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Outlander - Journeycake - Review

8 May 2020

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The penultimate episode of Outlander’s fifth season, written by Diana Gabaldon herself, might as well have been the season finale. After the Bonnet storyline concluded last week, several new story arcs were commenced in this episode: The MacKenzies decide to return to the future, arsonists are setting the houses of colonists on fire and Jamie is supposed to get his militia back together to join the Committee of Safety.

Just like Bullet to the Brain this episode too feels rushed and condensed, especially if one compares it to episodes such as 5x03 Free Will or 5x07 The Ballad of Roger Mac. Roger and Brianna find out by accident that wee Jemmy is indeed capable of time travel and a few seconds later they are already on their way to return to the 20th century. The good-bye-scenes were lovely and heartbreaking, however, the very finale goodbye was not shown which very much seems like the easy way out. It was also rather surprising how very little Brianna protested when Roger suggested returning to their own time. So far Brianna had been very reluctant about leaving her parents behind and going back to the 20th century. She knows it is the responsible thing to do but it certainly is not what her heart wants. Were it not for Roger she would probably stay right where she was, with Claire and Jamie.

It is Ian who accompanies Brianna, Roger, and little Jemmy to the stones. Back when Roger was a prisoner of the Mohawks, he discovered a stone circle in the woods. This is rather convenient as it saves them a long and difficult journey back to Scotland. The MacKenzies tie themselves together with a robe and touch the stone. All three of them immediately disappear, leaving a flabbergasted Ian behind. He just recently learned about time travel and seeing it with his very own eyes is as remarkable as it is frightening. Ian is desperate to go through the stones himself. He wants to go back in time to fix whatever is broken between him and his mysterious wife we have yet to meet. Unlike Jemmy, however, Ian does not hear the loud buzzing sounds of the stones. Therefore, we can assume that he does not possess the ability to travel in time. Though, I would not eliminate the possibility that this ability can be acquired. I certainly hope so at least. Jamie is not able to hear the buzzing of the stones either and I really would like him to visit the future at some point. So fingers crossed.

Another storyline that is started in Journeycake is that of the arsonists who presumably kill colonial families and then proceed by setting their houses on fire. (This made me think of Claire's and Jamie's obituary! They are/were supposed to die in a house fire!) To keep the people in their county safe the Committee of Safety was formed which is lead by Mr. Brown and his people. The Browns expect Jamie and his settlers to join their group. After all, when Jamie needed men for his militia to fight the Regulators Brown and Co were right by his side. Jamie owes them or so Robert Brown believes. When the Scotsman declines the offer to join the Committee one can already imagine that his decision will have consequences for the Frasers. The fact that Lionel Brown spots Dr. Rawling’s nameplate in a drawer in Claire’s surgery when he brings his wife to see the healer certainly does not help to improve the situation. He now knows that Claire is responsible for the medical pamphlets in which health advice and general tips to prevent pregnancy are given. He wants a child and his wife knowing how to avoid getting pregnant is the very last thing he needs.

At the end of the episode, there is a huge explosion close to Fraser’s Ridge. The men rush to the scene to find out what is going on. Soon the audience notices that the explosion only seems to have been an aversion to getting the men away from the house. With Jamie, Fergus, and Ian away, men (who are presumably Brown's people) storm Claire’s surgery, attack Marsali, and kidnap Claire!

Jamie is out of his mind when he realizes what happened. He runs up the hill where he put the fiery cross at the beginning of this season and sets it on fire, summoning all his settlers. For people at Fraser’s Ridge war has just started.

Claire being abducted is not the only cliffhanger this episode ends on. The audience gets to see that Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy made it through the stones safely, all three of them. However, something is not quite right. The readers of the book probably already know exactly what is going on but for the people who only watch the show, it is still somewhat of a mystery. One can assume, though, that instead of traveling back to the 1970s the little family ended up in a different time. Maybe using a different stone circle to travel through was not the greatest idea after all.

Even though the episode was thrilling and at times heartbreaking, it felt more like a summary. There were a few scenes carried out in great detail like the window sex scene or the last father-daughter bonding moment with Brianna and Jamie but almost everything else about the episode felt rushed. I sincerely hope the season finale will not try to hurry through all the events like Journeycake did.

What did you think of the episode? Did you feel it was rushed too? Where (when) do you think Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy ended up?