‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: Through a Glass, Darkly

Outlander Season 2 Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in ‘Outlander’ season 2 (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc)

Je Suis Prete, I am ready, DROUGHTLANDER IS OVER!!! Vive Les Frasers!! Yes, there is a decidedly strong French beginning to this Outlander recap, and for good reason. Even the incredible theme song has some French lines. Season 2 of Outlander begins on the shores of France, about halfway through the episode. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

The premiere episode starts with the dashing, and powerfully strong willed, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) lying on the ground in the standing stone circle of Craig Nah Dun. This is NOT how the second book begins the process. The only similarity between the book and the show is that it does begin with her back in her own timeline. If I dwell on the book differences I will invariably give out spoilers, so I will just leave it there for book-to-show comparison for this first part of the episode. They are far too different, but don’t let that dissuade you from watching the episode if you are a dedicated book fan. The episode really does a wonderful job of moving the story forward in its own right. And the second half converges with the book again.

As I said, at the stones, Claire is lying on the ground. To me it looks almost like she is surprised by this fact, but we will have to wait and see if my impression is correct (maybe in the finale when they close the circle?). You book fans know where I’m going with that {wink}. She kneels in front of that evil center stone and wails at it, hence my impression of surprise on her part. All of those she had just seen are GONE! She is utterly devastated and begins to walk down the road she drove up only a few years before. A man comes around the road behind her and tries to help her. She is completely disoriented and is extremely surprised to hear a car horn behind her. The gentleman is shocked to hear her ask what year it is. He responds that it is 1948. She lashes out at him after he hesitates to answer another odd question about who won the Battle of Culloden. He tells her that the British won. She crumples to the street in tears.

The scene transitions to Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) charging down the hospital hall after receiving a call from the doctor (Sandy Welch) that Claire had been placed in a room there. Frank enters the room and the first thing Claire mentions is the noise as she looks out the window at the cars and buses passing by. Then she sees the reflection in the window of Frank and it startles her. She can’t hardly look directly at him. He voices his delight at her being back and approaches her. She jumps back because she sees, NOT Frank, but Black Jack Randall (also Tobias Menzies). It is but a flash, but enough that Frank apologies, unknowing what he is apologizing for. Of course he could have no idea about BJR at this point, much less anything else other than Claire is back and in front of him. Then, a kind and gentle news man {said in all sarcasm} pops in the room and snaps a photo. That gets into the papers along with the headline that she has been returned from the Fairies.

Frank mentions that they can stay with the Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet) while she recovers. An event that never happened in the books is that Claire is able to speak with Mrs. Graham (Tracey Wilkinson), the Reverend’s housekeeper. In the book Claire laments that she wished she had the opportunity to speak with her, so I found this a great addition to the show. It also is consistent given the fact that Mrs. Graham told Frank about the stones in episode 8, ‘Both Sides Now,’ in the last season. Also something that never happened in the books.

Tobias Menzies in Outlander season 2
Tobias Menzies in ‘Outlander’ season two (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc)

Frank notices the clothes that she wore lying on a chair in the room. It actually helps to prove things. Frank got an opinion on the clothes from a colleague while they are having Claire recover at the Reverend’s house. He finds that the outfit is incredibly valuable and rare in their current 1948 timeframe; not something that can simply be purchased. During the week of Claire’s recovery up to this point, she is combing through the Reverend’s archives of information on the Battle of Culloden. Mrs. Graham and Claire start discussing Jamie, and it is the first smile we see from Claire. As they are talking, it hits Claire afresh that he is dead. All of them are dead. She is now 200 years in the future again. Mrs. Graham tries to help Claire cope and also says she needs to move forward, that she cannot live the rest of her days searching for ghosts.

Later that night, around bedtime, Claire asks Frank to step into her room so they can talk. They do have separate rooms. Claire has decided to tell Frank about what happened to her, so she imparts the story of the journey she took. She includes Jamie, all of it. But like Jamie, Frank believes her. Frank also relays to her his pain at losing her and what he has gone through. Tobias does an incredible job helping us to feel Frank’s situation. How would any of us react to such a tale? Frank accepts everything in such an unconditional way. Then she drops the other shoe. She is pregnant. Initially Frank is overjoyed, then realization hits him that it could not possibly be his. This is the one moment of rage we see in Frank, and it scares Claire profoundly; as if she were facing Black Jack again. Frank runs out the door and outside. He stumbles into a workshop of the Reverend’s. He starts destroying things; breaking, beating, throwing anything he can get his hands on. Then he finally dissolves into tears on the floor.

