Outlander Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Through a Glass, Darkly

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Claire Fraser is back!!!

With Outlander Season 2 Episode 1, our lovely Claire is still torn between the past and the present, and it's obvious straight away things are not going to be easy for the Sassenach.

The premiere starts with Claire waking up at Craigh na Dun. She's immediately stunned to discover her efforts to stop the Jacobite rebellion were fruitless. It's 1948, she's pregnant, and she has to deal with Frank, so soon after dealing with Randall. In other words? Kind of a nightmare. 

Strolling the Docks - Outlander

Here are some housekeeping items you probably need to know up front. I read the early Outlander books {}cough cough}} years ago. I do not remember the ones after Outlander. At all. I have visions of certain things, and they're very clear moments, but story wise? I'm empty.

Because I spent so much time being a general pain in the butt during Outlander Season 1 about what was this way in the book and what was that way on the show, I decided NOT to go back and refresh. I'm flying blind. 

From MY perspective, I have no problem AT ALL with you, my readers, discussing the books in the comments, spoiling me, sharing with me what you recall, what happened, what was different, etc. I am not a spoiler phobe, and I expect my memory will return as I watch to some degree anyway.

All I ask is that you preface your spoiler material with SPOILER only so that other TV viewers who have not read the books can have the chance to look away if they don't agree with my personal opinion on the matter. I hope that's fair.

That also means, for readers, that this particular set of reviews won't likely be full of spoilers of what lies ahead in the books. Whether that's good or bad is up to you.

Carrying on!!

Unfortunately for Claire, she doesn't wake up from this particular nightmare. I'm not sure how or why she was at Craigh na Dun. From her opening monologue, it's doubtful she wanted to leave the life she had come to love and much as she loved the man attached to it.

Seeing Frank was painful for Claire. The memories of what his image had done to Jamie were so fresh in her mind. She flinched when he reached for her, something he didn't understand, of course, but he also didn't know what she'd been through, so he's not altogether surprised, either.

After all, Jamie still imagined Randall's touch, seeing him in his mind. The pain was real for him every minute, his hand bandaged, his body defying his mind's wish to heal and take him forward and out of his own nightmare.

Claire had such plans for them. Stopping the Jacobite uprising would take his mind off of everything he'd been through, and they could change the future of Scotland, saving tens of thousands of lives. Jamie wondered if the price might be their souls.

Claire begs that he trust in it, in them, in their ability to move mountains. And in the help of Cousin Jared.

I'm not 100% sure what Claire's plan was with regards to the Jacobites, but making an enemy among the elite couldn't possibly bode well for she and her fair Jamie to infiltrate the upper class, right? Why would someone like that care about the little people?

I'm guessing what we see in the first half of "Through a Glass, Darkly," are the ramifications of that one choice Claire made, to defy the ship's captain and defend the people against a possible plague of smallpox. 

Yes, she was seeing to the greater good of the city of Paris, but possibly at the expense of the tens of thousands of people she hopes to save by changing the course of history by stopping the Jacobite uprising. Every decision has consequences.

I love when we have the chance to catch up with Frank and believe his love for Claire is genuine. Tobias Menzies has such a difficult job separating the two characters of Frank and Randall and making us believe they are not one in the same, and he does it brilliantly.

He also gives us the briefest of hints of his lineage with his performance as Frank.

Because as much as I adore the character of Frank and want to champion him, it's sometimes difficult to do it. The pragmatic side of the man, who got the garments Claire returned in identified to help him better understand her story, is welcomed. He wouldn't have done that if some part of him didn't believe the story Claire told him.

Frank was also struggling with the fact she loved another man, and his own soul searching and revelation that he would love her in spite of it all. 

I've been waiting for Frank to tell Claire he cheated on her while at war. I don't even know it's true, but it felt true from the way he acted after the war.

When he told her here that he believes Claire had feelings for Jamie but loves her unconditionally, just as he told her he always would, part of me wondered if was because he hoped she would do the same if he revealed his own indiscretions. Nonetheless, he appeared to be genuine.

That's why it felt like a punch to MY gut when Claire chose that moment to tell Frank she was pregnant. The varying looks on Frank's face were, in the end, heartbreaking.

When Claire told me that she was pregnant, my first feeling was joy and happiness. It was almost hallucinatory in its intensity, because somehow, suddenly, in that moment, I, I thought she meant we were having a child. Then I realized, of course, it couldn't be mine. Had to be his.


Rationally, he knew it couldn't be his, but his heart went to the positive side first, which was sweet. He also pulled back and cocked his arm in a very Randall-like move, showing more restraint than his ancestor, thank God. It's hard to imagine what Claire was thinking during those moments.

Did she regret telling him in such a manner? Almost provoking him to take it all back, withdraw his affection? Was she pushing him to behave like his ancestor? Did she want to see if she bring out the Randall in him, and was she relieved he showed restraint? I'm just spit-balling.

What wasn't cool, and what I think Frank will later regret is his demand Claire never speak of Jamie ever again. That's a very tall order. Burning her clothes was also out of line, especially doing so within her line of sight. Some of the things the two did to each other felt hurtful, rather than helpful.

But given the circumstances, raising the child as his own, assuming the time travel issue never arises? It seems fair. And it would be difficult to explain to a child, let alone another adult how it all came about. Having the gown, however, would have been helpful when attempting an explanation. So.

The parting shot we saw of Claire getting off the plane in New York, as they were on their way to Boston, was simply beautiful. That era was lovely. I'm not sure why the series is deviating from the 60s to the 40s (the promotional material told me that) but for that shot alone, I thank them.

I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for Claire and Jamie in Paris, to find out why she is back in the future and what, ultimately, went wrong with their plans to stop the uprising. This series is so beautiful in every way, it's just wonderful to be back!

Hit me. Hit the comments, share. Be brilliant and beautiful yourselves. 

Through a Glass, Darkly Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (92 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Outlander Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

You have had an extraordinary adventure, Claire. Extraordinary. One that few people could even imagine. Treasure it. Keep it safe and secure, tucked away in some special place in your heart. Don't spend the rest of your days chasing a ghost, not when there's a man, a real, flesh and blood living man, who loves you still with all his heart.

Mrs. Graham

Oh. Frank. Hello. I'm back.