I don't know about you, Outlander fans, but this particular Droughtlander has already felt about 80 years long, even though it only started in early May. On top of that, we know that the break between Seasons 5 and 6 had already been planned as a long one, so we've got a lot of waiting to do before we get to meet up again with the Frasers and see what shall come next after that incredibly intense finale. But, if you're considering rewatching the series as you wait for the new season to come our way, why don't you commit to a binge of the best episodes Outlander has given us so far?
I know, I know! Outlander, being only the most romantic, dramatic, twist-filled, gorgeously shot historical drama on television hardly ever misses the mark, especially for a full episode. But, why not spend your viewing time on the best of the best if you're going to settle in to revisit the series? With that in mind, here's our ranking of the ten best episodes from Outlander's first five seasons!
Major Outlander spoilers ahead!
10. To Ransom A Man's Soul - Season 1, Episode 16
Boy, I hate to start this way. I really, really do. But, of all the (many, many) horrors that have been heaped upon our beloved Frasers, never since has there been such dedication to showing how harrowing said abuses could be, or the after effects on those who suffered so dearly. Even the Season 5 finale, in which Claire was brutalized by an entire gang of men, didn't actually show us what she went through. Well, "To Ransom a Man's Soul" did not look away.
While the episode before showed Claire's desperate attempt to free Jamie from Black Jack's sadistic clutches in a dungeon of Wentworth prison, when she was caught, Jamie valiantly offered himself to see his wife freed and... well, it got really, really bad for Jamie. I haven't, by any means, seen all of every TV show ever, but if this hour of Black Jack torturing Jamie isn't the most trauma-inducing episode of television produced to date, I'd be surprised. But, in that devastation lies the beauty of this difficult story, with magnificent writing, plotting and performances from everyone involved. So, it had to be included on this list.
9. All Debts Paid - Season 3, Episode 3
As is typically the case with Outlander's action and story-packed episodes, "All Debts Paid" had a lot going on, but (also pretty typically) it also had a lot going for it. First? We get our last "modern day" looks at Frank Randall (minus a brief flashback appearance in Season 4), before he dies in a car accident. It's pretty hard not to feel for a guy who had found the love of his life, only to have that love be usurped because of accidental time travel and a hot Scot in a kilt, but Frank really tried our patience in his last outing. Does he say some mean stuff to Claire? Sure, but he's also been trapped in a loveless marriage for over a decade as he raised another man's baby, so, I think it was fair to see him blow off some steam.
Of course, Frank's death means that Claire is now truly free to love Jamie and eventually head back to him, but this episode is also quite notable for introducing the now very grown up Lord John Grey to audiences. While Jamie and Grey already grudgingly owed their lives to one another, they would eventually come to respect each other as friends and continue to have their fates tied together. And, in my opinion, this relationship is second in its complexity only to that of Claire and Jamie, which is yet another reason why this awesome episode had to be included.
8. The Battle Joined - Season 3, Episode 1
Woooo, boy. This episode was a loooooong time coming. After a second season which was very dedicated to the Frasers trying to stop the Battle of Culloden, we finally get to see that all their efforts truly were for naught. But, "The Battle Joined" is also important because after two full seasons of menace from Black Jack, Jamie finally has his revenge on the bastard, killing him during the battle. And, his death leads to a reprieve for Jamie, who's hidden, still alive under his body. When he's finally hauled away to be shot by the English for being a traitor, he's saved by Lord John's brother, who's grateful that Jamie spared his younger sibling years ago.
We also get to look in on Claire's renewed life in the 20th century, but it's immediately clear that it's going to be a tough road for her (and, yes, Frank). She's not getting any respect at all for being smart and ambitious or for being willing to speak her mind. This is not to mention her decision to go to medical school and become a doctor, which, as we know, is certainly going to come in super handy once she heads back to Jamie and the considerably less medically advanced 1700s.
7. Surrender - Season 3, Episode 2
Remember how I said that every Outlander episode is packed from stem to stern? Well, "Surrender" is no different, but this installment really owes a lot of its brilliance and place on this list to more wonderful performances from Sam Heughan and the also always fantastic (but not seen enough) Laura Donnelly as his sister, Jenny. This episode picks up six years after Jamie was released after Culloden, but seeing as how he was supposed to be killed for being a traitor, he's still an outlaw, and has become even more mentally tortured and very distant while living in a cave near his ancestral home.
After young Fergus loses his hand to the band of Redcoats who'd been looking for Jamie, our red-headed hero makes yet another sacrifice for his loved-ones, and lets himself be set up for capture by the English, so that his family can get the reward money and finally be left alone. Jenny is not on board with this plan at all, but at least Jamie gets a little lovin' from her maid after a long time of missing Claire before being sent off to prison. Meanwhile, back in the future, Frank has fully realized that Claire is way more in love with Jamie now than she ever was with him, launching them down an even rockier path.
6. The Devil's Mark - Season 1, Episode 11
We got two big, fat reveals in "The Devil's Mark", and both were well worth the wait. After watching Claire and Geillis be imprisoned and tried for witchcraft (with that damn Laoghaire showing up to try and make sure Claire is finally out of Jamie's life for good), we get some of the truth about Claire's fellow non-witch. Claire has a chance to throw Geillis under the bus on the stand, but refuses. This leads to the shifty lass being a true friend, taking full blame for the things they've been accused of and showing off her "devil's mark" which is actually a vaccination scar, meaning that Geillis is a time traveler, just like Claire.
