‘Outlander’ Review/Recap: Episode 101 “Sassenach”

Outlander 2014

[This is not a spoiler-free review/recap of the episode.  If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]

Episode 101, “Sassenach,” Written by Ronald D. Moore, Directed by John Dahl

“People disappear all the time.  Young girls run away from home.  Children stray from their parents and are never seen again.  Housewives take the grocery money and a taxi to the train station.  Most are found eventually.  Disappearances, after all, have explanations.  Usually.”

The adaptation of Outlander has been in the hopes and dreams of the readers of Diana Gabaldon’s epic series of novels.  With the arrival of the first episode, we are holding our breaths and hoping that our first glimpse of Ronald D. Moore’s Outlander will come close to what has been in our head since we first picked up the novel.

Since this website opened, a lot of time was invested (and still is) on anything and everything Outlander.  I could only hope that the series would turn out to be what it could be, to be that special something that would bring in non-readers and delight readers alike.

Recap:  The episode fades into a large expanse of green and rainy Scottish landscape and Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) voice utters a modified quote from the beginning of the novel.  The adventure begins.  The cold open takes us from Claire in Inverness contemplating a vase purchase to her life during World War II as a nurse.  Our first real look at her personality is her swig from a champagne bottle as VE Day has come.  She continues to tell us that what follows in her life is pain, heartbreak, death, but she would still make the same choice.

Outlander 2014The first forty minutes or so is spent on Claire Beauchamp Randall and her husband Frank Randall(Tobias Menzies) as they spend a second honeymoon in Inverness.  Having been separated by the war for years, this period is about them re-familiarizing themselves with each other and getting their relationship back to what it used to be.  Each has spent the war in some sort of horrible situation, and it is hard to let go of those memories.

Frank has an interest in history, genealogy, and his own family tree, which is why the couple has made Inverness their destination.  They explore an old Castle Leoch and visit with Rev. Wakefield (James Fleet), the local genealogy expert.  There Claire meets Rev. Wakefield’s housekeeper, Mrs. Graham (Tracey Wilkinson).  Mrs. Graham reads tea leaves and palms, and her readings for Claire are mysterious and foreboding.

Claire retires early to the bed and breakfast.  A storm is raining down on Frank as he approaches the inn.  He notices someone in Scottish Highlander gear gazing at his wife through the window.  As he stops to ask what he is looking at, the Highlander disappears.

Spurned by rumors of a witches’ gathering, Claire and Frank rise early to watch them dance at the standing stones called Craig na Dun as the sun rises.  They notice Mrs. Graham is one of the participants.  After the dance is done and all have left, Claire and Frank go up to the stones to investigate.  Claire notices some flowers she would like to collect, but a reappearance of one of the girls stops her from doing so.

Outlander 2014The following morning, Claire ventures back out to Craig na Dun to collect those flowers, but hears a humming coming from one of the stones.  She walks over to investigate the stone, places her hands on it, and essentially disappears from her own time.

Awoken suddenly at Craig na Dun, Claire is confused about where exactly she is when she can’t find her car.  She runs into some Redcoats who she thinks may be in some sort of dramatic re-enactment, but realizes they would not use live ammunition.

After running and tripping in various places, she arrives at the bank of a creek to find a man who looks exactly like her husband, but dressed in Redcoat attire.  She soon finds out that he is not Frank, but Jonathan Wolverton Randall aka Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), an ancestor of Frank’s.  After an attempt at assaulting her, she is rescued by a Highlander who we later find out is Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix).  After her protests, he knocks her out.

Claire and Murtagh arrive at a cottage where more Highlanders await.  Here Claire meets Dougal (Graham McTavish), Rupert (Grant O’Rourke), Angus (Stephen Walters), and Jamie (Sam Heughan).  Claire speaks up and assists in the repair of Jamie’s dislocated shoulder to the amazement of all in the cottage.  She essentially becomes a prisoner of these men, and they take her along on their return home.

