[This is a review of Outlander season 1, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
Claire learns not to judge a book by its cover in this week’s episode of Outlander, entitled ‘Rent’. While the men of Clan MacKenzie travel the Scottish Highlands seeking tribute from the other villages, our valiant heroine uncovers Dougal’s true intentions for collecting extra funds.
One of Claire’s more admirable traits has to be her stubbornness, which ended up doing her few favors in this week’s outing. For once, she was actually wrong and even Jamie had to tell her not to stick her nose in business that did not concern her. Claire may be on the right side of history, but her knowledge of the Jacobite rebellion doesn’t mean she understands the people involved.
‘Rent’ is a subtle episode, that one could easily dismiss as a “throwaway” hour, with the men just moving from town to town collecting a few shillings and some goats. That subtlety is what makes the episode so enduring. Imagine if we were thrown back in time in an era we knew fairly well. If there was a war on the way, or some other horrific event about to befall people we were starting to care about, chances are you’d want to speak up, even if it made you look crazy. While Claire’s intentions are well met, she is still an outsider who doesn’t understand the men around her.
This is not meant to pick on Claire, or the lovely Caitriona Balfe who continues to perform marvelously, but to congratulate Moore and his staff for creating such a diverse character whose equal parts compelling and flawed. Claire, like all of us will continue to make mistakes and like any good hero, she will only get stronger from them.
The end of ‘Rent’ had one of the more heartwarming moments from this first season. Claire assumes throughout most of the episode that she is still an outsider (or Sassenach) who no one trusts. To her surprise, she now has ten new brothers to watch over her, as the men of Clan MacKenize came to defend her honor from some hooligans who dared to call her a “whore.” Sure, the boys may shove a knife in Claire’s face and push her around every now and then, but if any one outside the clan messes with their now adopted sister, they better be willing to face their wrath. Also, it was nice to see Claire’s progressive 20th century mannerisms shine when she surprised the men with a sexually-inclined joke they had never heard a woman say before.
Outlander continues to impress in its fifth outing, with another engaging character building story. There are only three episodes left until the mid-season finale with plenty of questions still to be answered. Some have complained that the pacing is too slow, but it seems necessary in order to fully bring to life this wonderful world that author Diana Gabaldon has created.
Before the credits began to roll, Claire was left with a difficult choice. Will she betray her new family for the protection of the British military? That scenario doesn’t seem likely, but you’ll have to keep watching to see what happens next.
Outlander continues with ‘The Garrison Commander’ next Saturday @9pm on Starz.