- Outlander -'Bees' Explained A Lot About How Time Travel Works In The Outlander Universe
When Claire accidentally fell through the stones at Craigh na Dun into the past, she had no idea that one day, her daughter would be working on a Time Traveler's Guide. But as in Outlander books past, the family has uncovered more about their time-travel powers in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. Now that Brianna is back in the past with her parents, she put her scientific mind to the task of figuring out more about this mystical ability. And with her theories and the wild events that took place in the ninth book by Diana Gabaldon, here's what readers — and the Fraser and MacKenzie gang — learned about time travel in the Outlander universe.
Spoilers ahead for Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.
The Healing Blue Light
Roger tells Claire about Hector McEwan's blue light power and how the time-traveling doctor from 1841 helped to heal his throat and Buck's heart in 1739. Roger says no one else could see the blue light but him, and Claire confirms a long-running fan theory that she had emitted some blue light when trying to save Malva's baby in A Breath of Snow and Ashes, just like Master Raymond emitted when he saved Claire after she lost Faith.
Claire and Dr. McEwan's healing light stems from them having a blue aura that indicates that they are descendants of Master Raymond. (And despite an early theory, the blue light doesn't seem to have anything to do with blue light evangelists like Captain Cunningham.) Claire tries the healing method on Roger, but it's when she brings the Cloudtree twin sister back to life that she's really able to access her power. In Claire's explanation, she "pressed my heartbeat into her back." She considered herself as "the sound of a heartbeat," as she thought of fire, tapping, and blue light. When she brings back Jamie at the Battle of Kings Mountain, she uses the blue light — while pressing her own body into his and conjuring the sound of a heartbeat — to revive him. This time, she seems to be able to absorb some of the things ailing him into her since she somehow spits out a musket ball that had injured him.
Since her hair isn't completely white yet at the end of the Bees, she still has more blue light healing power to come... just as Nayawenne had told her all the way back in Drums of Autumn. And could the bluestone that Sipio Jackson's grandmother gave to Claire that "heals sickness of spirit and of body" come into play when she does reach her full power?
Moving Through Time & Space
Although Doctor Who may have inspired Diana Gabaldon to write Outlander, Brianna says how the MacKenzie family wasn't willing to risk traveling through time and space to reunite with their family. Since they had to go from Scotland in 1739 to the American colonies in 1779, Brianna, Roger, Jemmy, and Mandy took a ship in 1739 to the colonies and then time traveled through Ocracoke to get to Jamie and Claire at Fraser's Ridge.
Just because the MacKenzies weren't willing to risk their family to try it out doesn't mean time travelers can't make like Doctor Who and do both. For instance, if Ezekiel Richardson is really Mike Callahan, was he able to travel from 20th-century Scotland to 18th-century America in one shot?
As for future time travel (as in, time travel to a time period beyond a person's original timeline), the verdict's still out for the Frasers and MacKenzies. But Master Raymond and the Comte St. Germain move forward in time at the end of "The Space Between," (and Raymond was presumably in the 1960s helping Robert Springer, aka Otter-Tooth). So it may not be out of the question for someone as powerful as Mandy.
The Ability To Change The Future
Roger worries that the Time Police will come and get them if they find their bastardized versions of Dr. Seuss's books. (Are the Time Police like the Time Variance Authority, the TVA, in Loki?) But, as of now, the time travelers' impact on the future has been rather negligible. Although, while a bootleg version of The Cat in the Hat may not have dire consequences, could Buck MacKenzie having sex with his own mother Geillis result in Roger ceasing to exist? And is there anything legitimate to Ezekiel Richardson's idea that if he changes the outcome of the American Revolution, slavery in America will end earlier? Well, since Claire and Jamie failed in changing the outcome of the Jacobite rising of 1745, as did Geillis, it seems more likely that Richardson is destined for the same.
Time Travel & Death
One of Brianna's working theories is that she introduces in Chapter 126 is the idea that the time travelers die when they pass through time. As Brianna explains to Roger, "everything is composed of the same infinitesimal bits of matter," or less formally, something like "stardust." She thinks the "time places" (where time travel occurs) could be where ley lines converge. (Ley lines are a theory, but they're said to be electromagnetic energy running through the earth that connects ancient monuments.) And that when you time travel, "You dissolve into stardust ... and your particles can pass through stone, because they're smaller than the atoms that make up the stones." If she's right, could time travelers also have some sort of deeper connection to the afterlife, like the Sachem who came back to life and now sees ghosts walking among the living?
Along with molecules or subatomic particles breaking up, Bree wonders how mass is accounted for in time travel because of the law of the conservation of mass. She thinks that one way people may die while time traveling is "they're headed for a time that... that doesn't have room for them, in terms of mass." She also ponders that if you don't have the time traveler gene, you may be guaranteed to die during the journey like some of the people who traveled back with Otter-Tooth.
Time Travel Causing Health Problems
Another of Bree's theories is that gemstones are what keep the time travelers' bodies intact once they reach the other side after they've dissolved to time travel. But she notes that the bodies may not come out completely unscathed, like how Buck's heart condition was exacerbated by his time travel and how she now suffers from atrial fibrillation since coming through the stones in Ocracoke. Claire claims Bree's condition is not necessarily life-threatening, but it's further evidence of the physical strain that time travel puts on the traveler. But is the physical toll of time travel strictly heart-related or could it extend beyond that?
The Other Senses
Along with Jem and Mandy "hearing" one another (they can hear their parents as well, and also Claire, "but not so much"), Mandy can sense or "see" others in her mind. Like Master Raymond could see Claire's aura, it seems Mandy can spot auras too... and not just those of time travelers. As Jamie explains, Mandy told him that he's a different color in her head from the other family members and she "kens when I'm near her." Jamie is the color of water to Mandy, as is her little brother Davy, which is why she doesn't believe that Davy can time travel like the rest of the family.
Mandy Is The Most Powerful Of The Family
There was already evidence that Mandy was the most powerful of the time travelers in the family, but Bees seemed to prove it. When the family was struggling to focus on Fraser's Ridge while traveling through at Ocracoke, it was Mandy that was able to bring them through safely by connecting with Jamie and his book A Grandfather's Tales. That, plus her ability to identify time travelers by their auras, seems to indicate that Mandy must take the most after her ancestor Master Raymond and that she's got some really amazing powers.
More and more people are beginning to learn about Claire & co.'s particular set of skills. Fergus confirms he knows what Claire's capable of doing and Roger reveals to him that he, Bree, and the two kids are also time travelers. Young Ian tells Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant) and Wakyo'teyehsnonhsa (Emily). Elspeth may have figured it out since she discovered Claire's Merck Manual (and she seems to be in touch with the supernatural herself). And Claire tells the Sachem.
Along with more people knowing, there's also more time travelers popping up. If you believe Ezekiel Richardson, then he's one. And if Fergus is the Comte's kid, maybe he is one too. Plus, there's the mysterious Amaranthus. So with more characters knowing and more characters with the gene, then perhaps the more Brianna and Roger will have to add to their Time Traveler's Guide in Book 10.