‘Outlander’ Season 2 Finale Recap: Dragonfly in Amber

Outlander Season 2 Episode 13
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in ‘Outlander’ season 2 episode 13’ (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc)

“Sing me a song of a lass that is gone!” The long-awaited, and super painful, 90-minute Outlander season two finale is here. The title is ‘Dragonfly in Amber,’ and it has literal and physical meanings to this episode. You will see what I mean as we go along. There are many deviations from the book, but I won’t dwell on them. I think the episode was very well done and closed many of the vital loops in the tale. Grab your Kleenex and your Rhenish, here we go…

Episode 13 of season two starts with a black and white television show being shown to a room of children. Of course, this would mean we are in the 1960s and not standing at the field ready for the battle of Culloden. Showrunner Ronald D. Moore mentioned in one of his many interviews that we would not see the actual battle in this season. There are still many things to get through before the fateful battle. We are, however, still in Scotland. Since we are in Scotland in the 1960s, 1968 to be exact, then that means we get to see wee Roger all grown up. We find him in a house full of well-wishers and mourners of the passing of his father, Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet). Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) comes into the room to check on the kids and the TV. His eyes are brimming with unshed tears for the loss of his adopted father; trying to take a moment to get away and collect himself. The housekeeper Fiona, (Iona Claire), comes in to get him.

Roger goes back into the room to give a toast to his father’s memory. Across the room we see Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) lifting a glass. Any of the fandom correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I heard the voice of Mrs. Fitz just then in one of the guests at the wake. As Roger is circling the room he notices a fine-boned, tall, redheaded young woman. They eventually meet and she reveals that her name is Brianna Randall (Sophie Skelton). Claire walks up and does one of those “I last saw you when you were 7 or 8 years old” things that happens when we go to funerals or other family gatherings. Roger eventually remembers her when she mentions Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) was her husband. It is revealed that he is now dead as well. It’s 20 years since Claire had been to this house, and of course seen Roger too. Through the course of the conversation Claire and Brianna tell Roger that Claire is a doctor, a surgeon to be exact. Claire takes a look around the house and feels the ghosts about the place, ghosts of her past. Eventually it is decided that Brianna and Claire will stay at the house with Roger while they are in Scotland.

They get settled in but Claire can’t sleep. While enjoying a dram of whiskey, Roger finds her and joins her in a glass. They discuss the books and papers about the house, much of the Scottish history that Claire lived for a few years while she was with Jamie (Sam Heughan), though Rodger doesn’t know that’s what is on Claire’s mind. Roger tells Claire of his true parentage. He was adopted by the Reverend during WWII when his parents were killed. He is actually a MacKenzie by blood. They discuss going on living without the ones they love. We know that Claire is talking about Jamie, but Roger thinks she’s talking of Frank. He’s speaking of how much he cared for the Reverend. Claire goes back to her room to go to bed and sees Brianna asleep. She remarks on how much Brianna is like her father.

The scene transforms, as if called by sheer will, to see Jamie. He is trying one last pleading audience with Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Andrew Gower) to prevent the battle of Culloden, meant to happen that very day: April 16, 1746. The Prince is determined to do it and will not listen. He equates Jamie to Jesus’ doubting Thomas in the Bible. Jamie approaches Claire and says he’s glad that his uncle Colum did not live to see the impending disaster. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) informs Jamie that the British are on their way, only four miles out. He sends Murtagh in with the news to the commanders, and Claire takes Jamie by the arm because she has one last idea. They must speak of it in private.

Then we come back to 1968 to see Roger driving Brianna through the Scottish countryside. Love those retro cars. Roger takes Brianna to Fort William which is a historical landmark at this time. They are talking of history and such; both Scottish and American. Roger is a history scholar just as Frank was. Brianna tells him of some of the information that Frank shared with her about American Revolutionary history and sights she visited with him. Before they leave the fort Roger tells Brianna that a great deal of blood was spilt on that ground. Brianna gets a cold shiver, but she could not possibly know the torture her own blood father endured in that very place more than 200 years before.