While that was already mind-blowing, Geillis' words on the stand allow Claire and Jamie to escape to the woods, where she finally tells her new husband exactly how she came to be in his life in the first place. And, you know what? Jamie once again proves how much he loves him some Claire, because he barely bats an eyelash at her telling him that she's from the motherfucking future. Then, Jamie doubles down on that love, by being completely willing to let Claire go; leading her back to the standing stones. But, of course, then it's her turn to prove her love, and Claire wakes him the next morning, prepared to stay in 1743.
5. The Wedding - Season 1, Episode 7
We all know what's coming, right? Outlander is nothing if not legendary for its sexytimes, and "The Wedding" had some of the most... illuminating sex scenes of the series so far. But, we also got Jamie and Claire bonding even more, as the nervous new couple gets to know each other better after the ceremony so that they can calm their first-time-knocking-one-another's-boots jitters. We also get a look at how Claire and Frank married, to really drive home how surreal this wedding/wedding night must be for her.
We also, yet again, see how loyal and loving Jamie is, because he reveals that he agreed to marry her so that she'd have the full protection of his clan, family and his body (SWOON) to keep her safe from Black Jack, which would (obviously) cost him dearly by the end of the season. Now, as far as those sexytimes go, well...it was just all hot, wasn't it? There was sexy undressing, sexy talk, sexy kissing, sexy learning (for our brave no-longer virgin) and sexy plain ol' S.E.X. If you're an Outlander fan and haven't re-watched this episode at least once, you're not doing your due diligence, friend.
4. The Ballad of Roger Mac - Season 5, Episode 7
Ugh... I mean, seriously, just... BLAH. I can't say that we didn't know the major event of this episode was coming, because we'd spent quit a while with a target being painted right on Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser's brave, principled, stubborn face. And, so we have "The Ballad of Roger Mac," which gave us the Battle of Alamance where Murtagh's Regulators fought the Jamie and the Red Coats, and the end of Murtagh's time on this treacherous mortal coil. Dammit! I. Am. BROKEN!
On the upside, the death of not just one of the last remaining characters from Season 1, but Jamie's trusted uncle, advisor, and confidant (as well as one of the few people who knew that a bunch of folks from the future are walking around in 1771), gave us such strong performances from fan-favorite Duncan Lacroix, Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, that it was all a fan could do to not look away while sobbing through the sadness.
3. The Birds & The Bees - Season 4, Episode 9
Brianna's determination to head to the past so that she can warn her parents about an impending fire finally pays off in this episode. She's already had a truly traumatizing journey, having been injured nearly as soon as she got to the 1700s and then being raped by Stephen Bonnet, but things take a (brief) turn for the better in "The Bird & The Bees" when she finally tracks down her folks in the new world and meets Jamie for the first time.
Of course, she happens upon her father in the least sentimental way possible - as he's relieving himself in an alley - and he assumes she's a prostitute at first, but at least the rest of the meeting was brilliantly emotional and well-played. So much so, in fact, that it almost makes up for the big, honking case of mistaken identity in this episode which leads to Roger later being beaten by Jamie and sold to the Mohawk, but I'd prefer it if we could just pretend none of that happened.
2. A. Malcolm - Season 3, Episode 6
Oooooooo, weeeeee! The events of "A. Malcolm" were also a long time coming (as so many things are in the world of Outlander), because while this episode which features the reunion of Claire and Jamie after he sent her back to the 1940s (right before the Battle of Culloden) only took six episodes to get to, in the show it was a whole 20 years before the hot duo could see each other again and do horizontal adult-type things with one another.
One of the reasons this is such a gem of an episode is that the reunion doesn't go 100% smoothly. Jamie figured he'd never see Clarie again, so he faints upon seeing her. They kiss not long after, but don't get with the banging right away because they've got two decades worth of living to catch up on, not to mention talking about Brianna. When they finally get back to Jamie's room at a brothel, they have a wonderful chat which mirrors the one they had to soothe their nerves on their wedding night, only to finally undress in the slowest, sexiest way possible... and then have Jamie bonk Claire on the nose while trying to sex her up. Pure delight!
1. Of Lost Things - Season 3, Episode 4
While I doubt any Outlander fan would deem "Of Lost Things" a big ol' nothing-burger of an episode, I can certainly see where some debate would open up about why it goes at the top of this list. But, I would argue that a lot of things happen in this episode which greatly impact the future of the characters and the series overall, making it my top choice for the best of what the show has given us over five seasons (so far). We find Jamie serving out his time at Helwater for the Dunsanys, and his past just keeps fucking him over, because things change greatly for him when the snotty daughter of the house, Geneva, finds out that he's the infamous Red Jamie.
Geneva has already been promised to a much older (and not to her liking) man, so she blackmails Jamie into... teaching her the ways of the bedchamber, so that she won't have her first time with her soon-to-be husband. But, she gets pregnant from the encounter, and then dies in childbirth. Jamie now has a second child whom he won't be able to raise (pour on that heartbreak, Outlander), but young Willie is taken in by Geneva's kind sister, and she eventually marries Lord John, which leads to him being in Jamie's life far longer than he would have otherwise. Back in the 1960s, we see Brianna and Claire finally get closer, as well as Brianna and Roger, so this episode really helps lay some groundwork for the future of the show.
That's it sassenachs! This is the best Outlander has brought fans so far, but be sure to let us know in the comments below if you think I left an important episode out!