Outlander: Sassenach   Books Included 
August 5, 2014 6:30 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

1945 England: Claire Randall reunites with her husband after five years of war. A second honeymoon goes awry when she falls back through time to 1740's Scotland. (Episode viewable on starz.com in the US in advance of the 8/9/14 broadcast premiere)
posted by olinerd (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Okay I've been dying to get this all out.

(1) Very, very happy with the casting so far, across the board. Yeah, it's early, but I was very pleased with this episode. (I don't *love* Balfe's Jesus H Roosevelt Christ delivery yet, but overall I thought she did a great job)
(2) Fabulous music.
(3) COMPLAINT 1: I am convinced Claire's not supposed to have had Frank perform oral sex on her yet, based on later convos with Jamie. However, on re-read of the book passage, it's a bit vague (there's more discussion of using one's teeth than there is explicit questioning of whether or not Frank's been down there) and I saw a screenshot of some discussion where Gabaldon told a fan who called this out that "Don't you think I would have stopped it if it were wrong?" So.... I don't know? Did I interpret the book scene wrong?
(4) COMPLAINT 2: Um, wasn't Claire supposed to have met young Roger? According to this he was cast, but we didn't see him at Reverend Wakefield's place. Will there be more flashbacks to the Reverend and the research?
posted by olinerd at 6:34 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regarding your first complaint, I do think it was implied in the books that Jamie was her first in that regard, but I've also read it was really important to the producers to clearly show that Frank was an important and very real relationship for Claire, not a throwaway first husband who would be replaced once she met her Actual True Love in 1743. So maybe they took some poetic license with the story there, but I think it was in the context of showing Frank as someone with whom Claire had a serious connection. So I feel okay about it.

And apparently Child Roger has been cast, so presumably he will be shown in future episodes. (People on reddit have said Diana confirms this, although I don't know the source of their information.)

I was very pleased with casting once I was actually watching the episode. I had doubts just looking at photographs of the actors, but all of them did a completely excellent job of playing those roles. Tobias Menzies in particular made Frank real for me in a way the books never have, and his Jack Randall was perfect as well.

That scene where Jamie says to Claire, "Well, I guess you're coming with me, then," with a little wry half-smile actually made me squee out loud. He IS Jamie Fraser! I am really excited about future episodes where Sam Heughan has more screen time.
posted by something something at 6:45 PM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I thought the oral sex scene was a great character choice for showing Claire as sexually assertive, and a good choice for the series, to set it apart from all of the 'fully-clothed-man+completely-naked-woman' sex scenes that abound in other cable shows.

I didn't realize Bear McCreary was doing the music until his credit popped up, not surprising that Ron Moore would want him back after Battlestar, but I'm glad his gig on Defiance didn't interfere with this one, the score was lovely.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:20 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I liked this episode a lot, particularly how they really highlighted Claire's medical knowledge and skill. I have no complaints about the actress at all. And I definitely have no complaints about the guy playing Jamie. :)

It's been a little while since I read the books, but I don't remember Claire and Frank being THAT happy together before she disappeared--more that they were trying to reconnect (and get pregnant?). Not to discount their marriage--obviously they stick together later--am I remembering wrong, knowing how they weren't particularly happy together in their later years?
posted by leesh at 7:29 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know how spoilery this is, but in the article about Roger's casting that I read, it indicated that he'll be in a scene with Frank, Mrs Graham and the Reverend. So presumably we meet Roger but Claire doesn't, which has major consequences down the line if so.

leesh, I'm just rereading now, and they were indeed trying to get pregnant (she mentions a disappointment just before this trip). I think their situation was comparable to the show in that they are trying to reconnect, but they're not unhappy. Just awkward and getting used to each other again. Book Claire is fairly certain that Frank has had affairs, I think.

The oral sex thing has been a big discussion on the compuserve forum where DG contributes...but I think the reading is that Frank did it too, being a skilled and attentive lover (or whatever it says in the books) but that Claire is concerned about her own...odour...and that the conversation is more about teeth.

I thought Jamie was a bit stiff in the "I suppose you're coming with me, then" scene. But I also found fault with Claire's attempt at Jesus H Roosevelt Christ. I hope she gets better at making it sound natural.

I was bothered by the magical disappearing belt, but I think I'm a small minority there.

