Season 2 is not a season that is raved about by Outlander fans, but I do feel like it is a seriously misunderstood season. Our main characters undertake a monstrous arc from 201 to 213, and Claire is no exception, so take a journey with me as I venture through Claire’s Top 5 Defining Moments from Season 2.
5. Claire’s World War II PTSD — 209: “Je Suis Prest”
It may have happened before the show started, but that doesn’t make Claire’s experiences in World War II any less important. Her time as a nurse in the British Army gave her a streak of independence that many people — including those in the 20th century — see as frustrating. Women were a huge part of the war effort for the Allies, and let’s just say it didn’t go over well when those women, who had finally been given some modicum of societal respect, were expected to crawl back into their holes and go back to doing the laundry and taking care of the kids when the men came home from the frontlines.
In Claire’s case, her mindset was made even more concrete by her experiences with Corporal Grant and Private Lucas. She did as she was bid, and obeyed orders on the road side after a landmine struck their vehicle. And because of that, she ended up stranded and alone in enemy territory. That moment marked a turning point for her, and she vowed that she would never be helpless and alone like that ever again. It’s why she has such a problem with listening to and respecting authority. All in all, these scenes in “Je Suis Prest” account for a lot of the most puzzling / frustrating aspects of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, and I felt that HAD to be included in this list.
4. Come Find Me — 204: “La Dame Blanche”
Jamie and Claire’s relationship is an extremely physical one. There’s no denying that, but after Jamie’s experience at Wentworth in the hands of Black Jack Randall, I don’t think anyone can blame him for his difficulties — especially in the bedroom. Claire is at a loss for the first four episodes of Season 2 as she tries to find a way around Jamie’s PTSD. After a complete blow-out of an argument, Claire realizes she’s overstepped in her anger as Jamie explains to her exactly what it’s been like over the past few months, wading through the mental and sexual funk he has been in.
In the dark of the night, Claire comes to Jamie, and in very few words, gives him exactly what he needs. “Come find me, Jamie. Find us,” she says as she places his hand on her naked, pregnant belly. This scene is not just about our lead couple finding their way over the literal and metaphorical hump. It’s about Claire coming to the realization that Jamie needs her much more than he has let on. With this mending of fences, she is saying, if your fortress has been blown to bits, come find me and take shelter in mine. She is always there for him, in every way humanly possible, and I think this scene perfectly showcases, not only Claire’s compassion and understanding, but her deep, DEEP love for her husband.
3. Visit to Culloden — 213: “Dragonfly in Amber”
Claire’s visit to Culloden has all the makings of an EPIC sob-fest. In all actuality, I cry just about every time I watch it. And as I was thinking about the top defining moments of our main characters in the second season of Outlander, this scene immediately came to mind. It has been twenty years since Claire has set foot on Scottish soil, and the last time she was there, she was still very much in tune with the part of herself that had belonged to Jamie Fraser. So, when Claire left Scotland all those years ago, she shut the door on that life, and on Jamie (or tried to). If she was going to survive the rest of her days without him, she had to do that, but in doing so, she lost half of who she was.
Of course she had her daughter and her career, but her heart wasn’t in it, and I think you can see that in this version of Claire we get in the 60s. She is very reserved, quiet — almost haunted, and the moment she sits on the ground next to the Fraser headstone, a weight lifts off of her. All of that being said, I think the TRUE defining moment for Claire, is when she musters the courage to finally say goodbye to Jamie. She has held on to this crushing grief for half of her life, and now that Frank is gone and she is back in Scotland, she feels she can get everything off of her chest, gain closure, and begin to move on.
2. Frank’s Conditions — 201: “Through A Glass, Darkly”
When Claire returns through the stones to the 18th century, there are a lot of life-changing decisions that must be made, and they must be made quickly. Just as Jamie had hoped, Frank is still in love with Claire, and welcomes her back with only a small bit of apprehension, all things considered. However, a lot has happened since Frank and Claire last saw each other, and the idea that they can forgive and forget doesn’t just seem like a bit of a stretch for Claire. No, it’s an impossible, mile-wide chasm without a bridge. I admire Claire so much for her honesty in telling Frank what happened. The tragic part of this entire set of circumstances is that, she isn’t doing any of this for Frank — or even for herself. She’s doing it for her child, and she’s doing it for Jamie. Because she promised him she would let him go and try to move on.
Claire’s decision to accept Frank’s conditions: to let Jamie go and, in doing so, withhold her child’s true parentage, impacts the rest of her life. In a lot of ways, she is living a lie, pretending she isn’t still in love with Jamie, and raising her daughter as Frank’s child. It feels like a betrayal of the worst kind, but Claire is a survivor, and she doesn’t make promises lightly. Because of those qualities, we see Claire’s life change markedly over the span of a few short days — defining who she is and who she will become as she moves forward into her new life, and reassumes the identity of Claire Randall.
1. A Deep Enough Sea — 207: “Faith”
Despite the impact of all the events listed above, I think the most defining moment for Claire in Season 2 lies in 207: “Faith”. Losing a child breaks Claire, and somewhere deep inside herself, she has to find the will to keep on living — not an easy thing to do given she finds herself burning with puerperal fever within a few days of the placental abruption that caused Faith’s stillbirth. Add to that, the fact that Jamie is locked up in prison and unable to be by her side, and in Claire’s eyes she doesn’t have a lot to fight for. The anger she has toward Jamie doesn’t really begin to fester until Claire is on the mend, and when she has time to think, the implications are catastrophic to their marriage.
Claire’s most defining moment of the season comes with this debacle. How do you forgive your spouse for causing such a tumultuous chain of events? How do you dig deep within yourself and accept at least PART of the blame for the death of your child? And perhaps the biggest question of all: How do you forgive — yourself and your spouse? Claire is faced with all of these dilemmas and more as we hurtle toward the mid-season finale. In the final scene of the episode, when Claire admits both how much she hated Jamie for what happened and assumes responsibility for her own choices, we see a new Claire emerge–one that is emotionally damaged, and badly beaten down, but at least treading water instead of drowning. With Jamie’s help, she’s beginning to put the pieces back together, and if that’s not a cornerstone moment for our heroine, I don’t know what is.
…and on that note, we come to a close on this week’s Blog. Join me next week as I discuss the Top 5 Defining Moments for Jamie in Season Two.
Until then, stay safe out there! Cheers!