Category: Sam Heughan

The Extended Outlander Finale Is Going Back to the Future to Reveal the Past | TVGuide.com

 

Okay, you lasses out there.  Here is a sneak peek at the end of the season. I’ve decided to forgo writing any more reviews on each episode for now.  Unfortunately, I waffle between intrigue, interest, and boredom.  On my down days, I prefer not to rile the masses with my less than enthusiastic comments.

We all differ on entertainment tastes, which is a good thing actually. Whatever floats your remote is fine with me, and I’m respectful of the fandom following that loves Outlander.  So here is the scoop on the upcoming season finale at the link below.

“Outlander’s finale will introduce two new characters.”

Source: The Extended Outlander Finale Is Going Back to the Future to Reveal the Past | TVGuide.com

A Princess for Christmas (TV Movie 2011)

4 Kernels

Starring: Katie McGrath, Roger Moore, Sam Heughan

Next on my Christmas list for entertaining movies, is A Princess for Christmas.  Currently streaming on Amazon, it’s a lighthearted and touching story, which also stars the pre-Outlander Sam Heughan, three years younger. He sports a British accent in this flick, but every once in a while that Scottish brogue slips through.

The movie borders on a fairytale-type story of Jules Daly, played by Katie McGrath, who is taking care of her niece and nephew, who lost both their parents in a tragic accident.  Besides trying to be a good guardian to a rebellious young teenager and a sweet little girl, she is struggling to provide for them financially. When she loses her job things look bleak, until Paisley Winterbottom shows up at her doorstep with three tickets for a European getaway to Castlebury Hall, where the children’s grandfather lives. Story has it, his elder son married Jules’ sister, of which he did not approve. You know the bit, marry beneath your station and you’re no son of mine.

 
The aging grandfather decides he wants to become acquainted with his grandchildren.  Jules agrees to take the trip, and they arrive at a posh castle that not only contains grandfather, but Ashton Prince of Castlebury, the younger son. Upon their arrival the duke, played by aging Roger Moore, is anti-Christmas, brooding, irritable and downright miserable to be around. Arrive the innocent and forthright children:

Duke of Castlebury: Well, children, is there anything you would like to ask your grandfather?
Milo:Yeah, how come you gave us the shaft all these years?

However, Jules Daly is the total opposite of the old man’s darkness and brings back much-needed light into a home that has been without happiness and love for some time.

I think what I like most about this movie is the classic fairytale-type of romance it represents. The character of Jules is so sweet, it’s not hard to fall in love with her spirit. Sam is very different in this movie. You won’t see the brawny Scot. Nevertheless, he’s a good choice for the role. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie gets more attention since millions of women are swooning over him in Outlander.

Currently streaming on Amazon, I purchased it last year for $6.99, but it gives you a license to download the movie five times.  I have four downloads/years left to watch it again.  Viewers on Amazon appear to enjoy it rating it a 4.7 overall, even though Imdb gives it a 6.4.

Outlander Review (Episode 8 – Both Sides Now)

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. The show won’t be back on the air until April 4, 2015.  That means you have 190 days from today to wait before the return of Outlander. Take a deep breath.  You can do this!  No doubt reruns will feed your addiction.  I’m sure Starz doesn’t want its fans to moan and groan from highlander withdrawals. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Episode 8 — the mid-season finale.

Yes, all things come to an end.  Even books in a series…eventually.  And so it is with mid-season one, the much anticipated and highly coveted Outlander on Starz. In a diversion from the book, this episode is heavily focused upon Frank and his desperate search for his beloved wife, who has somehow vanished into thin air.  Much of the focus of the story has been on Claire’s experience being sucked back in time, but I think this diversion adds richness to the series by exploring what Frank is dealing with as well.

Rightly so this episode is named Both Sides Now, but I’d like to add a third that it had a rather dark side.  The greatest criticism of this series has come from women who do not see this as a romantic novel, when there are instances of attempted rape, actual rape, and beating one’s wife with a belt.  I am staying neutral and not commenting. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion.  Of course, there are the groups of readers who have loved this story of Jamie and Claire regardless of the not-so-pleasant scenes of brutality tucked between the pages.

Variety has a rather good article and interview with Ron Moore about Episode 8 and some of the changes from the book, if you are interested.  He explains the reasons behind his departure from Diana’s text.  READ HERE  Here is a recap of tonight’s episode, which flips back and forth in time with parallel scenes and thoughts between Claire and Frank.

The police, after six weeks of searching, tell Frank they’ve done all they can do.  Their theory is that she ran off with another man. Reverend Wakefield throws out the possibility that the river swept her downstream when she wandered off and got lost.  His druid wife tells Frank the tall tale of Craigh na Dun and the stones that suck people back in time.  As Frank screams to the copper, “My wife is not with another man,” we are taken back to Jamie and Claire reminding us that’s exactly where she is while wearing two wedding rings.

