I made the mistake of starting to read some of the message boards on IMDB for the Starz series Outlander. This was a REALLY bad idea for someone who has to constantly remind themselves that hey, not everyone will like what you like, and these horribly insulting comments are not directed at me personally….just at the people I know. Wait. What? I totally forgot one of the commandments of the internet: Thou shalt not read the comments. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I’m a firm supporter of this. But as soon as it becomes threatening and downright disgustingly graphic, I think there should be a caveat to such opinions in a public non-age restricted forum.
The show is based on a historical romance series, although this genre isn’t a fair summation of the true nature of the books. The show is in it’s third episode, and as a book reader, I found it to be my favorite so far.
To catch up, Claire Randall has fallen through a time portal in a set of standing stones in the 1940s post- WWII Scottish Highlands and finds herself in the 18th Century. Her husband, historian and MI6 intelligence officer is still back in the 1940s. Claire has been found and brought home by a Clan of highlanders, loyal to the MacKenzie of Castle Leoch. Among these wet wool wearers is young Jamie Fraser, and a friendship immediately blooms when Claire field dresses Jamie’s numerous heroic injuries. Claire finds herself a captive of Leoch, albeit a well treated one, and makes friends with the local witch- I mean herbalist, Geillis Duncan.
Episode three shows more of these characters in their everyday lives, and introduces us to Father Bain. I really do love how….creepy he is. In the books, he’s more of a passing nuisance than an actual villain, but you really get the heeby jeebies when you see Father Bain try to perform an exorcism on a sick young boy. The purpose here is illustrating how religious and superstitious these highlanders are, and the power Bain (tries to) have over them. Claire being Claire will not rest til science prevails, and discovers the true culprit of the boy’s ills are his ingestion of Lily of the Valley from the local haunted “Black Kirk”, abandoned German- I mean Prussian monastery.
While yes, this is normally where I start talking about the big differences from the book and why it ruins future things to change them in the show…..I don’t feel the need to do that. I think the pacing needs to speed up a bit and get to the big W already, but for me, the changes are slight enough that it hasn’t been effecting my enjoyment. Any scene with Geillis and/or Jamie, I am reminded of how GOOD these casting choices are. Lotte Verbeek certainly has that air of mystery and magic, tell me you don’t want to sit there and have port with her in front of the fireplace? Sam Heulan has the warmth and genial manner that automatically makes you feel at ease when he’s in the vicinity, which is part of what the big attraction to him is. Well, aside from other things we haven’t gotten to in the show yet. I do very much enjoy the flashback sequences and the voiceover narration by Claire, played by Caitriona Balfe. So much of the character’s inner monologue is needed for exposition, and it’s rare to have something like a voiceover work this way.
And of course there’s Laoghaire. You can’t hear my teeth grinding right now, but trust me they are. I HATE this character so so much, but she’s important for conflict, and therefore important. You non-readers will understand as things progress, and once again, the casting is well done. She has such an intense look, at yet can be vapid at the same time.
The end of the episode has Claire at the Gathering, sitting with Jamie while the Welsh singer croons a tale of a woman falling through the fairy stones, living her life among strangers, and ultimately returning to her lost love. Which of course means that Claire now has hope and faith that she can do as this athematic heroine did and slide back into her own time.
Hopefully, the pace will pick up in the next episode, the trailer for epi 4 “The Gathering” sure looks exciting.
Je suis prest.