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TV Recap: Outlander (Seasons One and Two)

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It’s been a while since season two of Outlander - the time-travelling drama that sexes up the Jacobite rebellion, so you’d be forgiven for forgetting a few details. Whether you’re a die-hard fan driven mad by #droughtlander or a new viewer trying to jump on the Outlander hype train for season three, here’s a reminder of what happened in season two.

But first, a brief reminder (a meta-recap if you will) of season one: Claire Beauchamp, a former combat nurse who’s newly returned from World War Two, is visiting Inverness with her husband Frank. Claire finds herself transported back to 18th century Scotland after touching an ancient standing stone and narrowly escapes an attack by Frank’s ancestor, the sadistic English captain, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Farfetched? Absolutely, but Outlander is just the right side of melodramatic, so let's go with it.

Claire is held captive as a healer to clan MacKenzie, and plots to return to her own time. This plan doesn’t last long however, as she quickly falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a Scottish highlander who was subject to a brutal flogging by Jack Randall and is now a fugitive from an English prison. He’s also very, very handsome, which is very, very important.

After being framed for witchcraft by Jamie’s spurned ex-lover Laorghaire, only to be saved by the sacrifice of fellow time traveller Geillis Duncan, Claire resolves to stay in the past with Jamie. At the end of season one, Jamie is captured by Redcoats and raped by Randall, leaving him suicidal. Claire and the MacKenzies rescue him from prison.

Finally reunited, the couple board a ship to France and attempt to change history by preventing the doomed Jacobite rebellion from happening. In the season’s final moments, Claire reveals that she’s pregnant and there’s a small sliver of hope that the Frasers could be happy…

But then, the opening moments of season two take that hope and smash it into tiny little pieces. Oh, you came here for light-hearted historical romance and pretty shots of mountains? Well tough. Prepare yourself for some pain.

Claire has returned to the 20th century and Jamie is presumed dead. Claire reunites with her estranged husband Frank, and informs him that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. Frank agrees to raise the child as his own, provided he and Claire move to America to start again.

Back in 1744, Jamie and Claire make their new life in pre-revolutionary France. Claire makes an enemy of a powerful courtier, the Comte St. Germain, after one of her diagnoses results in the destruction of his cargo. Jamie meets with Prince Charles Stuart, who hopes to seize the English throne on behalf of his aging father, but fails to dissuade him from planning an uprising. The couple resolve to work from within to undermine the uprising, whilst appearing to Prince Charles as allies.

A frustrated Claire is confined to the domestic sphere, but befriends several ladies of the French court, including the Prince’s fashionable lover Louise and Mary Hawkins, the shy goddaughter of the Duke of Sandringham. Louise introduces Claire to waxing, because she is delightfully French.

Through the connections of her new depilatory partner, Claire obtains invites to a party in Versailles. Here, Claire meets Sandringham’s sickly secretary Alexander Randall, who confirms his brother Jack is still alive. Claire conceals Randall’s survival from Jamie, fearing Jamie will kill Randall before he has the chance to father a child - therefore endangering the existence of her first husband Frank.

Meanwhile, Jamie struggles with the aftermath of his rape, the trauma of which threatens his marriage with Claire. He escorts Prince Charles to his preferred brothel each night, in which Jamie meets a young thief named Fergus and learns that dildo rental is alive and well in the Ancien Régime. To avoid sleeping with prostitutes, Jamie starts a rumour that Claire is a benevolent but jealous white witch, gaining her the nickname la Dame Blanche.

Jamie and Claire organise a dinner party and plot to embarrass Prince Charles, hoping to dissuade his potential financial backers. Shortly before the soiree commences, Claire and Mary Hawkins are attacked in an alley by unknown assailants. Mistaking her for Claire, one of the thugs rapes Mary.

Mary convalesces in the Fraser home during the dinner party, watched over by her sweetheart Alex Randall. Later, a heavily drugged Mary rushes into the party in a panic, and when Alex attempts to restrain her, the party mistakenly believes that he is trying to rape her. A brawl ensues, and Alex is taken to the Bastille.