After a scene where Frank is set up in a dark alley by some woman in order to steal the reward he’s offering, we see the dark ancestral side of the modern Mr. Randall.  The men in the alley are no match for angry Frank, who nearly beats to death his attackers and almost strangles the woman for her complicity in leading him into a trap.  Yes, the man is hurt, frustrated, and these poor people crossed Frank at the wrong time in his life.  His actions get him a preaching session from the reverend about turning from the dark side and back into the light.

Claire is given lessons by Angus on how to defend herself with a dagger. She finds the opportunity to do so when Redcoats turn up unexpected, interrupting Jamie and Claire doing the deed on the grassy ground.  Once again, we are faced with a potential rape, but Claire stabs her attacker in the back and Jamie brings down the other two men holding him from intervening.

The entourage of Dougal, Angus, Murtagh, Willie, Rupert, Jamie, and Claire (did I forget anyone?) continue on their journey to meet a man who might be able to clear Jamie’s name. However, to be safe, Jamie leaves Claire alone with Willie in the woods.  She promises Jamie to stay put, but when she realizes that they are near Craigh na Dun, she slips away and runs toward the mound.

This scene is the most powerful in the episode.  Frank decides to visit the area before he gives up and leaves for Oxford.  He stands by the stone crying (poor guy) and then begins to yell Claire’s name.  Claire hears him through time, and she yells his name in return.  Frank hears her voice, but then it is suddenly silenced. Just as she reaches the stone to touch it and return, those pesky Redcoats capture and drag her away to Frank’s disgusting ancestor, Black Jack Randall.

The dichotomy of the two characters has returned, as Randall and Claire play their cat and mouse game of let’s tell the truth.  Fed up, he binds her, pushes her face down on the table, and lifts her skirt.  Another scene of attempted rape ensues. (Poor woman how much of this must she endure?  I do see the point here.) When we think all is lost, Jamie bursts open the window, points a gun at Randall, and tells him to take his hands off his wife.

End of mid-season one, and the cliffhanger has been played. Of course, those who have read the book know the outcome.  The second half of season one may be the most controversial if Ron Moore, the executive producer, goes down that road showing the consequences of Claire’s disobedience and Jamie’s belt meeting her often exposed bottom in this series. For some reason, I don’t think that’s going to go over well with some women in the audience not familiar with the written text.

Nevertheless, the episodes have ended. Life returns to normal, and maybe I can finish book four in my own series, which only contained one attempted, not welcomed advance of a despicable nature. From my own experience, I can tell you that romance books containing potential rape or rape scenes do not often sit well with some readers.  It’s a path that I try to avoid if possible.  It appears that many fans, however, are so taken by Jamie’s character, that it either doesn’t bother them or they have turned a blind eye in order to enjoy the man in the kilt.  Whatever the reason, get your calendars out, your markers, and start checking off the next 190 days you must live before more episodes arrive.  I just hope for your sake the world doesn’t end before then.

Outlander Review (Episode 7 – The Wedding)

The Scottish referendum to depart from the United Kingdom did not pass on Thursday, September 18, 2014.  However, millions of women passed out on Saturday, September 20, while watching Outlander, Episode No. 7, The Wedding.

Fainting episodes, heart palpitations, and profuse sweating can be attributed to Jamie Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser. The marriage was consummated (multiple times), and Starz made sure to give us breasts, bottoms, moaning, seductive touching, and virginity lost. They did warn viewers with “N=Nudity” and nudity we got.

Now that I’ve dabbed my forehead with tissues and wished I was in Claire’s place, I’ll attempt to write down tonight’s episode.  If I’ve missed something, blame it on Jamie’s abs and bottom, plus those blue eyes and piercing looks.  :inserts swoon:

It was a great episode, only put together a little oddly.  Rather than making it sequential, it bounced back and forth from here to there, which I found a bit annoying.  Nevertheless, it starts with Claire and Frank deciding to wed in the spur of the moment, and Claire admits that after a while you forget your life in the past.  Whether she truly does is another matter, because Frank’s ring only comes off her finger and stuffed down her bulging bosom just before she weds Jamie.

The wedding scene starts with the kiss after pronouncement of husband and wife, making you wonder if you were late for the wedding.  It quickly moves to Claire and Jamie alone with one task looming ahead of them — the consummation.  However, instead, it turns into hours of sharing, drinking, and talking, flashing back and forth between scenes.  Jamie tells Claire about his family, expounds stories, and admits he married her to keep her safe from Randall. His chivalrous confession of promising to protect her with his body as well is endearing.