Outlander 2014Along the way, they happen upon Cocknammon Rock, a lookout that Frank had mentioned that the English would use for ambushing the Scottish Highlanders.  Claire speaks up about the Rock and while this gives the group an advantage, it increases Dougal’s suspicions that she might be an English spy.  During the attack on the men, Jamie gets shot in the same shoulder he dislocated.  While not telling Claire initially that this happened, he falls off the horse later from the blood loss.  Claire fixes him up again and they are on the road again.  They arrive at Castle Leoch just as the episode ends.

Review: “Sassenach” is a great introduction to the world of Outlander without introducing too many characters or settings at once.  Most of the episode is spent in the 1940s with Frank, and it gives us more of Claire and Frank’s relationship and their struggles with the war than the novel.  I know most fans were worried we may not meet Jamie in the first episode, but he is there and present for the last third of the episode.

There is also a lot of foreshadowing while Claire is still in the 1940s.  The tea leaves, the palm reading, Cocknammon Rock, old Castle Leoch, Frank’s geneaology, and The Duke of Sandringham all are nods to things we will see in the future.

The narration by Claire is something that will take some getting used to.  It is important to the story and how it is told, but narration is not something used often in one hour dramas.

The comic relief of Outlander appears to be Angus, Rupert, and possibly even the gruff Murtagh.  Even things Jamie says and does provide for some good laughs.  The reaction to Claire saying “bloody bastard” and “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” is bloody brilliant.

212184Considering all we have seen are clips and small previews, it is nice to finally see Caitriona Balfe acting as Claire for a long period of time.  She is beautiful, but has the gumption and grit possible to carry Claire through the series.  Her acting does not come off as amateur or un-emotional.  Plainly put, she has “it.”

Sam Heughan has the smile and the looks to pull off Jamie, and the determination and roughness to pull off a Scottish Highlander.  Tobias Menzies took on two very different roles, but it is already very apparent that he conveys a likeable Frank and a downright sinister Jack.

My favorite part of the episode is the cold open and the opening credits accompanied by Bear McCreary’s score.  I can’t not be emotional seeing the setting of the series, Claire’s contemplation of her life in a vase, and her walking away from it to what awaits her.  I also enjoyed the Druid dance at Craig na Dun paired again with Bear McCreary’s score.   Another standout moment is the last time Frank and Claire see each other.  The moment is slowed down and artfully done.  It is a casual goodbye, but one that lingers, forcing you to remember it.

My answer to the question we have been asking since this television series was announced is a resounding yes.  So far, this looks to be a series that takes the novels to heart and tries to follow the words Diana Gabaldon masterfully wrote over twenty years ago.

Thank you, Ron Moore.  Thank you.

[Spoilers for non-readers below]

What was missing?  The only thing that stood out in my mind was the absence of little Roger MacKenzie.  We know from previews that there will be flashbacks (or flashforwards) to the 1940s, so there is still a chance he might show up this season.

 

  • Marcy Romani Hudson

    I saw a casting if young Roger online…so I’m guessing we will see him at some point. Loved the episode. Some things are changed….but for the most part it is decidedly Outl

  • Toofless Granny

    I loved it! Like the first book, it takes a little while to get into the story, but once you’re in, you’re hooked. The only thing I noticed that didn’t seem right to me was that Claire’s stockings in the 1940s should have had seams. But perhaps real silk stockings didn’t; I didn’t come along until 1950 and I can’t remember. 🙂
    I thought it was very nearly perfect. Like you, I get very emotional at the opening credits (in fact, when I saw the full first episode credits earlier in the evening, I sobbed like a dope), and I think the music is sublime. I’m thrilled with it. Truly.

    • llynquennel

      The seams in the stockings are very faint, but there. They’re easiest to see when she’s just getting out of the car and Frank mentions the blood on the lintels. 😀

  • JoAnn

    Beautifully and sensitively written, acted, directed, and filmed. And Bear McCreary’s score is beyond fabulous. I couldn’t be happier. Also I love how we have more insight into Frank’s character. He is truly sympathetic. (Great recap, by the way!)

