My review of Outlander Season 1, Episode 2 “Castle Leoch”. If you haven’t read the books, you won’t want to read this. But if you don’t care, go head. I dare ya!
First off, I love the opening song. I find myself humming it all the time.
That opening sequence….mud. Thank goodness for modern amenities like concrete and asphalt. Poor Claire terrified and taking it all in. If she needed more proof that she wasn’t in the 1940’s any more, she’s certainly getting it.
I liked the intro of Auld Alec, the Master of Horse at the Castle, and enjoyed his ribbing of Rupert. We’ll be seeing more of these scenes because the story is obviously taking it’s time to introduce the characters so that we will come to care for them, even the ones who aren’t necessarily on Claire’s side. We’re seeing what she’s seeing. So her perspective of them as three dimensional people is important. Real people aren’t cookie cutters and neither are these. It’s one of the things that made Diane Gabaldon’s books so popular in the first place and that’s become evident in the show as well.
And oh Mrs. FitzGibbons!
Look at how Claire lifts her chin just daring Mrs. Fitz to judge her and refusing to be ashamed of herself. Makes me love Claire all the more. Of course, Claire doesn’t understand just how close to naked she is in that modern dress.
Next comes the scene where Claire first sees Jaime’s scars and he recounts how he got them.
The flashback is a nice device here to show just how menacing Black Jack is and how much he enjoys hurting people. And just like in the books, it shows some of Jaime’s most important personality characteristics–his courage and his selflessness. After hearing such an intimate story from Jaime, Claire feels more comfortable with him and she cries in his arms for the loss of Frank. Much later in the story (who knows what book?), there’s a bit where Jaime tells Claire the exact point where he fell in love with her. Jaime says something like, “I wanted you the first time I ever saw you, but I loved you when you let me comfort you”. This is the scene he was referring to. IIRC in the books, Claire notices that Jaime is aroused when he is holding her but in the show, obviously they can’t show that. However, the two actors manage to communicate that attraction VERY well.
Good Lord, I hate the process of making myself beautiful. If I had to go through all that women had to do back then, I’d have sweated to death. I also would have chosen to bound my chest, cut my hair short and pretend to be a man. And that bumper thing they put around Claire’s waist is ridiculous! My arse would look huge if I had to wear it. And Mrs. Fitz’ reaction to the brassiere! As if Claire saying it’s French explains it’s lewd nature perfectly. Too funny.
And we finally meet Himself, Colum. His legs were CGI’d and they’re much worse than I imagined them. Of course, I’d never seen Toulouse Lautrec Syndrome before. And again, Claire shows her tough side.
The other thing that’s noteworthy about this scene is how they show Colum giving credence to Black Jack. Notice how he said, “he’s an officer, a gentleman” even though he knows Black Jack’s reputation already. Black Jack’s status protects him and Claire will run up against this again and again as the story continues.
Later that evening Claire is pressured to sit at the head table and given some very strong Rhenish wine that only Colum drinks. Apparently he’s got quite the tolerance because it helps him with the pain in his legs. Claire learns some very difficult and important lessons while at the head table. 1) Jaime’s real last name isn’t McTavish. 2) Dougal and Colum have conflict between them. 3) Claire correctly surmised that Hamish is actually Dougal’s biological son because she knows that Colum is infertile due to his condition. However, she didn’t know that they were passing off Hamish as Colum’s and making him the heir. Now that they know she knows, she’s even a bigger danger to them than before. 4) Colum and Dougal are excellent schemers and she has to be much more careful in future.
The next day Jaime calls Claire “sassenach” again during the stable scene….sigh.
I hate acting like the typical girly girl fan sighing over a handsome leading man, but well, I canna help meself. This was followed by a funny exchange between Angus and Claire. I don’t believe that dialog is from the books but it sets up Angus’ personality nicely.
Claire learns another lesson right after that. Dougal is a VERY dangerous man but she doesn’t know just how dangerous yet. I’m not so sure she’s clever to play on the conflict between Dougal and Colum and I don’t remember if it’s in the books. It’s good drama though and I have to remind myself constantly that it’s an adaptation–TV is an entirely different medium.
Geillis introduction is done well. She is more likeable than she was in the book IMO.
There’s something kind of weird about her too. Chalk that up to the way in which the actress is interpreting the character–a high voice and a sing-song delivery. So far, I like it. I especially like the way Geillis is there to translate the goings on in Hall (again, it wasn’t in the books but it works nicely).
The Hall scene is important for several reasons. It shows just how isolated Claire is, underlining that “stranger in a strange land” feeling. It also emphasizes the way in which women were treated at that time, which is an issue that will come to the forefront in the coming episodes. I’m sure you did not fail to note that Laoghaire is the only one being punished and not the boy she was caught snogging with. It emphasizes Jaime’s gallantry again and just how different his thinking is from others in his own time. Jaime knows it’s unfair and he feels sorry for Laoghaire. And probably the most important thing that it demonstrates is the undercurrents of hostility between Jaime and his uncles. Dougal allows the punishment to go on much longer than was necessary to teach Jaime a lesson about who is really in charge.
It seems silly to an outsider that Colum and particularly Dougal would feel threatened by Jaime. However, Claire knows (probably as does Colum and Dougal) that Colum will probably not live much longer. That would leave a power struggle between Dougal and the only other legitimate adult heir, Jaime (Hamish being too young). Jaime is in the prime of his life, well liked, well educated, smart, tough, honorable and kind. It’s conceivable that the clan would choose Jaime over Dougal in such a situation. So Jaime needs to be wary of Dougal but Claire hasn’t grasped all this yet but she will and in the worst way possible for Jaime.
The end was cruel for Claire. IIRC it didn’t happen this way in the books (but please correct me if I am wrong here). She was never given the false hope that she would leave. However, I understand why they added it as it makes for a much better TV this way.
Overall, I really liked this episode even better than the Premiere and I have a feeling it’s just going to get better and better. Again, the pacing may not play with American audiences but if that’s the case, the fault lies with the viewers and not the show. Americans need to be reminded of what good drama is really about and it ain’t explosions, car chases and catch-phrase dialog. It’s character development. It’s subtle interaction and undercurrents–the appreciation of an actor’s expressions and gestures as much as their words. It’s characters you can empathize with, even when they are vastly different from yourself. So far, Outlander has that in spades.