“I wished I were dead, and if I’d kept my eyes shut, I could almost have touched the edges of oblivion. But I’d made a promise, and I had to keep it, even if it meant living a life I no longer wanted.”
These are the first words we hear from Claire in season 2. When we last saw her, she and Jaime were sailing for France to try to stop the 1746 Jacobite Rising, and now we’ve been dropped back into the 20th century right along with her. Staring at the tall center stone of Craig na Dun, where she has reappeared in her own time, Claire howls with grief as she realizes that all the people she had just left have been dead for two centuries.
In shock, she wanders off the hill and along a modern road until a car comes up behind her. The man who gets out to ask if she’s okay tells her that the year is 1948, and at her frantic questioning, tells her that the British won at Culloden.
In the hospital where Claire was taken, Frank shows up eager to see his missing wife. Frank tells her how glad he is to see her, but when he tries to approach her, she shies away. Thankfully, Frank has arranged for them to stay with Reverend Wakefield while she convalesces, and Claire is eager to talk to Mrs. Graham, his housekeeper and one of the ladies who took part in the ceremony at Craig na Dun.
And Claire apparently tells Mrs. Graham the truth about her disappearance, because the practical older lady tells her to treasure her adventure but not to ignore the living man who still loves her. Claire has been searching the Reverend’s library for mention of Jaime, but no information is to be found. She hasn’t talked to Frank yet, and he’s been puzzling over the clothing she was wearing when found, which has been verified as authentic 18th century Scottish garb.
That night, Claire invites Frank into her room to talk and tells him the whole story. When she’s done, he says that it’s a huge leap of faith, but one that he’ll take with her. Claire pushes him to admit that some part of him thinks she’s crazy and reiterates that she married—and loved—another man for two years, but Frank won’t be shaken.
Then Claire drops the bombshell that she’s pregnant. For about five seconds, Frank is overjoyed, until he realizes that it can’t be his. And you can actually see the moment that his heart breaks. He channels his inner Black Jack and lunges at Claire with his fist clenched, but then comes to his senses and staggers out to the Reverend’s shed to wreak havoc on some innocent pottery.
Talking later with the Reverend, he says that he recently found out that he’s medically sterile, so it was especially hard to hear that Claire is carrying another man’s child. The Reverend compares how he’s raising his nephew to how Frank could raise someone else’s child, saying that a child with no father and a father with no child now have the chance to find each other.
So Frank tells Claire that he’s willing to start over—with two conditions. First, that they raise the baby as theirs, and two, that she stops searching for Jaime. She agrees. When she goes to pull off Jaime’s ring, Frank tells her “When you’re ready”, and I fell in love with him a little for that. The two catch a plane to New York en route to Boston, where Frank has a job at Harvard waiting for him.
In a neat bit of cinematography, Claire reaching out for Frank as she descends from the plane turns into her giving her hand to Jaime as she disembarks in Le Havre, France.
Jaime and Claire have been hatching a plan to infiltrate the Jacobites in France, and it involves Jaime contacting his cousin Jared, a Parisian wine merchant and known Jacobite. Showing off his scarred back to prove to Jared that he’s serious about his hatred of the English forces, Jaime asks for an introduction to the leaders of the rebellion. Jared’s been thinking of going to the West Indies, and he offers to get Jaime into the thick of the plotting if he will run his wine business while he’s gone.
Claire, as usual, wastes little time in getting into trouble—while walking on the wharf, she sees sick men being taken off of a boat and outs them as suffering from smallpox. The owner of the boat, the Comte St. Germain, is none too pleased with her, because now the ship and cargo must be burned. He promises that they will pay for his loss, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean with money.
–Can we just give Tobias Menzies the f’ing Emmy already? I wasn’t kidding when I said you could see Frank’s heart break when he learns that Claire is pregnant. I wanted to hug him.
–The opening credits have changed a bit, with scenes from France as well as part of the Skye Boat Song being sung in French. The music is also a bit less Scottish and contains instruments that are more associated with courtly composition.
–In several instances, Frank and Claire’s wedding rings are prominently on screen: when Frank covers his face with his hand after whaling on the Reverend’s stuff in the shed, you can clearly see it; when he and Claire embrace after agreeing to start over, you can see both of their rings; both times Claire reaches to take Frank’s hand, she uses her left so the ring is visible; and when she gets off the plane, not only is her left hand plainly visible, but her right hand is gloved.
–There’s a moment when the Reverend’s nephew, Roger, is on screen and Frank looks closely at him. Roger is carrying a toy fighter plane, and I wonder if the moment is a nod to the novella where Gabaldon shows that not only has Frank met Roger when he was younger, but that Frank was the one to send Roger’s father on the mission that ultimately led to his death.
–Okay, let me just say it… I don’t like Jaime with long hair. I miss the shorter ginger mop. His hair is kind of emo now.
–Grumpy Murtaugh is grumpy as usual, but I still love him. I kind of want to take his character out for a drink and see what mischief occurs.
–I’m not very girly, but even I’m getting some costume lust seeing the clothing here.
–I wonder how the season is going to be structured with the two different centuries. If you’ve read the book Dragonfly in Amber, you know that the book starts in the late 1960’s after Frank has died. I do hope that the showrunners plan to follow Claire and Frank’s life together up to that point, because I would love to see some of the events dramatized. Also, I know we’ll be seeing something of the 60’s, because an adult Roger and an adult Brianna (Claire and Jaime’s daughter) have been cast.
That’s all for this week! Next time, off the courts of Paris!