Outlander S2 Photo Recap – Ep. 2: “Not in Scotland Anymore”

Wow, it’s been a week already?!

Time flies when you’re trying to distract yourself until the next Outlander episode… (Not really.) Sorry it’s a day later than I’d promised on Facebook, but I was told I should really watermark my screencaps… Talk about’cher timesink.

Okay, so where were we?

Oh, right.

Oh, right.

So, like it says on the proverbial tin: Our favorite ‘ship is abroad, housesitting for Cousin Jared in Paris.

Yeah. I know. The chore.

Immediately, we open on the thrilling planes and wild slopes of…

James Fraser.

"Sorry for the lack of sex in the first episode. We cool?" -- Starz

“Sorry for the lack of sex in the last episode. We cool?” — Starz

We’re getting what we’ve come to expect from this show… and, for that matter, so is Claire.

There’s plenty of steam, plenty of moaning, and a nice, dreamy haze over the whole scene. We see shots of both O-faces, romantically lit by the collective fire hazard decorating the room, and then…

**Maniacal Cackle** -- Director Metin Hüseyin

**Maniacal Cackle** — Director Metin Hüseyin

Yeah. It’s as much a shock to Jamie, too.

He pulls out a dirk — an appropriate bedroom accessory for any self-respecting Scotsman … don’t ask from where — and bathes himself in Randy Randall’s blood.

"Stop saying my name, bitch!"

“Stop saying my name, bitch!”

… Which has absolutely no effect, because the fucker’s a goddamned zombie.

I’m really not kidding. *shudder*

Thankfully — for us, at least — it’s only a dream.

Jamie wakes in a cold sweat, staring unblinking into the dark. As we’re all trying to calm down our racing heartbeats, a hand snakes over his shoulder from behind…

Oh, thank goodness: it’s only Claire, we all realize, after Jamie spends a second jumping out of his own skin.

He sits up, trying not to disturb her. It doesn’t work. She’s obviously been trying to help him with his demons over the last few weeks — and it’s really so much more viscerally-described in the book — and is frustrated by her own lack of effect. He can’t even let her touch him.

"Did he sniff your drawers for science?"

“He sniffed m’ kilt… fer ‘science‘.”

He gets up, making an excuse about needing to check over the receipts for Jared, and leaves her alone for the rest of the night. You can’t really blame him: I wouldn’t be able to sleep after sharing a dream-bed with Randy Zombie-Randall, either.

Claire tries to reassure him that BJR is dead. Jamie says he knows, but the unspoken fact that Randall lives on in Jamie’s nightmares is louder than his promise to see her in the morning.

In the morning, Claire is trying to go for a therapeutic constitutional, and instead gets an earful from her long-suffering maid: Le Dame Broch Tuarach just won’t stop picking up after herself! It’s unseemly. It’s not right. Claire merely picking up her own underthings is turning the poor girl into a nervous bloody wreck.

She chases Claire down the stairs, with Claire shooing at her like one would a stray terrier, begging that Claire try to be more slovenly, as befitting one of her station. Feeling sorry for her — and probably realizing that it was the only way she wouldn’t still have the maid attached to her ankle, halfway down the block — Claire lies and claims that she did a shitty job making her own bed this morning: Feel free to go and remake it until you’re blue in the face.

You’d think the poor creature just won the lottery.

"Oh, thank Christ -- a reason to live!"

“Oh, merci, mon Dieu — a reason to live!”

Claire thinks she’s finally won her freedom, but no… there’s a carriage waiting to save her the insurmountable toil of walking. Joygasm.

Claire’s internal commentary during the carriage ride reminds us that the French Revolution is still several decades away, as is the construction of the Eiffel Tower — which she’d hoped to visit during World War II, until the Nazis closed it during the occupation.

The snatches of city life we see in her drive-by are beautiful, as is her entrance into the apothecary shop.

The set designers did *not* disappoint...

The set designers did *not* disappoint…

We’re now entering my favorite part of Book Two. I love this shop, and the crazy little bastard who runs it:

*squee*

It’s everyone’s favorite herb-crafting underworld aficionado, Maitre Raymond. Claire’s come to him seeking a cure for what ails Jamie: preferably something to knock his Celtic ass out for eight hours straight.

I don’t remember Delphine — Raymond’s slave shop assistant — from the books, but she’s just as much a lively part of the scene, with her instinctive shuttling of Raymond’s rolling staircase as he whisks bottles off of the shelves.

Quickly realizing that Claire’s discerning ability rises far above that of his usual clientele, Raymond gets straight to work in creating a concoction that is sure to soothe Jamie’s body… if not his soul. In psuedo-idle chit-chat, he asks her about herself, and says that he’s heard her name before. He never forgets a name, especially one uttered so vilely by the Comte St. Germain.

Raymond mentions this recent altercation in the mildest of tones, but Claire’s hackles are instantly raised.

“If staring you into submission doesn’t work, I am prepared to raze this place to the ground.”

She carefully asks whether the shopkeeper and the count are friends. Raymond cynically replies that they couldn’t be more the opposite. Therefore, given the Frasers’ recent induction into the ranks of the count’s social hit list, that must make Claire — by extension — Master Raymond’s newest bosom buddy.

Hurray friends! (At least friends get a five-finger discount on the first batch of hand-pressed narcoleptic powder.)

Meanwhile, in another part of town…

"That's the last bloody time ye borrow my sporran!"

“That’s the last bloody time ye borrow my sporran!”

Jamie and Murtagh are entertaining the locals, who politely beg to differ on the suitability thereof. The prim-and-proper Parisians all stop and stare, standing around like a displaced gaggle of put-out geese, as two barbarian warriors publicly go at each other like they’ve each laid claim to the last available bannock.

It’s scuffling for a good cause, though: Murtagh’s toughening Jamie’s weakened hand, the Scottish way.

He almost spears Jamie through the heart. All in good fun.

Taking a breather, they notice the nosy crowd gathering, and Murtagh’s got some choice words to say on the matter.

"How'd ye like t' see some imported spotted dick?"

“How’d ye like t’ see some imported spotted dick?”

It’s a good time for a rest, while Jamie massages the battle ache from his leather-strapped left hand. Murtagh’s still not happy with the smell. It’s not fish anymore; Paris “reeks of the chamberpot”. (This is particularly funny a few scenes later.) Murtagh’s desperately homesick for good ol’ Scottish mud, and wonders that Jamie isn’t climbing the walls more at home.

They both discuss the political maneuvering ahead of them: Murtagh’s in favor of just offing the young pretender-prince and having done with it. Jamie can see the logic, but argues back that it’d probably just piss off Old James even more.

Fine, Murtagh says. Kill him in the face, too.

Jamie balks at the idea of regicide (no matter how technical) and distracts Murtagh by offering him some dirt dentures.

Back at Chateau Fraser…

Cousin Jared has finally come through: not only does Jamie get a Jacobite meeting, but he gets to meet Prince Charles himself.

The meeting just so happens to be in a brothel. No big.

"... An' me in possession of a verra large sausage...."

“… An’ me in possession of a verra large sausage….”

Jamie takes Murtagh with him, of course, and it’s so cute to see the little scruffball dressed to the nines the way he is throughout this episode.

You can really tell that Diana and the show’s set designers really did their homework from start to finish: Everyone thinks of historical whorehouses as a seedy affair, filthy, etc. And yes, there’s a reason they call Syphilis “the French disease”, but in order to get it, you had to abide by a certain dress code.

Especially if your wingman looked like this:

I don’t care *what* government he plans to overthrow, someone needs to tell this guy he looks like the dipshittier side of a cartoon mouse duo. If James Stuart doesn’t look like Brain, I’m going to be really disappointed.

The evening starts with Jamie giving the wine-guzzling prince a generous amount of sneaky side-eye and bland commentary. He’s just getting ready to suggest that Charles tell them why the hell, with all due respect, he wanted to meet him in Paris’ best little whorehouse, when the mistress of said whorehouse begins her floor show.

It’s a heart-clutching moment for the assembled men, at first: she claims that their wives are waiting in the wings to scold them! (They’re three more whores, dressed like city housewives out to shop… who each got half the skirt torn off exiting the carriage.) The “wives” are disappointed, much to the gathered hilarity, and the house madam brazenly suggests that they occupy their newfound time with…

The cure for what ails ye.

The cure for what ails ye.

Charles is positively enraptured by the polished, hand-carved “sausages” (for sale or rent, the madam assures us!) and wraps himself up in the sales experience before the girls eventually wander off. He remarks that, were he married, he’d buy all three selections: “for variety”.

Charmer.

Murtagh’s less subterfuge-y about his opinion of the French sexual appetite, which the prince comments on: “I don’t recall having asked for your opinion, let alone your presence.” I get the feeling there’s no buddy comedy in the offing between these two. Call me wrong…

Between girl-ogling — which is actually kept to a (relatively) respectable minimum at first; the whores are all decently covered, bless their tarnished little hearts — the prince demands that at least one person in his retinue wipe the brown off his nose long enough to tell him the truth: Are the Scottish clans finally ready to unite beneath his battle standard?

"We just had a bloody kerfluffle about the consistency of this morning's mash... so probably not."

“Weell… We just had a right kickover about the consistency of this morning’s mash, so probably not.”

Jamie sacks up and bellies right up to the bar on this one: No, sire. There’s no way in hell. Trying to take Scotland with the Highland clans would be like herding rabid, feral cats through an outdoor obstacle course. After you got them to agree to wander in (almost) the same direction. Respectfully.

This news does not go over well with the prince, who feels divinely-charged with the duty of usurping the British throne. (“He [Hanover] usurped it first!”)

"Narf."

“Narf,” said Pinky.

The news isn’t such that Charles has been forced to hear before, from any of his toadies, and he says it’s surprising talk to hear from Jamie, who claims to be a Jacobite.

Jamie, possibly realizing that he’s in danger of losing Charles’ ear — and therefore the opportunity to lead his invasion campaign toward doom — hurries to reassure the skeevy little shit that he’s a loyal hater of anyone south of Hadrian’s Wall, as is only right and proper.

"This is the part where I normally take off m' shirt, but the lassies asked me no to upstage them t'night..."

“This is usually the part where I take off m’ shirt, but the lassies asked me not to upstage them t’night…”

He asks the prince if he would rather if Jamie whispered “honeyed” words in his ear… words which would lead the campaign to disaster. Ha. He cites the 1715 uprising fiasco, and Charles insists that he’s nothing like Lord Marl, who lacked a certain level of battle acumen in Charles’ estimation.

He goes on to rage that God demands a Catholic ass on the throne.

Murtagh promptly dissolves into a poetic (for him) soliloquy on the lack of satisfaction that ass poses to give the Scottish people.

Their disapproval bounces off the side of Charlie’s head like a paper spitball.

"Are you questioning God's position on my ass?"

“Are you questioning God’s position on my ass?”

He appoints Jamie his Chief Intriguer of Things at Court. Battles cost money, and since Charles is not “officially” in France (Louis doesn’t want another English war… just yet.), that leaves Jamie to do the messy buttering up of Parisian officials.

Jamie is put in the impossible position of having to agree to do the one thing that he probably shouldn’t be agreeing to do in order to keep in the prince’s good graces. The trouble is, this is an actually useful thing that he’s promised to do, and could undermine the whole “Change the Future” drive Claire’s got going on.

"Well, shite."

“Well, shite.”

As Charles staggers off to bed one or two less-discriminating women of the night, Murtagh asks again whether it’s too late to just kill the little bastard and quit Paris altogether.

Jamie looks to be seriously considering the option.

Back at home, Claire congratulates the men as they’re trying to sober the hell up: Good job kissing the most uselessly-syphilitic ass north of Italy!

Murtagh announces to Claire that the prince has the IQ of a cement block, and Jamie agrees that Broch Tuarach would starve to death if Charles were made gardener.

"You're English. He's just stupid."

“You’re English. He’s just stupid.”

Jamie bemoans the messy agreement he stumbled into back at the whorehouse, but Claire’s a bit more optimistic: if brothels are where rebellions begin, then the French court is where they’ll die.

“…If I have to beat Pinky to death with something hand-carved, myself.”

But first, they still need invitations.

Luckily for Jamie, Claire’s been making friends with the local queen Mean Girl.

Louise de la Tour is just as perfectly flaky on the screen as she is on the page. We meet her — all of her — in the middle of a home waxing treatment. The man ripping out her hair takes repeated slaps and punches, and in turn he gets to fondle the results. Because France.

No. There is nothing creepy about this. At all.

No. There is nothing creepy about this. At all.

