[for the sake of cohesion, I’m not writing this scene by scene as I normally do]
“Children accept the world as it is presented to them”. Reverend Wakefield’s words couldn’t be more true. Brianna only knows Frank as her father. As she describes him to Roger I can’t help but think, Huh?? But that’s Bree’s reality. However, for someone who seems to love her dad, she’s asking an awful lot of questions regarding who he was and what he was like. Because she knows there’s a back story to her parents’ marriage. And for some reason, she only wants to learn of it after Frank is gone. Because of his temper? Because sometimes after death we idolize someone and don’t want to face the fact that they weren’t as perfect as we’d like to remember? I love the references she makes about her mum “living in another world”, “she’s insane”. It lead me to think that Claire has never been 100% present in Bree’s world. That a part of her, for the past 20 years, has been somewhat cut off at times, when she may have allowed herself to turn inward and return to Jamie in her mind. She may never have spoken of him, like she promised Frank, but Frank couldn’t control her thoughts.
Bree is sensitive, argumentative, ready to battle her mother at every turn. That could be grief talking. Or young adulthood. Because Bree is at a point in her life where she notices relationships, and how they work. What she may want in one, or doesn’t want. And because she knows there’s an “incident” in her parents’ marriage, the curiosity is killing her. She’s desperately trying to make sense of it. And we witness for ourselves how she tries to talk to her mother about it, but Claire shuts it down.
I love how she is with Roger. It’s the 60s, and she’s forward and blatantly teasing/flirting/interested in Roger and giving him lots to think about.
Older Claire. The voice tone is different, measured, controlled. This Claire doesn’t put her foot in her mouth. This Claire thinks before she speaks. I love the conversation between her and Roger in front of the fire. He’s asking how you say goodbye, thinking she’s talking about Frank, when in fact, we all know she’s talking about Jamie.
At first, I found the transitions between the 1960s and the 1700s very jarring. I didn’t like it. It was too harsh. But after a while I realized that it very much mirrored Claire. Her present life is having to face the harshness of her past life. And she doesn’t mourn her recently passed husband, but her long dead husband. Which is why the trip to Lallybroch broke our hearts. When she is faced with her happiest memories and she sits on those stairs and pictures Jamie, her Highlander, Laird of Lallybroch, he isn’t looking as she last saw him, but as he is in her mind. Strong. Tall. Handsome. God, one might even say, Majestic. She feels him on her lips and closes her eyes in remembrance of all she wanted. And had to live without. And we see the crack. The very small fissure in a very tough exterior that is Dr. Claire Randall. And then, she visibly pulls herself back together again. That’s how she’s done it. That’s how she’s lived for 20 years and managed half a life.
And when Claire is on Culloden Moor and the woman asks if she’s a Fraser, Claire says, “Yes. I am.” and gives a small smile. Because now she can finally claim her true identity. She can freely call herself Claire Fraser. And she can finally speak to Jamie and of Jamie at the same time. Through Brianna. Brianna IS Jamie to her, in looks and manners. She could always share everything with Jamie, and he would listen. And she does, again. And only when she’s come back to him to tell him that he was right, and Brianna is alive, can she say goodbye. Their story wasn’t finished until she could tell him he had a daughter. And now both soldiers, she and Jamie, can rest easy.
When she’s back in Inverness leaning against the car, it echos the very first time she’s in Scotland. Dreaming of vases and settling down. That Claire, on that trip, was cute and bouncy and happy. This Claire is serious and melancholy and guarded. Which war did more damage? History may say it was WWII but not for Claire. Culloden changed her forever.
Did anyone else catch the parallels in Brianna and Claire’s confrontation? Because in this moment, Bree is Frank. And Claire is repeating the same speech she gave Frank when she returned, speaking of another man that she loved deeply. But Bree is also Jamie, because she wants honesty, where Frank really didn’t want the story at all. Brianna states that Claire isn’t perfect, just as Frank declares that she is not the Virgin Mary, and they both accuse her of being fucked by someone else. And once again, Claire reiterates it was all so much more. In the face of their anger, she will not diminish who and what Jamie is to her. Claire tells Bree that she didn’t want to fall in love, that she fought it, yet it was the most powerful thing she’d ever felt in her life.
Also, when Bree talks about “every other bored housewife” did anyone else think she was referring to Frank’s affairs? Because I sure did.
