It’s been nearly a month since the Season Finale of Outlander season 2 aired. I still wake up every day haunted by that final stones scene between our lovers. I often fall asleep with visions of young Fergus setting off on his mission from Milord and that close-in camera shot of Jamie and Murtagh as they exchange those final, poignant words. I think often of all of Rik Rankin’s tweedy, turtlenecky goodness and how thrilled I am that we found our Roger Mac. Friday nights are especially hard, knowing there is no midnight early showing or “early bird” threads on Facebook. Yes, I am taking the Droughtlander very hard. And, like many of you, beginning to re-watch season 2 – this time, with more of a critical eye. It’s remarkable what you see when you have the season to view in its entirety with no breaks between episodes. So, with that, I am taking the leap and ranking all of season 2 episodes from least liked, to most loved. But, make no mistake – I love Outlander for better or for worse, in sickness and in health as long as the both of us shall live. Even my #13 spot holds a special place in my heart. So, strap in and read past the jump for my ultimate season 2 episode rankings. . .
Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up. . .
#13 – Episode 2.08 “The Fox’s Lair”
The obvious reason for this being my least favorite of all episodes in season 2 would be the untimely return of Laoghaire. However, this wasn’t what bothered me the most. . . although any scene with that little baby-faced brat curls my toes. In fact, what irked me most was the precious little time that Jamie and Claire had to recover, relax and relish their family time at Lallybroch. Coming off one of the most traumatic episodes in the season, episode 2.07 – “Faith”, the couple had just reconnected over their shared loss. Claire was still convalescing from illness suffered as a result of the still-born death of her near-term child, not to mention absorbing the shock of her spin through the Star Chamber and edge-of-your seat performance as La Dame Blanche and executioner. Jamie had been holed up in the Bastille not knowing the fate of his child or Claire, who he had last seen doubled over and bleeding in the Bois de Boulogne. It was trauma at a grand scale – for all of us. And yet, all we got was a brief moment around the table admiring the potato crop and a short interlude with Jamie rocking baby Kitty and murmuring in Gaelic. Now, I will admit – that was a precious scene, but as quickly as we had settled into Lallybroch, we got whisked away to the Fox’s Lair, and this is where the episode took a turn for me.
Finding a way to insert Laoghaire into the story because Ron Moore had messed up by including her so prominently in Episode 1.09 and, therefore, “continuity was needed,” is a VERY bad excuse to waste precious screen time in this viewer’s humble opinion. It was a side-story we didn’t need. And, the machinations around enlisting the Old Fox’s men for the Jacobite cause were tortuous and, at the end of the day, amounted to a hill of beans. Writer and Executive Producer Anne Kenney did her best to salvage this episode, but in its attempt to move along the story expeditiously and within the 55 minute time block, we got entangled in a convoluted plot where characters were just a means to an end, with the end being murky at best. However, one of the redeeming aspects of the episode included the return of Gary Lewis as Colum MacKenzie. We can see that Colum is much worse for the wear – a setup for a later, very important plot point at the end of season 2. My admiration for Lewis increases each time I see him on screen. An additional high point was also the aforementioned Jamie in the role of Gaelic Baby Whisperer and the beguiling performance of Clive Russell as Jamie’s Grandda, the Old Fox – Simon Fraser of Lovat, a real historic figure in Scottish history with a fascinating backstory. I also want to give a shout out to the title card – the stunning red fox and the beautiful cinematography. But, when a highlight of the episode is the title card, you have to wonder. . .
#12 – Episode 2.12 “The Hail Mary”
This is a tough one to rank for me, because there are some memorable moments and performances from some of my favorite characters – notably, Graham McTavish during his soliloquy at Colum’s death bed. Then there is the evolution of Miss Mary Hawkins. It’s amazing to watch this youthful actress transform her role from whimpering child to mature woman who’s seen and experienced much in such a short amount of time. There is also the performance of Tobias Menzies. His shocking return and even more shocking range of actual emotions he displays makes Black Jack Randall – gasp – somewhat sympathetic. Could that be? Menzies’ scenes with Caitriona Balfe make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The tension these two create every time they share the screen is epic.
Again, this episode is difficult for me to rank. If the intention was to jolt us into realizing that the Scottish Highlands remained firmly in the rear view mirror, then mission accomplished. You can’t get further from Castle Leoch then the lavish gold fixtures of Versailles. In this regard, the episode reflected its title well.