Claire busies herself during this by flirting with a caged monkey — who seems nearly as traumatized by the experience as the 15-year-old who’s staying with Louise: an English girl by the name of Mary Hawkins.

Readers will jump up and down in anticipation here, but she’s perfectly mousy in her initial entrance. Louise shrieks for her to come and be polite, in the presence of her denuded ladyparts, and Mary looks like she’s facing down a firing squad.

I've been here less than five seconds, and I already feel so violated...

“I’ve been here less than five seconds, and I already feel so violated…”

Under Louise’s impatient prompting, Mary introduces herself to Claire. Claire comments that she recognizes the name, but can’t place it. And then they descend into discussion about why Mary’s in town: She’s to be married off to French nobility… warts and all.

Rather than look as offended by the idea of a February-December match as she comes across in the book, Claire instead gives Mary a pitying, “Lie-back-and-think-of-well-you-know” sort of look.

"Look on the bright side: December's only around for thirty-one days..."

“Look on the bright side: December’s only around for thirty-one days…”

Louise doesn’t understand why Mary’s so ready to be drawn-and-quartered: she’s going to be rich, dammit! This calls for some celebratory leg-hair removal!

Mary reacts to the offer much as you’d expect.

"Respectfully, please drown yourself in the Seine."

“Respectfully, please drown yourself in the Seine.”

Louise tells Claire that she’s happy to invite the Frasers to Versailles… if Claire will play chaperone to the wallflower so Louise doesn’t have to. Claire thinks that sounds easy enough, and — promising to refer Claire to the best dressmaker in town — Louise victoriously rests on her laurels, spreading them wide.

"Bienvenue à Paris, mes chéris!"

“Bienvenue à Paris, mes chéris!”

The idea of waxing all that pesky hair from sexy places appeals to Claire’s inner modern woman. She comes home with a surprise and a spring in her step.

"Brace yourself, Ginger."

“Brace yourself, Ginger.”

She slips into bed and sidles up to Jamie, who sleepily responds as dutifully as possible… and then notices that something is amiss, south of the border.

"Sassenach, I fear ye may have been burgled..."

“Sassenach, I fear ye may have been burgled…”

Claire is infinitely entertained by his shock and horror: “Your honeypot! It’s bare!”

Her shaving her legs is “bad enough”, says Jamie… but to shave everywhere just doesna bear thinkin’ about. Claire’s of the opinion he’s thought long enough.

Despite his hesitation, the newness excites Jamie and he starts in with joyful effort.

And then the ghost of Zombie Randall comes back.

Hello darkness, my old friend...

Hello darkness, my old friend…

He freezes above Claire, and you can practically hear the record scratch.

She sighs and, rather than try and push him into going through with anything, suggests they just go to sleep.

/sigh

Two weeks later…

Jamie and Murtagh are having an Odd Couple moment at the foot of the grand staircase: Jamie says that Murtagh could at least have bothered to wash his knees. Murtagh indignantly claims that he did.

Both of them stop to collect their jaws from the floor when Claire comes down.

Terry Dresbach -- Nominated for Best Dress in Whatever

Terry Dresbach — Nominated for Best Dress in Whatever

It’s not only daring in color, but — as Jamie comments — you can see right down to Claire’s third rib. Therefore, by the grace and stiffness of bodice fabric, go her breasts. Jamie’s lost for most of the words he used to know.

"Thank God we came to France..."

“I knew there was a reason we came to France…”

He’s not so happy that Murtagh’s noticed, though. That snaps him out of it.

"Get yer own English shotgun bride."

“Get yer own English shotgun bride.”

He comes charging up to meet Claire, insisting that she’s not decent to be seen in public. Claire protests that she helped to design the dress, herself. Jamie’s not very surprised by this, but believes that there should be a certain limit to her batshittery: “First your honeypot, and now this?”

Claire thinks he’s adorable. We think she’s adorable.

"You precious little neanderthal, you..."

“You precious little neanderthal, you…”

He lets her out of the house (hurrah!) under the dubious coverage of a fan.

Welcome to the show's CGI budget. Enjoy your stay.

Welcome to the show’s CGI budget. Enjoy your stay.

Louise gives them a grand tour of the palace common areas, dropping aristocratic names like rose petals ahead of a budding bride. They get maybe fifteen steps before Jamie’s Parisian past comes back to haunt them.

Annalise de Marillac comes hurtling out of the fringe, attaching herself to Jamie with such fervor that you’d think he’d rolled in catnip and chocolate before arrival. At first pleasantly surprised to see the ex from his wanton younger years, our man Fraser quickly realizes the precariousness of his current position.

"Dinna suppose I could trouble one of ye t' shoot me?"

“Dinna suppose I could trouble one of ye t’ shoot me?”

Louise is thoroughly entertained, and chalks it up as commonplace personal intrigue — to be catalogued for future use — while Mary simply looks startled.

Claire is Medusa’s sarcastic sister.

"Story time?"

“Story time?”

Jamie isn’t in the mood for a good story, but that doesn’t stop the gushing Annalise: Claire is just so lucky to have a big, strapping, virile hunk o’ lunk like this guy… and how many bodies did he step over to get her into bed, exactly?

Claire primly replies that she didn’t put a carnage price tag on their relationship. So there.

Unruffled, Annalise spills about how that’s not the Jamie she knew…

Jamie looks about ready to eat a gun. Anyone’s. It doesn’t matter whose. If Claire would just stop looking at him like that…

"And here I thought the night wasn't going to hold any fun..."

“And here I thought the night wasn’t going to hold any fun…”

"They tell me I'm too cute to kill in cold blood..."

“They tell me I’m much too fine to kill in cold blood…”

 

Oh, and lest I overlook Murtagh, whose reaction is pure gold:

"France is startin' to look better by the minute."

“France is startin’ to look better by the minute.”

The tension is entirely on Jamie… and then, eventually, Claire, as every Frenchperson involved is just fine with Jamie’s ex-girlfriend dry-humping him next to the dance floor.

Annalise insists that Jamie allow her to escort him to meet King Louis, who is still “getting dressed.” (He’s royal. This takes an itinerary.) Louise says that there’s no way in hell that Jamie should miss that, and Claire’s not about to let him go off with Annalise by himself. She sends Murtagh trailing after.

Murtagh: “Oh. Joy.”

Annalise isn’t allowed to go in with Jamie and Murtagh: men only.

We soon find out why.

