Outlander Ends Its Season At The Beginning
Which you already guessed, probably. THAT'S HOW TIME TRAVEL SHOWS WORK, YOU GUYS.
R.I.P. Basically Everyone We Know From The 20th Century
We begin in Scotland in 1968, twenty years after Claire's return. Rev. Wakefield has just died, so Claire and her daughter Bree have traveled overseas to pay their respects. The Rev's adopted son Roger -- he of the pasty disposition and wee elbow patches -- has grown into a proper Scottish hottie. Roger and Bree have an obvious, instant attraction, so get ready to watch lots of scenes between these two characters we have no emotional connection to in this SEASON FINALE.
We learn, during their funeral/exposition chat, that both Frank and Mrs. Graham have died in the past few years. Now, Claire is a surgeon and a widow -- although she's considered herself a widow ever since she returned through the stones. When they get ready to drive back to London, Roger insists that they stay the night. I'm sure he has no ulterior motives whatsoever.
Alert Type: Inevitable War Alert.
Issue: Back in the past, Jamie tries one final time to persuade Charles to call off the battle that will conclude with the destruction of the Jacobites and the Highlander culture.
Complicating Factors: Predictably, Charles believes he is Jesus reincarnate and Jamie is his Thomas. There's really no arguing with that.
Resolution: With no other obvious course of action, Claire suggests something Murtagh's been wanting to do since he met Charles: murder the bonny bastard. She believes that, without Charles, the battle will be called off. The Jacobites will still lose the war, but thousands of lives will be saved in the process. Jamie is on board.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Getting To Know You...If We Must
While Claire "putters about town," Roger shows Bree the sights, including Fort William, where Jamie was publicly whipped by Jack. In between their history-based flirting, Bree asks Roger if he knew anything about her father -- or, more specifically, about an "incident" between him and Claire. Bree found a letter from the Rev to her father when she was young, and has always wondered about the mysterious event it seemed to refer to. Roger doesn't remember much about Frank, other than that he was a snappy dresser, but he does offer to take Bree up to his father's attic and play detective with her.
These two have nice chemistry, but, honestly, I could not care less about them. This episode is an egregious hour-and-a-half and we have a lot more to cover.
Plot Lightning Round
Claire's town-puttering begins at Lallybroch, where she sits on the stoop and reminisces about all the good times she had in 18th century Scotland -- you know, between the constant threats of rape and death.
Back in town, Claire pays a visit to a local archive. There, an employee is able to track down a deed to Lallybroch, which shows that Jamie (as witnessed by Claire and Murtagh) transferred the estate to Jamie's nephew the day of the Battle of Culloden. While she's there, Claire -- who's learned by now that Roger's biological parents' name was MacKenzie -- asks the employee to conduct a genealogy search on him.
That night, Bree asks Claire if she actually misses, or even ever loved, Frank. Claire responds that she did, but the very fact that Bree feels compelled to ask that question suggests that Claire did not spend the past twenty years staring longingly at Frank the way she did at her true love.
The next day, Bree and Roger visit a local college where they meet Gillian Edgars -- a.k.a. the pre-time-travel Geillis Duncan! In 1967, Gillian is a member of the White Roses of Scotland, a Scottish independence group. She lectures a crowd about the things the English have stolen from Scotland, and about the brave, noble Charles Stuart, who fought for their freedom. Afterward, Bree stops by Gillian's booth and, after discussing a couple of points of contention Bree had with her speech, Gillian invites Bree and Roger to a demonstration the White Roses are putting on the next day.
Speaking of Charles: Claire visits a local museum with a retroactively heightened Charles mannequin. After bitterly complaining about the shitheel of a king to a random tourist, Claire finds a familiar heirloom: the dragonfly in amber Hugh Munro gave Claire as a wedding present.