Then we see another car traveling down the road. Claire is headed somewhere, alone. She eventually arrives at her destination. It is Lallybroch, rundown and locked with a chain. Grab your Kleenex! She hears voices from the past: Jamie, Jenny, the kids. She then turns and sits on the steps. She looks to the arch entryway that remains the entrance to the courtyard. In the archway she sees the dashing Highlander she left behind those 20 years ago, and the 200 additional years that passed in the blink of an eye as toll for passage through the stones. Oaky, right here I BURST into tears. Anyone else? Claire closed her eyes to the pain and he was gone. She gets up and leaves Lallybroch after one last look back.

In 1746, Claire and Jamie go into Culloden House so Claire can tell him her last desperate idea to prevent the battle. Claire proposes that they assassinate Prince Charles. She suggests that they use the same poison that she gave to Colum (yellow jasmine). Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Back in 1968, Brianna and Roger arrive at one of the Lochs to have lunch. They have a bit of a picnic and chat. Brianna is curious about an ‘incident’ she thinks happened when her parents were last there in Scotland 20 years ago. Roger admits one time he found the previous housekeeper crying while cleaning up the tool shed. You will remember Frank broke a bunch of stuff in the shed after Claire told him she was pregnant in episode 201 ‘Through A Glass, Darkly.’ Roger knew she wasn’t upset about the stuff in the shed, she was upset about something else. They worked out the year and started to dig around for more information. Roger mentions that the Reverend always wrote in a journal and that maybe they could find something in there.

Claire, also in 1968, goes to a records repository. She finds a paper that shows the title for Lallybroch changed over from Jamie to his nephew wee Jamie. Claire smiles when the record keeper informs her that the property did stay in the Murray family for many generations. Jamie succeeded in saving his home for his family. Claire then asks to know more about the genealogy of Roger MacKenzie’s history.

Back at Roger’s house, Brianna comes in the room while Claire is sitting and working out some soreness in her feet. They have a cute exchange about how handsome Roger is, and Claire asks where they went. Brianna says they saw Fort William. Naturally after Claire’s last visit there, she was a bit startled. But she does not tell Brianna about HER dreadful visit to that nasty place 220 years ago. Not exactly a bedtime tale. Brianna knows her mother is holding something back from her. Brianna misunderstands the emotions on Claire’s face and questions if she ever loved Frank at all. Claire tells her that of course she loved him. Brianna can tell her mother is not telling her something.

In Culloden House in 1746, Jamie and Claire are still discussing the possible assassination of the Prince. They don’t know that Dougal (Graham McTavish) is listening behind one of the doors. He walks in to call them on their plot to murder the Prince. Naturally Dougal does not know of the future or everything that Jamie does.

In 1968, Brianna goes with Roger to the college when he has to take care of a meeting with his department before they get into the Reverend’s journals. While there we see a familiar face holding a student rally. Gillian Edgars, a.k.a Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) is speaking of how they need a true Scottish leader again like the ones they had in Prince Charles’ time. Geillis never did meet Brianna in the book, but the show has Brianna and Roger both meeting her after her speech. Gillian/Geillis invites them to the rally that will be going on later that night. During this time, Claire is at Culloden House (still in 1968) and looking at a wax statue of Prince Charles. She remarks how he was a fool but is now considered a hero in modern times. As she is going about the room looking at various documents and artifacts, she sees something that actually belongs to her: the dragonfly stuck in amber that Huge Munro gave Claire as a wedding present.

Back in that same house, in 1746, Dougal confronts Jamie and Claire about what he heard. Dougal and Jamie have a monstrous fight. Dougal means to kill Jamie, but Jamie is trying defend himself – or at least that’s how it starts. They end up in a position where Jamie is on top Dougal, wrestling for the dirk. Eventually Jamie is in a position to plunge the dirk into Dougal’s chest. He hesitates to do it, but Claire sees that it is the only way so she helps Jamie to press the blade down until Dougal is dead. Jamie has a moment of shock at what he has just done.

The scene returns to 1968 with Roger and Brianna looking for information about Frank and Claire in Roger’s attic. Brianna is surprised by a rat so Roger does an impromptu rat satire. When they are both smirking about the song, Brianna sees a box labeled Randall. There’s a great deal of information, all the stuff that was unearthed back when all this got started.

