But for the hours of the night, I was helpless; powerless to move as a dragonfly in amber. – Diana Gabaldon, “Dragonfly in Amber”
Okay, people. It’s all going down. Right off the bat, the opening credits are announcing the introduction (or reintroduction) of some new names, and I’m seriously giddy. But first…
Let’s stare at Diana Rigg (AKA Emma Peel) in The Avengers. Why are we doing this? To let us know where (or when, I should say) we are, and that is…
And who is watching The Avengers? A very handsome man, in 1968 Scotland. Who is this man and why does he look so sad? Also, could his housekeeper be any more in love with him? That’s not important right now.
Our handsome Scottish host returns to his guests. He is giving a wake for his father, who we now realize was Reverend Wakefield. This, my friends, is young Roger Wakefield:
And while that’s all very interesting, let’s freeze frame for a minute here on the gorgeous woman who’s at this little party:
Just in case anyone was wondering if Claire would still be gorgeous 20 years down the road… um, it’s Caitriona Balfe, people. Girlfriend looks fine.
And now there’s an equally gorgeous young redhead walking through the party who Roger can’t seem to wait to meet. An American girl. Meet Sophie Skelton, aka Brianna!!!
Here they are together in a promo pic:
So far, she looks like a perfect depiction of the character from the book (other than not being eight feet tall, but that’s fine).
Okay, lots of info needs to be imparted here in case you have no idea what’s going on. So to recap: 20 years have gone by. Frank is dead. Claire is a surgeon. Bree grew up in Boston, hence the American accent. Mrs. Graham is dead, but the love-struck house servant is her granddaughter Fiona.
Everybody good? We move on.
Scotland is a “beautiful wild country.” Maybe Roger can show us—I mean Bree—Scotland. Boy, is he cute or what?
Wait, what’s going on, Claire?
“Mrs. Graham had warned me not to spend my days chasing ghosts… but now that I was here, the ghosts were starting to chase me.”
Bree is flirting with Roger, so it looks like we’re staying in the house for the night!
Cut to Claire, remarkably crows’-feet-free considering she’s supposed to be 48, having a late-night drink in the study. Now in the book, this segment went on for a while… in fact, we cut back to it still going on 1,000 pages later in Voyager. But we only have 90 minutes to tell a lot of story, so I think we might move things on a bit.
First, let’s talk about Culloden. Roger’s ancestors fought and died in Culloden… because he’s a MacKenzie. And now an important question:
How do you say goodbye “to that one person you loved most in the world?”
Well, Claire explains to us, “whether you want to say goodbye or not, they’re gone and you have to go on living without them.”
Okay, I know this is a downer. Stick with us, folks. Lots of story left to tell. And let’s start by cutting back to our favorite leading man, looking admittedly a bit worse for wear here. (Man, I’m already getting choked up. Damn you, Outlander!)
Okay, it’s April 16th, 1946. Not a good date because we’ve come to…
And Jamie is warning Charles to abandon his plans for Culloden. And it couldn’t be clearer to anyone with eyes that he’s right. Even Jamie, the warrior that he is, is shaking with hunger and exhaustion. He’s not a “Doubting Thomas,” as the Bonnie Prince accuses him of being, he’s just not a moron.
Murtagh is preparing for war. What else can he do?
And Claire realizes there’s only “one possibility left.”
We’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s go for a drive first. Because it’s once again…
Driving through beautiful Scotland with our new beau, touring old castles, we hear more about how “kind” Frank was– a great irony as we’re surrounded by the ghost of his ancestor Jack Randall here. (This is Fort William, and if it’s creeping you out, it’s for a good reason. That wooden platform that looks like a stage? It’s the whipping post from season one).
As Roger now learns, it was Nathan Hale who said, “I regret I have but one life to give for my country.” Sounds like a THEME ALERT to me, people. Who will give his life for country this time? And is it inevitable that he do so?
Bree had a strong connection with her “father,” which is not surprising. Frank was wonderful to her… and she doesn’t yet know that that red hair of hers isn’t just some random recessive gene.