Everyone downstairs is enjoying the drunken reception of booze and food (along with a cat nibbling at the table leftovers). The purpose for the crowd hanging around is to await word the bride and groom have done the deed.  Rupert and Angus burst into the room at Dougal’s orders at one point hoping to witness something.  Nothing’s up yet, so Jamie kicks them out.

Claire appears extremely nervous and out of sorts in many scenes. Their time together is awkward, to say the least. Jamie finally kisses her, and then seductively traces his fingers along her skin.  He slowly undresses Claire down to her shift, fondles her breast, and the kisses get a bit hotter. Claire wants her own turn, so she frees him from his kilt and leaves him in his shirt.  Well, after another kiss, Jamie loses it and sort of attacks her body from behind, but she turns him around and he ends up on top of her in bed.  It doesn’t take long to lose his virginity, but Claire doesn’t look like she’s really enjoying the experience while he enjoys his first time with a woman.  We could make some jokes about how fast it took, less than a minute from my count, but I will behave.

Afterward, he asks her if she liked it, but she doesn’t say anything.  He just figures, like the men told him beforehand, that women don’t care for it. He admits that he thought it was always done from behind like horses do it, and Claire has a good laugh.

As the evening progresses, it’s more flashbacks that include Jamie’s conditions for marrying Claire, which included: (1) a church wedding by a priest; (2) a wedding band; and (3) Claire must have a wedding dress.  Obtaining each of those items were lighthearted moments as to how they came about.  As they recall the wedding together, Jamie and Claire tell each other how they felt.  The conversation is used for viewers to finally see the wedding itself.  Jamie is extremely handsome in his full Scottish regalia, and Claire is beautiful in her wedding gown.  (You might enjoy this article from Vanity Fair about the costume designer’s choice for Claire’s dress. Click Here)

The wedding vows are touching, but it’s not without blood as Dougal slits their wrists, binds them together, and their blood mingles. Those romantic words are spoken by Jamie and Claire:

‘Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.’”

 

The remainder of the episode focuses on the lovemaking between Jamie and Claire.  She finally relents to her situation and her shy nervousness dissolves. Her boldness in bed with Jamie is quite hot, as she pleases him in ways he never dreamed. The scenes didn’t hold anything back. I often wonder how these stars do these portions so intimately with their modesty patches and not get aroused. Let’s not go down that road.

The episode ends with Claire the next morning picking up her wedding dress and Frank’s ring falling to the floor from the bodice where she shoved it before the wedding.  It rolls across the floor, falls into a crack, and Claire picks it up and places it back on her finger on her right hand.  She then looks at both of her hands and the two rings declare she belongs to two different men. It’s quite the thought-provoking ending.

Next week’s episode looks intriguing, as Frank in the future deals with Claire’s disappearance.

Well, my question to you, is how many times are you going to watch the rerun of this episode?  Try not to overdo it, ladies.  Once again, I don’t find myself as emotionally involved in this story as many fans are, but that’s probably due to my own emotions intertwined in the stories that I write.  Nevertheless, Diana had a good idea that apparently appealed to many.  She’s very fortunate to have her story come to life on screen.

 Most tender moment: Claire and Jamie saying their vows.

Most humorous statement:  Jamie’s confession regarding the lovemaking position.

Most disturbing moment: Dougal making a pass at Claire after she becomes Jamie’s wife!  (Stinker)

(Quote:  Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: A Novel (p. 195). Random House Publishing Group.)

 

Outlander Review (Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander)

Antagonist.  Archenemy.  Villain.

Adversary. Foe.

In Outlander, it is none other than Black Jack Randall.

At first, Tobias Menzies allows us to meet mild-mannered Frank, and then turns us around and makes us hate him as the vilest character whoever set foot in Scotland. Black Jack dwells in darkness, and darkness is where he belongs. Tobias does an excellent job of switching from light to darkness in his role, and he should be congratulated for his performance. Now that I really hate him, let’s talk about Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander.

Last week we were left hanging with Claire while she stood speechless after being asked if she was in Dougal’s company of her free will.  It’s a damned if I do and damned if I don’t moment. She could risk the lives of all the men of the clan, or take her chances again with the captain of the dragoons.  You know she’d rather just run off to the stones by herself and get the deed done without any help from the Scots or the Brits, but at this moment she can do neither.  What’s a woman to do?

Well, Claire reiterates that she is a guest of the Clan MacKenzie. Nevertheless, the lieutenant informs her that Lord Thomas will want to meet her anyway, and leads her and Dougal to a small village swarming with Redcoats. The scene that follows, from what I can tell, is an addition from the producers, wherein the book she goes directly to Captain Randall. Claire is introduced to a room full of men dining in their British finery of red and gold, with those George Washington powdered wigs.  Welcomed as a fine British lady, she sits at the head of the table, while Dougal stands beside her chair and looks at seven officers in the British army. She feels right at home, while she thinks Dougal is the outlander this time.