In 1746, as Jamie still leans over Dougal’s body with a bloody blade, Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) enters the room. He can’t believe what he walked in on. Jamie begs for a two-hour reprieve before Rupert says anything to anyone. Rupert grudgingly agrees.

On Culloden Moor in 1968, Claire is walking the field. She does not do this in the book. She eventually makes her way to the stone markers on the field indicating the MacKenzie Clan and the Fraser Clan. Claire explains to the Fraser stone, as if she were talking to Jamie, all about Brianna and what has happened to them in those 20 years. More Kleenex… Then, Claire finally says good-bye to Jamie to end her time on the Moor.

Outlander Season 2 Finale Brianna and Roger
Sophie Skelton (as Brianna Randall) and Richard Rankin (as Roger Wakefield) in ‘Outlander’.

At Roger’s house, they find paper clippings and things about the time when Claire went missing. When Claire returns to the house Brianna confronts her mother. She thinks that Claire has been seeing the man that is her biological father over the past two days they’ve been in Scotland. Claire is forced to spill the beans. Roger walks in but tries to leave again. Brianna makes a point of him staying to hear the story her mother is about to reveal. Claire starts out by explaining that she did love Brianna’s real father deeply. Brianna accuses Claire of manipulating the situation to bring her there so she could have some surprise introduction to her real father. Claire has to explain the standing stones, the 200 years, everything. Naturally Brianna doesn’t accept it; Jamie was much more generous with his understanding when he found out, especially given the superstitious time period he lived in. Brianna gets up to leave the room, but Roger reminds her that she said she wants to know the truth so she sits back down. Claire starts out by explaining that she would have been raised by her real father if it wasn’t for the battle of Culloden.

In 1746, Jamie and Claire inform Murtagh that he just killed Dougal. Always the direct man that he is, Murtagh says he is surprised only by how long it took Jamie to do it. {snort} Jamie pulls out the deed that Claire got a copy of in 1968, but this is before it was signed. Murtagh and Claire sign the document. Fergus (Romann Berrux) has to take the document to Lallybroch, straight to Jamie’s sister.

In 1968, Brianna and Roger look at each other in disbelief. Brianna lashes out at her mother. Claire is trying to tell her the truth but Brianna does not believe it. She accuses her of having an affair like a million other bored housewives. Claire blurts out that Jamie was the love of her life. Brianna can’t possibly know how much her next words crushed her mother, but she said she wished Claire had died instead of Frank. Then she storms out of the room.

Next, we see Murtagh and Claire signing the document before Fergus takes it away in 1746. Jamie has to get Claire to safety before he returns for his punishment and/or the battle. More tears for the departure of Fergus. Both of them tell him they love him like a son.

In a pub in 1968, Roger is trying to get Brianna to at least keep an open mind about what her mother has said. Roger has a letter that he shows Brianna that adds a little weight to Claire’s story. Back at Roger’s house, Claire is looking at the bundle of papers that Brianna threw on the table when she first confronted her. They were the newspaper clippings and such. When Claire picks them up she sees the flyer by Geillis laying underneath. Claire goes to Geillis’ house to try to find her. She remembers the year that Geillis told her she came through the stones was 1968, but Geillis is not home. Claire does manage to steal some notebooks with theories about the stones that Geillis had written.

It just so happens that Geillis finds Brianna and Roger in the pub. She mentions that she’s leaving that very night, but tells Brianna to keep studying and asking questions. Claire reads Geillis’ notes and journals about the stones and traveling through the stones.

In 1746, Jamie tells Murtagh to take the men of Lallybroch back to their lands. Jamie doesn’t want his kin to die in the battle and doesn’t want Murtagh to die either. Murtagh says he will take the men, but will join Jamie on the field.

Brianna goes into the bedroom that she and Claire share at Roger’s house in 1968. Brianna says she doesn’t want to hear more about the delusion or anything else about the stones, but she would like to hear more about Jamie Fraser. Claire explains about his appearance a bit, and says it will take a long time to make her know him. She also tries to explain to Brianna that she tried to not fall in love with Jamie. She says she fought against it for a while. Claire lets Brianna know that her love for Jamie is the most powerful feeling she has ever felt in her life. Brianna is a bit surprised by this declaration.

