‘Outlander’ season 2, episode 9 review: William Grey’s arrival and the horrors of war

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We’ve known that war was coming to “Outlander” for quite some time, mostly because of the movement of the overall story and also the determination of one Prince Charles. Yet, as someone coming into this story with little experience with the Diana Gabaldon book series, we had little idea as to how it would unfold through the lens of Jamie and Claire’s journey.

During tonight’s “Je Suis Prest,” we had what may qualify as one of the most viscerally uncomfortable moments of the entire series, as Jamie Fraser proceeded to simulate sexually abusing his own wife Claire in order to persuade new arrival William Grey to talk and give up the location of the British camp. It was a horrific thing to watch, even if there were plans in place, and while it may have produced results from Jamie and his men to sabotage the opposition, you do have to wonder whether it was worth it, or if there was another way to appeal to Grey’s good nature.

We have a feeling that this young man is far from gone from the series; generally, anytime that someone says something akin to “let’s hope our paths never cross again,” it’s almost a guarantee that they will. Think of this as Chekhov’s warning, if you will. (Until we meet again!)

This form of torment was just one in a wide array of terrible things associated with Claire in this episode, given that over the course of the hour, we saw through flashbacks / flash-forwards / whatever you want to call them in time her learn to deal with death during World War II, as she saw tragedy befall some American soldiers she was just starting to get to know. That PTSD she experienced in those moments came back into her head with every gunshot in the training field or moment of violence she experienced. Jamie offered her a chance to return home and sit this one out, but as she noted, she did not want to be a dragonfly in amber, stuck in a singular experience. (Hey, a “Dragonfly in Amber” reference!)

Maybe reminding us of the title of a Diana Gabaldon novel is enough for it to be considered a “happy moment” from an otherwise largely-sad hour, though we did also enjoy Murtagh’s training regimen very much. Also, it was nice to get a little bit of Dougal in this episode; even though his past with Claire doesn’t exactly make him endearing, the speech from Claire to him regarding narcissism was a thing of beauty and one of many excellent Caitriona Balfe monologues this season.

Before we conclude, let’s make it clear that we understand story-wise where the William Grey torment scene was coming from, and it made sense. Still, it was a moment of discomfort, for both her as a character and us as a viewer, amidst a series of reminders about the terrors of war. “Outlander” is staying strong creatively, and with four episodes left, it will be intriguing to see what lies ahead. Episode Grade: A-.

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