On the positive side, I really love and appreciate the lavish costumes, Versailles goings-on and overall depiction of the decadent Paris lifestyle. We are also introduced to some fantastic new characters, including Louise de Rohan, King Louis and Mary Hawkins. The Duke of Sandringham reappears in a fabulous new wig, seemingly having gotten more evil and calculating than when we last left him in Scotland. Who doesn’t just squirm with delight when Simon Callow is on screen as the Duke? And the reveal of the Red Dress was spectacular and included a sweet scene between Claire, Jamie and Murtagh and that amazing staircase. I just wish Starz PR hadn’t used the dress in its season 2 marketing campaign because, by the time it showed up on screen, the anticipation had waned. That said, another shout-out to the brilliant Terry Dresbach.
And, yes – the honeypot scene. I remain an island unto myself regarding my thinking on this one, but I really enjoyed the screen treatment of this iconic book scene. Given Jamie was still suffering from full-fledged PTSD, it was a clever way to include the scene, yet work in the conflict that loomed large between Jamie and Claire – Jamie’s inability to be intimate. We had some very light moments between the two, but the scene overall exposed Jamie’s deeply held trauma. We laughed through our tears and our hearts ached for Jamie – and for Claire, who was becoming increasingly more desperate to bring her man back to her heart and her bed.
Most of the scenes, however, jumped around and the episode overall didn’t seem cohesive to me. The King’s toilette, while amusing, took up too much valuable screen time. The faux male appendages displayed at Maison Elise’s was bizarre to say the least and again, why so much time on this? It was not one of writer Ira Steven Behr’s best episodes. I know he can do better. Perhaps it was by design that the episode was rocky and unsettling in order to prove the point that, in fact, we were NOT in Scotland anymore. I can live with that as an explanation, but I don’t have to like it.
#9 – Episode 2.01 “Through a Glass Darkly”
There has been a lot of discussion about the framing device used in this episode – the flash forward, cold open, Claire at the stones in 1948 and subsequent reunion with Frank. It was meant to provide the same jolt that book readers got in the opening pages of “Dragonfly in Amber.” I go back and forth on this and whether or not it was a change that needed to be made for the benefit of the television audience. While I enjoyed the episode at the time, now looking at it in the context of the whole season, I think adding the 1948 piece had serious negative ripple effects throughout the rest of season 2. Confirming that Culloden was a failure in the opening 35 minutes of Episode 2.01 essentially destroyed the tension of the rest of the season – in particular, Jamie and Claire’s machinations in Paris. It’s no wonder viewers – especially non-book readers – felt so short-changed with the Paris episodes. The story of the Bonnie Prince and the march toward Culloden would have been so much different if the viewing audience didn’t already know that the Jacobites were doomed to lose at Culloden.
#8 – Episode 2.09 “Je Suis Prest”
We get it. The Highlanders are preparing for war and it’s a slog. But, just how many scenes do we need of rumpled, overweight and unprepared cotters, tacksmen and smiths flailing away with their homemade garden tools doubling as bayonets? And while Claire’s PTSD storyline was interesting, it seemed to come out of nowhere and then, just as suddenly, disappear in all subsequent episodes. As a “filler”, it was fine. . . but I expect more from the writers and producers of Outlander, who have shown themselves to be better storytellers than that.
#7 – Episode 2.03 “Useful Occupations and Deceptions
I liked this episode overall, but it lacked any marked action or intrigue. Instead, we got more Jamie and Claire angst which, at this point in the season, I was beginning to tire of. Arguably, their fight about Claire working at L’Hôpital des Anges was the worst row they have had since the fight at the river in Episode 1.09. I liked that the fight reflected the chasm that still existed between our couple over issues of control and the proper place for a wife, the role of the man, and the appropriateness of certain types of “work” for women in this time. I am sure Claire was thinking that all this had been resolved that post-spanking night in Leoch (during epic make-up sex) when it was decided that the rules needed to be different for these two. But apparently, Jamie had forgot all about that and was more focused on his troubles.
#6 – Episode 2.11 “Vengeance is Mine”
When I first heard that Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon would be penning a script for season 2, I swooned. What could be better than this brilliant woman, who created this obsessive series and these amazing characters, actually having the chance to write for those characters on the small screen? It was easily my most anticipated episode of season 2 – more than the premiere and even more than the finale.
#5 – Episode 2.05 “Untimely Resurrection”
The return of Black Jack and the circumstances surrounding that return – as well as the aftermath -– made for a heart-pounding hour of television. Richard “The Kid” Kahan scripted this episode – his first script written for television, ever! Mentor Steven Ira Behr must have felt very proud of his protégé as Richard succeeded admirably in creating a rich canvas for Tobias Menzies as Black Jack to titillate, tantalize and tease us with his cat-and-mouse game with both Claire and Jamie. The air in the manicured gardens of Versailles was so thick you could feel Claire’s breath be sucked away when Randall appeared, walking confidently toward her in all his slow-motion glory. It was a brilliant on-screen return for our resident villain made even more satisfying when King Louis throws a bit of karma Jack’s way, forcing him to kneel and beg before the King and the Frasers. How many of us cheered at that scene??!!
