‘Outlander’ gets better with every episode as we watch Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) continuously overcome great obstacles to protect their future and their love. Each episode usually feels like a movie, epic in in it’s own right. “Dragonfly in Amber” actually is one, clocking in at 90 brilliant and spellbinding minutes. (If only every episode could be that long…The more “Outlander,” the better!) Throughout the season, they’ve been desperately trying to avoid the fated tragic results of the brutal Battle of Culloden. Despite Jamie’s best efforts, Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) has his mind set on the battle. Now the time has come to see if Claire and Jamie can find a way to persuade him otherwise at the last minute. The lives of thousands and Scotland’s future rests in their hands. What will they do?
The finale beautifully bookends this turbulent season by mirroring the premiere and beginning in the future with Claire. Season 2 opened with Brianna’s (Sophie Skelton) birth and now we see the kind of strong-willed young woman she has grown into 20 years later. Although we are dying to see what happened in the past, we are also fascinated by Claire’s present in 1968. This is her first trip back to Scotland since she and Frank left to have a fresh start in Boston.
Caitriona Balfe perfectly conveys the heaviness Claire feels when she enters Reverend Wakefield’s house. Her voice-over explains how she is surrounded by ghosts. Although Frank has died by now (we don’t know exactly when or how), Jamie is the one who haunts her. She is overwhelmed by the memories that come rushing back. The episode does a wonderful job of transitioning between the past and present. Much like Claire’s life, the narrative is split between two worlds.
In the present, Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) mourns the loss of his father. He seems a bit withdrawn, dutifully greeting those who have come to pay their respects. Then he comes alive when he spots Brianna. Based on all the internet buzz, it seems like a major storyline awaits us in Season 3. Even without reading the novels, it is obvious that their flirting will likely lead to something more. The two instantly hit it off and have quite a bit in common, both are scholars with an impressively precise knowledge of history. While Roger shows Brianna the sights, Claire takes a journey down memory lane.
The juxtaposition of Brianna’s first visit to chilling Fort William with Claire’s return to Lallybroch gives us goosebumps. If only she knew the unspeakable torture her father endured there. Her blood should be boiling just by stepping foot on those grounds. Conversely, Claire’s nostalgia over the time spent at Jamie’s home moves us to tears. There are very interesting parallels between their respective journeys.
Just like Claire did 200 years ago, Brianna stumbles across Gillian Edgars/Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) rallying the youth to join the White Roses of Scotland in their latest gathering to call for the freedom of their nation. We knew she was from the future when she took the fall to let Claire escape, but we had no idea that this is what her life was like.
Through Claire and Brianna, we learn that Gillian was a true patriot who planned her journey to the past so that she could participate in an essential part of her nation’s history. She championed bonny Prince Charlie, but she did not know him the way Claire did. Gillian passionately paints him out to be a hero, but we know he does not deserve to be held in the legendary King Arthur’s company.
When Claire visits the historical sites by Culloden Moor, she is not amused by his wax replica, which stands taller than the foolish prince himself. Then she stumbles upon an artifact that we are shocked to see. The precious dragonfly in amber, the gift mute beggar Hugh Munro (Simon Meacock) gave as their wedding gift is encased in the exhibit. How could it have survived the Battle of Culloden? Hopefully we’ll find out in Season 3!
Like mother, like daughter…both have also done some digging during their Scottish stay. Claire tracks down the deed Jamie signed over to his nephew. It is amazing to see how many tokens remain from her other life. Brianna also wants to learn more about her family, particularly the time her mother and father spent in Scotland before they left. Rodger has a bunch of the Reverend’s journals that they can skim through for answers. While Brianna searches for answers, Claire finally tries moving on from the past.
Claire finds Clan Fraser’s stone marking those who fell on the battlefield. She sits there and tells Jamie about their daughter. We don’t hear everything she says, but when she is done, Claire says the one thing she never could say: “Goodbye.” It has taken Claire 20 years to bid her love farewell. After hiding the truth of their life together for so long, Brianna confronts her mother in seek of answers.
Brianna learns the truth about Claire’s disappearance and does the math. Their confrontation may not be violent like the Battle of Culloden, but it is still brutal. She lashes out at her mother as she asks the truth about her real father. Every time she calls Frank, “Daddy,” the impulse to cringe cannot be ignored. Claire is relieved to reveal the truth after keeping it bottled up for so long.
