As the previous episode ended with Tom Christie's sacrifice, taking charge of Malva's murder and then Richard Brown's death, I thought all past dramas had been definitively closed. I was surprised to discover Allan's presence at the very opening of this new opus.
Then I remembered that he was the last of the Christie family, and that he too needed an ending. It's also true that, in the book, this passage comes at the very end. But I thought it was interesting that they introduced it.
I'm usually a big fan of Alexander Vlahos, but I must admit I wasn't convinced by his portrayal of Allan in season 6. In his defense, the writers didn't give him much time to establish his character, preferring to leave more room for Tom and Malva.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find him so spot-on in the opening scene. He gives us a young man who is literally destroyed, filled with a pain made all the greater by the fact that he is responsible for it. Malva's death is like a monster he has to fight when there's nothing left to hold him to life.
I can't decide what I feel about him. Hatred for killing his sister and the baby she was carrying? Anger for letting Claire take the blame, knowing she was innocent? Worse still, to hate her for being loved by Malva? Or pity for her distress?
What's certain is that Allan is incapable of accepting reality. The flashback to his sexual relationship with his sister makes it clear that she took no pleasure in it, and didn't seem to share his feelings. She confirms this in the second flashback, just before her brother slits her throat. It's not him she loves, but Claire, to whom she wants to reveal the truth.
Is there any greater pain for a loving heart than not to be loved in return?
The gun beside him leaves no doubt about that. He intends to end his life.
But Claire won't hear of it and tries to stop him.
- You can't kill yourself. I forbid it, do you hear me?
He turned to me, his face contorted with anguish.
- What right do you have? I can't live. I can't live!
- You've got to!
I got to my feet, dizzy, not knowing if my legs would support me.
- You've got to!
He looked up at me with tear-filled eyes, unable to speak. I heard a slight hiss, like a mosquito, followed by a thud. His expression didn't change, but his gaze slowly died. He remained on his knees for a few moments, then leaned forward like a flower at the end of its stem, and I saw the arrow stuck in the middle of his back. He coughed, spitting blood, then collapsed on his side, curled up against his sister's grave. His legs spasmed like a grotesque frog. Then he stopped moving.
I stood there in a daze, only gradually becoming aware of Ian's presence, who had emerged between the trees, his bow slung over his shoulder. Rollo sniffed the body curiously and squeaked.
- He's right, Auntie," he said calmly. He can't be.
Snow and Ashes, Chapter 122: The Guardian.
He can't," said Ian. Why can't he? Because he has to pay for his sins? Or because one can't live with such suffering? After all, Ian knows what it's like to live without his beloved wife.
In the series, he claims to have believed all along that the child was his. What he doesn't say is whether he expected it, or dreaded it.
Now they have to bury the body. What's more, Claire has been accused of murdering another Christie!
This part of the story is not described in the book, but I found it interesting, especially as it introduces Mrs. Bug, whose role has been rather discreet up to now, even though it's an important one.
After a moment's doubt, she offers to help them dig the grave, and it's good to see that the Frasers still have friends to rely on at the Ridge.
I don't know about you, but I already don't like this new version of the theme song sung by Sinead O'connor, but what exasperates me most is her matter-of-fact voice spread over the "vignette" of the title we're forced to endure.
Well, I won't come back to that, but I needed to get it out there.
We witness Brianna's birth.
Unlike Jemmy's birth, which she had to experience without her parents (at least in the TV version), the whole family is there for Mandy's birth. Claire, active as usual, Roger and Jamie, silent and behind, whereas in those days it was customary for the men to wait outside.
I thought to myself, seeing this adorable little face in her grandmother's arms, that Mandy was the only one capable of making her forget the death of Malva's baby. A life for a death. A nameless happiness for an unspeakable tragedy.
The grandparents slip away, leaving Bree and Roger to enjoy this precious moment with their little girl.
I think it's great, and it takes me back to each of the births of my 4 children, lying with my legs up in the air and in full light for the comfort of the doctors, surrounded by noisy medical staff with technical gestures who took my babies away from me as soon as they were born to wash, weigh and measure them... And I tell myself, once again, that "progress" doesn't necessarily rhyme with "humanity".
I note a slight difference between the VF and VO versions.
