Other Media Review

Outlander Episode One

Title: Outlander on Starz: Episode 1
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Outlander tv posterAs Carrie mentioned from her travels to San Diego Comic Con, the SBTB posse will be doing recaps and commentary of the highly publicized Outlander Starz series. Seriously, I've seen ads for it everywhere. Last time I checked, the first episode is free over at the Starz website.

Every Friday, we'll post up our comments for the week's previous episode in preparation for the next one, giving the Bitchery almost a week to watch it before we get all ranty and/or gushy over the episode. We will do our best to keep spoilers to a minimum and in highlightable text!


The opening:  I love how they establish Claire’s sense of dislocation long before the time travel – the scene where she walks out of the hospital into the celebration is brilliant and the monologue about the vase is touching.   Honestly the moment when she walks from the operating theater with the sobbing soldier to the alley with the cheering throng is almost more disorienting than the time travel.  Claire’s character is so efficiently established – she’s caring (she’ll fight like a tiger to save a guy she doesn’t even know), she’s ruthless (she’s won’t hesitate to fish around in that guy’s leg if she has to), she’s competent (I’ve had more trouble using a stapler than she does clamping that artery), she’s deeply damaged by the war, and damn it she’s determined to survive the war with some capacity for joy remaining (she swigs that champagne like a champ).

The village:  I want to see the Yelp review of hotels with blood smeared all over the doorways.  I’m wise in pagan ways, and seriously – just a dab will do.  You don’t have to slather it on.  Any way, I love the squeaky bed springs!  Such a funny, real, human touch.  Claire and Frank’s attempt to reconnect by talking about what they’d remembered of each other is very sad and sweet – brings home fact that they are both victims of war.  I’m glad they took so much time in this episode to establish the real yet tenuous nature of their relationship.  They are clearly doomed but I’m a little sad about it.  And now, for a quick reminder that we are on the Starz channel.  OK then.
Most of the voice over narration is unnecessary.  The actors can carry the show just fine with much less narration.  When Claire explains that Frank’s obsession with the past helps him escape the present, I’m all, “Yes, I can see that, because ACTING”.  I’m sure later I’ll hate Frank with a passion but now I feel so bad for him – he’s such a wreck.  It’s both touching and sad to see how Claire keeps trying to get him to laugh.  Another reason I love Claire – her unashamed insistence on having a good sex life. 


I also envy her her wardrobe.  I want her nightie.  Also her blue coat.

And…time travel!  Oh dear.  For such a practical person, Claire sure acts like an idiot once the standing stone starts making noises.  God knows, the very first thing I do when I hear a mystical rock making noises is a lean on it reaaaal close, just to see what will happen.  When Claire wakes up from her stone hugging session and runs off, all I can think is, “Pick up your shawl, Claire, you’re gonna want that later!”  I’m right, of course.

I LOVE the scene where Claire meets the Highlanders – the Gaelic, the fact that odors tip her off that she’s not dreaming, the fact that Jamie clearly shares my opinion that smart, super-competent women are sexy.  At the panel at SDCC Ronald Moore talked about why he used the Gaelic without subtitles and it’s so effective in creating that sense of disorientation.  I know the stuff where they try to determine whether or not Claire is a whore is not cute.  It’s dreadful.  But, forgive me, my fellow feminists – everytime they say “whooooor” I’m all, “Oh, so cute!”


Bottom line – by the end of this episode I feel compassionate towards Frank, I loathe Jack Randall to the core of my being, I’m completely, unreservedly Team Claire, and I’m already a little in love with Jamie even though he’s just barely shown up and he spent a significant amount of screen time unconscious.  I love how economically this show sets up the basis for Jamie and Claire’s future relationship – they are both tough, they are both funny, and Jamie, no idiot he, sees the value in a smart, competent woman.


Yeah, the voiceovers were….  I understand where they were going with all of that, and having a lot of the lines from the book that I loved (and loved feeling in my mouth as I read them) was satisfying in it’s own way, but I don’t know how well that worked with people who have Outlander-shaped grooves worn into their brains.

