Previously on Outlander, “The Hail Mary”
It’s been hard to remember that this season started with Claire returning to Frank. We’ve watched twelve episodes of Claire and Jamie trying to circumvent this war knowing that no matter what they do (or don’t) accomplish, Claire returns to the 20th century, away from the horror and the aftermath of a lost war. But we knew that, and so the episode ends up dividing itself via flashbacks into what we already know (the Battle of Culloden, and Claire returning to Frank) and what is still a mystery (What happened to Claire after that? Who was that red headed girl?).
In Scotland, or rather old-timey Scotland, it’s the morning of the Battle of Culloden and Bonnie Prince Charlie is all smiles and “mark me”s. He’s one hundred percent confident of this war being his God-given right and calling, even though all signs point to utter defeat. My God, the British outnumber the Scots 4 to 1, and that’s not even accounting for the food and sleep that the Highlander army isn’t supplying. Doesn’t it seem like folly? Doesn’t it seem like anyone with just the smallest ration of sense would say “Hey, maybe let’s put this off for a day”? Not Chuck. Even against Jamie’s urgent warning, he’s ready to go, and his rash choices force Claire and Jamie to make their own rash decisions. With nothing to lose, and no other options, they decide that killing off Chuck is the last possible way that he can be stopped.
It’s too bad Claire and Jamie didn’t close the door all the way when they snuck off to discuss patricide. It’s unfortunate that Dougal overheard them and accused them of treason and murder (and family betrayal and sluttery and all sorts of terrible other things). It’s tragic that Jamie had to murder his uncle to save his own life and Claire’s, and it’s really bad timing that Angus happened to walk in right when the whole mess happened. There is not one thing about this whole damn war that is fair. Jamie knows it, and when Angus gives him two hours to get his shit together before he turns him in, Jamie frog marches Claire off to the stones at Craig na Dun. The only way he can keep her safe is to send her home to Frank.
It’s a tearful farewell for Claire and Jamie….er, at least it is for Claire. Doesn’t Jamie seem just a bit stoic about this whole saying-goodbye-to-his-wife-forever scenario? Claire cries and begs to stay, but I guess Jamie is just resigned to his fate and will do what he can to at least save Claire. I guess? Sam Heughan has been an absolute dream as Jamie, but sometimes that lopsided smirk of his is a weird character choice. But Jamie isn’t just saving Claire–in all the excitement of war and the marching and being hungry and tired and cold and wet, Jamie noticed that Claire is pregnant again, so now he’s got to save his wife and his unborn child. There’s some kissing and promising and an extremely unsexy (but a little bit tender) love scene, and Claire walks through the stones alone.
But she’s not alone, is she? She’s got her baby, and when the show opens in 1968 that baby is a tall, fiery, brash, 20-year-old Brianna Randall. The meat of the episode is framed in the “present” day, present being the late ’60s, and since we’ve never seen Claire in nearly this modern a setting, everything from here on out is a surprise.
Reverend Wakefield has passed away (as has Frank), and Claire (who looks fabulous as Jackie O.) rekindles her family friendship with his son Roger at the wake. Roger has grown up to be quite the man, and while he doesn’t remember much about Claire he is certainly interested in knowing more about Bree. Convincing the Randall ladies to stay with him rather than drive back to London, Roger and Bree spend the day flirting around the wild Scottish countryside while Bree quizzes him about what her parents were like when he was a kid and what he knew about “the incident” between them. He knows nothing, of course, because he was seven, but they decide to find the answers to none of their business in the Rev’s old boxes of books. They also run into motherfucking Geillis Duncan, although she’s currently Gillian Edgar, head of the Scottish Restoration Movement, and in fairness they don’t know she’s a motherfucker yet.
Claire spends her new alone time exploring a very different Inverness than the one she knew; she hasn’t been here since she came back to Frank, and the two hundred years before that when she was here with Jamie. She finds Lallybroch practically condemned and haunted by the ghosts in her head. When she steels herself to go out to Culloden Moor, she finds that ground is still churned and muddy as if the battle just happened. The field is a graveyard, but instead of headstones for all of the fallen men, there is only one stone per clan, one measly carved rock signifying that every single man of that name lay dead under her feet. She finds the Clan Fraser rock and, treating it as Jamie’s personal headstone, lays everything out for him about her life after him: Brianna, and Frank, her medical degree, every feeling she’s had for the last twenty years. And then finally, she gets to say goodbye.
When everyone reconvenes at the parsonage, Bree confronts Claire about the Reverend’s newspaper clippings she found and the “fairy kidnapping”. She’s done the math, has figured out that Frank isn’t her biological father, and now she’s one pissed off ginger. Claire seizes the opportunity to tell Bree about Jamie, about how she traveled through the stones and was stuck there and found the love of her life. You might be surprised to find out that Bree does not take it well (although it’d be interesting to find out where she thought her red hair came from all these years).
After Bree storms out, Claire finds the Gillian Edgar’s pamphlet that was left behind and starts to do a little math of her own. Geillis had said that she went back in 1968, and traveled through Craig Na Dun, so Claire must be there right before Geillis is about to go through. She could stop her, and keep her from getting burned at the stake! She goes to Gillian’s house to intercept her, and even though Gillian’s not at the house anymore she has left behind several notebooks full of all of her time-traveling notes, which Claire scoops up. Later on, when she gets to peruse them, she finds out just what kind of nutjob Geillis was: human sacrifice, traveling with gemstones, leylines, the works. Well now she has to stop her, if human sacrifice is on the table; but if she does stop her, Geillis won’t have Dougal’s baby and Roger’s MacKenzie heritage ceases before Roger even exists. It seems like quite the dilemma, right? Luckily Roger steps in with a bold plan: let’s just go and see.
All that waffling about should she or shouldn’t she means they got to Craig Na Dun about 5 minutes after the human sacrifice (formerly Mr. Edgars) ended. Gillian/Geillis doesn’t see anyone approach, but Roger, Claire, and Bree round over the crest of the hill just in time to see her disappear between the stones. Into the stones, rather, and Bree realizes just how much apologizing she needs to start doing to Claire over this bombshell. Although as long as bombs are being dropped, Roger has one that’s going to blow their minds. Even though they didn’t believe Claire’s time-traveling, Jamie-loving story, they went ahead and researched one Colonel Fraser and discovered the only thing that could make season three: Jamie didn’t die at Culloden. Jamie could be alive, Claire is standing right there at the stones, and it’s obvious she has to go back.
A ninety-minute final AND amazing retro costumes? The Outlander gods must love us. There was nothing more satisfying than seeing Claire in great clothes again, even without the ruffles and bustles of the Parisian court. She’s gotten a little older and is rocking an amazing grey streak in her hair and some badass winged liner; she looks all the world like Emma Peel got a little older and a little wiser. Brianna is taking the liberation of the 60’s in full stride with drop waist dresses and high waist trousers. It’s interesting even to see her American style looking so brash up against the still conservatively woolen Scots (although every scene with her and Roger looked a little bit like Across the Universe). The juxtaposition is so similar to when she first met Jamie, right? Modern girl and old-fashioned guy, thrown together in bizarre circumstances.
Outlander S2E13 = 7.8/10