In the French version, Roger greets his daughter by saying "Ma toute petite", whereas the original version respects the nickname Roger and Bree gave their child when she was just a fetus in her mother's womb. "My little Otto". It's all very simple, but it's the kind of detail that makes readers feel even more intense, because it takes them back to the delights of reading.
This is followed by two similar moments, which I must admit, on first viewing, I thought were redundant.
First, Jamie with his granddaughter, proud and happy to imagine a future for her, introducing her to horses and agreeing with her on her future talent as a rider.
Then, much the same scene with Claire in her office, Mandy in her arms, showing her his equipment and dreaming for her of a future as a doctor...
But these brief moments of happiness are to be their last. Claire notices what no one else can: the signs of a heart problem that her wooden stethoscope (a marvel) confirms. Mandy is suffering from patent ductus arteriosus.
Everything in the following scene is sublimely interpreted, and I challenge anyone to discover it without crying.
There's what's said, which is poignant, and there's what's not said, which is even more so. Fear, responsibility, hope! And above all, pain.
What Claire has to tell her daughter is terrible. It's hard enough for a doctor to tell his patients this kind of news, but how can it be bearable when you have to do it for your daughter?
This responsibility for everyone's health, especially her family's, is the cross Claire has been carrying since she crossed the stones. We'd already seen it when she thought she had to cut off Jamie's leg after the snake bite. But at least she could do something about it!
Here, she can do nothing. She gets a taste of what everyone else endures in the face of illness: powerlessness.
I loved the intimate moment when everyone around Mandy listens attentively to Claire.
In a way, Claire's scientific explanations allow them to catch their breath. It's a technique well known to doctors: scientizing (yes, I do make up words sometimes) the disease to guard against overly emotional reactions.
I also found the parents' reflections on whether they had made a mistake to be very apt. "I saw that she was suckling less than Jemmy," says Bree. "I heard her wheeze," Roger continues.
Claire immediately puts an end to this self-flagellation.
"You're parents, not doctors".
The dialogue between Claire and Bree is poignant, and kudos to both actresses for conveying this moment so well.
The more Claire's announcement is without appeal, the more Bree clutches her baby to her, as if she could put her back in her belly and forget what she'd just heard.
As for Claire, torn between her desire to preserve her daughter and her inability to keep the truth from her, she must face up to the fact that every word she utters will hurt her, overwhelm her, put her through the worst pain a parent can go through.
Okay," says Brianna calmly. What should we do?
- I don't know what to do.
In truth, in most cases that was the usual answer, always unsatisfying, especially at that moment.
- Sometimes there are no symptoms at all, or only very slight ones. If the duct opening is very large and the child has pulmonary symptoms, which is her case, then... she may be able to develop decently, but she won't thrive because of her oxygenation problems. Or...
I took a deep breath, gathering my courage
- ... she could develop heart failure. Or pulmonary hypertension... that's when pressure builds up in the lungs....
- I know what it is," Brianna interrupted in a strained voice. Or do you?
- Or infective endocarditis. Or... not.
- Will she die?
She stared straight at me, jaws clenched, but from the way she was hugging Amanda, I knew she was waiting for an answer. I couldn't keep the truth from her.
- I probably couldn't.
The word hung in the air between us, hideous.
- I can't say for sure, but...
- Probably," she repeated.
I looked away, unable to meet her gaze. Without modern equipment such as an echocardiogram, it was impossible for me to measure the exact extent of the problem.
But, in addition to what my eyes and ears were telling me, there was what I had felt in my flesh... that sensation that something was wrong, that excruciating conviction that sometimes takes... and doesn't lie.
- Can you save her?
I heard the tremor in her voice and wrapped my arms around her. She had her head bent over Amanda, and I saw her tears fall, one by one, on the fine brown curls at the top of the child's skull.
- No," I murmured.
Despair overwhelmed me, and I hugged them both as if I could stop time and blood.
- No, I can't
Ashes and Snow, Chapter 114: Amanda.
The chapter ends with this terrible statement.
In the series, they had the good idea of immediately following it with:
"But I know someone".
No one needs to ask who? The real question would have been: when? But they all know that already.
There are so many pitfalls to face before even crossing the stones, since that's what we're talking about.
The last time they tried, they failed. It has to be said that, back then, their motivation wasn't the same!
What's next for Mandy? Will she be able to do it? She's far too small to say whether or not she can hear them singing. She does seem interested in the one Jamie shows her, but is that enough? What if everyone passed on without her? The idea is simply terrifying.
