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Date Posted: 09:12:50 07/12/16 Tue
Author: Shadow
Subject: Episode 213 - Dragonfly in Amber

Written by Toni Graphia and Matthew B. Roberts

Note: Sorry this is so late. Iíve been very busy with work and my summer projects and I simply havenít had much time to sit down and write. I blew off my morning project today because itís already too hot to be on a roof and I worked a very long shift last night and came home utterly exhausted. Anyway, here are my thoughts and impressions.

For the season finale the show writers have presented us with a script that draws heavily from the book both in terms of dialogue/action and the somewhat jarring jump in time to the late 1960s. I will be interested to see how non-reader viewers react. The episode does manage to wind up the season effectively, covering an immense amount of ground in a mere hour and a half. I feel that the choices made by the production team were effective in streamlining the important elements of the story. It mostly works well.

I was delighted to see the old Avengers TV show in the beginning scenes. Iíll bet Ron was a fan too. Emma Peel was an unusual woman for her time. Claire and Bree would have been right at home with her. I strongly suspect that is why that particular television program was chosen. I also felt that changing this initial reunion with Roger to the wake was a great way of honoring the Reverend Wakefield and moving the story along tidily.

We finally got to meet both Roger and Brianna. They look pretty good, though neither seems as tall as I thought they would be. I think I will learn to like Richard Rankin as Roger. Heís bringing a lot of the soft scholar into the character at this point, mourning the Reverend and making puppy-dog-eyes at Bree. It gives him a lot of latitude for growth later in the series as he gets bitch-slapped by the 18th century. Right now Roger seems strangely innocent. I really loved the business of rootling though the Reverendís archives and the rat satire. Someone below stated that they didnít think the singing was good but I disagree. This wasnít a singing performance per se, but simply a young man showing off for a girl he fancies. I have listened to the brief excerpt posted somewhere of Rik singing with a guitar and his voice is quite good, though a surprising tenor, not the strong baritone we heard here. Iím really looking forward to hearing him sing next season.

My initial reaction to Sophie Skelton as Brianna is less positive. Iím not sure what I think of her. I donít sense much chemistry between Roger and Bree, but it is early days yet and right now Bree is being written as a young and petulant kid. But thinking about it, she was like that in the book as well. A lot of people didnít like book Bree, though I always did. Maybe itís seeing rather than just reading about her disbelief and fury over Claireís revelations. Iíll have to think about that. Iím reserving judgement until I see substantially more of her work. While she does seem strong willed and very American, I found the acting performance not quite up to the quality Iíve come to expect from this show. Caitís strong performance quite overwhelmed Sophieís. I wanted more fire from her in the arguments and overall a greater magnetism in her person. She wasnít at all bad, donít get me wrong, but she didnít have the presence I expected. Still, the casting has been spot on everywhere else so I am willing to wait to see who she becomes. Maybe they are again trying to give her room to grow into a stronger presence as events occur.

The writers did a lot of little things to enhance the connections between the generations for both Roger and Brianna. It was subtle and clever, and makes rewatching the show more interesting when you start to look for them. Several tiny elements showed Breeís connection to Jamie, like her discomfort while visiting the pillory where Jamie was flogged at Fort William and her demands to Claire that she be told truth, always. Roger also had several small bits of dialogue that were variations on things that Geillis said back in season one. The barbecue line was the most obvious but there were others as well.

Caitriona was wonderful as the more mature, 1960s Claire. Terry did another fantastic job of costuming, the makeup all across the board was perfect for the late Ď60s. Claire came across as a blend of many classy icons of the period. Iíve heard people mention Barbra Streisand, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, Anne Bancroft. I could see elements of all of these but it was still uniquely Claire and very 1960s. I confess that the vivid grey streaks in Claireís hair bothered me a bit, but as it is obviously teased and professionally coifed I think it might be explained away as artificial highlighting which was so prevalent during the period. Claire, as a beautiful woman might have felt the need to add such highlights to help her professional image in what was still at that time a manís field. In any event, having Claire quietly and privately reconnect with the ghosts of the past and the research of things like Rogerís parentage was effective, although I found I missed having Claire ask Roger to help with looking for the fate of the Lallybroch men. Thatís a minor thing. As I said, I think the changes in the way the salient points of the story were revealed were very good for this format.

