[This is not a spoiler-free review/recap of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]
Episode 213, “Dragonfly in Amber”
Written by Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia, Directed by Philip John
The future did not change. Despite Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) best efforts, the battle on Culloden Moor still happens (or happened, depending on what timeline is followed). While we do not see it happen, we hear the beginning of the battle when Jamie and Claire are at Craigh na Dun saying goodbye. We don’t know who died during the battle, except by the end of the season two finale of Outlander, “Dragonfly in Amber,” we know Jamie Fraser survived its havoc.
In its 90 minutes, the finale has introduced two new important characters and tied up loose ends from season one and season two. The finale covers a tremendous amount of ground. Thank you Starz for not insisting this be a 60 minute episode or who knows what would have been cut.
Yes, events are different from the book by Diana Gabaldon, but I will not harp on the details. All of the events led to the same exact conclusion; they just took a different route. It has been a few years since I have read all of Dragonfly in Amber, and it probably increased the enjoy-ability of this season tenfold. I don’t remember exactly how things occurred, and at this point, I don’t want to dwell on the differences.
Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) is introduced immediately with viewers thrown forward to 1968 and Reverend Wakefield’s funeral reception. The camera angle as it slowly moves toward Roger paints him as a central figure, yet unsure of himself and sad. On my first viewing, I thought he was teaching a class on the historical implications of
Dr. Who The Avengers. It is still framed in that way, but the first inkling of this not being the case is Fiona (Iona Claire) interrupting.
Shortly after, we see our first glimpse of Claire, twenty years older. Damn, she looks great. She only has some pesky grey hairs to show her age. Followed shortly thereafter is the introduction of Claire’s daughter Brianna aka Bree (Sophie Skelton), a tall, red-headed beauty who has already grabbed the attention of Roger.
Both Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton have the disadvantage of not a lot of screen time to establish their characters. With their limited time, both actors displayed some important characteristics of Roger and Brianna. The defiance, sorrow, curiosity, and hesitation are all there. The beginning of some beloved characters is there, and with the pickup of season three and four, we can only wait to see how Roger and Brianna continue and how Richard and Sophie will portray them.
Caitriona Balfe continues to add to the breadth of her acting ability. Let’s add aging a character twenty years to her list. Her demeanor, the way she holds herself, and a change in her tone of voice are all marks of a great actress. She does not rely on the grey hairs to age Claire.
This is an episode where viewers are taken back and forth in time. The Culloden storyline with Claire and Jamie back in April 1746 is continued along with the 1968 storyline. It bugged me so much on the first viewing that I counted how many times they jumped for the second viewing. This episode jumps ten times in the course of 90 minutes! It is one of the things I most disliked about the episode. It makes it disjointed, hectic, and takes viewers out of the moment. Some of the Culloden scenes could have been merged as many had no relation to what was going on in 1968.
The goodbye between Claire and Jamie is wonderful. The way Jamie walks her backwards to the stone is amazing and kudos to whoever decided that was how it was going to happen. There is something about Jamie walking her toward her future while Claire has her back to it. The walking backwards and Claire’s hand touching the stone had me teary-eyed and choked up, only the second time that has happened this season. Sam Heughan knocked that last glimpse of Jamie out of the park. He is emotional and already torn up about what is about to happen. That tear running down his cheek killed me. It was a few minutes of really good, emotional TV. However, I can hear the readers now asking why the amount of passion changed.
This episode is perfect timing for the events happening in the U.K. “Free Scotland” and Gillian’s quest for Scotland’s independence echo the sentiment of the Scottish today. With Brexit, the Scottish voted to remain in the E.U. while the majority vote won to leave it. The people of Scotland still struggle with being attached to the U.K. versus their own independent country.
The season two finale has characters die (Dougal, Graham MacTavish) and others resurrected by time (Geillis aka Gillian Edgars, Lotte Verbeek). Book readers saw beloved characters come alive. The music by Bear McCreary is top notch again, with the swelling of voices as Claire remembers her past. It perfectly mimics the thoughts in her head. The finale is worth the anticipation from viewers over the past two weeks. It has a cliffhanger of sorts, albeit a little cheesy, that we know will be addressed in season three. Droughtlander is now here.
