Above: Pretty people in the pretty Highlands.
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Recap: OUTLANDER Gives Us Whiplash and Plenty of Emotional Trauma


[All photos courtesy Starz. Unless it’s a meme.]

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Outlander, season 2, episode 13: “Dragonfly in Amber”
Written by Toni Graphia and Matthew B. Roberts
Directed by Philip John

Well, my friends, we’ve made it. We survived Paris and the Duke of Sandringham, only to find ourselves at the end of another season and staring down the jaws of another Droughtlander. It is truly a depressing prospect.

Good thing you have me here to ply you with enough gifs and snark to last till season three!

Jk, nothing can last you all the way to season three. Except the knowledge that you are not alone in your suffering.

Me @ Y’all

Last week:

  • The Frasers and Co wandered into Inverness, wet and bedraggled, and met up with the Jacobite army, also wet and bedraggled and starving.

  • Colum MacKenzie showed up and then died. Dougal was very sad.

  • Jamie tried to prevent the Battle of Culloden by engineering a surprise attack against the Redcoats. This failed because Prince Charles is a disappointment to literally everyone in the universe, including Santa Claus. And me. Especially me.

  • Claire met Mary Hawkins, who had somehow travelled unreasonably quickly to Inverness. Mary was living with Alex Randall and carrying his child. Alex was busy doing his best impression of a consumptive Victorian orphan.

  • Black Jack Randall was also in Inverness, helping support his brother, Alex. Nobody was happy about this.

  • Alex wanted Mary to marry Black Jack, so that she will be secure after Alex dies. Claire is all gung ho for this plan. Nobody else is. Obvs.

  • Jack and Mary got married. Alex died. Nobody was happy about either of these things.



And that brings us up to the finale. I will try my level best to recap this for you all without resorting to all caps gibberish. But don’t get your hopes up.

We open in Scotland, 1968, in the house of our old friend, Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet). A bearded man is standing there, watching TV with some kids. Honestly, I thought I had wandered into an episode of Mad Men, but the lack of chain smoking and rampant sexism assured me otherwise.

It turns out the man is Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin), the adopted son of the Reverend. We last saw him in episode one of season two, being chubby and adorable and four years old.

Now, he’s all grown up and the Reverend has died. Everyone’s come over for the funeral reception. This includes an older Claire Fraser Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her now-grown daughter, Brianna (Sophie Skelton). Brianna has the red hair and no-BS-accepted-here attitude of her 18th century father. Claire now has huge hair. Because 1960s.

this is just so hella '60s, man. (Richard Rankin as Roger Wakefield and Sophia Skelton as Brianna Randall.)
This is just so hella ’60s, man. I can practically smell the polyester. (Richard Rankin as Roger Wakefield and Sophia Skelton as Brianna Randall.)

Claire and Brianna were visiting family down south when they heard of Wakefield’s death, so they traveled up to pay their respects. Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) died a while back, apparently, and Claire has since become a surgeon, because of course she would, because she’s the best around (no one’s ever gonna take her down, etc.). Brianna is a history major at Harvard. Roger insists they stay the night because Brianna is super hot it’s too late for the women to set off.

Later that night, Roger finds Claire indulging in her favorite hobby — drinking whisky. They get to talking and we find out that Roger is actually a MacKenzie by birth. “I used to know quite a few MacKenzies … once upon a time,” Claire says. I burst into tears for the first of several finale-induced crying jags. Roger then asks Claire how she managed to say goodbye to the person she “loved most in the world.” Claire says something, but I CAN’T HEAR IT OVER ME SOBBING.

Cut back to 1746, the morning of the Culloden battle. Our beautiful Jamie (Sam Heughan) appears, trying to talk to Prince Charles (Andrew Gower).

Jamie: Please don’t attack the British. It’s gonna be completely Bad News Bears. Trust me, I know better than you.

Charles: Blah, blah, doing God’s will, blah blah, everything will be fine, blah, blah, mark me!

Me: I loathe you so much in this moment.

Flashback to 1968. Roger takes Brianna out to make out with her give her a tour of the sights. They end up at Fort William, site of such happy times as Jamie’s flogging and Claire’s near-rape.

Good job, Roger.

