Season 2 is over, and like Claire, we reluctantly say goodbye. There has been so much packed into these short episodes that it’s really felt like more than 13 hours; but they flew by so quickly that I can’t believe I saw the first one three months ago in New York! And now we’re adrift again, awaiting all the little bits and pieces – casting info, Matt’s POTDs, promo pictures – for Voyager.
Was this a perfect episode? No. But it was, on the whole, a very, very good one. We FINALLY met Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton in their new important roles. We saw the return of Geillis Duncan, and met the person she was before the stones. And we saw Jamie and Claire’s dreaded parting, closing the loop started with Episode 201, which opened just seconds after the events of 213 ended.
Let’s talk about Roger and Bree for a moment. I had never seen Rik Rankin in anything else (heresy, I know, and I hope to rectify my error), so I had no prejudgment about his ability to fill the role, other than seeing that he didn’t “look” like “my” Roger – who is honestly one of my absolute favorite characters in this series. But as casting for this show has generally been excellent, especially if those physical characteristics that are important and repeated in the books can be ignored, I trusted that the production would once again get it right. And while Season 3 will bring an absolute confirmation of this, I thought Rik was terrific. He had the hesitation and slight awkwardness of a bookworm, but the confidence of a man of decision and strength. He’ll need all of it to get through the trials Roger will face! Ha, and I loved the look Fiona gave Bree.
Sophie Skelton will take a while to grow on me, however. Putting aside the height issue – would have been nice, wasn’t necessary – I’m didn’t feel the presence that I think this character requires. But she does have attitude, a definite Bree trait, and I liked her and Rik together. I’m not horribly picky on accents – ye’ll do, lass. Again, we’ll see how she inhabits the role in Season 3! And it’s important to keep in mind that we, the fandom, have no say in it. Take it or leave it – so it behooves us to remain optimistic.
One of my favorite things about this series in general (among a huge list) is the gorgeous location shooting. The shots of Bree and Roger driving through this “beautiful wild country” were breathtaking.
And the stop at Fort William, with the look at the platform where Jamie was flogged, was spare and emotional, not needing anything other than that wooden structure to evoke those horrible images.
In general, the 1960s portion of the episode was excellent. I can’t say I’m sold on the major change here – that the trip to Scotland was unplanned, and the reveal to Brianna was not Claire’s idea. Even Frank had said “while I’m alive,” never say Jamie’s name – I can’t believe Claire could possibly have intended to keep Bree’s father a secret from her forever. But it was handled well, it made enough sense, and by the fourth time I watched the episode, I was ok with it. There was a lot of important information to fit into even this expanded episode, and it helped streamline the story a bit. Caitriona looked wonderful made up to be 20 years older – I know there had been some concern about “aging up” our stars for the seasons to come, but she was believable as being in her late 40s (although her gray streak was a little more, a little less…)
Meeting Gillian Edgars (soon to be Geillis) was a terrific addition. We got to see her obsession, rather than just hear about it. She had that bit of a manic look about her, a touch of crazy, especially when she roused the crowd with “I am Bonnie Prince Charlie! You are Bonnie Prince Charlie! WE ARE BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE!” I liked the way the writers referred back to previous scenes – when Gillian asked Bree, “Why are you here?”, you could remember her asking Claire the same thing.
And, of course, the best reference of the night was on the hill at Craigh na Dun, with Roger noting that the burning Greg Edgars smelled like a “fucking barbeque.”
But one detail needed a callback that never came. One of the items you can see in Gillian’s notebook is that certain gemstones may help the passage through the stone. This ties into one of the problems I had with the story. In Episode 201, the first scene is of Claire searching frantically and then finding something she brought with her when she came back through, which turns out to be a ring that looks damaged. The ring hasn’t been mentioned any other time during the season, until tonight. This was a bit confusing, because all season, Jamie is wearing a signet pinky ring – which doesn’t seem to be the ring Claire looks for – so it must have been just a costume piece. Just before he sends her back, though, he pulls a ring from his sporran. “This belonged to my father. Give it to the bairn when he’s old enough,” he tells her. So this is a significant item – and we get no connection back to the 1960s. “Your father wanted you to have this,” she could have said to Bree. Or as she reads about the gemstones in Gillian’s notebook, if she pulled the ring out of her purse, and silently looked at the missing ruby (we would understand that this ring helped her through), it would have tied the present with the past. Of course, I could be getting ahead of myself and we’ll see this in Season 3…
Claire’s pilgrimages were sad and beautiful. Her visit to Lallybroch was heartbreaking. The shot with Jamie standing under the arch made me tear up. Sitting in probably the only place they had been truly happy during their short time together, I’m sure she wondered what would have happened had they been able to stay there, Lord and Lady Broch Tuarach, raising their children, seeing Jenny and Ian’s children grow.
