Review: Outlander S2E2

Season 2 Episode 2: Not in Scotland Anymore



Contributed by Julie Chaston

Well… Episode 202 was certainly NSFW!

Brothels and dildos, foot fetishes and toilet humour (not a favorite of mine, but I'll give a pass here as it advanced the story), bare pierced nipples and shaved...erm...’honeypots’ - there were rather more just than the expected visuals to occupy a viewer’s mind.

In fact, the entire episode was a sumptuous visual feast: the magnificent Paris townhouse (completely built in-studio with the courtyard and the lovely curved staircase, so the camera could follow characters from room to room); the streets of Paris and the gardens of Versailles (shot in Prague, England and Scotland); the curiously wonderful Apothecary shop; and of course the cast in their resplendent gowns and suits (all handmade, whether worn by lead actors or extras). Production Designer Jon Gary Steele and Costume Designer Terry Dresbach (along with their teams); the Art Department, VFX, Hair & Make-Up - everyone should be very proud.

But, beautiful as it was - and knowing Outlander usually endeavours to get things right - I did wonder why the streets weren’t dirtier. Paris in the mid-eighteenth century was a virtual cesspool, breeding infection and necessitating both women and men to douse themselves in strong perfume to fight the stench. For that matter, Versailles was supposedly just as bad. Admittedly Murtagh did comment that “this city reeks of the chamber pot”, but there was nothing visual to back that up. Guess it wouldn’t have made for good TV...

I will say that the widely anticipated (and wide!) Red Dress; and the extremely risqué Nipple Dress, did indeed live up to the hype...at least they both made Murtagh finally smile!

However the episode wasn’t just a delight for the senses; there was an awful lot of story packed into the hour - several months’ worth. Accordingly, the book-reader laments for the week are: “but they left so much out!”, followed closely by “they changed it!”

And yes, they did. But as we know from last season, there is no way this (or any) book adaptation can be told in its entirety. Often scenes which work well on paper would be extremely boring on screen. Rearranging things can also enhance an adaptation, so there’s a good chance some of those ‘missing’ scenes or lines may show up later on. Personally, I was impressed that an episode which was mostly exposition - further setting the story - managed to do so much in such an entertaining manner.

We were introduced to many new characters - some of whom will become increasingly important, weaving into multiple parts of the story (yes, sorry, that is a cryptic spoiler!). And kudos to the casting director: Alexander Randall does look - and sound - as if he is BJR’s brother (but no, actor Laurence Dobiesz is not related to Tobias Menzies); and Dominique Pinon as Master Raymond is absolute perfection (he was described in the book as resembling “nothing so much as a genial frog”).

We also learned more about the “mission” and glimpsed Jamie’s discomfort with his role, even though he does believe fully in the endgame. We met key “real” historical figures...and having Jamie initially meet these characters in such incongruous circumstances (King Louis XV of France while he was on his other ‘throne’; and Bonnie Prince Charlie in a brothel) added humour to what otherwise could have been rather dry introductions.

Actually, there was a lot of humour in this episode - something these actors excel at, even through their facial expressions. The “waxing” scene was priceless, as was Claire’s reaction to Jamie’s former girlfriend Annelise. My favourite had to be Jamie shoving the Minister of Finance into the water as casually as one would swat a fly...only to find out that this was the person they needed to cosy up to. Luckily, the Minister turned out to be forgiving (since he really did deserve it), and not such an idiot after all. Plus we got the added bonus of his dried out wig making him look like a reject from an 80s metal band.

Yet through it all, the viewer is reminded that Black Jack Randall is still a major part of the story. The episode is cleverly framed between opening and closing scenes that focus on him: Jamie’s blood-spattered nightmare - with BJR’s suddenly opening eyes - foreshadow Claire’s discovery that Randall is alive. It seems he was not squashed by ‘coos’ after all (something he apparently described to his brother as suffering “wounds in the line of duty”).

What will Claire do with this information? Will she confide in Jamie, or break their trust by keeping it a secret? Will Jamie find himself back in the brothel with the “blockhead” Prince? And what will make Murtagh smile again?

Come back next week, and I’ll let you know.

Julie is a British-Canadian, currently living in Toronto. She enjoys walking, reading, wishes she had a TARDIS & believes aliens are probably already here. When it comes to TV "It's all about the characters!" You can follow her on Twitter @JulieChaston
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11 comments:

  1. I actually wouldn't have minded a dirty Paris... I like it when they do it in movies, makes it more real. I suppose they do that on GoT as well (most of the times) and they definitely did on The Bastard Executioner... but that show got cancelled in the blink of an eye... so what do I know?

    Waxing scene... found it quite disturbing...

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    1. Haha - waxing is disturbing at the best of times!


      But yes, agree they should've gone with a Filthy Paris theme...

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  2. thanks Julie :) this episode ... well, not entirely my cup of tea...but it was entertaining, light fun. but i'd rather see the bigger, emotional moments like in the first half of episode 1. the waxing and toilet scenes were a bit much IMO and I feel that the french were over stereotyped - that bugged me a bit. hope episode 3 is more to my liking and a bit less on the light side

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    1. I love the light side..but like you I would like to see another 'emotional' ep next week.
      I can see that the waxing & toilet scenes were certainly not going to be agreeable to all (in my case as I said in the review I'm not a fan of toilet humour), but I will applaud them for going there, as both scenes had a lot more going on than just the (for some) amusing parts.

      Appreciate the comment & Thx for reading! :-)

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    2. agreed :) and i enjoy reading them, thanks for putting them together

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    3. Not a fan of toilet humor either... curious was the ep written by a guy or a woman? Is the toilet scene on the book? haha And random, I was trying to come up with a toilet scene that I actually think was necessary or good (bc I do stuff like that in my free time apparently) and all I could think of was Tywin's exit on GoT (which Anna still has not watched so SPOILER ALERT in case she ever does). Let's just say that I liked that 'privy scene'

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    4. Oh indeed, that particular GOT "privy" scene definitely transcends mere toilet humour.
      Re Outlander, yes this ep was written by a man...but the toilet scene WAS in the book, sort of. It is where Jamie first meets the King, but in the book it's Jamie describing it to Claire...and it took place waaay before the ball at Versailles. So this scene in the TV show was actually bringing together a bunch of book scenes, and (depending on how the show deals with a future plot point) does have relevance going forward.

      And yes, the waxing scene is in the book. ;)

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    5. Oh indeed, that particular GOT "privy" scene definitely transcends mere toilet humour.
      Re Outlander, yes this ep was written by a man...but the toilet scene WAS in the book, sort of. It is where Jamie first meets the King, but in the book it's Jamie describing it to Claire...and it took place waaay before the ball at Versailles. So this scene in the TV show was actually bringing together a bunch of book scenes, and (depending on how the show deals with a future plot point) does have relevance going forward.

      And yes, the waxing scene is in the book. ;)

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    6. I am just proud of myself for coming up with a toilet scene that I actually like haha

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    7. haha, yeah that's not easy!

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    8. haha, yeah that's not easy!

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