Four episodes have aired of Season Two of Outlander (on Starz network), and so far, the reviews are mixed. There have been varying opinions all over the internet, both positive and critical. But one thing I have noticed is much of it seems to stem from the source material, Dragonfly in Amber, which is Book Two of the series. The second book takes the main characters, Jamie and Claire, through an entirely different phase of their lives than the first book (Outlander). Add to that a foreign location; all the complications of their mission to stop Prince Charles and the uprising; and the fact they are still dealing with the aftermath of Black Jack Randall’s treatment of Jamie. Not to mention Claire’s pregnancy…
So What’s Wrong?
To be fair, this is an adaptation, and it is difficult at best to condense such rich material as the Outlander series into a season per book. With the obvious out of the way, I’d like to note a few common themes I’ve heard on various posts about what is making many fans uncomfortable with this season.
“Jamie and Claire aren’t having enough sex!”
“Jamie and Claire are not really together like before.”
“Do we really need to see close ups of all the wounds Claire is treating?”
“Too over the top with the French debauchery (cue the dildo scene).”
What I’m hearing is- the honeymoon is over. Well, yes, folks, it is. Jamie and Claire are no longer newlyweds. Once the buzz of newness wears off, real life tends to intrude. You start to see sides of each other that maybe are not so pretty. You doubt each other. You get preoccupied and neglect each other. Sometimes you fight.
But if you really love each other, you find a way back. Jamie and Claire have been together in the books for many, many years, and they have had some great romantic moments and they have also gone through hell, together and separately. That’s what happens in a real relationship, and that is why this story is so enduring. They may be fictional characters but their problems make them seem more real.
As for the French debauchery, well…I guess it served a purpose, too. Whether you laughed or cringed, it certainly added atmosphere.
Maybe Too Realistic?
Claire’s medical skills are an integral part of her character, but I must admit to cringing while reading some of the details of her use of those skills, and I also avert my eyes when they show the more graphic aspects of her treating patients on the show. But those scenes need to be in the story. Life in the 1700’s was pretty graphic, and to gloss it over or cut away would not have the same effect. Even though I did not enjoy reading the medical scenes, they added to my experience of the novels, and to my appreciation for Claire. Diana Gabaldon leaves very little to the imagination, showing all aspects of the lives of her characters, the beauty and the pain. Perhaps this is why so many fans love the series.
Worth the Discomfort
Going through the growing pains of a long term relationship is uncomfortable, but necessary. When the cycle turns, and it always does, it makes the good times even sweeter. Their time in France won’t last long, and much of what happens is a catalyst for what happens later, so if this season is making you uncomfortable, don’t avert your eyes. Pay attention, struggle with them through it. With any luck, we’ll get a season three.
Then their Voyage will have just begun.