Oh, Outlander. How you love to break our hearts in different ways. In Season One you were swift, brutal and prolonged and we felt the pain, oh, we felt it. We felt it again and again and again. We lived in it. We couldn’t escape it. In fact, back then, we didn’t think anything could possibly be worse.
This year, however, has been much worse. Because last year it took us a while to get over the pain, yes, but at least, when you’re in the middle of the pain, there’s the comfort of knowing one day, it must cease. When you’re just than waiting for it, waiting, waiting ….and then having to wait more? That’s a different type of torture.
In a way, this episode is akin to standing on the train tracks waiting for the train to come, seeing it approach and yet being frozen, not tied, but frozen, unable to move. You know it’s coming. You know it’s going to hurt – a lot. And yet you remain.
You can’t leave now. You’re too invested.
We’re too invested.
The Battle of Culloden must not happen. We know this – Jaime and Claire know this. Murtagh knows this. In a way, it feels like everyone understands the importance of stopping it except the people who could actually stop it. That’s the way of the world. Or maybe, the way of Diana Gabaldon and TV.
In our case, we have two things to fear – not just the battle and its inevitable conclusion, but Claire’s return to a future we desperately don’t want and yet know we’ll have to face.
We have separation on the brain. Goodbyes. A year of a cruel hiatus ahead.
The outcome just can’t be good. And yet we keep trudging along, waiting for the pain to hit us full on.
Spoiler alert: Wait till next episode.
For now, we have to contend with the Randall’s – both Alex and Jonathan. We want to feel bad for Alex sickness and Mary’s dilemma, we do, and yet it’s hard when you consider what Black Jack Randall did – what he freely admits he doesn’t regret. What he’d probably do again.
There’s no sympathy here. Not from us, and certainly not from Claire.
And yet, Claire can’t let go of the future, can’t let go of Frank.
We wish we could blame her, but then again, we’ve seen the future. Outlander prepared us for the pain from the first episode. We knew where she’ll end up. We just don’t like it.
Not one bit.
We especially don’t like that, to protect Frank, to ensure her own future, Claire is basically sacrificing Mary to the wolves. (Or, in this case, the literal wolf). Yes, this is the way the story would have gone without her involvement, but she is involved now, and in this respect, Claire decides that Frank is much more important than Mary.
And, we get it, we do – it’s just harsh. Cruel. Hard to stomach.
She knows what Black Jack Randall is capable of. And yes, history seems to indicate he won’t live long, but what if he does? Can Claire be sure that she hasn’t changed enough? Can she be sure Murtagh, kind, loving Murtagh, isn’t a better choice?
Of course she can’t. She just doesn’t care enough. She loves Jaime, but a part of her will probably always love Frank too – and that part is in control in “The Hail Mary”
That’s not the only subplot in this episode, though. Colum Mackenzie’s arrival is a nice way to tie this season’s plots to last year’s in a nice little bow. He’s come to die, yes, but he’s also come to try to control what happens after his death. He achieves the first by convincing Claire that he should die in his own terms, and the second, by naming Jamie, and not Dougal, his son’s Hamitch’s guardian.
It’s a low blow for Dougal, who we all know is actually Hamitch’s father. And yet Colum won’t be swayed. Jamie is to be the boy’s guardian and the one to lead both him and the Mackenzie’s onto a better future.
At least, that’s the plan.
But we all know what they said about the best laid plans of men and mice.
As they all discuss the future, the battle hangs over their collective heads. We know it’s going to be bad. In a way, even they know it’s going to be bad. And though this episode is a welcome respite, a final chance for us to enjoy Jamie and Claire together, to appreciate Murtagh, to sorta like Dougal, like all good things, it must end. The finale is going to change absolutely everything.
We’d like to say we’re ready, but I don’t think we’re not. I have a feeling we’ll never be.
See you then, Outlander fans. This was just the setup. The pain is next.
- Bonnie Prince Charlie is an idiot. He truly is.
- He just doomed everyone and he doesn’t even see it.
- In the end, despite all appearances to the contrary, Dougal did care about his brother.
- Claire’s speech to Jaime about Black Jack Randall is chilling. Caitriona Balfe has done amazing job this entire season, and this is such a little scene, but I’d add it to her Emmy reel for sure.
- I’ll marry you, Murtagh. I’ll travel back in time just to marry you. I will, of course, require a proper washing out of you, but I can live with pretty much everything else.
- Tobias Menzies does such a good job as Jonathan Randall that I might continue to hate him for years after he’s gone. I had a hard time looking at him playing Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, that’s how good he is at inhabiting the Black Jack Randall. May the show truly get rid of him next episode, or at least, get rid of one of his two characters. I can deal with Frank, but I’m frankly, done with BJR.
Outlander airs Saturdays at 10/9c on Starz. The season finale will air Saturday, July 9th and it’s expected to last ninety minutes.