Graham was pretty amazing in this one too. His shock and outrage at discovering Jamie and Claireís plan was very well played. And hereís where I think the show foundered a bit. There were a couple of places where I thought the cuts from past to present were a little abrupt. I particularly didnít like the interruption of the scene where Dougal confronts Jamie and Claire. The scene wasnít over. It was not at all a natural break and it felt awkward and choppy. Jumping suddenly back to Roger and Bree at the institute just felt wrong to me. I would be interested to hear the director or producers explain the choice for breaking there rather than letting the confrontation devolve into the fight and death of Dougal. Iím sure there was some sort of reasoning behind it, but having watched the show several times now it simply isnít apparent. I also didnít like having Claire help Jamie with the dirk. Jamie is 20 years younger than Dougal and the better soldier. Claire isnít a natural killer. That she might thump Dougal on the head with a crate is fine but having her assist Jamie in forcing a blade into the man seemed grossly out of character and demeans Jamieís skill as a warrior. Itís also hard for me to believe that Rupert would have let Jamie have the two hours grace he asked for but I realize that he was the only character available for the part. Willie would have been more credibleó-young and manipulatableó but I thought the writers did well with what they had and Rupertís agreement speech made it work.

The reappearance of Geillie was handled nicely. I think having her lead rallies is very apt both for the period and the character, and was a good way for Brianna to interact with her. I liked how Bree brought up historical arguments as she engaged ďGillianĒ in conversation. I think a lot of people forget that Brianna was a history major until after Claire went back to Jamie. I do wish they had made Geillie appear a bit younger than they did, though. For me she seemed far too much the same age as she was when Claire met her and I seem to recall that she went through something like 10 years before Claire arrived. Thatís a minor detail. It was nice to see Lottie Verbeek again. I think the writers did a very good job of tightening up the whole Gillian storyline with the rallies, the photograph on the pamphlet, Claire stealing the notebooks from the house, Bree and Roger seeing Geillie in the pub and learning she was leaving. I still rather wonder how Claire found Geillieís house though. I missed the interactions with Fiona.

The whole business of Jamie telling Murtagh about Dougal, the signing of the deed of sassine, and sending the Lallybroch men and Fergus away was all great. I just loved Murtaghís initial comment when he gets the news. Claireís telling Fergus he was like their own son wrenched my heart, and Jamieís desperation through it all was very well done. I was delighted to see so much taken straight from the book as Jamie takes Claire to the stones and sends her back. I didnít love the business with Claire giving Jamie Hughís gift. ďHere, carry this rock into battle with you!Ē seemed a weak substitution for the marking of the hands. (And yes, I know why they didnít do the initials.) I suppose bringing the chunk of amber back into the story gives some literality to the episodeís title and having the amber on display in the Culloden museum was a nice touch. But really, to me the title describes Claireís emotional state throughout, stuck in memory, frozen at the moment of separation.

Sam did a wonderful job of delivering the parting speech we all know and love, although I canít say that the frantic coupling on the hill before the stones really worked. Iím so glad we have the books for the greater depth and emotion of the moment. DIA remains one of my favorite books in the series and the constraints of time for the show have cost much.

One final note about the revelations at Craigh na Dun and Bree, Claire, and Roger. I wanted to see more trauma in the three of them when Geillie went back. I felt that Claire should have been far more affected by disorientation and actual pain, having travelled twice already and knowing that the effect increases every time. Some have said that the sun breaking over the stones and shining on Claireís face was too cheesy. I tend to agree, but it wasnít the light that bothered me so much as having Claire actually say she had to go back. I think the scene would have been stronger if she had said nothing and simply let the look on her face and the light breaking over it carry the moment, the more so because we donít yet know if Jamie has died since escaping. It was a premature statement and it bothered me. Still, it was a nice hopeful end to the season.

Overall, this was a very good episode and I applaud everyone involved in the production for a remarkably faithful and artistic adaptation of an extremely complex book. Congratulations all! You can be very proud of season two. I can hardly wait to see how you manage season three.

~Shads

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Replies:

[> Well done Shads! I liked it, I thought it took a hell of a lot of story and made ninety minutes out of it. Funny how we all thought a series would have everything from the books.......and I'm surprised how much is still missing. I wasn't thrilled with the Roger Casting, I wanted tall dark and handsome, this Roger is "cute". But I have to say I liked him from the get go, not my Roger, but this one will do fine. :) I thought the sex at the rocks was rushed and him starting to hear gun fire....... didn't the battle last 15 minutes? How far were they from Culloden? Bree seemed like a teenager to me, so Sopie's acting didn't bother me as much as others.....she seemed selfish enough. *g* -- M&M, 20:13:15 07/12/16 Tue

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[> Thanks Shads! Love reading your reviews. <3 -- Mia, 11:09:12 07/14/16 Thu

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[> Thanks Shads, Excellent recap as always! -- Kel, 18:55:06 07/14/16 Thu

