Written All Over His Face- Frank’s Top Looks S2 E1

For being the proper Englishman, Frank does not hold his emotions close to the vest in this premiere episode. Ever expressive, whatever he thinks is written all over his face. I’ve chosen this sampling as Frank’s top looks from”Through a Glass, Darkly,” S2 E1 for discussion. Tobias Menzies is a thoughtful and well abled actor.

His openness of emotion handling the return of his two years gone wife, contrasts heavily with the tightly closed and disconnected Claire. His seeming inability to hold back, bordering on emotional chaos, takes us back to how we’ve seen Claire respond in the past in different situations. A keen juxtaposition.

In this, I find Frank’s responses at once appropriate and erratic. He’s all over the place, which would be expected having your disappeared wife back in your life. Yet, he is no ordinary historian, no ordinary professor.  With his military training and expertise, it’s odd to see him lack mystery and additional meaning behind his words and actions. Perhaps, it’s the personal kerfuffle that has him  so unlike himself.

  My wife is returned. Happy day.

   Something is very askew here. Why did she flinch when I reached for her? What in the hell happened to her?
Maybe if I get into a subservient position, this will go better.        Mrs. Graham, what?

 Why these appear high quality and period authentic. Where the hell has she been? (By the way, where did the plaid on the bed come from?)

  (This simply creeped me out. Why did he smell the shift? There would be dirt, sweat, Jamie odors on there...)  Why is she talking to Mrs. Graham and not me? Why the interest in Scottish history? Why? Why? Why?

You’re my wife.  I love you like I said I would. No matter what. I don’t care what has happened or where you’ve been or what you’ve done…

  Wait a second. Pregnant?!How wonderful.
  Oh wait. Two years…How? Who? What?
  Oh bloody hell. It can’t be mine.You’re carrying another man’s child!!!!!  I could… I do care, very much…
  Wait. What am I…Oh my God.  I have to get out of here.
Yes, I’m breaking down and breaking things. I cannot manage these feelings.  I DO CARE. IT DOES MATTER.I feel a bit better now.
  We tried to have a baby. I’m sterile. I can have a child now. I can have a child and raise it as my own.I want things back to normal. We can move forward, together, I hope. I’m desperate to move ahead.

Frank is now a bit more of an open book. This small glimpse into his perspective does his character good for the viewers. This brought him into reality and fully into three dimensions. If Claire’s perspective alone had been seen, it would be a much different vantage point. He loves her no doubt, but what does he love, the thought of her, the memory, who she once was?  Wanting a child and now having the ability to raise one as his own is a big deal. Especially to one who family history and lineage matters so much. He has an intact family once again, so it seems. He’s an upstanding imperfect fellow who wants to do the right thing for himself, Claire, and the baby. He earns respect for that alone. He hopes she will be in love with him again. He hopes the past can stay where it is. Only the future will tell.

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3 In Time-Through A Glass, Darkly-S2 E1 Review

There’s nothing quite like waking in a stone circle enraged and heartbroken. The wailing anguish of Claire immediately grips the heart for the ride ahead. Season 2 episode 1, Through A Glass, Darkly, is a powerful opener for the following twelve episodes to come. It’s an exciting and refreshing start.

The feelings of loss, desperation, pain, grief, trauma, love, healing, and even hope are set into motion early on in the viewing. There’s little to quibble about in this highly crafted, well done episode.

A quick rundown synopsis: We’re most definitely not where we left off at the end of Season 1 sailing to France with Jamie, Murtagh, and Claire. The opening and subsequent first segment, flings us forward with Claire back to the future, in 1948. Frank eagerly comes to reclaim her at the hospital. Jamie is presumed dead; lost at Culloden.  This first segment tumultuously deals with her sudden reappearance, outlandish story and behavior, pregnancy, alongside the reality of Frank and Claire’s teetering marriage. War separated and changed them, in this Claire became someone quite different, having lived an entirely different life, and finding her true match and love in Jamie. For Frank she left, but his life perhaps was not so different with the exception of her absence; for him to pick up where they left off seems simpler than for her. Of course, it’s far from that.

 Once a basic resolution is made between them, a timey-wimey, very clever hand holding flashback brings us to the expected beginning where we meet Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh landing at the  port of Le Havre, France 1745. They set out to change history using Claire’s basic foreknowledge.

What turned my head?

