The Jamie of the Ridge … a reflection on Outlander 5.01 “The Fiery Cross”


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First, let me say that 5.01 “The Fiery Cross” was a masterful mix of old and new.  It was recognizably based on the book but told with enough new and yet plausible surprises to keep me glued to my screen. It totally could have happened that way.  And, although I love Diana Gabaldon, and her gathering, I’m relieved they didn’t feel the need to replicate it in this episode. Instead, they gave us the wedding of Roger and Bree. It was a wonderful and joyous reunion filled with the people I have missed during this long drought.  As each face was shown on the screen, I found myself smiling somewhat tearfully.  I really do love this story and these characters.

As usual, when I sit down to write after an episode, a blow by blow recap of what happened isn’t on my mind.  There are lots of talented bloggers out there who do a great job looking at EVERTHING! I admire their ability to do so, but that just isn’t how my brain works.  I find myself thinking about one or two things that stood out for me or an overall mood or theme for each episode.  This week I couldn’t stop thinking about Jamie.  The Jamie I saw on my screen this week was the charming, complicated, yet simple man I have been longing to see.  As he stood before Claire wearing his plaid and his father’s coat, it felt like he had finally come into his own; laird, proud Scot, husband, father, grandfather.  He is a man and “that is no small thing”.  His tear-filled eyes throughout this episode revealed his soul and I found myself proud to “know” such a man.

Jamie and Bree

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Matt Roberts writes with such love for this story and its characters.  He holds all the previous episodes in mind when he creates and tends to the small and endearing details.  In this episode, he called us back to the three conditions Jamie made when he agrees to marry Claire; a dress, a priest, and a ring.   We are treated to Jamie trying his best to make sure his daughter’s wedding day is the best he can make it, just like he tried for her mother. I was charmed by Jamie making sure Bree had her “modern” wedding tradition of something old, something new (fairly raw whiskey, ouch), something borrowed and something blue and even a sixpence for her shoe. His obvious fatherly concern is compounded by the fact that their relationship is still so new.  He just got her back and now he has to give her away.

As he turns the corner and sees Bree in her wedding dress, you can chase the emotions across his face; awe, pride, gratefulness, and finally a need to hold it all in check for this beloved and found daughter.  He could never have dreamed of placing his mother’s pearls on his daughter’s neck. He is able to pass on a family heirloom to his own flesh and blood. She is his blessing.  She is the embodiment of the fact that his sacrifices were not in vain.  He is moved to tears by her confession that she needs him and will always be his wee girl and the gift of her knowing and repeating the Fraser clan motto, “Je Suis Prest”.

Jamie and Claire

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Throughout the episode, we are reminded of Jamie and Claire’s deep, passionate, and abiding love for one another.  The looks that pass between each, the unspoken language of couples who are so close they know what the other thinks and feels, added so much to this episode. Once again, the writers or actors took care to be consistent in how this couple interacts with each other like the “let’s do this” nod when Jamie goes off to do something dangerous.  But, Lord the looks between Jamie and Claire at the wedding.  He looks around at all he has wrought, the family he is surrounded by, and then back to Claire. Who knows.  He is overwhelmed by all he has that he thought he had lost forever.  He is a laird, a father, a…husband.  I am constantly reminded of all they had been denied and wonder if Jamie feels like Job who was blessed in his latter days and given twice as much as had been taken from him.

Jamie and the Governor

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I teach literature. When I help students analyze Shakespeare, we talk about foils.  Governor Tyron was perfectly menacing and a perfect foil for Jamie. You couldn’t help but compare the two.  Their motivations, their values, couldn’t be more opposite.  The Governor has the care of a land and its people.  Jamie has the care of a land and its people. The Governor is motivated by power and his own importance.  Murtaugh has made him look a fool and must be punished publicly to restore Tyron’s pride and preserve the perception of his power.  Jamie is motivated by love, honor, and duty.  The knowledge of the future lays heavy on him.  He knows who wins the war, but first, you must survive the battle.  Instinctively he knows the best way to protect his men and their families is to assure their loyalty to him.  He creates a clan from the remnants of their memories and Scottish pride.  When he called Roger “the son of my house” and Fergus “the son of his heart”, he gave them a public affirmation of his acceptance and his love. Pledging their loyalty to him on bended knee with holy iron was one of the most moving callbacks of the whole series.  I loved Roger’s initial confusion then Jamie’s surprise as the scholar moved from academic to real with alacrity.

