'Outlander' Season 5 Episode 7 Review: Murtagh makes a heartbreaking exit, Roger Mac's fate seems sealed
Jamie Fraser finally uncorks the resentment he has building against Governor Tryon and peels off that hated 'Red Coat' uniform from his back and tells the governor that his 'duty' is done
In one of the most explosive chapters this season, we had several OMG moments this episode that slowed our breaths and made our hearts race.
The first of many of course was Brianna Mackenzie's (Sophie Skelton) race to the frontline to tell her husband, Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) and her parents Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), that this was it -- this was the Battle of Alamance, the final battle of the "War of Regulation" that utterly routed the Regulators. But it was also the battle that sparked the American War of Revolution.
Roger volunteers to go sneak behind enemy lines and speak to Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) to stop the battle or at the very least, get him to slip away. That decision triggers two of the most heartbreaking scenes this season.
Murtagh, as expected, refuses to back down or run away leaving his comrades in the lurch. The next day in the skirmish, he rescues Jamie from being shot by someone on his side and then promptly gets shot by someone on Jamie's side.
With his godfather in his arms, he runs into the medical camp set up by Claire and demands, his eyes blazing, "Heal him!" But Claire and the others around him already know it is too late. Murtagh is dead. A fan favorite, Murtagh had survived his "book death" in the Battle of Culloden and had followed Jamie to the New World.
With his death, we are back to the book's version of things. The moment was a well-crafted one as Jamie vainly begs Murtagh to rise from the dead because he did not "release him from his vow". It also puts Brianna's anxiety levels at an all-time high since there is no sign of Roger, who was supposed to be back by dawn.
It also acts as the catalyst for Jamie to finally uncork the resentment he has building against Governor Tryon and for peeling off that hated Red Coat uniform from his back and telling the governor that his "duty" was done and his debt to him paid.
We don't know how wise a move this was, calling out Governor Tryon's cruelty in going after poor farmers, armed with only pitchforks, with cannons and a well-trained militia. But since the Governor is moving to New York, it could be for the best.
But Jamie, after that display, is certainly off Tryon's good books. His men too approve of this because they too are horrified about having to raise their arms against their Scottish countrymen. Roger, on the other hand, while sneaking back runs into "Mrs Morag Mackenzie", the woman he met and helped on Stephen Bonnet's ship who is also his ancestor. But as he warns her about the Regulators' sure-fire loss in the battle ahead and gives his "Great grandmother" a hug, he is interrupted by William, Morag's husband, who is none too pleased about a strange man hugging his wife.
In the ensuing skirmish, even as Roger tries to explain that the hug was familial, the yellow rosette that marks him as part of Tryon's militia falls out of his pocket. William, knocks him unconscious, vowing that Roger will not be able to speak again.
We realize what his bitter words mean at the end of the episode when Claire, Jamie, and Brianna see his body hanging from the tree as a "traitor" to the Crown. It is a cliffhanger that is just too shocking right after Murtagh's death and viewers felt they were experiencing a la 'Game of Thrones' 'Red Wedding' like scenario on 'Outlander'.
Brianna, white-faced, clutches Claire as she watches as Jamie cuts down Roger from the tree. With this episode, titled 'The Ballad of Roger Mac' the season kicks into high gear after meandering for most of its first half. No one is safe, not even fan-favorite characters.
With the battle, we also get back to the series core strength - mixing real history with the story of its fictitious characters, in a way that makes the stakes real and worth fighting (and dying for).
For Jamie, for whom the protection of his family and clan has been paramount, the Battle of Alamance, has taken away too much. His gamble of siding with Governor Tryon to get that protection has backfired and his actions, from now on, should reflect that. He will now be more willing to join the Revolutionaries and be on the "right" side of history.
'Outlander' aired on Sunday, March 29 at 8 pm ET/PT, and is available on STARZ, the STARZ app, and STARZ On Demand.