Here are my reactions to Episode 702 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “The Happiest Place on Earth”. This was a fantastic episode, well-written, well-acted, emotionally intense, and very faithful to the book.


There are SPOILERS below! If you don’t want to know yet, stop reading now.

As the episode begins, Claire finds Allan Christie in the graveyard where his sister Malva is buried. Most of the dialogue here comes straight from ABOSAA chapter 122, “The Guardian”, the first of many scenes in this episode that come straight from the book. Allan is clearly overwhelmed with grief and despair; there is a pistol on the ground beside him. I thought Alexander Vlahos did an excellent job in this scene, letting us see everything Allan was feeling.

“She was perfect,” he whispered. His finger traced its way over the stone, delicate, as though he touched her flesh. “So perfect. Her wee privates looked like a flower’s bud, and her skin sae fresh and soft.…”

A sense of coldness grew in the pit of my stomach. Did he mean … yes, of course he did. A sense of inevitable despair began to grow within me.

“She was mine,” he said, and looking up to see my eye upon him, repeated it more loudly. “She was mine!” He looked down, then, at the grave, and his mouth turned in upon itself, in grief and anger.

“The auld man never knew–never guessed what we were to each other.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 122, “The Guardian”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

And just to make sure that we get the point, we see a brief flashback of Allan having sex with his teenage sister.

Allan’s explanation of what happened is almost word-for-word from the book, except for another brief flashback. We see him on the day of the murder, trying to convince Malva to go away with him, and she refuses.

“But I love you,” Allan says.
“I don’t love you,” she replies.

From the look on his face, we can imagine those words echoing in his mind forever. So he cut Malva’s throat, but that hasn’t put an end to his misery. Unable to live without her, Allan puts the pistol to his head. After a brief struggle, Claire attempts to talk him out of killing himself, but he insists he can’t live. And suddenly he collapses, an arrow protruding from his back. Young Ian has, quite literally, put Allan Christie out of his misery.

In the next scene, which is not in the book, we see Claire and Ian digging Allan’s grave. Suddenly Mrs. Bug appears, unsmiling and humorless as always in her TV incarnation. She doesn’t ask any questions about how Allan died, saying only that she knew he was trouble from the beginning, and however he died, “he must have deserved it.” Then she offers to help dig the grave. I suppose that was meant to make Mrs. Bug more sympathetic, but she still seems cold and rather unlikeable to me, quite unlike the book version.

The title card for this episode is an old video of visitors to Disneyland, probably circa 1960 or so. It’s obviously a reference to Bree’s memories later in the episode.

In the next scene, Bree is giving birth, with Claire acting as midwife and Jamie and Roger there to witness. Most of this scene is taken from ABOSAA chapter 114, “Amanda”, but Claire’s “bottom of the ninth” line is a clear reference to the chapter title of that name in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, in which Jemmy is born. I liked that.

I loved Roger’s reaction to the new baby. Roger looks good here, with his beard trimmed more than in previous episodes. In case you’re wondering about his reference to “Little Otto”, that comes from the book:

He had come to know her intimately, through the months of being roused suddenly by pokes and kicks, of watching the liquid heave of Brianna’s belly, of feeling the little one swell and retreat under his hands as he lay behind his wife, cupping her stomach and making jokes.

But he’d known her as Little Otto, the private name they’d used for the unborn child. Otto had had a distinct personality–and for a moment, he felt a ridiculous pang of loss, realizing that Otto was gone. This tiny, exquisite being was someone entirely new.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, “Amanda”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The scene with Jamie holding baby Mandy at the stable is not in the book, but I thought it was really sweet.

“Someday you’ll ride him. Grandda will teach you. And you will be a braw equestrian.” Awwww!

The next scene, with Claire and Mandy in the surgery, comes almost entirely from the book. Claire notices that the baby’s fingernails are tinged with blue — definitely not a good sign! I was glad to see they included the wooden Pinard stethoscope, which was invented in 1895 as a means of listening to the fetal heartbeat.

The whole sequence that follows is just heartbreaking. I had tears in my eyes, watching Claire break the awful news that baby Amanda has a heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus. A routine surgical procedure could fix it, in the 20th century, with a modern operating room and surgical staff, but here, there is nothing Claire can do.

