Review of Outlander Episode 2: Castle Leoch

outlander2Are you watching?  What did you think?

Episode 2 was clearly designed to impart a lot of story information.  We meet a lot of new characters: Colum, Geillis, Laoghaire, Mrs. Fitz.  But of course, this episode is really about Jamie, just as episode 1 was about Claire. 

I love this part of the book, because of the way Gabaldon doesn’t give us Jamie’s backstory all at once.  We learn about Jamie’s past in bits and pieces, and those bits and pieces are how Claire and Jamie slowly get to know each other.  If this were a romance, Claire would be thinking about how hot Jamie looks in his kilt and he’d be looking at her cleavage.  But it’s not that.  

I still think Jamie is a little too beef-cakey for the role, or maybe it was the way the scene was staged.  The important thing here is not his naked chest but his scarred back.  Otherwise, this scene was perfect.  I loved the part where Claire breaks down thinking about Frank. (I’ll learn to live with the beefcake I guess.) 

We also get a sense of castle politics, in the somewhat complicated relationship between the two brothers. Colum is the laird and is clearly in charge – but his physical disability means that Dougal is the eyes and ears of the castle.  There’s a brief scene where Dougal says he sent Jamie to the stables, which seemed like the best place for him.  Colum looks concerned and Dougal says, unnecessarily, “but of course if you disagree..”  Is it clear which of these two is in charge?  After all this doesn’t seem like a time when people are going to be very accepting of a disabled leader (not that we are much better today).  

The scene where Claire assumes the boy is Dougal’s is not in the book.  It was a little over the top and made Claire look pretty stupid.  Why would she assume that? And shouldn’t she be a little more careful about what she says?  But still, we see she’s nervous and needs to make conversation about something that’s not about her. 

And I recognize that if the show wants to minimize the need for voiceovers, and hopefully they do, they’ll have to insert some dialogue that shows us the tensions in the castle quickly and obviously, and I think that scene did its job.  In the book, Claire is actually thinking “hmmm, I think people with Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome can’t have children, so I wonder who fathered the kid?”  But I guess they didn’t want to go there. 

One other invented bit in this episode was Colum’s offer to send Claire back to Inverness in five days.  Clearly, he’s going to do no such thing, so I’m not sure this added much, except maybe to explain how Claire keeps her sanity these first few days. 

The amount of Frank-flashback is good — I liked the scene where he’s talking about interrogation techniques — except I was a little annoyed with the scene where she goes into the castle “basement” and has all the flashbacks from when she was there with Frank.  We get it, you were just here.  The flashbacks in that scene weren’t useful, just annoying. 

Still, I loved seeing all the new characters in this episode.  There’s something strange about seeing characters you know so well come to life this way, or seeing someone else’s image of the character.  These aren’t the characters I pictured in my head, but they’ll do just fine. 

If you’re watching, what did you think?  If you’ve read the book, how did this episode compare?  If you haven’t read the book, is it confusing at all?  Too much information?  I will say that I went back to the book and was really surprised how much of the book this one episode covered.  

And one more question: do you WANT a weekly review of the show or is this just too much Outlander?  Please comment or “like” so I’ll know.  I won’t be offended if you don’t. 

  7 comments for “Review of Outlander Episode 2: Castle Leoch

  1. August 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I can’t watch so you’re keeping me up to date! Love the weekly reviews.

    • August 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Well, I’ll be watching! Now I just have to finish my East of Eden review. Awesome book.

  2. Aidan
    August 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I enjoyed the review and think you made some great points. I felt the same about the Frank-backs and I really am not a fan of voiceovers (I tend to feel they are an uninventive way to info dump). I have enjoyed the writing and performances though.

    I really am not that familiar with the source material but it seemed to make sense to me. My assumption had been that Dougal actually was the father and that Claire had read some paternalism on his part in the way he played with the boy. I guess if that was incorrect though that the episode did mislead me a little at that point.

    • August 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks for the comment! It’s interesting to hear from someone who’s not too familiar with the book. I love your blog by the way!

      • Aidan
        August 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm

        Thank you! I do have a little knowledge about some of the broader developments in the show through my wife but the details are all new to me.

  3. August 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Ooh, I didn’t realise that they’d made it into a show – I’ll have to find out how to get to it. Cheers

    • August 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      It’s here in the US but apparently not in the U.K., so it depends where you are. It’s on STARZ.

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