Of course, this was a set-up for Claire’s impossible ask of Jamie and their ensuing argument. As a general matter, I am not one to notice scene blocking BUT, how the confrontation scene between Jamie and Claire was stage-managed was truly outstanding. Jamie’s thrusting the handle of his dirk into Claire’s hands – blade pointed at his chest – and how Claire took the blade and dropped it clanging on the stone floor. . . Jamie kissing the hilt of his sword as he pledges to honor Claire’s request and then the two of them standing at opposite ends of the room as the screen fades to credits, symbolizing the huge chasm that exists between them given Claire’s unthinkable request. Exceedingly well done and one of Sam Heughan’s best, most evocative scenes, which is why episode 2.05 rises near the top of my favorite episodes in season 2.
#4 – Episode 2.06 “Best Laid Schemes”
I watched this episode via the Starz app at the crack of dawn Saturday morning while huddled in my Edinburgh hotel room. Thank God the VPN service I had purchased for my trip to Scotland worked like a dream so that I could enjoy this episode in somewhat real-time – still taking advantage of the early showing. However, what I didn’t realize is that I needed a defibrillator on-hand to resuscitate me at the episode’s end when my heart rate and blood pressure shot up to dangerous levels. Seriously, I had NEVER had a television show affect me physically in quite the same way before, or since.
Claire’s realization that Jamie had broken his promise and gone off to fight Black Jack and her subsequent head-long jolting carriage ride through the streets of Paris into the Bois de Boulogne was electrifying. The duel itself – while not quite as dramatic as I would have hoped for – was, when viewed through Claire’s eyes, heart-stopping. And poor Magnus, the caring servant, who was helpless to protect his Lady from the harm that came rushing from her womb and could only mean one grave, agonizing thing. And, Jamie flown into such a rage as we had never seen when he realized the atrocity being inflicted on poor Fergus at the hands of the black-hearted, depraved Randall. Lastly, when we see Jamie, having exacted a mortal (or so we thought) wound to Black Jack, realize Claire was near and we see (but don’t hear him) call out to Claire in despair as he is led away by the Gendarmes. Again with the slow motion! Used so effectively, we hear in our mind Jamie’s agonizing “Claaaaire!” This back half of Episode 2.06 is what I loved most.
The front half? Not as much. It seemed so incongruous to open the episode on our tranquil couple, with Jamie seemingly over the upset from Claire’s impossible plea for Black Jack’s life. It was such a disconnect from the previous episode. But besides this, I loved and was thrilled by this episode. Defibrillator notwithstanding, it took me more than 15 minutes to get my respiration under control. Fortunately, I didn’t have to explain myself to my Scottish friends who picked me up shortly after I finished watching. I could only imagine what they would have thought!
#3 – Episode 2.07 “Faith”
To say that Caitriona Balfe delivered a career-altering performance throughout this episode would be a major understatement. Caitriona’s portrayal of the loss and the unspeakable grief Claire felt at learning of her baby’s death touched hearts, if only for the restraint shown in the breadth of the emotions she displayed. Alone, lost, bereaved and deathly ill, Claire fights back with the help of Mother Hildegard, the enigmatic Master Raymond and, surprisingly, her loyal servants.
The series finale does for season 2 of Outlander what the series premiere did not. The finale absolutely elevated all episodes that came before it whereas the opposite occurred with the premiere, thus spewing negative ripple effects throughout all subsequent episodes. But ending with a bang, I would argue, is the better place to be and Outlander closed out its sophomore season with the resounding boom of cannon fire. Thankfully, the writers had 90 glorious, feature-length minutes to spin their tale, and spin they did. The rapid-fire switches between centuries was accomplished seamlessly unlike the premiere’s awkward treatment of the time changes.
#1 – Episode 2.10 “Prestonpans”
I declared this my favorite episode the minute it concluded and, even after watching and re-watching all the episodes, I haven’t wavered since. THIS is Outlander. It combines everything I love about this series – adventure, intrigue, history, deep, deep love and intimacy and incredible character depiction.
What is your favorite episode of Season 2? Least favorite?
