A few friends asked me to start reviewing the episodes of Outlander and along with my review, include a comparison to the books.


Even though the series does not follow the books exactly as Diana Gabaldon wrote them, I am happy with how Ronald Moore and his writing staff have presented the information. TV (and movies) shows have limits on how much of the source material is able to be used. So favorite scenes, like the one in Outlander where Hamish asks Jamie if humans copulate like horses, are left out. But Ronald and his team have done a great job of including the important and iconic scenes and lines, e.g. Jamie’s line “I said I was a virgin, not a monk.” in the wedding night scene.


Claire telling Jamie that she is pregnant


So lets recap for everyone. We ended Season 1 with Claire and Jamie on a ship heading to France with Murtagh. Jamie is healing from his ordeal with Captain Jack Randell at Wentworth Prison and Claire has revealed she is pregnant.




Outlander Logo

So on to Season 2 we go! 





Outlander Season 2 Poster

First off we have a new version of the theme song during the opening credits. Bear McCreary still uses the Skye Boat song, but this time we have a cello and accordion instead of Bag Pipes, and the bodhrán drum isn’t as pronounced this season. Also part of the song is sung in French. The scenes during the opening credits have also changed to include glimpses of Season 2.


The episode opens with Claire waking up laying in the grass. As the camera pulls out we discover that she is inside Craigh na Dun. After a run in with a motorist, we discover that she is in 1948 Inverness. It is 3 years after she stepped through the stones. Frank finds her at the hospital and moves her to Reverend Wakefield’s home to convalesce. Claire does all she can to push him away. She just wants to curl up and not live any longer. But Frank refuses to leave her, even after discovering that she is pregnant.


Claire - 1948 Hospital

This is where we have our first deviation from the book Dragonfly in Amber. The book does start in the 20th century, but not with this scene. This particular scene is actually a flashback in book 3 Voyager. I do not know if this change was planned originally, or if it happened because of the late casting of a few key 20th century characters.


While at Reverend Wakefield’s house, Claire tells Frank everything that happened. Her trip through the stones, being kidnapped, having to get married to protect her from his ancestor, etc. TV Series Frank sort of accepts what she is saying. He has her garment she wore through the stones that he sent to a colleague who called it the most complete example of 18th Century dresses, and in Season 1, Mrs. Graham mentions to Frank about the stories of the stones. So, TV Frank is better prepared to hear Claire’s story than Book Frank. In the book, Frank has Claire seen by a mental health doctor because he believes the stress of her ordeal has caused her to hallucinate.


In the episode, Claire soon makes the decision to do as Jamie requested, to let him go, and live her life. Frank accepts a position at Harvard in Boston and they move to the United States. As she is disembarking the plane they took, Frank holds out his hand to her and you see her hand reaching for his. But the hand she grabs is not Frank’s but Jamie’s hand.

Claire and Jamie in Le Havre

We have flashed back to 1744 Le Havre, France. This is where their ship has taken them.

That evening Claire and Jamie are discussing what their next steps are. Claire wants to try to stop Prince Charles Stewart from trying to reclaim the throne, therefore preventing the Battle of Culloden. But Jamie is worried about lying to everyone about where their loyalties lay. Eventually, Jamie gives in and agrees to help prevent Culloden and says he will contact his cousin Jared in Paris for assistance.


Jamie's Back


Jared comes to Le Havre to talk to Jamie and demands to know why Jamie wants to be part of the Jacobite cause in Paris. Jamie calmly removes his shirt and shows Jared his back. Jared decides that Jamie has the correct motivation for becoming part of the Jacobite cause in Paris. At the same time, Jared has decided to leave his wine business in Jamie’s hands while he goes to the West Indies to handle some new business. They will also have the use of Jared’s Paris home during this time.


Here is another deviation from the books. In the book Outlander, Murtagh takes Jamie and Claire to the Benedictine Monastery, Abbey Sainte Anne de Beaupre, on the coast of France. The Abbey is was presided over by Jamie’s uncle, Abbot Alexander. While at the Abbey, Claire becomes friends with a Franciscan monk named Father Anselm. Under the seal of confession, Claire tells Father Anselm about her entire history, asking for guidance. After taking drastic measures to save Jamie’s life and soul from the torment of his memories of the atrocities committed by Black Jack, Jamie starts to recover. Abbot Alexander provides a letter of introduction to King James (Prince Charles’s father) a proficient linguist and translator. Claire and Jamie decide that they need to attempt to stop the Rising and save thousands of Scottish lives by going to Rome and the court of King James.


In Dragonfly in Amber, we find out that King James wrote Abbot Alexander asking him to have Jamie to travel to Paris instead and assist his son, Prince Charles, in whatever ways that he might require. Jamie wrote his cousin Jared that they were coming to Paris and Jared requested that they meet him in Le Havre. After testing Jamie’s “palate” for wine and other spirits, Jared tells Jamie that he needs someone to guide his business for him while he goes to checks a new winery in Moselle.


Claire and Jamie in Le Havre In both the book and TV show, after this agreement is made, their attention is drawn to some shouting and pushing going on the docks by ship. Claire hears that there is a sickness on board the ship and makes the rash decision to go help. She discovers that the sailors are sick with smallpox and tells the Harbor Master loudly enough for spectators to hear. Due to the rules of Le Havre and that the entire dock side will know within minutes of the diagnosis, the Harbor Master cannot be bribed by the owner of the ship, Comte St. Germain. Upset that he will loose not only his cargo, but his ship, Monsieur le Comte threatens Claire. That evening, the ship is towed to the center of the harbor and burned.


And this is where the episode ends.


Personally, I am enjoying Ronald Moore’s interpretation of the series. He has kept scenes and lines that are important to the story, as well as ones that readers of the books love and expect. I am very happy that he has surrounded himself with people who are fans of the books but also with people who never read the books prior to production. That way he has a good balance for those people who have never read the books and those who have. They don’t want to alienate people who are new to the world by only including things that readers will know. But by the same token, they don’t want to alienate readers.


While not my favorite episode of the series, this episode has laid a good foundation for the reset of the season. I do have questions about a few characters, but I will restrain myself and wait to see what happens.


If you are an Outlander book series fan, how do you feel that Ronald Moore and his team have been handling the transition from the written word to screen?