Season Two Mini Review:
After thirteen episodes for the second season of Outlander, Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber as told by Ronald D. Moore and company is now finished. There have been highs and lows in terms of script writing, acting, and direction. Certain scenes and sequences can be played over and over and they will never get old. Some others still have us scratching our heads. We wondered how the writers were going to adapt Diana’s book. The effect of the book is still there. The important scenes are still there. Is it exactly like the book? Heck no, but it shouldn’t be. But they have taken a complex storyline and bookended it with moments that mimic the readers’ reaction to picking up Dragonfly in Amber and questioning if this is indeed the second book. Non-readers came away confused from episode 201 and it took the entire season to wrap it back around to those first scenes. If non-readers kept themselves in the dark the entire season, I applaud you as many went to Wikipedia immediately.
Has this been a successful season of Outlander? Yes, but I qualify that with some misgivings. In my opinion, there are elements and storylines that could have been shortened or tossed, and in their place, better character development and strengthened relationships. However, nothing is perfect . . . well, except for Jamie and Claire.
Season Two Finale Easter Eggs (or just cool tidbits)
Claire leans on her car in Inverness the exact same way she did in episode 101.
Roger finds the toy plane that he held in the title card for episode 101.
Claire still wears her wedding ring from Jamie and it is focused on in a few scenes.
Roger meeting (and touching) his great (times 7)-grandmother.
Roger says “fucking barbeque” as he goes up the hill to Craigh na Dun, just as his descendant Geillis exclaimed in the first season.
Roger, Brianna, and Claire (duh!) can hear the buzzing of the stones. Jamie cannot and even demonstrates that he cannot time travel by touching it.
Greg Edgars, Geillis or Gillian’s husband, is played by James Robinson, who also played young William in Braveheart. He was also fans’ choice #3 for Roger on this site.
Claire was indeed wearing Jamie’s father’s ring in episode 201 when she came through the stones. The ruby disappeared on her return trip through them.
The episode opens on a The Avengers scene. The camera zooms out and we see children watching it with a stately fellow at the back, Roger Wakefield. This is Scotland in 1968. The setting is Reverend Wakefield’s manse. Fiona comes in to ask Roger to return to his guests. Roger reluctantly leaves the room.
A tapping on a glass precedes Roger making his toast to his recently departed father to all the guests in attendance. In the back, we see Claire, a bit older, but still Claire. She drinks whisky in the Reverend’s honor. Guests are giving their condolences to Roger, but he sees a young woman wandering around and she catches his attention. It is Brianna. Roger keeps getting pulled over to another guest as he tries to go and meet Brianna. It is Brianna that catches him first. Before Brianna can say her name, Claire interrupts. Roger doesn’t remember Claire Randall. He is finally introduced to Brianna. Brianna brings up her “daddy” Frank, as Claire has failed to mention him. It is Frank’s name that jogs Roger’s memory. Claire is now a doctor, a surgeon to be exact. Brianna is a history major at Harvard and is 20 years old. Roger is in the history department at Oxford. Claire learns that Mrs. Graham has passed, but her daughter Fiona still works in the home. Claire excuses herself to look around. Roger and Brianna make small talk. Fiona interrupts the conversation.
The music rises as Claire wanders around, and is drawn to a gun very similar to Jamie’s.
Roger is saying goodbye to all his guests. Claire and Brianna are also saying goodbye, but Roger insists they spend the night instead of driving back so late.
Later that night, Claire finds herself drinking whisky when she can’t sleep. Roger joins her. He comments on the clutter. He mentions rare editions of Prince Charles Stuart and the Battle of Culloden. He says some of his ancestors fought and died there. He shares that he is actually a MacKenzie. Claire comments that she used to know quite a few of that name. Roger asks her about saying goodbye to a loved one, but Claire admits she has never been good at it. Claire leaves him.
