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Monday, April 11, 2016

Michelle Monkou's Recap of Starz Outlander, Season 2, Episode 1

Outlander Season Two, Episode One – Through A Glass, Darkly
(See below for links to current recaps)

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
I only needed to hear the stirring melody of Bear McCreary’s adaptation of Skye Boat, the opening song of Outlander, and the beautiful voice of Raya Yarbrough singing the lyrics in English and French before I settled into my happy place. Starz acclaimed series—Outlander—was back to continue the epic journey with the Sassenach Claire.

When Claire realizes that she is back in the modern world, she cried and I wanted to cry also. What do you mean that we’re back in 1948? Where’s Jamie? Beat on those stones until they let you back in, Claire. But her fall forward into her old life doesn’t occur neat and tidy. Instead the heavy emotional twists to the heart set the tone after her unexpected return.

She pines for Jamie. And we do too.

And yet when we get Frank’s perspective, we see, through no fault of his doing, a man who lost someone and something through this ordeal. Here is this man who had not stopped looking for his wife, who refused to give in to the unflattering rumors about her disappearance, who believed with all his heart that Claire wouldn’t leave him for another man.

Insert awkward silence.  Because we know the truth. Though Claire later shares everything with Frank, we know how passionate and perfect is that love between Claire and Jamie.

I don’t know who may have been alternative casting choices to play Frank and Jack Randall. But hallelujah for Tobias Menzies. Every delicious second of his performance captured my attention. For one man who must play a dual role with critical precision and such genuine distinctive personalities, I’m beyond impressed with his ability to make me sympathize with Frank and his brooding, heartbroken suffering, while revile his sadistic tendencies as Jack. But in a gesture of love, hope, and faith, he offers what he cannot naturally do--be a father to Claire’s child. What irony that he, a relative of Black Jack, should nurture Jamie’s child. The possibilities of the bargained relationship, with terms and conditions, between Claire and Frank are set to unfold in America.

Meanwhile, we flashback to France with the arrival of Claire and Jamie. Yes, my heart sings, sang, sung with glee. Their escape with his crippled body--how much torture can this man endure--brings him to France, his cousin, and the upcoming Jacobite rebellion. They barely secure the necessary introductions to infiltrate when good ole Claire continues with her headstrong tendencies, even if it saves lives.

Her stubborn nature creates enemies and given her quest to change the trajectory of an old war with its known outcome by us, modern folk, she may need all the friends that she can get. One person certainly has not declared himself a friend, but a scary enemy who speaks with a mean tongue and who wears his cold hearted attitude like an outer layer of clothing -- Beware of Le Comte St. Germain.

Even I know having a ship burned, along with its cargo, for disease containment, now or two hundred years ago is a big deal. And Claire and her stubborn raised chin are full of righteous anger rather than a wee bit of fear. Stay tuned for next week's recap to learn what’s next on the horizon.

Share with me what you thought of Season 2, episode one. While you’re compiling your thoughts, I asked Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray, co-authors of America’s First Daughter to share their thoughts of Outlander and their first co-authored historical fiction.

If you watched it, what scene captivated your Outlander heart?

Laura & Stephanie: If we watched it? IF we watched it? What? Of course we did! Squeeing together in a chat room. We’re huge fans.

The scene that really hurt Stephanie was the one in which we had the chance to see Frank respond to Claire’s explanation of where she’s been and what she’s been doing since she disappeared. Watching him try, through the power of his love for her, to come to terms with the sheer madness of what she’s saying about time travel, and falling in love with another man, was heart-wrenching. The strength of character he finds in himself as he tells her that he can accept it, was beautiful. Only to be followed by the rage he has to battle when confronted by the truth that she is pregnant by another man. A man who has been dead since 1745. Tobias Menzies put in an absolutely unforgettable performance.

The scene that really got to Laura were the opening, heartbreaking moments where Claire realizes she’s returned to the present and that Jamie died at Culloden despite their efforts. Her pain is palpable. I just can’t imagine going on after everything she’s lost!

Claire is a vibrant character who doesn't rely on beauty or poise/grace to navigate her world. How similar or different is Martha, as we know, a real life heroine?

Laura/Stephanie: Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph wasn’t able to rely upon beauty either. She’s was more of a handsome woman than a pretty one, whose looks favored her father. But she did have enormous poise. Her ability to converse in a lively fashion and come up with a quip in tense political situations delighted us. She was funnier than her father. And, by our reckoning, emotionally stronger by far. She was, in fact, his rock. Like Claire, our real life heroine did things that women weren’t supposed to do. But unlike Claire, she did them in the shadows and was very concerned about her reputation.