And when we flip back to Culloden we see a very desperate Claire. A reactionary Claire. The direct opposite of the Claire we’ve just seen in the 60s. And it’s a different Jamie. Flashback to Jamie back in Paris telling Murtagh he would never stoop to regicide, but now, NOW he’s looking at Claire considering her plan. We see how Culloden has changed and shaped Jamie as well. Jamie is cold and tired and really, really gaunt. (Well done, Mr. Heughan. I believe you are as weak as you say you are.) And he is 100% done with Bonnie Prince Wackadoodle thinking he’s Jesus Christ. This is why Jamie can entertain Claire’s plan. Because the Prince is quite clearly, out of his mind. It’s changed him enough that he’ll commit murder. And he does. To protect Claire. To protect Scotland. It’s just not the murder he expected to commit. But in order to move forward in this desperate attempt, one more obstacle has to be overcome. And in the midst of battling Dougal the look on his face says, “don’t make me do this, Uncle”. And when Claire joins in, the sheer horror on both their faces gave me chills.
When it’s time to leave the camp, we finally see the depth of Claire’s love for the first time. She begs Jamie to run away with her. She begs him to let her stay and die with him. Jamie accepts his fate, but Claire will not. Until they speak of the child. And in the middle of this turmoil we have Jamie’s small smile, and Claire’s in return as they share this beautiful secret. And as Jamie once told her that she was his home, she tells him that now. And she tries to argue, but you see Claire give way to obedience. Remember (as I’ve mentioned before) when Claire promised Jamie before he punished her, that she would do what he said, even if she didn’t agree with it? (Ep. 109) Claire proves yet again that she loves and respects Jamie. Jamie never demanded her obedience. It was Claire’s to give freely.
The Stones. My God, the Stones. The reversal of roles. When Jamie stops Claire from going through the first time because he isn’t ready, she does so now. And again, Jamie gives Claire choices. He lets her decide how to tell Frank. In some small way he probably expects Frank to believe it, because he believed it. He doesn’t doubt Claire. He trusts her implicitly. Claire knows Frank is different. But how can Jamie conceive of someone who doesn’t literally worship Claire like he does? Claire begs and it’s heartbreaking. Claire Beauchamp hasn’t begged once. Not once. Except now. And as Jamie lists his crimes you can tell in his voice he regrets none of it. Because it’s been for Claire. And as he tells her he will stand before God, and punctuates his sentence with kisses, you can hear in his voice all the love he feels for her, and you can hear his desire for her rising. When he takes her to the ground it echoes the moment in the glade when he says, “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” Because for Jamie it never stops. Never. And he’ll have his wife before she goes. And as the cannons distract him, he nods at Claire but this time she doesn’t nod back. She doesn’t. And won’t. Because in this they are not Team Fraser. Instead of repeating the vow “Blood of my Blood” as she did on her wedding day, Claire initiates it. And they stare and memorize each other’s faces as Jamie walks Claire back to the stones. Her “I love yous” are so much more passionate than the first one she said at Lallybroch, so long ago. And Jamie is so moved by it. And the fact that he keeps nodding and she won’t respond is breaking my heart. Claire will not lie. She will not give him any indication that this is okay with her, because it’s not. Honesty pledged is honesty honoured. Jamie’s voice breaking on her name, it’s too much. I can’t even see through my tears to type this stupid sentence…
Finally, when Brianna accepts her mother’s word, and echoes Jamie’s words of “I believe you. I don’t understand it, but I believe you” Claire cannot contain herself. Bree’s acceptance plays beautifully across her face. Then, when she asks for honesty, it’s more than Claire could hope for. Jamie’s daughter, indeed. And as gotham-ruaidh so eloquently reminded me, the sun breaks over Craig Na Dun in the form of Jamie Fraser. “…and the sun came out, in the person of James.”– Outlander, “A Marriage Takes Place”
Richard Rankin does an amazing job of showing us how Roger is hit by the lightening bolt that is Brianna Randall.
Gonna go all shouty caps here and say THE TRANSITION FROM BRIANNA SLEEPING TO JAMIE GAVE ME CHILLS. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
I like Geillis in this episode. I like seeing her past. And I like how it won’t clog up Voyager and take time away from the scene we will be waiting for. And I LOVE, “Why are you here?” And did anyone else catch the hesitation in Geillis after Roger introduces himself??? Ah, time travel. How do you work?
Murtagh’s bow to Fergus. Perfection. Fergus’ nod to Jamie. And Jamie’s nod back. Frasers. Family. And Murtagh, Godfather until the end. His promise to Ellen, to watch over Jamie. Even if it means dying together.
Fucking barbeque. Fucking barbeque???? Nicely played.
I’m gonna say it again. Dragonfly in Amber is a beast of a book to get through. And the writers did an amazing job of cutting it down into manageable pieces and making it coherent. However, I’m excited for the new writers next season and what they may bring to the table.
But I want to end by saying that the cast was stellar this year. Extraordinary. Sam Heughan’s acting is nuanced but the way he uses his voice as a tool is outstanding. He delivers lines like no other.
But Caitriona Balfe stole every damn scene she was in this year. Every. Scene. She was beyond amazing. I love her Claire so much more than book Claire. We really are lucky to have them.