Claire, meanwhile, drives to the ruins of Lallybroch. As she walks around the now abandoned house, she hears voices reaching out from the past. She sees Jamie standing at the front gate for just a moment. I burst into tears for the second time.

Back in the 18th century, Claire suggests assassinating Prince Charles, which is a plan I get 5,000% behind.

In 1968, Brianna asks Roger if he remembers an “incident” between Frank and Claire, way back when. Roger remembers that Frank destroyed the Reverend’s tool shed. Brianna tells him she found letters between the Reverend and Frank, talking about something serious. This prompts both of them to go looking through the Reverend’s journals for answers.

Claire has driven back to Inverness to look up the history of Lallybroch. We find out that Claire and Jamie passed the property to their nephew, Jenny’s son. It stayed in the Murray family for generations after that. Claire asks the nice records lady to trace Roger’s genealogical record.

That night, Brianna and Claire chat:

Claire: So Roger’s totes into you.

Brianna: Yeah, whatever, Mom. Btw, did you love my dad, Frank?

Claire: What? Yeah, of course. Totally. Mhm. Totally did. Definitely. Absolutely. I am absolutely not lying at all, why would you say that, don’t look at me like that, not lying, YOU’RE LYING.

Brianna: Uhhhhh … okay.

I mean, she had to leave that, sooo how would you feel, Brianna? (Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser.)
I mean, she had to leave that, sooo how would you feel, Brianna? Ignore the eyebrows. they aren’t usually that crazy. (Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser.)

Back in 1746, Claire and Jamie are discussing their plans to poison Prince Charles. Dougal finds them doing so. It is most unfortunate.

And then back to 1968, where Brianna accompanies Roger to the local university, where they’ll go through the Reverend’s journals. While waiting for Roger, she happens upon a Free Scotland speech, given by none other than Gheillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), everyone’s favorite witch/husband murderer! So nice to see her not dead.

Except here, she’s Jillian Edgars, Scottish independence activist. She chats with Brianna and Roger and invites them to her rally. She looks super intense about it. Naturally.

Claire is visiting the Culloden battlefield and museum. She casts mad shade at a wax statue of Prince Charles. She does not punch it in the face, as I would have done. Claire’s classy like that. Instead, she finds the dragonfly in amber that she gave to Jamie right before the battle. I burst into tears for the third time.

Back in 1746, Dougal is finally, really, and truly losing it, as his tenuous connection to rationality floats away in the breeze. He tries to kill both Jamie and Claire. Claire ends up helping Jamie shove a dagger into Dougal’s chest. Just in time for Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) to see. Because this episode wasn’t terrible enough.

1968: Super Sleuths Roger and Brianna are digging through the Reverend’s old journals and books. They find a letter from Frank to the Reverend. Apparently, the Reverend had been researching Black Jack. Frank told the Rev to stop, since he’s just found out that Black Jack is the Devil’s Butthole and who wants to know more about that? No one, that’s who.

Randall and Wakefield, Private Eyes. (Brianna and roger stand in the Wakefield library.)
Randall and Wakefield, Private Eyes.



Jamie: Um, this isn’t what it looks like? Jk, it’s exactly what it looks like. Just … just give me two hours, okay?

Rupert: Omg … just … fine, whatever.

1968: Claire is visiting the Clan Fraser marker on the Culloden battlefield. She ends up staying for hours, telling a long dead Jamie all about her life for the last twenty years. Finally, she says goodbye with a, “rest easy, soldier.” Because Claire clearly has no respect for our feelings whatsoever.

Roger and Brianna are back at the house, having gone full conspiracy theory on the Rev’s records. They find an old newspaper article about Claire being “returned from the fairies” in 1948. Brianna confronts Claire:

Brianna: You had an affair with some other man and Daddy isn’t my father!

Me: Girl, chill. You got no idea of the superior genes flying around your body.

Roger: awkwardly walks in Uhhhhhh …. awkwardly tries to leave

Brianna: No, stay, please! I’m in a mood to be sarcastic and angsty!

Roger: Uuuuuhhhhh, okay? awkwardly dies from awkwardness

Literally Roger.

