Whooeee! Droughtlander is over! Season 2 has begun, so we now have 13 weeks of Outlander bliss. Well, if you count the tears that are bound to come as bliss. This season is going to be a whole different animal – the actors and creators have said over and over how different the season will be, in tone, costuming, sets – and that’s very exciting! One thing we can count on with Outlander is that there’s nothing except Jamie and Claire’s love for each other that can be counted on.
On to the episode! I think I heard a giant WTF??!!?? at the opening scene. Wha the? Claire and Jamie were just really starting their life together! And it was 200 years ago! And they were on a boat! WHAT is she doing walking down a road with a CAR coming toward her? I will tell you NBs that this is not where the second book started – ha, the beginning of Dragonfly made more than a few fans of the first book throw this one across the room and try to figure out where the book in between had gone. Obviously, something serious has happened, and Claire has reluctantly been ripped from Jamie’s side and sent back to her own time. We’ll get there, lovelies. But it will be very difficult, and won’t go where you think it will go.
The first scene, with Claire just becoming conscious from her second trip through the stones, directly paralleled the scene in season 1 episode 1, where she went through for the first time. Again, this passageway has taken her from something she loved to somewhere else – but this time, she knows for sure what she’s giving up, and it devastates her. (A note: in the trailer, there was some speculation that the blanket laying on her lap in the hospital was Jamie’s plaid – but it doesn’t look like she has one with her in that opening scene. But it was a beautiful touch of reminder.) The ring, looking like it’s missing a stone, obviously has great importance for her – she searches fruitlessly for the piece, and it recurs as she packs up after agreeing to Frank’s conditions. It must be something from Jamie, and I’m looking forward to seeing it come back later this season. But if someone disappears suddenly, and just as suddenly reappears, you bet there’s going to need to be a scene of explanation, reconnection, recrimination, anger. In the book, most of it was assumed rather than explicit, but here, Frank’s range of emotions was tremendous. Tobias Menzies was fabulous in this episode!
Claire can’t help seeing Frank now as his look-alike ancestor, and flashes back to Black Jack when Frank approaches her for the first time. Didn’t you love her “Frank… hello….” – tentative, afraid, desperately sad. And Frank, joyous in his wife’s return, can’t help but try to reach for her, and is seriously dismayed at her lack of returned excitement. And his growing frustration and anger – when she won’t speak to him, and then when she will – increase until he finally beats the shed to death. Frank seems like a mild-mannered professor – until he’s riled up, as we saw last season with the scammers, and now, as he realizes the extent of her betrayal. His face as it dawns on him that the child Claire is carrying can’t be his, after his moment of “almost hallucinatory” joy:
The music in these scenes is fantastic, and so well selected. It reminds me of many 1940s “scarlet woman” films – Mildred Pierce and others. (Maxine Sullivan, “Milkman, Keep those Bottles Quiet” – hear it here.)
Having Mrs. Graham become Claire’s confessor was a terrific device to introduce the story of Claire’s broken heart to the current setting. It’s obvious that Mrs. Graham is the only one who has a chance of believing her, and since this was the theory that she had offered to Frank in the first season, it makes sense that her ideas – that may have seemed crackpot to the rest of the world – are actually validated. But she’s also a practical woman, and urges Claire to move on, toward a man – “a real, flesh and blood man,” who loves her. That’s not what any of us, especially Claire, want, though! We all want her back with Jamie, and her heartbreak is ours as well.
But Frank, historian that he is, looks for anything he can find to prove to him that Claire is telling the truth, and sends the clothes she returned in to an expert. The speed with which he receives an answer bothers me – it’s been just a week since she came back and he already has an answer! Remember, there was no fed X, no computerized searching – maybe today we could get that kind of answer that quickly, but this is a minor but jarring timeline problem. Sorry, picky reviewer here… But he’s more likely to believe her and take the long story she tells him at face value. And he still wants her back as his wife – with conditions. I think he’s being fairly reasonable, but moving her along really fast! She’s supposed to put Jamie away that quickly? Never search for his fate, or that of the men she knew? And she gives in that quickly? Sure, Jamie told her to put him aside and live her life, but could you?
Bear McCreary is a master at choosing just the right tone for the mood! And speaking of music – the s2 opening credits had an interesting variation on the music – more spare, less accompaniment for the first verse, and the second sung beautifully in French, lush and full, with scenes and pictures from the upcoming episodes. I’m still not crazy about this opening sequence – still reminds me of 1980s Lifetime movies – but it was certainly more interesting than last season!
