Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Starz original series Outlander kicks off its second season this weekend. There's a lot of television out there these days, which means it's possible that Outlander ended up on your "I should check that out" list and you never got around to it.
You definitely should do that in the near future. The first season is available on Starz Play for Starz subscribers and the new Starz standalone app for those who want to live off the grid. Amazon Prime also allows you to catch up by adding Starz as a premium channel to your Prime subscription for an additional $8.99 per month. Alternatively, you can buy each first season episode for $2.99 each or $46 for the whole season. The first season is available on iTunes for the same price. Each new episode of the second season will be added as they air each Saturday as well. For those that don't want to spend the money or the time catching up on the first season and would like to jump in with the second season, here is everything you need to know so you won't feel lost.
A British couple goes on a second honeymoon to Scotland at the end of WWII in 1945. The husband chose the Scottish isles so he could research his family tree, specifically his ancestor Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, who was a British officer during the Scottish rebellion in the 1740s. During the visit, his wife transports back in time 200 years after touching a mysterious rock formation.
Once she's there, she must navigate the political minefield of Highlander Scotland, currently being occupied by the British, to find her way back to the rocks and back to her husband. Along the way she meets a Scottish highlander who not only opens her eyes to the Scottish way of life, but also makes it more and more difficult for her to choose between the life she knows and the one she's stumbled into.
The major players:
Claire Randall/Fraser (Caitriona Balfe): Claire's experience as a nurse on the frontlines of WWII makes her a valuable healer once she time-travels. She soon becomes a captive but valued guest of the MacKenzie clan. It is there she heals many of the people in the village and members of the MacKenzie family. She is married to Frank Randall in the 1940s and eventually marries Jamie Fraser in the 1740s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan): Jamie is the Laird of Lallybroch, but after being accused of being a thief by Black Jack Randall, he receives 100 brutal lashes and is sent to Wentworth Prison. His back is permanently scarred. His friends helped him escape from Wentworth, but in the process a man was killed and Jamie is on the run with a price on his head and therefore cannot return home. He is taking shelter with the MacKenzie family, headed up by his uncle Colum, until he can clear his name.
Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies): Frank is a British historian trying to research his own family tree during a second honeymoon with his wife Claire. He provides Claire with a lot of the information she needs to survive one she travels back in time. When she disappears, he refuses to give up looking for her or believe that she left him for another man.
Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall (Tobias Menzies): As Frank's ancestor, Black Jack is played by the same actor. Black Jack is the primary villain of Outlander's first season and a captain in the British army. He believes that Claire is a spy for the Scottish and has a sick obsession with Jamie, whom he tortured at Wentworth Prison.
Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis): Colum is the head of the MacKenzie clan and the first to recognize Claire's skills as a healer. He is wary of the Jacobite rebellion because he doesn't want to bring any more British forces onto MacKenzie land.
Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish): Dougal MacKenzie is the uncle of Jamie Fraser and brother to Colum MacKenzie. He is often the enforcer of Colum's rule and keeps the clan in order. He collects rents from the tenants on the land and is secretly raising funds for the Jacobite rebellion against the British to restore a Stewart king to the throne.
Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek): Geillis is a fellow healer who lives in a village near the MacKenzie clan's Castle Leoch. She quickly becomes a friend of Claire's as they share a passion for collecting herbs with various healing properties.
Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix): Murtagh is a close friend and family member of Jamie's who is also working with the MacKenzie clan. He is one of Jamie's most loyal compatriots and is also incredibly wary of Claire when she arrives.
The major plot points:
Claire's arrival: After Claire time-travels to the past, she begins running through the forest to figure out where she is. The first person she meets is Black Jack Randall, who appraises her comparatively skimpy 1940s dress and takes advantage of her lack of clothing to attempt to rape her when she can't answer exactly who she is. She's saved by a member of the MacKenzie clan and taken to their hideout, where they also question her. She's able to stave off their curiosity by dressing the wounds of one of their men: Jamie.
Claire sees Jamie's flogging scars for the first time as she pops his shoulder back into its socket. The trauma of the afternoon makes her realize that she can't travel back to Craigh na Dun by herself; she is stuck traveling with the MacKenzie men back to their home, Castle Leoch. She is welcomed as a guest, but she evades questions about who she is and why she's there. Colum and Dougal MacKenzie decide to keep her as the MacKenzie clan healer until they can rule out the possibility that she is a British spy.
