[This is a review of Outlander season 1, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
Outlander delivered its best episode yet last week, led by a stirring performance from Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire). This week's outing, simple titled 'The Wedding,' sadly takes a step back in terms of quality and character progression.
For fans of the novels written by the lovely Diana Gabaldon, this may be the most crucial of all the stories from the first book. Without having read them, it's difficult say, but it seems as though this hour of television was supposed to be something grandiose. Instead, it felt more mediocre in everything from the longing looks of passion to the overly stylistic sexual acts.
That is not to say that Blafe and Heughan's (Jamie) onscreen chemistry is poor. On the contrary, Jamie and Claire's love affair is totally believable, but her resignation and turmoil over breaking her marriage vows with Frank doesn't come through. Even at the end of the episode, when Claire picks up Frank's ring in a "Frodo Baggins-like" manner, it feels like the show has already forgotten about poor Frank back in the twentieth-century. We need a stronger connection to our brilliant historian if we're ever going to feel sympathy for Claire in her current position.
The other problem lies with Jamie himself. First of all, it needs to be said that Sam Heughan is doing a fantastic job as the handsome Scotsman with a troubled past. He's never too sullen and his flirtatious banter with Balfe is superb. The issues arise from Jamie's character, not the actor. He's just too much like your prototypical prince charming from any classic fairy tale you could think of. She's supposed to be caught between two "great loves," but why are we supposed to feel sorry for her?
Moore and his team have done a solid job of giving us glimpses of Frank and Claire's relationship in the past, but there needs to be more. If there were more flashbacks featuring Frank, then perhaps there would be a greater understanding of Claire's emotional upheaval while she's being married off in 1743 Scotland. Otherwise, all we see is Claire having great sex and drinking whiskey with her beautiful new man. Again, where's the dilemma?
Perhaps there is a subtlety in this episode that eludes all but the book readers and will make itself known in future episodes; however, since Tobias Menzies was so dynamic last week, 'The Wedding' seems to pale in comparison. Did this event need to be a full hour? On a more positive note, Outlander continues to be an enjoyable series to tune into each Saturday and the mid-season finale next week should make for great television. It's just too bad we'll have to wait until 2015 to get the other eight episodes.
For book readers and casual fans alike, what were your thoughts on 'The Wedding?' Did this episode take a step in the wrong direction, or was it a significant plot development for future episodes? Stay tuned to see what happens next.
Outlander continues with 'Both Sides Now' next Saturday @9pm on Starz.
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