Outlander, Season Five (2019)


The fifth season of Outlander throws our hapless heroines and heroes into the rumblings of the American Revolution. Though a powerful and engaging season, it ends once again on a rape--because apparently the author has no other emotional tricks up her sleeve. But more on that later.


Celebration abounds at Frasier's Ridge, where Claire () and Jamie () are preparing for their daughter's wedding. Jamie has a father's jitters and a few doubts about whether Roger () will make Brianna () a suitable husband, since he's from the future and possesses no survival skills (not to mention the fact that he hesitated before he agreed to marry her in the first place, after finding out what ills befell her at the hands of a pirate). Claire meanwhile feels some frustration over the old-fashioned ideals that surround her, and the medical practices of the 1700s which cause some people to die, after she discovers a man has died of mercury poisoning in his wife's attempt to cure his stomachache (appendicitis). She wonders how to distribute accurate medical information, while not tipping her hand or causing a time-event, and decides to write up a few educational pamphlets for use on the Ridge.


Unfortunately for Claire, someone carries off her advice and mistakenly gives it to the local newspaper--so before long, the advice of a "doctor" is spreading through the towns and having an affect on the locals. (Such advice includes avoiding lying with your husband two weeks before your courses, if you don't want to get pregnant!) But that's the least of their problems... Jamie has discovered that his daughter's rapist didn't die in an explosion after all, and still intends to seek revenge for his crimes. He's being pressured by the local governor to capture and execute a renegade "troublemaking traitor," who just happens to be his Scottish godfather. Murtagh has most recently taken part in a tarring and feathering incident, that may spiral out of control when the British retaliate. So far Jamie has managed to avoid tracking his godfather accurately, but it's only a matter of time before the governor gets suspicious...


I have mixed feelings about Outlander. On the one hand, it sets things up very well and does immaculate foreshadowing for later events, but on the other, it seems to delight in wallowing in a particular kind of sexually deviant darkness that is uncomfortable after five seasons of seeing the same tropes play out over and over again. There's some excellent material here, including how Brianna has come into her own as a wife and mother, and the inevitable showdown with her rapist is particularly satisfying. But there's also long, dull stretches, particularly with Roger dealing with PTSD after he's almost hanged to death. The characters seem to make stupid, short-sighted decisions just to further the plot, which is bad writing--they should be learning from their mistakes, and have figured out by now that they live in a dangerous time. They seem aware of this in lip-service terms, but it doesn't actually impact any of their decisions. Jamie is right in an early episode when he tells Claire that sometimes she forgets where and when she is, and that it would serve her better to be a little less assertive. This pays off, terribly, in the last episode of the season, when, tired of her meddling in their affairs, a group of men kidnaps and rapes her, in part because of her pamphlets about denying husbands sex.


This is a 'natural consequence' of her decision and is therefore reasonable writing; it's also accurate that people behave differently in a group than alone, and that it's quite easy for a bunch of human beings to turn into terrible people when there's no consequences for their decisions. So it's plausible and realistic that Claire would be raped; but is it also redundant (since almost every other member of her family has been assaulted after five seasons) and unnecessary? I would say that it is. If emotional trauma is what the writers wanted Claire to experience -- kidnap her and beat her, that would be enough. Framing and arguing that the constant sexual assaults in this series are historically accurate is lazy writing, and bordering on rape/torture porn. And I am so tired of it, because otherwise, Outlander is entertaining, creative, engaging, and memorable. It introduces us to the idea that Claire is not the only one to have traveled through the stones, since she meets another Traveler on her way. But I am tired of every threat ending in a rape, or by raping someone, establishing a bad guy as a villain. There are other ways to create drama and tension than sexual assault, and I hope later seasons have learned that lesson and taken it to heart.

Sexual Content:
There are seven consensual sex scenes, and two rape scenes (we see a woman being held down and assaulted by two different men, with the implication that three more will assault her as they approach taking off their coats); one has a flashback to an earlier rape in which a different woman is screaming. The consensual sex scenes involve nudity, moaning, movement, and sometimes backside nudity and/or breast nudity. There's at last four scenes in which we see nudity of various kinds (breasts, side nudity, backside nudity). The ending shot of the season involves two naked people wrapped up in one another's arms.
5 abuses of Christ’s name, 2 uses of GD, 6 abuses of Jesus, 7 uses of sh*t, and a few of “bollocks.”
The first episode shows people being tarred and feathered (the tar is hot and scalds them, while they scream for mercy; we later see the terrible scars on their bodies, and one of them might die). People beat each other bloody in a fight. One episode features an abusive man who has had a stroke and is found lying in his own filth; he's covered in gruesome bed sores, and his wife, a teenager, attempts to strangle him before she collapses and gives birth; Jamie winds up shooting him in the head (off-camera) to put him out of his misery (after asking him if he wants Claire to try and save his life; the man says no). Gunfire kills men, they are also hanged from a tree until dead (one of them survives, but suffers from PTSD flashbacks), stabbed, and have their throats slit. One episode revolves around an early battle in the war, in which many men are killed, including a beloved main character. A woman is kidnapped -- we see a pregnant woman struck across the face, and she falls unconscious on the floor (she later kills a man by stabbing a syringe full of poison into his neck); the men abuse, cut up, and kick her repeatedly, before raping her; her husband has them all killed (shot, stabbed, and struck with tomahawks). Elsewhere, we see a buffalo shot and killed; a woman picking maggots out of a man; a man struck by a poisonous snake and his grotesque wound (they put maggots into it to clean it up); and a woman hacking apart dead animals... she guts a deer and saws it up, and does the same later to a pig. We see a dead body on whom Claire is performing an autopsy.

A woman reads tarot cards in an attempt to predict the future.

Charity's Novels!

Get caught up on her fantastic books!