Episode 201: "Through a Glass, Darkly" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 201 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Through a Glass, Darkly".


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









I thought this episode was very well done. Kudos especially to Caitriona and Tobias, who both gave outstanding performances!

"I wished I were dead." - Very powerful way to start off the episode and the new season! Immediately we're pulled into Claire's POV, and this scene does a good job of showing her utter devastation.

The bit about the ring took me by surprise at first, until I noticed the empty space where a gemstone had been. I agree with others who speculated that Jamie must have given her this ring when they parted. That would explain her frantic scrabbling through the grass in search of the missing gemstone.

I liked that scream very much. <g> Sort of a primal howl of grief and despair, absolutely gut-wrenching. We didn't see this scene in the book, but I have no trouble believing that Claire reacted just this way. It's one thing to hear the words, "I am asking you to tear out your heart and live without it." Quite another to actually do it!

When the car horn beeps, Claire is slow to react, as though she can't quite remember what that sound means. I liked that.

"Who won the battle of Culloden?!" And on hearing the answer, she collapses, weeping. I see this as another sign of how distraught she is. Surely anyone in the vicinity of Culloden Moor on the day before the battle, as she was, would have no doubt whatever about what the outcome of the battle was going to be. I see this as Claire's mind frantically grasping at the shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, they'd managed to change the outcome anyway, even at the cost of Jamie's life, and having that last bit of hope abruptly snatched away. All I could think at that moment was how she must feel (despite what Jamie tried to tell her in the book) that it's all her fault, for getting them involved in the Rising in the first place, and that guilt only adds to her devastation. Really powerful stuff.

I will put my reactions to the new Season 2 opening theme in a separate post.

Nice touch to have wee Roger featured in the beginning. The book on the floor is titled, "My Picture Book of Tall Ships" -- presumably a nod to Tall Ship Productions? <g>

Claire's "Will you turn that bloody thing off, please?" echoed my thoughts exactly. I found that milkman song annoying.

I liked the way Claire sees Frank's reflection in the window first. The many references to windows, mirrors, reflections, etc. in this episode are fascinating to think about, and I like the way they give additional depth to the title, "Through a Glass, Darkly".

Very effective use of the brief glimpse of BJR's face there, to show how Claire is momentarily shaken by the resemblance, but I'm glad they didn't make a big deal of it.

As Frank picks up the stays, notice the very subtle Jamie and Claire theme playing quietly in the background.

The newspaper headline reads, "KIDNAPPED BY THE FAIRIES". I liked this exchange very much:

Frank: "Devil take the press."
Rev. W: "That's not likely. Even the devil has some standards."

I really liked the scene with Claire and Mrs. Graham. It's a good idea, IMHO, to give Claire someone to talk to about Jamie in those first days, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. And we know from Episode 108 ("Both Sides Now") that Mrs. Graham is already predisposed to believe her story. I liked the way Claire's whole face lights up when she talks about Jamie, and she even smiles -- until she's stopped dead in her tracks by that word "was", and you can see the grief hit her all over again. Just heartbreaking.

I liked this line from Mrs. Graham very much: "Treasure it. Keep it safe and secure, tucked away in some special place in your heart."

When I saw Frank in the hallway, hesitating outside Claire's door, my first thought was that he looked very young and vulnerable.

When Claire started telling the story, I was sure they were going to show a flashback of her from Episode 101, but I suppose they decided it wasn't necessary. (Anyone who wants to know what happened can go watch Season 1, after all. <g>) After she finishes, Frank rubs his forehead as though he has a headache, in exactly the same way that Black Jack Randall did in Episode 106 ("The Garrison Commander") re Claire's totally fictitious story. I thought the parallel was interesting.

I loved Frank's speech, especially the way he goes through a whole range of emotions, from rage to grief to trying hard to stay in control. And just when he's convinced himself it's going to be all right ("I can accept it"), she says, "I'm pregnant," and at once his facade of acceptance crumbles. For an instant, you can see the incredulous joy on his face, and then it hits him, and he's overcome with rage. Just a marvelous performance by Tobias, and fascinating to watch!