Anyway, where is Claire driving to… in her fantastic “Mad Men” glasses? (PS, mascara is really doing wonders for her, huh?)
Oh my… we’re at Broch Taurach. Just a couple hours’ drive now. Remember how many days it took to reach by horse? And the memories come flooding in. The voices of all the dead: Jenny and the children. And now Claire’s own voice, reading poetry with Jamie.
“Come and let us live, my dear. Let us love and never fear.” The poem is Out of Catullus by Richard Crashaw, and I know we have a lot of story to get to, but just listen to this bit:
Brightest Sol that dies to day
Lives againe as blithe to morrow,
But if we darke sons of sorrow
Set; o then, how long a Night
Shuts the Eyes of our short light!
Diana G—who I’m beginning to be convinced has read every book ever written– set the pace quite early with these books that poetry should be part of the text. There’s a lot more of it in Voyager that we’ll get to later, but it’s important to remember that not one reference is made by accident.
And now Claire can see him standing there, Jamie under the archway. It’s like his ghost haunts the wreckage. And we wonder, even though we know, how the hell did she lose him?
Back to the 1740s, Claire says what we must have been thinking. “What if Charles were to die?” And now she reveals something Jamie didn’t know: she killed Collum, at his own request, with Yellow Jasmine… and she could do the same to Charles. “Like drifting into a deep sleep.”
“No one would ever know,” Claire insists. Bear in mind, however, that this wouldn’t solve all their problems. In the book, Claire reminds us:
The death of Charles Stuart would not end the matter of the Rising; things had gone much too far for that… All of us were traitors, lives and property forfeit to the Crown… The English, terrorized and humiliated at Preston and Falkirk, would not hesitate to pursue the fugitives, seeking to retrieve their lost honor and wash out the insult in blood. – “Dragonfly in Amber”
But for now, the goal is merely to stop Culloden—and the massacre that it will be. Can they do it?
We are with Bree and Roger on a bluff overlooking a loch beneath a snow-capped mountain (note to self: visit Scotland). Boy, it looks like the opening-credit image we’ve been seeing for months, doesn’t it? I love how this episode is “really tying the room together.”
Sorry, what’s that, Bree? “Do you have any memory of an incident that happened with my parents when they were here?”
Now Bree tells Roger about some snooping of her own she’s done. Maybe she does suspect something is off, having found a very enigmatic letter written by Reverend Wakefield to her father. What exactly was that letter in the lockbox referring to? Shall we dig through the attic and find out?
Yes, Bree agrees. After all, “grubby doesn’t bother me.” (She giggles; he smiles. I’m already shipping this couple so hard.)
Claire drives into town. “Free Scotland” spray-painted on the walls. (Seriously, Scotland, not to get political here, but I think it’s time.) Anyway, what are we doing here? Why, finding the “Deed of Sasine”—that’s the transfer of title of Broch Taurach to Jamie’s nephew Young Jamie, necessary to protect the property from being seized by the British in case the revolution failed.
And a question arises: what exactly is the genealogy of Roger? And why is it important? Before we find out, it’s teenager time:
Bree accuses Claire of not missing Frank, wondering if she ever loved him. A not very convincing “I did” from Claire. Might be time to share a little more backstory, Mommy Dearest.
“Make no mistake,” warns Jamie when he hears of Claire’s plan to off the prince, “this would be cold-blooded murder.”
“If we kill the prince, we take one life to save thousands,” Claire reasons.
But there’s an eavesdropper. Dougal is there, and he has some choice words for Claire: “You filthy, whoring witch!”
Bree is going to hang out in this big fancy building while Roger does something or other. And if you feel a bit jarred going back and forth between these two very different times, you should try reading the book sometime! But for now, something is about to tie these two stories together. I hear a familiar voice.
(PS- I’m already giving a thumbs up to writers Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia for some neat editing here. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I felt the story dragged a bit in Dragonfly. Cross-cutting like this is really keeping me on my toes!)