The two of them have to fight through a standing-room-only crowd, loudly discussing matters of state and religion with a still-unrevealed-yet-important-sounding person.

Bodies shift as our boys elbow their way to the front, and daaaaaaammmmmmn.

We all do. The feeling is mutual.

The king’s not getting dressed. The king is constipated. And because this is France, all of the men at Court have jostled and fought to cheer on the Royal Poo.

God's royal presence in France, everyone.

God’s royal presence in France, everyone.

Jamie watches this drawn out lack-of-shit show for a few minutes, and then boldly suggests that His Indisposed Highness hoover a week’s worth of porridge to clear up his colon trouble. Ask any Scotsman, after they’ve resurfaced.

"Want to stay here or go back t' the lions?"

“Want to stay here or go back t’ the lions?”

Meanwhile, Claire is trying to make friends with these men’s dubiously better halves. Gossip abounds, mostly about the men (not invited to the Royal Relieving) and their members — for better or worse.

They ask Claire what sort of words the English use to describe male genitalia. She hesitates to answer at first, but then awkwardly lists the ones she knows by heart. This produces a scathing French review of the English language… “no offense.”

Louise distracts Claire by pointing out some new drama brewing on the horizon.

"Idiot. You get ze ring first, then the boyfriend."

“Idiot. You get ze ring first, then ze boyfriend.”

Mary’s finally found a reason not to hang herself, in the form of a mysterious blond man, smartly dressed. (Those of you who’ve read the books: hush.)

Love in the Time of Chlamydia

Love in the Time of Chlamydia

They look so cute together. We can’t see who he is just yet, but there’s still about twelve minutes left in the episode.

Claire needs to come up for air, and steps out to take a walk around the palace grounds. In her absence, Louise beelines in on a drunken, official-looking man in a grey wig. It’s Joseph Duverny: the Minister of Finance, and the man whom Charles tasked Jamie with buddying up to.

Louise does what all good friends do: she sets Claire up to be sexually assaulted by claiming that Claire is “most anxious” to meet him. She probably doesn’t do it on purpose, but the fact that he’s drunk and she’s being a coquettish sex-kitten during the pitch doesn’t do Claire any favors.

"Shall we make a new friend?"

“Shall we make a new friend?”

So Claire has finally taken a load off, sitting in a picturesque little nook on a footbridge outside the palace, when Liberace’s less-smooth ancestor comes rollin’ up like:

"Hallo. Ees it me you are looking for?"

“Hallo. Ees it me you are looking for?”

After slurred introductions, Claire attempts to properly greet Monsieur Duverny, but he pushes her back down to sit. He clearly has the wrong idea, and doesn’t give her much chance to protest before attacking… her feet.

"You wore zeese for me, didn't you?"

“You wore zeese for me, didn’t you?”

Ew.

Jamie thinks so, too, and hurls Monsieur Footweasel into the river before Claire can stop him.

"I hope Plan B involves fewer fetishes..."

“I hope Plan B involves fewer fetishes…”

They hurry the soggy little sexball inside and dry him off by a roaring fire. His wig has officially given up the will to live.

Conceptual reference for AC/DC's frontman.

Conceptual reference for AC/DC’s frontman.

He’s profuse in his apologies — as you would be, when the angry husband outclasses you by two head and a half — and wonders if there’s any service he can render to make up for his error in judgment. Jamie coyly says he only wants a friend. The minister is sold after Murtagh pimps out Jamie’s chess playing skills.

Interrupted by royal fanfare, they stop and turn to see the king and his mistress coming around the corner. He’s come to dress Duverny down for being sopping wet: “Please conduct your bathing rituals in private.” — That’s rich, coming from you, sir.

The public humiliation is made more manageable by the presence of the royal mistress’ breasts, barely held in by swan-shaped piercings. Ouch. Pretty, but ouch.

"Pardon me, but have you seen the swan-titties?"

“Pardon me, but have you seen the swan-titties?”

In the book, Claire is so overwhelmed by the woman’s swan-pierced nipples that she stumbles gasping and red-faced from the room.

Show!Claire is much more composed.

Murtagh, less so.

"Have ye any Scottish in ye, lass?..."

“Have ye any Scottish in ye, lass?…”

He’s not exactly unencouraged.

"Get a good look, soldier."

“Get a good look, soldier.”

It’s historically accurate, too.

Jamie stops him before he can get himself into trouble, though.

"You never let me have any fun..."

“Please? Please can I have th’ swan-titties?”

He doesn’t mourn the loss for long, as something catches his eye and makes him see red.

Charging across the room, Murtagh nearly draws his sword and gets himself guillotined before Jamie stops him.

The target?

"U mad, bro?"

“U mad, bro?”

None other than the sleazy Duke of Sandringham.

He’s “pleasantly surprised” to see Jamie and Claire alive and well, and claims to regret the situation that Black Jack “forced” him into… That pardon was really a sure thing, right up until BJR forced him to hand it over, really it was.

Nobody’s buying it, least of all Murtagh.

"Ye canna kill him here. In France, they have 'witnesses'..."

“Ye canna kill him here. In France, they have ‘witnesses’…”

But they’re playing the long game, and Randall’s been dealt with. Also, Sandringham is a prominent English Jacobite. The friends you find among your enemies…

To avoid bloodshed in general, Claire suggests that Jamie take Murtagh to get a drink with their new friend — ahem — the Minister of Finance. Wonder how big the dent in the floor’s gonna be from that name drop, Claire.

Sandringham acidly comments that she hasn’t lost her touch for cultivating allies in high places. Then his aide shows up, and it’s the young man who was flirting with Mary. He’s got a terrible cough, but seems friendly enough. There’s something familiar about him though…

Claire thinks so, too, but can’t quite put her finger on it.

Sensing that she’s near the edge of a psychological precipice, the duke does the gentlemanly thing and gives her a good shove: It’s none other than Black Jack Randall’s younger brother, Alex. (There are layers to this creep factor, if you’ve read the books.)

*runs screaming*

*runs screaming*

Claire does her best to look less like a deer in front of a van while they continue the small talk, during which Sandringham has one more bomb to drop: Jonathan Randall isn’t as dead as hoped and generally prayed for.

"Shall I say, booyah?"

“Shall I say, booyah?”

This hits Claire like a ton of bricks, and she barely makes it out of the room.

Black Jack Randall is alive. It’s not bad enough that Jamie’s barely hanging onto his sanity by his remaining working fingers, but that BJR is still alive and mending from the cattle incident…

"Well, shit."