    • David R

      I rather like the additional “Frank” material also. It’s always been a weakness in the book series that it never really demonstrated WHY it had ALWAYS been a “love triangle”, or that Claire was CONSTANTLY putting both her (and Jamie’s) life in danger because of her undying love for Frank. Instead, we’re always getting “Claire and Jamie” and “Jamie and Claire” and “Mr. and Mrs. Fraser”, and … 😛

      I enjoyed (even if it wasn’t in the book) Claire’s comments about how hard it was on Frank when his subordinates didn’t return from their missions. And his stance, the tone of his voice, and the looks on his face DEFINITELY demonstrated Menzie’s acting talent when he described the “ghost” he had seen. It wasn’t until he was cast that I decided that Sony pictures really was serious about the success of this project!

      • Anne

        I too, like the additional Frank material. I think that the additional discussion about his work with MI-6 (in Britain, rather than on the front lines) helps to flesh out his character early. I am doing a read along with the series (long time fan), so I noticed that some of Claire and Frank’s conversations were cut. One in particular about children that I think is essential to understanding events described in DIA. It will be interesting to see if that is included in a flashback later in the series.

        I was pleased to see the flashback to Uncle Lamb in the first episode, because I think that understanding Claire’s relationship with him is essential to understanding Claire. Although Claire mentions that she was not brought up like a “proper” young lady — the flashback to Uncle Lamb along with the shots at the field hospital — illustrate Claire’s personality and skills better than any narrative could.

        So far, the voice over narrative does not bother me.

        I really liked the fact that the Reverend was the one to explain the meaning of Sassenach and I hope we will see a little more of him during the season (even though I always chuckle when I see the actor on screen because of the character he played in Four Weddings & A Funeral). Especially hope we see more of the Reverend, since we won’t be meeting Wee Roger until later in the series.

        I also liked the fact that Jamie mentions his dislike of BJR to Claire in the first episode (this doesn’t happen until later in the book — but I am reading along and not ahead), because it shows the start of her bonding with him.

        I did not find the Gaelic without subtitles problematic. The actors are very expressive and you get a pretty good idea of what is being said.

        Overall, I enjoyed it and look forward to the rest of the series.

        • David R

          I’d say you and I are in total agreement about this worthy series 😀

          I don’t quite understand why the lack of sub-titles bothers anyone – it’s hardly something new. Jerry London used it to great effect 34 years ago in his miniseries “Shogun” (based on an even thicker book than “Outlander”). By the time the show was over, half the country was using Japanese in everyday speech! “Domo Arigato, Anjin-san” 😛

  • Victoria

    Is there any way we can get the first episode in canada??? I’d love to watch it this evening, but the starz website isn’t working for me!

    • Melissa McCreight

      Victoria, download an app called Tunnel Bear. It gives you the ability to view things as if you were in the US (and other countries). They give you 500 mb of data free, so I made two accounts so I could see the whole episode. Once it’s installed it explains what to do to switch to a US address, then you just go to starz.com to view 🙂

      • Victoria

        Omg thank you sooooooo much!!!!! Honestly was SO bummed that I couldn’t watch it, thanks again so so soooooo much!!! You’re deffs a life saver! 😀

    • Try subscribing to a VPN (virtual private network) such as http://www.strongvpn.com.

    • Carol Midgley

      It debuts in Canada on Showcase August 24/14.

      • Victoria

        Ah yes, I’m counting down the days, but I couldn’t wait for the first espisode, especially since US gets it all first :p

  • Faith

    I guess I’ll be the first note of discord.

    I watched against my better judgement. I’m not sure I’m sorry I did, but I’m definitely not happy I did. The pace is soooooo slow and almost everyone’s overacting (particularly the actors playing Jamie and Claire). These are my favorite books of all time, hands down, but there was so much silence between lines of dialogue that I found myself clicking over to Facebook just to pass the time until someone else said something.

    One of the strengths of the books is the pace and wit of the banter — much more Mad Men or His Girl Friday than the ponderous period drama that this first episode is. Looonnnnng pauses where there should be snarky asides and replies. This also explains why almost all of the best lines are left out — there was no time for them given the time the actors spent hamming it up onscreen.

    I suspect that the actors and director either didn’t read the books or didn’t understand or recognize the pace and flavor of them as being more contemporary. They saw, probably, what they expected to see instead of what was really there.