Frank smashing things in the shed -- again, just as with Claire's scream, I think it's good that Frank had a chance to let that rage out, in private, in a situation where he couldn't hurt anyone else.

So TV Frank has known since 1947 that he couldn't sire children? Interesting.

"I am not Joseph, she is not Mary, and I'm fairly certain that the father was not God Almighty! He was a man -- a man who fucked my wife." - great line from Frank! And then wee Roger shows up, with an uncanny sense of timing. LOL.

The little boy playing Roger is cute, but the scene didn't work for me. I really wish they had cast an older child, at least 7 or 8 years old, to play Roger in this scene. This kid is FAR too young to convincingly play an eight-year-old! (Keep in mind that we're in 1948 and Roger's father disappeared in October 1941, so Roger has to be at least 7 or 8 years old here.) I also didn't like the very formal and polite way the boy speaks. What child of that age has such exquisite manners? One of the wonderful things about Diana Gabaldon's books is the very realistic way the kids talk, but that's definitely not in evidence here. All I see in this scene is a very young child actor reciting lines he's memorized, and looking cute. He's not believable to me as Roger, unfortunately.

"A child without a father, and a man without a child, have been given this chance to find one another -- and yes, I would call that part of God's eternal plan." Another great line from Rev. Wakefield.

The scene between Claire and Frank was very good.

"Don't ever use the word flog in my presence again, is that understood?" - good line.

I liked Frank's two conditions very much. Their hug brought tears to my eyes.

When Claire started to take off the ring, I was yelling, "NOOOO!!! NO NO NO NO!" at the TV. Also thinking of this quote:
I twisted my gold ring off, hands trembling both with fear and rage. The silver one was harder; it stuck on my knuckle as though reluctant to part from me.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9, "Two-Thirds of a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Thank God Frank didn't insist that she take it off right then. "When you're ready" -- ha! She'll never be ready for that, not in a million years.

Frank burning Claire's 18th century clothes - awww, that's sad. But it means that the only remaining tangible evidence of Claire's time-traveling (aside from Brianna, of course <g>) is the pair of rings, the wedding ring and the burned-out one, that she came back with.

I liked the transition between centuries very much. As Claire takes that final step off the staircase, she smiles. She's looking at Frank, but I think she's smiling because she's remembering Jamie at that moment. And of course the bit with the outstretched hands is very reminiscent of the Season 1 key art. <g>

[UPDATE 4/16/2016 7:44 am] About that date of 1745 for Jamie and Claire's arrival in Le Havre: Maril Davis, executive producer of OUTLANDER, confirmed on Twitter yesterday that this was a mistake. Maril said the date would be corrected going forward.

As soon as Murtagh appears, the whole tone of the show changes, injecting some humor for the first time into an episode that had been awfully serious up to this point. I suppose with Rupert and Angus gone for now, Murtagh may have to take some of the role of comic relief?

Jamie is clearly in a lot of pain, but Claire doesn't fuss over him, likely knowing what his reaction would be.

"Sometimes I feel his touch" -- shudder! I do wish Jamie would sit up a little. I know they're trying to show he's still physically weak from his ordeal, but filming him flat on his back like that just looks awkward, and I didn't like it.

I think Claire did the right thing in trying to distract him, to give him something to focus his mind on other than the memories of Wentworth. In that context, I can understand her being somewhat more "pushy" about the idea of preventing the Rising than she is in the book.

"What the hell are we going to tell Murtagh?" -- good question!

The first thing I noticed in the scene with Murtagh is that he appears to have bathed and washed his hair. <g> He looks significantly less scruffy here than he ever did in Season 1.

"One day I will tell you the reason....at the proper time."
"And when will be the proper time?"
"You tell me, Sassenach. You're the one from the future."

