Synopsis of 2×01: Claire and Jamie enter the lavish world of French society in an effort to infiltrate the Jacobite rebellion led by Prince Charles Stuart and prevent the battle of Culloden.
The opening episode of season two of Outlander, does what most shows have been doing recently, but doing it with a little more finesse. We come in on Claire, back at Craigh na Dun in 1948, with a dazed expression having travelled back forward through time. She’s stopped on the road by a man driving by who tells her the year and is stunned as she demands to know who won the battle of Culloden.
To which the man replies, the British.
Like most flash-forward sequences we might see on tv today, this could easily have jumped the show back to France and left us wondering what happened to bring Claire back to 1948, but the episode spends nearly half of it’s time with Claire after the events of Culloden.
Reuniting with Frank comes at a stark difference from the relationship the two had before Claire disappeared. Although in season one, Claire was still holding back and felt an attachment to Frank, we saw her finally find closure in leaving Frank behind and embracing Jamie. For Frank, having been left behind and left with the suggestion that Claire ran away from him with another man, the prospect of Claire’s return is exciting for him, initially.
However, it turns sour for him as Claire reveals her story to him. He doesn’t seem totally convinced of her story, but after she reveals that she’s pregnant with Jamie’s child, he becomes furious and distraught. Revealing that he is sterile and actually wants a child, he approaches Claire on how to move forward. He is ready to accept the role as father to Claire’s child, even if he is not the biological father, but she must leave her past behind.
Easier said than done, Frank. For Claire, Frank is a memory, and her love for him is something of the past. She’s not only committed herself to Jamie, but there’s a moment when even the sight of Frank reminds her more of Black Jack than anyone else. It might be easy to accept Frank’s terms on the surface, but it’s obvious that not even moving to Boston might be enough for Claire to simply let go of Jamie.
This is all a slow build as we as thrown back into the past, to 1745, after Jamie and Claire have escaped England and arrive at the docks of France. With the knowledge of the Battle of Culloden on the rise and the Jacobite Revolution, Claire and Jamie have a mind to change the future in order to protect the Highland culture and clans. In order to do this, they plot to insert themselves into the French court.
This requires a fair amount of deception on their part, since they must gain access to the court through Jamie’s cousin Jared, a businessman who sells wine in France, and they must keep Murtagh in the dark, all while attempting to stop the king before he leaves for England.
Jared Fraser seems apprehensive to the idea, as does Murtagh. Murtagh, understandably, feels kept in the dark. He’s a man who is willing to die for them, but being deceitful while also inadvertently being lied to can be a lot to stomach. Unable to tell him the truth, Jamie simply promises that one day he will reveal everything to Murtagh. Jared is easier to convince, as Jamie shows him his scars at the hand of Randall as his proof of his commitment to the cause.
Jared agrees to help them, leaving Jamie his wine business in Paris for him to control while he sails to the West Indies on business. But before they even leave the port, Claire and Jamie are already making enemies. When one of the ships that docks reveals that the crew has smallpox, something that Claire quickly identifies publicly, the law states that the ship and its cargo must be destroyed.
The ship in question belongs to the Comte St. Germain, who struts in and quietly tries to resolve the matter without losing his cargo. It doesn’t blow over well and in the end he loses his cargo and makes a new enemy of Claire. I love seeing Claire when she’s taken on the role of a healer, it’s something that should be used more within the context of the story since Claire takes to naturally to it. Matched with her stubbornness, she easily overpowers others with her opinion on the matter, leaving Jamie to physically defend her if necessary.
It’s a good start to what looks to be an exciting second season of Starz’s Outlander.