The first season of Outlander saw the time travelling nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) being pulled through time away from her Husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) and remarried to Laird in Waiting Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) two hundred years in the past and in the Scottish Highlands. After defeating Black Jack Randall (Also played by Tobias Menzies) the pregnant Claire and Jamie were last seen heading off on a boat towards France
The second season doesn’t open in a linear fashion as the plot doesn’t pick up exactly where we left off. This time it’s the show’s chance to jump through time and Episode 1 of the second series opens to an undisclosed point further on in the future. The first fourty minutes depict the emotional fallout of events in the first series. Balfe and Menzies create a dramatically tense atmosphere with Menzies displaying heartfelt tenderness and contrasting passionate anger without blinking. Balfe portrays Clare with a utterly believable disconnected and gravity filled performance. The episode creates a mystery to be explained throughout the rest of the second season.
Continuing on from the drama, the storyline picks up on slightly more exotic shores. We’ve always known that Clare and Jamie were on their way to France to dabble in 18th Century politics and try to change the future. Even the second version of the theme song is sung in French. We witness their arrival in Calais and get to assess their French language skills. To my ears they sounds like they’ve put a lot of work into it. The production have also put a lot of thought into how 18th Century France looks, from the bustling busy trading port to the comfortable fineries of the French upper class and there’s still a lot more to come.
Episode 2, Not In Scotland Anymore, gives viewers a much more lavish environment and the plot delves deeper into the narrative as Claire and Jamie attempt to prevent the Jacobite uprising to save Jamie’s clan from a doomed battle. It also introduces us to some huge characters who will no doubt be integral to the plot. Claire Sermonne gives an exuberant screen stealing performance as Claire’s new friend Louise de Rohan and we see the return of some familiar faces including the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow) and Murtagh (Duncan Lecroix).
Murtagh and Jamie provide many of the naive fish out of water chuckles as they struggle to get to grips with the trivialities of French society compared to their down to earth Highland upbringing. It’s Claire’s confidence and determined drive that propel the story and the drama along. By the end of the second episode we’re left with a piece of information that will no doubt affect the narrative of the rest of the series and leave us hanging on the edge of our seats wanting to know what happens next.
Outlander Season 2 is exclusive to Amazon Prime Video in the UK premièring on April 10th and a new episode airs every Sunday. Catch up on Season 1 on Amazon Prime Video.