“Well, shit.”

She’s freaking out about what Jamie will do if he finds out, and vice versa.

This internal agonizing obviously calls for spectacular fireworks.

"Vive la tourmente!"

“Vive la tourmente!”

I’m sorry it took so long, and that it was so long… but worth it, right?

Comments below. Use ’em to tell me what you thought of this week’s episode! Did you think it matched up to the book? What changes could you have lived without?

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Outlander S2 Photo Recap – Ep. 1: “Through a Glass, Darkly”

There are three reasons why this post didn’t show up until just now.

One, I got early access, and didn’t want to rub it in the Outlander community’s collective face. I’m nice that way.

Two, niceness was reinforced by generic life stress and an underlying A.D.D. drive.

Three, I’m currently hiding from the mini-Sassenach’s birthday party and this is the perfect excuse.

We all on board now? Great. Let’s get this train rolling…

Through a Glass, Darkly - Title Shot

In case you’ve already forgotten what you’re reading about.

 

We start the episode as y’do after a Droughtlander wait: with a sudden-death memory gut-punch. Part to remind you why you love the show, part to remind you why you hate BJR (in case you allowed yourself to conflate him with Frank as a coping mechanism, more fool you), and part to scare off the silly sods who wandered in without running the first 16-episode gauntlet: GO BACK AND CATCH UP, YOU GREEN NUMPTIES. THAR BE SPOILERS HERE, Y’KEN?

(ahem)

So, just as in the first episode of the first season, we get Claire’s voiceover in a black screen. It’s beautiful, it’s soothing against what is certain to be a backdrop of the Scottish countryside, it’s… not what we expected, after the last rewind shot of them sailing away to a happier life in France.

"That's the last time I let them talk me into 'one dram more'..."

“That’s the last time I let them talk me into ‘one dram more’…”  (also, I know that it’s “I wished I were dead.” Sorry. I typed that at speed and derp.)

We come up for air to see Claire Beauchamps Randall Fraser regaining rattled senses on the ground. She looks like she just faced down a train (and knowing Claire, she probably would) and is telling us about her passive death wish. “And if I kept my eyes shut, I could have almost touched the edges of oblivion…” is one of my favorite lines from the book series, and Caitriona says it beautifully, with such emotion, that I’m already crying before she starts screaming bloody murder at the stones that have brought her back. It is so raw, it hurts to hear. Before screaming, however, her first action after waking is to check to see that a ring (pay attention) is still in her possession… but it’s missing its setting. She frantically searches the ground around where she was laying, finding nothing. That’s the last straw. She rage-faces. The stones are, predictably, assholes about… whatever it is she’s grieving over.

She gets up. She drags herself down the hill, and forces herself to plod down the paved road toward town. She’s honked at (because that’s a classic move, that is) and a gentleman in a spiffy modern(ish) hat steps out of his car to ask if she’s lost her bloody mind… politely. Because we’re still all British, y’see.

Claire wastes no time demanding (like a lunatic) to know what year it is and who won the Battle of Culloden… a battle which is now 202 years in her past.

I want you all to pause for a moment to appreciate the sheer brilliance of Caitriona Balfe’s emotive skills, right here, upon receiving his answer — “The British!”:

grief. pure grief. OMG the grief.

I’m not gonna lie. I had to pause to find the extra tissue.

It literally doubles her over. It is such tremendous acting that if there’s a special award for it, I hereby submit Cait’s name. Holy shit.

Anyway. We need a nice break from the gut-wrenching. Have some irrelevant theme-shots.

Jamie in Highlander rogue regalia

“You’re welcome. And also to remind you that we’re still planning to shoot in Scotland. But mostly, you’re welcome.” – Starz

Holy Historical Bewbs, Batman...

Le Historical Bewbs…

 

Terry, I really hope your team has a marketing plan for those little cheek patches. Damn.

Terry, I really hope there’s a team that has a marketing plan for those little cheek patches. Damn.

 

And just to remind you we're in France...

And just to remind you we’re in France…

 

Sail, bonnie boat... It's the last peace ye'll see here.

Sail, bonnie boat… It’s the last peace ye’ll see here.

 

I lied. Here's a Wee Roger. D'awww.

I lied. Here’s a Wee Roger. D’awww.

Okay.

Unfortunately, I can’t help you anymore.

Back into the grief wagon you get. Go on. Shoo.

The poor man with the car is so befuddled at this crazy lady in period dress, spouting mad questions about Cumberland and the ’45 before collapsing in a puddle of agony, that he takes her straight to the hospital.

Where we see…

shoes of intent

Shoes. Important shoes. Shoes of intent.

and, shortly…

Urgent suits.

Vests of intent. Suits of ugency. — And, oh look! If the car didn’t tip you off, look what time it is!

It’s Frank.

"Did she have any flowers on her person when you found her? It's important."

“Did she have any flowers on her person when you found her? It’s important.”

He’s brusque. He’s urgent and politely demanding of hospital staff. And for a moment, all of us are wondering which Frank this is: Is it the Frank who will love Claire no matter what? Or is it the Frank who has picked up a little too much of his genetic inheritance?

The doctors assure Frank that they gave her enough tranquilizers to soothe the 3rd Mounted Regiment, and that she should be calmer now. Go on in.

And when he does, we are treated to this:

That, my friends, is wonderment served up raw. Eat your hearts out.

That, my friends, is wonderment served up raw. Eat your hearts out.

Claire doesn’t immediately see him, and so Frank is left to stare and do her bidding when she snaps (without looking, assuming he’s a nurse) that he turn the damned radio off. She’s quite literally holding herself together at this point, only partially supported by the drugs. She hates the noise. She doesn’t like anything about her old life. She doesn’t want any of it.

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“Bet they’ve gone back to skirts, so I won’t even have pants to look forward to.” *grumble*

I have to hand it to the production team. The cinematography and angles of shots throughout the episode are simply en pointe.

If you remember much about the first episode (and if you don’t, and don’t want me to spoil you, skip this bit), you remember that Frank had an encounter with a mysterious Highland ghost — tee hee. — outside Claire’s window.

Frank Ghost.

“I am the Ghost of Liasons Past…”

Claire, however, doesn’t care much about cinematic or thematic parity at this point, and startles. But it’s not the startle-turned-joy we might expect for a wife reunited with her husband… first husband. No, Claire is proper terrified.