Jamie and Murtagh

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We began and ended the episode with these two.  Murtagh pledges an oath to Jamie, a promise he gave his mother to always follow him and have his back.  He gently reaches out and takes wee Jamie’s hand in reassurance. Men in this time are definitely defined by their word and once given it is a serious and binding commitment. Murtagh pledged his life to Jamie.  We have seen him keep that oath.  We saw Jamie’s joy at being reunited with his godfather last season. However, the real depth of feeling Jamie has for Murtagh could only be guessed at… until this moment.  How much that oath meant to Jamie and his love for his godfather was revealed in this final scene. To save him, Jamie must release Murtagh from his oath and send him away.   In true Jamie and Murtagh fashion, no gushy words are spoken in their final goodbye. Jamie is tearful when he tells him to go and attempts to smile as he tells him to make himself scarce.  Murtagh’s response is to gently reach out and touch Jamie reassuringly, thinking first of Jamie’s feelings and needs always.  He leaves and Jamie then collapses in grief emitting gut-wrenching sobs. I think having loved and lost is painful, but to gain that love back and have to let it go again is unbearable.  Jamie is feeling fear as he never has before and that is saying a lot.  He has a lot to lose and will fight to the death to preserve all that he loves.

This episode and Jamie’s tears caused me to reflect on my own life. I thought of how much more easily my husband and I are moved to tears.  I believe, like Jamie, our age is a factor.  We have a lifetime of painful memories and struggles, things that we have overcome to get where we are now.  And, I often find I am now moved to tears by the simplest of things like watching our youngest granddaughters ride a pony or their obvious pride in catching a fish all by themselves, or watching the teens in all of their various sports and activities.or their inexplicable joy in a pair of gifted footed pajamas!  Sometimes watching the looks of pride on our own children’s faces as they look upon their children moves me to tears and I will look at my husband and find that he too is tearful. Like Jamie and Claire, understanding, gratitude, and love will wordlessly pass between us and end in a brief kiss and a tremulous smile.





77 thoughts on “The Jamie of the Ridge … a reflection on Outlander 5.01 “The Fiery Cross”

  1. Thank you, Beth, for your insights. I was moved to tears by parts of 501 and also by what you wrote. In summation, I…LOVED…THIS…EPISODE. – Dawn

  2. Terri

    Your writing is beautiful and you have the knack to write what I innately knew but couldn’t find the words. Thank you for your gift to us.

  3. Diane

    Thank you for this blog. I love this show and have never seen such a wonderful movie. It’s my absolute favorite. I love watching the depth and strength of Jamie and Claire’s love for each other. How much I pull for them to always stay together. They couldn’t have found better actors to play Claire and Jamie! They have such terrific chemistry together💓. I hope they are the best of friends or even more in real life. They are fabulous!

  4. Anne

    Absolutely brilliant episode and I cried throughout, interspersed with smiles and laughter. Tears again now upon reading your words! It seems as if I have again fallen in love with these characters, actors, and show!

  5. Mary Whitlow

    From the opening credits to the very end, I felt as if I’d come home at last. I realized how lonely I’d been for these (albeit fictional) people who feel like family. I can only ever watch alone, by myself, all my thoughts and tears kept to myself. Words alone cannot begin to express my love for both Diana’s writing and for the incredible cast who bring her words to life. My heart is just so full right now.

  6. Susa Kamlet

    Welcome back to Outlander, Beth. Your words, as always are brilliant and insightful. They speak to the emotions of the show and printed page. I’ve only viewed 501 once and felt the parent/grandparent feels that you expressed. It’s amazing how Matt Roberts translates Diana into visual art. (Along with the rest of the team)
    My daughter had her second baby, a son, in November. While holding him a week ago, we were alone, just he and I, I started to weep. I whispered to him, “ I hope to live long enough to see you shave.” Then I kissed him. I’m 72. Who knows where our futures lie? What I do know is what I’ve learned from Outlander-the books, the show and the community – is that life is all about love!