This is where, for the first time, the series hints at the fact that Jemmy and Mandy, in addition to being time travelers, possess an additional gift.
Listen... do you hear a noise when you concentrate on that stone?
He pointed to Jamie's ring on the table. The child's face lit up.
- Of course I can.
- What, from where you are?" exclaimed Brianna.
Jemmy looked around the circle of his parents and grandparents, surprised by their interest.
- Of course," he repeated. She's singing.
Heart pounding, fearing a yes as much as a no answer to his question, Jamie asked:
- Do you think Mandy hears her sing, too? Jemmy grabbed the ring and leaned over the bassinet, holding it straight above her little sister's head. She stamped her feet energetically and made all sorts of noises, but it was impossible to tell whether it was the stone or the sight of her brother. He smiled.
- She can hear him," he announced.
- How do you know?" asked Claire, intrigued. Surprised, Jemmy stared at her.
- Well... because she said so!
Nothing was set in stone. At the same time, everything had been said. I didn't doubt what my fingers and ears were telling me, Amanda was slowly getting worse. Very slowly... Maybe it would take a year, maybe two, before the serious disorders appeared..., but they would appear.
Maybe Jemmy was right, maybe not. However, we had to assume that he was right.
There were arguments, discussions and many tears. There was still the question of who would undertake the journey through the stones. Brianna and Amanda had to go, that was certain. But should Roger go with them? And Jemmy?
- I won't let you go without me," Roger declared through gritted teeth.
- I don't want to go without you!" cried Brianna, exasperated. But how can we leave Jemmy here? And how can we take him with us? A baby again... according to the legends, that's possible, but Jemmy... how will he manage? We can't risk killing him!
I looked at the ruby on the table and at my purse, which contained the sapphire.
- I think we need to find two more stones. Just in case.
And so, at the end of June, we all came down from our mountain, our hearts in our mouths.
Snow and Ashes, Chapter 114, Amanda
Action is often the way out of stupefaction. To act is to regain control over what has eluded us, to occupy our brains so as not to go mad. Time restarts, forbidding us to freeze on this precise moment that has devastated our lives.
Contrary to my custom, I'm going to make a link with what I myself experienced when I realized that my fourth child was autistic. For hours, for days, I was stunned, as if struck by what life had just inflicted on us.
But I had other children, worried too, and above all, this last little one, so fragile, who needed me. That's what gave me the strength to overcome everything. This feeling that if I didn't move, everyone would suffer. I had the power, not to mention the duty, to do everything I could to make things right. So I got moving again, and immediately felt better.
That's how I felt when I read Diana's book and watched this episode.
This family action restores meaning to the deep bond that brought them together. As Bree puts it so well. "I came here to save my parents, and I will do everything in my power to save our daughter.
As Bree and Roger ponder their future journey, Claire paces back and forth in her room, rehashing what she knows is impossible.
"If I were there... if I had the equipment".. if I had help"... if and if....
"Maybe I could," Claire resumes, determined to assess every nook and cranny of the possible and the implausible. "I did an internship in cardiology. I attended an operation, I helped. I can already feel my fingers getting to work"...
But the semblance of hope is confronted with reality.
"But it's impossible!" she snaps again, undoing the previous list by an equivalent number of what she's missing.
"I have no operating room and no nurse. Besides, operating on an infant is"...
Jamie interrupts to end the unbearable torment.
"There is one thing we can do. I know it's not so much in your habits, but... I find it soothes the soul."
I really liked the fact that Jamie decides to address their prayers to St. Eloi, the patron saint of horsemen, a little nod to his walk with Mandy in the stables.
- And what does this have to do with a suffering infant?" asks Claire, who, calmer, has knelt down beside him.
- If you must know, that's between me and the little one, but I know that St. Eloi will look after her, if we ask him to.
I can't help but draw a parallel with the scene in episode 701 when Roger addresses a short prayer to God to help Wendigo help himself. This call to prayer from Jamie is so much more respectful!
I mean. As an atheist myself, I would have knelt beside them and asked St. Eloi for help with all my might, in the fierce hope that it would tip the scales in the right direction.
In a way, it's a second part that begins, as the camera zooms out on the big house.
I felt a bit sick to my stomach when they left it. I thought to myself: poor people, they've only just found it. Won't they ever have the right to be happy in their own home? Like they've always wanted?