Following the attack, Claire recalls that according to Frank’s family tree, Mary Hawkins is destined to marry Jack Randall rather than Alex. Jamie encounters Jack Randall at Versailles, who he challenges to a duel. Claire begs Jamie not to fight Randall until he has fathered a child with Mary Hawkins.

Jamie reluctantly agrees to Claire’s terms, but is spurred into action after Randall molests Fergus at the brothel. The heavily pregnant Claire rushes to stop Jamie killing Randall, but begins to miscarry after seeing them duelling. Jamie is arrested and Claire is taken to hospital, where she gives birth to a still-born daughter.

Claire sleeps with Louis XV to obtain Jamie’s freedom, but not before the King asks la Dame Blanche to judge the fate of the apothecary Monsieur Raymond and the Comte St. Germain, both accused of witchcraft. Although she attempts to save the life of both men, Raymond poisons the Comte in a faked ceremony designed to test their innocence. SAVAGE.

Jamie and Claire reconcile and return to Scotland, having failed to prevent Prince Charles from funding the rebellion. After a few months of peace, Jamie finds that the prince has forged his signature and publicly counted him amongst his supporters. Jamie and Claire begin to work to ensure the success of the uprising. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan.

The Frasers are reunited with Jamie’s relatives in the MacKenzie clan, including his uncles Colum and Dougal. Jamie works to gather military support from Lord Lovat, Jamie’s maternal grandfather. Claire helps Jamie coerce a young enemy scout, William Grey, into revealing key information about the English army. At Prestonpans, the Jacobites win their first major victory against the English, but Jamie and Claire’s friend Angus dies of his injuries.

Claire and Jamie find themselves surrounded by Redcoats, and Claire offers to pretend to be their hostage to allow the highlanders to escape. Claire is then taken to the nearby residence of the Duke of Sandringham and Mary Hawkins. Sandringham intends to lure Jamie to rescue Claire and then turn them both over to the English. Mary Hawkins deduces that her godfather’s valet was among the men who attacked her, and kills him whilst the highlanders slip into the castle and murder Sandringham.

With the uprising beginning to fail, Jamie plans one last preemptive strike against the English, whilst Claire tends to Alex Randall’s worsening condition. Colum MacKenzie succumbs to his own worsening health, but not before revealing that Dougal’s illegitimate child with Geillis Duncan was adopted into the MacKenzie clan. Claire persuades Jack Randall to marry Mary Hawkins, who is pregnant with Alex’s child, as Alex will not survive his illness. Jack agrees, and as Jack is likely to die at Culloden, Mary will be left in financial security. 

In an act of desperation, Jamie and Claire plot to kill Prince Charles to prevent the Battle of Culloden but are overheard by Jamie’s uncle Dougal. Enraged, Dougal attacks them and the couple kill him. With the Battle of Culloden now set in stone, and Jamie labelled a murderer, Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh Na Dun. After a tearful goodbye, Claire returns to her own time with their unborn child. I’m not crying, you’re crying. Shut up.

In 1968, a widowed Claire and her daughter Brianna return to Scotland to attend the funeral of Reverend Wakefield, and become reacquainted with his adopted son Roger. Brianna discovers that her mother disappeared in 1945 and confronts her. Claire reveals the truth about her parentage to Brianna, who accepts Frank was not her father but refuses to believe in time travel.

Brianna grows closer to Roger, and meets a Scottish Independence activist named Gillian Edgars who Claire recognises as Geillis Duncan. Claire realises that Roger Wakefield is the descendant of Geillis and Dougal, and attempts to stop Geillis travelling through time to prevent her death. Brianna witnesses Geillis move through the stones and finally believes Claire’s story.

After copious research, Roger reveals to Claire that Jamie did not in fact die at Culloden. Emboldened by the thought that Jamie might still be alive, Claire resolves to return to the 18th century and find him once again…

… And that’s it! Consider yourself prepared for season three of Outlander. Will Jamie and Claire be reunited? Will Brianna meet her father? Will Jamie be even more handsome than previously thought? Find out next Monday.

Outlander: Season 3 launches on Monday 11th September on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes arriving weekly.

 




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