Claire scared.

“How…?”

She doesn’t see Frank in the glass, at first; she sees Black Jack Randall.

In this instant, we feel what she does, and wonder what the hell she’s been through to be so scared of a ghost, that she doesn’t associate the image with Frank again. (Because, last we saw of BJR, he was flattened beneath some rather confused cattle. And a door.)

They used each and every moment in this flash-forward prelude to foreshadow the crap out of this season, people. This is one of those moments where so much is said in just one word: “How?” She thinks Black Jack is in her hospital room, after the two years we assume to have passed since their escape from his clutches at Fort William.

Now, his brutality was dire enough to give people issues, to be sure, but after two years you would think she’d have had enough time to rationalize the fallout down to manageable proportions. So, what has happened, in the two years (give or take a couple of centuries) since we last saw her, to make that fear so fresh for her?

It’s not until Frank says, “Claire,” in the most heartbreakingly careful way possible, that she comes back to herself.

“Oh. Right.”

 

She’s back, she says. He’s grateful, he replies. It’s all very tense, despite the fact that Frank is doing everything he can to exude comfort and love and the wish to not strangle her before she’s had a chance to tell him where she’s been.

But mostly comfort and love.

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He approaches her with the most timid respect for her fragility, and she reacts like this:

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She pulls back and we see, in a literal flashback from her perspective, that this isn’t Frank approaching her. In her mind, in that second, BJR has found her and is going to strangle her — or worse — in her bed.

Frank pulls back, instantly afraid to do anything that might set her off again. He’s been through war, he recognizes “shell shock” (or, what we more modern people might call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). And he’s obviously wondering how the hell she wound up suffering from it.

He tries to calm her down by saying that good ol’ Reverend Wakefield has cleared out the east wing of his modest home for their humble use. Frank keeps trying to focus her on looking at him, making her understand that he wants her to get better.

Does Mrs. Graham still have that tea of hers?

She asks about the reverend’s fortune-telling housekeeper (who moonlights as a druid).

Frank’s reaction is priceless.

Dafuq?

“Sallied off without a word for three years, come back asking to speak with the vicar’s help? Dafuq?”

He gallantly takes it on the chin, however, and — after a run-in with an opportunistic photographer and Frank’s puzzling over Claire’s 18th-century costume — we’re soon off to the Wakefield residence.

Grief aside, can I just have this right here? This is soooo lovely.

Grief aside, can I just have this right here? This is soooo lovely.

We’ve jumped ahead about a week. She’s been convalescing at the Wakefield estate, and the reverend and Frank are discussing the response from one of Frank’s professorial colleagues: Claire’s “costume” is authentic, and valuable as hell.

Sniffing drawers. For science.

“I sniff these drawers for science.”

The men puzzle over Claire’s hesitation to talk about her experience. She hasn’t said anything other than “pleasantries” for a week. The thing that unnerves the reverend the most is Claire’s sudden appreciation for history she couldn’t give a crap about before she left. She’s already blasted through the reverend’s considerable library on the subject of the Rising.

Reverend Wakefield comments that the press won’t leave her to her silence for long, leaving Frank to stare forlornly at her through the window.

Outside, Claire is complaining about the lack of books, and the surfeit of bloody planes.

“You kids stop buzzing over my goddamned lawn now!”

All the tea in the British Isles hasn’t sated Claire’s need to rake herself over the coals of history, and she explodes when Mrs. Graham idly comments on the possibility of war with Russia. She tells Mrs. Graham another story about Jamie, how he didn’t know what “fucking sadist” meant, and about the laughs they had.

Mrs. Graham points out all of the amazing qualities that Claire has listed over the last week (not the least of which, his hair). Claire crumbles and then, realizing it, forces herself to come to terms with his current deceased status. She can’t move on, she says, unless she knows if Jamie actually died on Culloden Moor.

Again, I nominate Cait for whatever's available. Shit.

Again, I nominate Cait for whatever’s available. Shit.

Mrs. Graham is the picture of support. She tells Claire to cherish the unique and wonderful experience with Jamie, tucked away in a secret place in her heart. And then she tells her to stop wasting her life on a ghost, when there’s a living Backup Plan husband still hoping to love her.

"That tall drink o' whisky by the window's been eyein' ye for hours, y'ken..."

“That tall drink o’ whisky by the window’s been eyein’ ye for hours, y’ken…”

There’s a second where Claire and Frank meet glances, and we all think she might smile at him or something… but her gaze wavers and he walks away in defeat.

#HugFrank

Later that evening, after a long day of useless fretting, Frank wearily ascends the stairs. He pauses outside Claire’s closed door, and then slouches toward his own bedroom. Claire opens the door and stops him.

"I just wondered if you knew where any other books might be hiding?"

“I just wondered if you knew where any other books might be hiding?”

It’s an offer to come in. Despite the tense body language and hesitation, she’s finally ready to talk about the last three years. Frank can barely contain himself.

"How happy is too happy? I want to appear elated, yet not in danger to society..."

“How happy is too happy? I want to appear elated, yet not a danger to society…”

She’s been waiting for him to come upstairs. There’s a bottle and two glasses, already poured. Frank comments on this, saying that it reminds him of that time at Mrs. Baird’s. Claire’s strain is evident, because rather than ease into it she flatly says, “Of course I remember. Our last night together.”

In Scotland, nothing is settled unless there's been whisky involvement.

In Scotland, nothing is settled unless there’s been whisky involvement.

Frank is hasty to assure her that she doesn’t have to explain herself. He’ll accept nothing, so long as she talks to him again. He’s in love and that’s that.

Claire, on the other hand, refuses to be moved. Let her tell it at her own pace, she insists, and then decide if you have questions. Or want to set the room on fire.

Just in case you were worried whether this was actually Claire Randall Fraser...

Just in case you were worried whether this was actually Claire Randall Fraser…

She tells him every detail of the last three years — some parts in triplicate, as Frank bitterly reassures her, when it comes to Jamie — and it’s dawn by the time she’s exhausted herself. She married another man, and was deeply in love with him. Clearly, she hints, this fantasy life and its very real repercussions are not a feat Frank is prepared to surmount.

Wrong, Frank insists, and puts her in her place.

He has spent the last three years in his world, fighting police, friends, and everyone who’s heard about his wife leaving that she didn’t do it to be with another man. He could have chosen to hate her, but he couldn’t find it in himself to do so. He loves her, no matter what, and is prepared to accept the gravity and depth of her feelings for Jamie.

