TV Review: “Outlander” Season 2 – Dramatic

Written by Caitlin Cooper August 29, 2016

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Outlander was one of my most highly anticipated new shows in 2014, and while I felt the last few episodes were more weak than than the first episodes, I was looking forward to season 2. Season 2 wasn’t perfect either, but the season premiere was so stunning, and the rest of the season was very high-stakes and dramatic. I went to Scotland this summer, and visited the real Culloden battlefield, a battle which is focal and built up to this season. So, the battles and history present in the show seemed so much more rich to me and I was better able to appreciate the country and its culture they’re depicting. While half of the season is set in France, the best part of the Outlander season 2 are the episodes set in Scotland itself.

Outlander season 2 sees Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) arriving in France after fleeing from Scotland and all the trauma they experienced there. Their goal: to thwart the Jacobite rebellion before it can even truly begin. Claire’s goal is to save her husband and the friends she’s made in her time in the past, and Jamie does it for her and love of his country. But playing with politics is a subtle and dangerous game, and they make both friends and foes. They face returning and new issues that could tear them apart if they let it. And while their attempts certainly slow the rebellion down, it’s clear that the rebellion will happen. So if it’s going to happen, Claire and Jamie want to be damn sure they do their best to fight and win against the tyrannical government.

“I feared in my heart that history would not be rewritten, that no matter how many battles we would win, victory would remain out of reach.”

One of the best episodes of the season was the season premiere. The Outlander writers hit us right away with drama and emotion, and I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed. It’s one of the strongest episodes of the show yet, and it instantly made me want to continue with the season. It jumps to the future, with Claire somehow back to her own time. The episodes in France take us back to where season 1 left off. They were dark, but because they were more about political intrigue and Jamie suffering with PTSD after being assaulted by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) the pacing was quite slow. The feel of those episodes is quite different, much more elaborate and lush in terms of the politics and the sets and costumes (which were so extravagant and stunning). I feel like this show, however, repeats a lot of the same traumatic events but with different characters. And after awhile, much like on Game of Thrones, there’s only so many times you can see characters being sexually abused when it becomes something that’s clearly more for shock value than anything else. Thankfully, the show moves back to Scotland after their failed attempts to stop the Jacobite uprising, and there we see things pick up and improve. Claire and Jamie have mourned her miscarriage, and they’ve begun to rebuild their relationship after everything they went through in Paris. Outlander absolutely thrives when it’s set in Scotland, partly because there’s more action and familiar characters, but also because Claire and Jamie seem much more comfortable there. The tone of the episodes in Scotland is also better. Yes, it’s still dark. But it feels more true to the story. The season finale brought us back to Claire in her own time, but fast forward a few years. She has a daughter, Frank has passed away, and she’s back in Scotland for the first time since her reunion with Frank. The finale was a little abrupt and all over the place, but it set up things for season 3 and I really look forward to it.

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Part of what makes Outlander such a great show is its truly talented cast. Balfe as Claire is fantastic, and this season she really got to showcase her acting abilities. She makes everything so believable, and the season premiere and finale were some of her best acting moments (along with her acting in the episode in which she grieves the loss of her unborn child). Heughan is also a great actor, and he plays Jamie with both vulnerability and strength. Menzies was so, so good as Frank in the season premiere, every emotion he displayed seemed 100% authentic. Richard Rankin as Roger Wakefield – whom we meet as a child in Outlander season 1 – is a great addition to the cast. I look forward to seeing where his character goes. Sophie Skelton plays Brianna, Claire and Jamie’s daughter. While the character is harsh and judgmental at times I think her acting was done well.

“Promise me if the time should come, you will go back through the stones, back to Frank.”

Outlander season 2 may have its weak moments – the episodes set in Paris are rather flat and often slow-paced – but the story is still captivating with it’s rich history and compelling characters. The cast is also very, very talented and they make this show even better. With the season finale ending on a hopeful note with a revelation for Claire, I can’t wait for season 3. I think anyone who likes historical fiction with a touch of time travel should watch this show.

My Rating: 8/10

Outlander

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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