Thank you for writing such a compelling review. Very interesting. I disagree with the disappointment you have over 201's reveal of Claire returning and Colludon lost although I have read this viewpoint several times. I don't think everyone is at the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens. We know what happened, now how did it happen. That is where the intrigue lies. That knowledge is always there keeping us glued to the screen. How could this happen? It's similar to watching Shindlers List , or The Longest Day. We watch the little girl in red who symbolizes the sheer cruelty of the Natzis. No one is free from escaping the terror to come. We know what will happen and this knowledge makes the plight of all so much more heartbreaking. This is what 201 has done for Outlander. It weaved a feeling of doom throughout all the while increasing the drama. I may be alone on this but I really liked it. ????
Do you think the Prince purposely got "lost" during the failed night attack because it wasn't "gentlemanly" to attack during the birthday party?
Hi Anne,what a review,I cannot believe its only been a month it seems like 6 months to me since season 2 finished,I so miss it!I am rereading Voyager at the moment.I liked season 2,but not as much as season 1,but the adaptation was more realistic for me than the DIA book,my favorite was ep.13.
Amazing recap! I agree with most of it, but all of us have our favorites, and that's okay. Makes for interesting conversations and other perspectives to ponder. Thank you for the episodic journey – it's amazing how many details slip away so quickly. Re-reading Voyager as prep for Season Three.
I actually wondered if O'Sullivan deliberately got them lost in a fit of jealousy over Jamie's influence.
I totally agree with you Sassanach. History tells us what happened and it wasn't likely that the show or book would have changed history so Ep 201 was no spoiler or drag on the season. We knew reading the books how it ended, the drama is in the journey.
I agree with your assessment of season 2.My disappointments were with Brianna the actor was not as I saw her in the book……and what happened to the passionate love scene before Claire goes back they will never see each other again I was bawling while reAding …..
Fantastic Job on this Anne. Your top 3 are right on point .. but it is so hard to rank those for me .. because all three are so different in their focus, that it becomes hard to stack them. Each one of those .. accomplished their task in spades and depending on my mood, I shuffle them as 1, 2, 3 .. that is a good thing..
I do hope in season 3 we get more time devoted to Claire and Jamie's connection , passion and love story.. AND FOR GOD'S SAKE..Please stop taking Jamie's moments/ideas and giving them to Claire and others.. its infuriating.
That said, I have very high hopes for S3. I loved these next two books SO much!
Well said! Love all the cast performances & scripts for the most part in season 2. But I am finding this season I am fluctuating between liking & disliking Caitriona's performances. She did an amazing performance in Faith to show she has great acting potential. The love scenes are also very moving but then she is playing opposite Sam Huegan. However, some of the scripted scenes where there is angst between Jamie & Claire I find her limited acting experiences becomes evident. The constant response to "scream" to show Claire's anger is becoming tiresome & one dimensional & somewhat a weak link. Yes she has a heavy load as she must carry most of the story line & yes it must be difficult given the timelines to film. But then must she carry every scene.I do agree with the comment that Claire has too much focus at times & "hijacks" scenes leaving Jamie hovering about in the background. For example, Didn't think it was necessary to go on for so long on the PTS scenes as well given film time constraints. Also Was it necessary for Claire to help Jamie Kill Dougal? I found this scene awkward. Wonder what Diana's opinion on it was. We know Claire is a strong women must we proof it in every scene. Looking forward to season 3 new castings & how they handle West Indies. But some concerns, in trying to cover all the up coming events will it just become a travel log. I felt this was the case when Jamie & Claire returned to Lallybroch so briefly & agreed with the comments stated above. I do Love the books and loved TV season 1. Season 2 had its up& downs but looking forward hopefully to an even better season 3.
Faith affected me the most. Catriona's portrayal was heartbreaking! This episode should have sealed her an Emmy nomination. Unbelievable she didn't get the nod. Anyway, great list and insight. My most disappointing points are Jamie seemly pushed aside in deference to Claire, convoluted insertion of Laoghaire and I am very unhappy with the casting of Brianna. We will miss her size as described in the book. It was a character all in itself! Thanks for the list! 🙂
I loved the scene of Jamie and Claire coming back together after her pleading with the King and her trip into the chamber that got rid of an enemy…One line just sent me to the kitchen for a brew and ticked me off…'She slept with the king'…no no no…I have read many a romance novel in my 60 plus years of reading and the phrase was always that ' he had his way with me' Do our writers not read anything….But alas I did like that scene the best…costuming and sets were amazing…
Watching Season 2 for second time, to fill in gaps – and felt very much as you do, about the various episodes. There also seemed a slight sense of things held in abeyance, as if the real theatre was about to begin. Having read all the books I know the storylines, the participants – and am really pleased, overall, to see how well it translates to the screen. The casting is pure genius – the total wonder of watching Actors Without Baggage (always a problem when confronted with the same stars/faces, however good at what they offer to a role) give sterling performances makes the show quite addictive! I do think Voyager onwards will reconnect us with the struggle confronting Jamie, Claire, other Frasers et al, and the bigger picture embracing Brianna & Roger – who, btw, I think are cast so cleverly………Anyway, whatever the production team create, I am longing to get back to the 18th century and continue the journey. Great blog, did I say that?
