Warning! SPOILERS about Outlander season 7, episode 8 ahead.
Summary Outlander season 7 introduces real-life general Benedict Arnold, showcasing his role in the American Revolutionary War and his eventual betrayal of the American cause. Arnold's appearance in the midseason finale revolves around his need for laudanum and his injury during the battle of Quebec, highlighting his dissatisfaction with his lack of recognition. The portrayal of Arnold in Outlander season 7 hints at his betrayal's potential impact on the outcome of the revolution, suggesting it may have actually fueled the Patriots' morale and determination for independence.
Among the many twists, the Outlander season 7 midseason finale brought the appearance of real-life general Benedict Arnold ranked high. While the fantasy romance series often embedded real historical figures within the story, the American Revolutionary War being at the center of Outlander season 7 made it possible for many revolutionaries and British generals alike to turn up throughout the eight episodes. Major General Benedict Arnold is only the latest to do so, although the moral quandaries meeting him caused Claire and Jamie are something they face every time they have a chance to change history in Outlander.
Major General Benedict Arnold's initial contribution to Outlander season 7, episode 8, was one strictly related to Claire's need for laudanum, as she spent her days treating the casualties of the first battle of Saratoga. While even that meeting hinted at Arnold's wish for more with his and Claire's philosophical musings focusing on accepting a personal limit versus trying to move past that no matter what, the second battle of Saratoga and the injury that caused to Arnold made the character even more part of the story. This way, Outlander season 7, episode 8 let Arnold's real history be partly shown onscreen, also servicing Jamie and Claire's main storyline.
The Outlander season 7 midseason finale went out of the way to describe Benedict Arnold as a steadfast military man, mirroring the early days of the American Revolutionary War, where he participated in many campaigns. In 1775, Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British with Ethan Allen and Allen's Green Mountain Boys before embarking on the disastrous campaign in Quebec that caused many Americans to be killed, injured, or captured. The injury in the left leg that Arnold kept mentioning in Outlander season 7, episode 8 was suffered during the battle of Quebec, causing him to spend the better part of 1776 recovering from it.
However, as Claire told Jamie in the Outlander season 7 midseason finale, Benedict Arnold's name became synonymous with treason, letting him become famous for betraying the American cause and working for the British. By 1778, rumors accusing Arnold of abusing his position as military governor of Philadelphia for profit began circulating, and after being appointed commander of the West Point fort in New York in 1779, he began secretly negotiating its surrender with the British in exchange for money and a position in the British Army. While his intermediary John André was hanged as a spy, Arnold escaped and lived in London until his death after the American Revolution's end.
Claire's knowledge about Arnold's betrayal left her and Jamie in a pickle, as they could potentially do something about it had he already started inquiring about switching sides. However, Arnold's talk with Claire about reaching past his grasp and his wishes to become a martyr instead of being shot another time in his left leg all pointed to a brewing discontent with the recognition he never received, which Arnold believed he deserved in Outlander season 7, episode 8. Indeed, General Gates devalued Arnold's contribution to the second battle of Saratoga in real life, just as Arnold said he expected him to in the Outlander season 7 midseason finale.
In briefly showing Benedict Arnold and how he intersected with Jamie and Claire's story, Outlander season 7, episode 8 managed to hint at Arnold's betrayal and how it could have affected the American Revolution's outcome. Claire clearly shared with Jamie that all she knew was that Arnold betrayed the Americans, and then they still won the revolution. Some historians believe that Benedict Arnold's betrayal was fundamental in lifting up the Patriots' morale after they became frustrated with the slow process toward independence, as it refueled them against Arnold's actions, and Outlander season 7 perfectly shared that belief in showing Arnold's dissatisfaction.