“How did you do it? Finally say goodbye to the one person you loved most in all the world?” –Roger
Claire looks at the full moon in the window and then back down at Brianna in bed. “God, you are so like him.”
The scene fades from the back of Brianna’s head to Jamie walking with Prince Charles (Andrew Gower) on April 16, 1746. Jamie tries to convince Charles to give up now. Charles compares Jamie to the Apostle Thomas, the non-believer. Jamie confirms to Claire that Culloden will happen today. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) confirms the English troops’ movements. Claire has an idea.
Back to 1968, Brianna and Roger are in a car. They travel to Ft. William. This is the same place that Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) flogged Jamie. The platform is still there. Brianna gets the chills. Brianna asks Roger about Frank and what he remembers.
“My mother lives in another world.” –Brianna
Claire is in a car and ends up at Lallybroch. It is for sale, but it is locked up so that she cannot get inside. As she sits on the stoop, she hears the voices of Jenny (Laura Donnelly), Jamie, and others and she also sees Jamie in the archway.
Back to 1746, Claire and Jamie discuss the possibility of killing Charles. Claire shares that she gave Colum (Gary Lewis) the same poison that she proposes giving Charles.
Back to 1968, Roger and Brianna have a picnic. She wants to know if he remembers an “incident” when her mother and father were staying with the Reverend. He was too young to remember much, but he does remember Mrs. Graham crying in the tool shed and everything broken. Frank did it. Brianna admits he had a temper, but keeps it under wraps. Brianna tells Roger of a lock box Frank had that contained correspondence with the Reverend. One letter referred to an incident and Brianna is convinced something big happened. Roger says that the Reverend had journals that he wrote in every night, and she could look at them for clues.
Claire goes into town to research Lallybroch. The archives have deed of sasine with Jamie and Claire’s name and witness by Murtagh. Claire is happy to know that the home stayed in the Murray family. The lady gives Claire a copy of it. Claire also wants to research the family of Roger MacKenzie.
Later that night, Brianna returns from her “date” with Roger as Claire puts it. Brianna tells Claire that they went to Ft. William and that gives Claire a start. Claire tells Brianna she just “puttered around the village.” Brianna asks Claire if she misses Frank or ever loved him. Claire is offended, but admits she did love him.
Back to 1746, Claire and Jamie continue to discuss poisoning Charles, only this time Dougal (Graham McTavish) is listening. Dougal walks in and voices his displeasure at what he has heard.
“You filthy whoring witch” –Dougal
Back to 1968, Brianna and Roger are at Oxford. Roger leaves Brianna on her own while he does some work. She happens upon a group of students listening to a woman talk about Scottish independence. It is Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) who is really Gillian Edgars in this time. After her speech, Brianna confronts her on some history and introduces herself. Shortly thereafter, Roger also gets introduced to Gillian (creepy!). Roger and Brianna take a pamphlet from Gillian.
Claire has found her way to Culloden. She looks upon a mannequin of Prince Charles (which also happens to be wearing the same costume as Andrew Gower wore), and she is not impressed. Her attention is caught by a couple describing an item in a case. It is the dragonfly in amber that Hugh Munro gave her for a wedding present.
Back to 1746, the confrontation between Dougal and Claire and Jaime escalates. Dougal calls Jamie a traitor and a betrayer of trust. He is clearly beside himself. Dougal draws his sword and goes after Jamie. Jamie tries to protect Claire. Dougal cuts Jamie’s hand a few times. With Dougal having the upper hand, Claire breaks a crate on his head. Dougal falls and Jamie is on top of him. With Dougal still pointing his dirk at Jamie, Jamie uses his hand on the blade to turn the dirk around. It is now pointed at Dougal’s stomach. A struggle ensues and Claire steps in to help Jamie push the dirk into Dougal. He is dead. The look on Jamie’s face is one of sorrow and horror. Claire is upset as well.