I thought Caitriona was very good in this scene. Watching Claire, just before she tells Bree what’s wrong, I was struck by the fact that although Claire is an experienced surgeon, and has no doubt delivered bad news to patients and their families any number of times, it’s an entirely different thing when you’re dealing with a patient who is also a close relative. The look in her eyes managed to convey that without any words at all.

Claire’s explanation of the medical situation comes from ABOSAA chapter 14, “Amanda”.

“Will she die?” [Bree] asked bluntly, looking up at me. Her jaw was set, but I saw the way she held Amanda closer, waiting for an answer. I could give her nothing but the truth.

“Probably.” The word hung in the air between us, hideous.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, “Amanda”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

“Can you fix it?” Bree asks.
“No. But I know somebody who can.” She’s thinking of Joe Abernathy, of course, or one of her other former colleagues at the hospital in Boston.

Jamie is uncharacteristically quiet during this scene, as they try to absorb the news. I wonder if that’s partly because he’s lived all his life with the knowledge that infants die frequently, from disease or other causes. It’s a horrible, tragic fact of life in that time.

The next order of business is to begin making plans to bring Mandy through the stones to the 20th century. Bree suggests that they use the stones on Ocracoke Island, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, near where Stephen Bonnet’s hideout from Episode 510, “Mercy Shall Follow Me”, was located. And for that, they need four gemstones, one for each of them.

In the next scene, Claire and Jamie are alone in their bedroom, and Claire is tormenting herself by imagining exactly what she’d have to do, to perform the surgery herself, then admitting, “It’s impossible” to do such an operation in 18th-century conditions.

Jamie suggests that they pray instead. “I ken it might not be your first inclination, but I find it eases the mind.” I was a little taken aback to hear Jamie praying to St. Eligius, patron saint of horsemen, but I suppose it’s appropriate, given what he told baby Mandy in the earlier scene at the stable.

The bit where they test Mandy to see if she reacts to a gemstone comes straight from the book.

Jemmy picked up the ring and leaned over Mandy’s basket, holding it directly over her face. She kicked energetically and made noises–but whether because of the ring, or merely at the sight of her brother …

“She can hear it,” Jem said, smiling into his sister’s face.

“How do you know?” Claire asked, curious. Jem looked up at her, surprised.

“She says so.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, “Amanda”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This is our first indication (in books or show) that Roger and Bree’s children may share some special abilities related to the time-travel gene that their parents don’t have. Many fans have speculated that this is because they inherited a time-travel gene from each parent. Considering what we learned in MOHB and BEES about the children’s ability to sense each other, I think that’s likely.

So they need more gemstones. They travel to Wilmington in search of more.

Coming out of a shop in Wilmington, Bree spots a familiar face, and another, not so familiar but still instantly recognizable. It’s Lord John Grey, with his son, William Ransom, Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, resplendent in British army uniform. “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” Bree says, making me smile. She knows exactly who William is, because Jamie told her about William in Episode 511, “Journeycake”.

I liked what we saw of William here, though he seems awfully eager to go to war. (“Sometimes the only way to settle things is with iron and blood.”) Still, he is a very good-looking young man, with a pleasant voice, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.

Jamie, across the street, suddenly notices Lord John, William, and Bree, and he is clearly transfixed by the sight of both of his children together for the first time. It must seem like a miracle to him, but he has to remain out of sight so that William won’t see him. I liked the very subtle looks exchanged between Jamie and Lord John, where John reassures Jamie silently that William has no idea that Bree is his sister, nor that Jamie is his biological father, and John intends to keep it that way.

The scene between Bree and Lord John comes from ABOSAA chapter 116, “The Ninth Earl of Ellesmere”. It’s one of my all-time favorite scenes involving the two of them, and I thought it was very well done here, albeit condensed from the book version.

“I am the only father that William’s ever known. Do you know what it would do to him, to find this out now?” Well, yes, actually, but let’s not spoil things for people who haven’t read the rest of the books!