If Starz wanted to lace this series with the deep misunderstandings and prejudices between the Scottish and the English, they did a good job.  It’s enough to make the referendum pass on September 18 when Scotland will vote whether or not to leave the United Kingdom.  Every cliche insult is flung toward Dougal from: (a) I can’t understand a word you’re saying to; (b) what’s underneath that kilt? Even after he leaves the room, the comments continue about the Scottish being ignorant, superstitious, and impossible to make peace with because they’re not loyal subjects. Ouch! The prejudice is as thick as the powder on their wigs.  Once again, these deviations from the written word may upset some fans.  However, I think this scene is important in that it shows it’s not just Black Jack Randall who despises the Scottish, but it’s an overall prevailing sentiment from the British Army and aristocracy.

Then to Claire’s shock, Black Jack Randall bursts into the room, which is more like the scene in the book but also extended. He questions Claire further, and she tells another tall tale that sounds even more confusing than the one she told the Laird at the castle.  When she mentions how she’s heard rumors about Randall loving to flog people, it opens up another flashback. He recites the flogging of Jamie with a hundred lashes on top of the hundred lashes already received. We don’t get just the story, we get the gory visual effects of sliced flesh, gashes, dripping and pooling blood, and untold suffering that Jamie endured.  Jack wanted to break him, but Jamie was unbreakable.

Tobias Menzies does a rather good job of revealing the darkness of Jack’s soul as he portrays the reason for Randall’s brutality. His sadistic nature is unfurled as he tells Claire about how the crowd watched in horror while he beat Jamie, but he thought it a thing of beauty as he created a masterpiece upon Jamie’s back. The man’s heart is as black as hell itself, and Claire makes the mistaken assumption that he can be redeemed.

Randall’s interrogation of her continues, asking if Dougal is raising money for the Jacobites. Claire lies, of course, but Randall doesn’t believe a word.  He quickly dashes her conclusion that he can be saved, by punching her in the stomach. Then he orders another soldier to kick her while she lays groaning on the floor. No doubt it would have continued if Dougal hadn’t come to her rescue.  Randall relents, but orders him to bring Claire back at Noon the next day for further interrogation.

Well, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that the Scottish people of 1743 were superstitious, and Dougal takes her to St. Ninian’s spring. He asks her if she’s a spy once more, and since she doesn’t drop dead after drinking the water, he finally believes her declaration that she’s not. “Anyone who drinks the water and then tells untruth will ha’ the gizzard burnt out of him.” Claire’s gizzard survives.

Dougal then explains to her the only way of keeping her from Randall is to have her become Scottish through marriage. The plan is set in motion, the marriage contract drawn, and Jamie and Claire are going to wed.  Never you mind she’s not a virgin but he is. At least one of them will know what they are doing! At the end of the episode, Claire does what she does best to cope. She grabs a bottle of liquor from one of the men and storms off to get drunk.

Now, I know all you lasses cannot wait until next week when vows are spoken, wrists get slit, blood gets mingled, and consummation of the marriage bed comes to pass. The question on everyone’s mind is how much skin are we going to see? Based on Claire’s romps in the sack with Frank, this could get hot.

Frankly, I don’t care if I see her boobs again–what’s under that kilt is on everyone’s mind. In order to handle it, I suggest cold showers before and after the episode airs. I bet, though, you’ll all just tune in and watch it again an hour later. Bring tissues in case you drool.

Most tender moment: Claire and Jamie discussing their impending marriage.

Most humorous statement: Lord Thomas to Claire, “You do know how to order men about.” Dougal’s response, “Aye, she does.”

Most disturbing moment: Black Jack flogging Jamie.

Outlander Review (Episode 5 – Rent)

Rent, Rebellion, and Raunchy Jokes 

The romance between Claire and Jamie is a slow burn. Starz admitted season one was going to take time to unfold the heated love story. They also took a rather leisurely pace with Episode Five, Rents.

As promised, Dougal allows Claire to travel with the familiar characters, plus a few new ones, on their trip across MacKenzie lands to collect the rent. Rent comes in all shapes and sizes from a pence to a pig, handed over to Mr. Gowan, a solicitor, who collects and writes receipts. Claire is civil to this newcomer, which is quite contrary to her behavior with the rest of the clan the entire episode.

In this part of the story, there are three things striking about Claire. One, her hair is flowing and not tied back. Those beautiful curly locks make her look very attractive. Second, her wardrobe with the fur collar and cuffs, worn for traipsing through the Highlands, seems a bit out of place. It makes me wonder who at Leoch is providing the obvious expensive wardrobe, or if the costume designer for the show is just have loads of fun dressing her up. Third, her attitude on this trip equates to one sour pickle. She flashes her scathing looks and wields a sharp tongue in almost every scene—except toward Jamie, of course. Frankly, I wanted to slap her a few times myself because her attitude had become a bit irritating. It appeared as if Claire was burning every bridge between the relationships she had forged and the trust gained.

