SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Monsters and Heroes,” the ninth episode of “Outlander” Season 5.
On the latest episode of “Outlander,” the running theme for the main characters was that some of them were looking for a purpose, while others realized their lives could have multiple purposes.
What kicked off the action was that Jamie (Sam Heughan), Roger (Richard Rankin), Fergus (Cesar Domboy), Ian (John Bell) and the twins headed out to hunt a herd of buffalo. In an effort to flank the herd, Jamie and Roger got separated from the others, and Jamie got bitten by a venomous snake. Roger did what he could to suck out the venom on the spot, but he sent the horse back to the ridge in the hope that someone there would realize Jamie and Roger needed help. As Roger dragged Jamie home on a makeshift stretcher, Ian and Fergus managed to find them, and they all got Jamie back to Claire (Caitriona Balfe).
Over the next couple of days was Jamie’s body fought the venom, but an infection in his leg caused bigger problems. The maggots they found to eat away the dead flesh couldn’t get deep enough to get all the infected tissue and Claire couldn’t administer her penicillin into his bloodstream because Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) crushed her only syringe in the medical tent during the Battle of Alamance. So it became a wait-and-see situation to see if Jamie’s body could fight off the infection on its own — or if it would become so dire that Claire would have to amputate Jamie’s leg.
In discussing the possible amputation, Jamie had to admit that he would rather die than lose a limb, something with which his nephew Ian took great umbrage. Ian’s father, Ian Sr. (Steven Cree), lost most of one leg in the war when he and Jamie were young men, but he never let it stop him from running Lallybroch or caring for his family. As Ian realized that Jamie would rather die than end up like his courageous, loving father, Ian said, “I never thought I’d see the day I’d be ashamed of you, uncle” — which was a powerful moment between the two of them.
But what really made Jamie change his mind was that he came very close to dying — he even later told Claire he saw a doorway and could have chosen to walk through it — but couldn’t bear to leave her, which dovetailed nicely with a conversation Claire had earlier with Brianna (Sophie Skelton).
It seemed Brianna was feeling a bit lost in the 1770s, where she was not sure how to become what she was meant to be: an engineer. Claire reassured her that she would “just have to find a way,” and then lo and behold, it was Bree who realized that snake fangs could double as syringes because they’re hollow. Claire was able to administer penicillin to Jamie and he was saved.
Jamie’s near-death experience seemed to have driven home that even if he lost a leg and the “only” thing he could be was a husband and father, he would still be living a full life — something Claire pointed out to Bree in their conversation about finding one’s purpose. Bree wondered if maybe that was Roger’s purpose as well, but Roger came up with something else (and ill-advised) on his own.
Roger swore an oath to a then-dying Jamie that he would see it to that Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) was killed. Even after Jamie survived, Roger was pushing forward with his plan, which seems problematic since he admitted he wasn’t sure he could take another man’s life in cold blood.
“Bonnet’s crimes are unforgivable. Better we rid this earth of him that he may never harm another human being. There is a fine line between a monster and a hero,” said Jamie, which kind of made Roger’s point for him.
If Roger kills Bonnet in cold blood, is he no better than Bonnet? It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
There were also a couple of small side plots that were great examples of the “women be doin’ it for themselves” on the frontier — Bree got up-ended by a buffalo distracting it from going after Jemmy, Claire shot said buffalo, and Marsali (Lauren Lyle) gave birth to her third child by herself in the woods. It really seems like if all the men have to leave Fraser’s Ridge to go fight in the Revolutionary War, the Fraser women are going to be A-OK on their own.
“Outlander” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.