Outlander Look Ahead Featurette

OutlanderDespite the silly #4Droughtlander hashtag – Tobias Menzies’s apology as he said it was delightful – this little featurette with Ronald D. Moore, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, Sam Heughan, Graham McTavish, and Laura Donnelly definitely upped my interest in the second half of Outlander‘s first season! I enjoyed the first half more than expected, but it looks like the second might be even better. Balfe said that, as far as the Claire/Jamie relationship, these episodes focus on “what it means for the two of them to stay together, rather than get together,” and I’m always happy to see those themes dealt with. And there’s the promise of more politics! Whee! Outlander returns on April 4th.

Outlander Thoughts & Open Thread: Both Sides Now

Outlander[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MIDSEASON FINALE OF OUTLANDER]

The first half of Outlander‘s first season came to a close this weekend – it will be back for another eight episodes starting in April – and while “Both Sides Now” was a perfectly good midseason finale, much of the hour felt a bit anticlimactic after last week’s wedding episode.

The modern story has a quicker pace and more urgency for the first part of the episode. We pick back up with Frank, who is, of course, frantic with worry for his wife and convinced the police aren’t trying hard enough to find her. But I was actually impressed by how much it seemed the police had done, since there was no real evidence of foul play and they clearly thought Claire had run off. And of course people would try to take advantage of the reward Frank offered to rob him; a show less concerned with presenting both Jamie and Frank as viable, attractive options would have just let Frank be beaten up, but here he gets the better of his attackers.

Of course, that leads Rev. Wakefield to express his concern about what the search for Claire is doing to Frank’s moral compass, and also to opine a bit on the nature of good and evil, and the war they’ve just all fought: “Evil has but one cup. [The Nazis] drank long and deep. Yours was but a sip.” He wants Frank to accept that Claire has left him and move on with his life, but before Frank can be convinced, Mrs. Graham finally tells him about the stories of Craigh na Dun and that the people who go through the stones often come back. Frank scoffs at the superstition and says he’s leaving anyway – but he first heads for the stones. This whole question of whether Claire left him is an interesting one, because obviously that wasn’t her intention, but she is having feelings for another man.

Meanwhile, marriage has made Jamie even more concerned with getting the price off his head, but while meeting a supposed witness who could clear him, he and Claire walk into a trap. (Or, okay, the trap walks into them while they’re having sex in a meadow. Whatever.) Luckily, the Highlanders have been teaching Claire to defend herself, and she stabs the Redcoat who tries to rape her, while Jamie gets the better of the one holding him. Confession: at this point my notes say “aw, killing people together!” because I clearly have problems. In the aftermath of the attack, Claire’s in shock and mad at herself for forgetting her own plan to get back to Craigh na Dun, but winds up there anyway – and has to decide whether to try to get back to her own time. “The question was, who did I want to be?”

For now, at least, she wants to be Claire Randall, so we have Claire and Frank both running for the stones from opposite sides, and here is where I thought the episode picked up and started feeling like a finale. They’re yelling at each others’ names, but while Claire can hear Frank, Frank can’t hear Claire – or maybe his brain transposes her cries into bird songs, because he doesn’t really believe in the myths. I wasn’t looking at the clock and thought for a moment that the episode might end with Claire launching herself at the stone – that would have been a decent cliffhanger – but no, the Redcoats capture her and take her back to the other Randall at Fort William.

Claire is handed back over to Jack Randall, but at least the ride there has given her time to formulate a strategy: She once again uses information from Frank’s history lectures, as she guesses that Randall’s powerful patron is the Duke of Sandringham and tries to play him by implying that she’s a spy working on the same side. And it’s a testament to her intelligence and quick thinking that she almost gets away with it. But Randall figures out she’s lying, and clearly he’s not going to let her get away a second time. “What gentleman keeps a rope in his desk?” But Jamie shows up just in time: “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.” With a gun! Randall’s response? He laughs. And that was a delightfully chilling moment on which to end this run of episodes.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “Is it always so between a man and a woman?” “It’s often something like this . . . No, this isn’t usual.” Aw, she tried so hard to lie.
  • On Christmas: “Don’t suppose you hang stockings by the fire.” “To dry them off, you mean.” Hee.
  • Loved Wakefield quoting Sherlock Holmes.
  • “Now I know why the Church calls it a sacrament.” “Why?” “Because I feel like God himself when I’m inside you.”
  • Loved the news bulletin about the death of Patton on Frank’s car radio.
  • “I doubt you have a sentimental bone in your body.”
  • “You are going to regret this.” “I doubt it.”

What did you think of the finale? Are you eager for the show to come back in the spring?

Outlander Return Date & Midseason Finale Clips

OutlanderWe’ve known from the beginning that Outlander‘s first season would be split into two eight-episode sections – the midseason finale, “Both Sides Now,” airs tomorrow – but now we know exactly when that second set of eight episodes will begin on Starz: April 4th. (And to clear up any confusion, the show has already been renewed for a second season, which will be after these first sixteen episodes. The second eight aren’t the second season.)


