Welcome to our recap of the season 2 finale of Outlander! This episode was chock-full of flashbacks and flash-forwards, so hang on to your hats.
We open in 1968 Inverness. Roger Wakefield has returned from Oxford to preside over his father – the Reverend Wakefield’s – funeral. As he gives a heartbroken toast on the Rev’s behalf, Claire is standing in the back. She is stunning in a long sixties bob, streaked with grey. Roger notices Brianna from across the room and is obviously, awkwardly smitten with her. Claire reminds him who she is – Roger hasn’t seen her since he was a boy of seven or eight.
“I hear it’s a beautiful, wild country.”
Claire is now a surgeon in Boston. Brianna is a history major at Harvard. Roger is a History professor at Oxford. The Reverend’s longtime housemaid Mrs. Graham is dead, and her granddaughter Fiona now runs the manse. Roger is disappointed that Claire and Brianna have only come for the day; he was eager to show Brianna around. As Claire looks around at the Reverend’s belongings, remembering, Roger invites the two of them to stay. They readily agree.
“There’s a lot of history here.”
That night, Claire can’t sleep, and has a companionable wee dram by the fire with Roger. The Reverend has a ton of clutter that Roger now has to deal with. He’s going to donate most things, but not the Culloden items, which were the Reverend’s favorites. Roger mentions that his ancestors fought and died there – his true name is Roger MacKenzie, not Wakefield. The Reverend adopted him after his parents were killed in WW2. “I used to know quite a few MacKenzies, once upon a time,” Claire muses.
Roger is despondent, and asks Claire “How did you do it? Finally say goodbye to that one person you loved most in all the world?” Claire replies that she didn’t – not really. Roger obviously knows something that he isn’t telling – he asked the question in such a way that one doesn’t think he’s talking about Frank. Claire continues, and she’s definitely not talking about Frank. “Whether you want to say goodbye or not, they’re gone, and you have to go on living without them.” She’s motherly towards Roger. She thanks him for the drink and retires, and Roger sits up by himself, melancholy. Brianna is already asleep when Claire gets upstairs, and Claire slips into the guest bed next to her. “God, you are so like him.”
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
We flash back now to the day of the Battle of Culloden, 7:23 A.M. Jamie is literally begging the prince not to go through with the fight. The Prince just smiles creepily and calls Jamie a Doubting Thomas. Jamie storms to Claire, angry. “The battle of Culloden will happen, today. Just as history foretold.” Murtagh interrupts, warning that he’s just heard that the British army is very close. Claire says that they may have one last possibility, and pulls Jamie indoors to speak with him privately.
“He was a snappy dresser.”
Back in 1968, Roger and Brianna are seeing the sights. They’re at Fort William, where Jamie was once badly flogged by Black Jack Randall. As if she can feel the spirit of her true father, Brianna gets a bad feeling. She asks Roger if he remembers Frank. He says sure, bits and pieces. Roger remarks that Frank seemed kind, and so does Claire. Brianna retorts that Claire lives in a another world.
Meanwhile, Claire has driven herself to Lallybroch. We hear flashback voiceovers of all of Claire’s memories there – Jamie, Jenny, Ian and their children. What was once a such a happy place for Claire lies abandoned and in ruins. She sits on the steps, mourning. She envisions Jamie, and hears his voice in her mind. You can see her broken heart in her eyes.
“No one would ever know.”
Back at Culloden House, 7:36 A.M. Claire wants to poison the Prince. “What if he were to die, now. Right now. Then the battle would never happen, and this whole bloody rebellion would die with him!” Jamie is not thrilled with the idea of cold-blooded murder. Claire has yellow jasmine, and lets it slip that it’s what she gave Colum the previous night. Jamie is horrified. “He begged me.” She says she can put it in Charles’ tea, right now. Jamie is shocked as hell.
Continuing their date, Roger and Brianna are picnicking at Loch Ness. Brianna asks about an “incident” that happened between her parents when they were in Scotland the last time. She doesn’t know what it might have been. Roger doesn’t remember many details – he was a little boy. He recalls Mrs. Graham crying in the tool shed, and saying that Frank had lost his temper and smashed everything up. “It must have been 1947 or ’48.” Brianna is shocked. She says she once found a lock box that was Frank’s, and opened it secretly. There were letters from the Reverend – mostly academic – but one where he mentioned an “incident” – maybe something terrible. The letter didn’t spell it out. It scared Brianna, and she never mentioned it to anyone. Roger tells her that his father kept a journal every single night of his life, and that perhaps he wrote something about it. The two agree to poke through Reverend Wakefield’s garage.