On the whole, I think it was a really good first episode.  I love the casting SO MUCH.  I was worried about Caitriona Balfe because in the previews she didn’t seem quite- fiery I guess is the word I want? enough to be Claire.  Like, I know Claire is English, but her voice in my heads has been so American, and her “I’m Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, who the hell are you?” wasn’t quite sharp enough.

THAT SAID, I like her very much, and I was delighted to get our first Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.  (Roosevelt is a delightful word to hear in an English accent.) 

TOBIAS MENZIES THOUGH.  How good is he as the Randalls? So good.  And Graham McTavish as Dougal. 

I loved the flashback to the end of the war.  Loved it.  Claire swigging from the bottle is so spot on.  I did miss the introduction of Roger (the reverend’s son), but I can see why they cut him.  He’ll be back (kinda has to be).  Unsubtitled Gaelic?  Here for that. 

Now, whether the movement of Claire and Frank exploring (and banging in) the ruins of Castle Leoch will work….we’ll see.  I expect we’ll have a scene where she and Jamie are banging ON THAT EXACT TABLE and a close up of Claire’s face having some feels about that.

Oh costuming!  I want Claire’s 1945 blue coat.  So badly.  SO SO BADLY.  Claire’s modern day dress that she spends that last half of the episode running around in is a brilliant and fortuitous choice- once she loses the belt and the neck comes up fastened, it really does look like a shift.  The book talks about a rayon printed dress, and that would have been, I think, enough out of place that people would have given her some more side-eye than she could afford.  All in all, good pilot.  Could do with less voiceover, but I’m not holding my breath. 


Firstly, I need the soundtrack for this. Now.

Okay, so I got super skeevy feelings about Frank right away. I thought it was just because I read the book (also like 10 years ago), but my husband who never read it got the same vibe.

Claire looks almost exactly like I imagined her, which was surprising and cool. I thought the casting of Jamie and Frank was excellent.

Also, cunnilingus in the first episode! Yay!

The Druid scene/dance/rave was very cool.

Then we get to the time travel part. I liked the segue with Claire in the falling car rather than, like, squiggly lines.

Then Claire's skeevy husband turns into a redcoat rapist and my intuition is validated. When Jamie rescued her I realized that my mental image of Highlanders has been totally tainted by romance novel covers. Why does he have so many clothes on? Why isn't he all oiled up and muscley, wearing just a wee little kilt? Why is he so dirty? Historical accuracy. Bummer.

I did laugh when Claire said she was a nurse and they all looked at her boobies and she said “Not a wet nurse!”

Also “Disinfect? Germs?”

Overall I think the first episode was great.


Disclaimer: My frame of reference is going to be that of a newborn babe. I read Outlander once when I was seventeen. That was eight years ago, making me the greenhorn in the SBTB crew.

I really loved how the first time we see Claire she’s getting shit done and making bloodstains look fashionable. And allow me to join the masses coveting Claire’s blue coat. I’ll put money down that a clothing line inspired by Outlander is going to happen. Kilts included. Encouraged actually.

Ugh, you could cut glass with Tobias Menzies’ jaw. And I loved him in Rome.

I hope I’m not the only one who laughed at the phrase “black cockerel.”

The voiceovers. I agree with the rest of the ladies. There’s no real need to have them, save for waxing poetic about character exposition, which could be shown rather than told.

I wasn’t getting the creepy vibe from Frank that Elyse got, but more of discomfort. Like he seemed uncomfortable, which make me uncomfortable.

I really appreciate Claire and Frank actually wearing clothes to the druid rave. If I have to go anywhere or do anything after midnight, my sweatpants are permanently fused to my legs until morning.

Not a fan of the creepy rock noises. No ma’am.

Everything is infinitely better when bagpipes start playing. EVERYTHING.

I’m not enjoying Tobias Menzies with long hair. Or you know…being a rapist.

Jamie > Frank

Every time Jamie mentions Black Jack Randall, I get really sad.

Best scene of the episode: Claire cursing at the band of Scots while she dresses Jamie’s wound.

Hope everyone enjoyed episode one! See you next Friday!

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