Spoilers ahead for the ninth episode of Outlander Season 5, called “Monsters and Heroes.”
Outlander delivered a character-centric episode with “Monsters and Heroes” on April 19 that mostly advanced the plot via making more plans for killing Stephen Bonnet and Brianna inventing a snake fang syringe so Claire could save Jamie’s leg. While character heavy episodes have been some of the strongest of Season 5 and added emotional weight to the story that can sometimes churn through plot at a furious pace, “Monsters and Heroes” delivered a Brianna twist that I think was a mistake. That twist was none other than Bree being attacked by a buffalo.
Now, I will freely admit that Brianna being attacked by the buffalo was a brief part of a brief scene in an episode overall devoted to Jamie’s near-death and his bonding with Roger, and it was actually a great scene for Bree, short as it was. When a buffalo (which Jamie had managed to wound before being bit by a snake) showed up at the Ridge and was getting ready to charge a terrified Lizzie and a bawling Jemmy, Bree heroically raced into action, grabbed the animal’s attention, and got it to chase her rather than possibly trample and kill her young son. Way to go, Bree!
Unfortunately for Brianna, she's not faster than a buffalo, and the buffalo managed to run her down and throw her with its head before Claire rushed out to shoot it dead. Bree went pretty high in the air and landed hard on her tailbone. I was ready for a Brianna injury to add one more medical crisis to Claire’s plate as she tried to care for Jamie and Marsali was enormously pregnant and due to give birth any day. Instead, Bree more or less got right back up, hugged her son, and was physically fine for the rest of the episode.
Look, I don’t want to heap more pain or physical suffering on Brianna. I think she has had more than enough for her lifetime, and breaking her coccyx would have been the last thing any of them (or the story) really needed. The way the scene played, however, Bree was sent pretty high up and then visibly landed hard on the ground. It’s not that I wanted her to be hurt; she just reasonably should have been hurt.
Just as Outlander needs the character-centric episodes to emotionally ground the plot-heavy episodes, I would argue that Outlander needs all the realism it can get to persuade viewers to continue suspending their disbelief about the time travel, 18th century penicillin, syringes made out of snake fangs, and more. My objection to this Brianna incident isn’t so much nitpicking Outlander for delivering one less-than-perfect moment in an otherwise pretty great episode.
This was just an example of something Outlander is best to avoid: moments that are presented like they should have significant consequences but don’t deliver any consequences at all. The episode didn’t have to go so far as to seemingly injure Brianna, to the point that I was expecting her to be in very real pain and perhaps prevented from helping the effort to save Jamie. With this Brianna scene, I was led to expect something and didn’t receive a payoff.
Outlander didn’t make an egregious error with Bree’s buffalo attack, and honestly, most viewers might not have even noticed what took me out of the episode and started thinking about buffalo vs. human confrontations when I should have been focused on whether or not Jamie would die, lose his leg, or recover. Still, I hope that scenes are more often shot in ways that don’t strongly suggest lasting consequences if there aren’t going to be repercussions.
Fortunately, the episode as a whole was so solid that I’m excited overall about what’s happening next, despite what may have been a mistake in that Brianna scene.The next new episode of Outlander airs Sunday, April 25 on Starz at 8 p.m. ET. For more viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our spring TV premiere schedule, and our summer TV guide for your options once Outlander Season 5 comes to an end and sends fans into an even longer Droughtlander ahead of Season 6.