’s healing will take a while, emotionally and physically, and it’s clear she is conflicted within herself. Jamie and Brianna, having gone through their own unfortunate situations involving assault, are able to respect Claire’s need for space. This one horrible thing they all have in common now has somehow brought them closer, and there’s a beauty in that.

Claire has a rough moment when she faces Lionel, who is lying in a bed in the surgery. As a doctor, she wants to uphold the Hippocratic Oath, but as a survivor, there is a rage and hurt inside of her. She doesn’t end up hurting Lionel, and instead runs off and breaks down in a corner. At that moment, all I wanted to do was give Claire a hug.

Marsali took the responsibility of “taking care of” Lionel and injected him with water hemlock. It was a less merciful way of taking his life, and I absolutely admired Marsali for taking the initiative. Of course, she’s never done something like that before, but it’s a testament to how much she loves and cares about Claire. It’s a testament to much they all love and adore Claire, honestly.

Jamie is known for always doing the noble thing, and even with a rodent like Lionel Brown, he does the same. He drops off Brown’s body with his brother, who portrays understanding towards Jamie, but also threatens him. Obviously, we’ll see this play out in Outlander’s sixth season, but I worry for the Fraser family already.

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As the fifth season comes to a close, things are quiet, calm, and relaxed. This won’t last as a revolution is still coming, along with Lionel’s brother, and other time travelers (supposedly?).

But I’ll walk away from this season with the image of Claire and Jamie lovingly watching Fergus, Marsali, Roger, and Brianna playing with their kids. It might be the last peaceful moment they’ll have for a while.

That’s a wrap on season 5, folks.

Droughtlander begins…now.