The air is cleared, Jamie was the love of Claire’s life. She sees so much of him in their daughter. However, what she emphasizes most is the love Jamie had for his unborn child and the sacrifices he made to ensure their safety. Just watching Claire talk about her love for Jamie is enough to make us teary.
It is really hard to view this objectively because we have grown to love Jamie. The way Brianna attacks Claire seems extremely cruel, but we realize both women are in pain. This is a shock and if anyone realistically told you about their time-traveling love affair, it would be hard to believe. However, Rodger urges Brianna to give Claire a chance. Even if it isn’t true, it is her truth. That’s what Brianna wants, so she should at least hear her mother out.
Rodger is a wonderful addition to the story. Richard Rankin is very charismatic and emotive. He delivers a fantastic performance and is likable from the start. His most endearing quality is his empathy. He watches her lash out at Claire and convinces her to give her mother another chance. Sophie Skelton believably plays the betrayed daughter. Brianna has a right to be devastated by this revelation, but she comes off as a whiny brat and daddy’s girl. It may sound harsh, but that’s how it felt while watching. Rodger was more understanding, even when this crazy tale involves his own family.
The three of them band together to try to stop Gillian from crossing through the stones, or at least warn to her to keep a low profile so she doesn’t get burned at the stake. That’s when we learn Rodger’s ancestors come from Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) and Geillis Duncan’s love child. Way to bring it around full circle. It’s not like Rodger can evaporate from existence (but what if he can?!), so he’s fine with trying to stop Gillian.
This is probably the most satisfying and exciting part of the present day narrative. Gillian was crazy enough to sacrifice her husband by burning him (alive or dead, it’s still bad) in order to cross through the stones. The three of them watch as she disappears through the stones. Yes! Rodger and Brianna are now on board with Claire’s story because they saw it happen with their own eyes. Phew!
Rodger returns from calling the cops and another bombshell drops. He found something in his research, which proves that Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden. Jamie’s name is missing from the monument dedicated to those who fell in battle, so he definitely made it out alive by some grace of God. Claire needs to go back and find him. If he’s alive, then they can be together again. Squee!!!
Will all three of them journey into the past? How will Claire be able to travel through the stones gain? Will Gillian’s research be of some help? In what time will Claire and Jamie find each other again? There so many questions and not much patience until we get the answers in Season 3!
The events of the past are equally charged as what transpires in the present. Claire and Jamie find themselves contemplating murder for the greater good. If they kill Prince Charles, they can stop the Battle of Culloden. Dougal overhears their traitorous conversation and confronts them. Graham McTavish is stellar in this intense scene. He curses Claire out as a brain-washing whore (whoa!) and offers to give Jamie a swift and painless death for his actions. Claire and Jamie are left with no choice.
In an act of self-defense, husband and wife thrust the dagger into Dougal’s chest together. It’s not just that Jamie wasn’t strong enough to reverse the dagger and press it into Dougal, it’s that Claire partook in this horrible act and the guilt would not solely fall on Jamie. Talk about #RelationshipGoals.
Unfortunately, Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) sees them murder Dougal and must make Jamie face the clan for his crime for killing their friend and chieftain. Jamie begs for some time, he needs just two hours and then promises to meet his punishment. Rupert honors the friendship they’ve shared and gives him time to settle things before being led to his death.
We love Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) even more for not being upset with Jamie, but being surprised that it took him so long to kill his uncle. Jamie immediately signs Lallybroch over to his nephew. We get chills again watching a teardrop fall upon Claire’s signature. Jamie entrusts Fergus (Duncan Lacroix) with delivering the deed. He and Claire tell him that they love him as their own son before sending him off. Awww!!! It is so sweet it hurts. Now for the big moment we’ve been dreading since the premiere: Jamie and Claire part ways.
Jamie knows Claire is pregnant, even during a war he kept track of her cycle, now that is True Love. He wouldn’t insist if she wasn’t carrying their child. Plus, she promised. He takes her to the stones, knowing that she and their child will be loved and cared for by Frank. He gives her a ring that was his father’s and she promises to name their child after him, which she did. She gives him the dragonfly in amber as a token of their love. They hastily make love one last time as canons start firing on the battlefield. Jamie takes her hand in his and they slowly dance towards the stone. Both weep as she passes through the stone. Hand over the Kleenex, this is too much!
It is torturous to see Claire and Jamie part ways, but the season finale leaves us with hope. They will find each other again in some far off time and place. We don’t know when, where or how, but we have faith. Nothing can stop True Love and it doesn’t get any truer than the love Jamie and Claire share. Bring on Season 3!