'Outlander' Season 5 Episode 11: Lord Grey training Willie to be an English Earl could turn father against son
How seriously the 'English Earl' Willie takes his patriotism will define his future relationship with Jamie, his father, the Scotsman
In all the hullabaloo of the Mackenzie family leaving to travel to the future and Claire Fraser's (Caitriona Balfe) kidnapping, Lord John Grey's (David Berry) visit was almost eclipsed. But the conversation between Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Lord Grey does yield a lot in terms of future plotlines for Season 6.
Lord Grey tells Jamie that the mood in the colonies is growing darker and a "storm is coming". This has propelled him to decide to return to England to take care of the Helwater and most importantly, start training Willie, Jamie's illegitimate son, to become the Earl who can take care of the estate.
Both Jamie and Brianna express gratitude to Lord Grey for being a wonderful father. (Also, we secretly ship Brianna and Lord Grey because it is impossible to disregard the chemistry between these two actors — sorry Richard Rankin). However, what Brianna nor Jamie anticipate is that as an "English Earl", Willie will be expected to have certain views against the rebelling colonists during the American Revolution.
While Lord Grey will definitely temper Willie's understanding of the conflict into a more nuanced version of the "us vs them" argument, his loyalties will always lie with the English. This means we could see a repeat of the Murtagh vs Jamie conflict we devoted much of this season to. Only instead of godfather and godson, it will be father and son.
How seriously Willie takes his patriotism will define his future relationship with Jamie, his father, the Scotsman. Another thing that Lord Grey says and that Jamie agrees on is that Willie is looking more and more like his father. This means that even if no one tells Willie anything, he might see himself looking in the mirror and see the features of his favorite groomsman from childhood. What may such a realization have on Willie?
For the foreseeable future though, Jamie and Willie will be separated by an ocean. Willie will also be separated from his half-sister Brianna, who he will probably never know. However, Brianna Fraser (Sophie Skelton) does get a glimpse of how her brother looks, thanks to his portrait that Lord Grey gifts Jamie.
Willie's portrait secures pride of place on Jamie's bedside table. Since Brianna has gone back to the future, Willie is Jamie's only progeny who is around in the same time period as him. But right now, all he has left of his children and grandchild are their sketches. Inspired by Willie's portrait, Claire also asks for portraits of Jemmy, Brianna and Roger from Brianna as a parting gift.
We see Claire sifting through these portraits in Roger and Brianna's cabin, which Jamie and Claire had built when they first came to Fraser's Ridge, so many moons ago. Both Jamie and Claire will miss their daughter and grandson immensely. But as Claire's kidnapping shows, the 18th century is a dangerous place even for those who "know the future". The 20th century might hold other dangers like traffic but none of the brutality that is so commonplace in the New World during the1700s.
'Outlander' airs new episodes on Sunday at 8 pm ET/PT, on STARZ, the STARZ app, and STARZ On Demand.