Bam. How d’you like those apples, darling?

Moreover, he says he believes her about going back in time. Claire scoffs at him and he insists upon it. He believes her, because — regardless of the fantastical aspect — she didn’t choose to leave him in the first place. That’s something he can build on. If she believes it, he’s prepared to do so, because that’s how deep his love for her is.

Truly, Frank is the shining epitome of male honor in this part of the scene.

"I don't care if you spent the last 36 months welcoming the sailors back to port, just as long as you're home now."

“I don’t care if you spent the last 36 months welcoming the sailors back to port, just say you remember how I take my Earl Grey.”

But wait, Claire says, there’s more. She tries to hint, poke at the subject, and finally has to flat-out spell it out for him: She’s pregnant.

The news, at first, is a cup-runneth-over moment for Frank. He is so happy that it hurts any viewer with a working brain, especially if that viewer read the books first.

The heartbeat where you've convinced yourself that time-travel holds pregnancies in stasis for three years...

The heartbeat wherein you’ve convinced yourself that time travel holds pregnancies in stasis for three years…

And then we watch the pieces fall into place behind his eyes, just as the tears are falling down cheeks (his, ours, it doesn’t matter, does it?).

Up to this point, Frank’s benevolent reception to his erstwhile wife’s reappearance has been nothing short of extraordinary. And for me, who loathed book!Frank (I have my reasons. Shush.), this is a big get for the showrunners. To have someone like me sympathize so completely with a character that she previously had convinced herself that she couldn’t stand… It’s immense, the talent involved on all ends of this scene.

Because when this happens…

*There* is the ancestry...

*There* is the ancestry… I actually jumped back in my chair.

… we are right there with Claire, lulled into security only to be catapulted back into the long-awaited arms of Black Jack Randall’s Rage.

This time, though, she sees it coming.

This time, though, she sees it coming.

Frank is not his forefather, however. He pulls it back in. The look on Claire’s face is a dash of cold water and he recoils, from her, from himself, from the whole damned room.

He stumbles downstairs, past a polite Mrs. Graham, and out into the garden shed. Where he promptly lets slip the dogs of war upon everything in range.

Mature declarations of British rage.

How one traditionally prepares for a jumble sale.

 

After an indeterminate amount of time, wherein he pulls himself the hell together, he’s back in the reverend’s parlor solemnly apologizing for his lack of control.

I love James Fleet in most things. He was perfectly cast in this.

"Tell me again, what precisely did the rake say about your mother?"

“Tell me again: what precisely did the rake say about your mother?”

Someone he hasn’t seen in years, and only that one time that his daffy wife disappeared — and then came back — has just laid waste to his back garden, leaving no survivors, and he just brushes it aside with an air of detached bafflement. “Meant to throw it all out anyway.”

Bless.

The reverend talks Frank through the current dilemma: he was happy to have his wife back, but her onboard passenger is care of another man…

Reverend Wakefield asks Frank, quite wisely, whether he is prepared to raise another man’s child, let alone have children at all. We then find out that, after Claire’s disappearance, Frank’s doctors told him he was sterile. So, there’s that. He’d come to terms with his own infertility as a pseudo-widower. With her back and pregnant, he admits that his happiness was overwhelming. And then he realized he wasn’t the father and everything turned to dust in his mind.

The good reverend attempts to compare Frank’s situation to Mary and Joseph, and Frank treats a wandering Wee Roger to some colorful language on the subject. Frank apologizes, and then the reverend explains his own situation with Roger: the boy calls him “father”, despite knowing the reverend is not. He continues to call the current baby situation “part of God’s eternal plan.”

Cut to Claire’s confused reaction: “You want to do what?”

Frank: “Pick up where we left off, of course. We’ve already done the ceremony bit. Saves us a bit of bother. And that’s now my kid, btw.”

They back-and-forth it a bit: she has conditions, one of which being that he’s not allowed to ever use the word “flog” in her presence again.

His conditions: The baby will be raised as theirs. With Frank as Daddy, not a ghost. Also, Claire has to give up her fever-pitch research project and accept that the past is where it belongs. They will move to America, where he’s been offered a position in Boston, and start a new life with the baby.

Peace, at last.

Peace, at last.

She agrees, and attempts to surrender all reminders of her life with Jamie. When she gets to the ring, she hesitates. She can’t bring herself to pull it off, and her face slowly collapses like pastry.

Frank tells her it’s all right; she can remove it when she’s ready.

You are gold, sir.

You are gold, sir.

Cut again to a few days later, and Claire is dressed for travel. She’s packing a small trunk, and there’s the ring from the first scene. Still missing its setting.

"With this ring, I do foreshadow..."

“With this ring, I do foreshadow…”

Somehow as precious as her silver band from Jamie, she stashes it safely inside the trunk before closing it. She looks out the window, and watches Frank and his small bonfire — her Highland clothes, turning to ash. Going downstairs, she joins Frank to leave.

They take a plane, and we are treated to this shot:

Damn, she pretty.

Damn, she pretty.

Descending the ramp from the plane, after touching down, Claire hesitates. She’s still reeling from her past and present colliding, and we hear echoes of memories tugging at her, even as Frank reaches out a hand to coax her down: One more step

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The camera closes in on his outstretched hand, then flicks up to Claire, who is beaming. She reaches out to take the hand, and…

JAMIE!!!

“Did you miss me, Sassenach?”

— //millions of thuds as fangirls everywhere squee and fall over dead//

There’s Jamie!

We’ve missed him all episode, and so has Claire. She flashes joyously back to everyone’s favorite ginger studmuffin pulling her down the ramp of a ship, straight into his arms.

They’re in France now, and Claire teases Jamie about the speed with which he disembarked: “I thought you were going to knock people over!” Jamie is looking a bit green around the gills. Not a water-lover, this one.

And then there’s Murtagh.

"Smells of fish."

“Smells of fish.”

He sends the lovebirds packing off to find rooms, while he sorts out the luggage… and OMG the laughter as he does, because the boat-bastards are just throwing no fucks. Plenty o’ luggage, though.

"Dinna make me come up there an' show you a job..."

“Dinna make me come up there an’ show you a job…”

Claire and Jamie find some reasonably posh rooms. His relief over a stable bed was infectious.