Very impressive recap. So difficult to chose an entire episode. Did love Jamie and Claire re-uniting after her pleading with the King. Claire relating her ordeal to him cemented their love even deeper.
Pat, loved that scene too. However,Claire got so consumed by anger that she failed to consider what possibly could motivate Jamie to challenge BJR. Jamie would not break a promise. If he could find strength enough to agree not to take revenge on BJR who tortured,raped and forced him to consider suicide,surely trust their was a good reason.
Oh my gosh how much time did it take you to write and rank. You are so detailed and thorough. It would have taken me a week to write this. I can't begin to imagine trying to rank Season 2 episodes. Good job. I am blown away by your effort.
Dave Mac — First, thank you for reading and commenting! Second — I don't actually know what history says about then night before the Culloden Battle and the thwarted attempt for surprise attack at the Birthday Party — for I believe that was all true. I will look that up as I just bought the Frank McLynn biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie — widely recognized as THE best book on BPC. Good question. Appreciate you posing it. Come back and see us again at the Blog soon for more Outlander news and original content.
Sassenach — Thanks for reading and commenting! I hear what you are saying but comparing the Holocaust with 18th century Scottish history is probably not a fair match up. The Holocaust was/is something that most people know about considering how many millions of people were impacted by it and the atrocities that were revealed about that period of history. I'll admit — until Outlander — I knew very little about Scottish history. Likely many non-book readers know little and so telling them about the outcome at Culloden at the onset of S. 2 of the TV show, minimizes some of the tension of the season. That said, I certainly respect and appreciate your opinion with regard Episode 2.01. I thought much of the acting was incredible. Cait and Tobias, especially. But, we all see things differently — I am just really lucky I get to write about it! Thanks again. Come back and see us again soon at the Blog for more Outlander news and original content!
Southern Lass — see my answer above to Dave Mac. Now you both have me thinking! Must read more about this. Thanks for getting my wheels turning. Appreciate you reading and commenting!!!
zsuzsip — It's been too long! Hope you are well. Yes, it does seem SO much longer since the Finale. I am DYING. It's going to be such a long drought. SIGH! Yes. Episode 2.13 was epic. Loved it very much!!!! Thanks for stopping by and reading/commenting. Always love hearing from you!
Linda Merrill — good to hear from you! See my response to Sassenach above re: your observation. Remember that not all TV viewers are book readers and maybe not as "up" on Scottish history!! But, I get where you are coming from. We can agree to disagree. What was your favorite episode of Season 2? As always, though, thanks for reading and commenting!
Sandra Farmer — I definitely had my little disappointments this season but overall I really LOVED it all which is what made it so very hard to rank all the episodes. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you stop by the Blog again soon for more Outlander news and original content.
Anne K. Hawkinson — Yes, we all have a own prism in which to view the season. And, you are right — if we all liked the same things, the world would be pretty boring!!! Thanks for reading and commenting!!
Bonnie McIntyre — totally agree that the Emmy snub of Outlander actors — and Cait in particular — is ghastly. What a travesty! Cait was amazing in 2.07. Like you — I have a few disappointments in the season but overall I really just loved it ALL. What can I say…I am a slave to this amazing story! Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you will come back to the Blog again soon for more Outlander news and original content!
Pat Kramer — yes, that line does seem a bit period inappropriate. Same as Mary Hawkins use of the phrase "It's OK" to Alex. Don't think they used "OK" back then. Ah, well…shite happens! But, overall I think the writers do a great job and I admire every single one of them!!! Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back again soon to the Blog for more Outlander news and original content!
Lin4580 — Thank you! Yes, the ending of 2.07 was really, really good. Agree. Hearing Claire re-tell her story and seeing the flashbacks was emotionally gutting. Poor Jamie. I felt for him. Fantastic writing. Great scene. Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back and see us again soon!
Angela Hickey — Thank you! And, believe me, it was VERY HARD to rank the season because truth be told, I really loved it ALL! And, yes, I could go with your ranking, as well! The top three were very close. I am looking forward to Season 3 and believe Sam will get his moments!!! Thanks for reading and commenting!!!!
