‘Outlander’: Jamie’s Inner Battle & Roger’s Task in ‘The Ballad of Roger Mac’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 5, Episode 7 of Outlander, “The Ballad of Roger Mac.”]
Outlander returned Sunday night for the season’s most pivotal episode so far as Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and the rest of the gang made their way to the front lines of battle in “The Ballad of Roger Mac.”
Below, we’re breaking down the episode’s most important moments, but considering the game-changing nature of this installment, beware of major spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t watched. For those who did watch, this week’s episode was understandably emotional so make sure to have a tissue nearby for good measure.
The action kicks off in Hillsborough in the year 1771, as Roger (Richard Rankin) bids Brianna (Sophie Skelton) farewell in town, where she’s staying with Jemmy, as he heads off to the battlefront where Jamie and Claire are set up in a tent of their own. In their tent, the pair discuss Jamie’s milestone of a day as the Fraser celebrates 50 years of life. He feels guilty that he outlived his father who only lived to be 49, but Claire assures him that he’d be proud to know Jamie had lived his life, had children, grandchildren and a loving family.
When they’re organizing the militia, Roger arrives and falls into line under Jamie’s command alongside the red coats who have come armed with cannons and guns. It is said that there are over a thousand men prepared for battle against the regulators who are led by Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix).
As Jamie talks to his men under a tent, he tells them to wear cockades as markers that they’re fighting for the red coats. As he’s doing this Isaiah Morton (Jon Tarcy) shows up ready to fight, displeasing the Browns in the process. When they make a fuss, Claire tells them that their daughter and niece Alicia (Anna Burnett) made her choice by running away with him.
Meanwhile, battle talk occurs as the Reverend delivers a letter to Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) and promotes the idea of a peaceful conflict, but Tryon’s not appeased and promises to deliver a letter back to the regulators. Back in town, Bree is told that the regulators are stationed by the creek at Alamance and she’s concerned when it sounds familiar. After some thinking, she recalls the historical event that occurred there and sets off to warn her family.
Meanwhile, Claire catches Jamie in the creek as he says prayers to his uncle Dougal — when she asks why, he tells her it’s because he was great in battle and war. Once Bree arrives, she warns that she remembers the battle at Alamance is considered a spark to the revolution and the regulators lose. She warns that stopping the battle though could interrupt history as they know it, but Jamie can’t help but want to warn Murtagh and Roger agrees to go.
Handing him a cockade and white rag for truce, Jamie tells Roger to leave by nightfall and relay the message to Murtagh. While Bree is worried, Claire tries to reassure her daughter to be hopeful that Roger returns before any possible gunfire. When Roger arrives at the regulator’s camp, he takes Murtagh aside and warns him that they’ll lose and should turn back, but with the men fired up, Murtagh doesn’t know if he can talk them down. Reading a letter sent to them by Governor Tryon, Murtagh’s hope of changing minds is gone as they get more fired up against the red coats.
Ready to be on his way, Roger gives Murtagh one last glance and turns away from the camp, but on his way out encounters Morag MacKenzie (Elysia Welch), a woman he assisted in Season 4 aboard Stephen Bonnet’s (Ed Speleers) ship, when they were sick and the cold-hearted pirate wanted to throw her and her baby overboard. Greeting each other, he asks if her husband is a regulator which she confirms and he tells her to run, warns her because he knows somehow they’re related as MacKenzies.
When he goes to hug her goodbye though, someone catches the sign of affection, but before we can see what happens, Jamie questions where Roger is ahead of the battle to come. When he comes face-to-face with Tryon, he’s asked to wear a red coat. At first Jamie tries to say he’s not worthy, but then the man insists and Jamie knows it’s not a choice. This sight is certainly jarring considering Jamie’s tortured past with the red coats, Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in particular, who repeatedly harmed Jamie and the people he loved before Jamie finally killed him in the Battle of Culloden.
Meanwhile, back at the edges of the regulator camp, Roger is confronted by Morag’s husband Buck MacKenzie, the illegitimate son of Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) and Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek). If the man looks familiar, it’s because McTavish is also portraying the character as he calls out Roger’s actions. When the cockade falls out of Roger’s pocket, he’s called a traitor and a wife stealer, despite trying to defend he was just warning her about the battle. When the man gets rough with his wife, Roger punches him, but is then bludgeoned and knocked out.
Back on the other side of the battle field, Jamie bids Claire farewell until after the fight is over, and it’s clear it pains her to see him wearing red. When the fight begins, Bree’s scared for Roger, but her and Claire are busy tending to wounds in the medical tent. One patient includes Isaiah who was shot on the front lines, and when the Browns enter the tent for treatment and call Isaiah a coward, Claire insinuates the men shot him. In retaliation, Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) grabs Claire’s life-saving penicillin administering needle and smashes it into the ground, crushing the glass and metal device.
After that calamity, we’re shown the red coats as they round up regulators and that’s when Jamie runs into Murtagh in the woods. Putting his gun down, Jamie looks pleased to find his godfather, but the bliss doesn’t last when one of the militia man shoots Murtagh. As they slump against a tree, Jamie tries to help his godfather, as he tells the dying man that he had released him from his oath of protecting him, but Murtagh says, “I’d never betray your mother.”
As Jamie cradles Murtagh, the old man reaches out to his godson and says, “Do not be afraid… it doesn’t hurt a bit to die.” In denial, Jamie gets men to help him bring Murtagh to Claire, but when he asks her to fix Murtagh, she can’t lie about the pallid corpse that lays before her. All of the Frasers are horrified, and Jamie takes the opportunity to call out Tryon, saying it wasn’t justice to slaughter people and that he “kindled war for the sake of your own glory.” Tryon defends himself saying he promised to leave North Carolina in order, but unconvinced, Jamie tears his red coat off and throws it in the dirt, telling Tryon he doesn’t owe him anymore.
Searching for Roger now, no one can seem to tell the Frasers where he’s gone off to. Eventually they spot men hanging in a tree, and Roger’s cockade and white rag hang from the pocket of one of the bodies. Did he survive? Viewers will have to tune in next week, but we’re willing to bet by his strategic hand position that Roger Mac had some possible life-saving tricks up his sleeve.
Find out his fate by tuning in next week and let us know what you thought about the episode in the comments below.
Outlander, Sundays, 8/7c, Starz