I am happy to see each and every one of you.
And now that the welcome wagon is out of the way, let’s get down to it. OUTLANDER IS BACK (we are here for it). Jamie and Claire have landed in France and they are saying the phrase, “from the future” 100% more often than it was ever said in the books, and we are trying not to laugh at it. Meanwhile, we have new characters, fabulous costumes, intricate sets, political intrigue, marital discord, exposed nipples and sex toys! SEASON TWO 5EVA.
This season is exciting because Ron D Moore and company have promised a more elaborate adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s second novel, Dragonfly in Amber, in the sense that the show won’t follow the exact same narrative path and will take a hunk of those creative rights they paid big money for and make a compelling season of television with it. Book readers know that Dragonfly has some of the most gut-wrenching but ineludible scenes of the whole series. Show watchers have seen the actors, writers and directors raise the stakes on some of those emotional scenes to heights that even the novels couldn’t reach. (See: The Reckoning). To it all, we say: BRING IT.
So, we’re beyond excited to get back to watching – rewatching – recapping – live-tweeting – gif-ing – snapchatting – discussing – blurting – and dissecting what is (even though we aren’t always admitting it) our favorite show.
Top Ten Moments from Outlander, Through A Glass, Darkly
1. The Framework Story
I’m a structure girl. I like a story to have delineated acts, punctuated climaxes and parallelism. I like mirrored plot lines, dopplegangers and duality. So this episode’s title, and its opening sequence spoke to me on a writerly level that felt slightly transcendent.
Opening with Claire lying at the base of the cleft stone is of course a call back to the very first episode, Sassenach. But she is no longer disorientated or quietly curious; she is devastated and completely cognizant of where she is and why. OH, THE WHY!!!!! We’re not thrown into the story in medias res … but at the end of all things, at least from Claire’s perspective. For her, it’s all falling action from her pivotal scream onward.
Coupled with the title, Through a Glass, Darkly, we know that everything will be hazy reconstructions of what our characters truly want. Sometimes, it’s overt: Claire staring blankly out the window, missing Jamie but seeing Frank’s reflection in it before she’s ready to face him. And other times, it’s simply at the heart of the subtext: Claire will search for Jamie in historical records when what she wants is his reality. Frank will search for his wife in the diminished version of Claire who returned to him. Jamie will search for himself amid the trauma he sustained that he can’t possibly understand. Frank will search for his marriage. Jamie will search for his. Claire will fight for one, and suffer the other. This type of writing has a sense of inevitability to it, but they’ve left mysteries for us too. IT’S ALL SO TWISTY AND DOUBLED AND LITERARY AND I LOVE IT.
We Noticed That Too: That ring (and its missing gemstone) is AWFULLY important to her.
2. Claire Ruining Me
There have been, in my lifetime, a seemingly endless amount of pop culture Moments That Have Ruined Me, but only a select few stand out. Ruination, in this sense, requires significant tears and a sense that real life will not be ok for at least 12 hours. They include (spoilers ahead for like, a ton of stuff that aired years ago):
- Lady Sybil’s death on Downton Abbey
- My Girl
- Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility, just the whole thing
- “Fievel!” “Papa!”
- When Aiden left Carrie: the 2nd time in season 4
- “My boy! That’s my son!” – Mr. Diggory
- When Bruce Willis traded places with Ben Affleck in Armageddon
- “For Narnia … and for ASLAN!”
- and now … Caitriona Balfe’s face in this episode
Claire knows full well why she had to go back, but she’s still somehow holding out a small measure of hope that maybe she can return if somehow the war is won. It’s slim. It’s a silk thread of unrealistic hopes, but Mr. Motorist stomps it and she cannot deal. She’s just hours from Jamie’s embrace, but she’s centuries from his life. OUCH. MY HEART. And *slowclaps* for Caitriona Balfe.
3. All Things Frank
It’s no secret that we are ridiculously Tobiased around these parts. As much as we love the whole cast, there is no mistaking the nuanced and demonstrative portrayal of Frank by Tobias Menzies. A moment after we hear those gunshot steps of his oxfords on the hospital floor, we see his face: easily a 12-hour shadow of bearded scruff, a man harried and yet … nervous about how he looks for his erstwhile wife?
It’s been over two years. He’s eager but hesitant, green and self-conscious. When he sees her for the first time, he STARES, unwilling to take his eyes off even as she gripes about the noise. This opening scene speaks volumes about what Frank must have gone through, and is one of those fantastic moments where the series improves on the books.
We Noticed That Too: Frank turning the dial of the radio off, finally bringing those original opening credits into the show.
