I would love to share my thoughts on episode one. In some respects I agree with you and in some I don’t. First let me say that I was introduced to Outlander at the airing of the second half of season 1. Prior to the second half I watched all of the first half that week before the second half started. So I was first a television viewer. When I bought and read all 8 books, Sam Heughan is the Jamie in my head and Caitriona Balfe is the Claire that I see. I fell in love with the entire series the moment Jamie told Claire she was coming with him in season 1 episode 1 and have been completely enthralled by it ever since.
Those last two episodes last spring were so brutal and hard to watch. I missed the healing that took place at the abbey in the books. Most of all I missed the catharsis of the cave scene where Jamie really began to heal emotionally. If we had had that in Season 1, I might have liked episode one of season 2 better. I hated that the first person I saw this season, after a year’s wait was the 20th century look alike of Black Jack Randall. I did not want to see that face. I waited all of that time to see Jamie and Claire, not the side story of Claire and Frank.
I am not a Frank supporter. I saw him as a cold person not in tune with Claire. On their supposed second honeymoon he spent his time buried in books and Scottish history. He accused her of being unfaithful during the war. They really didn’t know each other well, separated by the war after a brief time as a married couple. I objected to this newly sympathetic television Frank. The acting was outstanding. No doubt. Tobias Menzies is an incredible actor. But where was the angry Frank of the book. Where was the Frank that began immediately asking questions. Where had she been? The one who threw the vase because she didn’t tell him immediately, that had to be taken out of the hospital room by the doctor so a not to upset Claire in her fragile state, who warned that he would know the story of her whereabouts? It was not believable to me at all that he would welcome her back with open arms without any explanation. It was out of character for book Frank to believe her story so easily (I still don’t believe he did and neither did book Claire). Second, that hearing young Roger call Reverend Wakefield “father” one time would awaken all of this yearning to be a father in Frank. There was no time for the television viewer to mourn the loss of Jamie, even though it would be temporary, and we were made to sympathize with the man she had left behind several years before.
What I also really disliked, was that Claire would have even tried to take off Jamie’s ring days after returning to her own time and leaving the love of her life in 18th century Scotland where she believed he died. The Claire who left Frank’s ring on after marrying and falling in love with her soulmate out of respect for the love she once shard with him would never have offered to take off the ring Jamie gave her only days after returning home to her own time. And I hated that Frank gave her permission to keep it on. Claire would not have needed his permission. That seemed completely out of character for both of them.
I hated that he burned her clothes right where she could see. Or that even for a minute he would have thought the baby she was carrying would have been his. She had been gone for two years, series time, three years book time, and he knew he was sterile.
What I disliked most of all is that the Claire and Frank reunion took up 40 minutes of the opening episode. I waited a year to return to the story of Jamie and Claire. I thought it should have received more than 10 minutes of rushed screen time that was not much more than the set up for season 2. I didn’t enjoy the first forty minutes because I kept looking at my clock wondering when they were finally going to get to the story? By the time it got to Le Havre, I was irritated.
I knew the second season was not going to follow the same time sequence as the book, but I did not like the change they decided to make.
Then although I believe I cheered out loud when Jamie finally came on the screen, the last ten minutes also had some problems. The balance between Jamie and Claire felt off. I understand because we did not have the healing at the end of season 1 there would be carry over of weak and damaged Jamie in season 2. But one of the things I loved about the relationship between Claire and Jamie in season 1, and it was also apparent in Dragonfly in Amber the book, is the equality. They are both strong, intelligent, passionate people. To have Claire take the lead in France and pretty much tell Jamie what and how they would proceed, felt off to me. He is from the time. He lived in Paris for quite some time. He would have known the ins and outs of the French court better than Claire. Yes he is healing, but he still has a brain.
Here is what I did like. I liked Mrs. Graham serving as kind of a mother figure with whom Claire could share her deep sorrow and talk openly about Jamie.
I loved the Le Havre Harbor sets. Beautiful.
Costumes were wonderful.
I would probably have liked all of the ten minutes in France if I hadn’t been so annoyed by the time we got there.
After watching Season 2 Episode 1 the first time, I thought it might be the first time since I began watching the show that I had no desire to watch it a second time. Of course I eventually did. But I love this show. The first episode disappointed me.
However, I have watched episode two tonight about 7 times already and love much about it. So Season 2 is looking up.