It’s one of the most popular shows in the world with an audience that’s quickly earnt a reputation for its fanaticism, so chances are you’re already hooked on historical fantasy/romantic drama Outlander. And if you didn’t already know – Outlander fans are usually pretty well informed – then you’ll be pumped to learn season two arrives on SBS this week.
Based on Dragonfly in Amber, the second novel in the series by Diana Gabaldon, the season takes the action across the Channel to France, where lovers Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) decide to do the one thing Doc Brown always warned against: alter the course of history.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, a quick recap
Having wrapped her head around the fact she’d travelled back in time 200 and a bit years, English WWII nurse Claire fell for hunky 18th century Scottish warrior Jamie – insert Highland fling gag here. In the midst of the era’s English-Scottish tensions, their romance was fast-tracked when they married to remove the perception she was a spy. By season’s end, they’d consummated the union enough times for Claire to fall pregnant.
Claire shared the baby news with Jamie as they set sail for France. Having previously revealed her time-travel story to him, Claire got him on board with an ingenious scheme. If the two of them could derail the Jacobite uprising, which culminated in the Battle of Culloden decimating the Highlanders, Jamie’s home and people would be safe. That meant infiltrating the court of King Louis XV of France, from where the Jacobites received considerable support in their anti-British efforts. Hey, it sure beats hanging around at home and dodging ruthless Redcoat Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), an ancestor of Claire’s 1940s husband, Frank (also played by Menzies).
What to look forward to
Fancy dresses. Lots of them, with Claire frocking up to join French high society. Jamie also receives a makeover to fit in, while the show as a whole trades mud and shacks for extravagant palaces and manicured gardens. Using the connections of Jamie’s cousin Jared (Robert Cavanah), a wine merchant who knows all the right people, the couple try to convince or otherwise prevent the high-powered members of the court from contributing to what Claire knows is destined to happen.
Besides Jared, there are plenty of new characters to get to know – some of whom are based on real people, like the French king (Lionel Lingelser), Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Andrew Gower) and Le Comte St Germain (Stanley Webber, above), who Claire inadvertently makes an enemy of very quickly.
What about Frank?
Oh yes, Claire’s poor abandoned husband, who we haven’t seen since the middle of season one. Season two actually opens back in Scotland – in 1948 to be exact. And without giving too much away, many of Frank’s unanswered questions about his missing wife will be resolved by something you – and he – won’t see coming.
Watch the second season of Outlander on Thursdays at 10:30pm from 27 July on SBS. The first episode is streaming at SBS On Demand: