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Outlander Recap: Through A Glass, Darkly (S2.E1)


Sing me a song of a show that was gone, Say could it be ten months?

After a tortuous Droughtlander, our favorite show has returned! Finally we'll find out what happened to Claire and Jamie when they arrived in France. That's all we've been hearing about, right? Paris...Love...Romance! But no. First! Nearly 40 minutes of a heart wrenching, horrible, awful, emotional reunion between Claire and Frank (in a tour de force performance from Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies).

Hold onto your kilts, it's gonna get rough. (Especially after the "Previously On..." Thanks for triggering Black Jack Randall PTSD with that one Starz). When last we left Claire and Jamie, they had escaped Black Jack Randall and were on their way to France in a boat. Claire asked Jamie to help her stop the destruction of the Scots at the Battle of Culloden. She also told Jamie she was pregnant. Things looked rocky for them, but it seemed they were going in the right direction.

But as the first episode of season two begins, things have clearly gone wrong. Claire tells us in an ominous voiceover, "I wished I were dead." We find Claire waking up back at the stones, dressed in her 18th century Scottish Highland clothing. Claire glances at her two wedding rings, and then looks for something down the front of her outfit. When she discovers it is missing, Claire digs frantically through the grass before finally finding what she was looking for: a third ring. Only where a stone should be in the setting, it is empty. Seeing this causes Claire to let loose a guttural scream of pain and anguish. All she can do is rock back and forth.


Sometime later Claire makes her way out of the stones and down onto a gravel road. We get confirmation this is not the 18th century when a car pulls up behind her. When the driver asks if she is okay, Claire demands to know what year it is (1948) and who won the Battle of Culloden. The befuddled driver tells her the British. For the second time in five minutes Claire is having her guts ripped out. She and Jamie clearly failed, the Scottish having lost the Battle.

As if that weren't depressing enough, Claire must reunite with Frank. She visibly flinches when Black Jack's doppelganger tries to touch her. This is going to go well. Despite the less than loving response from Claire, Frank takes her from the hospital back to the Reverend Wakefield's. There we see a young Roger plays with a World War II plane (an Easter egg in more ways than one for fans of the books). Claire spends her every waking moment flinching at the cacophony that is the 20th Century, pouring over books to see who survived Culloden (Jamie?), and confiding in Mrs. Hughes Mrs. Graham what happened to her. Mrs. Graham tells Claire to let Jamie go now that he's dead and live her life with Frank. Or.....Mrs. Graham could use her knowledge to help Claire get back through the stones to Jamie. No? Really? Okay.

Claire and Frank have a heart to heart which ends with lots of things being broken by Frank out in the woodshed. It does not go well. Claire dropped the bomb on him that she's pregnant. With Jamie's child. After his monstrous temper tantrum, Frank makes peace with the situation and offers Claire a proposal. He will stay married to her, raise the baby as his own, and move them all to Boston where he's going to take a job at Harvard. Deal! Says a very depressed Claire. Oh, and she has to let him burn her clothes. Whatever floats your boat Frank.

When next we see them, the couple has landed in Boston and are exiting the plane to begin their new life. (Is it just me or is everyone exiting the plane in muted, blue and grey tones to reflect Claire's sadness?) Boston and a life with Frank looms before her. Claire hesitates on the last step off the plane, needing Frank to reach up and take her hand, before she can take one more step into the new world. Only, it's not forwards but backwards we go. As Claire takes Frank's hand, the camera shifts and reveals Jamie in all his technicolor glory (So that's where all the red went!)


We're back in 1745 as the Frasers arrive in La Havre, France. And everything looks bright and beautiful (except Murtagh who is grumpy and moody). It's a stark contrast to the washed out, somber, new world we've just experienced. The only thing pale here is Jamie who is feeling the after effects of seasickness while still recovering from the abuse he suffered at the hands of Black Jack Randall. Murtagh is not impressed with their new home. "France. Reeks of frogs," grumbles Murtagh.

Jamie is happy to see a stationary bed as he and Claire retire to their rooms. He's still having flashes of Black Jack though, so it's not a great time for the couple. Claire decides to distract Jamie with talk of their plan to stop the downfall of the Highlanders at Culloden. It's a daunting task, one not made any easier by the fact that Claire barely remembers anything about the history of it. "I don't know the tactics, I don't know the strategy, I don't know where the armies were," says Claire. Is there anything you do know, lassie? What Claire does remember is it starts in France with Bonnie Prince Charlie. If they can stop Charlie from raising money to start the army then the terrible battles will never happen and they'll save Scotland. "You certainly have a high opinion of what a crippled Highlander and a pregnant Englishwoman can accomplish, Sassenach." says Jamie. But you know he'll do it. It's Claire for heaven's sake.

Time to go undercover as a Jacobite, Jamie! That means telling Murtagh their plans, but not telling him that Claire is from the future. (Jamie says, "tell you later bro"). It also means contacting Jamie's Jacobite cousin Jared, a wine merchant who lives in Paris. Jared is immediately suspicious of the two despite Claire's attempt to appear to be a badass. Could she have any smugger look on her face? When Jamie shows Jared his scars, he wins his cousin over and then some. Jared not only promises to hook them up with the Jacobite hierarchy, he's also giving them his house and his business. Sort of. Jared needs Jamie to look after the business and run his house while he's away. Claire looks like the cat that swallowed the canary, seemingly very pleased with this news.

As Jamie checks out Jared's port selection, Claire wanders into a very unpleasant situation on the docks. A ship that has just arrived is bringing out their dead. Wait, he's not dead yet! Claire inspects a very ill sailor and promptly pronounces for all to hear that the man has smallpox. Jamie slaps his forehead. Doh! Claire, Claire. What have you done? Pissed off an already angry Frenchman, that's what. Claire, Comte St. Germain. Comte St. Germain, Claire.


The Comte's entire ship, along with its cargo, is going to be destroyed now because Claire announced to everyone the crew was infected with smallpox before the Comte could bribe the appropriate officials and convince them to ignore the small matter of infectious disease. The Comte is pas content (not pleased) and vows revenge on Claire. Oh, and Jamie, too. He was standing there supporting Claire so a pox on all of you.

Later that night, the Frasers watch the Comte's ship and cargo burn. Jamie comments, "Another country, another enemy." Villains gotta vill and you Frasers sure know how to bring out the worst in them. As the Frasers drive off into the sunset (nope - sorry - that's the glow from the Comte's ship burning) Claire gives the Comte stink eye for stink eye. It's gonna be a hot time in Outlander this season!

Speaking of hot, next time on Outlander: THE red dress maybe? It's Paris fashion, intrigue, and lust at Versailles. Can't wait!

What did you think of this first episode? Did you like the inclusion of Frank to start the new season? What do you think the significance was of the third ring? Tell us in the comments below!
Outlander Recap: Through A Glass, Darkly (S2.E1) Reviewed by Deborah Thompson on 9:00 PM Rating: 5

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