The Ridge is not currently the Happiest Place on Earth. But I find it amazing how so much tragedy and loss can move me to tears, so quickly and so often! This episode of Outlander, which must be ironically titled, was one of the best of the series. I definitely appreciate the writers keeping the Disneyland reference, and so much of the dialogue, from Diana’s books – she herself is a Disney fan (she has said that when she finishes writing a book, she buys new towels and goes to Disneyland) – there’s absolutely no surpassing the master. But why group so much sorrow into one episode? Because they wanted to knock us completely down, have us sobbing on the floor clutching our now empty boxes of tissues….. and celebrate why we love Outlander in the first place.
Oh, that first scene!!! Alan’s confession – horrifying, disgusting – but SO huge!! Alex Vlahos has always been terrific as Alan – scheming and weak. What an opener to the episode. I could have done without the snippet of Alan raping his sister, but seeing her face, dissociated from what was happening to her… I never thought of Malva as evil – she was a victim in so many ways. Women then had no autonomy. They were a possession, to be dominated and beaten, and yes, raped, if the men around them decided so. What could she have done? She could not have told everyone what Alan was doing to her, because that would just as surely result in her being treated as a whore. But in the end, Alan tells us, she wanted to do the right thing and talk to the only person who treated her as human, even though she had wounded that person – Claire – as badly as if she had shot one of Ian’s arrows. And every bit of that emotion, totally twisted through Alan, came through in those minutes.
Seeing Ian stride into the garden after killing him, a bit of a swagger – Ian has changed so much. He’s become harder, with none of the wide-eyed boy that left Lallybroch for Edinburgh left. No, he didn’t have to kill Alan, but I have no doubt that he won’t waste a tear of regret after doing it either. John Bell just continues to grow in this role!
We get a bit of a joyous reprieve with the birth of tiny Mandy (Roger tells Bree her name is Amanda, “she who is loved,” how wonderful is that!). After being cheated out of seeing Jamie at Jemmy’s birth, we get just a little bit back with him showing a new colt to the tiny baby, and with Claire showing her surgery.
But even that is ripped away by the revelation that Mandy has a heart problem that Claire can’t repair, setting everyone up for the Mackenzie’s second try to leave the Ridge by going, once again, through the stones. At least this wasn’t a protracted leaving scene, saying goodbye to everyone. They’ve already done that. But look, there’s a pregnant Lizzie, reading the notice that unseen Fergus put about Mandy’s birth in his newspaper…. I’m glad they haven’t forgotten their names, even if we’re not going to see them onscreen.
There were, though, so many beautiful moments in their goodbyes – Jamie sitting with Brianna among the fireflies was my favorite. This is not only because of their discussion about Disneyland – and full disclosure, I am a Disney addict and an annual passholder at Disney World, but my friends and I have been known to say “and if you happen to meet a large mouse named Michael…”
It’s this place where stories come to life. They say it’s for children, but really it’s for the child in everyone. Mama and Daddy would take me there every summer. The trees would all have these little lights in them. Like fireflies. It was magical. You’d hear music everywhere. You could go up and shake hands with Mickey Mouse.
And when Jamie asks her “Was it disappointing here, in this place, in this time?”, she answers, with such love for her father, “No, not at all. You were magical to me.” And… I lost it.
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) June 8, 2023
Claire’s loss is doubled – she’s left Brianna once, and knows the impossible task she has ahead of her, but it’s doubled, even tripled, watching her beloved grandchildren go.
And one more beautiful line, so perfectly delivered by Sam, as Jamie watched the daughter he had longed for and finally had leave him forever, he believes:
For your sake, I will continue. But for mine alone, I would not.
This one got to me more than the others – Lord John giving Jamie back the sapphire for Brianna and her family to use. The looks on their faces – John’s, longing, love, years of suppressed emotion; and Jamie’s, regret and understanding. “I’ve kept it with me for the last 20 years,” John tells Jamie. “Take it, for Brianna. You said you took it from the island all those years ago because it might be of use to you someday. Perhaps… this is someday.” There’s a bond between the two men that goes beyond John caring for Jamie’s son as he would his own, and both Sam Heughan and David Berry perfectly convey the emotions that grow so large they could blow out the windows.
And William!! We finally have an adult William Ransom, Lord Ellesmere, and Brianna is able to meet her brother. For Jamie, seeing William is his own heartbreak – not able to claim him as his son, worrying about facing each other over the barrel of a gun…
always a pleasure pic.twitter.com/q9EOvTX8E1
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) June 21, 2023
But Love Conquers Some
After all of that, we were given a beautiful moment between Jamie and Claire. Diana has said over and over that Jamie can’t “travel” (in fact, she told me that in the first interview I did with her, in 2014, cutting me off when I asked how Jamie would react to modern life). And yet – he has visions, of the people he loves, and somehow actually sees – not just dreams – of them far into the future.
And Back To It – Heartbreak 4
You knew it would come back to bite someone in the butt, didn’t you? This is why Roger should have made sure that Donner was gone. Gone for good, not able to come back and cause more trouble. Because here he is, still looking to get back to his own time – but now, not so nice about it. And he’s brought “friends,” though, as the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies.
Meddling with time has its consequences – inventions out of place are not necessarily the boon they were designed to be. The “friends” ransack the house, looking for anything they can sell, but – what’s this? Gold? Where did that come from, whose is it, and (if you’ve read the books, you know already) why is it there? Why are Mr. and Mrs. Bug claiming it? In this instant, though, when the gold isn’t good enough, and the ether jar has been knocked to the floor – the story – and the house – all go BOOM! So – who is alive? Who survives?
If you don’t already know the significance of what you’ve just seen, you can spend the next week ransacking your memories for clues. The writers have very cleverly left clues throughout the last couple of seasons. With next week’s review, I’ll have some extras for you that will help – sorry – illuminate the mystery of the gold!
Be sure to join us for The Outlander Gab, live on Instagram, when Sam Kraupner and I will discuss this episode, events, Outlander news, and more! Monday nights, 9 pm eastern/8 central, at instagram.com/OutlandishlyTIBS! You can even chat with us, live on air!
Comment below – what did you love about this week’s episode? How many boxes of tissues did you go through? (Writers love comments – I’d be thrilled to have to leave a response even if you disagree with me!)
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