1746: Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) create a backdated deed, signing Lallybroch over to the nephew before the Uprising. Jamie sends Fergus (Romann Berrux) to deliver it to Lallybroch, thus keeping him out of harm’s way, because Jamie finally listened to me, thank God. Claire tells Fergus that they love him like their own son.

Cue me crying.

1968: Claire has told Roger and Brianna the entire story of her 18th century life. Brianna, rather understandably, doesn’t believe her. Roger intelligently decides to take Brianna for a drink and encourages her to keep an open mind. “How bout we keep an open tab instead,” Brianna quips, proving without a doubt that she is the daughter of famous drinking champions, the Frasers.

Claire, meanwhile, has found Gheillis/Jillian’s independence pamphlet. She heads to Gheillis’ house and meets her husband, Greg (James Robinson), who has clearly been at the bottom of a whisky barrel for awhile. He’s just a sad drunk puppy.

Modern Gheillis became obsessed with Scottish folklore and independence. When her husband wasn’t as keen, she left him and has been spending all of her time with her independence group. Claire tries to be sympathetic, but it’s clear she has bigger fish to fry. She steals one of Gheillis’ notebooks on her way out the door.

Above: Claire

Gheillis herself runs into Brianna and Roger at the pub, where she drops cryptic hints about leaving tonight to “further the cause.” Anybody familiar with Gheillis is immediately concerned.

And for good reason! Claire reads in the journal that Gheillis thinks she needs a human sacrifice to travel through the stones at Cragi Na Duhn. So that’s probably gonna happen. Because Gheillis is just super into killing people, I guess.

1746: Jamie tells Murtagh to gather the Fraser men and lead them back to Lallybroch. Jamie will, of course, stay and fight, because he is a wonderful, self-sacrificing jerk. Murtagh says he’ll take care of the men and come back to stand by Jamie. “I don’t want you dying for nothing,” Jamie says. “I won’t be. I’ll be dying with you,” Murtagh responds WHICH IS JUST SO RUDE, GUYS, YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND EXCEPT THAT YOU DO AND THIS IS THE WORST ALKNFAKWJNERIJDLKASDJ…..

Okay. Okay. I’m here. I’m together. I got this.

1968: Brianna makes a sort of peace with Claire. She wants to hear about her father, but not so much about the him being from the 18th century part. Claire does manage to get across the fact that he was the absolute best and you should really be very grateful that you have half of his DNA, young lady.

Or maybe that was me that said that. Things became kind of fuzzy at that point.

Claire talks to Brianna and Roger about Gheillis heading out of town. Claire realizes that Gheillis is trying to go through the stones and wants to stop her from going back in time and dying in a witch fire.

Except she can’t. Because Roger’s ancestor was actually Gheillis and Dougal’s illegitimate child. So Roger’s ancestor is Gheillis. Who is alive in 1968. So Roger talked to his seven-times-great-grandmother.

Roger convinces the ladies to go stop Gheillis. Claire doesn’t want to, because she’s worried that Roger will never be born. Roger rationally points out that of course he’ll be born, because he’s standing right in front of her. I am immensely grateful to Roger for his sanity. If only we had him back in Paris ….

1746: Jamie insists that Claire return to the 20th century, because he knows that she’s pregnant. How does he know this? He’s been keeping track of her periods and knows she’s missed two months, so of course she’s in the family way. (I feel beholden to point out that meager rations and the stress of an impending war can mess with your cycle, but also Jamie’s been tracking her periods whaaaaaaat?)

Everybody knows that tracking your beloved's periods is the sign of true devotion.
Everybody knows that tracking your beloved’s periods is the sign of true devotion.

1968: Claire, Brianna, and Roger arrive at the stones to find that Gheillis has murdered her sad drunk puppy husband and is burning his corpse as a human sacrifice. And really, nobody is very surprised. (That woman really shouldn’t be allowed to have husbands. Like, seriously, what the hell?)

Claire tries to stop Gheillis, but it’s too late. She’s disappeared. Literally. Roger and Brianna are understandably confused. They both mention that they can hear loud buzzing from the stones.

1746: Jamie and Claire arrive at the stones. Jamie delivers an amazingly romantic and dashing speech about his love for Claire and that he’ll come find her in the future. I can’t go too much into it because A) I will never be able to do it justice and B) I’d start helplessly hiccup-sobbing again.