  7. Nancy Tomlinson

    Thank you Beth for helping me understand how this episode affected me. I found myself tearing up and realized how much Diana’s stories have become so much a part of me.
    Matthew does a marvelous job of adapting the books for the series. You can feel the love and respect he has for her writing.👵🏻💕

  8. Adi Tamir

    Wow! So beautifully written. It touched me. Thank you. I saw the premiere in New York and now I need to see it again and again. Thank you! Adi

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  9. Betsy Spada

    Thank you so much for this, especially your very last paragraph, about how this applies to you and your life…that struck such a chord with me. I love reading your work, and I think that your students are so very fortunate to have you as their teacher…not surprised at all that you teach Literature.

  10. Lorraine Grzena

    It seems that all of those who have already responded have described my own thoughts and feelings. I cannot express how pleased I am that you have continued with your blog. It adds so much to an already exquisite story and execution of the written words.
    Thank you for being you, and sharing your thoughts

  11. Nancy

    Hi Beth. It was like coming home, wasn’t it? The new episode was everything I wanted it to be and more. The opening Outlander song was beautiful, but I had goosebumps at the end to hear the ghostly words and music of the original version. When Jamie put the pearls on Brianna (doubled up as they were), I was moved to tears. Has it really been five years since he draped them on Claire? Well, ok, 20+ years. When Jamie puts on his kilt to the Scottish song, again, goosebumps. And tears for Murtaugh. There were so many “feels” within this episode. Thanks for all you do to always remind us of how much we love Outlander. ❤️

  12. Nancy

    My earlier comment didn’t get posted for some reason, but I’ll just say this ever so shortly. The new episode was everything and more. And you, as usual, captured this everything perfectly. Thanks, Beth.

  13. MaryKay

    Beth, I love how you wrote about this wonderful episode. I loved it too, especially from the perspective of a fellow grandparent. Thank you and I look forward to enjoying this season with you through your blog.

  14. Janette Churchill

    I have so missed Outlander and your comments. You show so much that I may have missed in the first viewing that it justifies my need to watch again.

      • Yvonne

        Lovely piece Beth & I agree completely about Matt’s wonderful writing & understanding of the story & characters. I also felt that at last we had the authentic Jamie & Claire back with us. Long may this continue. Sam was outstanding in showing us the depth of Jamie’s feelings throughout in his understated nuanced & brilliant acting style. Caitriona was also far truer to Claire’s understanding of Jamie & the subtle way they had of communicating. So much better than a great deal of last season.
        I want to add one more thing. Lauren Lyle is an absolute gem!. She often gets very short screen time but she makes the most of every precious moment of that. She brings Marsali to life which so much wit & intelligence winning her love & praise from fans & co-stars alike. Hope to see much more of her in the episodes to come.

  15. What an amazing end to Droughtlander. This was the Jamie I know. The Claire and Jamie I know. It was so wonderful to see them!

    Your comments about the shared bond between J/C was so spot on. Thank you for bringing it to the fore. My husband and I had that bond and could express so much with a touch and a glance. He was the love of my life and I his. He has been gone for 11 years Feb 17. Reliving that type of love through Jamie and Claire brings me a sense of peace and reminders that cause me to smile. Pretty amazing for a TV show. ❤️

  16. Lee

    I enjoyed your article as usual… I know it is filmed in Scotland but it does look like WNC, I grew up about 8 miles from Asheville. And we can pretend they had such fine homes pre-RevWar , its much more fun to have/see nice things..
    I was VERY VERY disappointed in the music.. I want all my old OUTLANER friends AND the warm feeling of the original music. -( -(

  17. Adele Jackson

    Hi Beth,

    Thank you for your blog review – I’ve missed both the show and your reviewing.

    Wasn’t it lovely?! I’m holding my breath for this season… it seems like the writers have learned a lot from last season and having Caitriona and Sam as producers is already noticeable in the characters fullness I think. There’s so much in this book – and I have so many questions. Will they show the dreadful story at the trading post? How will they handle Roger’s meeting with his forebears and his subsequent punishment after the battle? How much of Jocastas story will we see? Does Murtah reappear in a later season…?

