The penultimate episode of Outlander’s fifth season, “Journeycake,” is a time for goodbyes. Multiple major characters are leaving the fold as the season winds down, and tensions bubbling since the first episode are coming to a head.
The major action in “Journeycake” originates in a seemingly harmless game of keep-away Young Ian (John Bell) is (for some reason) playing with Jemmy and Otter Tooth’s giant opal. When he finally lets the lad catch the stone, Jemmy complains that it’s hot. Ian doesn’t know what to make of that, but when Brianna (Sophie Skelton) comes over to investigate, she supports Jemmy’s account. Then Jamie (Sam Heughan), Roger (Richard Rankin) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) each take turns holding it. You can guess who among them also feels heat radiating from the stone.
When Jemmy takes the opal again, it bursts in his hands, and he and all of his time-traveling relatives hear the stone buzzing. This means Jemmy can travel– and that it’s time for Roger and Brianna to go home.
The MacKenzies concoct a cover story that Roger has accepted a university teaching position in Boston– a job with no shooting or stabbing– that they’ll need to leave for within the month. They use the time to set their affairs in order and to say goodbye to the people they love.
Young Ian finds a moment to confront Claire and Jamie after the incident with the opal, asking to finally be given answers about who or what Claire, Brianna and Roger are. He knows what the Mohawk said about Otter Tooth, and he presents Jamie and Claire with a journal Otter Tooth left behind. It’s in latin, so he hasn’t been able to read it. Jamie makes out some poetic rambling about not knowing when he’s landed or how to communicate with the natives, but knowing he’s already too late. Claire notices that the journal is written in ballpoint pen.
They decide they can and should loop Young Ian in. Behind closed doors, they tell him the whole truth about Claire’s story. It inspires him to ask her later if he she can lead him through the stones to rectify a past issue with his *wife,* but she and Brianna assure him that it would be impossible, and he refuses to say more.
Before Brianna and Roger leave, that hunky Lord John Grey (David Berry) comes for a visit. He brings Jamie a new miniature portrait of William, along with the news that he needs to return to London to help William take his new role as Earl at Helwater.
John’s visit inspires Jamie to tell Brianna about her brother, suggesting she might look him up in books when she gets home. This revelation leads to a sweet moment between Brianna and John where she’s able to compliment him fully on the good he’s done in raising her brother.
When the day comes to depart, Roger asks Ian if he’ll accompany their family to the stones so he can take the wagon and horses home after they go. He also gifts his 5,000 acres of land to Ian to do with what he pleases, thanking him for everything he’s done for them.
The MacKenzies reach the stones after two weeks’ travel, bind themselves together with rope to help ensure that they’ll travel to the same moment, and each take a gemstone – the two rubies Roger procured when he was a sailor and the black diamond Bonnet left for Jemmy. As Ian watches, they place their hands together on the furiously buzzing center stone and disappear in an instant.
Distraught, Ian rushes to the stone to try to pass through it as well, but its magic isn’t available to him.
On the other side, the MacKenzies are together and well… although something they see on arrival surprises them. (We’ll find out what later– maybe next week?)
Back at the Ridge, when John leaves, he will take Ulysses (Colin McFarlane) with him. It turns out Ulysses has been a free man since Mr. Cameron died, but he’s been too loyal to Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) to leave her. Now that he’s killed the white man Gerald Forbes (Billy Boyd)– despite it being to save Jocasta– there’s no safe place for him in North Carolina. Jamie arranges for him to travel as John’s “servant” after hiding him in Murtagh’s old shack for a while. The moment he’s on a British ship, Ulysses will truly be a free man.
Backdropping the primary drama of departures is unrest in the region. It appears that Indians are killing settlers and burning their cabins. Ian can say with certainty that the horror their family witnesses at one such site is NOT the work of any native peoples, but his word means little to the security squad Richard (Chris Larkin) and Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) have formed.
When the Browns come to the Ridge to recruit Jamie and his men to their new force, he hesitates. He’s been serving the Crown for a year and just wants to stay home to take care of his family. Claire, completely unable to help herself, insists on treating Lionel Brown’s janky leg while they’re there, renewing the animosity between them over her belief that he shot the man who ran away with his daughter.
Later, Lionel Brown returns with his wife to get Claire’s help with her broken wrist. Of course he inflicted the injury himself, and when Claire contrives a way to get him out of the room, the wife confirms that and confesses that he hurt her when she was refusing to lie with him on the advice of “Doctor Rawlings.” When Brown comes back into the room, he notices the plaque on Claire’s medical equipment with the meddlesome doctor’s name and quickly puts two and two together.
Not long after this incident, Jamie and the men spring into action when they see his still explode a ways away from the house. Unfortunately, it’s a diversion. Brown and some of his new militia come to kidnap Claire, knocking pregnant (again!) Marsali (Lauren Lyle) unconscious and unwittingly leaving her little son to tell Fergus (César Domboy) and Jamie what’s happened when they return.
Jamie marches to the top of the Ridge and lights the Fiery Cross to summon his men so he can go after his wife with backup!
P.S. The episode’s title is a reference to the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Claire pre-invents to share with Jemmy, a 20th Century version of the contemporary “journeycake.” Brianna sent some with her when she first returned to the 18th Century, and Claire procured peanuts to roast and cream before knowing that her peanut butter would send Brianna off in a full-circle moment.
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