    The overemphasis on sex also has the unfortunate effect of confirming the “romance novel/bodice ripper” stereotypes that have haunted these books for so long. Diana worked so hard to get the publishers to reclassify the books from romance to general fiction, and this series is likely to undo all of that hard work and put them right back into the tacky section of the bookstore.

    • David R

      Perhaps you should refrain from slander – it has been clear since the VERY beginning that one of the executive producers (Maril Davis) and the costume designer (Terry Dresbach) have been Outlander fans since the book was first written. Another executive producer (and Emmy-winning scriptwriter) Ron Moore first read the entire series SIX years ago. All of the main cast members (but one) read & studied the 1st book after being cast. The series Consultant (and author) Diana Gabaldon has said the casting was perfect, she had read & approved of EACH script, and that she couldn’t be happier with the excellent job they had done putting her books on film.

      [BTW, WHAT overemphasis on sex? They cut out half of the possible sex scenes! (including a MAJOR change from the book where Mrs. Baird was constantly “Hoovering” whenever Claire and Frank attempted to “add branches to his family tree”.)]

      I worry about people who have such short attention spans that they can’t watch television w/out surfing the web. Then again, I understand that there are SOME people that read and update their FaceBook pages whilst engaging in sexual intercourse! (The ultimate in multitasking??) Perhaps that is why I prefer the slower pace of British television – you Yanks are always in such a hurry! 😛

      • jm54

        I know you’re kind of kidding, but is that what you really think about us “Yanks”? That’s not true for all of us you know. And I had no problem whatsoever with the pacing. I know most people were anxious for her to go through the stones, but it was necessary to spend some time with Frank and Claire. And there are things you need to know about; the implication of the existence of the supernatural in the Highlands, Frank’s history, her background, the state of their marriage etc. I’m looking forward to seeing the story unfold.

        There will be action is this, to be sure. But to me, at it’s heart, is a character driven drama. And if that’s not someone’s cup of tea, they can always go watch something else. 🙂

  • thelor

    I have three things that I am bugged about, I have watched this 7 times, including right this very moment as it is still on demand..do not get me wrong,,,the first episode is absolutely wonderful…and i thank Ronald D. Moore for pursing this…BUT the one thing I cannot get past is the ” bath” that Frank gives Claire at castle Leoch..come on..if they needed to have an intimate moment there…they needed to do it differently..they instead used a part that was later on in the book and Jamie’s special “gift “to Claire that brought them closer together.. this was NOTHING that Frank and Claire have ever experienced..when I saw this part for the first time..I was actually mad..I did not like it and still don’t…I know I need to ” let it go” and i am sure now that Claire has gone through the stones and is now with Jamie in the 18th century, I will eventually…but now we all know it will not be something we are to expect on that beautiful wedding night which I was so looking forward to…I feel this was an important part of Jamie and Claire’s history together…but that’s just me…

    • Jessica Z

      Agreed! That bothered me too – that was not something 1940s Claire would have done, it was Jamie who opened her mind to it…

    • ImTheNana

      I was reading another review where DG was asked about this, and she asked the questioner to show her where it says Frank and Claire did not engage in that manner. Well, not to question or contradict DG, but Outlander, near the end of chapter 15, on Jamie and Claire’s wedding night, talks about how Claire performed oral sex on Jamie, and when he asks her if it would feel good for her to be the recipient, she states she didn’t know:

      “I had been doing my best to keep my thoughts of Frank at bay, feeling that there should really be no more than two people in the marriage bed, regardless of how they go there. Jamie was very different from Frank, both in body and mind, but there are in fact only a limited number of ways in which two bodies can meet, and we had not yet established that territory of intimacy in which the act of love takes on infinite variety. The echoes of the flesh were unavoidable, but there were a few territories still unexplored. Jamie’s brows were tilted in an expression of mocking thread. “Oh, so there’s something you don’t know? Well, we’ll find out then, won’t we? As soon as I’ve the strength for it.” He closed his eyes again. “Next week, sometime.”

  • DianaB30

    Did anyone else notice how vibrant things looked when Claire woke from the stones? I couldn’t help but feel a little Wizard of Oz moment. Almost as if her world just became brighter (of course she doesn’t feel that way…YET).