The remainder of her companions—Dougal, Angus, Rupert and the lot of burly men around the campsite—are a raunchy bunch, telling lewd stories. Claire, on the other hand, is sulking propped up next to a tree. She grumbles to herself that everyone hates her and has excluded her from their presence. Frankly, let’s face it—she doesn’t exactly have much in common with the rutting band of merry men speaking Gaelic. Jamie feels sorry for her, comes over with a peace offering of bread, and leaves her with a reminder that they treat her that way because they don’t trust her.

A few days later during one of their rent gathering sessions, she gets bored and wanders off in the small community. She meets a band of women sitting around a table rolling fabric in a pool of hot piss. She joins the group, grabs the cloth, and gets down and dirty with the locals. Apparently pee sets the dye in the fabric. When she is about to add her tinkle in a bucket, Angus barges in and hauls her roughly away by the arm. The clan is ready to leave, and his physical treatment only enrages Claire further.

She ends up having a hissy fit and an unpleasant scene unfurls with Angus and Dougal as she tries to return a goat to one of the women who needs it to feed her child milk. An Englishman intervenes over Claire’s harsh treatment, who appears to be one of the villagers. He asks if she’s all right, and Claire looks at him in astonishment. Before she can respond, the stranger is threatened by Angus. The Englishman doesn’t press the matter but retreats. He disappears in the shadows and puts on his Redcoat uniform, which unfolds later in the episode.

It’s obvious as we watch the hour continue that Claire becomes aware that more than rent gathering is occurring by Dougal. He is also raising funds for the rebellion, which she knows will end up in catastrophic loss. There are multiple flash-forwards between Claire and Frank as he tells her the history behind the massacre at the battle of Culloden. Ironically, in one scene Claire is standing by Frank at the battlefield location and looking at a MacKenzie memorial stone, which is one of many that commemorate those who lost their lives.

If you hated history as a subject, take a deep breath because you’re going to get one regarding Jacobitism, King James, and the house of Stuarts in this episode. Claire tries her best to warn Mr. Gowan and Dougal that their efforts are for a lost cause. Of course, her advice isn’t understood, and neither is her meddling as she tries to change the course of history without much forethought over the consequences. It’s understandable that Claire has the burden of knowledge in the presence of these men, but is powerless to change their minds. She cannot help but wonder how many of the men she knows will still be alive in 1746.

Even though the episode is filled with snarky jokes aimed as Sassenach, and she thinks they should kiss her English ass, Claire learns a lesson. When a brawl ensues at one of their stops over an insult hurled at Claire, the men rise into action. Afterward, she discovers it ensued because someone called her a whore. To her surprise, Murtagh replies, “You’re a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you but God help any other man who does.”

As far as Jamie and Claire, the scenes vary. Jamie admonishes Claire not to judge what she doesn’t understand, and reminds her it doesn’t matter where she came from–she’s here now. He saves her from Angus’ knife at her throat, brought on by her sharp tongue hurling insults. However, the memorable scene is Claire stumbling over Jamie outside her door. When she discovers he is there to protect her, she invites Jamie to sleep in her room instead of the floor. His cute virginal response and the look on his face is priceless.

“Sleep in your room with ye? I couldna do that! Your reputation would be ruined!” 

The episode ends with a cliffhanger and the Redcoat she met earlier finding Dougal and Claire alone by a stream. He reappears with a band of Redcoats on horses and looks at Claire and asks her once again behind the boldness of his status, “Are you here by your own choice?” Don’t expect an answer until next week.

Guess who’s back? Your favorite sadistic Frank look-a-like, Black Jack Randall. The only good return of that blackguard is that it will soon lead to a marriage so all ye lasses can swoon over Jamie losing his virginity.

Overall, the episode was slower paced, historically rife, and not as exciting as others.

Most tender moment: Jamie turning down Claire’s invitation to sleep in her room.

Most humorous statement:  “You’re a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you but God help any other man who does.”

Most disturbing moment:  Angus losing his temper with Claire.

Outlander Review (Episode Four – The Gathering)

Episode four, The Gathering, is filled with fine-looking Highlanders swearing their allegiance to the clan MacKenzie at Castle Leoch. Our laird is looking a tad handsome with his hair pulled back and dressed in his finest, along with the rest of the male attendees in kilts. Once again it is an outstanding episode filled with so much that I can barely take notes fast enough to remember all the fine tidbits. Humor abounds in much of the episode, but it is toned with moments of pain and death.