Falling for Jamie and collecting rents: Claire attempts multiple times to escape from Castle Leoch to no avail. She is under constant surveillance, but her time at the castle allows her to get to know the MacKenzies and grow closer to Jamie, who works in the stable under the name McTavish due to the price on his head after his escape from Wentworth prison.
Eventually, Claire earns enough trust for Dougal to take her and a few other clansmen around the MacKenzie land to collect rent from the tenants. Along the journey the group is questioned by a group of British soldiers who believe that there is no way Claire is traveling with them willingly and they take her to meet their general. Claire comes very close to securing transport back to the Inverness, the town closest to Craigh na Dun when Black Jack Randall arrives. He manipulates Claire into revealing that she's much more aligned with the Scottish cause than she's let on, which causes the General to rescind his offer and leaves Black Jack to interrogate her. Dougal comes to her rescue, but for Claire to be safe from further questioning by the British she must officially become a Scot - which means marrying Jamie.
Jamie agrees to the ceremony and the two are wed, but the day after their wedding Claire realizes that they've made camp just yards away from Craigh na Dun. She disobeys Jamie's orders to stay in the camp while he and Dougal go to interview a man who might be able to get the price lifted from Jamie's head. She runs to the rocks but before she can touch them, she's absconded by British patrol officers and taken to Fort William, where Black Jack Randall awaits. Fortunately for Claire, his second attempt to rape her is thwarted as Jamie and the MacKenzies arrive to break her out.
The return to Castle Leoch: After sticking it to Black Jack once again, Claire and Jamie are eager to have the price removed from Jamie's head. Their best chance at that is the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow), who has been protecting Randall from the consequences of his dastardly behavior. He's also a secret Jacobite. Claire threatens to expose the Duke's loyalties to blackmail him into helping Jamie, which he does. He promises to deliver a letter detailing Black Jack's crimes to the King, which would allow Jamie to be pardoned and return to his home at Lollybroch.
Meanwhile, Claire discovers that her friend Geillis is having an affair with Dougal MacKenzie. Colum also figures it out and banishes Dougal until he's got his head on straight. Worse, he sends Jamie with him to make sure Dougal doesn't do anything stupid. While the two of them are gone, Laoghaire (Nell Hudson), a MacKenzie girl who was in love with Jamie, turns Claire and Geillis in for being witches. They are put on trial and convicted, but Geillis takes the fall for both of them. She reveals to Claire that she's really from 1968 before she's taken to be burned at the stake.
Telling Jamie the truth: Jamie arrives at the trial just in time to save Claire from the stake and see Geillis' admission. The reveal prompts Claire to tell him everything about coming through the rocks and all she knows about the future. Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh na Dun to allow her to return to Frank and her old life, but after hours of deliberation she decides that she loves him too much to leave. Together they make their way to Lollybroch.
Jamie's home castle is tended by his sister Jenny (Laura Donnelly), who is pregnant with Jamie's second nephew. Jamie reclaims his title of Laird of Lollybroch. His return brings around the men of the Watch, a group of burglars and extortionists who offer their protection from the British in exchange for lodging, goods and food. Jamie realizes that he must stay in business with these men if he doesn't want to be discovered by the British army before his pardon is official. He goes on a patrol with the men when British forces ambush them and Jamie is taken back to Wentworth prison.
Claire and Murtagh to the rescue: Claire gathers Murtagh and a few of the MacKenzie men to help her try and break Jamie out of prison, to save him from more torture at the hands of Black Jack. They are not able to hatch a plan before Black Jack mangles Jamie's left hand and drugs, rapes and brands him.
Once Claire and the MacKenzie men break Jamie out of the prison, she has to splint his ruined hand and convince Jamie off a suicidal ledge for them to have hope going forward. Murtagh secures them a boat heading to France, since Scotland is no longer safe for any of them. Claire tells Jamie that she's pregnant as they head to the new country and proposes that they use their time in France to stop the Bonnie Prince Charles from launching the doomed Jacobite rebellion.
The new season:
Jamie, Claire and Murtagh arrive in France with the idea to stop the impending rebellion. The arc of the show changes from roaming adventure to political thriller as the Frasers situate themselves in Paris high society in hopes of making their way into the King's inner circle and stopping an impending war between Scotland and England.
The second season of Outlander premieres Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.
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