So, that’s a bit of a wait, but about what I expected. How about a few clips from tomorrow’s “Both Sides Now” to tide you over?

Be Here When I Get Back:

Removing the Price on My Head:

Outlander Thoughts & Open Thread: The Wedding

Outlander[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF OUTLANDER]

(Sorry this post is so late this week! I’ve been writing about all the new show premieres over at TheTelevixen.com and that has eaten all my time.)

So! The wedding episode of Outlander! The circumstances were different from the book, but I thought it was a lovely episode and made perfect sense in the context of the show’s plot. And the format here was a bit unexpected – we start with some of Claire’s modern wedding to Frank, and then jump right to the end of her wedding with Jamie. I found it slightly bewildering at first that they showed so little of the wedding, but, of course, they showed more of it in flashbacks later, and it all makes sense when we find out that Claire was drunk and doesn’t actually remember much of it. And, you know, fair enough: She’s completely torn about this wedding because she obviously likes Jamie and understands the need to marry him in order to survive, but she’s already married. (And it’s nice of Jamie not to be upset that she had to get drunk to marry him.) Claire feeling guilty about her sort-of bigamy is a theme throughout the episode, so it’s interesting that at the beginning, her modern, “real” wedding is made to look very casual and unserious compared to the ritual and tradition of her marriage of convenience to Jamie. (And speaking of the ritual, did they warn her that she’d have to speak Scottish? And that there were knives involved? Poor thing.)

And then, of course, we’re on to the wedding night; they need to consummate the marriage (or at least convince everyone) so Claire can be sure of Jamie and his clan’s protection. They’re both adorably awkward and nervous and stall a lot, mainly by telling stories about their pasts and their families. And really, it’s great that they got a chance to actually get to know each other better, though I’m impressed and slightly suspicious that Claire was able to talk about her family for hours without messing up and giving anything away. Jamie is incredibly sweet throughout this whole thing, and he gives Claire his mother’s pearls, even. How long until Claire figures out that he’s actually in love with her, I realize? And how long until she tells him the truth about herself? I am very curious to see whether the show follows the book in that regard.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “Eventually you forget what the pearls even look like. At least you try.”
  • “You’re a regular Bob Hope.” “Is he a funny man?”
  • “I said I was a virgin, not a monk.”
  • “I said I was completely under your power and happy to be there.” Swoon.
  • “Do you think my mother would have approved?” “Do I look like a gypsy to you? Able to commune with the spirits?”
  • “Christ, it would be easier if I kill you both.”
  • What do we think the key Jamie had Claire’s wedding ring made from is for? Interesting that he avoided telling her.
  • “I remember every moment. Every second.” SWOON again.
  • “It was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day and suddenly the sun came out.” OKAY, Jamie, you’re killing us here.
  • “Take off your shirt. I want to look at you.” In which Claire speaks for much of the audience.
  • Dougal, I’m not sure you’re supposed to hit on brides on their wedding nights.

Outlander Thoughts & Open Thread: The Garrison Commander

Outlander[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF OUTLANDER]

Oh hey! Things are finally really happening on Outlander! I mean, with that said, a) I didn’t really mind the slow pace of this first half of the season; I’ve just found it sort of baffling, and b) even here in “The Garrison Commander,” where a lot of ground is covered, most of the scenes still felt slow and deliberate.

So, we left off last week with the English asking Claire whether she was with the MacKenzies by her own choice, and at the beginning of this episode, Claire perhaps smartly dodges this question a bit, as there’s really no good answer that will keep both Claire and the MacKenzies out of trouble. (Not that Randall really needs excuses to get people in trouble.) One interesting point, which I’ll admit had not occurred to me until Claire articulated it, is that, for her, it’s not just that the English are her people in general, but rather that she feels specifically safe and at home with the British army, given her recent twentieth century experiences.

Of course, she quickly realizes that she’s not really safe, and once again, she doesn’t exactly . . . help herself with the way she talks to the powerful men around her. To be fair, there was probably no way this could go that would lead to her and Dougal both walking out of there free and unscathed, and, as I’ve said before, I know that her spunk and her refusal to accept traditional limited women’s roles are part of why this character is so popular, but I continue to get annoyed when she seems unable to rein that in at all even for her own self-preservation. At the line “I must say, madam, I find your sympathies extraordinarily puzzling,” I found myself agreeing, and I wrote “Claire, SHUT UP” at least once in my notes. Ah well.

It doesn’t really matter, though, because we learn in this episode that Black Jack Randall is a sadist, and however frustrating I find Claire’s behavior at times, I am in no way saying she deserves his treatment. He creepily enjoys telling her about how much he loved whipping Jamie – and I’m curious to what extent he knew/guessed that she knew who he was talking about. “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” The fact that Randall enjoyed talking to Claire about this was perhaps even more disturbing than the actions themselves. Thankfully Dougal manages to get her out of there – these MacKenzies are really not that bad, Claire, especially compared to pretty much everyone else.

