‘Outlander’ Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: ‘Through A Glass, Darkly’

“Outlander” returned to Starz on Saturday night with the premiere of its second season, and things began with a heartbreaking twist.

Although Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) ended Season 1 on a ship to France in the 1740s, determined to change history, Season 2 began in a very, very different place and time.

Here’s our recap of “Outlander” Season 2, Episode 1 – “Through A Glass, Darkly”:

Outlander-Season-2-Episode-1-Recap-Through-A-Glass-Darkly
(Starz)

An utterly devastated Claire Fraser wakes up on the grass in front of those mystical, ancient stones at Craigh na Dun at the start of Season 2, back in her own time.

It takes a few minutes for her to confirm she’s in 1948 (more than two years after she first left in Season 1). The news comes courtesy of a kindly motorist, who finds her in her 18th century woolen dress, walking down the paved road. She begs him to tell her who won the battle of Culloden. And when she hears his words – “the British” – she collapses into a puddle on the ground, thinking of her husband, Jamie Fraser.

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At a hospital sometime later, Claire is staring out the window when her 1940s husband – Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) – arrives. He’s elated to see her (and a bit nervous), and he smiles slightly when she recognizes him at the door. When he moves in close though, she shudders as she has a flashback to the ancestor he looks like – the sadistic Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (also played by Menzies), who tortured and raped her husband, Jamie.

Claire quickly shakes the horrific memory off and the two talk. She asks if Mrs. Graham, the woman who worked for Reverend MacKenzie back when she and Frank were on their post-World War II second honeymoon (the one during which she disappeared), is still in his employment. It turns out Mrs. Graham, who was also part of the druid ritual Claire and Frank secretly watched (in Season 1), is still working for him and a a little later the two women meet in the Reverend’s garden. Claire tears
through history book pages, looking for any information on Culloden or Jamie.
“I need to know if he really did die on that battlefield,” she tells Mrs. Graham. The woman accepts what Claire is telling her about her journey to the past, but suggests she needs to stop “chasing a ghost” and focus on her life now, in 1948, with a man (Frank) who clearly loves her.

That night, Claire tells Frank everything. “It’s quite the leap of faith. But, it is one that I’m prepared to make as well,” he tells her in the morning after she finishes her story. “Truly, all that matters it that you’re back,” he adds. He’s so forgiving, telling her he loves her unconditionally.

It’s then, that Claire reveals something that hits him hard – she is pregnant… with Jamie’s child. Finally, Frank’s rage comes out. He balls his fist up as she stares back at him. But Frank only shares DNA with Jack, and he composes himself, backs away, goes downstairs and outside to a shed where he breaks things in anger and grief. Now, it’s his time to collapse to the ground, and he breaks down in tears, the hand that bears his wedding ring covering his face.

Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall in ‘Outlander’ Season 2
Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall in ‘Outlander’ Season 2 (Starz)

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A conversation with Reverend Wakefield though is a game changer for Claire’s 1940s husband. Frank reveals he recently found out he is sterile (he had a test while Claire was in the 1740s), and the Rev reminds him of the story of Mary and Joseph. Frank answers the Rev with an expletive, just as the Reverend’s nephew, the adorable wee Roger MacKenzie, comes in calling his uncle “father.” The cute little boy, combined with the Rev’s speech about how children accept the world around them (because he calls his uncle “father” now) has a great influence.

Moments later, Frank tells Claire he wants them – including her on-the-way baby-with-another-man – to be a family. But, they’ll do it in America (he was offered a job in Boston, at Harvard), because the British press has heard her strange tale and they need to be able to escape it all and start a new life. And, he has some conditions: They’ll raise the child as their own, and she has to stop
researching to find out what happened to Jamie. “You must let him go,” he tells her. She agrees, and hands him her 18th-century wardrobe (which he burns). Frank stops her as she tugs at Jamie’s ring on her finger, telling her she can take it off when she’s ready.

And then they move to the U.S., stepping off of the Pan American World Airways in NYC. “One more step,” Frank tells Claire as she reaches the bottom of the airplane’s staircase. He reaches out for her hand (in a moment reminiscent of Season 1), and she extends her palm and grabs his, which
turns into Jamie’s.

Just like that, the show shifts back to the 1740s as Claire, Jamie and Murtagh prepare to disembark from the ship we saw them on in the Season 1 finale. Bonjour, France!

Immediately, Jamie’s longtime companion and beloved friend Murtagh expresses his distaste for the place. “France — reeks of frogs. Just as I remember it,” he grumpily says as he gets off the ship, before promising to find them all some lodging.