Jamie and Claire have one last shag sesh before he holds her close and sends her back to the future, with the guns of Culloden rumbling in the distance.

It is highly upsetting and I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS SHOW ANYMORE, YOU GUYS.

1968: Having seen a husband-killing witch lady disappear in front of her, Brianna is now a full on time travel believer. Which is cool. Maybe now she’ll start to be properly grateful that she has the blood of Jamie Fraser in her veins. “No more lies,” she says, “From now on, I only what the truth between you and me, all right?” Which is exactly what Jamie said, way back when. “Parallels,” I whisper to myself, like a completely sane person who has not just been emotionally compromised by a television show.


Roger comes back from calling the police. This being Highland Scotland, it’ll take awhile for them to arrive. Roger and Brianna give Claire a piece of research that the Rev found. It says that after Culloden, a batch of Frasers escaped the battle. Four of them were later killed. But one got away. His name? James Fraser.

Which means that Jamie didn’t die at Culloden. Which means that Claire can go back through the stones and find him! And also that we don’t have to huddle together in a cave and mourn forever like creepy cult! Yay!

Pros of this episode:

  • Jamie did not die at Culloden. I repeat, JAMIE DID NOT DIE AT CULLODEN. This is a Very Good Thing.

  • Jamie understood that Fergus is a precious, precious child and must be protected at all costs. He sent him to as much safety as there was in 1746 Highland Scotland. Good job, Jamie. Jamie is now the captain of club Protect Fergus 2k16.

  • Roger and Brianna both heard the stones buzzing. Which means they could both travel back in time with Claire at some point.

  • Several moving and romantic speeches from Jamie. Seriously, it was amazing. Like, I might make my future husband use that last one as his wedding vow. I don’t care if he’s never seen the show. He’ll do it. With a Scottish accent. Maybe also a red wig.

  • It was really fun to see past (future?) Gheillis. Apparently, she’s always been bat sh*t crazy and I love it. Except the whole part where she murdered and torched her husband. I don’t think he deserved that.

  • Apart from the brief period where she did not understand the blessing of her parentage, Brianna was pretty cool. I’d be interested to see more of her.

  • Roger is an awkward cutie. Because Alex is dead, Roger is hereby promoted to Head Awkward Cutie.

  • Roger and Brianna going Team Super Slueth. They are adorable and they need a couple name. Rogianna? Broger? Broger. They are Broger now.

Broger, finding dead, on-fire bodies with Claire. As you do.
Broger, finding dead, on-fire bodies with Claire. As you do.

Cons of this episode:

  • While I liked seeing plot happen in both 1746 and 1968, the transitions were often very rapid and choppy, so the format only partially worked. It did help lend a sense of urgency to the 1746 plotline. I could really feel that Jamie and Claire are in near-panic mode, desperately trying to keep it together in the face of their personal Armageddon. On the other hand, the episode flipped very rapidly between time periods for awhile. This made it difficult to follow the action and to get really invested in what was happening before the show changed tacts. To be fair, I may have had occasional trouble following along because of the loud wailing coming from my mouth.


  • Jamie was tracking Claire’s periods??? That’s not a con, really, but I just have to point it out, because it was the single most wtf moment of the episode. Maybe the season. Like. Wut?

  • No word on whether Black Jack is dead yet. Since he’s the Devil’s Butthole, he’s probably alive. I did try to climb through the tv to murder him, but I couldn’t because of the laws of physics and rational thought. Very disappointing.

  • Though we know Jamie got away from the battle, nothing was said about Murtagh’s fate. And if he is dead, then WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT ANYMORE?

  • The episode is over, which means the season is over, which means that I must now drift aimlessly in the void of television hiatus until the Frasers return.

Well, I think that about does it for the finale. Be sure to come back next week to hear my ridiculous babbling intelligent analysis of the season as a whole and a round up of what we know about season three so far!

Or distract yourself from the Droughtlander downer by reading our previous Outlander coverage.

And follow the official Outlander website and Facebook for news, clips, and behind-the-scenes fun.


2 thoughts on “Recap: OUTLANDER Gives Us Whiplash and Plenty of Emotional Trauma

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad I can help you survive the harrowing experience that was the finale. What did you think of the episode?


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