    But it’s off to a really great start – I spent most of the show in some kind of tears and clutching my whiskey. I really love this family and this show.

    Thanks again,

    Adele (in NZ) 021 111 6295 Studio: 147 Cuba St Postal address: 14 Salisbury Garden Court Wadestown Wellington 6012


  18. Lovely review as always Beth. I’ve watched this new long awaited episode 4 times already – couldn’t get enough of all my old and dear friends. I was very glad they didn’t try to replicate the “Gathering” LOL.
    Roger and Bree’s wedding was lovely and totally could have happened as they showed it. Loved seeing Lord John and was also very happy there was no vision of Frank (mean old me).
    The Jamie I saw was more like book Jamie and Claire has lost some of her pushiness. I’m sure Sam & Cait had some input there. Really glad they now have more input into how they play Jamie and Claire.
    All in all a great start 😀

  19. Lisa Nappi

    Beth, please never stop writing your Outlander blog. I love it — we love it! You understand the true essence of this wonderful show. As disappointed as I have been in a few of the story line decisions, I dearly love this show and all of its inhabitants. The fifth season premier is truly Jamie’s episode and I was very moved by his emotion. Thank you and keep on blogging!

  20. I’m so thrilled to find your blog as I feel as if I’ve been out here with my Outlander obsession mostly alone. I read the articles, watch the interview, cast panel and gag reel videos, follow social media, but there’s no one in my life I can really discuss the show with in the thoughtful and loving way you discuss it here. You love the show the way one loves a beloved, not glossing over flaws and false steps, but supporting and believing in them to the end.

    I loved episode 501. I was absolutely gobsmacked by the sequence when Jaime put back on his kilt, and walked out to rally the men to his side, the use of that Gaelic song, Moch Sa Mhadainn, was haunting, I had chills. Jamie is finally the man we believed he could be, a laird, a protector of those he loves, and for me, he stepping into the fullness of that was the heart of this episode. Claire was mostly sidelined as the wife, mother, healer, but I loved the unspoken way she and Jaime communicate now, with looks, nods, heart language.

    I loved and was so conflicted about loving the burning cross scene. I know the producers fashioned a Celtic cross so as the distance the cross burning from its modern day meaning, but I couldn’t unsee what a burning cross has come to symbolize—a Scottish clan tradition that did not have those connotations until it was appropriated by another kind of Klan to express hatred of “the other” in the new world. There was so much that was beautiful happening in that scene, especially when Jaime called “Fergus, son of my name and my heart,” so moving. I hate that I had this other mind, tugging at me, warning me to be careful about this.

    The couples: I can’t get enough of Jamie and Claire, of course, and I’m also very smitten with Fergus and Marsali, and Murtugh and Jocasta. But is it me or is there just no chemistry between Bree and Roger? I am still trying to forgive Roger for his season 4 choice to leave Bree after they were hand fast. No matter how angry she was, in that place and time, he should have seen her safely home. I also hated his chauvinistic judgment of Brie’s sexuality at the stag burning earlier in the season. I had loved Roger is season 3, and felt betrayed by the turns the show’s writers made him take in season 4. It didn’t help to see him all season long in those awful breeches. He’s such a major character, why on earth make him so unsympathetic? I like Sophie as Bree, though I struggled with this at first. I think now it was because of the lack of chemistry between her and Roger. I hope the writers can restore Roger to his former grace this season, and make me forget Roger of season 4.

    I have no doubt that some of the unfortunate season 4 choices were what led Claire and Jaime to push to become producers. So far, I think they understand the characters better this season.

    Lord John Gray, oh he makes my heart ache. Also, what a beautiful man! I hope he is central to this season’s story as I love when he’s in the mix. As you can probably tell, I haven’t read all the books, I found the show first, and am only up to Voyager. But this comment is getting awfully long, please forgive. And know that I have pulled up a chair around the fire here, and look forward to reading more.