It begins with Claire running through the woods appearing as if she’s escaping, when in reality she’s playing with a group of children scoping out the territory outside the castle grounds. She falls on her back and ends up looking up the kilt of Angus Mhor. He straddles above her head and peers down and says, “Something catch your eye there, lass?” The camera looks right up the kilt, but it’s too dark to see! It is the first of many lighthearted comments coming from a group of rutting men looking to “settle their cock to roost for the night.”

Claire spends the majority of this episode planning her escape. Geillis visits Claire obviously aware that she is preparing and warns her that she would do well to remember that the Highlands can be a dangerous place. Undeterred by the warning, Claire continues but meets multiple obstacles during the evening.

When Mrs. Fitzgibbons dresses and drags her to the festivities of “The Gathering,” she passes by Diana Gabaldon in her cameo role, who sputters a few words in such a thick Scottish accent that I didn’t understand a word she said. The men begin their pledges and once again the laird speaks Gaelic and Murtagh translates for Claire. You’ve seen one pledge, you’ve seen them all, so Claire leaves. She gives a spiked bottle of port to her tag-along spy, a bottle of horse dung to Leary to win Jamie’s heart, wallops Dougal over the head with a stool, and stumbles and falls upon Jamie in the stables during her grand escape gone wrong.

Finally, she gives up at Jamie’s urging and returns to the castle to watch the remaining pledges, including Jamie’s non-pledge to the laird, but his sworn obedience. (All sorts of back story on that scene, so if you need more read the book or watch the episode.) Things are friendly between Claire and Jamie, and the smoldering looks are far and few between this episode.

The next day Claire rides out with the men, who are in her words, out to “kill a hairy pig.” The hunt turns into a near-death experience for her and a disaster for two men. One of the hunters, Jody, is ripped to pieces by a boar and lies dying in Dougal’s arms. It’s a very intense and moving scene, where Dougal sees a part of Claire that leaves a positive impression. She lets her skills as a nurse comfort a man facing death.

After the emotional scene, Dougal returns with his men and comes upon a group playing a rather rough game of stick ball apparently called “shinty.” Obviously, looking for a way to let go of his pent-up emotions, he grabs a stick and joins in the game. It’s a testosterone filled, stick-wielding competition that looks more like a brawl. While watching the colliding sticks and flying bodies around the turf, you can see the obvious tension between Dougal and Jamie behind each whack and jab between the two. I won’t tell you who won that battle, only to say that it didn’t sit well with Dougal that he had taught Jamie how to play the game so well.

The episode ends with Dougal approaching Claire the next day stating as a matter of fact, which she doesn’t deny, that she has seen men die before from violence. He thanks her for helping him take Jody to a peaceful place, but then tells her she is leaving with him in the morning to travel the countryside collecting rents from the tenants. Claire sees it as another opportunity to find the right moment to flee back to the future.

The only very odd thing about this intense episode is that the background music in certain scenes is from the 1940’s big band. At first, I thought I was hearing things, but it sounded terribly out of place. It came at portions while Claire was thinking of her life in 1943, but walking through the castle. The sound track wasn’t exactly my cup of tea with modern tunes playing in a 1743 backdrop.

As someone who has only partially read and skimmed much of Outlander, I don’t find very much to balk about as far as the show not closely following the book. I am not that emotionally involved in the story as some fans (gasp) but am enjoying the television version nonetheless.  Starz is taking some creative liberty with the story, such as the ball-whacking game in tonight’s episode. In an interview with Yahoo TV, Ronald Moore stated, “I wanted to realize the book, not change the book. But it is not a democracy. It is a piece of art. We try our best to make the best version of this story for television. Sometimes that means adding scenes or cutting and tweaking them.”

All in all, it’s a four-star for me tonight and would have been a five-star had the music been a bit different.  Yes, I know.  Picky, picky.

Most tender moment: Comforting the dying man.

Most humorous statement: Claire to Leary.  “Tap your heels three times and say there’s no place like love…” Or words something to that effect, after giving Leary instructions to sprinkle the horse dung in a love potion incantation to gain Jamie’s heart.

Most disturbing moment: Blood and gore from the boar hunt.

 

Outlander Review (Episode 3 – The Way Out)

First off, let’s talk about the latest news posted on the Scottsman online news website.  Outlander could run for five years or more.  READ HERE  The actors have been asked to sign what they call “long-term contracts,” which means they are probably looking at televising the entire Outlander series of books.

Of course, this is probably the answer to BBC’s five-year contract for Poldark with that cast. Nevertheless, women worldwide will be feed with Scottsman and Englishmen in period garb for years to come. Now, on with Episode 3 – The Way Out.

I think that I would have renamed the episode from The Way Out to Superstition 17th Century Style.  Since we are all “educated” individuals from the 21st century, you need to step back and realize that Claire is in a world far different from her own in more ways than fashion.  It’s a world where people are governed by beliefs to explain the unexplained.  Everything that happens either comes from God or Satan.