I laughed a little at this the first time I heard it, but the dialogue seems a little forced. You can definitely tell that these lines aren't from the book.

The scene with Jared was very good. I liked Jared's skepticism, and I thought he was right to be cautious. I wasn't expecting Jamie to show his scars like that, but it made sense under the circumstances, and the contrast with Episode 105 ("Rent"), where Dougal forces Jamie to display his scars in public, is interesting.

And finally, 3/4 of the way into the episode, we get to a scene that comes straight from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. <g> I was very impressed with Stanley Weber as the Comte St. Germain. He has a very commanding presence, very menacing.

I liked the fact that they used subtitles for the French. My high school French is way too rusty to keep up with what they were saying, most of the time. <g>

The whole scene with Claire's discovery of the smallpox was very well done. I really missed this bit from the book, though:
"D'ye think what we've set ourselves to do is important, Sassenach?"

My hand dropped from the door handle.

"Stopping the Stuarts from starting a rising in Scotland? Yes, of course I do. Why do you ask?"

He nodded, patient as an instructor with a slow pupil.

"Aye, well. If ye do, then you'll come here, sit yourself down, and drink wine wi' me until Jared comes back. And if ye don't..." He paused and blew out a long breath that stirred the ruddy wave of hair above his forehead.

"If ye don't, then you'll go down to a quay full of seamen and merchants who think women near ships are the height of ill luck, who are already spreading gossip that you've put a curse on St. Germain's ship, and you'll tell them what they must do. With luck, they'll be too afraid of ye to rape you before they cut your throat and toss you in the harbor, and me after you. If St. Germain himself doesna strangle you first. Did ye no see the look on his face?"

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Making Waves". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I thought the burning of the Patagonia (the Comte's ship) was done very well. That final shot of the ship burning in the harbor at night could almost have been an oil painting.

"I wouldn't change you to save the world" - I like this line from Jamie, and seeing them ride away in the carriage was a satisfying way to end the episode.

All in all, a very good start to Season 2, and I can't wait to see more!

I hope you've enjoyed this recap.  Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 202. Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.


Anonymous said...

"Frank burning Claire's 18th century clothes - awww, that's sad. But it means that the only remaining tangible evidence of Claire's time-traveling (aside from Brianna, of course ) is the pair of rings, the wedding ring and the burned-out one, that she came back with."

- and the letter Frank received from a professional colleague authenticating and questioning how he came into possession of the garments considered to be of exceptional quality representations of 18th century garments.

I only watched episode 201 once and perhaps missed it if Frank burned the letter as well.

iagirlinsomd said...


Great recap. You found details I haven't seen yet; only watched twice so far. :)
I'm curious though, for those who haven't read the books and are just watching the TV version, I wonder if her being pregnant when she goes back to the future will confuse them. If they've watched any of the previews, they'll see she was pregnant in France. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

About the whole time thing. Claire was gone just under 3 years, was she not? Nitpicky, yes, but I noticed right away.

Unknown said...

It was difficult to watch this with my mother, who has short-term memory loss and has not been able to read the books, as well as my husband - who has read the books and watched Season 1, and still can't remember anything about it.

I much prefer the way DG started the second book. While I appreciate Tobias' tremendous acting abilities, I'm not in favor of changing to story just to give him more time on screen.

My only real concerns were the dates (1745/1744) and the fact that people who did not read the books would have no idea what the stoneless ring means.

The acting is superb, mainly when they stick to DG's words, and I am once again hoping to see these people receiving awards for their work.

Jennifer said...

Great recap! I did wonder, though, what happened to Jamie's mother's pearls? Doesn't Claire take them back with her and give them to Brianna? As I watched the scene where Frank was burning Claire's dress, I was waiting for Claire (as she was watching through the window)to remember that the pearls were sewn into her gown and she rushed down to retrieve them out of the fire.
I was a bit disappointed as they were the one thing that Claire had to give her daughter that were from her father.

SAB said...