Lin4580 — In the TV Show and definitely in the book, Claire INFURIATED me when she asked for Jamie. It was my "throw the book" moment. I know we have all had them. That is the genius of Diana Gabaldon. I think Caitriona played this scene well as such an impossible ask of Jamie, right?
Karibisha — interesting comments about Caitriona. I think she would be the first to admit that she is still learning her craft. Outlander is really her first big role. That said, I think she has put her own spin on Claire — and do believe she consults with Diana fairly regularly — as do Sam and Tobias. There are certain things I, too, did not like about the season, but in the grand scheme they are small to me. I, too, look forward to Season 3 and how Voyager will be adapted. Big book…not a lot of episodes, so we shall see, But, I have high hopes! Thanks for reading and commenting. Appreciate hearing all opinions! Come back and see us at the Blog again soon for more Outlander news and original content!
mishi — THANK YOU!! You are very eloquent when you talk of the Season. Yes, the Casting has been total GENIUS and very fun to watch relatively unknowns absolutely shine. I, too, am optimistic about Season 3 and can't wait. Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back and see us again soon at the Blog!
Margaret Krob — Ha, ha! Thank you!!! It didn't take as long as you might think because I obsessively watched every episode at least 5 times since they all aired and I know the episodes pretty much backwards and forwards not to mention reading everything I can get my hands on Outlander related. Plus, I had been thinking about this post for a while. Really appreciate you reading and commenting. Come back and see us again soon at the Blog for lots more Outlander news and great original content!!!!
Sandy — I agree that Sam is very gifted as an actor. His time is coming. I think he will have some great opportunities in Season 3 to show his acting chops even more. I disagree with you about Sophie Skelton. She is Brianna to me. I am going to give her a chance to grow in this role. I think she'll do fine. But, so appreciate you reading and commenting. Wonderful to hear everyone's different perspectives on the season! Come back to the Blog again soon for more Outlander new and original content!
WOW!. I have to agree wholeheartedly with your rankings, especially with The Fox's Lair. That episode was almost a throwaway. Season 2, in general, while enjoyable for the most part, definitely had more weak moments than Season 1. I agree with everyone that, up to and even including some of the battle scenes, Jamie seemed to be on the perimeter of the story. It must have been such a frustrating year for Sam Heughan. I've read the books and I don't understand what Ron and the writers were thinking. I just hope that with Voyager they will give the character his due significance. Also, while the sets and costumes were spectacular, what was missing for me was the passion from Season 1. Season 2 also felt disjointed to me. I hesitate to be too critical (I almost feel like I should apologize for it) because I am grateful for the TV series and wish to laud the production team for truly outstanding entertainment.
Thanks so much for this post. I spend far to much time thinking about Outlander, so this was so much fun to read. I think I agree with everything you say! My list is similar to yours.
From best to not so great…
213 (Loved it!!)
210 (agree with everything you said)
207 (would have been higher if not for the Fergus scene. Fantastic acting from Cait)
209 (Jaime steps up)
205 (well paced episode)
211 (some great DG humour! The DoS scenes didn’t quite make sense)
206 (wonderful second half of the episode. First half just didn’t flow from the episode 205)
203 (solid episode)
212 (A good episode, but was wanting more J+C in the penultimate episode)
204 (enjoyed some of it. But disappointments: the Mary rape, the tone of the fight at the end, the BJR reveal to Jaime and his response)
202 (beautiful costumes, some great scenes *Louise*, but weird pacing and the nightmare was the worst opening scene for an episode in the whole series IMHO)
201 ( great acting, enjoyable on it own, I totally agree- the reveal was a huge misstep, took the tension out of the storyline they chose to focus on (Culloden) and so caused problems all the way to 213)
208 (Mainly because they missed all the Lallybroch potential. The storyline went nowhere so was a waste of time. I actually am sympathetic to the Laoghaire character, but I thought her storyline with Simon was boring. Agree the title card was beautiful)
My biggest complaint in Season 2 was that Jamie found out about Laoghaire's role in the witch trial of Claire. This makes Jamie's future interaction with Laoghaire incomprehensible. He holds a grudge and, with this knowledge, I wonder how it is going to be explained in the later episodes. The books do not have him know this until much later. I think this was a mistake in season 2.