First off, I found three to be an interesting theme, specifically in some shared experiences of Claire, Frank, and Jamie. This is where the rather forced love triangle of Season 1 really seems to puzzle together and fit. It’s all quite brilliantly connected.

Living With Ghosts:

Frank is dealing with the ghost of Jamie within Claire. She is anguished and has thick emotional walls about her. She is there by default, not want. She’s carrying Jamie’s baby, a physical reminder of her time away and his sterility. Frank cannot compete with what and who she came from, no matter how he pleas and loves her. It’s refreshing to see his full point of view.

Claire is managing the ghost of Black Jack Randall left behind haunting Jamie. He is not yet free, the healing will take time, though he is improving. She has to be strong and reassure him.  She has to gently move him back to the land of the fully living. He’s still a tender, hurting man. The physical wounds a constant reminder on the outside, but the inner wounds far worse to contend with. As time goes, we see sparks of himself returning to himself. For herself, Claire is fighting the ghost of Black Jack Randall as well with Frank. When he initially comes near, she sees BJR  and flinches. The kinder ghost of Frank upon BJR left in Season 1 for her, but she now sees the horrific ghost of BJR, upon Frank.

Jamie, since the very beginning has lived with the memory of Frank within Claire. He’s often pushed to choose for the future of Frank, and not what from what he wants or desires to do. This takes a terrifically substantial toll upon him emotionally. He’s a loyal husband, and manages his love for Claire while amazingly well, while honoring her future past.

 Trauma:

Claire has been torn away from Jamie and returned to the relative safety of the 20th century. She’s clearly unwell and struggling. Frank is going through the heartache and confusion of a wife returned to him; unwilling, broken, and pregnant. Jamie is slowly physically and emotionally healing from the Wentworth assault by Black Jack Randall. They all have many layers of emotion to process and grow from individually, and as a couple in their own time.

Moving on…

The acting is utterly flawless. One would have to be dead not to respond viscerally to what’s onscreen. One cannot help but be taken up into every emotion throughout. It’s impossible not to be deeply affected along with the beloved characters. Rich writing and performances by all.

Caitriona Balfe continually blows my mind with her acting ability and fearless nature. She pours out everything and more into Claire. It’s rare to see such vulnerability and range in any actor. When she screams in the opening sequence and then loses it on the kindly stranger, it is a high bar set for every other costar. She IS a star to be reckoned with. I cannot say enough about her portrayal and talent. She’s the perfect onscreen Claire.

No one can escape the reality of Tobias Menzies finding the desperate, conflicted, and helpless side of Frank Randall. His angry release has truth in it. Wouldn’t any man in such a position respond this way? It’s ever convincing the spectrum of emotion he experiences in our watching.  It is highly compelling to see his point of view outside of Claire. Frank is a more well rounded and understandable character at this point. The audience knows him far better than before. I venture he is still quite a mystery to unfold though. Don’t get too comfortable yet. Sam Heughan is deftly playing with the subtleties of Jamie Fraser. He’s a bigger than life character that Sam has brought into the realm of flesh and blood reality. He’s hurting and pensive. He’s lacking the strength he and Claire are accustomed to. Part of his soul has been pierced by Black Jack Randall. Showing us these inner wounds with quiet interpretation, is a thing of beauty and heartbreak. He makes us root for him. His allowance of Claire bolstering him and fortifying his healing is the of unseen side of true strength. Sam shines brightly in Jamie’s transition time.

Not last by any means, are the costuming and locations. The periods are set exquisitely. The richness of 18th century France in contrast to the crisp 20th century, is alluring and exciting to see. Terry Dresbach, her design and costuming teams, and all of production teams, are doing a fantastic and believable job. I would say better than any other current television series.

This Season 2 premiere effort is better than this fan could’ve anticipated. The twists upon the writing by Ronald D. Moore and the writing team, and the exacting direction by Metin Hüseyin, astonished me in the best ways possible. The several different shots looking through windows playing on the title are clever and create an even more palpable sense of what the character is feeling.

There’s no doubt in my mind the tone of this season has a veil of hope in the darkness, from which rich soil to grow in and from can emerge.

As I wrap up this post, there’s so much more to discuss that has been left unsaid here, so please listen to my full review companion podcast.

 

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To Ransom A Man’s Soul Ep 1×16 Review

WARNING: Mature subject matter follows.  

Take a moment. Breathe slowly in and out. You along with Jamie Fraser survived the Outlander Season One Finale. 