Where was I? Ah, another redhead. And we know this one, of course. Why, it’s Geillis Duncan!!! (Sorry, Gillian Edgars now. My bad.) She’s giving a speech on the White Roses of Scotland. And already, she is obsessed with Bonnie Prince Charlie. “We are Bonnie Prince Charlie!” she shouts.
If it’s up to Geillis, there’s going to be another revolution right now.
“Sounds like just trading one king for another,” says Bree, echoing what I’ve been saying for months. (Is it just an American thing? I don’t get how one king over another is worth dying for either. Maybe it’s that whole religion stuff that people seem to care an awful lot about.)
Okay, let’s join Claire at the Culloden Museum, where’s there’s a very flattering wax sculpture of the Bonnie Prince (sans halitosis).
Uh-oh, THEME ALERT! There’s a dragonfly in amber in the museum! And not just any dragonfly in amber—it looks like the exact one that Hugh Munro gave Claire in season one. I wonder where it came from.
“That woman was urging you to foul murder… the murder of your prince.” Dougal is furious, so furious that Claire starts surveying the weapons in the room, thinking ahead two steps that this isn’t going to end well.
Now Dougal is shouting at Jamie about Claire: “A lying slut who would lead a man by the cock to his doom.”
How will Jamie protect Claire without anyone dying? Can they talk about it? No, the time for talking is over.
It’s a bitter fight. Biting and finger slicing. Punching. Bones cracking. And finally… Claire knocks Dougal over the head with a crate. What will Jamie have to do? Nothing. Claire does it for him. She drives the knife into Dougal’s chest. He spurts out blood. He will now join his brother.
Jamie is devastated. “I’m so sorry, Uncle.”
And I think, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally reached our “all is lost” moment. There can be no recovery from this. You can see it in Jamie’s face. It’s all over.
Bree and Roger are in the attic and Roger’s singing to the rats. He’s cute but a bit square, I guess. Bree thinks it’s adorable, though. So maybe it’s working. (PS- What a great detail that he finds the old toy airplane. The prop master on this show is doing his job, aye?)
There’s a book of old photographs. A box of Randall stuff. Lots of papers about Black Jack Randall. (PS, maybe put those in plastic, huh? Probably worth a pretty penny.) And a letter from Frank: “Jack is not the man I thought.”
Rupert walks in on Jamie, body still hovering over Dougal’s, knife still trembling in his hand. Rupert quickly condemns Jamie’s action, voiding their friendship. He will “Damn Jamie’s soul to the fiery pit,” he insists. But he agrees to wait two hours, at Jamie’s desperate plea.
That doesn’t give Jamie much time to take care of some stuff. What does he need the two hours for? We’ll find out in a bit.
Frank’s voice (a VO from last season, I believe) now narrates the devastation of the Battle of Culloden. A lonely gravestone marks Clan Fraser, which I can’t help but realize symbolizes the dead part of Claire. It’s like watching a woman stand on her own grave.
“I swore I’d never set foot in this horrid place,” she insists. But she’s here.
And “I’m not going to cry,” she practically tells herself more than Jamie. (I’m getting a real end-of-Death of a Salesman vibe here.) “You have a daughter, Brianna,” she tells Jamie’s ghost, “named after your father, just as I promised.”
Claire has come for a reason. There is something she needs to say:
“Jamie, I was angry at you for such a long time. You made me go and live a life that I didn’t want to live. But you were right, damn you.” In the end, was the safety of Brianna worth all Claire gave up?
There was one thing she didn’t say at Craigh Na Dun when they said goodbye. And now it’s time: “Goodbye, Jamie Fraser… my love.”
Back on Bree and Roger:
What’s this “kidnapped by the fairies” stuff, Bree wants to know, not believing a word of it. Her mother disappeared for three years. Where did she go? (Because it sure wasn’t to the “fairies.”) Bree is going to find out.
Oh, now it’s real, people. Bree accuses Claire: she knows Claire had an “affair” for three years… and she’s started to put the pieces together. That red hair didn’t come from Frank Randall.
