Outlander: My Review of Episode 1

jamie & claireIt’s possible I’m posting way too much about a TV show, and some of you think I’m a bit obsessed. I’m beginning to think so too.  But here, until next week anyway, are my thoughts about Episode 1.  For two excellent reviews, I recommend i09, and The AV Club.

In a nutshell: it was glorious. Everything I hoped it would be. It really did bring my favorite story to life, at least the first part of it. I’m actually shocked that, considering how much I built this up, it exceeded my expectations. When does that ever happen?

I loved Claire, as I expected to. I love how strong and smart she is, how tough in the face of danger. She covers up her fears with bossiness, and I don’t mind that a bit.

As for Jamie, I’m still reserving judgment but this episode has me pulling for him. Yes, he’s pretty, especially compared to his kinsmen. But there are a few scenes where all he does is look at Claire a certain way, and I’m hooked. The scene where she puts his shoulder back together, for example. At first you can tell he doesn’t want this crazy woman touching him, much less operating on him, and then she sort of looks into his eyes and nods, and he looks back. A lot of exchange happens in that one moment.

And then there’s a scene, towards the end of the episode, where all he says to her is “aye”, and that’s enough. Okay, Jamie, you got me.

Those are the big things. Here are a few other things that really made the show stand out.

1) Gaelic. Love hearing the Gaelic. It doesn’t matter that I can’t understand it (it’s usually pretty obvious what these guys are talking about). There’s a lot of Gaelic in the book but I could never “hear” it in my head. It seems daring that Moore chose to use so much of it.

2) The long introduction. Claire’s personality, history, and her marriage to Frank is so important to understand, if you’re going to like her character. I love that in 40 minutes they really brought out the complexity of her return from the war and trying to build a new life with Frank. She’s lived in a million different places and doesn’t care (much) what her hair looks like or what she’s wearing. I didn’t think the episode moved slowly at all, but then I know all those details are important. Anyway, I’m pretty sure it picks up from here.

3) The book. I went back after the episode to read some parts from the show, and was surprised by how much was taken word for word from the book. Sometimes movies really go wrong when they stick too closely to a book. As I was watching it didn’t feel that way to me. It just worked.

4) The white dress. I was a little worried when Claire goes to the stone circle wearing a cute little white dress, belt, and pumps. I kept thinking, hang on to that blanket, you’re going to need it! (She doesn’t, as it turns out.) But the dress somehow goes through hell and back (as Claire does) and it comes out looking surprisingly like a shift. So, she looks like a woman who’s running around without clothes on, but at least she doesn’t look like she’s from the future. Nicely done.

5) The dance of the Druids. So cool.

6) And last but not least, that castle sex scene. Moore could have made Frank frumpy or annoying (or too conservative to go down on his wife), but he didn’t. Frank and Claire’s 40 minutes was surprisingly steamy.

My one complaint, and it’s a small one, is the opening and closing narration was a bit melodramatic. The whole “I would make that choice again” and “my journey has just begun” – so not necessary. The narration within the show was better, even if there was a bit much of it. Still, I’m pretty sure there won’t be as much need for narration in future episodes, so hopefully Moore keeps it light.  Io9 points out that the tea-leaf reading was a bit over the top too, and I’d agree with that – it was in the book but could have been toned down.  But that’s a small, small thing.

And, importantly, the husband liked it!  He said the weapons and fight scenes were perfect, which is high praise from him.  He knows what these things are supposed to look like.

And those are my thoughts on Episode 1.

So what did you think?

  8 comments for “Outlander: My Review of Episode 1

  1. August 12, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I haven’t read the book yet (oh no!), but I decided to watch the first episode to get a feel of the plot. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought it was well done! The cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. The dance of the druids was downright captivating. I had no previous understanding of the characters, but I felt like I had a good understanding of Claire, Frank, and Jaime after just one episode. And you’re totally right–the brief eye contact between Claire and Jaime said A LOT. I really enjoyed it. 🙂
    …Now I need to pick up the book!

    • August 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks for the comment! If you liked the episode you will love the book. I always prefer to read something before I see it on film.

      • August 14, 2014 at 2:34 am

        Completely agree. Usually I’m so good with reading the book before watching the movie/TV show- I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR 🙂

  2. August 12, 2014 at 1:17 am

    I’m so glad the series does the book justice! Annoyingly, there have been articles in the news here about how great it is that a big series is being filmed in the UK but not even a hint of a release date yet! At least now I know it really is something to look forward to, though.

    • August 13, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      I had no idea, I thought it was released in the UK ahead of the US! That’s horrible. Hope you’ll get it soon. The number of viewers was really high so I’m sure someone picks it up in the UK.

  3. August 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I haven’t seen the episode, but love your review. Are you planning to review each episode?

    • August 13, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks! I’m thinking I will. It depends on whether people seem to be interested, I guess!

      • August 13, 2014 at 11:30 pm

        oh, I am sure people will be. I have a feeling this series will be the next hot thing.

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