Great review although I enjoyed the 1st half mostIy finding the 2nd half back in Scotland rather dull. Regarding Caitriona's performance, I actually found it outstanding. Her acting chops are amazing and was surprised to learn that she was rather green before being cast. Her interaction with all other characters is on point and she's always a natural performer. Her scenes with Tobias are my favorites with both lighting up the screen with fireworks. When watching her I never see someone acting but becoming the character she portrays. The entire cast has been the best I've seen in a long time with Caitriona superbly leading the way.
Thank you for this thoughtful assessment. As you point out, the set designs, costumes, cinematography, music and acting have never wavered in their excellence. The storytelling has been the consistent weak link, a result of insufficient time taken on important moments. With such exceptional source material, I would wish that Season 3 only cover the first half of Voyager to give more time to the moments that define the Jamie/Claire relationship while also telling the story fully.
We all love the series best when they more closely follow the story line from the books! The characters are so vivid as we read them that I find my self thinking " No Claire would not do that! Or " Jamie is not like that"! I wish they played up the happy times where their love shows so we can believe Claire would come back to Jamie! But I still loved the season but can not even watch the Old fox as it is too far from the story line to have Loaghaire reappear and be so contrite? It spoils the 3rd book for me ! But we will be waiting to see what they do with that. We love Harry Potter because they chose to follow the story line…..
Unknown — I really feel quite confident that Season 3 will provide Sam some amazing moments and he'll have a chance to shine. And, Jamie and Claire will be back together and those intimate moments we all cherish will be more frequent. At least this is what I am telling myself 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!!!!
Kitty — so fun to see your ranking. Appreciate all your input on the episodes. So interesting to see how different people view the season. Thank you for reading and commenting. We LOVE our readers at Outlander Cast Blog and appreciate the time you spend both reading what we have to say but also engaging with us in the comments! Come back and see us again soon!
ee7f3fc4-5c03-11e6-b8de-e76447cde492 — The Laoghaire story line in Episode 2.08 was puzzling. I kind of want to tell Ron that he should stop digging this hole any deeper. But, that said — we WILL see her in Season 3 and I guess will have to hold our breath as to how it's all going to go down. It's when I have to keep repeating the mantra #TrustRon! He makes it hard sometimes, though 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!
Unknown — I hear you. But, I am supremely confident that Season 3 will be every thing we hope for. We will see our Jamie again… Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back and see us at the Blog again soon for more Outlander news and great original content.
Dianne EGBERT — I do understand the compulsion to compare the book and the show. But, I just keep telling myself that it's not really apples to apples. The TV medium is just so different, so the production has to take liberties. Overall, I think they have done an outstanding job. And, at the end of the day, we can always go back and read our beloved novels…if we are missing an aspect here and there. I do feel very confident that Season 3 will bring us back to our story and we will be satisfied. We are so fortunate that the production team loves the novels and the story as much as we do. I think because of this, it will not allow them to go too far astray…But, again, I hear you and understand your concerns. Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back and see us again soon!
Wonderful recap and spot on comments. I do have a question though. Who was the actor that you referred to as missing in action?
Teresa Risner — it was the actor who played young Willie. There was a contract dispute or something and he was supposed to be back and then killed off at Prestonpans. But since he didn't come back, they killed Angus instead. Diana had actually written several scenes with Rupert and Angus for 2.11 but when Angus got killed off, she had to dump and/or re-do those scenes. Shite happens in TV land! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Check Mate — Yes, Caitriona is a force. She is definitely Claire to me and has taken the role and really run with it. Amazing that before this, she had not really had any major acting roles. I would say she was born to play Claire. Beautiful and exquisite acting. Thanks for reading and commenting!
I agree for the most part with you, Anne. I was baffled at the S2 Premiere. We know they couldn't change history, but seeing Claire asking "Who won?"was kind of stupid. It's like why do we need to watch now because we know they failed! As for Jamie, read and listen to the interviews where Sam Heughan says he chose to play Jamie as a "shell of himself". Bad call. I think all of the problems I see started with the way S1 ended. No healing! I think they had enough episodes to do better S1. (Cut down The Watch and The Search) time to do more healing for Jamie. Anyway, Murtagh was the usurper of Jamie time a lot. Claire was the brains most times. I missed the intimacy of the couple. I hope Sophie Skelton's acting improves. Her height can't but there are blue contacts or CGI. Here's hoping the writers, producers, cast took notes and don't add senseless junk and do Voyager justice!
