Outlander Review (Episode 2 – Castle Leoch)

Last night I tuned into Episode 2 (or EP 102 as Starz calls it) of Outlander. After finally getting my cable box to work with my new 32 inch television in my bedroom, I’m able to watch the show. I’ve also read most of book one, roughly about 80%. Some of the chapters I skipped out of personal preferences.

I have been hanging around the Outlander Series Facebook Group, with a whopping 28,448 members. Frankly, I feel like a time traveler trying to get the lay of the land.  Just like any other fan group I’ve been involved in online, emotions are high. There are opinionated Highlanders, disgruntled Highlanders, starry-eyed Highlanders, Jamie worshiping Highlanders, along with complainers, critics, and newbies to the story. For the most part, I’ve kept to myself only making a few comments.

After reading most of book one, I do have my own strong opinions about the story. Personal preferences play a lot in what we like and don’t like. As for me, I’m more into the emotional side of storytelling, and I avoid and find disturbing violent scenes. In Outlander, there are many, which is part of the history of the Scottish and English during this time period. What I’ve seen in reviews from other readers it appears that some can handle it, but others cannot.  I think because I’ve had my own share of abuse from men in my life, I tend to want to look away or skip the difficult parts. At this point in time, I don’t plan on reading the remaining books in the series. I can’t be writing three books at once and then taking the time to read seven more. It just doesn’t mesh with my own goals.  Since the show has been renewed for Season 2, I’ll catch the story as it goes along.

As far as Episode 2, it has its lighthearted moments, tender moments, and disturbing moments. Claire arrives to a very muddy castle, filled with grubby Scotsman, and archaic scenes that starkly contrast her 20th century world. She is more or less standing around trying to acclimate herself to her situation, when Jamie finally introduces her to Mrs. FitzGibbons or Fitz for short.

Finally a Weak Moment from Claire (Copyright Starz)

She enters the castle and tends to Jamie’s wounded shoulder, and finally breaks down into tears thinking about Frank. It’s the first hint of weakness from Claire, who for the most part has been outspoken and defensive. Jamie comforts her in his arms, but when she becomes aware of their closeness she draws away. He tells her not to fear as long as he is with her, but of course “it’s not a pretty thing to be English” amongst the Scottish.

The next morning Mrs. Fitz arrives to give her some decent clothing, and a humorous moment comes as Claire exposes her bra.  Definitely not the corset of the day.  Mrs. Fitz dresses her in layers of clothing, no doubt because it’s a cold and damp castle with drafts.  Afterward, she takes Claire to meet the Laird, Colum MacKenzie, and conjures up a story of how she came to be alone running about the woods in a shift and nearly raped by Black Jack Randall.  It seems that no one is really buying her story, and they think she is an English spy. Dougal MacKenzie, the laird’s brother, is not exactly pleased with Claire’s presence.

With a feigned promise of being escorted back to Inverness in five day’s time, Claire tries to lay low. She spends time getting to know Jamie a bit better, while she tends to his wounded shoulder. She watches the barbaric judgments in the hall, where Jamie takes the place of a young girl who was to be beaten for her morally loose behavior. It’s a world unlike her own, and as much as Claire would like to speak out over the barbarous treatment, she’s advised to stay silent.

In the end, just when she thinks she’ll be taken back to Inverness so she can return to the stones and Frank, Colum tells her she must stay. Claire’s personality is one of a kind, frankly. Had it been me, I would have dropped to my knees and begged him to let me go. However, she has this way of pursing her lips, sticking out her chin, and spewing out her displeasure. She is by no means a weak woman, but as the episode closes she stands alone dealing with the realization that for now she is a prisoner of the past.

On a closing note, let’s just say that Black Jack Randall is a sadist. Be forewarned that you will see much of his behavior that will turn your stomach, which will be the parts I will probably close my eyes. I just don’t like disturbing violence, and unfortunately that is part of the dark side of Outlander you will be able to handle or not.  The story has been coined a “bodice-ripper type” novel, much to the chagrin of some fans.  But let’s face it, when Black Jack Randall rips open the bodice of Jamie’s sister to expose her breasts, what else would you call it?

Kudos to Starz for the fantastic sets, costumes, and filming of this series. It’s probably going to garnish a few awards for the detail they have put into Outlander.  I’ll tune in next week and let you know if Claire shows an ounce of weakness, or if she keeps that proverbial English stiff upper lip.

In summary:
Most tender moment:  Jamie comforting Claire

Most humorous statement:  Claire to Jamie, “Try not to get flogged or stabbed today.”

Most disturbing moment: Anything Black Jack Randall says or does

Here’s the Preview to Episode 3 – The Way Out

Meanwhile, on the set of Poldark, they have signed Aidan Turner to a five-year contract. Will Starz follow suit with Outlander and the remaining books? My guess is, if the Outlander frenzy continues among the lasses, they won’t be far behind.

Link to my thoughts on Episode 1 of Outlander

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