Outlander S02 E01: Through a Glass, Darkly
Outlander is back for a second season of adventure and intrigue. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.
The first episode opens with Claire waking up in the 20th century. The year is 1948, and her familiar world is but a memory. She walks down the center of a road when a motorist comes along behind her. He exits his vehicle to ask if the disoriented woman is in need of assistance. She asks the man who won the Battle of Culloden, and is distraught to learn that the British were victorious.
Claire is hospitalized. Frank is notified of his long lost wife’s return, and rushes to her bedside. He reaches for her, but Claire recoils at his touch, as she remembers Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, who could be her husband’s twin. Frank is grateful that Claire has returned to him, and tells her that they will be staying with Reverend Wakefield so she can recover privately from her ordeal. Word is out that the missing woman has returned as mysteriously as she had vanished, as one overzealous photographer is ushered from the hospital room after snapping a photo of Claire.
Once the couple has traveled to Wakefield’s, Frank reveals that he had asked a professor friend of his to examine Claire’s unusual clothing. Her garments are believed to be fine examples of women’s 18th century garb, but how she acquired them is still unknown.
Claire is obsessed with Scottish history, in particular Culloden and the Jacobite rebellion. Leafing through books in the garden, she fears her beloved Jamie and friends perished in the battle, and she is consumed with finding the names of the men lost during the struggle. She confides in Mrs. Graham, who advises Claire to keep her memories dear, but to stop chasing a ghost, and be present for the man who obviously still loves her.
It’s been two weeks since Claire’s return, and in front of a cozy fire, she tells Frank how she had gone missing. He told her before she began her tale that it didn’t matter what the circumstances were, just that he was happy she was back and that was all that mattered to him. While Frank admits her story is difficult to believe, he is willing to go along with it, and resume their lives after their two year separation. However, Frank needs to seriously consider his decision when Claire tells him she is pregnant with Jamie’s child.
Frank seeks Wakefield’s counsel, after telling the reverend his wife’s outrageous story. Frank confesses that he and Claire struggled with fertility issues, and Frank at first thought it a miracle when Claire revealed her pregnancy. Joy quickly turned to outrage when he learned the baby could not possibly be his. Wakefield suggests it is divine intervention that brought a fatherless child to a childless man.
Frank tells Claire that even though they have been apart for two years, he wants to start over with her, and raise Jamie’s child as his own. Stressed that their situation has become fodder for the press, Frank plans to take a position at Harvard in Boston. He also wants his wife to let go of her ghost, no more searching for anything about Jamie. Claire reluctantly agrees, more so I believe because she promised Jamie she would let him go. The couple embrace, but Claire is troubled by the promise she just made her husband. She offers Frank the outfit she was wearing when she returned, but Jamie’s wedding ring clings tightly to her finger. Frank allows her to continue to wear it for the time being, but burns the clothes.
The couple arrive in America, Frank descending the stairs before Claire. When she reaches the bottom, she takes Frank’s outstretched hand, but it morphs into the hand of her beloved Jamie, and Claire is now in France, the year 1745.
Claire and Jamie reunite in front of a ship docked at a French seaport. Murtagh joins them on land, voicing his displeasure about the strange country.
Claire tells Jamie that she plans to alter the future, by stopping the Jacobite rebellion. Scotland’s future depends on it, as she foretells the elimination of the Jacobites and the destruction of the Highland culture. Jamie would prefer to figure out a way to win the war, but Claire is unable to tell him any details of the squabble beyond the basics. She believes they should disrupt the rebellion in France before Prince Charles ever sets sail for Scotland. Claire suggests they use Jamie’s cousin Jared, a Jacobite, to meet the key players involved. While Jamie does not agree with the deception, he is persuaded when he realizes just how much is on the line.
Murtagh is upset that Claire and Jamie are keeping the reason for thwarting the rebellion a secret from him. He knows is must be stopped, but he does not know why. Jamie assures his friend that he will tell him when the time is right, but no one is sure when that will be.
Jared voices his suspicion at Jamie’s sudden interest in politics. He tells Jamie and Claire that Jacobites are a proud group united against the king, and they have enemies. Jamie removes his shirt, showing Jared the scars inflicted on him by the British army. It is for this reason that he wishes to rise up against the king. He wants Jared to arrange a meeting between him and the Jacobite leaders. He agrees to help, in exchange for Jamie running his wine business while he is away in the West Indies. Jamie will also share a percentage of the profits and enjoy Jared’s home in Paris.
Claire is walking along the seaport, when she sees a sick crew member being removed from one of the ships. Because she is a healer, she follows the group of bystanders into a building. She diagnoses the man as having smallpox, but he dies before she is able to attend to him. Claire insists that the people who rushed into the building to view the spectacle be quarantined, but Le Comte St. Germain wants to hide the people away to keep word of the fatal illness from spreading. In light of the present situation, the harbor master tells St. Germain that his ship, and all of its cargo, must be destroyed to prevent the disease from infecting more people.
St. Germain is furious with the Englishwoman’s involvement, upsetting the bystanders with her demands for a quarantine. He believes that it is her ranting that will cause him to lose his property. He vows revenge against both her and Jamie, before watching the flames of his vessel and all of her contents illuminate the night sky. Jared tells Claire and Jamie that St. Germain has a good memory, and that he is now their enemy.
I think this season is off to a great start. While I’m happy Claire and Jamie are together again, I feel for Frank, left behind one more time. I can only imagine what he is thinking. Le Comte St. Germain is shaping up to be a villain audiences love to hate; I’m sure he will cause problems for the couple in the future. I’m already hooked on this season and can’t wait for next week’s episode.