This is a big old spoiler MacSpoilsteen spoilerific spoil-fest. If you haven’t read Dragonfly in Amber, you might want to just go stare at shirtless pictures of Sam Heughan or something. Hell, you might want to do that anyway. Here, I’ll get you started:
And we’re back for more analysis of Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the Outlander series, and the basis (as far as we know) for season two of the Starz series. Now before we get started, let’s talk about Brianna, shall we? Much hoopla has been made about a leaked casting notice which describes the character of Brianna, AKA Bree, AKA gorgeous Amazon-woman daughter of Jamie and Claire, thusly: “Brianna has secretly followed her mother back in time to find the father she never met and the family she never knew.” And then the Internet blew up.
What the what? That doesn’t happen till book four, sayeth the Internet. And in Diana Gabaldon time, that’s, like, 1800 pages from now! Damn you, Ronald D. Moore! *Cue children weeping.
Okay, let’s calm down, shall we? First off, let us remember that Hollywood casting notices often describe a character based on her most distinguishing attributes to give agents an idea of whom to submit. This does not necessarily mean that we’re going to see Bree do these things in season two, or even season three if there is one. But the producers would like to cast a young woman who looks like the type of person who could do these things. (I know, it’s a paradox. Welcome to Hollywood.)
We do know a few things for a fact. Thanks to the intrepid reporters over at claireandjaime.com, we know that Brianna and her BF Roger—sorry, sometimes I speak in initials in a transparent effort to sound young and hip—have not been cast yet, despite the fact that all the Paris scenes are already being shot and the show is supposed to air in just two or three months. The same site also confirms that Diana herself will be writing one of the episodes. You’ll know which one, because it will be 14 hours long and feature a scene in which Claire reads all of Dragonfly in Amber while trying to get star anise herbs out of her hair.
And of course, we know something else. And that something would be the baby of Geillis Duncan, AKA ancestor of Roger Wakefield in the books, but clearly not so much in the TV show, since, well, Geillis is burned at the stake while still pregnant in the show, isn’t she?
So let’s look at this from a structural point of view, shall we? Dragonfly is bookended by scenes in which a 48-year-old– but let’s just say still smokin’ hot—Claire comes back to Scotland with her 20-year-old redheaded daughter Brianna. There, they meet Roger Wakefield, AKA subject of way too many hours spent by the Internet in speculation of which hot UK actor should play him. (No, seriously.)
At which point, Claire’s reveries send us into the bulk of the book—and that’s a lot of bulk—detailing in flashback her life with Jaime, and finally coming back to present day to reveal to a not-too-happy-about-it Brianna that Jaime is her real father. So why are these scenes in the book, from a structural point of view?
The scenes at the beginning serve two purposes. They set up a Roger-Brianna love story that will flesh out later, and they give us the totally sucky news that Jaime died in the battle of Culloden in 1746 and Claire, pregnant with their child, escaped back to her time, whereupon she spent the next 20 years with her first husband Frank until he died the previous year. In other words, the preamble of this book is there to totally and completely BUM US THE HELL OUT and let us know that all our hopes and dreams and fantasies, firmly cemented in book one, have come to naught and life is a big pile of suck balls that just makes you want things and then takes them all away and says, “Oh, did you want that? Well, sucks to be you because you can’t have it, you pathetic cow.”
Where was I?
France! So now we go to France, where Diana Gabaldon writes what I have already described (much to the strong disagreement of large a contingent of the Internet who told me to take my review and shove it up my arse) as 400 of pages of paint drying on the walls of the Palace of Versailles.
And the second bookend, the one at the end? That also serves two purposes. One, it puts Claire in the position of having to prove to Roger and Brianna– but mostly Brianna– that her story is true. How does she do this? By proving that Roger is descended from the bastard child of Geillis Duncan, adopted by a family after her untimely demise (read: burning at the stake for witchcraft), and subsequently trying—unsuccessfully—to prevent Geillis from going through the rock portal to the past since it is now 1968, the year Geillis traveled back. You still with me? Great.
Oh, yeah, the second reason for the bookend, for which Miss Gabaldon waits until the last line—like, literally—is to tell us that all that crap we’ve been distraught about the whole time with Jaime dying and Claire never seeing him again is totally not true and he’s still alive on the other side of the rock portal. What will Claire do? Well, I’ll tell you this. She ain’t going back to the hospital administrator job any time soon.
This brings us back to the TV show and why I think they haven’t cast Bree and Roger yet. Namely, these two lovebirds aren’t going to be playing that big of a role in season two. Roger’s whole purpose to exist, other than to be a luvva for Bree, is for that whole rigmarole about being descended from Geillis, which we’re clearly dropping here. (See below.)
And all that business about Bree following her mom through the portal and meeting her long lost (and lest we forget, now 43-year-old) father, Red Jaime? Not gonna happen here. And why not? I’ll tell you why not. No, I’ll just show you:
Aren’t they gorgeous? Those eyes, that hair! So dreamy. Now imagine Caitriona Balfe with graying hair and crow’s feet and Sam Heughan with a pot belly and receding hair line. What’s that you say? You don’t want to imagine that? Because if you wanted to see such a thing, you could just look at real life? And that’s not why you watch Outlander? And just because it works in a book where you can imagine that they look exactly the same 20 years later doesn’t mean it works in a TV show where we tune in to see young hot people act out our elaborate fantasies of time travel and Highlander sex?
Mmm. I wonder if Ronald D. Moore has thought of this. Do you think we should tell him?
Follow Rebecca Phelps on Twitter: @DownWorldNovel