If there is anyone out there perusing this review who has NOT read the books, be forewarned that I may zigzag and start comparing the printed Outlander to the filmed Outlander. This should be your cue to find an open library or bookstore, and get yourself a copy (I have heard that some online editions have been edited, and there’s nothing like the pleasure of a lovely book; an electronic device just isn’t the same). I’ll still try to avoid any potential spoilers, though.
At the beginning of this process, and several times throughout, Ron Moore et. al. have said that they planned to be faithful to the books, and I think we all understood that that meant there would be some diversions from the text; tonight’s episode is really more in the spirit of Outlander, rather than the letter. I expect that the coming week will see hundreds of Facebook posts discussing the departures, many others calling the discussers “nitpickers,” some crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and, I hope, some level-headed souls who will actually enjoy the departures, and see this perhaps in the realm of “stories from the world of Outlander.” We’re heading to the same outcome, but the scenes created for the show are used as a way to more succinctly direct us to that outcome. Outlander is not a heavily plot-driven story – there’s no huge climax, no major resolution of one great crisis. Instead, it’s the characters and the smaller storylines within the backdrop of Claire and Jamie’s love story that are important, and the “how” of getting there is not as important as the fact that we will, eventually, get there.
I must admit, Caitriona Balfe is growing on me as Claire – she’s doing a good job capturing Claire’s “glass face,” every emotion passing through, and difficulty lying playing across her features. How many of you figured out from the previews that she hadn’t actually told Mrs. Fitz that she was a time traveler, and that it was some kind of dream or fantasy? This was a telling scene – “I’m a good Christian woman,” says Mrs.Fitz, and Claire realizes what would happen to her if she tells anyone about her real background. Yes, Dougal, she hasn’t the truth; yes, Colum, she does have secrets, but she would prefer not to be burned as a witch. (After part of this aired last week in the trailer, Diana Gabaldon stepped in and said on Facebook not to worry, it would all turn out right in the end.)
But Mrs. Fitz does have faith in Claire – even over her faith in the Church – when Claire thinks she can cure young Thomas of what she believes to be food poisoning, over the strident objections of fanatical Father Bain. Has Claire made an enemy? Would your friends say to you, “I smell the vapors of Hell on you”? (well, my friends might… I don’t know about yours.) Has she made a mistake, one that Geillis warned her not to make? And Claire worries that her success at treating the illnesses and injuries at the Castle, and relieving Colum’s pain will cause her to be kept there – you think? Would you let someone with that kind of skill leave?
In another “from the world of Outlander” scene, Colum confronts the tailor over the length of his new frock coat. Colum is a strong man in a crippled body – how do you show his forceful personality, the man that other men look to for leadership? This scene helps to understand his frustration with the illness that has taken his physical strength, but left – and probably increased – his strength of character. That tailor will never again make an assumption about someone’s disability (provided he comes back with the corrected coat the next day and lives to ever assume again). And we get our only skin scene of the episode (not really counting Claire getting bathed and dressed) – but why did it have to be Colum’s bum?
And does anyone else have any problem with Gary Lewis’ Scottish accent? Even though he is a Scot, I keep hearing Germany – I’m sorry, Prussia – in there, mixed with a little Transylvania (compared to Graham McTavish, or Sam Heughan, who is also Scottish).
When Lotte Verbeek’s Geillis Duncan was introduced last week, I quickly decided I didn’t care for her – she seemed so young, so …wrong. OK, I was the one who was wrong. The glint in her eye, the devilish way she convinced her fool husband to lighten the young boy’s sentence from losing a hand to being pinned at the pillory, and finally, when she told Jamie to come sit down and have a glass of port as Claire told about her upbringing – there’s more there than meets the eye. She’s a woman with secrets herself, and it’s not hard to join the crowd she referred to when she told Claire last week, “They say I’m a witch.” Did you catch her red shoes? In Friday’s Twitter Q&A, Lotte said that putting on those red shoes is her “on switch” to change into Geillis. What respectable woman would wear such shoes?
The flirtation between Claire and Jamie continues, whether Claire realizes it or not. And we know who Laoghaire (Leery, for those of you “without the Gaelic”) is speaking of when she tells Claire that “it’s not me he fancies.” She doesn’t hide her feelings when Jamie is obviously more interested in Claire, especially when he hands her the empty wine glass and tells her to return it. Claire is the only one in this triangle who hasn’t yet figured out where Jamie’s interests lie. Laoghaire may think she has the upper hand when she entices Jamie into kissing her – but when Jamie catches Claire’s eye as he’s doing just that, we understand that the young girl is just a substitute for the woman he can’t have. (And how many of you threw something at the TV during that scene? Damn her eyes!).
One departure from the book makes great sense to me, and it’s a line I love – after the (ooh, yuck) scene described above, as Claire teases Jamie, Murtagh tells her that if Colum and Laoghaire’s father find out what’s been going on, Jamie may get more than just a bloody nose. “A wife?” Claire sasses back. And Murtagh, Jamie’s godfather and protector, who understands better than most who Jamie is and what he’s destined for, tells her that Jamie needs a wife who’s a woman, not a lass, and Laoghaire will be a lass until she’s 50. Don’t mess this up, he’s saying to her. Jamie has the potential for greatness, or at least better things than being the outlaw and stable hand he is today, and the wrong wife will be a problem for him. Don’t screw it up with your big mouth, Claire.
The glimpses this show gives us into life in the 1700s is fascinating. I loved Gwyllyn the Bard (played by real-life Scottish singer Gillebride Macmillan) and his beautiful, plaintive tunes – I hope these pieces are on the soundtrack we all hope is coming. And the song he plays toward the end, with Jamie translating, gives Claire hope – here is her story, obviously a well-known one – a woman falls through time in the stones, going to a land she doesn’t know, where she finds friends and a lover, but returns through the stones to the man she left behind.
Scenes in the ruins of the “Black Kirk” were gorgeous! It’s obvious that the production took great care and a lot of time to find the right locations and use them correctly.
So, after three episodes, what’s the verdict? Happy? Was this episode too different, or do you not have trouble with the differences? If you haven’t read the books, are you intrigued? Enjoying it? Are they doing it right? Leave a comment and give your opinion!
Follow me on Twitter: @ErinConrad2
Starz.com/Outlander and OutlanderCommunity.com
Inside the World of Outlander: Episode 103
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