So here they all are, on their way to Wilmington in search of gems for all the McKenzies to cross. Then they'll go to the menhirs on Okracok Island, the ones Wendigo and his friends passed through.
Meeting and farewell
Arriving in Wilmington, they split up to improve their performance.
Bree, returning from the bakery, notices Lord John and William across the street, whom she recognizes from the portrait Jamie has shown her.
"Jésus H. Roosevelt Christ", she says in the original, echoing her mother's favorite expression, while the French version grants her a poor: "Par tous les saints et par Roosevelt".
But why? Why not continue to translate Claire's expression into French, as they've always done! "Holy Franklin, it's not possible God!" Mystery.
Without hesitation, she goes to meet them. Finally, we meet the adult William.
There are those who have read the books, and the others.
Here, the difference is particularly important. In the book, and at this point in the story, Bree still doesn't know she has a brother.
Strolling along the docks with Roger, she spots Lord John chatting with a man she first mistakes for her father, wondering for a few seconds why he's dressed as an English soldier. Then she notices the color of his hair, the youthfulness of his posture and realizes it's Jamie's son. There can be no doubt about it.
When she joins them, still accompanied by Roger, the situation is tense to say the least! Lord John is in a tizzy, Roger remains mute and Bree manages, not without difficulty, to hide a feeling of astonishment mixed with anger. But she doesn't let the cat out of the bag. As for William, he notices nothing. How could he even suspect?
In the show, Bree already knows. Jamie has shown her his portrait and explained the circumstances of his birth. She's also discussed it with John, having had time to come to terms with the idea of having a brother who's convinced he's the ninth Earl of Ellesmere. By the way, their meeting in Wilmington is a moment of simple happiness.
As this is a focus of the episode, I'm going to focus on what it tells us.
John and Bree have had a special relationship since their first meeting at Jocasta Cameron's and soon enough, Lord John can relax, understanding that Bree will keep the secret from William.
He's young, spirited and eager to do battle with the enemy. In short, he's probably like his father at the same age. I think Bree really plays her role as "big sister", tolerant of her brother's naiveté.
"A clever man once said: the best way to defeat an enemy is to make a friend of him.
To which William, whose eagerness to quickly confront the revolutionaries we can sense, replies:
"Sometimes, the only way to settle things is in blood, and by the sword".
Perhaps in other times, and especially in other circumstances, Bree would have taken the opportunity for a verbal joust. But she feels she doesn't have to with William, especially as it's more than likely she'll never see him again.
As they talk, Jamie arrives across the street.
The shot focuses on his face. The face of a man who, for the first time (and perhaps the last), admires his two children side by side. It's also the first time he's seen his grown-up son.
His eyes are filled with surprise, love, pride and, finally, sadness.
He meets John's gaze, and the two of them, with a rare subtle shake of the head, say hello and agree, as always, to keep the secret for William's sake.
Jamie leaves to avoid detection. I don't know about you, but it tore my heart out.
William takes his leave. It's the first "Farewell" of many to follow.
"Thank you for your discretion," John tells Bree, reassured that things have gone so well.
There follows a very important discussion about William and his right to know the truth about his origins.
First John gets carried away, well... carried away in John's way! That is, a little less gentle than usual. Then he pulls himself together.
-I'm the only father William has ever known. Do you know what it would mean to him to find out now?
I really liked Bree's attitude. She could have reacted strongly by arguing that, yes, she does know! She could have confronted him, even though it's surely difficult to confront the measured Lord John.
But instead, she took the time to match his pace and tell him her story from the beginning.
She had a father. He died, but she always loved him. Even when she discovered Jamie, who was so wonderful she couldn't even think of a word to describe him, she continued to love her father. She'll love him for the rest of her life.
The sequence ends with Lord John's incredible smile. And I couldn't help remembering Bree's words from episode 411, Like Father Like Daughter: "Lord John, it's impossible not to love you".
The next scene is certainly the one that moved me the most in the whole episode - well, one of them, insofar as the whole episode moved me.
Jamie comes to visit Lord John in his inn room.
In the book, this scene takes place through the medium of letters, but I loved that we were treated to it with the two friends present.
First, Jamie declines the offer of a glass of whisky, which is not insignificant on his part. John misunderstands this refusal.
"We are, as you said, each on one side of the story".
Perhaps hoping to convince Jamie, or to apologize for not being on the same side as him, he continues.