Meanwhile, Claire is back from her excursion to Lallybroch. She pays a visit to a genealogist in order to find out the true ancestry of Roger Wakefield, and wants to know the history of Lallybroch. She is presented with a deed – signed by herself, Jamie, and Murtagh – willing the property to young Jamie Murray, Jamie’s nephew. Claire doesn’t look surprised to see it, but wonders what happened to the property over the years. “Various Murrays, it seems. The property stayed in that family for many generations.”
Brianna comes home from hanging out with Roger and Claire teases her about liking him. She asks where they went, and goes cold at the answer: “Fort William.” Claire lies and says she just puttered around the village. Brianna asks if Claire misses Frank. “Of course.” Brianna says that it doesn’t seem like it, nor does it seem like she ever loved him, sometimes. “What a thing to say!”, Claire says. Then, simply, “I did love him.”
The fiery pit
Back at Culloden, 8:17 A.M. Jamie isn’t sold on Claire’s plan to poison the Prince. Dougal is eavesdropping. The men outside are forming lines. It’s now or never. Dougal storms in, furious and shocked. He insults both of them, and is so disappointed he can hardly speak. He lectures them for a bit, coming more and more unhinged. He’s crying that Jamie has betrayed Scotland, and draws his sword. A brutal fight ensues, culminating with Jamie having killed Dougal. Jamie and Claire are horribly distraught, and Jamie whispers an apology over his Uncle’s body. Unfortunately, Rupert has witnessed the whole thing. “Och, Christ. I’d have torn out my one good eye if it’d stopped me seeing this. But seen it, I have.” Jamie begs him for two hours to get his affairs in order. “And then?” “And then I will come back and answer for what I have done.” Rupert is devastated, but agrees. “I’ll give you two hours. Then I’ll damn your soul to the fiery pit.”
The White Roses of Scotland
Back in 1968, Roger takes Brianna to Oxford. He has an appointment, so she wanders around, running into none other than Geillis Duncan giving a speech about highland culture. She’s the head of a nationalist movement – The White Roses of Scotland – who want to restore it. In this time, she’s Gillian Edgars. Bree listens with interest. Gillian talks of Culloden, and how BPC was beloved. It’s gag-inducing. Bree and Roger introduce themselves afterwards, and Gillian hands them a flyer, inviting them to a big rally later.
A waxen fool
Claire visits Culloden field, and there’s a terrifying wax figure of BPC in the visitor’s center. Claire scoffs at it. “They’ve taken a fool and turned him into a hero.” Claire stumbles upon her keepsake wedding gift in a display case – the dragonfly in amber – amongst the things which were found upon the moor. Claire meanders around outside, looking at the mass graves for all of the clans. She chats with an older woman. “Are you a Fraser?” “Yes, I am.” Alone, she talks to Jamie, assuming he’s under there. She tells him everything – about Brianna, and how she is named after Jamie’s parents, as promised. She admits that she was angry with him for making her return to Frank. She finally says the goodbye that she never said at the time. “Goodbye, Jamie Fraser, my love.”
“Now there’s an heirloom!”
Roger and Brianna go through the Reverend’s things, and find a box marked “Randall.” There’s a letter from Frank, saying not to research BJR any more – “He’s not the man I thought.” Bree and Roger find the old press clippings from Claire’s disappearance. “Kidnapped by the fairies?” Bree wonders aloud. Says Roger, “I think you’ve found your incident.” Roger questions whether or not Brianna really wants to find the truth. She says that she does.
Bree confronts Claire to tell her the truth of what she’s really been doing for the past few days. She’s done the math, and thinks Claire has been seeing a past lover – Brianna’s real father – rather than puttering around town as she claimed. Claire is taken aback. “It’s complicated.” Bree is furious. “You were three months pregnant when “the fairies” brought you back to daddy!” Roger comes in, and Brianna insists that he stay and hear Claire’s explanation. Claire explains that it’s true that she loved another man – Bree’s father – and that Frank didn’t want Brianna to know about him. She explains their agreement, and that it was why they moved to America. Brianna questions their presence in Scotland, and wonders if Claire expects her to meet her father, now. Claire explains that he’s dead, but that she’d like to tell Brianna about him, now that Frank’s dead and she doesn’t have to honor her promise any more. Brianna doesn’t want to know anything about him. She moves to leave and Roger points out that she wanted the truth and this is it, so she should take a seat. She does. Claire continues. “Jamie loved you very much, even though he never met you. He loved you with all his heart. And he would have raised you, if it wasn’t for the Battle of Culloden.” Say what?