Claire goes down to find Roger because she wanted to ask him about Gillian Edgars. Roger and Brianna both admit they had met her recently, and just saw her a little while ago in the pub. Claire works out that Gillian is going to go through the stones that very night. Claire hopes she can save her life from the witch trial by keeping her from going through the stones, but then looks at Roger. Claire tells Roger that his ancestor is the baby that Geillis is pregnant with at the time of the trial. Brianna tries to push back on all the traveling through stones stuff that Claire keeps saying. Roger says that if she is about to go to her doom then they have to try to stop her making the trip, even if it could mean he is not born in the future. Brianna is surprised that Roger is even entertaining all of this. Brianna storms out of the room, and Roger stops her. He talks Brianna into letting her go through with it. He sees it as the only way to make the story come to an end and the delusion stop.

In 1746, Jamie is taking Claire out of the camp. He finds Dougal’s horse and tells Claire that he is taking her to safety. Claire doesn’t want to go. Jamie says that she must go because she is carrying their child. Claire is shocked that Jamie knows that, he tracked her cycles and knows that she is at least two months late. Jamie reminds Claire of her promise to go to safety. They must go and get Claire and the baby to safety…

Back at the standing stones in 1968, Gillian Edgars burns her husband to death because she thinks it will open the stones. Claire knows that a sacrifice is not necessary to open the passage through the stones. Claire, Brianna, and Roger get to the stones just in time to see her go through. Brianna, Claire, and even Roger hear the buzzing from the stones. Brianna finally looks at her mother with understanding; she saw Gillian disappear.

In 1746, Claire and Jamie reach the stone circle again. Jamie tells Claire that she must go back through this time. He says to tell Frank that he thanks him for taking care of her, he trusts him to take proper care of her and the child, and he hates him to the very marrow of his bones. Tears streaming down Claire’s face, she tells him she cannot go back. Then she says that he should come with her. She asks him if he hears the buzzing, but Jamie does not hear it. Jamie walks up and touches the stone; he cannot travel through the stones. He then walks back to her and enumerates all the things he has done wrong, but says he will wait 200 years for her as part of his penance. And, he says that when he stands before God he will tell Him that He gave Jamie a rare woman, and he loved her well! {weep and sigh, a fan favorite line…love it}. They have a hurried sexual encounter, but then hear the cannons sound from the battle. They are out of time. Claire takes from her pocket the piece of amber with the dragonfly. She gives it to Jamie and they recite part of their wedding day vow. Jamie takes out a ring to give to the baby he assumes will be a boy. Claire promises to name the boy Brian after Jamie’s father. Jamie then guides Claire backwards, both looking into each other’s eyes the entire time. He guides her up toward the stone. Many more Kleenex are used here and I am doing some UGLY crying, I have to admit. With tears in both their eyes, Jamie takes Claire’s hand and says good-bye just before pushing her fingers to the stone’s surface.

In 1968, Brianna is stunned to find everything her mother told her was true. Brianna realizes that this circle of stones is the last place that her mother and father last saw each other. Just as Jamie made her promise, Brianna says she only wants the truth from that point forward from Claire. Roger shows Claire what he found and had previously shown Brianna in the pub. It has information that indicated that Jamie did not die but actually survived the battle. Claire is looking at the stones just as the sun comes up. She declares that she has to go back. JAMIE DID NOT DIE AT THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN MOOR!!! Heavy and hard choices are ahead for Claire as she has to decide whether to stay with her daughter or go back to see her love.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ title has three meanings. One, this was the book’s title that the second season was taken from. Two, the actual bit of amber that Claire gave to Jamie before she left. And third, the fact that Claire was the figurative dragonfly in amber for those 20 years.

Now we embark on another Droughtlander [more Kleenex here], but it is heartening to know we get season 3 (based on the book Voyager) and season 4 (from the book Drums of Autumn). We do not yet know the release date for season 3, but one of the writers, Matt B Roberts, did say it would be early in 2017. Join me right back here at the same Tulach Ard time and same Tulach Ard channel!! JE SUIS PREST!!!

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