Outlander just wrapped its second season. It’s a good things the series has been renewed for another two seasons, or the fans would be rioting in the streets given the ending cliffhanger.
“Sing me a song of a lass who is gone. Say, could that lass be I?…All that was good, all that was fair, all that was me is gone.” In tonight’s Outlander, Bear McCreary’s haunting lyrics have never rung more true. In a departure from the series’ usual linear structure, the narrative switched between the hours leading up to the Jacobite defeat at Culloden, and Claire’s life twenty years after returning through the stones.
We all knew, after Claire’s (Catriona Balfe’s) horrific cries during the season opener that we were leading to Claire’s return to the 20th century where history was not changed. Now we know the personal cost of Claire’s bargain with Frank. Twenty years after promising Frank that she would not go looking for ghosts, and allowing Frank to raise Jamie’s child as his own, has left Claire in a shell of her former self.
Claire is a successful surgeon, who is poised, and independent. She’s managed to provide stability for her daughter, Brianna, now that Frank is dead. On the other hand, she’s never been emotionally whole having lost the love of her life, and having been unable to share Jamie’s memory with their daughter. Her relationship with Brianna is strained at best due to the wall that Claire has built around her heart.
The physical and psychological turmoil of the hours before the Battle of Culloden in 1745 is mirrored in 1968 at the late Reverend Wakefield’s house. History will change, and lives will be altered by every step taken and decision made.
In 1745, despite Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire’s best efforts, history has remained unchanged. All that is left, as far as Jamie is concerned, is to send Claire back to the 20th century where Frank can protect her and the unborn child it is revealed that she is carrying. Claire has other ideas. What if instead, they kill Prince Charles? If there is no prince there is no rebellion. It’s actually a solid, if not cold-blooded idea. They could kill one man to save the life of 10,000. The only problem, aside from the moral quandary, is that Dugal overhears.
Dugal (Graham McTavish) wants to kill Claire claiming she’s bewitched Jamie. It doesn’t matter, Jamie will not let Dugal near Claire. The result is a fight to the death where Jamie and Claire equally strike the deathblow. They will both have the demise of Dugal on their conscience. Alas, they will have to deal with this shared guilt apart as Rupert has witnessed what took place. Rupert agrees to let Jamie get Claire to safety before Jamie returns to account for his crime. Although Rupert may think there will be a trial, Jamie knows he’ll return to a battle where there will be no survivors.
Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh (Duncan LaCroix) know that Cumberland’s forces will decimate the Highland clans in a matter of hours. The only thing they can do is hope to mitigate the fallout. Jamie makes plans to have his men sneak back to Lallybroch before the battle. If they are fortunate, they will escape the initial battle, and perhaps survive the ethnic cleansing of the Highlands that Claire knows is to come. Murtagh, however, will return to fight alongside Jamie. He will keep the promise he made to Jamie’s mother long ago to watch over her son to the death.
Plans are now set in motion. In a heartbreaking moment, Jamie and Claire send Fergus off on a mission aimed at not only saving the Lallybroch estate, but also aimed at saving Fergus’ life. Jamie signs over a backdated deed to the Lallybroch estate to Ian and Jenny’s son Jamie. As a child, young Jamie could never be assumed to be a combatant; therefore, his property would not be subject to seizure by the crown. Though Jamie and Claire lost their biological child, Faith, in Paris, they gained an adopted one in Fergus. As they say a tearful goodbye, they verbalize what we’ve come to see over the past episodes. Fergus is their son in every way that counts, biology be damned.
After a goodbye that will exhaust half a box of Kleenex, Jamie sends Claire back. We don’t know the details of Jamie’s fate, but given the annals of history, Claire assumes he is buried on Culloden in a mass grave with other clansmen.
Meanwhile, back in 1968, Claire has kept her bargain. She and Frank have raised Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, as their own. Brianna is a Harvard history major who looks just like Jamie, and who has his fiery spirit. They find themselves back in Scotland as a detour in a previously planned trip to England. They are in Scotland because they are attending the wake of Reverend Wakefield.
Claire and Brianna encounter a now grown up Roger who himself is an Oxford historian. Bree and Roger hit it off right away, and together they explore places crucial to Jamie’s history unbeknownst to either of them. Claire too goes down memory lane visiting the ruins of Lallybroch and the Culloden battlefield. Claire even finds the deed to Lallybroch that she signed at the local history center. Claire might have finally been able to bury the ghost of Jamie Fraser, and opened up emotionally had not Brianna burst in with an announcement.
Brianna mentioned to Roger how she stumbled upon some secret or scandal involving her parents when they last stayed in Scotland. Though Roger warns Bree that she may not want the truth, she says she needs to know no matter what. After digging through the Reverend Wakefield’s old journals Bree finds the truth about her parentage, and confronts Claire.
Claire tells her story which Bree disbelieves, but Roger isn’t so certain. Regardless neither has the same faith that Jamie did. They need to see with their own eyes to fully believe. Coincidentally, there is a way for this first-hand witnessing to take place. Gillan Anders, A.K.A., Gellis Duncan is there in 1968 just as she told Claire back in Crane’s Muir.
Bree, Roger, and Claire all research Gellis in different ways. Bree and Roger just see her as a passionate member of the Scottish Nationalists. Claire, on the other hand, knows the extremes to which Gellis will go. Claire reads Gellis journal and discovers that Gellis thinks human sacrifice and gemstones are needed to travel. When Roger tells Claire that Gellis is leaving town, Claire blurts out that they have to stop her, though this may have dire consequences. If they stop her, they’ll save her from being burned at the stake. If they don’t Roger, who is her descendant, may not exist.
Upon arriving at Craigh na Dun, two things happen. Bree, Roger, and Claire can all hear the buzzing of the standing stones. Presumably, Bree has inherited Claire’s ability to travel, and Roger has inherited Gellis’s ability. Additionally, they all see Gellis, who has sacrificed her husband, leap through the stones. In a callback moment to season one where Gellis talks about being burned alive, Roger echos her words that it smells like, “a fucking barbecue.” No one has any lingering doubts. Claire’s tale is now fully believed.
As the three of them await the authorities, Roger reveals something he found going through the reverend’s papers. According to historical research that the reverend did at the behest of Frank Randall, a Fraser officer did survive the Battle of Culloden. This officer was wounded, but survived, and by process of elimination they know that this officer was Jamie.
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 10, 2016
Only one things remains, assuming Jamie Fraser survived his wounds, where is he 20 years later? can they track him through history? If they can, do all or some of them attempt to go back in time to find him? These questions and more to be answered in seasons 3 and 4 of Outlander.