    • Please feel free fo comment away! I do love this story and its characters. There is a lot more to read on here, I’ve been writing for awhile! The jury is out on Bree and Roger for me too. I’m sad to say. I WANT to love them too,

      • Sandi Paquet

        I totally agree on Roger and Bree; I want to like them, but they just don’t seem to have that chemistry that is needed to make them believable. We’ve been totally spoiled by Sam & Cait and their chemistry, that was there from day one and I just don’t find Bree and Roger satisfying to watch; even the sex scenes are “acted” while those scenes for Sam & Cait, always seemed real and heartfelt. Hope that the new Mackenzie’s can improve with the season.


    Dear Beth!

    Again you’ve done a masterful job of analyzing beautiful show against the magnificence of the book. I echoed everyone of your sentiments and found watching all of it ever so touching and meaningful. The looks on Jamie’s face when he first sees Brianna and then again when he is forced to tell Murtagh goodbye almost broke my heart. Would that I had had a father who loved me with those expressions or cherished like Jamie does those he loves deeply.

    I want you to know I’ve copied off your words and will add them to my collections of comments and memorabilia that I have kept from the very first I began reading the books and especially since the start of the TV series. All I can add is thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gestures of literary and heartfelt generosity. You’ve enhanced my enjoyment all the more!!!

    Bless you, good friend!

    Chris Finklein from Washington state

  22. Joan Tinnin

    Beth, your words for this episode are so beats, so perfect, there is no need for any further comments from me. Well, just one. Did anyone notice the tears that fell to the ground when Jamie bent to pick up the stone? I lost it right then! Sam! All the accolades!!

  23. Sandi Paquet

    Thank you so much for this, perfectly said and perfectly echos the first episode of the season. I love this show so much and Sam Heughan, is so amazing; he acts with this facial expressions so often and you can’t miss exactly what he’s trying to convey. I had tears in my eyes and was crying a lot of the time, just for the way the family was able to come together, but then how Jamie and Murtagh, had to part, so that hopefully Murtagh is safe and won’t be found. I really hope that the show isn’t thinking of having Murtagh be gone for good, he would be so missed; the show wouldn’t be the same without him in it.

  24. eataylo1

    Beth, so glad your weekly recap is back! I love that the Season 1 Jamie is back…older and wiser certainly, but back. He got lost and was wandering except for brief glimpses in 2, 3, and especially 4. It appears our Claire is also back. This truly was an homage to the loyal book readers who have hung around waiting for a veering back to the characters DG lovingly created. Never be ashamed of the tears…they are hard won. Thank you💕💕

  25. Thank you for this lovely blog piece Beth. Reading your pieces always enhances my watching of the series. We are grandparents and great grandparents now and have much of that reflecting forward to our growing family that you mention. Interesting that people struggle with Roger and Brianna depiction and chemistry. I believe that they will grow together as the series goes on. Reading the books I see how much they are pulled by their upbringings and modern lives they left behind. That will most likely be shown as this series moves on. Their love, and expression of it, is different to that of Jamie and Claire, which can bring comparisons. No idea why I am ‘defending’ the younger couple! Love the whole ensemble – even the ones who play ‘bad guys or gals’! Thanks again Beth. 💕

  26. Narelle Wiseman

    It is really good to have your blog to read for season 5. I have missed you so. I love your description of episode 1, and look forward with much anticipation to the following weeks. This story has been my other home since the first book was published. It has swallowed me up, heart and soul, and I am so grateful.
    Jamie is more like himself again I feel, and that is such a fine thing.
    Like all of us I’m looking forward to “Bees” and hoping that I live long enough to see how this wonderful, outlandish story ends. I’m 70 this year.

  27. Hilarie Cutler

    Glad to have you back Beth. I look foreword to your blog posts as much as the episodes. I am not sure that was Jamie’s father’s coat he was wearing with the kilt. Unless it was greatly remade. I’ll have to take a closer look on my comp.

  28. I have watched the episode several times, and delighted with discovering new bits with each viewing. I find I always chuckle at the wee lad, Germaine, saying, “Grandpere says all Presbyterians have hair ticks.”

    And Bear’s music was intoxicating….both for the wedding, and the crescendo identical to that when JAMMF first saw Claire on their wedding day….all the bits that were created to remind us of the best parts of Seasons 1 & 2. I couldn’t have been more pleased for the Fraser’s return.

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