As night falls, Jamie sits and tries to get comfortable on the bed. His hand is still a mangled mess after what Black Jack did to it in Season 1. He’s glad to be off the high seas (Jamie gets verra seasick), but the English Dragoons Captain still haunts him. “Sometimes I feel his touch, like he’s here,” Jamie says. Claire reminds him her face is the one he’s looking at and then quickly gets him talking about what they have to do – stop the Jacobite rebellion.

Jamie’s a Scot though, so can’t they try and win it instead, he asks. Her limited historical knowledge doesn’t extend to British battle strategy, so Claire tells Jamie they have to infiltrate the Jacobite movement and “find a way to disrupt their plans.” Perhaps Jamie’s cousin, Jared, a Jacobite who lives in Paris, can make introductions for them, she suggests. Although Jamie is concerned that lying and scheming isn’t honorable, he knows saving tens of thousands of lives, and the Highland culture (if they’re successful) is a noble goal. He has just one reservation – what they are going to tell Murtagh?

“So that’s all you’ll tell me, nothing more?” Murtagh says on the docks later when the pair tells him the goal. Stopping the Jacobite rebellion is the “purpose” he notes, not the “reason.” Not ready to tell her time traveling story, Claire says she can’t explain it. Jamie though, knows he owes Murtagh an explanation. “I vow to you, I’ll tell you everything that has happened and why. At the proper time,” he tells his longtime companion. Murtagh looks down, then up and into Jamie’s eyes. “Aye,” he responds, reaching out to clutch Jamie’s good hand. “That’ll do,” Murtagh adds before walking off.

The goal agreed upon, it’s time to meet Jamie’s cousin Jared (Robert Cavanah), whom they hope to use (without his knowledge) to stop the rebellion, under the guise that they are actually supporting it. Jared, wisely, is a little suspicious knowing that his cous has never had a real interest in politics before. He isn’t ready to go out on a limb and vouch for the Frasers unless they can explain why they want to get in and help out with the Jacobite cause. To convince him, the couple takes a page out of Dougal Mackenzie’s book, taking off Jamie’s shirt and showing him the scars from the flogging Jamie sustained. “Courtesy of the British army,” Jamie says, as Jared’s expression fades to one of deep seriousness. “Now, I ask you plainly, does any man need a further reason to rise up against a king?” Jamie asks. “No, the cause can only be strengthened by your sword. I’m sorry I doubted you, brother,” Jared responds.

The Frasers had a request of Jared, and it turns out Jared has one too. Now that he’s got a smart relative in the country, Jared wants Jamie to run his wine business so he can make a long-awaited trip to the West Indies. Jamie can run the business, and live and entertain in Jared’s Paris house with Claire. While the men discuss the business, Claire takes a walk on the docks.

Almost immediately she spots something wrong. A man is rushed off of a docked ship in a gurney. His body is covered in disease. Jamie and Jared, now done with their business, spot her from afar as she runs after the sick man, who is brought inside a warehouse. As Jamie catches up to his wife, she tells him that if it’s what she thinks it is, she can’t get it (a nod to 20th century vaccinations), and she hurries to the man’s side. Looking rich and regal, Le Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber) walks in. He does so just as Claire says (while a crowd is present) that the man has smallpox. Another man is brought in, and he’s already dead of the disease. “This can still be handled quietly,” the Comte says quietly to a member of the Port Authority. But it’s too late. Too many people heard Claire, and saw the sick men. The Comte’s ship must be destroyed by law.

Stanley Weber as Le Comte St. Germain in ‘Outlander’ Season 2, Episode 1 — ‘Through A Glass, Darkly’
Stanley Weber as Le Comte St. Germain in ‘Outlander’ Season 2, Episode 1 — ‘Through A Glass, Darkly’ (Starz)

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“Who the hell are you?” the Comte asks Claire, who tells him she’s a healer. He scoffs at her, not a fan of her or the fact that she’s English. Jamie stands up to him, but the Comte insults him too. The Comte keeps his composure (although there’s a rage behind those eyes), but promises them revenge as he exits. “You’ll pay a price. You’ll both pay,” he says in French before walking out.

That night, they all watch the Comte’s ship burn. “You’ve made an enemy here today,” Jared tells Jamie and Claire.

“Another country, another enemy, life with you is never dull, Sassenach,” Jamie tells his wife before they head home for the night. From across the dock, the Comte watches Claire in the carriage that drives the couple away.

“Outlander” continues Saturdays at 9 PM ET/PT on Starz. Twelve episodes remain in Season 2.

Jolie Lash

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