But of course, Bree does understand all too well what it’s like to find out as a young adult that your father isn’t the man who raised you. She tells Lord John about her other father, Frank Randall. (Notice the Frank musical theme playing softly in the background. We haven’t heard that in quite a while.)

“William would never stop loving you. Believe me. It was the same for me–when I found out about Da. I didn’t want to believe it at first; I had a father, and I loved him, and I didn’t want another one. But then I met Da, and it was–he was … who he is–” She shrugged slightly, and lifted one hand to wipe her eyes on the lace at her wrist.

“But I haven’t forgotten my other father,” she said very softly. “I never will. Never.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 116, “The Ninth Earl of Ellesmere”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I’ve always liked that bit in the book, and I’m really glad we got it on screen.

In the next scene, Jamie comes to see Lord John. This is another excellent scene, and it has two purposes: Jamie is looking for a gemstone, and the time has come to sever his relationship with Lord John, given that they find themselves on opposite sides of the war. In the book, the latter was accomplished through letters, but I think it works really well to have them discuss it face-to-face here. The regret that both men feel about the necessity of ending their relationship is obvious.

“The day I carried my godfather [Murtagh] from the battlefield at Alamance, I swore I’d never fight for the British army again.” – Good line

“Believe me, even in silence I shall remain your most humble friend.” – I liked that, too.

And then John hands over the sapphire that he has been carrying ever since Jamie gave it to him at Ardsmuir, some twenty years earlier. This is a change from the book, where there were actually two sapphires, this one and the sapphire in the ring John wore in memory of his first lover, Hector, killed at Culloden. In the book, he gives Jamie Hector’s ring and keeps the other sapphire. But since Hector’s ring doesn’t exist on the show, Lord John hands over the same sapphire that Jamie found on the silkies’ isle all those years ago. I like this change. The gift is equally meaningful to both of them, whereas Hector’s ring had no special significance to Jamie.

“You said you took it from that island all those years ago because you thought it might be of use to you one day. Perhaps this is that day.” I like that very much!

Back at the inn in Wilmington, Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Bree take inventory. They now have the four gemstones the MacKenzies need to travel through the stones. Jamie takes Bree outside for a private conversation, on a night filled with fireflies. (The fireflies look enormous to me, but I’m far from knowledgeable about them!)

Most of the dialogue here comes from a combination of two scenes, from ABOSAA chapter 52 (where Bree tells Jamie about Disneyland) and chapter 119. I like the way they melded elements of both scenes into one, so that it flows seamlessly, from the fireflies and Mickey Mouse to Jamie’s musings about what it would be like to travel to the future. Very cleverly done!

“This world of yours, this America,” he said finally, matter-of-factly. “The freedom that ye go to. There will be a fearful price to be paid. Will it be worth it, do ye think?” It was her turn then to be silent and think. At last she put her hand on his arm–solid, warm, steady as iron.

“Almost nothing would be worth losing you,” she whispered. “But maybe that comes close.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 119, “Loth to Depart”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

That’s another of my favorite quotes from this book, and I was delighted to see it on screen!

This wonderful scene is followed by another that combines two more of my favorite bits, the scene in which Jamie tells Claire that he’s dreamed about her in the future, in a room lit by what he took to be electric light (from ABOSAA chapter 68, “Savages”) and the scene in which Jamie gives Claire a gemstone, which she promptly throws out the window — because she has no intention of leaving him, ever — from chapter 119.

“I love you,” I whispered, and slid under the sheet beside him, putting my arms around him, hugging him close, warmer than the stone–so much warmer–and his heart beat with mine.

“I’m none so brave as I was before, ken?” he said very softly. “Not brave enough to live without ye anymore.”

But brave enough to try.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 119, “Loth to Depart”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

That line always makes me go, “Awwwww!” Just wonderful!

The MacKenzies, Jamie, and Claire take a rowboat to the remote island of Ocracoke, and find the standing stones that mark the time portal. And now there’s nothing left to do but say goodbye, maybe forever.

This is absolutely heartbreaking, and brought tears to my eyes. I wondered for so long, after what happened in Episode 511 (“Journeycake”), how they would pull off the real parting when the time came for the MacKenzies to go. Would the audience believe it, after their failed attempt in the earlier episode? Would it carry the same emotional weight?