The episode begins with a short flashback (or is that flash forward in time-travel lingo?) of Claire and her husband saying goodbye to each other.  She’s off to the front lines, strong and stubborn Claire, to do her bit, while Frank is left behind is a more cushy military job.  He woefully begs, “Promise you will return to me.”  She promises.

Flashing back 200 years, Claire quickly gets to work in her new surgery as the nurse aka healer at Leoch. While she’s mending people left and right, she is still watched and followed.  In her imagination she plays the scene of what it would be like to tell Mrs. FitzGibbons that she’s really 200 years from the future. Of course, when she concludes that her tall tale would probably get her a slap in the face and the term of “witch,” she comes back to reality.  Just when everyone was thinking Mrs. FitzGibbons was going to turn out a meany toward Claire, we were all just fooled in the previews by Starz.

We see that Claire tries her best to get into Colum’s good graces. An opportunity presents itself when Colum requests that she massage his legs.  She knows that rubbing his lower back would be far more effective.  Well, to get to the back, he exposes his ass. Of course, nothing shocks nurse Claire as she goes to work easing his pain while he blames the devil for his affliction in life.

There are some entertaining scenes between Jamie and Claire that include smoldering looks from the Scot and dreamy-eyed, drunken gazes from Claire.  She sure loves the laird’s private stock of castle booze.  Her emotions are stirred toward jealousy when she catches Jamie kissing Laoghaire, but she blames it on missing intimacy with Frank.  Honestly, I doubt that’s the reason.

However, the majority of the episode is heavily laced with religion versus superstition, and Claire’s knowledge of what really is occurring in their world. What they think is demon possession is merely a case of poison. Everything that happens good or bad is attributed to heaven or hell, and everybody is making the sign of the cross multiple times to ward off the evil spirits. When she heals a young boy thought to be possessed, she’s now the miracle worker.  The priest, of course, has other ideas.

The character, Geillis Duncan, is in Episode 3 quite a bit, as well as the scene of the poor young lad and the Scottish barbaric ways of nailing his ear to the pillory for stealing.  There will be no six months in juvenile detention for this guy, but Jamie does help with the removal of the nail and his fine statement, “Ye wouldna expect me to be less bold than a wee Sassenach lassie, now would ye?”  (Gabaldon, Diana (2004-10-26). Outlander: A Novel (p. 114). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

At the end, we see Jamie translating for Claire the folk tale that sounds strikingly similar to her travel through time.  She knows that she must get back, or die trying.  At this point, I think I would want to get back to Frank, too, after watching exorcism and nailing of ears. A hot bath would feel really good, compared to Claire’s bucket dunks. I thought that was a very timely scene since this past week we’ve seen nothing but ice-water bucket challenges on social media.

The scenes from Starz versus the book are a bit out of order here and there, but nothing of consequence.  I will admit that some of Jamie’s accent is really hard to understand. I’ll probably watch it again to pick up what I missed. Again, it’s another five-star episode.  If the show continues on the path it is taking, there will no doubt be renewals enough to fill up the five seasons.

Most tender moment:  Claire massaging Colum’s back. (Not all tenderness needs to be with Jamie, lasses.)

Most humorous statement: Colum to Claire, “Don’t tell me my ass offends you too?”

Most disturbing moment: Nailing a boy’s ear to the pillory.

 

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

Outlander Review (Starz Series 2014 – Episode 1 – Sassenach)

5 Kernels

Stars: Claire (Caitriona Balfe); Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan);
and Frank Randall/Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies)
 

 Let me preface this review by clarifying a few things:

1) I have never read Outlander or any of Diana Gabaldon’s books.

2) I do not have extended cable. So any episode after this one, I will not be paying extra from my cable carrier to pick it up. Therefore, I will have to wait.

Okay, so I’ve been watching on Facebook and hearing everyone else talk about the “highly anticipated” Outlander television series on Starz. On the other side of the camp, all the Poldark lovers are going crazy over that series being redone by BBC.

I know very little about Outlander, except for what I’ve read in multiple blog posts and reader reviews. Like most stories, including mine, there is a lot of polarization regarding the story. The disagreeable reviews say this — they liked the beginning, but as the story continued were appalled by two scenes that turned them off (mainly, the rape of Jamie, and Jamie beating Claire for disobedience). Since I’ve not read those scenes, I cannot comment and will stay clear of that hot debate.

Like any other author, I dream that one of the books I’ve written will one day be acted out on screen. I’ve even had few readers state they’d love to see The Legacy Series picked up. Of course, that takes luck, agents, producers, and those who believe in your story-telling talent. Somewhere in that long line of wishful thinking lies the magic fairy of success.  I’ve yet to meet her personally. Outlander, of course is a bestseller, read worldwide, and its popularity has remained throughout the years. I can only imagine how Diana must feel seeing her story come to life on screen. It must be wonderful, as well as her bulging bank account.

