Outlander, Season 2 (♦♦♦♦): After Jamie is tortured in Wentworth Prison at the end of Season 1, Murtaugh, Jamie, and Claire embark on a trip to France to heal, and, if possible, to thwart Prince Charles Stuart's rebellion from the start. A lot of political maneuvers and counter-maneuvers will be necessary, however, because Charles Stuart, while in need of funds to raise an army, will keep his trump cards close to his chest. Eventually, the action moves back to Scotland, where the Jacobite uprising will face outside challenges as well as some from within, such as lack of food, and a divided hierarchy.
Lavish houses, manicured lawns, the excess and glamour of King Louis XV court, together with sumptuous costume designs and jewels, and new supporting characters that compare in depth to the ones we already know, make the first seven episodes of Season 2 a feast for the eyes. Even the cover soundtrack has gotten a makeover, with one portion of the Skye Boat song sung in French to suit the setting. As the characters move back to Scotland, the rhythm of drums, pipes, and accordions punctuate the action scenes during the advance of the troops and battles.
There are three villains in Season 2: the delightfully devious Comte St. Germain, the Duke of Sandringham—who plays a bigger role than in season 1—, and the grotesquely perverse Captain Jonathan Wolverton "Black Jack" Randall. There is also a hotheaded wild card in the character of Dougal McKenzie. All of them provide much needed counterbalance to the always-ready-to-kiss pair of Claire and Jamie, and make for very dramatic moments this season.
Fences (♦♦♦½): Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes his living as a garbage collector in 1950s, Pittsburgh. He is 53 years old, and is married to Rose (Viola Davis). Life has dealt more than its fair share of blows to Troy. In middle age, as a baseball player, he saw his talent go to waste because of his race, and he determined not to allow his son Cory to repeat the same mistakes that marred his life.
Fences, acted, directed and partly produced by Denzel Washington, is an adaptation of the August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. It is a powerful movie about a larger than life ordinary man who feels cheated of great opportunities, and rules his life and the people in it with a scorching iron hand. It is not easy to live with the man, be his wife or his son, but he never wavers in his responsibility as breadwinner and man of the family.
Troy Maxson—played exceptionally by Denzel Washington in his most powerful performance ever and for which he should have won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2016 above Casey Affleck— spends almost the entirety of the movie relating stories about his upbringing and his life journey, and as the final credits roll, we as the audience feel the void left by the character.
Rose, Troy's wife, is a complete opposite. She bears the heat of her husband's overwhelming persona with quiet, yet striking aplomb. Surprisingly, despite Viola Davis giving a powerhouse performance in Fences for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, hers is not the character that stays with you as the movie ends and makes you want to watch it again, that accomplishment is Denzel's alone.
Silence (♦♦♦): Two Portuguese Jesuits travel to Japan in 1660 to spread the Christian faith, and know the whereabouts of a prior missionary who is rumored of having apostasied and taken a Japanese wife under duress.