Mellmell43 — Thanks for reading and commenting. I have read Sam's interviews where he talks about how he chose to play Jamie during the first half of Season 2. I get this and understand it. Because of the fact that there was no real "healing" at the end of Season 1, Sam and others (writers?) felt like they had to play out Jamie's PTSD for a while. It makes sense but for those of us who read the book, it was unsatisfying to see the King of Men flailing about as he did for the first quarter of the season. I am with you on that. As for Sophie, I will agree to disagree with you on this point. I think she did just fine. She is very young in real life and playing an immature 20 year old on screen, so some of what you saw in 2.13 was reflective of that. I really feel strongly that she will grow into the role much like Sam and Caitriona did. They are different actors now then they were in the early episodes of Season 1. To me, eye color and height doesn't matter if the actor embodies the spirit of the character and I think Sophie is well on her way with that. Voyager is going to be PHENOMENAL and we will get lots of Jamie. Can't wait! Again — thanks for stopping by. We love hearing from our readers and getting their various take on things. Slainte!
My favorite was 204 I took it as the. " half full " episode. Diana's stories are base on the love between two very special people. And how their marriage survives through all obstacles even time. In Outlander the most important point of the book was Jamie taking Claire back to the stones to show he's selfless love for her so she could go back to frank. What did the writers do? they through it into the last ten minutes of the Devils mark episode instead of giving it it's due time..show how hard it was for Jamie to make this decisionn-show how Claire came to the decision to choose Jamie-then show them getting together with more than just a kiss. They did t again in this season with Dragonfly in Amber. The most important part of the book they gave it a 5-7 minute scene. Why they could do the putting the J n C cutting in their hand is beyond me. I know Diana fought hard for it and obviously lost. Two very imoertant scene that u CANT convince me the writers could have easily put in either season confounds me. Thus leaves me little hope that they'll give much time to the reunion in Voyager
Btw 204 is the only episode where Jamie n Claire address the bjr horrible rape and you get to feel what and where he's been living. The flash backs to me were non effective.
Interesting take. I find the full scripts and writers comments posted on http://www.outlandercommunity.com/index.php?f=insideoutlander&s=201 to be most informative on the show running. Some things that bother you are set ups for the next season, Laoghaire will be back. It's fun to re read the books and guess how the episodes will be laid out. I have only admiration for Ron and Terry's work is magnificent. Most folks don't get the work that goes into any theatre/movie/TV production. I do theatre/TV in a so minor a way, but my family doesn't even get it so if you have no immediate theatre knowledge the many outlander blogs are great instruction.
Jazzy — thanks for weighing in with your favorite episode of Season 2. I understand your disappointment is either left out book scenes or shorted scenes. But, I do think minus the complexities of the split season for Season 2 (Paris and Scotland) that Season 3 will live up to our expectations. I think the good news is that the producers and writers LISTEN and do care what fans think. Have HOPE and FAITH. I think you will like Season 3. Appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. We love our readers and hearing what they have to say!
Pat — thanks for reading and commenting. I also enjoy reading the scripts post episode — especially the writer's notes. And, it's terrific you have the perspective you do — working in theatre. I do agree that most don't know how much really hard work goes into bringing Diana's story to the small screen. I think it's incredible what they have done, even if there are small things I don't like. Season 3 is going to be EPIC. Can't wait! Thanks for stopping by! Love hearing from readers!
Thank you so much for your insightful and incisive critique.
Being obsessed with Outlander I realize that I have suspended most of my critical thinking and have just enjoyed the escapist joy. However you have moved me to express my appreciation for the quality of the production. Terry Dresbach and her staff have created breathtaking work. That brown dress with flowers alone should have won awards! The casting has been perfect to date. I trust that given their prior choices they see Brianna developing. Overall I enjoyed the episodes but in reviewing both seasons I am less enthused about first part of season 2. It became a little tedious and Jamie and Claire were too far apart. I have now listened to all of the books and realized the central focus is always Jamie and Claire and all else revolves around them. I have seen a number of interviews where cast and directors repeatedly said the sex shouldn't be gratuitous. This is in response to viewers requesting the sexual relationship to be something closer to Diana's books. Diana herself has said that one of the underlying themes of the books is "what sex is" ; it is communication and that is a large part of how Jaime and Claire stay close. Sexuality seen in this way is , I believe, important for many of their (mostly) female fans to experience. Sam and Cait have said these scenes are difficult to perform and that is understandable. Hopefully they can balance that with knowing it is magical and positive for ther fans. I hope you are right in believing that writers read fan feedback as I have read many blogs and reviews that are constructive. I am happy there are sights for Outlander obsessing. My friends think I have lost my mind!
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It's not as good as Season One. I'm sorry, but it's not to me. This is not surprising, considering that I regard Diana Gabaldon's first novel as the best of the bunch. And if Ronald Moore tries to be as faithful to the following novels as possible, I fear the series is doomed to decline in quality.
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