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[> I felt it fit to have them meet at the Rev's wake also. I was a bit disappointed in Fiona's looks tho. I pictured her as "next door nice looking" - somewhat if Roger hadn't met Bree, a possibility of a romantic interest. But, cruel as it sounds, I know, that girl never had a chance either way. -- Kel, 18:58:19 07/14/16 Thu

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[> [> I had the same thought about Fiona. Maybe they just decided to cut that little storyline possibility for time and opted instead for a girl who somewhat resembled Mrs. Graham. -- Shads, 19:42:30 07/17/16 Sun

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[> I know I'm posting a few, but maybe we can talk about some of the individual points - l thought the ending was a bit "Gone With the Wind" - kept waiting for Claire to say Tomorrow IS Another Day! -- Kel, 18:59:42 07/14/16 Thu

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[> I have loved young Fergus in all his scenes. Here, he has been to battle, and realizes he will probably never see any of these dear friends again. Murtaugh's nod, Jamie & Claire calling him son. The importance of someone to remember what happened. That glance back. Oh my. -- Kel, 19:07:16 07/14/16 Thu

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[> I thought the scene with Rupert worked. When Jamie asked for time for his family safe, Rupert glanced at Claire - he was always fond of her, and he did not know, as we did, that she helped with the dirk. He still trusted that Jamie would hold to his word. -- Kel, 19:09:28 07/14/16 Thu

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[> I thought that Dougal was in such pain. He also heard that Claire supplied the drug for Colum (resulting in mortal sin as Jamie says), so her life was at stake as well as Jamie's. She wouldn't have a chance if Jamie lost the fight. I wondered how Jamie's wounded had was (pain/strength), although much time has gone by. It may also just be that it would look odd to have her just stand there and do nothing. -- Kel, 19:14:06 07/14/16 Thu

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[> I'm still processing the finale, will have to watch it again. But one thing that's really sticking out for me right now is Bree; they made her a historian? I thought she was an engineer? Doesn't that play a role later in the story? And I do agree that the end was a little 'gone with the wind', and Bree came off as a teenager, but overall I think the series is great. I watch with my heart pounding and cheer every time a character I know is introduced. I loooove when the use lines from the books! I intentionally did not do a re-read because I knew the show would be different. And that's ok because the books can stay special, in their own world so to speak. -- Miss Liss (formerly MJT), 19:32:26 07/14/16 Thu

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[> [> Bree started out as a History major and changed later to Engineering. -- CarolSR, 06:45:15 07/15/16 Fri

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[> Ok. Long time lurker, infrequent poster. LOVE these recaps!! I thought I would share this link. Even George R.R. Martin thinks outlander was snubbed! YAY (link inside. Maybe. I stink at this kind of thing) ---> -- ErinR, 18:23:22 07/15/16 Fri

Here's the link. You probably have all seen it already. My computer skills have not improved much since 1998!

http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/07/15/george-rr-martin-thinks-penny-dreadful-and-outlander-were-robbed-of-emmy-nominations

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[> [> Awww, thanks for the kind words. The reviews I write are just my opinions and impressions and I am flattered that you guys think they are worth reading. I saw that article from GRRM. He and DG are friends and I thought he made some very valid points. Tobias and Caitriona absolutely deserved more recognition than they got. -- Shads, 19:46:09 07/17/16 Sun

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[> Thanks Shads!! Watched the episode last night. I was very impressed with this season. Thought it much better than last...maybe because I "forgot" the books and just watched for the entertainment. That said I was disappointed in the last episode. I can't stand the time jumping and agree that if they had to do it they could have done it with much better timing! LOVE wee Fergus! Like Roger, jury is still out on Bree. I think they did a good job of aging Claire. It was such an emotional episode. Can't wait for a re-watch! -- CarolE, 12:57:11 07/18/16 Mon

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[> [> Well, I agree. The jumpiness simply meant that I couldn't sink into either of the intense storylines. I also had real issues with Claire's hair. She was a Boston surgeon. Dowdy Boston. Time-challenged surgeon, and she spent time and money on a fancy hairdresser? I grew up amongst Boston surgeons. They are academics, not fashion plates. It was all wrong to my eyes. -- Swarl, 07:07:30 07/23/16 Sat

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[> [> [> I see your point, and if she was working at the hospital I would agree with your take on Claire's hairstyle. Of course, she is on holiday and leave of absence from the hospital and TV Claire has been presented right along as something of a fashionista when circumstances permit. I was okay with it in this episode. -- Shads, 09:40:41 07/23/16 Sat

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