Dougal and the lawyer cleverly figure out that the way to keep Claire safe from British “justice” is to make her a Scottish citizen/MacKenzie clan member – by marrying Jamie. (Though I’m not completely sure why they’re so determined to help her here. I’m also curious how they picked Jamie – maybe it’s partially because his marriage prospects are so dire?) Claire is hesitant, as you would be, really, but it’s hilarious that she still hasn’t noticed at all that Jamie is totally into her and that this would not exactly be a hardship from his point of view. “Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not a virgin?” she asks. “No. As long as it doesn’t bother you that I am.” Hee. So here we go – the epic romance the show has been advertising is finally getting properly underway – with an arranged marriage of convenience. I’m curious what viewers who haven’t read the book thought of that not-precisely-romantic development.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • “If you wished to hear Londoners speak, perhaps you should have stayed in London.”
  • It’s coincidental but interesting timing watching all this with the Scottish referendum coming up.
  • “You’re putting the claret at risk.”
  • I wanted to roll my eyes at the chances of Claire happening to come across the Randall who happened to have the exact razor that was later handed down to her husband, but really, that moment gave me chills.
  • “The boy would not beg.” I love that as an encapsulation of a side of Jamie that Claire hasn’t seen much of so far.
  • “You’re a healer. Surely you believe in the powers of magic.” I’ve written about the complexity of this science/magic interplay before, so I’ll just say I’m happy they’ve kept mentioning it.

What did you think of this episode? Are you excited about next week’s wedding?

Outlander Clip from The Garrison Commander + Highlanders Promo

OutlanderReady for Saturday’s episode of Outlander, “The Garrison Commander”? Here’s a clip to tide you over, called “A Most Enjoyable Surprise” and featuring John Heffernan as Brigadier General Lord Oliver Thomas along with Caitriona Balfe as Claire. I’m very curious to see how Claire’s interactions with the English go this week. In a way, that seems even trickier for her, because she’s supposed to be one of them – at least with the Scots she could blame oddities on her foreignness.

And here’s a little promo focused on the Highlanders:

Outlander Thoughts & Open Thread: Rent

Outlander[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MOST RECENT EPISODE OF OUTLANDER]

There was a bit more going on in this week’s Outlander, thank goodness, as Claire traveled around with Jamie and some of the MacKenzies collecting, as the title suggests, rent. While I was glad that things were happening – they were moving around geographically, at least, and getting into some of the political stuff – I also got frustrated with Claire. I get that a lot of the popularity of the character is based on how bold she is and how she takes no nonsense, but when it gets to the point of working against her self-preservation, I get annoyed. Sure, it’s great that she’s objecting to a goat being taken away from a family who needs it, but this is how the system works and objecting to it in ways that would never really occur to someone of her supposed station at that time is not a good way to stay under the radar and figure out how to slip away.

And her whole thing with being upset at the men speaking Scottish to keep her out of conversations – well, first of all, my impression was that some of it – especially the sex talk – was stuff they wouldn’t want to say in front of any “nice” woman, so stop taking things so personally, Claire. And Jamie’s right – they simply don’t trust her, and why should they? She’s so breathtakingly upset by the idea of corruption, as though that has been completely eradicated by the twentieth century. I loved that they let her think they were corrupt rather than risk exposing their political activities to an English spy, but come on, Claire, stop telling them what’s going to happen. You just sound like Cassandra.

I like the way they are making Jamie seem very sane and reasonable, being extremely honest and trying to explain things when Claire is reacting ridiculously, while making clear that he doesn’t think she is ridiculous. He’s delighted by her – “You’re a witty one.” – even as he doesn’t always understand her, and I really like the way their dynamic is evolving. And, yes, I swooned a bit when she discovered he was sleeping outside her door to protect her. Of course, she also discovers that the other MacKenzie men are protecting her, to an extent: “Any excuse for a fight.” “You were the excuse.” Heh. “We can insult you, but God help any other man that does.” Not . . . great, by modern standards, but for the time? She could do much worse.

Other favorite lines and points of interest:

  • Donne! Good girl for quoting something that existed at the time!
  • Re: My objection about the jazzy music in the 18th century scenes last week – my friend Alex connects this with Claire’s trauma, and that explanation works for me.
  • It was nice seeing some more of the traditional women’s work/music/culture – I hadn’t really realized until then how much time Claire has been spending in men’s spheres.
  • “It’ll be a few centuries before that happens!” CLAIRE.
  • “It doesn’t matter where you come from. You’re here.”
  • “You’re not to judge things you don’t understand.”
  • I like Claire remembering history lessons and making connections, and the flash forwards to Frank’s lectures provide some nice information to the viewers, too.
  • “History be damned.”
  • “Are you here by your own choice?” Cliffhanger!