Roger didn’t immediately step forward during Jamie’s call to arms in the Outlander Season 5 premiere. Why was that? Here’s a defense for him.
During the Outlander Season 5 premiere, Jamie stood in his kilt and effectively became the Laird of Fraser’s Ridge. His call to arms asked the men to stand by his side, and he gave Roger the chance to be the first to stand by him.
Roger bottled it. Just as it looked like he was about to step forward, Isaiah Morton became the first. You could see the disappointment in Jamie’s face, and there would have been a number of Outlander fans screaming at the screen for Roger to step forward.
Before anyone jumps down Roger’s neck for not stepping forward, I’m going to step in his defense. The lack of stepping forward mimicks his decision to think before returning to Brianna during the Outlander Season 4 finale. It’s all part of Roger’s character.
He’s a thinking man
Roger doesn’t do something without thinking about it first. He didn’t tell Brianna that he’d found out about Fraser’s Ridge until he had the full confirmation. When he found out that Jemmy was possibly Bonnet’s child, he thought about whether he could accept Jemmy as his own. He had to think about the newspaper clipping before telling Brianna what he’d found.
One consistent thing about Roger is that he thinks before he acts. Okay, so not during the arguments with Brianna, but adrenaline and anger would have fueled that. When Roger has had the chance to think, he’s always taken that option.
That’s what he did during the call to arms. He was out of his element and put on the spot. Despite knowing what Jamie expected him to do, Roger couldn’t move. He had to think about his options first.
Roger isn’t ready for war
Standing by Jamie’s side was a call to be with him during times of war. Roger knew that it was a call to join the militia. That’s something Roger knows he’s not ready for.
The two had only recently had a conversation about Roger’s lack of skills. He knows that Brianna and Claire don’t believe him fully ready for the time period. He knows that Jamie doesn’t think the best of him. Everything seems to be stacked up against him, so it’s not surprising that he felt the need to think first.
Any idea of going to war would scare most people. It definitely scares Roger.
Then there’s the wonder of whether Jamie actually wanted Roger to step forward. While Jamie was looking at him, there’s always that doubt; that thought that Jamie was daring him to step forward instead of calling for him to do so.
In the end, Jamie called Roger out by name and gave Roger the title of captain. That way, Jamie can watch out for his son-in-law. Even when personally called, Roger hesitated for a second. He still needed to think about it and gain the courage, and that’s totally reasonable for the majority of people.
I do think Roger made up for second-guessing himself. Jamie was going to whisper the words but Roger didn’t need that. He quickly pulled out his dirk and made his oath to his father-in-law and laird.
Roger’s actions aren’t a sign of weakness. Instead, they’re just a sign of a vastly different personality and upbringing to Jamie, Fergus, and many others. It’s not surprising that he wanted to think before acting. Most people in his situation would!
Outlander airs Sundays on STARZ.