Traitors to the clan
Culloden, 8:34 A.M. Jamie and Claire confess to Murtagh that they’ve killed Dougal. Murtagh remarks that he’s only surprised that it took Jamie so long. “What’s to do, then?” Jamie puts the deed together that leaves Lallybroch to young Jamie. It protects the estate and keeps it in the family. He backdates it by a year. “Before I was a traitor.” They all sign.
“It’s my signature!”
Back in 1968, Bree thinks that Claire is making up the whole story. Claire looks exhausted. “It’s not a fairy tale.” Bree’s upset that Frank isn’t her real father. They argue. Claire shows Brianna the deed to Lallybroch. Brianna accuses her of having an affair while she was married, and suggests that Claire just own up to it, rather than making up a ridiculous story. “Just like a million other bored housewives.” Claire finally explodes. “I was not bored, and what Jamie and I had was a hell of a lot more than fucking! He was the love of my life!” Brianna is shocked into silence, but still doesn’t believe. Claire says it’s the truth. “Only two people know what the truth really is, and one of them is dead,” Bree spits. “Too bad it wasn’t you.”
“I will not fail you, milord.”
Back at Culloden, 8:37 A.M. Jamie sends Fergus to deliver the deed to Jenny at Lallybroch. “It is worth more than my life, or yours.” Fergus doesn’t want to leave them, but Jamie convinces him. He and Claire tell him that they love him like their own son.
A little imagination
Back in 1968, Roger and Brianna have taken up residence in a pub, where Roger is telling Bree to have a little imagination about her mother. Brianna won’t have it. “She’s insane.” “You said you could never get close to your mother; that she lived in another world. Maybe she’s trying to show you that world.” Brianna asks if he believes. Roger says it’s only important that Claire believes it. “Maybe we should keep an open mind.” “How about we keep an open tab, instead?” Brianna replies.
“If you see Gillie, tell her to come home. Tell her I love her.”
At the manse, Claire finds the flyer that Geillis gave to Brianna. Claire remembers that Geillis travels back in 1968, so she’s here, right now! She drives to her house to try to convince her not to go, or at least warn her about the witch trial, but only finds Geillis’ drunk husband, Greg. Geillis left him weeks ago. As he passes out, Claire swipes a few of Geillis’ notebooks – one is about going through the stones.
Back at the pub, Geillis shows up and chastises Roger and Brianna for missing the rally. “Maybe we’ll catch the next one.” Geillis reveals that she’s leaving town tonight to “further the cause.” She wishes them well and leaves. Meanwhile, Claire is reading Geillis’ notebooks. She had studied and prepared for time travel. Geillis believes there must be a human sacrifice to make it possible and gemstones to guide and protect you. Claire figures out she’s leaving soon, but doesn’t know when.
Saving Clan Fraser
Back at Culloden, Jamie instructs Murtagh to rally the Lallybroch men and lead them on the path to safety, back towards home. In the confusion, nobody will notice they’re missing. “We’ve done all we can, and now it’s over. I’ll not have my kin die for nothing.” Murtagh agrees, hesitantly, then asks Jamie what he’s going to do. He says he’ll take Claire to safety, then turn back and fight and die on Culloden moor. Murtagh says that he’ll guide the men to safety. “But ken this. When ye return, I’ll be waiting here to fight by your side.” Jamie says no. “I won’t have you dying for nothing.” “I won’t be,” says Murtagh. “I’ll be dying with you.” I may or may not have ugly cried at that part.
Saving the witch from the pyre
When Bree and Roger arrive home late that night, Brianna is much more calm. She still thinks Claire is delusional, but has decided she wants to know more about Jamie. “Tell me about him.” Claire excitedly reminisces. “It would take too long to tell you everything about him, but I promise I will.”