  • Janie Gregonis Rice

    Watched the first show in the series last night online. Was extremely disappointed in Claire. She comes across as a sex-crazed, foul-mouthed ‘hoor.’ About the 3rd sex scene I was going ‘omg, not again.’ And I thought the scene where her husband performed oral sex on her was highly inappropriate and gratuitous.

    The voice over is kind of annoying as well. Who’s she talking to? And her voice is dull – she doesn’t seem excited over any it. Love the scenery and the Scots costumes and dialog but Claire is a complete dolt – she leaves her cloak at the standing stone when it’s freezing out, (I guess so we can see her boobs through the dress – as I recall it was spring in the book and she was wearing a sundress). When she realized they were shooting real bullets doesn’t it occur to her ask someone what year it is or who they are? Especially when they are looking down at the non-electric lights of Inverness. She doesn’t ask Jamie – they do a voice over! And then after realizing she’s not in the 20th century she’s still asking them for iodine, mercurachrome, etc. She doesn’t seem petrified at all to be in another century or among cutthroat Highlanders – she just charges in and starts yelling at them. Very unrealistic. If she’s so afraid to ask what year it is why isn’t she afraid to yell at the Scots? I haven’t read the books in many years so don’t know if they are being very accurate with the story (probably not as in the season and dress) but I do not like the Claire actress – her face is very un-expressive and her cussing seems contrived to make her seem cool. Jamie and the others are very good but, if I were Jamie, I’d be shipping ‘ol Claire back to the standing stone and leaving her there!

    • Justmeyall

      I kind of agree about Claire. In the books she is such a strong & intelligent woman. I’m not sure I’m getting that vibe yet from the series. She seems a bit frail, which is not how Claire is portrayed in the books. Hopefully this will get better. And I hope the interaction between Jamie & her becomes more natural and not so over-acted. Otherwise, I think it is a beautiful series. And just thanking my lucky stars that they didn’t cast Gerard Butler as Jamie and Angelina Jolie as Claire. Ugh! I might’ve poked my eyes out.

    • Selina

      Just in defence of Claire, I wanted to bring up a few points for your consideration.

      1) ‘She comes across as a sex-crazed, foul-mouthed ‘hoor’
      Well, yes. With the sex-crazed part, it’s said during the palm reading that Claire’s Mount of Venus means that Frank’s not going to stray from her bed – they quoted it directly from the book. So we know right from the get-go that she does enjoy sex. Is it okay for a man to be sex-crazed and not a woman?
      Are we looking at a double-standard here?

      With the swearing, I would argue that it’s perfectly natural. After all, she has spent several years as a nurse trying to save the lives of young men who are swearing and screaming in pain. She would have been tired, overworked, constantly under a huge amount of stress not just from her patients but because of the risk that bombs would fall on her and kill them all. I think developing a swearing habit is perfectly understandable in that kind of situation. (And that is how they explain it in the book; that she picked it up from ‘Yanks’.)

      2) ‘The voice over is kind of annoying as well. Who’s she talking to? And her voice is dull – she doesn’t seem excited over any [of] it’
      I’m assuming that the voice over is meant to mimic the first person narration of the book, and help us feel closer to Claire as we share her inner thoughts. As for having a dull voice, (and you also said she’s unexpressive) again I defer to her years of working as a nurse during war time. I imagine that after being forced to acclimatize yourself to that level of stress, you develop a very high threshold for it.

      3) ‘she leaves her cloak at the standing stone when it’s freezing out’
      When I saw that scene my first thought was; ‘Claire, your cloak!’ then I remembered what she had just gone through and realized I would have done the same thing if I had just experienced something like that; run away in terror. Plus, the fear and shock of it would kick in an adrenaline rush so high you wouldn’t even notice you were cold. You wouldn’t even notice if you were bleeding and injured. (Jamie is a perfect example of this when he says to Claire that he didn’t tell her about the bullet wound in his shoulder because it didn’t hurt much at the time – it was adrenaline.)

