And I’m a mess.
I stayed up late Friday night to watch Outlander‘s season 2 finale, “Dragonfly in Amber,” since Starz made it available OnDemand at that time. At a special 90 minutes length, there was a lot to take in. I teared up a little. I didn’t watch again until the episode had its network airing Saturday evening. That’s when I joined the live tweeting at The Scot and the Sassenach, something I’ve done for the past few episodes. (This was quite an achievement as I am an immense Twitter-phobe.) Towards the end of the episode, I kept putting my tablet down to watch the scenes. And I cried—enough to bother my sinus and get a headache, thus requiring some pain reliever before bedtime.
Today, when I sat down to relax and turned the television on, I realized I hadn’t changed the channel from Starz, and found myself 1/3 of the way through “Dragonfly in Amber.” That’s when I completely bawled my eyes out. You know, the ugly cry. I cried when Claire talked to Jamie at the Clan Fraser headstone. I cried when Jamie entrusted Fergus with Lollybroch’s Deed of Sasine and called him “mon fils,” my son. I bawled when Jamie explained he wanted Claire safe because she was carrying his child, and that was all that was going to be left of him. And I bawled my damn eyes out when he walked her to the standing stones at Craigh na Dun and forced her hand upon the stone.
And I’m thinking, how much more devastating the opening scenes of season 2 would have been had we seen this emotional goodbye before we saw Claire lying on the ground at Craigh na Dun. We would have more fully understood all that Claire lost. And therein lies some of the problems with season 2.
To be fair, the source material was extremely difficult to adapt. It jumped timelines nearly every other page, and not just two or three timelines, but innumerable ones. I don’t know how better to have begun the season than having Claire arrive in 1948; I just think we would have more fully identified with her isolation and emptiness had we seen what she left behind. Nor would I have wanted an entire episode without Sam Heughan’s Jamie Fraser. We endured one of those in season 1, and it was painful.
Season 2 has been a bumpy ride. There have been times when I think the writers have misunderstood what’s so great about the series. So much emphasis was placed on the plot to stop the Battle of Culloden, and the Jacobite rebellion itself, that Jamie and Claire’s relationship got lost in the muddle. We had only one intimate scene with them; we needed more. Not that sex is the be-all-and-end-all of relationships, but we needed to be reminded of just how much these two mean to each other. We should have had a bit of a respite at Lollybroch when the Frasers returned to Scotland from France. Instead, we got 18 months of Scottish family life crammed into 5 minutes. Even 15 minutes, although much too short, would have been better.
The writers’ have a thankless task trying to adapt such a well-loved (and lengthy) work of fiction. Every reader wants her (or his) favorite scene to play out exactly as it has in their heads for 20 years. It’s not going to happen, and expecting it can ruin an appreciation for the larger story. Yet by trying to cater to these fans, the larger story isn’t all it could be. But more about the problem with fandoms another time.
I want to watch “Dragonfly in Amber” again, to take in the magnificent performances of Catriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Duncan Lacroix, et al.; to listen to Bear McCreary’s beautiful score; and to see all the characters I love so much one last time. But I’m not ready to go through all that emotion again so soon.