The acting raw, gritty, and terribly truthful. Absolutely outstanding across the board throughout. Each cast member raised their own bar to meet the other.

The Darkness Inhabited 

  
Special kudos for Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan.  Incredibly bold and brave. Deeper into the sadistic, twisted desires of Black Jack Randall together viewers are taken. Sheer brutality and indignities upon Jamie Fraser. 

The horrific terrors of rape are offered up too easily by Black Jack Randall. A desire to overpower, gain submission, and twist emotions that force the breaking of Jamie for his sadistic drive.  Played to exquisite perfection.

More than the physical side of rape is shown by the use of disturbing psychological tools invoking Jamie’s desire for Claire to finally get the response he is after. As Jamie says, “He made love to me.” A heartbreaking moment for a broken Jamie and viewers. Randall has accomplished his end goal. 

Definitely a difficult watch. It is shocking, absolutely enough to induce memories of those who’ve endured sexual assault.  
  
These scenes are straightforward with a no holds barred view of Randall. Black Jack Randall is not lauded or given a sympathetic point of view. He is darkness, not evil. Evil infers the supernatural, darkness is of this earth. 

Jamie is plunged so away from the light he wishes to die by any means when Randall’s promise to kill him are thwarted by his rescue.  As he put it Randall hurt him too much and not enough.   


By Highland kine stampede Jamie is rescued and lovingly carried out of the prison by Murtagh. What a brilliant and unexpected plan using reveille to disguise the noise of the encroaching herd.  What a clever decision usings cows as a means to rescue.  Hope given by hooves.

  
More hope is offered to viewers in Black Jack Randall being crushed under the trampled door presumably dead.  Momentary satisfaction and relief as the story moves ahead. 

Darkness continues to hang on after taking refuge in a monestary with FatherAnselm and Brother Paul.  The devastating effects are obvious in Jamie’s demeanor. He wants to die, cannot touch or look at Claire, vomits up all food and drink, and though physically healing well is fevered and lacking will to live. These symptoms of deep trauma are examined with consideration and reality.  The desperation spreads through Claire, Murtagh, and the Brother.  They recognize wisely there is more at play causing Jamie’s want of death as escape. 

  
Murtagh seeing  Jamie needs to be joined in the darkness by Claire to find out what he is hiding and reclaim him from it. The idea is sound, the execution goes off mark. Claire sets herself up to invoke the memory of Randall in order to get Jamie to share the secrets, to fight back. The use of lavender oil is smart but then instantly he realized it is Claire he is fighting and not Randall. They slap, kick, tumble to the floor? Why, if not to fight Randall? How does fighting Claire help him regain himself and begin healing? It doesn’t quite make ends meet. 

  
In this process the brand is exposed. After which he does reveal the secret of being broken and ferls unable to be a husband any longer.  A small breakthrough. Then something awkward occurs. Claire makes it all about her and says she will die right here with him if they cannot be together.  That is what turns him back toward her and he begins to come back. Again this math doesn’t quite add up in my estimation. What about what he needs to feel strong and whole? Virtually left out of his process back.  

Claire’s fierce protection is also not displayed to what we know it can be during the scenes at  the monastery. She seems partially present outside of setting his hand. Her demeanor is more fretful than proactive as she usually is.

  
A solid move and return back to path happens in Murtagh cutting out the brand from Jamie’s skin by his request while sober and in his right mind. Finally we are getting somewhere.

 
 The exit to France is a clean departure from Scotland into the future. The conversation between Claire and Jamie on the deck of the ship feel strange and forced. It was a sore disappointment how Claire divulged her pregnancy. The lack of intimacy of the outdoor location of a ship’s deck  was a misstep, though Jamie’s first real smile in a couple of episodes warms the heart. Seeing them in a state of sexual reconnection and emotional coming together would’ve wholly altered this sequence.

    

The first season sails off to France where season two will pick up. Hope, a pregnancy, and trying to change the future together.

Overall this episode gets an A-  for the strength of the first half of the episode and the efforts to get on point in the second half.

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Podcast To Ransom A Man’s Soul Ep 1×16 Review and Recap

 Outlander Season One has come to a close.  We get drawn into the world of Black Jack Randall in a disturbing and real way. We see the aftermath upon Jamie and Claire. Can he survive his ordeal? Can she save him? Where will they go?

Listen to my recap and review for all the information.

 

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