I did enjoy the episode but I thought it a bit strange that there was no mention (between Claire and Jamie) of her pregnancy or the baby - unless I somehow missed it? As a newly expecting couple you'd expect some mention of baby, even if only in passing.

Anonymous said...

My daughter inadvertently brought up a potentially overlooked detail in this first episode of Season 2. Claire is seen desperately searching for the missing stone from Jamie's father's ring when she awakens at the stones. Clearly she brought back heirlooms, this ring as well as Jamie's custom made wedding ring...but what about the necklace?
Later in the episode, Frank is seen burning Claire's shift, remaining articles of Claire's 18th century Scottish apparel visible behind him - implying these remaining articles are imminently going to meet the same fate.
Those of us who read the book(s) know Claire brought back the heirloom pearl necklace which Jamie presented to her on their wedding night.
There is no imagery or mention suggesting Claire secreted this precious treasure in her suitcase or on her person when she left to restart her life with Frank.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen watched it last night , I didn't really expect it to be like the book , from the past , I've found TV Series & Books they are basted on to be very different so I was ok with that < I felt sorry for Frank , because he was facing something he didn't expect , also I felt he could have been kinder with Claire , the burning of the clothes were sad, the episode got better with The French Scenes , I felt this was very well done . so will be watching next Saturday and will be reading your Blog for your next Blog, please post more soon, Sincerely Yours. Mary Tormey.

Tricia said...

Good summary and commentary on an interesting opening episode. My husband, who has not read the books but watched season 1, was very confused by the start. I felt starting with Claire's return sacrificed any dramatic tension later in the season when we get to Culloden about whether she will go back, but I can see why they did it.

Have to say I don't agree about Roger. Believe you me, a child of 7/8 in 1948 would have been what seems to us extremely formal in appearance and speech.

I thought it was a bold choice to start with so much talking and emotion and relatively little action, but it reminded me how different Outlander is to many shows and why I enjoyed the first season so much. My book reread has reached ABofSAA and I'm curious how they will deal with older Claire and Jamie already!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your post, and thought it was spot on. Like you, I was QUITE surprised with how Claire's return to present time was handled in general and that it was at the beginning of the episode, but it worked really, really well. I can't add much of anything to your eloquent and detailed post except....Frank's "conditions" put me very much in mind of Jamie's before he and Claire wed.

leaves on the Raney Tree said...

Well done, Karen. You have such an eye for detail. My husband Jay thought the man who picked Claire up in his car was the actor who played the lawyer, Ned - didn't he have descendants practicing law in Inverness?

leaves on the Raney Tree said...

I guess I was wrong about the drive being a descendant of Ned - Bill Patterson, who played Ned, doesn't have a credit on this episode. Just a Scottish driver.

DenelleMT said...

About burning her clothes: I'm hoping they use an old film trick of actually secreting away the clothes and burning a substitute. I can't imagine Claire not objecting to losing this connection with her past life; especially as she may want to ever share them with her child. I haven't read the books, so didn't know about the pearls until I read that here. Apparently she did remove them from the dress before allowing Frank to burn them... IF he actually did!

And another commenter is correct about not having any sense of what she was looking for at the stones when she first returned. I figured it was one of those things that would make sense in a future episode.
All-in-all, excellent acting with probable motivations throughout the "modern" segment. But I have to say that I think Claire should be smarter by now with her interactions in the "past" segments. She could have easily diffused the situation with Comte St. Germain with her condolences on his loss of ship and cargo, instead of smirking and insisting that her telling the truth should be enough for him to understand why she spoke up. (Which of course she was correct to have done, but still!)

Women of the time were much less forward and she would have had enough experience to have adopted that stance by now. As a Civil War (American) re-enactor, I have to remember to subdue my natural instincts to speak up and react as a modern woman while "in costume." And my life doesn't actually depend on my behavior, as Claire's does!

Bev Sykes said...

Nitpicker in chief is right! I always enjoy it when you pick an episode to death because I realize how much I miss by being caught up in the story itself.