What makes a story extremely popular is uniqueness. Outlander is apparently one of those novels, as it takes the reader back in time from the 1940’s into 1700’s Scotland. It contains all of the right elements – mystery, danger, surprise, handsome Scottish hunk, bodice ripping, passionate lovemaking, and a difficult decision for the heroine to make.

So, let’s talk about the free Episode 101 available to watch on the Starz website. Of course, with all the hullabaloo about this story, I decided to sit for an hour and watch the first episode. I will now probably wait a year or more to see the remainder, since I’m too cheap for extended cable adding $89 a month to my budget.

Nevertheless, I was impressed. Starz has the big budget for production, the stars to carry the parts, and the scenery to add to the flavor of the movie. It begins after the war, and five years later when Claire is reunited with her husband, Frank. The scenario is quite real, as even my parents were separated for five years during WWII, only to be reunited faced with the challenge of learning to live and love all over again.

Frank, decides on a second honeymoon in Scotland before they settle back into life. Enter a few hot sex scenes, an old village with strange practices, Frank’s interesting genealogy, and the story begins to unfold with a touch of mystery. Claire and her husband watch through the night and into the early morning hours the dancing of women around an ancient grouping of stone monuments, apparently carrying out a ritual.

Claire returns to the ruins alone the next day to look for a flower that caught her eye the day before. As she walks between the monoliths, things become a bit weird and sounds catch her attention. She is drawn to a particular stone, and after she places her hands upon it, she is transported back in time. I always ask myself, however, why is it when people travel through time they get dumped into a perilous scene with warriors and shooting? (Reminds me of the movie “Timeline” with Gerard Butler. Check out that perilous time-traveling flick.)

Besides being thrown into danger, we also have the element of surprise. She goes back to where she parked her car only to find it gone. Confused, she wanders about until she sees Redcoats who are chasing someone and shooting their rifles. Of course, she thinks she’s walked into some movie set by accident. However, as a real bullet flies by her head, it becomes all too real and she takes off running. Personally, I think I would have freaked out a bit more than strong Claire. She is feisty, swears like a sailor, brash, and lets every male she comes in contact with know her sentiments.

Now, let’s go to the heartthrob. Pictures of Sam Heughan have been clogging my timeline on Facebook for months. To be mean, I clog everyone’s timeline with a few shots of Aidan Turner (the Poldark hottie). Nevertheless, Jamie is quite the hunk–young, virile, strong, and well-endowed, no doubt, as women think about what’s under that kilt. With his thick Scottish brogue, you just want to kiss him to shut him up, if you don’t mind the sweat and blood on his face to get there.

As far as the rest of the burly Scottish men, Jamie is the only thing worth drooling over. If you have a good imagination of greasy hair, sweaty faces, and bodies that probably haven’t bathed in months, you’ve got the picture of the other men. Of course, Claire is a muddy mess, too, at this point in the story so she fits right in.  When she tries to run away, Jamie catches up to her and demands she continue on with them.  She says no, and he says, “I’ll shall pick you up and throw you over my shoulder.  Do you want me to do that?”  Well, I know you do!

Has the first episode intrigued me? Yes, and when I can, I’ll probably watch the remainder. Will I read the book? Nope. I have this terrible aversion of other people’s ideas, phrases, and whatever else sinking into my subconscious and coming out in one of my own books. Therefore, I rarely, if ever, read any romances by other authors.

As far as the intro music, I absolutely love it. Need to find out where I can download it. “Sing me a song of a lass that is gone…”

So that’s it! Go for it, you Outlander fans! I’ll being waiting for Poldark on BBC Masterpiece Theatre slated for 2015 release with Aidan – picture stage right.

In conclusion, I supposedly do have a drop of Scottish blood in my veins from my second great grandmother, who was born in Glasgow—so there.

Next trip to the UK, I’ll make sure to make it up north to Jamie land. Maybe I can get sucked back into time. As long as I don’t end up in the middle of a battle somewhere, I wouldn’t mind.

8/7/14 – UPDATE:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to get Starz.  And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I said I wasn’t going to read the book.  I’m eating my words.

I’ve added Starz for $10 a month from Comcast and downloaded the book on Kindle.  I’ve read about 70% of it, but because of my schedule, I’ve had to skim parts but have read a pretty hefty portion.  I’m impressed with the author’s skill and knowledge.  There is no way, however, I can read the entire series, but have skimmed the synopsis of each to get the drift. I will, however, be tuning in on my brand new 32″ Magnavox for upcoming episodes.

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