"In parliament, I heard that America was a child who had dishonored his father and needed to be taught a lesson".
What a great idea to articulate this discussion in this way, allowing Jamie to make the connection with William.
"Sooner or later, there comes a time when a child has to leave his father," he begins.
Doubly eloquent words for him, since he can't meet his son and will soon be saying goodbye to Bree, Roger and his two grandchildren.
They talk for a moment about William, about his desire to join the army.
- He's feisty...
- Just like his father!
About Bree's right to know where she comes from.
- She has her own opinions.
- Just like her mother!
It's a lighter moment, to allow them to keep their complicity going when they both know it won't soon be possible.
Finally, Jamie accepts the glass of whisky.
They'll have to talk about more serious things.
- You won't fight for the Crown? If only to be on the same side as your son?
- The day I won my dead godfather from the battlefield of Alamance, I swore never to fight with the British Army again.
They both knew that the moment would come when they would no longer be able to deny this crucial difference. As long as peace persisted, they could live with it, but on the eve of revolution, they had to take sides.
The already marvellous acting here is sublime. The Sam Heughan/David Berry duo seems more admirable with each encounter.
- Continuing to be in a relationship can only be dangerous for you and me," Jamie begins in a cutting tone.
It's a coldness not directed at John, of course; in fact, faced with John's distraught look, he takes the time to calm down and resumes more gently, almost tenderly.
- I'm afraid we'll have to break all ties.
- This damned war!" replies John, his eyes misty with tears.
Let's not forget that John has already lost his lover, Hector, in the battle of Culloden, and now he's in danger of losing the man he's loved for over 20 years.
I watch Sam Heughan's acting: the glances towards John; all that's going on behind his face, and I think back to the person I came to know through his autobiography Waypoint. I see the incredible compassion that transpires from his writings. I'm sure the tears in his eyes are real, because he's never insensitive to the suffering of others.
- Please believe me. Even in silence, I will remain your greatest and most humble friend.
John opens his vest and takes out the sapphire Jamie gave him in Ardsmuir. A stone we know well since it was in the ashes of episode 312, "the Bakra".
"I've kept it with me for the last 20 years," he says, moved.
And it's a fact that John has never tried to hide the nature of his feelings for Jamie. That's one of the things I appreciate most about him. Honesty.
He places the stone in Jamie's hand and closes his own over it.
Their farewell is heartbreaking, and no doubt Jamie suffers as much as John from this forced estrangement. Perhaps they're both wondering if one day soon they'll be forced to face each other on the battlefield.
... As an aside, in the book, it's Hector's ring that John gives to Jamie, not the Sapphire he keeps for himself, which, by the way, says a lot about the one he can't get rid of. But as Hector was only mentioned once in season 3, his ring would not have had the same symbolic force as the sapphire that everyone remembers.
Back at the inn, Jamie meets up with the rest of the family. They now have enough gems for all the McKenzies to cross the stones.
For their last evening together, Jamie takes Bree outside for a private chat.
We're treated to a mixture of two chapters from the book, which the writers have superbly combined into a single scene. First, the discussion about Disneyland as a swarm of fireflies surrounds them - a scene that gives the episode its title, "The Happiest Place on Earth" - and then the scene in which Bree imagines her father in the 20th century.
I've thought about it sometimes," admits Jamie. I've wondered, "If I could, what would it be like?"
He looked at Brianna with a smile, but a slightly sad expression on his face.
- What do you think, girl? What would become of me there?
She paused, trying to imagine him behind the wheel of a car, driving to the office in a three-piece suit. It was so absurd that she laughed. Or sitting in a movie theater, watching a Godzilla movie with Jemmy and Roger.
- Jamie upside down, what does it look like?" she questioned.
- Eimaj," he replied, intrigued. Why do you ask?
- You'd do fine. No, forget it. You could... publish newspapers, for example. The presses are much bigger and faster, and it takes a lot more people to gather the information, but otherwise... I don't think it's that different from today. And you already know the business.
He nodded in concentration.
- Yes, I suppose I do. Couldn't I be a farmer? People will still have to eat; they'll need farmers.
- Yes, you could.
She looked around them at the chickens pecking in the yard, the rough, discolored boards of the stable, the mound of upturned earth near the white sow's den, all familiar details she seemed to be rediscovering.
- There are still people who work like this. Small farms in the mountains. It's a hard life.
