'Outlander' Goes to an Alien World

[This is a review of Outlander season 1, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]


Outlander has garnered strong opinions for those both for and against Starz newest drama series. It appears as though fans, newcomers and book readers alike have won the day as the show has been renewed for a second season. Whatever you may think of Outlander, it's here to stay (for now).

In this week's episode, titled 'Castle Leoch,' Claire must learn to quickly adapt to the customs of 1743 Scotland if she hopes to ever find her way home. We also learn more about the political structure, as the leaders of Clan MacKenzie are revealed to be a suspicious sort of folk.

Claire is clearly no English spy, but it was comical watching her frustrations toward her hosts as she was constantly under watch. Her relationship with Jamie is developing nicely, but it was strange to hear her say that her husband was dead.

Sure, if one was to think logically, Frank was not even born in 1743, but has she already given up hope of ever finding him? While her constant re-bandaging of Jamie's shoulder throughout the episode brought on some nice flirtatious banter, doesn't it seem like she's falling for the handsome Scot a little too quickly?

Either way, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan's chemistry is superb and it's one of the reasons to keep tuning in over the next several weeks. Jamie's back-story was well developed, as Moore and his team use flashbacks and flash-forwards with great precision.

Back in the 20th century, Frank takes on an Obi-Wan Kenobi type role as the voice of reason in Claire's mind. The interrogation scenes between her and Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis) added some much needed tension and uncertainty. Outlander may be a slow-burn, much like HBO's Boardwalk Empire, but in that deliberate pacing lies some fascinating scenes.

Take our introduction to the lovely red-headed Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), for example. Her encounter with Claire in the gardens was a subtle sequence, but it was one filled with a great deal of intrigue. From the very first moment the two women lock eyes, it seems as though anything is possible. Behind Verbeek's knowing smile, there are a thousand emotions plastered on her face.

What's her end game and why is she so interested in Claire? According to Duncan, the towns people call her a witch, due to her dabbling in potions and elixirs, but could there really be something magical looming behind those bright eyes? Only time will tell.

The MacKenzie brothers (Dougal and Colum) are an interesting pair as well. Colum may be the one in charge, but Dougal seemingly keeps his own council. There's definitely serious history between these two, which will hopefully be described in more detail as the season progresses.

Other notable moments from this week's outing came in the form of this reviewer's new favorite character, Mrs. Fitzgibbons (Annette Badland). The lovely woman's moments with Claire offered some welcome comic relief, especially the "changing-scene." The look on Fitzgibbon's face when she first saw Claire's undergarments was perfectly captured. Claire also proved her cleverness by saying her clothes were French. These two ladies need more screen-time together.

'Castle Leoch' was another solid outing for Outlander, which is in no hurry to finish its story. Saying the show is "slow" sounds too derogatory for a series as well-crafted as this one.

Is everyone sticking around for the journey? Stay tuned to see what happens next.

Outlander continues with 'The Way Out' next Saturday @9pm on Starz.

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