Later, Claire knocks on Roger’s door, asking if he knows Gillian Edgars, and where she is now. He mentions that they just ran into her, down at the pub – and she’s leaving town tonight. Claire says that she’s got to stop Geillis from going through the stones. Brianna yells at her to stop making things up, and Claire says that Geillis is the one from the witch trials who saved her life, and now Claire means to return the favor, if she can. She stops short as she has an ugly realization: “Except I can’t. Because of you,” she says to Roger. Claire explains that she looked up Roger’s genealogy, and that he’s the descendant of Dougal and Geillis’ baby. “So, you’re saying that my ancestors are the war chief that you spoke of, and the witch?” Bree is furious, but Roger is kind of into it. “If all this is true, then we have to stop her, don’t we?” Roger is gentle and cool about it, which makes Brianna even more furious. “Roger, you’re feeding her delusions!” She storms out and Roger grabs her privately, explaining that there’s no harm. If it’s not true, maybe they can make Claire face her delusions. And if it is? Well. Brianna reluctantly agrees.
Saving the unborn child
Back at Culloden, Claire and Jamie beat a hasty retreat. Claire doesn’t know where he’s taking her. As all the men run towards the moor, they’re heading the opposite direction. She pleads with him to escape with her. He refuses, saying he’s a dead man already. She says she’ll die with him. He refuses. Claire argues. “At the witch trials, would you have left me?” “I would have gone to the stake with you! But I wasn’t carrying your child!” Claire is shocked that he knows. She’s not very pregnant. “It’s too soon!” He replies that he knows her courses; has been keeping track. In the middle of a war. “This child is all that will be left of me, ever.” They have a tearful argument, both begging the other. He reminds her that she promised she’d go back to Frank, should the need arise. He drags her onto a horse.
The late Mr. Edgars
Back in 1968, Claire, Brianna, and Roger race to Craigh Na Dun, and they spy Geillis’ husband’s car at the base. She took her human sacrifice seriously and is barbecuing poor Greg. The three race up the hill to stop her and they’re too late – they’ve arrived just in time to see Geillis disappear into the stone. Brianna and Roger can hear the buzzing of the stones that Claire always hears. Roger leaves to summon the police on behalf of poor Mr. Edgars.
Back in 1746, Jamie and Claire gallop to Craigh Na Dun. Claire is terrified and sad. “How will I explain all this?” Jamie’s response is wonderful. “That, I leave to you. Tell him what you will about me, about us. I expect he will no’ want to hear, but if he does, tell him I’m grateful. Tell him I trust him. And tell I hate him to the very marrow of his bones.” Claire begs Jamie to come with her. He says he can’t. He can’t hear the telltale buzzing, and he doesn’t want to go, anyway. “It’s not my place. My destiny lies on Culloden moor.” He promises to find her, even if it means 200 years of purgatory. He tallies up all of his sins, then adds “But when I stand before God, I’ve one thing to say to weigh against all the rest. Lord, you gave me a rare woman. And God, I loved her well.” I burst into heartbroken tears along with Claire. They make love one last time. They hear the battle beginning in the distance. Claire hands him their wedding gift, the dragonfly in amber. “You keep it with you, blood of my blood.” “Bone of my bone,” Jamie adds. “As long as we both shall live,” Claire finishes. They kiss, and I am literally sobbing now. Jamie gives Claire a ring to give to their unborn child, that used to be his father’s. She says “I’m going to name him Brian, after your father.” They say they love each other one last time. He pushes her hand into the stones. “Goodbye, Claire.”
“Everything you said is true!”
Back at present-day Craigh Na Dun, Bree is finally on board. She and Claire hug as Brianna realizes that they’re standing in the last place that Claire saw her father. Roger comes back to retrieve them as dawn breaks over the horizon. Brianna entreats him to show Claire what he found. “Some research that the Reverend did at the request of your husband. I’m not sure if he ever sent it to him.” He’s found evidence that Jamie escaped execution and survived Culloden! Claire is stunned. “He didn’t die at Culloden!” She starts back up the hill. “He survived!” “If that’s true, then I have to go back!”
- Brianna being a history major at Harvard in 1968 is an anachronism – Harvard did not become coed until 1977.
- I enjoyed the use of contemporary music throughout the episode; particularly “The Time Has Come Today”, by the Chambers Brothers, over the final credits.
- Claire’s pink horn-rimmed driving glasses that she was using in 1968 were excellent.
- Roger’s impromptu “rat satire” was charming.
- Geillis surely returned home to retrieve her husband for the barbecue, so she must have noticed that someone (Claire) had stolen her notes on time travel. I wonder if she missed them.
- God, Jamie was swoon-worthy in this episode. I couldn’t have left him! Heughan and Balfe really sell true love.
See you next season! I can’t wait.
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.