And then visiting the Clan Fraser stone at Culloden, she unburdens herself to the place she believes her beloved rests. “Jamie, I was angry at you. For such a long time. You made me go live a life that I didn’t want to live. But you were right, damn you. Brianna was safe, and loved, and raised well. But sometimes when she turns and the light catches her red hair, or I see her smile in her sleep, it takes me breath away because I see you. That day at Craigh na Dun, there was one thing I didn’t say, couldn’t. I haven’t for 20 years. But I’m here and now it’s time. Goodbye, Jamie Fraser. My love. Rest easy, soldier.”
The 1740s scenes could have used another half hour, don’t you think? Everything felt rushed. The only acknowledgement of Colum’s death was Jamie’s concern that suicide is a mortal sin. Other than men rushing here and there, and Jamie’s desperate and futile attempt to get the Prince to listen to him, there wasn’t enough … of anything. Murtagh continued to be quietly wonderful and loyal. Again, I teared up when he told Jamie he’d gather the Lallybroch men and direct them home, but then return to fight at Jamie’s side. “I’ll not have you dying for nothing,” Jamie insists. “I won’t be. I’ll be dying with you.” To Murtagh, that’s his role – to be by Jamie’s side, no matter what. And his bow to Fergus, directed to stop at nothing to deliver the deed of sasine to Jenny, showed his respect to the young man who had proved himself just as loyal to his Milord.
Who could blame Dougal for his reaction upon hearing Claire and Jamie planning to kill Prince Charles? To them, this would be a last-ditch solution (although I sincerely doubt it would have the effect they want – I would think that the loyal generals would insist on fighting anyway, to support their Prince’s goals and restore James to the throne); to Dougal, it was “foul murder.” And Claire hitting him over the head with the box was a callback to when she knocked him on the head with the stool in the castle hallway, but not quite as effective.
But, oh, the place where I needed more time was certainly when Jamie brought Claire back up to the stones. Of course, they didn’t have time, with the way the show’s story had been written (if you haven’t read the books, the goodbye stretched over a night in the cottage we saw in The Devil’s Mark in Season 1). So the leave-taking was rushed. Their final lovemaking was rushed, more frantic than end-of-time-passionate. You could see that they had more words in their hearts than minutes left to say them.
Both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe were very powerful in this scene – dreams unrealized, hearts broken, thoughts unexpressed passed over both their expressive faces. I’ve always felt that Sam has had a beautifully mobile face – you could see that he already knew his body would die in minutes, but his heart had already gone. “This child, this one, is all that will be left of me, ever. You promised me that if it came to this, you would go back through the stones, back home,” he tells Claire. “But you are my home,” she protests. “You are mine. But this war is lost. You and the bairn must go to a man – a man that could care for you both. Tell him what you will, about me. About us. Likely he’ll no want to hear. But if he does, tell him I’m grateful. Tell him I trust him. Tell him I hate him to the very marrow of my bones… Even if I could go back through the stones, it’s not my place.
My destiny lies on Culloden Moor. If I have to endure 200 years of purgatory, 200 years without you, then that is the punishment I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, killed, stolen, betrayed and broken trust. But when I stand before God, I’ll have one thing to say to weigh against all the rest. Lord, you gave me a rare woman. And God, I loved her well.
I would have loved it if the episode ended there. The final scene, where Roger and Bree tell Claire that they believe Jamie didn’t die at Culloden, and Claire says, “You know what this means… I have to go back!” was over the top, with the sun rising in her eyes, the color becoming brighter, the music coming up… Yes, Jamie is Claire’s sun, and always will be, and the colors the episode was shot in – muted browns and blues, were reminiscent of the 1940s scenes in the show’s first episode, pre-Jamie, but the symbolism was overt instead of subtle. Claire had a Scarlett O’Hara look (fortunately not the same sentiment). Rather than giving me hope for Season 3, it dampened the emotion from the previous scene, pulling me out of the heartbreak I wanted to wallow in for just a little longer. Even if you haven’t read the books, you must know that if Jamie and Claire aren’t together, there is no story – and so we must see them reunite. Just don’t push it at us yet. We’re not over the heartbreak.
Look for the winners of my poetry contest and all the poems that were entered, coming soon!
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