Hark, there be spoilers ahead.
Bonjour, mes amis, and welcome back to our ongoing discussion of Dragonfly in Amber, and what we can expect to see in season two of Outlander on Starz (which, by the by, has just set a premiere date: April 9th. Get the cocktails and tissues ready).
So the Outlander books are what I call a “How can you have any pudding when you don’t eat your meat” series. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop what you’re doing, listen to this album, then resume normal function.) Yes, you get to watch people who look like this make love:
But nobody gets any candy until you’ve memorized the medicinal uses herbs in 18th century Scotland and learned the root causes of the Jacobite revolt of 1745. Damn it.
So in keeping with the theme, today we’re going to talk about A story and B story again. And just in case it gets a bit dull, we’re going to have shirtless Sam Heughan talk us through the historical parts, a la Margot Robbie in the bathtub in The Big Short. (Seriously, if I ever meet Sam Heughan, I probably owe that dude a beer… or whatever ab-building gluten-free drink he enjoys.)
So the A story of Dragonfly deals with Claire and Jamie attempting to prevent the Bonnie Prince Charles from raising the necessary funds from the Jacobites to try to become king in the modern-day UK. Wow, my eyes are already glazing over. Can you help us out here, Sam?
Oh, thanks, Sam. But, seriously, who is Charles? And why are you and Claire hanging out with the French aristocracy (and looking fabulous doing so, by the way) when you’re supposed to be stopping a rebellion in Scotland, across the water?
Okay, super quick— Charles Edward Stuart was the eldest son of some dude named James, who was exiled from England after ruling for a couple years because the Brits decided to they wanted a Protestant instead of a Catholic king. So, you know, religion. Bonnie Charles (who I’m going to refer to as Bonnie Charles because there’s a bunch of other dudes in this story is named Charles and it gets confusing) was raised in Rome and that’s why he had a thick Italian accent.
He was also raised to believe it was his destiny to take over all of Scotland, England, Ireland and France and be their king. But, you know, not in a Hitler-Charlemagne-Khan-Alexander-Marvin the Martian kind of way. A good way. You know, like the kind where kings own everything and you just get to live there, but, hey, they’re the same religion as you, so it’s all good.
All of this explains why Claire and Jamie are trying to stop Charles from invading Scotland. Wait, what’s that you say? They’re not trying to stop him from invading Scotland because IT’S A HORRIBLE IDEA to try to take over three different countries (England and Scotland had already formed Great Britain at that point) just because your last name happens to be Stuart? After all, my last name is Phelps, but it doesn’t mean I should try to win an Olympic swimming medal! No, in fact, the only reason you two love birds are trying to stop Charles is because Claire knows for a fact (being from the future and all) that you’re going to fail miserably and all die in the Battle of Culloden in 1745? Otherwise, you thought the plan was solid? Why, Sam? Why?
No, it’s not, you gorgeous flame-haired man who might break up my marriage. Even if you succeeded, you would still live in a monarchy and not have the rights of free citizens no matter who wins. Except now, if you and the other Highlanders try to support Charles (even without Claire’s knowledge of the future), you’ll probably all end up dead.
Bonnie Charles is a megalomaniac who is totally going to screw up our story! Sam, do you know about this? And hasn’t Claire told you that revolution is going to sweep the world, from France to America, and if you just sit tight long enough, Scotland will become a democracy on its own (although won’t, ironically, break up with England even when given the chance to in 2014, because by that point it would totally screw up your universal healthcare to do so)?
Oh, Sam, this is breaking my heart. Say something Scottish to cheer me up.
Yeah, I know, Sam. I read the book.
All of this leads us to Faith. Not the religion kind that leads to bloody coups d’état and interesting headwear, but the doomed first daughter of Sam and Jamie, AKA Faith “B Story” Fraser.
Now I’ve already gone off on Diana Gabaldon in my first article about the fact that I think it takes too long to get this B story train a’rolling in Dragonfly (seriously, it’s, like, page 400 before we even realize it’s a B story). But once it does, it’s pretty friggin’ genius.
Because Claire is LITERALLY PREGNANT with the seed of the future that will never be given a chance to live. Hmm, I wonder if this is metaphor for something. (I’m just kidding. It’s totally a metaphor. I’m not really wondering about it.)
Now the Internet has been teasing us lately with all sorts of “Claire looks pretty pregnant” pictures such as this one:
And this one where we learn that pregnant ladies don’t bloat and are perfectly comfortable lying on their backs with a baby crushing their kidneys:
But those of us who have read the book know better. “Don’t tease us, cruel Internet, with such promises of parental bliss. We know where this going!”
Dragonfly is going to take us on a journey, the fate of which is already sealed, and that journey is embodied in their first stillborn daughter. After Claire loses the baby, her “faith” is, quite literally, dead. Faith in her future with Jamie; her ability to change the past; her certainty that she made the right choice not returning to Frank in the 1940s. Holy shit. That’s a BIG all-is-lost moment.
And for the remainder of the book after it happens, this B Story will be the driving force in the relationship of Jamie and Claire, and in their ferocious need to accomplish the goals of the A story. Remember, the A story is what the character must do; the B story is the life lesson the character must learn from what they do.
Will they succeed, is the question? Not succeed in their A story goals, which are at first to keep Bonnie Charles out of Scotland and then, begrudgingly, to help him win the uprising. Because, well—spoiler alert in case you fell asleep in 1745 and don’t know this yet—they won’t. But will they succeed in their B story goal of recapturing their “faith”?
By opening and closing her book with Claire being in her late 40s and separated from Jamie for the past 20 years, Miss Gabaldon twists the knife in our side by saying, “No.” But in the very last line, when we learn that Jamie is still alive across the spectrum of the rock portal, she gives us one last brilliant tease: “Maybe.”
And that “maybe,” if you ask me, is probably why Ronald D. Moore chose to make this series in the first place. Because Ronald D. Moore believes in the endless possibility of transformation. After all, he’s the man who found this old jalopy in a trash heap:
And turned it into this:
Will he turn this old penny into gold in season two? I believe he will. You might even say I have Faith.
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