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Review: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Finale Breaks Hearts But Still Offers Hope

In Season 2 Episode 13, 'Dragonfly in Amber,' Brianna finally makes an appearance as Jamie’s fate is revealed.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in "Outlander."

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in “Outlander.”

Starz

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Review: ‘Outlander’ Says a ‘Hail Mary’ and Prepares for the End

That’s What She Said

After spending much of the back half of the season on the Jacobite rebellion and the upcoming Culloden battle, this week’s finale surpassed it all by bringing viewers into the far future – 1968, to be exact. There we picked up with the Reverend’s funeral, which new character Roger oversaw just as an aged Claire and her grown-up daughter Brianna entered the scene. Rather than focus on the present, the remainder of the episode jumped back and forth from there to that fateful day in 1746, when Prince Charles commanded all of his men to death. Although it felt like a cheat to not see the actual battle go down, that is how Claire experienced it, and given that this is the story of her journey, piecing history together through artifacts and journals instead was the only authentic way to depict those events. Besides, watching a future Claire “chase ghosts” after spending the past 20 years in Boston added a mysterious element to the finale. The resulting product had a great narrative spine that was coupled with beautiful imagery of ruins and lost dreams.

That’s What He Said

During the limited time we did spend with Jamie in the finale, it was clear that he realized death was his only remaining option. After Dougal overheard Claire plotting to kill Charles he was backed into a corner – kill or be killed. Despite the fact that they acted in self-defense, there was no way to explain killing a clan leader as loyal as Dougal. His blind following of the cause despite its clueless leader was bound to spell trouble eventually, so for it to spill over in the finale made perfect sense. Without his cousins, Jamie truly was left without any real allies – not that it mattered, with death only a few hours away. In the end, the only thing he could do (despite the heartbreak of their goodbye) was to save his wife and their unborn child, which we all saw coming thanks to the pregnancy twist in the season premiere several weeks ago.

READ MORE: How ‘Outlander’ Showrunner Ronald D. Moore Brought Women’s Voices to the Sexy Bodice-Ripper

A Blast From the Past

We knew Colum’s reveal about Geillis Duncan’s child being adopted would play into the story at some point; we just didn’t know Geillis would return when she did. In what was a very convenient plot twist Claire was able to convince Brianna of her true heritage after Geillis resurfaced as Gillian and went back in time in front of them. Then again this is a show that relies on coincidences and convenient connections in order to push the story forward, so we can forgive things coming full circle yet again. (They do say history repeats itself.) Despite some of her terrible actions Geillis was a fun character from the first season, so it was nice to revisit her own journey back in time – even if it meant sacrificing her husband a la barbecued corpse.

Mark Me

Given how integral Prince Charles was to the entire rebellion, it was a shame not to see him meet his maker or realize at least some of the errors of his ways. Instead, he left the story just as unremarkably as he entered it, which was probably the point.

Future Fergus

At least one soul we know didn’t die at Culloden was the wee lad Fergus. After Claire and Jamie sent him off to deliver the deed to Jamie’s sister, there was a sense that the French boy would be all right in the long run, perhaps under Jenny’s protection. Here’s hoping he pops back up in the third season to resume some of his shenanigans. If we’re really dreaming, Murtagh will be with him.

Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin in "Outlander."

Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin in “Outlander.”

Starz

Love Connections

Speaking of survival, fans everywhere probably let out a collective sigh of relief when Roger revealed that Jamie didn’t die at the battle that day after all. Given his notoriety, it’s almost a given that he went into hiding shortly after escaping and was forced to give up his name. Should Claire indeed go back next season and find him, it will be interesting to see how that affected him. Jamie has always been a proud character who identified with his kin, so to give that all up must have had a big impact.

In terms of the reveal itself, it should come as no surprise that Jamie wasn’t dead. You don’t have to read the books to know that Jamie is a leading character and that at its heart this is a series about romance. Taking away one half of that is something better left to shows like “Game of Thrones.” It would be hard to see audiences sticking around without him.

READ MORE: The 16 Most Shocking TV Moments of 2016 (So Far)

Releasing Randall

With future Frank deceased and Black Jack presumed dead in the past, it seems as though this show will be in need of a new bad guy next season. In the meantime, here’s hoping Tobias Menzies continues his arc on that aforementioned “Game of Thrones” – he’s too good of a character actor to stay away from the small screen for long.

A Revolutionary Cause

They say the winners write history, but it was interesting to see the degree to which Jacobites in 1968 continued to worship the Bonnie Prince with oversized statues, rallies and the like. We suppose it’s easy to overlook bad management when there’s an excellent staff supporting him, but it’s a shame Charles went down in the books as a much braver, smarter (and taller) man than he actually was.

By the Book

Whereas Diana Gabaldon spent much of the beginning of the novel “Dragonfly in Amber” introducing and following Roger, Brianna and Claire’s reveal, here the writers opted to save those moments until the very end of the season. It was a smart move that cut down on lots of the book’s exposition and unnecessary character development. By ditching those moments and cutting them into the finale via the time jumps, the show was able to focus on the core relationship that fans fell in love with in the first place. In the end, the same story was told, just a little more succinctly. It’s a strategy they should definitely continue heading into Season 3.

Grade: A

“Outlander” has been renewed for a third and fourth season on Starz.

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