Claire (Caitriona Balfe) continues to make enemies as the show goes on the road.
Let’s bitch it out…
There have been some complaints among what I assume are non-readers of the Outlander books that the STARZ adaptation is moving too slowly. It certainly has a leisurely pace compared to other historical epics such as Game Of Thrones, but that’s not really the point. I personally am not watching this show for action; I’m watching it as a character drama that just happens to be set in the past during war time.
‘Rent’, the show’s fifth episode and the first since the pilot to move outside of Castle Leoch, works because it offers both a history lesson and a strong dose of character drama. The history comes courtesy of the eighteenth century economic and political system as Claire mistakenly assumes that Dougal (Graham McTavish) is lining his own pockets when he collects the rent. It’s not until later that she determines he’s actually using the tour to raise funds for the Jacobite army (covered in a tidy bit of exposition courtesy of one of the show’s rare flashforwards). The way that the money flows is fascinating, yet still personal as Claire bristles with the mode of collection and its impact on the townspeople.
I appreciate how the show refuses to quell Claire’s feminist bent, even if she does appear extremely foolish to be so vocal and strong-willed among brutish men. Her refusal to back down makes her an endearing protagonist, even as it costs her the trust of Dougal and the other men whom she continues to rub the wrong way. It’s nice, then when she learns that the men are willing to defend her honour (and she can even win them over with a joke!) – it suggests the start of something of a turning point in her relationship with the MacKenzie men, at least until that humdinger of a cliffhanger, which will effectively seal her fate…next week.
- I couldn’t help but feel that removing Jamie (Sam Heughan) during the house burning sequence is an effort to preserve him as a romantic prospect for Claire. After all, if he’s not there, then he can’t be seen as condoning that behaviour and therefore still falls into “good guy” category.
- The romantic relationship takes another small step forward after Claire discovers Jamie sleeping outside her room to ensure she doesn’t get raped. Aww chivalry isn’t dead (it’s sleeping outside).
- Ned Gowan (Bill Paterson), the MacKenzie lawyer who helps funnel the money, is a welcome new character. The introduction of an educated man offers a nice counterpart to the general oafishness of the other clansmen, so I hope Ned sticks around for a bit.
- There’s a telling flashforward when Claire and Frank (Tobias Menzies) discuss a particularly terrible battle that will claim thousands of Jacobite men and she stares at a MacKenzie tombstone. It’s a little bit too meta for my tastes because it kind of anticipates her time-travel…
- I couldn’t help but groan when Jeremy Foster, the English soldier from earlier, shows up right as Dougal questions her about her political affiliations. It’s a great cliffhanger…it’s also terribly convenient timing!
- Finally, since this is the first review I’ve done for the show, I’ll add the requisite mention about how absolutely gorgeous the scenery is. Who doesn’t want to drop everything and book an inclusive package to Scotland after watching this?!
- Claire (mistakenly offering the wrong drinking salutation): “Bottoms up”
- Claire (resignedly, just behind the bar brawl breaks out): “Here we go.”
- MacKenzie clansman (explaining the origins of the fight): “We can insult you. God help any other man that does.”
Your turn: how are you enjoying the series so far? Are you enjoying Claire’s refusal to back down? Is Jamie being artificially constructed as an ideal leading man? Who will Claire side with in the cliffhanger (or do we even need to ask)? Sound off below.
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9pm on STARZ