I loved the start of Season 2 and will now relax knowing the the Dragonfly is in good hands for the rest of the season.

NYAnimal Blog said...

Did anyone wonder about the J and C they carved into their wrists just before parting? Its a small but importand detail ..i would think a fresh wound would have been shown as Claire was coming to terms with being back and letting go of Jamie ...sad they cut it out. And the pearls ..a hugely important of the story!

Susanlynn♥ said...

Karen...I enjoyed reading your insightful comments! Overall, I liked the episode.The actors are doing a great job. However, I could not believe that Claire would ever take off her wedding ring from Jamie. Ever. Some changes from the books seem to be made for no reason. I loved Jared. Having Jamie remove his shirt to show Jared his scars was a clever addition.

I have read many interviews with Sam in which he stressed that Jamie and Claire's relationship is going to be strained due to his mental and physical abuse and PTSD. I noticed that they kissed in the finale last season on the ship after CLaire told him that she was pregnant , and they also Kissed in this episode as they left the ship and later while watching the ship burn in the harbor. However, when Jamie was lying on the bed , Claire leaned toward him as if to kiss him , but Jamie bent his head and kissed her hand. Claire looked sad and disappointed. It will be interesting to see how and when they resume their passionate relationship. However, I still see their remarkable connection just in the way they interact with each other .

I thought that it was very poignant watching Claire's face as the smoke rose as her dress was being burned as if she was watching her past life with Jamie going up in smoke and disappearing.

Susanlynn♥ said...

I just read a very funny, witty review of the first episode by Lily Sparks.

Ellen said...

Great recap as always. I'm having the same issues with the timeline in the show. For a moment I thought Claire had spend more time at Leoch before the wedding, but you're right they mention Yule. They also didn't spend much time at Lallybroch because Jenny was so far in her pregnancy and gave birth shortly after. I think you're right about the wrong year. It should have been 1744.

♥Susanlynn said...

I loved the music that accompanies the scenes between CLaire and Frank . As the music swelled, I felt as though I was watching one of those great movies of the 1940s...lovely and emotional.

Also, Claire descends the stairs of the plane and sees Frank holding out his hand. However, then the hand changes to Jamie's, and when we see Claire's eyes light up and her beautiful smile , we know that it is her memory of Jamie that she is really smiling at.

Suzi Bergsman said...

Le Havre 1745 wasn't an error. Remember show Claire came through the stones at Samhain rather than the 6 months earlier Beltane that book Claire did. Show Claire must have spent almost a year at Leoch. So her rescue from the witch trial, which occurs in October (Jamie wishes her a happy birthday), arrival at Lollybroch, and rescue from Wentworth on Christmas morning had to have been in 1744, not 1743 as in the book. (Leaving them very little time in Lallybroch and a shorter search than in the book.). They spent six weeks at the Abbey, so although book Claire and Jamie arrived at LeHavre in February 1744, for show Claire and Jamie it was 1745. This leaves them very little time in France for their plan and return to Scotland before the Rising starts in August 1745.

Vicki said...

In "To Ransom a Man's Soul" , show Claire tells the monk in the chapel that it had been 8 months since she came to 1743. If in the show she arrives Nov 1, 1743, eight months later it will be June 1744. This fits with the fact that it was Spring at Lallybroch in the show and outside the monastery the trees are in full leaf. The Channel crossing may take a few days only. Still 1744.
Book Claire comes to 1743 in May, has the birthday rescue that same year in October, and Jamie is scheduled to hang at nearly Christmas. The book's monastary is already in France where they spend several weeks; still making it 1744.
This is pretty nitpicky I know. Ultimately the important date is April 1746 with the battle of Culloden.

lindabrownssister said...

I haven’t read any of the books and just recently started reading Outlander only recently only heard of it. Needed something to binge watch while knitting. However, I knew exactly what the stoneless ring meant. I was confused about 1745 date considering when Claire first arrived in the past.

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