Okay, Claire, I think it’s time to tell a little backstory. Let’s all sit calmly on this couch while Claire tells us a little story.
“Yes, there was another man… and I loved him very much. And yes, he was your real father.” Bree realizes that “real dad” is probably why they’re in Scotland in the first place. Time to tell Bree about her real father, Jamie Fraser. But will Bree be willing to hear about him?
Murtagh is not surprised that Jaime killed Dougal, “only that it took you so long.” Now the Deed of Sasine must be signed to protect Lallybroch. Fergus will take the signed copy to Jenny… he will not die at Culloden, if Jamie has anything to do with it. And the deed is more important to Jamie at this point than anything else.
Brianna isn’t really going to go for the whole “fairies brought Mom to the 1740s and my real father is a 6’3” redheaded guy in a kilt” thing. Not surprising, I guess. But still, Claire screams at her daughter, “He was the love of my life!”
Boy, this is a tough scene. Bree is wishing her mom was dead, convinced she’s just a whore. How will this get resolved?
We see how Claire’s name got smudged on the deed—her own tears sealed the ink. She now must say goodbye to Fergus, who is in all respects “like our own son.”
There is nothing they can do but watch him go:
I gotta say, I agree with Bree, the odds of “some woman having the same name” as Claire in the 1740s is more likely than that fairy story. Time to drink more with Roger. Can’t blame her for that, either, while we’re on the topic.
Claire, meanwhile, has found something interesting: Geillis Duncan’s picture. 1968, is it? “This was no ghost. Geillis was here,” she realizes. Off to see Geillis, seen in a lovely wedding photo in her home with husband #1. (Boy, it’s like a game show. How will this contestant die? From the look of him, I would say liver disease.)
Nice house, by the way. But Geillis isn’t there. She’s at the institute learning more about “the Roses,” her obsession. And what do we find in Geillis’s notebook? A sketch of a stone circle.
But “Gillian” isn’t gone through the stones, not yet. She’s at the pub with Bree and Roger, “leaving tonight.”
Claire is reading through Geillis’s journals, and learning something that will come up again much later: Geillis believes you need blood or stones to get through the passage. But that’s not what’s concerning Claire at the moment. She’s too caught up in remembering the last time she saw Geillis, 200 years before. Can Claire stop Geillis from being burned alive in Cranesmuir as a witch?
Jamie admits to Murtagh that the battle “was doomed from the start,” and so he charges his godfather to get his men back home– not to “die for nothing”– while he gets Claire to safety. But as for Jamie himself? He’ll return and fight in Culloden… as history demands. Jamie could never abandon the others. And Murtagh can never abandon Jamie’s side.
Don’t die for nothing, Jamie reiterates. “I won’t be… I’ll be dying with you,” says Murtagh.
“Tell me more about Jamie Fraser.” Bree is ready to hear it.
How do you describe a great lost love? Claire, excited to talk about him for the first time in two decades, can’t really sum up a whole man with just a few words. “It was the most powerful thing that I’ve ever felt in my life.”
But now there’s work to be done. Maybe Roger can help with finding Gillian Edgars (Geillis).
And now we find out some plot stuff that’s rather important: Claire knows that Roger’s ancestors are Dougal and Geillis. (How is this possible, when Geillis was burned alive while pregnant last season? Um… don’t worry about that right now. Just roll with it.)
Long story short, Claire can’t stop Geillis from going back in time, because Roger would never be born. So they resolve to do the only thing they can—warn Geillis to be more careful about the whole “I’m a really weird witchy lady” thing that she does so well.
Off to the stones! (As Roger points out, worst-case scenario, they “watch her bang her head into a five-ton block of granite” and finally admit that she didn’t time travel. Or did she?)
Could Jamie and Claire escape together? No, he’s a dead man already. “I choose the battlefield,” he declares. He won’t let her die… because he knows she pregnant. “This child is all that will be left of me… ever.”
Jamie won’t give Claire a choice. She will have to go back through the stones.
