The sophomore season of Starz’s sexy and spicy series Outlander is not unlike the premiere (yes, I got carried away with all the “s”). It continues to enthrall with exquisite locations, lavishly iridescent gowns, Highland banter, cat-and-mouse games of espionage, and bloody battles.
Outlander is the time-travelling tale of nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall (Caitriona Balfe), the woman torn between two loves, two polar opposite lives and two centuries. At the start of the second season, Claire and (second) husband James “Jamie” Fraser (Sam Heughan) travel to 1745 Paris to prevent a Jacobite rebellion that led to the one-sided Battle of Culloden. Thanks to Claire’s knowledge of the future, they know that Jaime and fellow Highlanders were on the losing end of that war, thus it must be nipped at the bud. History tells that the Battle of Culloden did occur and the Scottish Highlanders did perish, yet that does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the show. Knowing how and why they fail is the crux of the mystery.
It is important to note that the Frasers plan to foil a rebellion while Claire is pregnant and Jamie is recovering from the trauma caused by Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall’s (Tobias Menzies) rape. As they struggle to find new strength within themselves to face their personal evils, they have to put on a calm façade for the benefit of Scotland.
In order to assimilate themselves in the Parisian high society, Claire, Jamie, and with some reluctance, Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) shed the muted tones of their wool for French opulence, vibrantly colored embroidered silks with fine lace. They party in Versailles, in the presence of King Louis XV (Lionel Lingelser) no less, to further their cause. In doing so, they meet new personalities like Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermonne), Claire’s good-natured girlfriend whose mind is as open as her legs, both for waxing and for sex, and Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day), the Mary to Louise’s Madonna. Claire also interacts with persons in the medical profession, like Mother Hildegarde (Frances de la Tour) and Master Raymond (Dominque Pinon) to keep her intellectual juices flowing.
Between managing a wine business and strolling in well-manicured gardens, Claire and Jamie manage to attract the attention of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Andrew Gower). The Bonnie Prince Charles’ claim to the throne is the cause of the Jacobite rebellion. They pretend to be supportive of Prince Charles’ claims, but behind his back they try to discourage members of the nobility to back him financially. Jamie and Prince Charles use a brothel as venue of their clandestine meetings. Between talks of politics and military strategies, they are entertained by prostitutes and dildos, which are either for rent or for sale.
Black Jack Randall, whom the Frasers believed to be dead, makes an appearance. Instead of rattling Jamie with his blast-from-the-past surprise, Jamie rather welcomes his nemesis’s return, for it gives him the chance to avenge the inhumane torture he suffered at Black Jack’s hands, among other body parts.
A myriad of things cause the Frasers to fail politically and personally, so the couple goes back to Scotland to continue the quest to change history and ensure the survival of the clansmen. Before they leave the “city that reeks of the chamber pot”, they take a very cute street urchin named Fergus (Romann Berrux) under their wing.
Back in the rolling greens of Scotland and in their wools and kilts, Claire, Jamie and Murtagh are joined by familiar faces of the clan MacKenzie led by the bullish but beautiful Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish). The boisterous and filthy-mouthed Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters) and his complement Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O’Rourke) complete the reunion. The MacKenzie men look unkempt, unwashed and unappetizing compared to their French counterparts, but their intentions for Scotland are unquestionable. Then there is that little something called history, the emotional investment in season 1 for their characters weigh far greater than all the powdered wigs and hand-stitched buttons in the world.
With the clansmen’s continued support of Prince Charles, despite the lack of provision and the many costly missteps the higher-ups make, Jamie and Claire make their last stand in Scotland, the land where they met, where they started their love story and where their lives changed for the better (or for the worse).
The Battle of Culloden happened. The Highlanders lost to the British. The clansmen became extinct, with a boulder etched with the clan’s name serving as a reminder of those who fell on the Culloden battlefield.
Claire and Jamie did not change Scotland’s history, but their love changed their own story and their destiny.
Outlander’s use of narration, with Claire’s words and voice, is as soothing as in Season I. Balfe’s voice has that perfect pitch that lulls one to sleep but not due to monotony. However, the narration is a bit much at times, especially when Claire loses Faith or when she visits Culloden Battlefield. It is like the show does not want the audience to think for themselves and has to guide them on what to think or feel.
Balfe and Heughan grow on their roles. They are effective as Claire and Jaime whether they are plotting, making love, hating on each other or talking as equals. They have fewer steamy scenes this season, but they are not greatly missed. There are just too many things on their plate to do some serious sexy times.
Menzies and his dual roles as Black Jack and Frank Randall win the acting category. Menzies exhibits different layers of his characters this season that lend them a certain level of humanity that is relatable. The usually quiet Frank shows a side of temporary madness (for good reason), and he is as menacing as his ancestor, Black Jack. Meanwhile, Black Jack proves that he is not heartless by showing utmost concern for his brother Alex Randall (Laurence Dobiesz), Mary and their unborn child.
Like what I wrote before, my knowledge of English and Scottish history is as limited as rain in a desert. Outlander increases my understanding of Jacobites and Charles Stuart by a small percentage. And I also know that French noblewomen waxed their honeypots in 1745. 🙂
This is a review of Outlander – Season 2.
For more, please read Outlander – Love Knows No Time.
For Outlander memorable quotes, please read Outlander – Season II Quotes.
Stray Observations (Heavy Spoilers Ahead):
- I was shocked when Angus died. Then, I was sad for a full 90 seconds. Telling people to take care of your “people” before you go to war is always an ill omen. Angus’s bloody face is still on my mind.
- Of course, Dougal had to die, too. With Dougal’s death, I am concerned for the level of sexiness of Outlander Season 3. Nobody rode the horses or wore the kilt better than Dougal. His beard, low voice and murderous looks will be missed.
- I texted my fellow Outlander Fans Club, all two of them, and asked them why Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) is not as appealing as Dougal, who is Roger’s ancestor. Roger could have been Dougal’s daredevil replacement. Yes, I have a shirt with Dougal’s face with the words “Daredevil Dougal”.
- This needs repeating. Fergus is too cute for words. I hope he gets back in Outlander Season 3.
- Claire looks awesome in wool or in silk, even with grey streaks on her hair. She is gorgeous in 1745, 1948 and 1968. Claire’s red dress is likely sewn by the hands of devil to short circuit men’s axons.
- King Louis XV is a boring character. The only thing of importance that he did was thrust his manhood into Claire’s private part.
- There should be a drinking game called, “Mark Me”. Every time Prince Charles says, “mark me”, joiners down a glass of Scotch or four (or a proper porter). And, I wanted to strangle Prince Charles with his powdered wig every time he said, “mark me”. I purposely wrote “mark me” four times to further torture myself.
- Murtagh is now my favorite Outlander character. His tongue is as sharp as his sword, and his beard is not that bad either. May you survive the entire run of the show.