      4) ‘doesn’t it occur to her [to] ask someone what year it is or who they are? Especially when they are looking down at the non-electric lights of Inverness’
      The brain will work very, very hard to make something rational out of an irrational situation. It’s how we process the world and keep ourselves from going insane. When Jamie tells Claire that she’s looking at Inverness, we learn from the voiceover that her brain still doesn’t believe it. This is a crucial bit of information here, because it explains why she later asks for iodine, etc. Yes, she could have asked what the date was, but would hearing some random stranger tell you four numbers convince you that you had crossed through time? Or would you just keep on believing that something else was going on – like maybe a big practical joke? (Also, Claire is familiar with what a Scotsman looks like – from treating them during the war, for instance – so she wouldn’t bother to ask who they are.)

      Overall, I think the actress portraying Claire is doing a wonderful job displaying the character’s traits. I do think that they are an accurate reflection of the Claire from the book (I’ve only just finished reading the first one) and I’m looking forward to more episodes.

      • David R

        Selina, your excellent response saved me a LOT of typing! 🙂

        I would suggest that people should go back and re-read the books, as from the previous comments, it appears they have mis-remembered their contents. Claire’s foul mouth was an ongoing topic of discussion (in polite society) through most of the first books, and IIRC, in “Voyager” as well.

  • Tierni Moore

    I just wanted to chime in here as well. I didn’t want to watch the preview, as I knew I would be in for a two week wait before a new episode, but quite frankly, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I discovered the series back in the early “90’s when there were the first three books in the series. I loved the books, and was lucky to have met Diana Gabaldon last June at a convention. At the time, I had been out of the loop, and had no idea a series was being developed until she told me about it. I was thrilled to have Starz available, but it has seemed like forever until the start of the series.
    I think the first episode was basically perfect. I was a little taken aback with the interlude in Castle Leoch, as that part of the intimacy was something shared with Jaime for the first time. The book explained that Frank had never done that, and Clair was uncomfortable with Jaime’s interest. As for being sex-crazed, after spending five years apart from one another, and having had a strong physical chemistry, I did not find it unusual or untoward that she and Frank would have the passion of newlyweds about them. They were trying to reconnect and also try to start a family. This was, after all, a second honeymoon for them.
    Once Clair was taken through the stones, I thought it perfectly realistic that she should be questioning what her eyes were seeing vs what her mind was telling her. Who wouldn’t be second guessing everything happening about them at a time like that? She would also be suffering from shock: the trip through time, seeing her husband’s ancestor (who also happens to be a brute almost from the start), being plucked from danger by yet another stranger, and then thrust into a room of men… The list goes on and on. Even as resourceful as Claire is, her mind would be reeling from the overstimulating activities occurring, one after the other.
    That said, the pace was fine. If one hadn’t read the books, a little background information would be necessary in order to understand the events. Any time a new series begins, it has to start somewhere and help viewers into the storyline. As the series moves forward, it will keep getting more exciting and in-depth. The actors and actresses are wonderful, and Ms. Balfe has that fragile beauty that hides the strength of Clair perfectly. That strength has already been demonstrated in the way she handled the men when they were wrongly trying to put Jaime’s arm back into its socket. She knows her stuff, and while the surrounding events are frightening, she doesn’t just sit back and let things go if she can do something about it. Her time as a Nurse in WWII is a perfect foil for the down and dirty experiences she has in the 1700’s. We are, in short, in for a wild ride as we follow Claire along on her adventures with Jaime and all. I can’t wait for episode two! In the meantime, I have the preview on my DVR, so I can re-watch to my heart’s content!

  • Stef 511

    I’m a huge fan of the Outlander novels; currently on number seven, An Echo In The Bone. (Which I held off beginning until I saw that number eight was suddenly available; I just didn’t want to say good-bye.) My daughter, also a very big fan, informed me she had the first of the tv episodes so .. while I was (frankly) a tad nervous about seeing it, I did race over to watch it.

    I hesitate at being too critical of this first episode as my respect for Diana Gabaldon who, after all, had to have had sign-off rights for much of what is important in the making of this series, could not be higher. (Absolutely, could not be higher. Diana Gabaldon is, to my mind, now among the great authors of all time. Easily.) That said .. I will offer a few straight-forward thoughts on this first episode of the tv production.

