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Review: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 1, ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’: So Many Good Men

Review: 'Outlander' Season 2 Episode 1, 'Through a Glass, Darkly': So Many Good Men

That’s What She Said

Following what turned out to be a harrowing first season finale it looked as though Claire and Jamie could finally be happy for a while with news of their pregnancy. Not so, according to the second season premiere, which kicked off with Claire’s return to Frank in the 20th century and the news that Jamie Fraser is dead. A pretty grim return to one of the most anticipated romance stories on television, n’est pas? Luckily, there was plenty of time to go back to the 18th century towards the back half of the premiere, where Claire and Jamie were setting up shop in Paris in an attempt to stop the Jacobite rebellion from happening. That meant viewers not only got their salacious romance, but there was also plenty of time to delve into the dramatic scenes between Frank and Claire upon her sudden return to 1948. It was a great way to showcase just how far Claire has come as a character since audiences last saw her make the trip back in time, but also how deeply Frank’s love for her went as well.    

READ MORE: Watch ‘Outlander’ Stars Caitriona Balfe & Sam Heughan on Love, War, and Real Bruises in Season 2

That’s What He Said

Given that this is a story that follows the romance of Claire and Jamie, it was nice to return to Frank, the poor third wheel in this story. Aside from a brief reminder in the first season, it’s easy to forget that while the Frasers are having their adventures, Frank has been stuck in present day trying to figure out what happened to his missing wife. With no body and the whispers that she’d run off with another man, he’s in the worst position of them all. For a historian and someone who clings deeply to reason, not having answers to pressing questions can be a pure form of torture. Therefore, his somewhat immediate acceptance of Claire’s return, pregnancy and story didn’t just serve to move along the dramatic narrative. It also showcased his relief at finally finding out the truth—as unbelievable as it is. While it’s unlikely that their reunion in Boston will be as heartfelt or passionate, their pairing and willingness to stay together does make perfect sense.

Cheese and Baguettes

With Claire and Jamie firmly established as liquor merchants for the foreseeable future, there should be plenty of excuses to knock back a few cold ones while also spying on the underground Jacobite rebellion. With Jamie a fugitive in his own country this would be impossible to do in Scotland, but the French twist marks a nice change of pace for the characters. It also works to further open up Claire’s eyes to the world she’s found herself in, a world in which calling out a ship employee for having smallpox can have disastrous results. With Randall out of the picture, it was only a matter of time before this couple made new enemies — why wouldn’t the Duke of Sandringham be one of them? Given what we know of his historical ties, he could be just as dangerous as Black Jack in the end.

Sing Me a Song

In case you weren’t feeling it, the new opening credits did a lovely job of setting the tone by shifting the lyrics to French midway through the song. Quelle surprise!

A Revolutionary Cause

Speaking of the Jacobites, it seems as though a series of fortunate events needed to be strung together in order for Jamie and Claire to find a launch pad. Thanks to the bargain struck between Jamie and his cousin, there should be ample opportunity to wine and dine some of the most important contacts in France in order to gather information, especially since Jamie’s cousin himself is sympathetic to the cause. Now the real question is, how subtle as spies can they actually be? Especially with Claire’s inability to hide herself as a healer.

Muttering Murtaugh

By far one of the most interesting characters in the series—especially when used for comedic relief—Murtaugh is never quite featured enough in any given episode. For now he seems willing to follow godson Jamie on this secret quest against the Jacobites, despite being one himself. How long that will last and whether he’s on to Claire’s strange abilities remain to be seen, but here’s hoping it leads to some more fun scenes between the three. Watching Murtaugh and Claire on the hunt for Jamie together back in Season 1 was a definite highlight; we need more of those kinds of interactions in our lives. 

By the Book

Fans of the series who have also read the novels have probably picked up on the fact that Season 2 of the show begins much differently than “Dragonfly in Amber.” Rather than age Claire and skip ahead all those years, to where she tells her story to two very different characters, the writers here have made the conscious choice to instead showcase the love story between Frank and Claire upon her return. It makes sense to utilize Tobias Menzies in this way, now that Randall is out of the picture, but it also progresses the story much more quickly than it does in the book. As a result there’s less character confusion or time lost before getting to the good stuff: Paris, Jamie and the craziness that’s about to ensue.

Grade: A

Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz. Next week: Jacobite leader Prince Charles makes his grand debut. Below, our video interview with Caitriona Balfe & Sam Heughan…

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