Let us begin this “Outlander” finale review with a simple admission: “Dragonfly in Amber” equates to a flood of tears. We’re not entirely sure that an episode has aired of the show with so much emotion, so much passion, or so much a deft hand when it comes to the writing.
There is so much to unpack here, but in beginning with life in 1960s Scotland we know one thing: The series nailed what we wanted to see from Roger and Brianna, from the setting to the portrayal by Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton. From start to finish, this was tremendously captivating and almost a movie in its own right. Maybe you could make the case that the Roger – Brianna relationship needed more time to develop, but where do you get this said time? For ninety minutes, this was packed full of content!
Through the mini-movie, Bree learned the truth about her parentage courtesy of Claire, though it took some time to get to this point. She uncovered enough evidence that Claire had an affair, and confronted her on thinking that it was something in the present. The problem? She didn’t quite believe what she heard about time travel and Jamie Fraser. It took the emergence of Geillis Duncan. as Gillian, for her to prove that such a phenomenon was possible. Geillis’ journey to the past would eventually bring her into Claire’s world in season 1, and in turn, suddenly Bree and Roger are believers.
Interspersed through this story, we also had the narrative of how we got there, a heartbreaking tale in which Jamie brought Claire up to the stones in order to ensure that she and her unborn child had a better life. He couldn’t leap forward in time, and fulfilled his perceived destiny at Culloden … or at least attempted to. There were killer performances from Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in these goodbye scenes, in particular the evident longing that would come from hundreds of years apart. Neither wanted to leave, and yet knew that they must. They prolonged it until danger arrived. The death of Dougal would have been a main event in many other episodes, and yet here it was just one exceptionally powerful moment among many.
The final scene of the hour involved Claire receiving life-altering news even still back in the sixties: Despite what she believed, Jamie had survived Culloden. With that, she knew (cue the “Lost” reference) that she had to go back. There’s your cliffhanger! Enjoy waiting the next several months with that, and pondering over what their relationship could now be.
The season 1 finale of “Outlander” was epic; yet, this was perhaps still on another level. “Dragonfly in Amber” told the most complicated tale in the series’ history, and yet, it may be its most wonderful. We may not be a book reader and do not come to this with that knowledge, but this may be as perfect a finale as could have been conceived. Grade: A+.
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