I still don’t know how viewers who haven’t read the books will react to this, but I am completely satisfied now. These farewell scenes were done as poignantly and beautifully as I’ve always imagined. Thank God!

More impressions from the farewell scene:
– Jem’s “I love you” to Claire made me cry.
– “I’m proud of you, Roger Mac. And there’s no other man I’d trust with the lives of my daughter and the bairns.” Awwww!! Considering how their relationship started out, that’s high praise indeed.
– “a verra large mouse named Michael” – I was, of course, expecting this, but it made me smile to hear it anyway.
– “I will carry you in my heart and soul always” – that made me tear up again
– I liked Jamie’s tip of the hat to Bree and Roger at the last moment
– Jamie’s “For your sake, I will continue, though for mine alone, I would not.” – I’m really glad they included this line.

This whole sequence really could not have been done any better, in my opinion. Bravo!

I thought the bit with the toy airplane and the real one was an effective way to demonstrate that they really were in the 20th century.

In the next scene, Jamie and Claire return to Fraser’s Ridge, and both of them seem relieved to be home. Later that night, they try to make love, but Claire is too distracted and upset by the loss of their family. So Jamie simply holds her, while she weeps for them.

“Can ye weep for them, mo nighean donn?” he whispered into my hair at last. “Let them come in.”

The mere idea made me go rigid with panic again. “I can’t.”

“Weep for them,” he whispered, and his voice opened me deeper than his c*ck. “Ye canna hold a ghost at bay.”

“I can’t. I’m afraid,” I said, but I was already shaking with grief, tears wet on my face. “I can’t!” And yet I did. Gave up the struggle and opened myself, to memory and sorrow. Sobbed as though my heart would break–and let it break, for them, and all I could not save.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, “To Keep a Ghost at Bay”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

My mother used to say, sometimes you just need a good cry. And Claire has been through a lot since the last time she wept like that, in the cathartic scene at the end of Episode 607. I think she really needed this, to take her stress level down a few notches, because we’re not done YET.

The voiceover and montage that follows indicates that some time has passed — a few months, perhaps. I don’t agree with the statement at the end of the montage, “It really was the happiest place on Earth.” It’s not some idyllic Eden, after all. There’s been tragedy there, and terror, and not all of the memories are pleasant ones. But I can definitely relate to the way Claire sees reminders of Roger, Bree, and the children everywhere. I felt the same way, for a long time after my mom died. Every inch of the Big House is filled with memories, after all.

And speaking of the Big House, what a finale for this outstanding episode!! As Claire opens the door, we hear the sound of a match being lit. It’s Wendigo Donner, waiting for Claire in the dark.

Donner says he tried to go through the stones after drinking a bottle of whisky, but the stones spat him out. (Maybe he didn’t go through on the right day?) So he wants to know how it works. Claire tells him he needs to focus on a person on the other end. But that’s not all Donner wants. He’s brought a gang with him, in search of gemstones and any other valuables. What happens next is almost too fast to follow, but reasonably consistent with the book. In particular, pay attention to this:

“What? Did you find anything?” he asked eagerly, for both Richie and Jed were beaming with self-importance.

“Sure did,” one of them assured him. “Looka here!” He was holding Mrs. Bug’s workbag, and at this, he upended it and shook the contents out onto the table, where a mass of woolly knitting landed with a massive thunk! Eager hands pawed the wool away, revealing an eight-inch-long ingot of gold, the metal shaved away at one end, and stamped in the center with the royal French fleur-de-lis.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 123, “Return of the Native”. Copyright © 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

It’s clearly part of the Frenchman’s gold. But there’s no time to ask questions of the Bugs. In Claire’s surgery, one of the thugs smashes the ether bottle. It’s too dark to see, so Donner moves to light one of Bree’s matches. “No! Don’t do that!” Claire yells, but too late. With a tremendous BOOM, the ether ignites.

As the episode ends, we see from a distance that the entire Big House is consumed by fire. What a spectacular ending to a terrific episode!


By Damyan Ivanov

My name is Damyan Ivanov and i was born in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria. Graduated high school in 2016 and since then i'm working on wordpress news websites.