Alcohol thrown on a body. The click of a lighter. The small flame, bursting into a larger one. “It smells like a fuckin’ barbeque,” Roger realizes.
Geillis, we now see, is responsible for the pyre. Dressed in 1740s clothing, she hears the gang approach, but doesn’t wait to be confronted. She touches the stone and…
Well, maybe now that Brianna and Roger actually saw Geillis go through the stones, they’ll believe it.
And now—THIS IS IMPORTANT—Brianna and Roger hear the buzzing. And they see… the burning body. Geillis, remember, thought you needed “blood” to get through the stones. A lot of it, apparently. Like, a husband’s worth of it.
Jamie and Claire also arrive at the stones. “How can I go back?” she asks.
And Jamie knows, of course, exactly what he’s sending Claire back to—Frank. “Tell him I’m grateful. Tell him I trust him. Tell him I hate him to the very marrow of his bones.”
Claire hears the buzzing, but does Jamie? No. He doesn’t hear anything. And even if he could go back through the stones, “it’s not my place.” (Side note: I like that Jamie decides this for himself. In the book, I seem to recall Claire debating whether or not Jamie could make a life for himself in the 1940s… if it were even possible for him to time travel. But here, Jamie chooses his own fate.)
“I’ll find you. It’s a promise.”
200 years without Claire. That’s what Jamie is willing to wait through. 200 years of purgatory so he can see her again. Jamie has given up a lot for Claire, betrayed a lot of his beliefs. But now, in their final moments, he declares all that to be worth it.
“Lord, you gave me a rare woman,” he says. “God, I loved her well.”
Just time for one more quickie. But the bombs explode in the distance. War is calling. “It has begun.”
Claire gives Jamie the dragonfly in amber… “blood of my blood…” “And bone of my bone…” “As long as we both shall live.”
And he gives her the ring with the stone inside. She promises to name their son “Brian” after his father. A dance, shaking. “I love you. I love you.” “And I you.”
She can’t say goodbye.
But he can.
No, Bree, Claire didn’t kill anyone to go through the stones. She is not like Geillis.
And Bree has a realization: this is the last place Claire saw Jamie. She believes her mother now. She will believe her from now on. So no more lies. “From now on, I only want the truth between you and me. All right?” (Sounds like something Jamie would say, no?)
Roger shows up, having called the police. And he’s got some more research in his pocket. After the Battle of Culloden, a Fraser of Lovat escaped execution. Only five Fraser officers fought that day. And four of them have their names on the plaque of the dead. But James Fraser, whose name was never recorded as being dead, seems to have been the one that escaped.
“He didn’t die at Culloden,” Claire realizes.
“He meant to die, but he didn’t,” Roger explains.
(Oh, if only it were this simple in the books! This conversation continues for, like, 100 pages in Voyager. But that’s not important right now.)
What is important is this:
The light on Claire’s beautiful face, like a glimmer of hope:
Brightest Sol that dies to day
Lives againe as blithe to morrow,
“Time Has Come Today” plays over the closing credits. And I think we all know what the “time has come” to do.
In his recap, Ron Moore explains that he felt starting the season in 1968 was a little too jarring, so he opened episode 201 with the 1940s, and closes with the ‘60s. (I agree, by the way. Not that Ron asked me first, but still.)
Matt Roberts talks about the “goodbye to Jamie” scene at the gravestone in Culloden, and how that scene was necessary to really feel the impact when we realize Jamie’s not dead. (Well, not dead 200 years ago, anyway.)
And Toni Graphia presents the dilemma to which we will return at the beginning of next season: Could Claire now decide to leave her daughter? She’ll have to choose between two great loves—Brianna and Jamie. Which one can she live without?
And that’s all she wrote, folks… for this season, anyway. What did you think? Let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, be sure to “like” this page as we begin to review Voyager , the third book in the series (before the next season begins!)
And don’t miss our interview with Pilar Alessandra for her popular writing podcast On he Page, episode 461: http://onthepage.libsyn.com/
And for those who wanted to get some Outlander-themed jewelry, here’s the link: Sassenach Jewelry