For better or worse, history has a tendency to repeat itself, and Claire Fraser may be tempting fate more than ever before in Season 5 of Outlander. Her use of modern-day medicine might have major repercussions on history and a fascinating new theory suggests that her decision to make penicillin more than a century before it was actually invented could have some potentially disastrous consequences.
Warning! Speculative spoilers ahead for Outlander Season 5.
Back in Season 1, Claire helped cure a young boy who had been poisoned. However, the local priest was attempting to exorcise him, convinced he was possessed by the devil, so Claire’s miraculous healing didn’t go over well. (Not to mention that Laoghaire, who was in love with Jamie at the time, was the one to accuse her of witchcraft.) Claire was subsequently arrested, faced a witch trial, and was almost burned at the stake for daring to use her medical knowledge to save someone.
Claire is once again tempting fate in Season 5, though she’s doing it on a much larger scale. In “Between Two Fires,” Claire makes the dangerous decision to create large amounts of penicillin. When the time-traveling surgeon showed Marsali the autopsied body of the man she couldn’t save — due to someone unknowingly using the wrong medicinal practice — Marsali wondered aloud whether Claire was really the witch she'd been accused of being years prior.
Reddit user queensofbabeland predicts Claire could “get herself on trial for witchcraft again if she’s not careful.” Though witch trials were no longer widespread in the 1790s, that doesn't mean she couldn't become a social outcast, or worse. Her medical knowledge has previously earned her the nickname “La Dame Blanche,” or White Witch, a name bestowed to explain her mysterious healing abilities. It’s possible that openly curing ailments that no contemporary physician knows anything about will draw the ire of someone capable of putting her or her family in harm’s way.
After all, Outlander has proven that the past is still full of paranoid people who believe in magic and curses. Fans should look no further than Gerhard Mueller, who blamed the death of his family on the Native Americans cursing the river water in Season 4, without any evidence whatsoever.
The same could happen to Claire, who’s openly putting a target on her back in the name of saving people with 20th-century medicine. While helping to cure people with modern medical knowledge is fine on a small scale, the combination of time travel, history, and the potentially paranoid accusations of 18th-century denizens might prove far more dangerous than Claire knows.
Outlander Season 5 airs every Sunday at 8 p.m. on Starz.