Outlander Series 1 – Episodes 1-8

So, this is different, but let’s give it a try.

Outlander is a new TV show developed by the network Starz in America. It centres around a young woman, Mrs. Claire Randall, in the 1940s who has survived WWII as a combat nurse and is readjusting to life with her husband. They plan to spend some time together in the Scottish countryside when things go awry in the way of our heroine vanishing at Craigh na Dun. We soon find out she has time travelled to the 1740s in a period of history that has the Scottish Highlanders and the English in growing conflict.

I had first heard of the show on the blogosphere as well as TV and gossip forums. It seemed people were excited because it was a new historical fictional drama. Then I found out it was a drama based on a popular series of books that had been published decades ago with its own built-in fans. There was also strong buzz for the show because the executive producer is Ronald D. Moore – he of Battlestar Galactica fame. So, I said why not!? Might as well jump on this bandwagon and see where it goes. Here are some brief points.

5 Reasons to watch Outlander:

1) Claire is a HBIC. A fierce female character with feminist values which she not only believes in, but also voices. Out loud. In the 1740s. She’s brave and takes no bullshit from the men around her. She’s also empathetic and deals with danger only a survivor knows how to. Basically, Claire is amazing.

2) Vulture have enrolled Roxane Gay to write the recaps, and they are fucking hilarious. For example,

As always, Claire is appalled by the Highlanders’ barbaric ways. At what point will she stop being so surprised by the 18th century? She’s getting a bit Taylor Swift about the whole thing, all that wide-eyed surprise.

3) Acting. Music. Cinematography. These three aspects of the show truly stand out even from the pilot episode. A lot of pressure is on Caitriona Balfe (Claire) to pull off this show as the story is told primarily through her eyes. We have to feel for the character as she become accustomed to this new way of life. Her bewilderment is both endearing and terrifying at times, but it’s up to her to figure this world out and we just have to trust and follow her lead. The music by Bear McCreary is simply brilliant. To be honest, I rarely notice music in TV shows, but the score chosen by McCreary is often evocative and the mix of 1940s swing with the more folk music just makes the show that much more inclusive. The cinematography is truly stunning. Outlander captures the countryside of Scotland in all its glory.

Outlander

4) Sam Heughan.

5) The show is pretty timely. Days after episode 6 aired in the USA, Scotland was to vote in a referendum to decide if the nation should gain independence from the UK. Was it coincidence that the bloodiest episode – the one in which the English were portrayed at their most evil – was the one aired prior to the most important vote in British history since the 1970s and most likely earlier? Conspirators, I call thee.

3 Reasons not to watch Outlander:

1) The dialogue can be cringey at times. It’s always difficult to write dialogue from centuries ago, and there are a lot turns of phrases that seem unnatural to the ear. However, this is nothing to the Scottish accent which is difficult to decipher. The show is challenging in this aspect.

2) Listen Moore, whoever told you the voice-overs was a good idea should be fired on the spot. Let’s not patronise your audience. Thankfully, they only last heavily for a couple of episodes in.

3) Do NOT watch if you are a member of the Men’s Rights Movement. Seriously, don’t do it. You’ll just get all bothered and flustered and the older members will probably suffer heart failures and other atrocities which would rid them of the world. And we need you dammit. *smiles*

PS. I adore the theme tune of the show: