But here we are at the end: we started this season as Claire returned to the 20th century, and we ended it with her revelation that she had to go back to 18th. Book ended by Craig na dun, and constantly overshadowed by the Battle of Culloden, this season took us back and forth between timelines and nations. No wonder we got a little lost. No wonder Jamie and Claire did as well.
It has to be difficult to take a book with multiple timelines, murky time-traveling lore and a whole lot of sex and turn it into a season of television with non-linear, insensible narrative arcs and very little sex, but they did their damnedest. I don’t know if Outlander is plagued by too many episodes per season, a vociferous fandom that requires too much book adherence, or simply a lack of coherent adaptative vision, but something was off this season. Following along with the story wasn’t particularly easy, and I know the source material really well. I can’t imagine the difficulty for those coming into it for the first time. Maybe they are more forgiving.
And trust me, I forgive a lot. Because I love Outlander a lot. And seeing certain things … like Bree standing in the courtyard of Fort William in 1968, getting chills, is worth ignoring things like … Jamie’s post-Bastille pube beard.
I didn’t hate season 2 of Outlander, it had some of my favorite moments of the series, and from the books. And with that in mind, let’s talk get down to it.
Top Ten Moments from Outlander, ep 213: Dragonfly in Amber
Back when there was a campaign to get Richard Rankin cast as Roger Wakefield I looked on with bemusement. As I laid out in this post about the fandom and his casting, campaigns like that don’t usually see such a happy ending. I can’t even think of another like it. And because of it, I was cautiously optimistic about Richard’s upcoming performance. I wanted him to be great, and thankfully HE WAS.
I’ll be honest, the Roger Wakefield of my imagination looks a lot different. He’s lankier, taller, his hair is darker, he’s clean shaven. Tom Mison was my fancasting for years. Roger in my mind actually looks more like the actor playing Greg Edgars. But Richard made me a believer. Nuanced and smart, his portrayal was heartfelt and engaging. Richard proved himself to be capable of holding our attention as a romantic lead for the next couple of seasons, and I was MORE than excited to see it. I was desperate to see it. I didn’t realize how important it was to me that he be good, until he was. Good job, Outlander fandom. And you too, Richard.
We Noticed That Too: “Are you Roger Wakefield?” is just about the rudest thing a person can say to the person they think IS Roger Wakefield while in the Wakefield manse during Rev. Wakefield’s wake. Way to be super American, Bree.
We Noticed That Too: Roger barely shakes hands with and certainly doesn’t chat for long with anyone at the wake (despite what’s most likely long acquaintance with most of them) except for Claire and Bree. Way to be super decorous, Rodge.
2. Bree = Jamie
Give me SHOWING instead of TELLING all day long, and I will be a happy girl. So while I am not a fan of the several times this episode that Claire said, “You are so like him” to Bree, I loved the transition from Bree’s face to Jamie’s. We all know that Bree is his daughter, that they had to do their best to find an actress who could believably look like Sam Heughan (and less like Caitriona Balfe because who needs maternity amirite?), but it brings the emotional hammer down hard to see a sleeping, oblivious young woman of the 20th century, one over-fond of saying, “OH MY GOD” and the super casual “yeah” at everything, morph into her stoic, 18th century warrior father with the weight of the world on his tartan-clad shoulders. Because without Jamie’s parentage, Bree has … Disney Channel levels of gravitas. At times, it seems even Claire thinks so. #ouch
3. Claire at Lallybroch
We haven’t seen much of Claire’s life in the last twenty years in Boston. Just a plane ride and a trip to the school library, but we know she’s a surgeon and a widow, and rocking a grey streak the Bride of Frankenstein would be jealous of.
We also know she hasn’t been back to Scotland since she returned from the 18th century. So her trek to Lallybroch drove home (see what I did there?) just how far removed she is now from her life with Jamie. Seeing the ruins of the home she intended to have with him, where she felt the most herself, where she loved him, and hearing the Fraser voices as she sat on the stairs was a poignant look at all that she lost. Seeing Jamie in the archway? A visual look into the interior life of post-return Claire Randall, MD. We thankfully didn’t get a lot of voiceover about how deeply Claire was feeling the absence of Jamie. This scene was the best at showing us that grief.
4. This One Line
It’s not often that a single line from the show makes it to a Top Ten Moment. But sometimes, Sam Heughan DESTROYS me with a PERFECT incarnation of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, and this was one of them. Ripped from my imagination and the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s books, he gave us, “Christ.”
Hellllooooo, nurse. That one is going in the archives. And by the archives I mean my personal hotness folder.
5. Dougal’s Last Scene
Hurts to type that heading out, but we said goodbye to Dougal in one of the most emotionally tense scenes of the season, if not the series. So much is going on in this scene: we are treated to the reality of Dougal’s feelings of betrayal, so perfectly expressed by Graham’s face and broken voice; we are brought back to the origins of season 1 Dougal and his distrust of Claire – an antagonism that spurred so much of the story; we are heartbroken as the dutiful nephew tries to ameliorate the situation while having to fight the man who taught him so much, the only uncle he has left, all while trying NOT to kill him. It huuurrrrrrrt. Gonna miss you, Graham.
6. Claire vs Bree
Maybe it’s because I am a mother of two daughters, one of whom is just entering the super sassy phase of pre-teenagerhood, but I was ready to see Claire SMACK DOWN on Bree during their confrontation and her subsequent confession. It’s a lot for Bree to take in … learning through old newspaper articles and piecemeal hunches that her dad was NOT her father, that her mother had a long term lover, and that she’s never been told the truth. And while in truth her world should have been kind of caving in around her, the most tension we got was poor Roger as monkey in the middle.
But never fear! Mom has a story to tell. And while Bree doesn’t love it (understatement), I kind of expected more of a blow out between them. We all know Claire don’t take no shit, and has experience slapping young upstarts who malign her true love.
We Noticed That Too: Why yes, “Frank was your father in every way that matters, except one” is so the most cliche’d paternity reveal line of all time that we’re pretty sure Maury has it copyrighted.
7. Geillis Throwback
You gotta go back … WAY BACK … to remember Geillis and the witch trial and the one-nine-six-eight and the smallpox scar. I mean that’s some mid-season one shit right there. But regardless, I was stoked to see her again in this episode. Gillian Edgars, and her obsession with the Bonnie Prince was one of the more intriguing plot twists in the early books. I think I could read a whole spin off series about Gillian…and her obsession with red footwear.
We Noticed That Too: How much money would it have cost to have those bulletins printed in color with photos in the 1960’s before everyone and their grandmother had photoshop and an inkjet printer? Shouldn’t G have been using those big bucks to bankroll her 18th century coinage for her trip?
8. Fergus’ Send Off
If any character deserves a proper goodbye and send-off into season 3, if any character deserves respect for their loyalty and general goodness this season, it’s Fergus. “You’re a soldier now” and “like our own son” were perfect tributes to everything that Fergus has become to Jamie and Claire. I don’t know if we will see him in season 3 or not, but I was happy that he got the chance to prove his mettle.
9. Flashing Forward
Book readers will know that Dragonfly in Amber, the novel, BEGINS in 1968. It begins with a 40-something year old Claire and a 20 year absence of Jamie from her life. It’s INFURIATING. It makes you wonder whether or not you picked up the wrong book altogether. It makes you hate Diana Gabaldon. It makes you HAVE to get through the novel to find out what the eff happened!
This series took most of this tension away. We’ve known since episode 201 that Culloden was lost, and yet circumventing that battle was THE major tension for our characters for the whole season. Because that felt flat all season long, it helped to have a bit of the original tension to end the season. Brianna and Roger’s efforts to find out the truth don’t have quite the same impact that they do in the novel because we’ve already seen how and why Claire has to leave. But, at the very least, the flash forward to the 60’s, interspersed with the final moments of the lead up to Culloden gave us a hint of that book tension we’ve been missing all season.
10. The Stones
Jamie and Claire’s goodbye at the stones before Culloden. Jamie and Claire’s last moments before their 20 year separation. When Claire looked back and saw Jamie ready for battle before she ran to the stones. Jamie and Claire’s last desperate sex at the stones. These are the answers you get when you ask fans what the most emotional moments of Dragonfly in Amber the novel are. They are all the same. The goodbye. The stones. The separation.
It is literally one of the worst things that happens in the entire series. In a series where a TON OF REALLY HORRIFIC SHIT happens, the separation of Jamie and Claire for what you know (because of the reveal of the first chapter) will be TWENTY LONG YEARS is seriously one of the hardest things to read. We bawl. We mourn. We throw the book.
They are at their most desperate for one another. We are at our nadir of pain. Did you feel that in this scene? I’m leaving that to you to decide because, well, I cannot.
Don’t worry, even though season 2 of Outlander is over, we still have MUCH to say about it, and about what’s new for season 3. If you want to talk about the finale more, then join us Monday night, July 11th for a special EXTRA LONG Hangoutlander LIVE (with Hypable)!
And don’t fret over Droughtlander. Season 3 will actually be here before you know it, but in the meantime we will have ALL the Outlander coverage you will be itching for. Hangoutlander will continue quarterly (if not more … it all depends on the drama)! Also, expect a little Turtle Soup Talk: we will be deep diving into Voyager for all our favorite MUST SEE scenes in season 3. Sign up for our email newsletter here so you don’t miss a thing (including interviews from upcoming comic-cons).