Back to 1968, Brianna and Roger go into the attic (at least that is what I think it is). They are searching for the Reverend’s journal. It is very dusty and cluttered. Brianna finds the journals, but also feels a rat around her legs. Roger brings up a “rat satire,” a song that is sung to the rats to encourage them to leave and go elsewhere where there is food. Roger demonstrates one for Brianna (and now we have Roger singing for the first time in the series). Roger spies his old toy plane in the attic. Brianna spies a box with “Randall” on it. In it she sees photos of her parents and documents about Black Jack Randall. They take the boxes back to the library of the manse.
Back to 1746, Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) walks in on Dougal dead on the floor and Jamie kneeling above him with the dirk still in his hand. Rupert preps his dirk and is shocked about what he is seeing. Rupert goes to leave to tell others, but Jamie stops him. He wants two hours before Rupert tells anyone, and he promises to return and answer for what he has done. Rupert agrees.
Back to 1968, we hear Claire remembering Frank’s voice describing the battle of Culloden as she walks the moor toward the Clan Fraser grave marker. A woman is there and asks Claire if she is a Fraser. Claire says she is. The woman leaves and Claire is left alone at the marker. She begins to speak to Jamie and says she won’t cry. She tells Jamie about Brianna, and finally says goodbye to Jamie.
Brianna and Roger are going through the documents they found in the attic. Brianna happens upon newspaper clippings with photos of Claire and the headline, “Kidnapped by the Fairies.” She learns that Claire was gone for three years. Brianna continues to look for clues.
Claire is pouring tea as Brianna comes down the stairs, papers in hand. Brianna wants to know what she has been doing the past two days, and if she saw her father. She has figured out that Frank is not her father based on newspaper clippings of when Claire was found and that she was already pregnant. She believes Claire had an affair. Claire is distraught that Brianna has figured this out, but at the same time, it gives her the opportunity to come clean about Jamie. Unfortunately, this involves the whole pesky time travel element and that is too much for Brianna to believe. Roger walks in on the conversation and Brianna insists he stays, so he hears all of it as well. Brianna also learns that he is dead, and the reasons for her being in the dark all this time; Frank insisted on it.
“I promised Frank I wouldn’t tell you about him, so for twenty years, I haven’t uttered his name out loud. But now you know and I need to tell you about him . . . about your real father, Jamie Fraser.” –Claire
Back to 1746, Jamie and Claire tell Murtagh that Jamie killed Dougal. Fergus (Romann Berrux) is nearby and hears the conversation. Murtagh is not surprised. Jamie pulls out a deed of sasine for Lallybroch for Claire and himself to sign. It transfers ownership to Jamie’s nephew. It is predated to one year before, before Jamie became a traitor to the crown. Fergus is employed with taking the paper back to Lallybroch.
Back to 1968, Brianna does not believe Claire at all about her 18th century tale. Claire tries to convince Brianna by showing her the copy of the deed to Lallybroch with her and Jamie’s signatures on them. Brianna is still not having it. It all ends with Claire admitting angrily that Jamie was the love of her life. Brianna has tears in her eyes at this admission. She wishes Claire was dead instead of Frank.
Back to 1746, the deed is signed. Jamie gives Fergus a dirk and the deed to take to Jenny and Ian. Jamie and Claire say goodbye and Murtagh gives Fergus a short bow. He leaves the camp.
Back to 1968, Roger and Brianna are at a pub discussing what Claire has said. Brianna keeps making excuses as to how Claire could be lying about this. Roger tries to push Brianna into understanding her mother.
Claire picks up the old newspaper clippings of her “incident” and below them is Gillian Edgars’ pamphlet. It is Geillis staring Claire in the face, right on that piece of paper. Claire remembers the year Geillis told her, 1968, the year she came through the stones.
Claire ventures to Gillian’s house. She is not there, but her drunkard husband, Greg (James Robinson), is. He tells her Gillian has not been home in a while because of her work for the cause. He falls asleep. Claire opens one of Gillian’s notebooks and sees a drawing of the stones. Claire takes the notebooks with her as she leaves.
Gillian runs into Roger and Brianna at the pub. She is sorry they missed a great rally. She tells them she is leaving town that night “to further the cause.”