Of course, the relief doesn’t last. They’re not in the room thirty seconds before she insists that they formulate a plan for stopping the Jacobite Uprising.

“Hope you’ve eaten your Wheaties, my lad…”

Jamie is appropriately skeptical. He reminds her that they agreed to discuss an insurrection, not play one out immediately after landfall.

"Can we just take five minutes to not die or run from dyin'?"

“Can we just take five minutes to not die or run from dyin’?”

Claire insists that is why they came to France: to stop good men from dying on a battlefield in 1746.

Jamie asks her for details, but Claire doesn’t know that much. Bet she’s kicking herself now for not paying more attention to Frank’s scholarly rants on the subject, eh?

She says there has to be some way they can shift the balance, though. His cousin is in town and can make the introductions to key Jacobite leaders, being the owner of a profitable wine business… and a Jacobite sympathizer.

"How many spies did you work alongside in the future, exactly?"

“How many spies did you work alongside in the future, exactly?”

Jamie doesn’t think a crippled redhead and a pregnant Englishwoman have much chance of success, but Claire challenges his manly pride. Done and done. His main concern afterward: “What the hell are we going to tell Murtagh?”

Good question.

"Ye wanna do what, now?"

“Ye wanna do what, now?”

Murtagh doesn’t seem to find the idea of stopping an insurrection in the Stuart name to be a very wise decision, and asks for the long version.

"All you need to worrit yourself with is the three kegs o' gunpowder, five coils of rope and fifteen spools of silk thread. Don't ask what the ducks are for."

“All you need to worrit yourself with is the three kegs o’ gunpowder, five coils of rope and fifteen spools of silk thread. Don’t ask what the ducks are for.”

He doesn’t take kindly to being brushed off, and demands an honest answer from Jamie. Murtagh trusts Jamie with his life, and is wounded that he doesn’t have Jamie’s trust in return. He deserves that much and won’t settle for less. But how do they tell him it’s because she’s from the future without him chucking her into the harbor to see if she floats?

They manage, though. Jamie promises Murtagh answers in the future, just not today. Murtagh accepts it, for now, and agrees to help in whatever way needed.

Three weeks later…

Cousin Jared’s in the mood for a sit-down, but doesn’t quite buy Jamie’s patriotic turn. Why suddenly a Stuart supporter?

"It's a badge of honor. We also have badges for tartan weaving, jigs, and caber lobbing."

“It’s a badge of honor. We also have badges for tartan weaving, jigs, and caber lobbing.”

Jamie and Claire smirk at each other…

"Own this fool."

“Own this fool.”

So Jamie does what any sane activist does when questioned about his motives.

He takes off his shirt.

Showing you the before, rather than the gorey after. Before is beautiful.

Showing you the before, rather than the gorey after. Before is beautiful.

The ace-in-the-hole that is a plethora of back scars moves Jared in such a way that he instantly absorbs Jamie into the fold. He’ll set up meetings, he says, but Jamie has no value as he is: a poor, wanted man.

Jamie argues that he is the rightful laird of his own clan and the Jacobites could do worse than his association.

Jared offers to bring Jamie into the fold in the wine business, to get his feet wet while raising his profile. Jamie sharply negotiates his way to a higher cut of the profits, and Cousin Jared is impressed by his cunning.

While the cousins are hammering out the details, Claire goes for a bit of a wander. As y’do in the seedy side of a foreign town before the age of cell phones and mace.

Coming across a flurry of activity near a docked ship, she sees two men carried off the ship on stretchers. Nurse!Claire kicks in and she pushes her way into the warehouse, past a gathering crowd of fearful onlookers.

How to Make Friends and Influence People -- An 18th Century Account of Interpersonal Relationships by Claire Randall Fraser

How to Make Friends and Influence People — An 18th Century Account of Interpersonal Relationships by Claire Randall Fraser

It doesn’t take her long to pronounce what everyone around her is dreading: it’s smallpox. She wades right in and eases into the scene; after all, she’s not about to get it.

I wouldn't want him serving my wine either.

I wouldn’t want him serving my wine either.

Nobody is happy about this, and certainly not the warehouse manager, the captain of the ship, or the Comte de Saint Germain… the wealthy and snobbish Frenchman whose wine is still in the death ship’s hold.

Jamie runs up to her and tries to shoo her out the door, not pronounce the illness to authorities when they show up.

"Might be a good time to go, before they throw fish at us. Y'reckon?"

“Might be a good time to go, before they throw fish at us. Y’reckon?”

Claire doesn’t give a damn about the rising temperature of the air surrounding them, and slips out of his grasp the moment he’s distracted.

"Yeah, nothx, bai."

“Yeah, nothx, bai.”

Meanwhile, the authorities have shown up, and are taking stock of the situation. Shouting down a ferociously pissed-off comte, they inform him that the disease has cost him his entire shipment of wine. Sucks to be him.

This is the face you see on any Frenchman when told you're setting fire to his wine.

This is the face you see on any Frenchman when told you’re setting fire to his wine.

Now, anyone seeing that face has backed up a good several thousand feet by this point.

Not our girl.

While Monsieur Le Bitchpants is kicking up a fuss, Claire wades right on in and lists every fuck she does not give. In French.

"And I shall sprinkle the earth with salt extracted from your corpse. Au revoir."

“And I shall sprinkle the earth with salt extracted from your corpse. Au revoir.”

St. Germain promises the duo that their uppance will surely come, and that it will not be pretty. Jared backs this up by stating that they’ve made an enemy in France this day. Duh.

Later, it’s quite a show. The couple gaze lovingly at each other in the dark, before watching the destruction of several men’s livelihood from a comfortable distance.

But it’s okay, because we then get this:

D'aww.

D’aww.

They speak ominously of Next Week, we see some choice glares from French Enemy #1, and then the camera pans out wide. Bathe in the glory of the well-paid CGI staff members. They’ve earned it.

ZOMG the gorgeous CGI...

ZOMG the gorgeous CGI…

 

And that’s a wrap for this episode.

Honestly, I’m happy they did it this way. If you’ve read the books, then you know that the book starts a bit differently. (I won’t spoil how.) The change is good though, because the opening scenes with Frank showcase needed information that we are not privy to in the books until much, much later. It makes far more sense to get that out of the way now and use it to further support the story arc they’re laying out this season.

Claire’s back, and she left Jamie to die. How? Why? And how red will the baby’s hair be? (You already know, dammit.)

Stay tuned until next week!

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