    My first thought was .. ‘that isn’t Claire’s voice’. Now, I certainly understand that whatever voice we each might imagine as we read will rarely if ever match up (or maybe even be close) to what we hear in our minds as we take in the story. But .. of the many varieties of voice-types that there are, I would never have imagined Claire’s voice to be feathery-soft. No, to me, this voice was definitely not Claire’s. As well, the actor’s physical characteristics did not match up (to my mind) with the lovely but somewhat sturdy-boned frame of how Claire Beauchamp was so often imagined. The ‘sturdy-boned’ aspect may be too much of my own particular imagining (filling in to at least a degree), yes, but .. however she might be portrayed by an actor, I hoped (fervently) that she would somehow capture Claire’s very strong Presence as she ‘appears’ in the novels. This actress is far too lightweight, imo. Physically and otherwise. (And where are those beautiful amber coloured eyes we know so well? Certainly not on this lady, lovely as she is.) Then there’s the hair. Would it have been so difficult to, if not find an actress who had naturally curly hair, see that the actress who played Claire had hair permed into the hard-to-manage mass of curls that fans of the novels know so well? (Apparently, it was.)

    I have issues with more of the casting that was done as well — Jaimie is Hollywood-Handsome and he may grow on me but .. I was hoping for a rawer look for this wonderful character — but .. I’ll leave my critiques on the casting at what I’ve said.

    Finally, the overall production left me squirming. It felt like … I asked my daughter the name of that greeting card company who made a few movies back, a decade or three ago (“Hallmark Cards”, she told me) and I thought, ‘yes. This is like a Hallmark Cards production of one of the great series of novels that have ever been written’ (near-sob). Soft focus, not-strong acting (hardly anything that stood out; mostly, the opposite) and passionless directing; the soundtrack music is not-at-all imaginative — why they felt it necessary to have Titanic-like background music playing as Claire and Frank secretively watched the dancing around the Stones, I .. shake my head. If they were going for ‘eerie’ for that moment, even Silence, hearing only Claire and Frank’s breathing (perhaps) while they watched in fascination and wonder at this strange spectacle would’ve been closer to the tone they might’ve wanted to set. But .. the style they seem to be locked into — cheesy-romance, I might call it (at the risk of sounding far more uncharitable than I am comfortable with .. but I am compelled to be straight-up and forthright on this subject) is just what it is.

    Those who have not read the books and who enjoy fuzzy romance-style movies will probably love it; I don’t know. But I don’t foresee this tv series winning the hordes of new fans (for the books) that I had been imagining it might. (I’ll be happy to be wrong on that.)

    I’ll continue to watch and let it all grow on me if it will (faint hope) but to my mind, at this moment in time, I feel they blew it. The saga of Jamie and Claire, this dazzlingly brilliant historical-fiction romance (but so much more) story, the likes of which had not ever been seen in print until Outlander appeared, deserved far better than what this seems it will be.

    Never mind, though. I’ll re-read the books. Several times over the years, I am sure. If you haven’t as yet, you’re in for a ride you’ll never forget once you decide to open Outlander, the first of them, and read. Give it sixty or so pages and you’ll never look back. And you’ll never forget.

    • Linda M Au

      Side note: Sam Heughan is 6’3″ and Cait is 5’10”. So yes, Sam is tall enough. 🙂
      I’m unsure why all the nitpicking, though. Every book-to-screen adaptation has changes. Every single one. Film is a completely different medium and must be treated differently. That includes the visual look of the piece as well as the pacing and storytelling strides. It’s the way of the world. I’m surprised you haven’t encountered it before now in other movies and TV shows that have been adapted from other written sources.

      • Stef 511

        You may be right. My expectations for the tv series might’ve been higher than what was realistic.

        • Linda M Au

          Oh, don’t get me wrong! I noticed everything you mentioned, and I secretly wished it could just play out on screen the way it plays in my head while I’m reading. But I’m just SO grateful to have someone adapting this material who takes it seriously and who wants to honor it… and who wants to include Diana G. in the process. Been reading these books for 20+ years and I think we’ve all waited long enough. I’m more than ready to see it come to life in its own way. Blessings to you as we watch this finally happen! 🙂

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