Did the silent movie flashbacks annoy you on Outlander? Good!

Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ /

If the silent movie flashbacks got annoying on Outlander Season 5, Episode 8, that’s a good thing. You felt a fraction of what Roger would have felt.

Some Outlander fans are complaining of the “overuse” of the silent movie flashbacks during Season 5, Episode 8. There are some who found them irritating and annoying. Well, I’m glad that’s how you felt. You felt just a fraction of how Roger would have felt.

PTSD comes in many forms. Some will call it PTSS. They’re not quite the same, but they are similar. Whichever people suffer from, the memories of the past invade their minds.

These memories grate at you and wear you down. They show up when you least expect them, in ways that you don’t necessarily understand. To make it worse, this isn’t what could happen. The events have already happened. The fear is real. The events are memories that play over and over again.

And when I say over and over again, I mean it. It’s hard to sleep and it’s hard to rest. Just getting through a day can be a struggle.

But why the silent movie setting? This was a creative choice that had a multitude of meanings. Firstly, it was a connection for Roger to his own time. Sure, the silent movies are from an earlier era to him, but he grew up watching them. The first flashback of him teaching in the 1960s tells us that he enjoyed watching them.

Secondly, he was his own silent movie in the episode. He refused to speak after the trauma. Part of him couldn’t figure out who he was anymore; what he was supposed to do. He buried his voice as a way to attempt to just survive. His mind would have mixed that with his own time and meshed everything together.

Plus, there is something haunting about silence. Many people say they wanted to hear the fear in the voices. They wanted to hear the screams and the shouts when saving Roger. But part of that will be due to comfort. Silence is uncomfortable. There’s a heaviness to it, especially when something bad is happening around us. We want the noise to distract us, in a way. The silent movie flashbacks forced us to be a part of the memory—and not all memories will have sound depending on how your brain is wired.

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I’m not saying those who didn’t find the silent movies irritating didn’t understand. Personally, I didn’t find them irritating. I found them a beautiful creative choice and they got harder to watch each time—not due to annoyance but due to the weight that each flash offered.

However, those who did find them annoying, stop and think as to why. Think about how Roger would have felt. How people in real life feel with PTSD. It’s one of the most wearing psychological disorders. It becomes exhausting to live with. So that irritation you found, the thought of “I get it, I don’t need to see it again,” is how those with PTSD can feel.

The fight isn’t over for Roger. He may have seen the light at the end, but it’s not over forever. However, we’ll probably not see it all play out again because it wouldn’t work for the storytelling or for timing. Just know that those silent movie flashbacks were used over and over again for a very good reason.

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Outlander airs Sundays on STARZ.