A recap of Season 2 episode 1 from your Aussie blogging lass!
OUTLANDER HOMEPAGE ORIGINALS, Written by Admin, Susie Brown.
There are a number of parallels with season 1 all throughout the first episode, all cleverly woven into the narrative. We open to a distressed Claire laying at the base of the stones at Craigh na Dun, with a voiceover declaring that she’d wished she were dead. In the first episode of season 1, Claire had no idea what had happened to her and once she’d worked it out, was desperate to return to the future. This time, Claire knows exactly what has gone on, but is desperate to be back in the past.
Indeed, book fans may wonder this too, as the first half of the episode represents a fairly big diversion from Diana Gabaldon’s version of events. In a recent interview, Ronald D Moore spoke of the process of creating new scenes for tv and how he took bits from other books in the series, as well as reworking conversations and descriptions into new dialogue between the main players. This is a spectacular piece of production magic, because what emerges from the whole process is the fleshed out character of Frank Randall. It is easy to forget Book Frank, because we experience the story through Claire’s eyes and her heart belongs to Jamie from early on. But the TV series forces us to consider the man she left behind. How would it have felt to have your wife disappear? How would you cope, having to constantly deal with people telling you that she’d run off? And how would you feel when she returned, years later, pregnant and obviously mourning another man? It’s a lot to deal with and we get to watch some of it play out on the screen. TV Frank is joyful at his wife’s return; uncertain in her company and confused by her largely distant behaviour. He is a man desperate for them to return to the life that had been theirs, but intelligent enough to know that this is unlikely to happen easily.
Back at the Wakefield house, the Reverend and Frank discuss the authenticity of Claire’s clothes and how she could possibly have acquired them. As Ronald D Moore has explained, Book Frank had not been told the story of the stones, but TV Frank has been, which gives him the option of being more likely to believe what has happened to Claire. Throughout the conversation, both men look out into the garden, watching Claire turning pages of books and mentioning her obsessive research into Scottish history and the Jacobite cause. Reverend Wakefield presses the need for Frank to be given some answers, but Frank says that Claire will speak when she is ready. He is a man lost and unsure, still in love with a woman who, despite his best efforts, no longer seems to be in love with him.
But as Claire prepares to leave, packing Jamie’s charred ring into her suitcase and looking at her reflection in the mirror with a protective hand on her pregnant belly, we know that she will never be free of her “ghost”. In another clever parallel, she is wearing the same coat and carrying the same suitcase as in season 1. Presumably, Frank had kept her possessions all this time, in the hope that she would return to him. Meanwhile Frank burns her 18th century gown in a bin below her window as the music of Bear McCreary’s Frank theme grows in intensity, and Claire watches the smoke from the fire rise into the distance. The close up of her face looking skyward is reminiscent of the shot from Season 1 when Jamie and Claire rode towards Lallybroch, speaking of planes. Almost on cue, we realise that Claire is indeed sitting in a plane, having just arrived in Boston. With a look at the skyline, she hesitates before stepping onto the tarmac. Frank reaches out his hand, which she takes. Finally, she seems a little less haunted.
From here, the story is back “on book”, with events panning out as Diana Gabaldon’s chapters dictated. But before continuing with the France section of the episode, some kudos must be given to Tobias Menzies. Early reviews have used the phrase “a masterclass in acting” and it is certainly that. We ended season 1 loathing the evil Black Jack Randall - a sadist, a man without honour, a man devoid of feeling. Yet within moments of the start of season 2, we are feeling real sympathy for Frank Randall - a realist, a man with honour, a man displaying joy, sorrow, despair and love. The fact that these characters are so diametrically opposed would not be unusual, except for the fact that they are portrayed by the same actor. Tobias Menzies deserves every accolade for his performance in this episode. It is truly beautiful.
As we become reacquainted with the Frasers, it is obvious that all is not quite right. In a parallel from the first half of the episode this time, it is Jamie who is a shadow of his former self. He looks younger, thinner and in pain, both physically and emotionally. By contrast, Claire has regained all of her strength. She is in the one in charge, reassuring Jamie, counselling him on the need to go through with their plan, for the sake of the future. Jamie agrees, despite his considerable doubts, because of his love and trust in her, but what to tell Murtagh is another matter.
“Through a Glass, Darkly” is an intense hour of television that covers a lot of ground - some familiar, some new. The episode succeeds in every way, showing the full gamut of emotions of all the major players, regardless of the time period from which they come and hinting at the drama that lies ahead. It remains to be seen how often we will return to the 1940s, but one thing is clear, emotions are going to run high this season. We’d better get ready!
NB. This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, an author, teacher-librarian and ardent Outlander fan who lives in Australia. She is firmly on Team Jamie, but does have enormous sympathy for TV Frank!