Sarah McDuling on everything Outlander so far!

by |May 2, 2016

Sarah takes us through time to look closely at the kilts and sporrans of Scotland and then across the pond to the corsets and hoops of France!


So we are currently four episodes into the second season of Outlander and I think it’s safe to say this series is going from strength to strength. Also, from Scotland to France and from the 18th Century to the 20th Century and back again!

Ahhh Outlander. It’s such a tricky series, flashing backwards and forwards through time. It may not always be the easiest story to follow (the books do my head in on a regular basis), but it’s certainly always entertaining. Plus, the epic love story of Jamie and Claire Fraser more than makes up for all the confusing moments when I have to ask myself questions like this:

If Claire is pregnant in 1940s Scotland two years after she is pregnant in Paris in the 1740s then does that means she was pregnant twice or pregnant for two years? Or two-hundred-and-two years? Argh, this makes no sense!!

Let’s recap …

xdragonfly-in-amber-tv-tie-in-edition.jpg.pagespeed.ic.z7Wb7nnYW9Season 2, Episode 1 “Through a Glass Darkly”

We begin with Claire landing in the stone circle of Craigh na Dun. She is dressed in an 18th century gown from ye olden days and it’s not until we see a car that everything becomes horribly clear. Claire has gone back to the future!

(And by ‘the future’ I mean the 1940s which is our past but Claire’s former present… if you know what I mean.)

After a beautiful new version of the title sequence in which the last verse is sung in French, what follows is about forty minutes of Claire having to deal with boring old Frank Randall. Is it just me or is Frank the worst? I never liked him much in the books but I actively dislike him in the show (which is no criticism of Tobias Menzies, who always delivers an amazing performance in this role). I just don’t like Frank! I don’t like the way he doubts Claire’s story. I don’t like the way he said the F-word in front of innocent little Roger. I don’t like the way he burned Claire’s clothes or told her to take off her ring. I especially don’t like the way he tells Claire that he loves her unconditionally, and then promptly gives her a list of conditions she must meet if they’re going to stay together. But most of all, I just really don’t like the way he isn’t Jamie Fraser!

Anyway, after what seems like a million years of Frank being terrible, Claire finally has a flashback which lands us in 1744 where we see Jamie and Claire arriving in France. At this point, I was so happy to see Jamie that I kind of lost the thread of the storyline a little bit… but I believe Claire saved Paris from an outbreak of smallpox, but in the process had to burn a ship belonging to the Comte St. Germain who (judging by his fancy clothes and haughty expression) is going to be one of the major villains of this season.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was a good beginning but I have to deduct 2.5 stars purely for starting the episode with 40 minutes of Frank.

Best Dressed: Clare didn’t really get to wear any fancy costumes in this episode so the award for best dressed (or best undressed?) must be given to shirtless Jamie who was compelled to reveal the scars on his back so as to prove his loyalty to the Jacobite cause.

Season 2, Episode 2 “We’re Not in Scotland Anymore”

This is the episode in which Claire wore an amazing red dress! That’s basically the most important thing that happened in the whole episode. The dress was an absolute work of art (though not quite as daring as the nipple pinching number worn by the king’s mistress… but the less said about that the better).

Obviously readers of the book will know all about Claire’s red dress. I’m just so relieved that the show did such a spectacular job of bringing it to life. If they had gotten it wrong, blood would have been spilled!

Oh, and as well as seeing Claire in her magnificent red dress, we also found out that Black Jack Randall is still alive! Shock horror!!

Also, Claire had some hilarious adventures in the world of hair removal. We met some important new characters such as the outrageous Louise de La Tour and the timid Mary Hawkins, future bride of Black Jack Randall and ancestress of Boring Randall (AKA Frank). The Duke of Sandringham returned, played to evil perfection by Simon Callow, plus we got to meet Black Jack Randall’s younger brother, Alex.

Most importantly, we were introduced for the first time to both Bonnie Prince Charlie (in a brothel) and King Louis XV (on the royal toilet and suffering from an unfortunate case of constipation).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars! A visually stunning episode with a lot of shocking moments and a surprising amount of humour. It’s been a while since this show made me laugh!

Best Dressed: Obviously Claire, in pretty much every outfit she wore. Especially the red dress.

Season 2, Episode 3 “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”

So much happens in this episode! Let me try to condense it all into a few short paragraphs…

Jamie hires Fergus the pint-sized pickpocket to help him spy on Bonnie Prince Charlie. Claire tastes urine (ick!) after going to work at a charity hospital with the imperious Mother Hildgarde. Oh and most importantly, Murtagh gets a special lady friend!!

In fact, Murtagh was a bit of a star in this episode. There was a touching scene between him and Claire in which they discussed whether or not to tell Jamie that Black Jack Randall is still alive. Ultimately, Claire cannot bring herself to do it.

It has been very difficult to watch Jamie struggling with what is essentially Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the torture he suffered last season. He is plagued by nightmares and he and Claire are clearly having some intimacy issues (as noted by Claire’s saucy maid Suzette, AKA Murtagh’s special lady friend).

This episode was the first time we have seen Jamie looking happy in a long time. No wonder Claire hesitated to ruin everything by confessing that his arch nemesis is unfortunately not dead!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Best Dressed: Claire wins again, this time for the beautiful saffron cloak she wore when she went to visit Master Raymond. I want one!



Where is Bree?! Fans of the books will know that Dragonfly in Amber begins from grown-up Roger’s point of view as he meets Claire and her 20-year-old-daughter Brianna in the 1960s. I guess I can see the logic in not starting the TV show with a twenty-year time gap but still… I want to see Brianna!

Also, as a sidenote, how adorable was little Roger in his woollen vest back in the first episode of the season? So cute! I can’t wait to see him all grown up.

And the most burning question of all… what is up with that weird ring? I’m talking about the ring with the missing stone that Claire has in the first episode. Unless I have forgotten a major plot point of the books (it’s been a while since I read Dragonfly in Amber) then this ring is an invention of the show. I don’t think it features in the books at all, but if I’m wrong then please let me know!



Dragonfly in Amber : TV Tie-In Edition by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber : TV Tie-In Edition

Outlander Series : Book 2

by Diana Gabaldon

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to the majesty of Scotland's mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones, about a love that transcends the boundaries of time, and about James Fraser, a warrior whose gallantry once drew the young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test ...

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About the Contributor

Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Senior Content Producer and Editor of The Booktopian Blog. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling

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