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Outlander – S1E1 – Sassenach

OutlanderAfter months of teaser images, trailers, character introduction shorts, and fansite casting debates, Starz finally premiered their epic historical drama/romance/fantasy sci-fi series Outlander on Saturday night. With strained bodices and baited breath, the rabid fans of the decades-old book series tuned in with checklists in hand: Did they get the story right? Was the casting perfect? Shouldn’t Jaime have redder hair? Did he look/touch/think about her in just the right way that the book described on page 29, paragraph 3?

I’ve read the books. Consumed them, actually, one after the other; I was rereading the first book when I paused to watch the first episode. I wonder if there is anyone watching, or even interested, in the show who hasn’t read them? When I say this book has a fan base and a following, I’m not sure how to properly convey it. 20 million copies in 23 years, plus the subsequent 7 adventures, several offshoot novellas, even a graphic novel, all aimed at adult ladies who have wanted more out of a female driven book than repetitive sex scenes and vapid dialogue (No shade, 50 Shades of Grey: I read those, too).

 

But this is about the TV show.

SPOILER FREE (even though I know what’s going to happen, I’m going to keep it to myself. It makes me feel all powerful and omniscient.):

WWII is over and Claire Beauchamp Randall, a British combat nurse, and her husband Frank Randall, some sort of MI6 operative, are taking a second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland. Frank has taken a job as a history professor at Oxford, so this is one last hurrah before school starts. More importantly, it’s a chance for Claire and Frank, estranged by the years and duties of war, to reconnect to each other and rekindle their marriage.

Claire and Frank Outlander S1E1

Amidst all the honeymooning and rekindling (and sexy rekindling, at that!), Frank spends his precious time researching his famous ancestor Captain “Black” Jack Randall, a British officer famous for suppressing a highland rebellion in the 1700s. While he has his nose buried in dusty historical documents, Claire goes flower picking among the ancient standing stones of Craigh na Dun and accidentally slips through a crack in time and space to land in 18th century Scotland.

Outlander S1E1 Claire

Not that she knows it at first, or would believe it if she did. Would you? It’s not until Redcoats start shooting at her that it becomes clear something is very wrong. She runs for cover and runs right into Frank… except that’s not Frank. It’s Captain Jack Randall! Randall, lacking the refinement of his latter day counterpart, goes straight in for the rape, but Claire is saved at the last minute by a hairy little Scot in a skirt.

 

Away from the skirmish, Claire and her Scottish “rescuer” join the rest of his group in a darkened, hushed farmhouse. Saved from another potential rape by Dougal, the group’s leader, they determine that while she may not be a “hoor”, she is definitely British and she is coming with them. Unable to keep her sassy 20th century mouth shut, she speaks out just in time to prevent them from breaking one of their own’s arm in an attempt to reset a joint. Her prowess as a nurse comes in handy and she relocates the man’s shoulder, and in that moment a million sighs are heard ‘round the world as we meet the beautiful redhaired warrior Jaime.

Outlander Jaime

 

They ride all night, and the next morning ride past a landmark that Claire remembers from one of Frank’s history lectures–that one about the British hiding behind a rock and ambushing Scots. She relays that memory to Jaime, who is sharing his saddle with her, and all of a sudden she is presented with the perfect opportunity to escape while the Highlanders ride to fend off the villains. Jaime catches up to her, though, and “convinces” her to come with him. The men, drunk with victory and probably also whiskey, toast Claire as they ride, but when night falls Jaime slides off his horse, worse for the wear. Turns out he’s been shot, and Claire mends him as best she can while verbally abusing him for being an idiot and getting himself hurt again against her express orders to do otherwise. A mere seven hour horse ride later and they arrive at Castle Leoch, a proper 17th century castle surrounded by peasants and lots of thatched roofs.

Outlander Claire and Jaime

 

Things you should love from Episode 1:

 

1. Claire. Claire is a strong, plucky, sexy modern woman who drinks and swears and gets her shit done, thankyouverymuch. She kicks ass and doesn’t care much about taking names. Hope you like her, ‘cause she is in every single frame of this episode!

Outlander Claire Drinking

 

2. The scenery. Scotland is very much its own character, and even in a layer of damp and filth the rolling, lush valleys and misty forests and mountains are hard to miss. If ever I were going to have a dramatic/romantic/fantasy time travelling adventure, I can think of no prettier place to end up. Thank God she didn’t get sent back to 18th century Florida.

Outlander Scotland

 

3. The voiceovers. Normally just a handy way to convey information without having to invest in an actual scene, Claire’s voiceovers really set the tone, balancing between wonder and shock at her predicament.

4. All that sexy rekindling Claire and Frank had. This is clearly a woman intent on reigniting a spark with her husband. I don’t know how historically accurate all that action was, but aren’t we better people for knowing that there is a way to go without panties and still keep your clothes from getting dirty?

Outlander S1E1 Rekindling

 

5. Jaime. There’s not a lot to know about him yet, but the way he looks at Claire…and then the way he talks to Claire…that accent. That kilt. He cracks sexy Scottish jokes when he’s been shot, and shouts a blood-curdling war cry when it’s time for a good fight. Let’s all agree that Prince Harry just lost his “Sexiest Ginger” title.

Outlander Jaime

Outlander Episode 1 will be available for free on Starz.com until September 28, 2014.

About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

3 Comments on Outlander – S1E1 – Sassenach

  1. Not being an adult woman I was surprised I was intrigued by this show and will keep watching it. You’re right the way Scotland is depicted is very atmospheric and enhances the setting. I wonder if they are filming in Scotland or someplace else. Lastly do you feel the show is doing a good job adapting the source material.

  2. I’m so excited someone who hasn’t read the book is watching this, not to mention a real live uncoerced male!.
    Not only is in being filmed in Scotland, but the entire cast is either Scottish, British, or Irish. The adaptation is remarkably close–so far. I recognized most of the voiceover and a lof of the dialogue as being straight off of the pages, which is about as faithful as you can get. There are a few changes, noticeable in their difference to the book but not really that important in the overall arch of the story–things like a different time of year. Similar to Game of Thrones, they have the author working with them, so I suppose we’ll have to be satisfied with any of the changes that are made 😉

  3. Yeah i didnt recognize any of the characters except her husband who played Brandon Rivers (Catelyn Stark’s brother) on Game of Thrones and Brutus on HBO’s Rome. But i like the performance of the lead actress as she showed the right mix being terrified of basically time traveling to a new Era and being sassy enough to not take shit from the locals.

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