She saw him smile and burst out laughing again.
- Well, not as hard as here..., but life's a lot easier in town.
She thought for a moment before adding:
- You wouldn't have to fight anymore.
- Wouldn't I? But you told me there were lots of wars.
- That's true, isn't it?
Painful images came back to him: fields of poppies, stretches of white crosses... a man on fire, a naked child running down a road, her skin charred, the unbearable grimace of a man a second before a bullet burnt his brain.
- But... it's only the young men who go to war. And not all, just some.
He remained pensive, then looked into his daughter's eyes.
- Your world, this America, this freedom you're heading towards... There will be a terrible price to pay. Is it really worth it?
It was Brianna's turn to remain silent and ponder the question. Finally, she placed her hand on his, solid, warm and firm.
- There's hardly anything worth losing you for," she murmured. Except maybe this.
Snow and Ashes, chapter 119, Don't go away.
The discussion with his daughter seems to have soothed Jamie. Once in the bedroom with Claire, he tells her about a dream he had of her in the past.
It's a scene that, in the book, appears much earlier! But I thought it was a good idea to slip it in there, to tie in with the one that follows.
I dreamt of you. I didn't know where I was. But I knew it was there, in your time.
This time, every hair on my body stood on end.
- How do you know? What was I doing? He wrinkled his forehead.
- I don't remember, but I knew I was in your time, in the light. Yes, that's it! You were sitting at your desk, holding something in your hand, maybe a feather. There was light all around you, on your face, your hair. But it wasn't coming from a candle, or a fire, or the sun. I remember thinking, "So, this is the famous electric light!"
I stared at him, dumbfounded.
- How can you recognize in a dream what you've never seen in your real life?
- I always dream about things I've never seen, Sassenach, don't you?
- Yes, sometimes. Of monsters, strange plants, bizarre landscapes. And people I don't know. But this is different. You've heard of electricity, but you've never seen it.
- Maybe it wasn't electricity," he admitted, "but that's what I thought at the time. Besides, I was sure I was in your time. After all, I dream of the past, so why shouldn't I dream of the future?
I couldn't think of anything to say to this Celtic logic.
Snow and Ashes, Chapter 68, The Savages
And precisely because he's been talking to Bree about the future and his inability to keep up with them, Jamie seems to have been thinking about Claire's posture.
He opens his nightstand drawer and takes out a tiny gem. He'd kept it for years in case he died, so Claire could return safely to the future.
- You might want to follow them now," he told her, "when we know it would rip her heart out.
Without a second's hesitation, Claire stands up and throws the stone out of the window.
Clearly, her choice is made.
We follow our little troupe in a rowboat, at night, on their way to Okracoke Island.
The wide, high shot of their boat reveals their isolation. They are the only ones who know the weight of their terrible secret and the pain of the choices they have been forced to make.
When it's all over, the family will be split in two, perhaps forever.
Normally, I admit I'm not a fan of never-ending farewell scenes. But here, I found it important that they take their time.
The three generations of women in front, the three generations of men behind, they move slowly towards the standing stones. They are less impressive than those of Craigh Na Dun, though they carry the same power within them.
Everything is magnificent in these crossed farewells. Bree's exuding pain and her mother's reassuring words. Little Jemmy's spontaneous declaration of love to his grandmother, Jamie's words to Roger about the trust he places in him.
"I'm proud of you Roger Mac. There's no one else I'd trust with the lives of my daughter and grandchildren".
Those of you who read me regularly know how much I love the character of Roger, so I was incredibly moved, and grateful that Jamie openly appreciates his worth.
"I'm so proud that you're my family," Roger replies, as Claire joins them.
And those words are powerful, because he uses them in the present tense. No matter where or when, they will remain a family.
To lighten our chests, which have been tight with emotion for many minutes, we are treated to two moments of tender humor.
The first, when Roger promises Jamie and Claire to tell the children about their adventures.
- You don't have to tell the one about the snake," Jamie remarks with a smile.
And the other, adorable one, when Jamie says goodbye to his grandson.
- If you ever meet an enormous mouse named Michael, tell him that your grandfather sends his regards.
A nod to his discussion with Bree about Disneyland.
But probably the most heartbreaking farewells are those of Jamie and Bree.
So much has happened since season 4, when they first saw each other in that little Wilmington alley!
