'Outlander' Season 5 Finale Review: Claire is tortured, raped by Lionel's men but Jamie saves her at last
As if upping the ante on the brutalization of our favorite characters, the season finale saw Claire being treated mercilessly by Lionel Brown and his men
This is 'Outlander'. So weeping in the finale is not uncommon. This is 'Outlander'. So, there will be rape trauma and violence. This is 'Outlander'. So Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) will rescue Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe), eventually.
As if upping the ante on the brutalization of our favorite characters, the season finale saw Claire being treated mercilessly by Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) and his men. They kicked her, beat her, and raped her... all the men, starting with Lionel's nephew.
At this point in the show, most viewers know that 'Outlander' uses the rape trope at least once a season. It mostly affects the women characters but sometimes also the men, like Jamie and Young Ian (John Bell).
However, how it handles this trope has improved immensely. In this 'rape edition' of Outlander, you never see the men when they are raping Claire and there is very little nudity. Instead, the camera focusses on the men when they are approaching her to highlight the terror and utter vulnerability Claire feels and then the camera shifts to her brutalized face as she slips in and out of a disassociated fugue state.
For once, the rape is shot entirely from the woman's perspective and the results can be triggering because it captures in part what rape can feel like. An experience that words like "violated' or "brutalized" fail to do.
In her fugue state, Claire imagines she is back in the 20th century in a warm, inviting '60s style home with the record playing. Jamie is there dressed in modern clothes and so is Marsali Fraser (Lauren Lyle), Fergus (César Domboy), Young Ian, Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), and even Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix). It's Thanksgiving and only two chairs stay empty -- Bree (Sophie Skelton) and Roger Mackenzie (Richard Rankin) are still to arrive.
However, this happy illusion that Claire's mind is using to distract her from the violence being wrecked on her body has cracks in them - Brown haunts the edges of the frame. Then, her terror and anxiety coalesce into a nightmarish scenario. The police arrive at the door to tell her that Roger and Bree have been killed in a road accident while they were "traveling".
With that, she comes back to reality with a jolt and she sees Brown's men being butchered by Jamie and his band of men, who include Fergus, Young Ian, and Roger, who is back from an unsuccessful passage through the stones. Bree is back at the homestead with Jemmy and she is the one who takes care of Claire when they return and she is barely able to speak, the noose marks still around her neck.
It is Mother's Day, so let us take a moment to understand just how much Claire loves Bree. In what could be categorized as the worst moment in her life to date and that's saying a lot since she has been through WWII and other unimaginable horrors, her subconscious is still occupied with Bree and Roger "traveling" through the stones. She knows that it is a dangerous thing, traveling through time. But, despite her trauma, her thoughts are about her daughter's safety.
One of the reasons Claire is so dear to 'Outlander' viewers is that she consistently follows where her heart leads her. Love is and always has been her strongest motivator and her reason to keep surviving. In this episode, she also shows compassion. She almost seizes a moment to kill Brown, the only survivor, taken in for questioning and strapped to her surgery table.
Then she remembers the dream Claire had from her fugue state - the successful doctor, wife, and mother in the 20th century. She drops the scalpel and utters the word - "I will do you no harm" - before retreating upstairs and breaking down. Marsali Fraser, however, has no such compunction and kills Lionel with a syringe full of hemlock poison.
The episode ends with Claire ensconced in Jamie's arm in their bed. When Jamie asks her how she is feeling. She replies with one word - "Safe". With that, we know Claire is going to alright. But storm clouds are gathering around Fraser's Ridge and the American Revolution is around the corner. So is Lionel's brother, Richard (Chris Larkin), who will seek revenge in Season 6.