Outlander season 2 review: c’est magnifique

outlander

As someone who recently binged watch the first season and became a newfound fan, being able to watch the second season of the hit series was an absolute pleasure. It’s no wonder the show has its legions of fans and numerous accolades in writing, acting, and binge-worthiness. The second season is no different at all from the first, for its excellent writing, acting, set and costume design, and jaw-dropping scenes.

Loosely based off Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber, the second novel in her bestselling Outlander series, the series begins where we last left off, Mr. and Mrs. Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) are now in France determined to stop the Jacobite Rebellion. Fortunately, Jamie’s cousin, Jared, is living in France as a wine merchant and is able to thrust them into Parisian high society – creating new enemies and seeing old ones resurface. We are introduced to a variety of interesting characters that our beloved couple must deal with in order to change the future, including arrogant, prostitute-loving would-be Bonnie Prince Charles, the almost-identical-brother of “Black Jack” Randall, and the shy, meek Mary Hawkins.

Of course, Jamie is still haunted by his sadistic torture by the hands of “Black Jack” Randall, which affects his relationship with Claire – emotionally and sexually. Heughan shines in his performance as a man struggling to come to terms with his abuse and dealing with the constant pressure to change the future. Yet, he still remains the charismatic character that viewers had fallen in love with. There is a particular scene this season where Jamie finally reveals to Claire the pain he’s been holding inside and it felt truly real and raw.

Although Balfe and Heughan do give outstanding performances this season, it’s Tobias Menzies who gives us nothing short but an award-winning performance. His role as both Claire’s doting 20th-century husband Frank Randall and the cruel Captain “Black Jack” Randall is filled with so much emotional range and intensity. It’s hard to believe you profoundly love and despise characters played by the same person.

The dynamic between the seasons is very apparent. The first season featured brutality through love, war, abuse, and hierarchy of power, whereas the second season focuses more on politics and has more but controlled passion. This is due to the fact that the first season introduced us to the characters and their conflicts. The second season is set in a new location – the city of love and sexuality. Paris has an entirely different feel from Scotland. So much so, that the opening credits have been changed to fit the new surroundings. The characters are well-established in their development and can focus on the case in hand. Although problems may come up from time to time, our characters ultimately know they have each other to get through it.

The writing and pacing this season, based on the five episodes I’ve seen so far, has been wonderful and addicting, to say the least. The characters, including the minor ones, all have intriguing storylines that all play a part in the bigger picture.

The set design and costume design have upgraded from the dark colors and trends of Scotland to the colorful and revealing Parisian couture. Costume designer Terry Dresbach deserves an award for the detailed, magnificent gowns, including that red number is shown on Claire.

Overall, this season is everything fans would hope for – a love story, great storylines, adventure, and passion.

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