Review: Outlander Season Two Episode One: Through A Glass Darkly
The Season Two premier of Outlander is full of contrasts.
Much like the pilot, Through A Glass Darkly spends most of its time in the 1940s. But the mood of the two episodes couldn’t be more different. Where the pilot is full of postwar optimism, the latest episode sees Claire as a woman undone, reeling at the loss of her Jacobite life.
The opening scene is truly heartbreaking, as Claire (the brilliant Catriona Balfe) collapses in grief as she realises her efforts to change the past have been in vain.
Her anguish is only compounded by her complicated love life. Not only does she have to cope with the fact she has been ripped away from her beloved Jamie (her Jacobite husband), whose fate is currently unknown. But also the fact that Frank Randall, her husband in the present, looks identical to his ancestor “Black” Jack Randall who tortured Jamie last season. (Like I said, it’s complicated.)
And it’s the often neglected Tobias Menzies (Frank/Jack Randall) who really shines this episode. While Black Jack is only briefly seen in the Previously On scenes at the start of the episode, his presence is still very much felt, both in the past and the present. Showing off his acting chops, the contrast in Menzies’s performances as the kind yet conflicted Frank and Mad Jack Randall’s sadistic glee is frankly, impressive.
The 1940s scenes do drag a little though, and fans of Sam Heughan’s Jamie may be a little disappointed to find that the flashbacks to the 18th century don’t start until after the halfway point. That said, the switch between present and past day is a particularly nice bit of cinematography, even if it is a little cliched.
But after all the angst and confusion of the first part of the episode, it’s particularly heartwarming to see Claire and Jamie being happy, especially after the events of last season. But given that it’s Outlander, there is soon trouble in paradise.
Jamie’s conveniently located ally welcomes them easily enough, but there is soon a conflict between Claire and the locals – then again, when is there not? That said, even this new conflict is tempered by Jamie’s amused exasperation at his wife’s actions.
Through A Glass Darkly still leaves a lot of questions unanswered, mainly how and why Claire returned to the present. But it’s a good start to a season that looks to be full of twists, turns and intrigue.