Season 5 is nigh, my friends. A mere two weeks from this weekend. And you know? The anticipation is (almost) half the fun. So it’s time for more speculation and season hopes…care to play along?
A reminder that I know nothing! Absolutely nothing! I’ve read all the novels but I am not privy to any screeners or insider knowledge. This is all speculation and meant for discussion and debate and there is a very good chance I am completely wrong about everything.
Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!
Bold predictions for Season 5:
1. Better sex than Season 4…
….but probably not as much as you’re hoping. Look, I don’t think we will ever return to the crazy-sexy days of Season 1– back when the show was trying to make a splash and STARZ’s original programming was relatively new. We have a lot to cover for Season 5: the Gathering, two weddings, Beardsleys, buffalo, passenger pigeons, snake bites, Alamance, the aftermath of Alamance, Ian’s return, and a supposed whopper of a season cliffhanger (more on that below). That doesn’t leave a heckuva lot of time for hanky-panky.
Still, I suspect we will get some decent intimacy scenes. This is Outlander, after all. Production has made a big push with marketing this winter and we have a bunch of new fans via Netflix…I’m thinking they’re going to give the people what they want.
2. The redemption of Roger
I wrote a Season 4 post-mortem on Roger’s character last year, arguing that while I did actually enjoy Season 4 as a whole, the writers essentially sacrificed Roger’s likability for the purposes of plot conflict. The sweet man who sang rat satires and showed up with Brianna’s favorite novel seemed to be suddenly universally disliked by the fandom.
I believe the writers will make a concerted attempt this season to rectify that. And why should I believe that? Well, all signs point to a season in which religious spirituality sets the overall tone. And Roger is the one character for whom religion eventually becomes a life’s purpose.
The opening credits invoke this theme, employing choral singers (I previously discussed the credits here). And already we’ve seen questions of spirituality in the trailers:
Claire asks, “Do you ever feel as if everything is pointing you toward something? Space, time, history?”
That sounds a lot like a question predetermination versus free will, doesn’t it?
And wouldn’t you know it, one of the episode titles of Season 5 is “Free Will.” Other titles include “Better to Marry Than Burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9) and “Mercy Shall Follow Me” (Psalm 23:6).
That’s quite a bit of religious reference for one season, is it not? But I think that’s entirely the point. Brianna asks, “Isn’t this playing God?” Which, to be honest, seems somewhat ironic coming from the woman who time-traveled to prevent her parents’ deaths. But, really, isn’t that what any of them are ever doing? Isn’t so much of Outlander a conflict of knowing the past versus living in the present versus shaping the future? And what better person to guide them through such questions than the son of a reverend and a future minister himself?
And that son of a reverend gets a whopper of a storyline this season— arguably the biggest one of all. I suspect the spiritual tone and religious questions are setting us up for a huge emotional climax.
3. Lots of Lord John (and other novel deviations)
Readers of The Fiery Cross know that Lord John really only shows up in the novel via letters…he doesn’t make any real appearance in persona. But David Berry’s frequent presence during filming this past season suggests Lord John will feature prominently.
If I’m allowed further speculation, the conspicuousness of Lord John (and the actor who plays him) suggests (to me) that the STARZ powers-that-be are exploring a Lord John spin-off. In interviews this winter Jeffrey Hirsch neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of a spinoff, but I suspect executives might look to take advantage of an already built-in fandom.
More than Lord John, Murtagh’s mere existence is an obvious novel deviation and what the writers plan to do with the character is anyone’s guess. My hope is that he’ll survive the season, especially since I think he’ll be along for the journey for the season’s cliffhanger (again, more on that below).
4. An acceleration of the story
I know we all got very excited with a recent quote by Maril Davis stating that they’re willing to make the show “until [Jamie and Claire] are 100,” but note that doesn’t actually tell us anything about how many seasons might be left. The truth is we are probably in our last few seasons. Shows of this expense and quality of production rarely last more than eight seasons— The Sopranos lasted six, The Wire and Breaking Bad had five, and Game of Thrones managed eight (all of them with fewer episodes than Outlander).
The good news for us is that STARZ is really pushing the show ahead of Season 5, seemingly making an earnest attempt to draw in new viewers. That “premium woman” interview from last summer riled up the fandom, but the optimistic nugget from that debacle was that STARZ is essentially building an original programming platform around Outlander. That’s all very good news for us.
Still, even if we manage a seventh or eighth season, we are likely looking at an acceleration of plot. I suspect we will see some elements of A Breath of Snow and Ashes in Season 5, including…
5. A major cliffhanger
Given how Sam Heughan claimed this season’s finale will be “tough to watch,” my suspicion is that we will end Season 5 with Claire’s kidnapping. Again, this is nothing but speculation on my part, but I’ve seen this theory floated around the fandom and I’m inclined to agree.
It would make sense from a writer’s perspective, wouldn’t it? Claire is so focused on protecting her family this season that she doesn’t foresee her own danger? Jamie and Murtagh on opposite sides of battle all season but coming together for this mission? And perhaps this is why we see that Marsali is Claire’s surgical assistant in recent trailers, since Marsali is with Claire when this incident happens in the novel?
I know nothing, of course, but I believe Roger’s hanging and the snakebite incident will happen earlier in the season. Ian’s return is dramatic but not quite dramatic enough for a finale…it’s instead a great penultimate event. Murtagh’s death is another possibility, but I doubt they would focus on his character in this season finale since they chose to do that last season…it would be a bit redundant, especially considering this isn’t a television show solely about Murtagh.
2/3/20- Updated. Checking IMDb this morning, I noticed that Ned Dennehy (the actor who plays Lionel Brown) is credited to Episode 521 (the finale). This gives a bit more weight to the abduction theory:
So what are your bold predictions? What are you hoping to see? Who are you hoping to meet this season? Let me know in the comments. Hang in there, Sassenachs, and I’ll see everyone in a few short weeks with my Episode 501 recap.