Outlander Does The Time Warp Again
The Season 2 premieres wallows in the depression of a flash-forward before getting to the good stuff.
The Office Of Mr. Proper McScottishman
To the editorial board of the Inverness Gazette,
I usually make it a point not to involve myself with the press, as I find the institution to be largely made up of libelers and scoundrels, but I suddenly find myself at the core of a story that I feel must be made public. While driving past the rocks of Craigh na Dun, I came upon a distressed woman ambling down the road. By the manner of her dress, I initially took her for a museum plunderer or an Elizabethan-themed prostitute. When I exited my automobile to offer my assistance, she turned to me like a loon and inquired as to the year. The year! I informed her it was the year of our Lord and King 1948 and she reacted by grabbing me by my wool coat and demanding to know who won the Battle of Colloden. Can you imagine such malarkey and tommyrot? I told her that, of course, the British, under the leadership of the Duke of Cumberland, defeated the Scots, putting an end to the Jacobite Rebellion and the Highlander culture. This only intensified her distress.
Now, I am a man of practicality and sturdy constitution. Always have been and always will be. Even as a boy, my schoolhouse companions referred to me as "prudent, yet conservative." It's that reputation that allowed me to become the third-best elbow patch salesman in Inverness. But I find this crazed, sweaty lass testing the boundaries of even my rational mind. It's possible this is all one big practical joke brought into being by my chief rival: the second-best elbow patch salesman in Inverness, that oaf Angus Snodgrass. But isn't it also possible that this woman was....
KIDNAPPED BY THE FAIRIES???
We Made A List
French Things To Expect Based On The French-ified Season 2 Title Sequence
Ornate grandfather clocks and ruffles!
Tiny golden surgical hammers!
Women with whimsical makeup, whispering!
Reunited And It Feels So-So
Situation: Claire has returned to 1948, two years after disappearance. This is a flash-forward for Claire AND a flash-forward for the story, since we last left Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh as they set sail for France and the Bonnie Prince Charlie.
What makes it awkward? Umm...Claire has to explain to her 20th century husband that she traveled though time using pagan fairy magic and, among other things, married a twenty-year-old Scottish lord with permanently wavy hair. There's also the matter of Frank looking exactly like his sadistic British ancestor, Black Jack Randall.
How is order restored? IT IS NOT! Frank is happy beyond words to have Claire back, but Claire is still too traumatized to deal with her first husband. She simply asks whether Mrs. Graham is still in Rev. Wakefield's employ before turning away from Frank to stare resentfully at cars.
They Used My Headline!
Thanks, Mrs. Graham!
MINI-FLASHFORWARD! Just two weeks this time -- enough time for Frank to mail Claire's garb to a fellow historian and have them confirmed as authentic. Claire's been spending her days searching through the Rev's Scottish history books for a hint as to Jamie's fate, without much luck. Frank is predictably twitchy and on edge. The Rev is masking some uncertainty in his faith in the face of Claire's miraculous return. (Or maybe it's a vindication? I'm still unsure about this show's relationship to religion and magic.) Planes are loud, and everything about the modern world is an insult to Claire's disposition.
But Claire's got one thing going for her: Mrs. Graham. Enough time has passed between Claire divulging her story to the kindly housekeeper and this moment that she already notices patterns in Claire's stories about Jamie. She points out that Claire always mentions Jamie's sense of humor, even when telling particularly harrowing tales. Mrs. Graham provides an outlet for Claire to unload her tales of adventure during a time when she's still too close to the past to confide in Frank. We like you, Mrs. Graham. You accept the fantastical, which is a positive in the Outlander universe. Thank you for giving Claire a female friend while she's recovering from the horrors of war and, I'm just guessing here, even more horrific rape scenarios.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Frank Smash (Pottery)!
Two weeks after Claire's reappearance, Frank is finally ready to talk about...not wanting to talk about where Claire's been. In her bedroom, he tells her once again that the details of the past two years are of no interest to him; he's just glad she's here, even though she doesn't seem too thrilled about it. "Let me tell it at my own pace," she insists.
By morning, Frank looks like he's been hit by a train. But after taking in Claire's garments once again, he tells her that he accepts her story: "It's quite the leap of faith, but I'm prepared to take it." Even though, like Jamie, he accepts her story unconditionally, Claire seems to think he's patronizing her. When he reaffirms his trust in her, she tries to make it clear that his support is wasted because she's devoted to Jamie. Except, as Frank points out, she's still wearing Frank's wedding ring. He waited two years for her, ignoring everyone else who tried to make him believe she'd left him on her own volition, and possibly for another man. Now he's been proven right -- and wrong -- but it doesn't matter because: love. Except, it might matter because Claire's pregnant.
Frank temporarily forgets how babies work and thinks this means he's going to be a father. When he finally realizes, he's devastated, and Claire's no help cheering him up: "I'm carrying another man's baby, Frank. You need to realize what that means, for all of us." This activates Frank's Randall lizard brain. He jumps up from his chair and seethes over Claire, snarling like Jack with his fist vibrating. But Frank is not his great-great-great-great-grandpappy, so he excuses himself to take his anger out on some innocent clay pots in the Rev's garden shed.