Claire is, at first, a part of history, but then wants to shape its trajectory. Did Martha ever have that desire to be a "shaper" like her father and his peers?

Laura & Stephanie: It’s clear from the historical record that Martha respected her father’s accomplishments and was dedicated to the experiment of the new nation. But if she saw herself as its shaper, she was careful not to let much if any evidence of that ambition survive. Her awareness of her role is definitely there and present in our novel. Because it seemed clear to us that many of the sacrifices she made were made in deference of her father’s legacy and her part in it. But it was also clear to us that, if Patsy wanted to do something so “unladylike” as be a political mover and shaker, it’s something she wouldn’t have wanted us to know!

One way she did shape history was in editing her father’s letters after his death. Much of what we know about Thomas Jefferson is what Patsy let us know through the editing of his historical record. Even there, though, she wished to remain behind the scenes - it’s her son who is listed as editor.

If someone hasn't watched Outlander TV series, what would you say to convince them? Also if they haven't read the first book in the series, what would you say to encourage the reluctant reader?

Laura & Stephanie: Just two words: Jamie Fraser.

Just kidding! Sure, Jamie might just be one of the smartest, sexiest, sweetest heroes ever written. But the epic sweep of the tale is breathtaking. And here is a story that explores relationships very deeply. In spite of the fact that it’s a rolicking space-time adventure, it’s also one of the most intimate love stories ever written. The conflicts are real and difficult.

What interesting snippets of historical information did you learn or what about America's First Daughter would you want to share with someone looking for the next fave historical fiction.

Laura & Stephanie: One of our favorite things we learned was about little-known Founding Father, William Short. Early on in our research, we felt like something was missing from Patsy’s story - a romance, particularly in her teenage years before she married. We went as far as making up a romantic interest - he would have to be someone her family knew, maybe even from Albemarle County. He would probably be a protege of her father’s. And then we discovered that such a man actually existed, and that it’s believed they had a romance of some sort while she was still in Paris. Passionate, funny, and an idealist, William becomes a touchstone for Patsy throughout the book, and more than one reader has suggested that Sam Heughan would make a wonderful William if America’s First Daughter ever made it to film!

For someone looking for their next favorite historical fiction, America’s First Daughter offers an epic family saga filled with page-turning secrets, sacrifices, and sins and a heroine every bit as strong as Claire! We hope you’ll give it a read!

For more information about Laura (left) and Stephanie (right), visit their website

My Weekly Recaps
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

Michelle Monkou writes for Harlequin Kimani, Evernight Publishing, and her indie pursuits with Stella Maris Publishing. Michelle’s website is You can also connect with her on Facebook.


Sarah Raplee said...

What an awesome, AWESOME review of the episode! I, too, was heartstruck by Claire's return to 1948. And impressed by Frank's strength and love for Claire. My husband has become a fan, too!

Laura and Stephanie's book about Thomas Jefferson's daughter sounds fascinating. I'm going to have to order it!

LaShaunda Hoffman said...

Great post. I didn't expect to get a new book to read too. I'm a fan of Thomas Jefferson, so I will be check this book out.

When I talk about The Outlander all I can say is Jamie Fraser. I have a hard time finding another hero to top him. He is definitely the inspiration for my own book heroes. I have to upgrade them.

Reading the books I wondered why Frank stayed with Claire. This episode showed me how much he loved her. Enough to believe what she said and raise another man's child.

Courtney Pierce said...

LOVE this post! Thank you, thank you!

While the Outlander story itself is so compelling, I'm struck by the lingering themes it leaves within us. We readers/viewers dare to ask the "What if?" questions of our own lives. How would our course have changed if we could go back in time, armed with "if we only knew then what we know now." To me, that is a hook of the highest order.

We Genre-istas welcome you with open arms.

Diana McCollum said...

Wonderful blog post! I may have to go back and watch the first season on Hulu. I did read the books and haven't watched the series, because we don't have STARZ.

America's first Daughter sounds like an interesting historical. I'll probably read that one for sure!

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Nicely done. I especially enjoyed Laura and Stephanie's interview and their take on the story. line. I've not watched but will need to catch up and join the legion of fans

Margaret Tanner said...

Awesome post. Haven't watched it before, but now I will.