The parallels in this episode – the first half of the episode to the second half, the first season to the second season, Frank to Jamie – are very much on display. I loved this transition, and from the reactions of 300 fans at the New York premiere this week, so did they:
And this reaching hands scene so beautifully carries the theme of last season’s key art posters. I may not have been overly fond of this image from the first poster – it’s been used over and over – but I love the way Ron has carried the symbolism through.
AND FINALLY, JAMIE! It’s a battered and bruised Jamie but he’s beginning to heal. And yet another problem is thrown in his lap. How can two small people change the course of history? “You certainly have a high opinion of what a crippled hand and a pregnant woman can accomplish,” he tells Claire. “When were you not up for a challenge?” she shoots back. Jamie’s sense of honor is troubled by all the lies they’ll have to tell, but he’s on board(hopefully he’ll have less trouble on this ship of lies than he did on the real ship they just left!). But how long could that trip from Scotland to LeHavre have taken – just days, I’m assuming, yet Jamie has gone from “don’t touch me, please kill me” to complete return of loving glances and touches very quickly. (The show’s compressed timeline gives me some vertigo, but there’s really no cure for that.)
AND MURTAGH! Murtagh’s practicality and loyalty to Jamie are once again on full display here. He’ll go along, for the moment, without being brought into the loop, but he doesn’t like it at all! The Murtagh eyebrows are on full display here, as Jamie promises to tell him what the hell’s going on “at the proper time.” We know he eventually does – one of the trailers has Murtagh questioning Claire (and why was he writing down the years individually in that trailer?), so we know he does learn who and what she really is – but for now, he humphs his way through the tossed luggage.
Isn’t it convenient that Jamie has a wealthy, friendly, Jacobite cousin in perfect position to unwittingly help them accomplish all their goals? They need an entre into the Jacobite circle. Done. Need a job. Done. Need a position in society. Done! But not before Jamie has to give Jared some “proof” of the fire in his belly. “While the Cause has many friends, only a few are called Brother. And they are the ones with a fire of righteousness burning in their hearts. Tell me now, what is the fire that burns within you?” And Jamie’s scars are his key to the Brotherhood – even if he’s really hiding his true intent. And now Jamie and Claire have their foot in the door of the glittering world of Parisian society. The deception – all for the greater good – begins.
But it doesn’t take long before Claire gets them in trouble of a different kind. That woman just can’t mind her own business. See someone in trouble and she has to run off and try to save everyone. Hey, girl, you’re pregnant! She runs off to check on the man they’re dragging off the ship without having any idea, at least at first, of what’s wrong with him? No common sense, no sense of self- (or baby-) preservation, Of course, if she did the smart thing, we wouldn’t get this delicious scene with the delicious Comte St. Germain! Yep, the seaman is poxed, and it’s a hazard to the entire port city, and I don’t really understand why they have to destroy the ship and the cargo, but OOOH is he mad – he’d rather keep it all quiet, risk everybody in the harbor and make his profit? You know just from that that he is an unsympathetic, uncaring, cold type – but SO beautifully turned out… Hottie competition. As Jared puts it – “you’ve made an enemy today.”
I’ve been in New York all week, getting to as many Outlander events as possible (watch this space for lots of event recap next week!), and I’m SO ready for the court episodes with the stunning costumes and sets! “Another country, another enemy. Life with you is certainly never dull, Sassenach.”
I have some problems with the episode, as nothing is perfect. First, Wee Roger. That child has not aged a day in the last two years. I realize you can’t take an actual child and pull two years out of him – but that boy should probably be 5 or 6 at this point, not the same 3 or 4 he was in the last season. And if he doesn’t get older, he’ll never be Rik Rankin. And that REALLY needs to happen. (Non-book readers, Rik Rankin will play the grown-up Roger, who is an Important Character.)
And I’d like to suggest to the writers that they actually read their dialogue out loud in the Writers Room, before handing it to some of these actors to read. “Please hold your questions until the end,” Claire tells Frank. Sounds like a press conference. And Frank’s just as bad with the wooden lines – of course, he’s kind of always been written that way, a little on the stodgy side (and maybe that’s why Claire fell for Jamie, because he’s so much better at the talking thing), but it was more than a little jarring at times.
And of course, there was Not Enough Jamie. Not enough on-screen time, and for a sexy show, not enough sexy time. But the poor guy is just weeks past the torment he suffered, and just got off a hell vessel – Jamie gets horribly, deathly seasick. But that will all change! Ok, lovelies, I’m off – but stay with me, and I’ll bring you lots this coming week! I have some red carpet interview video, Tartan Week pictures, and more!!!
Follow me on Twitter: @ErinConrad2, @OutlanderTIBS, @threeifbyspace
Like our Facebook Page: Outlander – Three If By Space
Subscribe to our site for instant notice of new posts!