Frank and the Reverend have a chat and Frank offers to pay for the damages, but the Reverend pushes that to the side. He asks Frank about how he would handle the child. Frank revealed that he discovered he is sterile and cannot produce a child of his own. He and the Reverend continue to talk out the situation and Frank comes to the understanding that Jamie’s child through Claire is his only chance to have offspring. During this chat we get to see wee Roger (Rory Burns) again. Such a precious little boy. It does help Frank to hear Roger call the Reverend father. The Reverend points out that blood is not the only thing that makes a father and child relationship. Frank goes to Claire and tells her that he is willing to raise the child together, with no mention of Jamie. Jamie could be nothing but a ghost to the child and Frank is flesh. He also says that she must let Jamie go as long as he draws breath. Claire says that she knows she has to do that already, she promised Jamie she would do that much. She takes his hand and they embark on their new life together; marriage reset and heading for Boston. That blasted newspaper article about the fairies forced the decision of Frank taking an offered position at a university there.

At the bottom of the stairs of the plane into Boston, Frank reaches for Claire’s hand. As she takes it the scene resolves to show Claire taking Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) hand instead, off the boat from Scotland into France. They head for an Inn nearby. Jamie is still incredibly wounded and nursing serious injuries. We see him trying to get comfortable on a bed, but you can tell he is still dealing with physical and psychological impacts of what was done to him in Hell’s door way as I like to call it, the Wentworth Prison. He reveals to Claire that he does feel BJRs touch still. Claire says that she is there and he is not. Jamie jokes, always with that excellent sense of humor, that she is a tough one to get rid of. She says that she is stubborn, just like her husband. They both share a smile, but you can sure tell his healing has a very long way to go; it has only been a week in his time period. So Claire changes the subject to the path before them. The goal is to change the future. They have to stop the uprising from happening. Jamie asks if they should not try to win it instead of stopping it. Claire does not know enough to help win the battles, she only knows it happens and what the end result is. They discuss the challenge before them and determine the only path they can take is to try to stop it.

Jamie decides to write a letter to his cousin, Jared Fraser (Robert Cavanagh). They speak with Jared and have to convince him that they are on his side in the cause. To convince him they end up showing Jared the scars on Jamie’s back. That was all it took. Jared will help them to get involved with the Jacobite cause in France. Jared needs to make a trip so he allows Jamie to live in his house in Paris and requires him to help with his business. The bargain is struck between the pair. As the men sorted the details, Claire goes outside for a little walk in the fresh air. A terrible ruckus goes up across the docks. Claire sees a man being taken off one of the newly arrived ships. She recognizes the illness right away…Smallpox.

The man is taken into a nearby warehouse. Claire pushes her way in, professing to be a healer (in French). This is a new element to the show, subtitles. Claire knows French so we get to see the words this time around. She didn’t know Gaelic so we didn’t get subtitles when those words are spoken, still don’t when Jamie spouts them off. *snort*

The Harbor Master (Christian Perez) enters the area, as does Le Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber). Claire goes to the Harbor Master and tells him it is the pox. The ship’s captain (Fabien Lucciarini) knows what this will mean, so he grabs Claire in a panic. Of course Jamie doesn’t take kindly to this man rudely and roughly handling his pregnant wife. A second sick man is brought in just then and is already dead. The Harbor Master has no choice but to order the destruction of the ship and all the cargo. Le Comte St. Germain does not like this idea, even though he knows it is the law. He will lose a fortune in cargo. Since Claire said it so loudly, and in French so all could hear, there is no way to save the ship nor keep the story from spreading like wildfire. There is no way to conceal the issue now. The ship and cargo must be destroyed.

Le Comte stops Claire, asking who she is. After a pleasant exchange, with energy so thick you could cut it with a knife, Le Comte St. Germain threatens her for this disaster. If Claire hadn’t shouted out what was going on it could have been concealed, so he directly blames her for the loss of the ship and cargo. The Le Comte is a major competitor of Jared’s in the wine business. When Claire steps in it, she REALLY does it up right. He is a noble man of France, he is a competitor in the business that Jamie is about to steward for Jared, and she thoroughly set his anger level into wrath of the highest order. Watch your back, Sassenach. This just complicated an already highly complicated mission.

Outlander Season 2 Recaps:

  • OutlanderEpisode 2 Not in Scotland Anymore
  • Episode 3 Useful Occupations and Deceptions
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