'Outlander' season 2, episode 1: 'Life is never dull with you, Sassenach'
And just like a whirlwind through the stones of Craigh na Dun, we're back with our beloved Outlander characters. Claire Randall Fraser is unhappily back in the 1940s, frantically trying to find out about the Battle of Culloden. And we're feeling every single emotion with Caitriona Balfe.
Whose stomach didn't twist just at the sight of Frank Randall? Even when I see Tobias Menzies acting in other things, I get a little queasy. It's still a crime he didn't win the Golden Globe for last year's season. (Christian Slater won for Mr. Robot.)
Our heroine is also anxious seeing her first husband, two years after disappearing from Scotland. Frank can't contain his excitement, although he's reserved when he soon realizes Claire doesn't share in his happiness.
The couple find solace at the Reverend Mr. Roger Wakefield's residence where it seems Claire is opening up to Mrs. Graham, the housekeeper, and witch who foreshadowed Claire's adventures back in the first episode of the series. Mrs. Graham tries to reason with Claire in hopes to get the husband and wife moving forward with their lives. "Don't spend the rest of your days chasing a ghost when there's a real flesh-and-blood living man who loves you with all his heart."
So when Claire finally decides to share with Frank everything — and I mean, everything — he seems to take it like a saint. He's understanding. He's willing to look away, look on, and move on with Claire. But then she drops the bombshell — she's pregnant. First, he's overjoyed. We learn later that he's sterile and had come to terms with never having children. The tragedy of the realization it's not his child washes over his face. Claire risked this reaction when she went to Frank. She knows he's a rational man and he might not believe the "fairytale" she lived. But, remarkably, he did. What he can't handle is the logical result of Claire's story.
Frank goes to the Reverend, who knows a little about raising another man's child. He's raising his nephew, Roger, the cutest child ever.
Ultimately, Frank's unconditional love comes with conditions. He will raise this child as his own, but she has to put Scotland — and Jamie — behind her. For good. So they burn her Scottish garbs (thanks for that melodrama, guys) and board a plane to the United States.
Claire seems happier as she walks off the plane, but her smile is much more genuine when the camera pans out and back in and we see Jamie holding her hand!
Oh, how I've missed you Sam Heughan. (I mean, you never really left me. Thanks, Twitter.) Does his hair seem fluffier this season?
I don't know about you, but my heart just felt more at home watching Claire return to Scotland with Jamie. It's 1745 and the Frasers are in France. Jamie is still wrestling some demons, but this Fraser marriage is a strong one. They team up to change a little history. Because, sure.
Jamie is at first hesitant to stop Charles Stuart and the Jacobite rising (so the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1745 isn't as devastating to his clan) because he's an honorable man. But Claire, as cunning and stubborn as she is, knows what needs to be done for the greater good. They pay a visit to Jamie's cousin Jared, who's part of the Jacobite movement and, luckily, has a place for them while they're in Paris. Jamie and Claire will be handling his wine business while he's out in the West Indies. Perfect cover. Everyone loves wine!
The moment with Murtagh was great. He knows something is up, but trusts the two of them enough that a non-answer, and a hug, is all he needs to go along with the plan.
But because Claire can never stay out of the way, she finds herself amidst a smallpox scare. A crew has come to port, and one of the crewmembers is basically dead of the disease. She wants to tell the masses, making sure to quarantine those necessary. But the ship's owner, a French businessman, the Comte St. Germain, wants to keep this a secret.
Plotting political strategy and making enemies on Day 1. That's our Claire!
"Life with you is never dull, Sassenach."
No, it's not.
Watching these two men do anything Claire says is always intriguing to watch. Just how much are we going to watch this new life Frank and Claire build in Boston? Because this France story seems much more compelling. But let's take count of the timeline here. Claire is pregnant at the beginning of this season, when the arrive in France in the 18th century. But she's not showing. She's also pregnant, and not showing, when she comes back to Frank in the 20th century. So this must be a second child for Jamie and Claire. It makes you wonder what Claire meant in the opening narration when she said she "made a promise and had to keep it — even if it meant living a life I no longer wanted."
Note: The opening sequence changed a little. A French verse was added to the song, and oh yeah, those voluptous boobs. I'm not complaining.
FOR BOOK READERS
These few notes are meant for fellow book readers. If you'd like some insight into how Diana Gabaldon's story unfolds, read on.
Dragonfly in Amber opens in the 1960s, with Roger Wakefield, Claire and her 20-year-old daughter Brianna. Frank has just died and now Claire can revisit the Scottish history she promised to leave behind. I bet the reason for the deviation is because of Tobias Menzies, who plays Frank and Black Jack. It's a smart decision. He's the best actor on the show, hands down.
The show did cast Briana, however, so this original Dragonfly timeline will come up later in the season, I hope.
I also think the show's insight into the happenings immediately following Claire's return gives depth to the character of Frank, and that's a good thing. We really do need to care for Frank, and Menzies needs to keep acting.
What do you think of this change-up?