Bree and Roger go through the Rev's attic in search of his journal, hoping to discover a clue concerning the "incident." (Also, Roger sings a "rat satire" meant to scare away any mice and, I suppose, get Bree real hot?) They discover a box VERY conspicuously marked "FRASER." In it, among other things, is a letter from Frank to the Reverend, in which he asked his friend to cease his investigation into Jack Randall, Frank having recently discovered that Jack was not "the man [Frank] thought he was."
R.I.P. Dougal MacKenzie
Before Claire can leave to go poison Charles's tea, Dougal reveals himself to the Frasers -- or "you ungrateful son of a bastard and you filthy, whoring witch," as he now prefers to refer to them. Dougal, still reeling from his brother's death, practically has a full-on panic attack when he learns that his nephew wants to kill their king and betray "Scotland herself." There is absolutely no reasoning with the man. Before long, he is wildly swinging his sword at Jamie, while still trying to persuade him to hand over his "lying cunt" of a wife.
After a few minutes of biting and sweaty swordplay, Jamie gets Dougal on the floor. (That is both an accurate description of the scene and a line from my Jougal slash fic.) Jamie is able to twist Dougal's sword around and, with an assist from Claire, overcomes Dougal's strength to plunge the sword into his chest. Rest in peace, you handsome, somehow more terrifying Mr. Clean.
"This Isn't What It Looks Like, Unless it Looks Like We Killed Dougal, Because That's What We Did"
Situation: Claire and Jamie have a dead Dougal on their hands.
What makes it awkward? Rupert finds them standing over the body, because that's what happens WHEN YOU DON'T LOCK DOORS.
How is order restored? For some reason, Jamie is able to persuade Rupert to keep quiet for two hours so that Jamie can "take care of some things." Rupert curses them both to hell, but, with the battle set to begin, he doesn’t see the point in upsetting everyone and making a whole to-do. I guess. Rupert's motives are very confusing here.
And Now: Claire Talks To A Rock For Five Straight Minutes
I understand that some prestige cable series need that extra run-time in their season finales to satisfactorily wrap up every storyline -- Game Of Thrones's Season 6 finale, for instance -- but Outlander does not need EIGHTY-SEVEN MINUTES, especially if five of those minutes are wasted on Claire telling Jamie's gravestone about his daughter. "But they still have to fit in the sure-to-be epic Battle of Culloden!" you're surely thinking to yourself.
Spoiler alert: THEY DO NOT.
Finally, Someone Is Smart Enough Not To Believe In Time Travel (Which Exists)
Bree confronts Claire about the "Kidnapped By The Fairies?" article that was written about Claire when she returned to the 20th century, which Bree discovered in the Rev's box. Bree did the math and figured out that Claire returned six months before Bree's birth. She concludes, not entirely inaccurately, that Claire left Frank for another man during that period, and that man is Bree's real father. Caught, Claire confesses everything to Bree and Roger -- including the whole "time-traveled through a rock" thing.
This is the fourth time Claire has told someone her secret, but it's the first time the people she's telling don't just accept her ludicrous tale at face value. Bree calls her insane and demands she admit that she was just a "bored housewife" who cheated on her husband. If there's one thing Claire will not have, it's Jamie's daughter disrespecting his memory, so she screams in her daughter's face that Jamie was the love of Claire's life. "Only two people know the truth," Bree tells her mom, "and one of them is dead. Too bad it wasn't you." Pretty shitty thing to say to your mom when she's clearly in the middle of a nervous breakdown and really seems to believe that she fell in love with a 200-year-old Highland laird.
That'll Do, Romann Berrux. That'll Do.
Jamie and Claire tell Murtagh about killing Dougal, and Murtagh is basically the personification of the shrug emoticon guy about it. Jamie has them all sign the same deed transfer that Claire finds in the archive 200 years later, and then tells Fergus to ride at once to Lallybroch to deliver it. If things unfold the way I expect them to, this is the last we'll see of Romann Berrux -- but probably not the last we'll see of Fergus. Good luck to the producers in their search for an adorable, absurdly French adult to play grown-up Fergus. You have an uphill battle to recapture my heart.