Just Look at His Wet, Depressing Little Eyes
The Scene: Coming off his conversation with Claire, Frank divulges to Rev. Wakefield his sterility -- which he just happens to have had confirmed by a doctor fairly recently -- and Claire's pregnancy.
The Symbol: While the good minister tries to preach "God's plan" to an uninterested Frank, this pasty fucker walks in:
The Meaning: Frank really wants a child, even if looks this Roger kid, who'll probably die from whatever children died from in the '40s. Yellow fever? Dropsy? Rev. Wakefield, much to Frank's chagrin, compares his role in his nephew's life to the one Frank could have with Claire and Jamie's brood: "Children accept the world that's presented to them."
A Marriage Contract
Who called the meeting? Frank.
What's it about? He's thought long and hard about it, and he's come to the conclusion that he's fine raising Jamie's child, as long as he can have Claire in his life. He does have two conditions: (a) the child will be told Frank is the father, and (b) Claire must give up Jamie's ghost. That means, among other things, no secret trips to the library to search through old texts for clues as to Jamie's ultimate fate.
How'd it go? After the earnestness with which he approached Claire before, Frank's more businesslike approach serves him well here. Claire agrees to his terms, and to join him when he accepts his new teaching position...in AMERICA!
Back To The Past
Alert Type: Twisty Timeline Alert.
Issue: After spending two thirds of the episode in 1945, we (thankfully) flash back from 20th century Claire arriving in the States to 18th century Claire arriving in France with Jamie and Murtagh!
Complicating Factors: Murtagh thinks France smells like frogs.
Resolution: No resolution. He's right. France smells like frogs.
Spoiler: Frogs will not play a prominent role...in this episode!
It's Outlander! In France!
In lieu of the sheer majesty of the Scottish Highlands that served as the backdrop for Season 1, Outlander's second season finds us in the urban sprawl of Paris (or...Prague dressed up as Paris). Here's what you need to know for Claire's latest adventure:
Q: Why did Claire and Co. flee Scotland?
A: Murtagh and the other hobbits broke Jamie out of British prison with the help of a few dozen rams, which is AGAINST THE LAW.
Q: Understandable. Why France?
A: Jamie and Murtagh's cousin Jared lives here. He's also a wine merchant and an out-and-proud Jacobite!
Q: Oh, good! Are they here to help the Jacobites with Claire's knowledge of the future?
A: Nope. Claire doesn't know shit.
Q: Wait, wasn't she married to some dude whose two roles in life were eating her out and talking about Scottish history?
A: Actually, she's still married to that guy (or she never was, or will be, or whatever). And, no, she never picked up any information on the reasons the Highlanders ultimately lose.
Q: Is there a Plan B?
A: Glad you asked! Claire wants to use Jamie's cousin to infiltrate the Jacobite hierarchy and, somehow, some way, stop the exiled Stuart King James from returning to Scotland and declaring war on the British. Claire's primary goal is to preserve the Highlander culture which would be desolated were they to follow the path of history. At least that's what she says. If we're being honest, Claire really just wants to change history so that Jamie doesn’t die in battle. That way, she can continue living the charmed life of a woman in 18th century Europe, with all its sadistic religious figureheads and poor hygiene and CONSTANT THREAT OF RAPE.
You Better Explain Yourselves! Unless You Don't Feel Like It!
Along on Claire and Jamie's French adventure is Murtagh, which is great for everybody, because Murtagh is the best. Not the best: this scene in which Murtagh demands to know why Jamie and Claire want to stop the Jacobite rebellion from forming. For obvious reasons, Claire and Jamie choose to keep the truth from Murtagh. Murtagh trusts that Jamie wouldn't risk his life to prevent a rebellion if he didn't have a good reason, but he can’t say the same for Jamie's shady British wife, no matter how winsome and adorably headstrong she may be. What finally satisfies Murtagh's skepticism?
Great job, Outlander. This obstacle certainly could have been addressed a little less...stupidly? Yeah, "stupid" is the word I'm going with. Anyway, shortcuts might have been necessary in order to spend more time with two of our primary Paris players....
A Jared We Can All Believe In
Name: Jared Fraser. Age: 40s. Occupation: Wine merchant/Jacobite. Goal: Take a trip to the West Indies for reasons that, surely, aren't slave-related in the least. He's in need of a man to run his vineyard in his absence, and Jamie's apparently "good at figures," as it were. After some initial wariness concerning Jamie's devotion to the Jacobite cause -- a wariness extinguished by Jamie's mangled, magically persuasive back -- Jared offers to connect Jamie and Claire to the Jacobite big wigs in exchange for their running his business. Sample Dialogue: "In France, to be known as a Jacobite is a badge of honor -- supporters of the true faith against the heretic on the throne."
Sexy Creep, À La Française
Name: Le Comte St. Germain. Age: Early 30s. Occupation: French nobleman/entrepreneur. Goal: Not to set his vessel and its contents on fire because of a deadly ship-wide smallpox outbreak. Too bad Claire's around to fuck up your plans, your hot, bewigged, French devil. She doesn't even care that you have the jawline of Zayn and the alpha confidence of Sam the Eagle! Sample Dialogue: To Jamie and Claire: "The British give out titles of nobility like pearls before swine." SNAP.