Steffan Hill/Starz
July 11, 2016 at 06:41 PM EDT

From the gleaming courts of France to the body-strewn battlefields of Britain, we’ve been on quite the journey during Outlander’s second season. Yet we end, essentially, where we began: with Claire in the future and without love-of-her-life Jamie.

The epic, 90-minute “Dragonfly in Amber” weaves the narrative’s two timelines, with a heavy emphasis on the 20th century,  where we meet the grown-up versions of Claire and Jamie’s daughter Brianna (played by Sophie Skelton) and Reverend Wakefield’s adopted son Roger (played by Richard Rankin).

For the sake of clarity (and to avoid space-time-continuum whiplash), I’ll be dividing this recap into past and present.

Past: Scotland, 1746

“Today is the day, James. And mark me: Before this day is over, I will make a believer of you.”

And that, indeed, is Jamie’s worst fear realized: Bonnie Prince Charlie forcing a woefully unprepared Jacobite army into battle simply to appease his own ego.  

When Jamie informs Claire that the Battle of Culloden will, in fact, take place, she offers one more (traitorous) solution: offing Charles. After all, if there’s no figurehead to fight for, the fight simply won’t happen. She proposes they slip some yellow jasmine (Colum’s suicide weapon) into the Prince’s tea.

“No one would ever know,” Claire reassures Jamie.

But someone does know. Dougal, unbeknownst to the couple, has been eavesdropping on their scheming and he is, to put it mildly, nonplussed. Dougal pulls his sword on Jamie. “Come to me,” he beckons to his nephew. “I’ll kill you quick for your mother’s sake.”

And so the master and student take up arms against one another, but Jamie has an advantage. And that advantage is Claire. She hits Dougal over the head with a chair, and while he’s down, Jamie pulls a dirk on him. It’s a battle of the two men’s wills, until Claire kneels down and helps push the knife into Dougal’s chest.

Dougal’s hardly taken his final breath when Rupert stumbles upon the bloody tableau, ready to seek vengeance. Jamie begs for two hours to sort his affairs before Rupert avenges his war chieftain. He begrudgingly agrees.

Long prepared for the worst (remember: Jamie’s no stranger to being a fugitive), he has the deed for Lallybroch on hand, and signs the property over to his nephew, with Claire and Murtagh serving as witnesses. And in a moment both tender and telling, Jamie entrusts young Fergus — the boy who has become like a son to the couple — with safely dispatching the document. Fergus is nervous about the task, but with Jamie’s reassurance, bravely agrees.

Next, Jamie instructs Murtagh to help see all the Lallybroch men back home. There’s no need for them to fight in a losing battle. Murtagh agrees — partially. He’ll see the men off, but he will not see them home. He will fight side by side with Jamie and die, if necessary. (I get a lump in my throat just typing out this sentence…)

Jamie’s final bit of business? Ensure Claire’s safe return home. And by home, he means the 20th century. Claire being Claire, she resists mightily. But Jamie has an ace up his sleeve: He knows Claire is pregnant. He’s not just protecting his wife, but his unborn baby too. “This child will be all that’s left of me, ever,” he insists, before reminding Claire of her promise to go back through the stones and back to Frank if anything ever happened to him. And it’s all just so heartbreaking. When they finally arrive at Craigh na Dun, Claire begs Jamie to come with her. “Even if I could go back through the stones, it’s not my place,” Jamie tells her. “My destiny lies on Culloden Moor. I’ll find you. I promise.”

Knowing these will be the final moments they ever share, Jamie pulls her close and they have sex one final time at the foot of the stones.

As cannon fire begins to sound, they exchange their parting gifts: Claire gives Jamie the dragonfly in amber (a wedding gift from Hugh Munro), while Jamie gives Claire a ring. She promises she’ll name their child Brian after Jamie’s father.

“I love you,” Claire says.

“And I you,” Jamie replies.

And with that, she is gone. To the future. To Frank. To a life without her heart’s true desire.

NEXT: Back to the future 

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Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in Starz's series.
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