Welcome to our coverage of Outlander season two. Read our reviews and recaps of season one here.
Note: This is a spoiler-free review.
The long-awaited Outlander season 2 premiere is this Saturday night. How will Jamie & Claire take on the next part of their journey and what twists awaits them and viewers this season? Season 2 doesn’t take long in delivering the biggest, unexpected twist in the series so far. It’s a jarring and emotional opening to the season that will very much resonate in the episodes to come.
Starz gave journalists the first five episodes of the new season to view in advance. Those episodes provide a good idea of the season’s scope in both storytelling and style. Set in 1745 Paris, the sets and costuming are strikingly different from the earthy tones of Scotland last season. We’ve seen teases of Claire’s vivacious red dress, and that’s a perfect example of how different things are now that Jamie and Claire are making a life for themselves amongst the Parisian elite. There are a lot less sword fights but a lot more sly glances and scheming. They’re still playing the same game, but the rules and strategies aren’t the same, and it’s a refreshing change for the series.
As for the twists, I can’t share exactly what they are, and even book fans may be surprised by one of them. The writers have found a way to stay loyal to the characters and their general arc while making the series feel like wholly new experience. If the first five episodes are any indication, the series fast tracks through the events in Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, touching on major plot points but still moving the story along quickly.
In a way, I feel like we’re hurling into something big, which is part of the major reveal that the premiere episode opens with. Caitriona’s performance of Claire is incredibly raw and harrowing in “Through the Glass, Darkly.” It’s not the weepy kind of sad, but the kind that leaves a lump in your throat as you watch her. There’s a combination of loss, fear, bitterness and a bit of hope in her performance, and that first 30 minutes will stay with viewers even though none of the immediate subsequent episodes will directly remind you of it.
The tonal shift in the middle of the premiere episode isn’t a seamless one, but it is welcomed – fans of a certain character will see why. The rest is mainly set-up for the season, shuffling and settling Jamie, Claire and Murtagh into life in Paris – which of course doesn’t come without its hiccups. However, as entertaining as the scheming in Paris storylines are, they are only so riveting because of those first 30 minutes that add a new layer to Jamie and Claire’s story. We are no longer seeing it through their hopeful eyes, but through a different Claire’s eyes. That balance between lush scenery and complex human emotions is going to make season two of Outlander very intriguing to watch these coming weeks.
I will recap and review this season of Outlander; stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of the series every Saturday night on The Young Folks.
Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.