Claire pours over Gillian’s notebooks, filled with notes on the science and folklore of time travel and travelling through stones. Claire has to try to stop her and warn her of her fate in Cranesmuir.
Back to 1746, Jamie instructs Murtagh to lead the Fraser/Lallybroch men to safety once they are on their way to battle. Jamie knows that it is a battle that won’t succeed and he does not want his men dying during it. Jamie is going to take Claire to safety and then return to the battle to fight. Murtagh agrees to guide his men to safety and the path home, but he is coming back to fight alongside Jamie.
Back to 1968, Brianna returns back to her bedroom and Claire. She still doesn’t believe Claire time travelled, but she does believe that she has a birth father that is not Frank. She wants to know more about Jamie, and Claire tells her more about him.
“I didn’t intend to fall in love. In fact, I fought against it, but I couldn’t deny what I felt for him. I tried, but I couldn’t. It was the most powerful thing that I have ever felt in my life.” –Claire
Claire knocks on the door of where Roger is pouring over letters and notes. She came to get Gillian’s pamphlet. Roger asks how it is going with Brianna. Claire asks Roger about Gillian, and Brianna interrupts with details on Gillian. Claire wants to find her, and Brianna and Roger tell her that she was planning on leaving town that night. Claire admits to them that Gillian is Geillis from the witch trials and that she is going through the stones that night. She has to try and stop her, but Geillis’ kin, Roger, is standing next to her. What will happen if Geillis does not go through the stones? Will Roger disappear? Roger agrees to go with Claire to at least try to warn Geillis, or at least have Claire admit that she is a tad crazy about all this time travelling through stones thing. Brianna reluctantly agrees to go along also.
Back to 1746, Jamie leads Claire away from the soldiers. He is taking her to safety, but she insists they go away together. However, Red Jamie is wanted and he would much rather die on the field than in a noose. Claire wants to stay with him and argues that he did not leave her at the witch trials, why would she now leave him? Jamie says that is because she is pregnant. Jamie has kept track of her courses and knows she is with child. Jamie brings up the promise she made to go back to Frank if he were to die.
Back to 1968, Geillis has killed her husband at Craigh na Dun, pour gasoline on him, and lights him on fire. Claire, Roger, and Brianna arrive after the fire has started. They rush up the hill, but get there just at the moment Geillis goes through the stones. They see it. They now believe. Roger, Claire, and Brianna hear the buzzing of the stones. Roger is a bit more affected by the sound; his eyes are watering and he stumbles. Claire tells him to go find help.
(Is anyone else disappointed that they did not show her actually disappearing?)
Back to 1746, Jamie and Claire arrive at Craigh na Dun. Claire lets go of his hand. She does not know how she will explain all this when she goes back. Claire hears the buzzing of the stones. Claire begs him to go through the stones with her. He doesn’t hear the buzzing and he touches the stone to prove his point and his destiny lies at Culloden Moor. Cue the sexy time. Claire gives him the dragonfly in amber to hold onto. The battle has begun; they can hear the canons in the background. Jamie gives Claire his father’s ring for the bairn to have when “he” is old enough. Claire promises to name him “Brian” after his father. Jamie turns her around and walks her backwards to the stone. They say “I love you” once more, and then Claire turns around to face the stone. He takes her hand and presses it to the stone as he says, “Goodbye, Claire.”
“But when I stand before God, I’ll have one thing to say to weigh against all the rest; Lord, you gave me a rare woman. God, I loved her well.” –Jamie
Back to 1968, Brianna now believes everything her mother has said, but doesn’t understand it. Claire is elated to hear that Brianna believes her. Brianna makes her promise that there will be no more lies between them and she agrees.
Roger returns to the stones. As soon as he returns, Brianna asks him to tell Claire what he found. It is a letter from the Reverend about research for Frank, but it may have never been sent to Frank. The basic gist of the letter is that Jamie escaped death at Culloden and also escaped execution. Claire realizes Jamie lived and she has to go back.
“Jamie. He didn’t die at Culloden? He survived. He survived. If that’s true then . . . I have to go back.” -Claire
Photos and clips courtesy of Starz