4. Thanks for the Tell
I love Mrs. Graham with the strength of a 30-something mother of two girls who sees herself slowly turning into the kind of kooky housefrau who will one day say things like, “keep it locked deep in your heart” to her grandkids and totally mean it. I totally and completely get Claire’s openness with her and need to unburden herself. I’d also like to give Mrs. Graham the Tell-Don’t-Show Award for reminding the audience that Jamie is funny. We needed that.
We Noticed That Too: Frank sniffing Claire’s petticoats and getting an unmistakable whiff of week-old Eau de James.
5. Book Claire is Alive
Sit back and try to explain why in the world, when Claire decides to finally tell Frank what has happened to her that she looks … pissed? At him? You can’t. Unless you remember the way Claire made you feel when you read this part in the book.
In the context of the show, her reaction to Frank here may seem overblown. Should she be wary? Yes. Hesitant? Sure. Distant? Of course. But … angry at him? Maybe not.
I love that this scene made the Claire from the books come rushing fully back to my (very challenged) memory. She is grief-stricken, yeah, but she’s also really really suspicious of Frank. And like … wishing he was someone else. And just generally traumatized. And pregnant. Or maybe she just knows she has to cram two years of hullabaloo into a 30 minute convo that for some reason she decided to start at midnight. She could’ve waited til morning to break his heart, but ok.
6. Frank Feels
Look, I know I already had a Top Moment with Frank, but he was killing me softly this episode, and this scene just deserves a million recaps and a million words written about it.
Full disclosure: I was not a Frank-fan when reading the books. My first time through them, I certainly didn’t like him; I had just met Jamie Fraser for f***sake, so how was I to have room for someone who took up so little space when JAMIE WAS SO BIG (twss). I came to understand what a stand up, loving, duty-bound kind of guy he was when I re-read the books, and I was empathetic, but at no time reading did I ever weep for Frank. Jamie, yes. Claire, of course. Bree, undoubtedly. Fergus, once or twice. Never Frank.
Not so anymore. Tobias takes Frank’s begging and keeps it wholly out of the realm of the self-serving, middling speech it could have been and elevates sometimes-mediocre dialogue with thick-throated, visceral pain.
We Noticed That Too: That lone tear falls twice. Probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been screen-capping, but I did. And now you can’t unknow it.
7. Jamie’s Back : Back to Jamie
As much as I disliked, and I mean rolled my eyes so far back that I got a migraine disliked, that hand to hand transition from Boston to France, there was a distinct difference to the tone of the episode once we got back to Jamie, and I was ready for it. Claire is intensely and immediately light and happy. They are joking (oh, Jamie CAN be funny), giggling and kissing. Touching. When every potential touch with Frank had been so fraught, this was a welcome respite and a total turn around (I did NOT say turn-on, but I know you read it like that, pervs).
I also loved that during their “let’s change the future” convo, Jamie is practical and idealistic, drawing on his strengths. “If there’s going to be a war, shouldn’t we be trying to win it?” This is just a glimpse into the Jamie we love … forthright, honest, capable, straightfoward thinking. If only his side-eye had won the convo.
Then, later, Jamie took his shirt off and it was REALLY all right.
8. Groundskeeper Murtagh
9. Le Comte My Blessings
Refresh my memory, but the Comte is just like a generally greedy, selfish, clutched type of villain right? Like I don’t have to feel bad for being a super much into his powdered wig, do I? Because anybody that can do disdain THIS well is going on my list.
Stanley Weber is playing him with quiet and malicious intensity: the kind that reminds me inappropriately of grouchy regency dukes and reformed rakes. I’m ready to introduce him to a saucy governess who doesn’t need a man and rides astride (ifyouknowwhatimean … I mean horses).
Sidenote: He also reminds me of my favorite cranky prince, Laurent of Vere from Captive Prince, and that’s going in my new fanfiction.
10. A Million Ways to Die in the Past
Claire, you know how Jamie was like “I wouldn’t change a thing about you” and that was romantic and cute and everything? Well maybe he hasn’t read enough about nemeses and their penchant for getting super pissed when it looks like you are making out and overly pleased with yourself while you watch their livelihood burn in a literal pyre to know that you should hold your overtures until you get into the carriage so it doesn’t look like you are dancing on the ashes of some angry dude’s destruction. Just saying. The Comte can see you. Quit smiling and making out. While his ship burns.
So what were your Top Ten Moments from the season two premiere of Outlander? Anything you wanted to see more … or less of?
Join us Monday at 10pm EST for Hangoutlander, this week with Laura and Kyle from Hypable, as we discuss all this goodness AND MORE from the first episode of season2.
Did you miss our red carpet interviews from the New York Premiere? Watch Sam’s below, and then check out the rest our interviews with Caitriona, Tobias, Ron and Terry and Maril!