Outlander series five episode one review: Wedding bells bring welcome distraction for Fraser clan

Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) return for the fifth season of the time-travelling Starz series

Outlander series five

**Warning: spoilers ahead for season five episode one**

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Most romances in period dramas end with a wedding, tying off relationships and narrative loose ends with one big white bow (and a slice of cake to seal the deal). But if Outlander has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes weddings are only the beginning…

That’s right, the time-travelling Starz show is back for a fifth season, opening with Brianna and Roger’s wedding at Fraser’s Ridge. The first choral notes of the Skye Boat Song ring out (“Sing me a song of a lass that is gone…”), Brianna dons a buttermilk-coloured wedding dress (with a tartan underskirt), and, as Jamie walks her down the aisle, all seems right in the Frasers’ small corner of North Carolina. But this is Outlander, and wherever the family are in space and time, there’s always some trouble lurking around the corner.

First off, it seems that Jamie – like plenty of fans and viewers – still hasn’t got over Roger’s ‘hesitation’ about whether or not to return to Brianna, after discovering that she had been raped by Stephen Bonnet and that she’s pregnant (the parentage of her baby son, Jem, remains uncertain). Although Roger did return to Brianna’s side at the end of season four, Jamie clearly hasn’t forgiven his new son-in-law. When Claire asks her husband whether he doubts Roger’s love for their daughter, he replies: “Did he not doubt it himself?” Later in the episode, baby Jem begins wailing. “Like father like son,” Jamie quips.

The tension between the competent soldier Jamie and the scholarly Roger also makes for some comic moments, including a scene where Roger struggles with a cut-throat razor and his father-in-law offers to shave him.

Fan favourite Lord John Grey makes a welcome return, but he brings worrying news about Bonnet, who is alive and, after escaping prison, is now dressing as a gentleman…

Outlander series five, Lord John Grey
Outlander series five episode one, Lord John Grey (David Berry) and Jamie (Sam Heughan)

Then there’s Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser, Jamie’s beloved godfather and wanted fugitive. Jamie has been asked by the redcoat soldiers to hunt down Murtagh as part of his repayment to the English crown, or else he’ll risk losing his new home and protection for his family – a terrible choice that’s highlighted in a flashback to when Jamie was a young boy and Murtagh his only friend and parental figure. The only person feeling as conflicted about Murtagh as Jamie is Aunt Jocasta, who’s clearly in love with the older Scotsman, but who knows that the pragmatic choice is to wed another wealthy settler.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom at the wedding. The guests and revellers compete in a drunken tongue-twister game – Lord John Grey offers to recite Shakespeare when it comes to his turn, and is forced to forfeit. And Roger proves himself to the formidable Aunt Jocasta when she attempts to test his loyalty to his new wife and son.“Cram it up yer hole,” he angrily declares, eliciting a small smirk from the matriarch.

However, as Jamie dresses in his old tartan kilt and rallies the settlers to swear an oath of allegiance to him, the scene is set for a coming battle. The Fraser motto (“Je suis prest”) may mean “I am ready,” but is the family truly prepared for what lies in store once the wedding cake is cut?

Outlander season 5 is set to air on Starz from Sunday 16th February, with each episode airing on Amazon Prime in the UK the day after its US release
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