Contrary to what I'd imagined, it's Bree who consoles her father.
- I can't say goodbye," he said to his daughter.
- Dinna fash. The day you said goodbye to Mom, at the stone circle, when she was pregnant with me, you told her that I was all she would ever have of you. But you are! You're so much more than that. I'll always carry you in my heart and in my soul. And you'll carry me inside you too. Nothing is lost. Some things just change, that's all!
And we remember that beautiful passage from season 4 when Claire claimed that these words introduced the principle of thermodynamics, while Jamie argued that it was faith.
Before leaving her, Jamie puts his hand on Bree's cheek and says: "You're my darling daughter", exactly as he had done when they first met. I found that very beautiful. Very strong.
Finally, accompanied by Bear McCreary's gentle music, Bree, Roger and their children, each carrying a gem, walk towards the stones and disappear.
Claire and Jamie, motionless and clinging to each other, are as if statuesque.
- I'll go on living for you," Jamie finally says, without taking his eyes off the menhirs that have "swallowed" his family. But if I were alone, I wouldn't be able to.
The episode could have ended here, but it now seems clear that the Outlander team decided to take their time with this season, perhaps to make up for the previous one, cut short by the pandemic, unless it's because there's still so much to say, when there's only one more season to go. But who's going to complain?
Anyway, here we are with the McKenzies, on the other side of the menhirs.
Since we've already witnessed this once, in episode 512, Never my love, we're waiting for proof that they've actually passed. The idea of superimposing the wooden plane that Jemmy plays with all the time and the plane, real this time, that flies over their little group, is wonderful. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
And as they leave the site of the standing stones for what we know will be a long journey, we join Claire and Jamie through a fade-out and a very successful musical variation.
The following night, Claire is devastated. She can't sleep, she can't even make love to Jamie, her soul is so tormented.
She takes stock of all those who have left.
Jamie takes her in his arms, despite his own grief.
"Will you cry for them, mo nighean donn"?
Then she lets out the tears and sobs, letting go of her grief in the arms of the man she loves.
"Cry for them," he tells her, pulling her even closer to him. When you're at the end of your tears, I'll be there.
Someday I'll have to keep a tally of the simply sublime phrases Jamie says to his wife, because it seems to me that this one would be right at the top of the list.
Finally, as always, no matter how much pain we feel, time passes. Mandy's little pony grows up and gallops alongside Jamie, and Claire's voiceover explains that she manages to contain her sadness by telling herself that Bree and hers are still alive.
The baby of Lizzie and the Beardsley twins is born (what funny phrases!).
"We were making new memories. We were adding them to the ghosts of older memories," Claire's voice tells us.
She concludes that this is the happiest place on earth, though perhaps "serene" would have been a better word.
But we do feel that life is returning, and we almost find ourselves wishing that everything would stop here, so that no further tragedy would befall them.
It's the end of the day. The sun is setting and Claire returns to the bridge with a basket full of victuals.
All the lights are out. From the look of astonishment on her face, we realize that this is unusual.
She places her things on the table and... we hear a match strike. Such an unexpected noise! So... anachronistic.
Wendigo Donner is there, in the dark, alone. He's playing with the matches Brianna made.
More lost than ever, he explains to Claire that he tried to cross the stones with a gem in his pocket, but that he had drunk a whole bottle of whisky beforehand, so nervous was he. When he woke up, the stone had "spit him out".
He waited for her to explain how to make it work, and he also wanted another gem, his having disappeared after his attempt.
Then two accomplices arrive, one holding Jamie tied up. They found nothing upstairs, but did locate a small gold ingot in Murdina Bug's belongings.
Those who've read the books know what it is. For the rest of you, I'll say no more.
Nothing calms the intruders, and everything moves too fast for Claire and Jamie to stop what's happening.
In search of gems, or anything else of value, the two brigands empty the cupboards in Claire's pantry, throwing to the ground the vials that shatter on the floor one after the other, right down to those containing ether.
"You can't see anything in here," shouts one of them as everyone struggles to breathe from the toxic fumes.
Wendigo lights another match, while Claire, knowing what this will produce, screams at the top of her lungs.
A huge bang is heard as we are blinded by the bright light.
The final shot is outside, a hundred yards from the big house in flames, just as Brianna and Roger read in a newspaper before crossing the stones a few years earlier.
Perhaps this is the most beautiful episode of all the seasons.