Geillis's First Husband
Name: Greg. Age: Late 20s. Occupation: Unspecified. Currently: drunken layabout. Goal: To bitch to Claire (who came to his home in search of Gillian after discovering the pamphlet she gave Bree) about his wife's association with the White Roses and wasting all his money on useless folklore courses at the local college. Sample Dialogue: "Why not learn to type and get a job if you're bored? That's what I told her. So she left. It's been weeks now."
Uncle-Nephew-Brothers To The End
With the battle fast approaching, Jamie orders Murtagh to lead the remaining Fraser men home to Lallybroch, just as he promised Colum he would.This battle is already lost. No matter how righteous, it was doomed from the start. We've done all we could. But now it's over. I'll not have my kin die for nothing.And what are you to do?I'll take Claire to safety. Then I'll turn back. Back to Culloden. To fight, 'til it's done.I'll lead your men home. But ken this: when you return, I'll be waiting here to fight by your side.No. I said I'll not have you die for nothing.I won't be. I'll be dying with you.
Trying To Alter History Worked So Well The First Time...
Alert Type: Delusional Mother Alert.
Issue: After Bree makes up with her mom, Claire asks her and Roger about Gillian. They tell her they saw Gillian at the pub, where she told them she was leaving town that night to "further the cause." Claire believes, based on the journal she lifted from Gillian and Greg's house, that Gillian is going to try to pass through the stone at Craigh na Dun. She wants to stop Gillian before she gets stuck in the past and ends up following the course of history to the pyre. Bree gets pissed again that Claire is still sticking to her fantastical story, but Roger suggests that they go along with her anyway. The worst that could happen would be Claire having to face up to reality.
Complicating Factors: Claire, having learned Roger's ancestry, realizes that stopping Gillian would result in Roger's never being born: his seven-times grandparents were Geillis and Dougal.
Resolution: Claire decides just to warn Gillian to keep her head down, and everyone sets off for Craigh na Dun.
Spoiler: Seeing is believing.
Wrap It Up
Everyone is marching off to war, but Jamie leads Claire in the opposite direction. Claire doesn’t want to leave Jamie if he plans on fighting at Culloden, but Jamie insists that she must -- especially now that she's pregnant! Claire never told him, but Jamie's apparently some kind of sicko who actually pays attention to his wife's menstrual cycle, so he figured it out himself.
In 1968, Claire, Bree, and Roger arrive Craigh na Dun, where they find Gillian's husband's car parked at the bottom of the hill. They run up to the rocks just in time to witness Gillian -- already dressed in proper 18th century attire, because bitch does her research -- pass through the stone. They also find Greg's body on fire, since Gillian was under the impression that a sacrifice was needed for everything to work. So, now she's a serial killer. I'm still on her side, though. Both her husbands seemed like real dicks. Claire sends Roger to fetch the police, and Bree stays behind to deal with the revelation that FUCKING MAGIC IS REAL.
18th century Claire and Jamie arrive at the rocks. Claire asks Jamie to come to the future with her, but, because he can't hear the otherworldly buzzing Claire hears, he knows he can't. (Bree AND Roger were able to hear the buzzing, interestingly enough.) But Jamie promises to wade through 200 years of purgatory to find Claire after they're both dead. They have a goodbye fuck on the ground that lasts approximately eight seconds. There's stirring music behind it, though, so we're supposed to think it's romantic. When it's over, Jamie walks Claire to the rock and places her hand on it.
Roger returns after leaving an anonymous tip with the police. When he arrives, Bree tells him to show Claire the letter he found while going through his father's stuff. In it, the Rev details how he discovered that five Fraser officers took refuge in Culloden House after the Jacobites lost. Two days later, they were arrested and sentenced to death. However, one escaped: James Fraser.
"I have to go back," Claire announces as the sun rises. Somehow, the episode does not end with the Lost "CLUNK!"