But Tobias Menzies was great and I can't wait to see more of him as BJR! His face is very slightly altered (the way he clenches his jaw, maybe? Or maybe even a prosthetic? and his colouring is darker, as it is in the book). I think he'll be awesome. Claire has the expressive face, which will be so important to her character. Jamie looks great and I hope when he has more to say that I'll have a better read. He should theoretically have the monologue about his back in the next episode.

I hadn't thought about it until seeing him on TV but the Reverend is quite a stereotype, isn't he? I liked him, but he wouldn't have been out of place in any English show involving a vicar. Mrs Graham was great, and the dancers around the stones were stunning (not exactly bedsheets!).

And Dougal! He was actually my favourite thing so far. His demeanour, his carriage, the way he commands with a couple of words and a look. Can't wait to see more of him and some conflict.
posted by tracicle at 11:28 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This episode makes me so happy! I really liked that it breathed more life into Frank and their marriage, I never really bought it in the books, but I guess I was always thinking "well, you could have Jamie Fraser, so duh, Frank Randall is just boring and forgettable."

I really like how Jamie is already looking at Claire like he is totally into her, it ties nicely into his last reason for marrying her that he confesses later in the book. I could have done without Claire giving him that last long look because I feel like it takes longer in the book for her to realize she is totes into him.

Really loved the cottage full of Scottish dudes speaking Gaelic, it did a nice job of bringing the viewers into Claire's perspective of what the hell is going on and what is up with these dudes. And hearing "Tulach Ard!" gave me a bit of a thrill.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:51 AM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Thanks for the refresher, tracicle!
posted by leesh at 5:37 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I actually thought the show was more explicit than the books in explaining the post-war disconnect in Frank & Claire's relationship. I liked how carefully done it was, showing they still had love between them and a desire to get to know each other again, but it just wasn't there yet.
posted by something something at 6:29 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

banjo has more to say on our Outlander blog.

I'll have to get something up soon. It was certainly an experience.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:56 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah I did love the "Tulach Ard!" Chills.

And I agree the show did a much better job of setting up the Claire/Frank relationship than the books did. Well done to the team on that.
posted by olinerd at 3:54 PM on August 6, 2014

I'm really interested to see if/how the pacing changes in the next episode(s). I think I felt especially critical of it because I made my husband watch it with me (he hasn't read the books but knows the loose storyline from me, since I made him do an Outlander tour in Scotland with me, good man) and I was half trying to watch it through his eyes and judge it from a newbie perspective. I've heard from other first-timers that they similarly found the pacing pretty slow. But yeah, when I watched it again by myself, I could better appreciate the time they spent setting up Claire and Frank together, because I know later on that will benefit the story.

It pleases me to see the reviews out there from non-book-reader journalists with the first six eps saying that the pacing does pick up and that episode six is particularly excellent -- I just hope it still feels "right" for the book fans, too.
posted by olinerd at 3:59 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, olinerd, we are kindreds. I also drug my husband along to Inverness and Culloden, et cetera.

Every time I tell someone to read the books, I say, "you have to stick with it until she's in the past!" because I think those first expository chapters are frankly a touch boring. I get why they're necessary, though, and I sort of have that same feeling about the pilot. It was good, but the next episode will be the first real one. This was just introduction.
posted by something something at 4:22 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

My dream vacation is to do an Outlander tour in Scotland! We are very close to deciding to actually go to Scotland next year for our anniversary, but that may be trumped by a music festival in Iceland instead. I was kind of hoping I could wrangle my husband onto a tour of the greatest hits of Outlander without actually telling him that's what I was doing, but now that he's watching the show (and reading this thread!) the cat is out of the bag.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:09 PM on August 6, 2014

Yeah, not sure I want to be part of your Jamie and Claire Bloody All Night Horse Ride trip. Surely I can just pay a dude to wheeze into your ear for ten hours?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:49 PM on August 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you guys go with the small tour company run by someone named Hugh, out of Inverness, they were entertaining and knowledgeable and my husband enjoyed the tour. (I think. He'll stalk this post at some point and correct me if I'm wrong)

Plus, no Outlander-themed trip is complete without lots of whisky. Who can say no to whisky?
posted by olinerd at 6:52 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mrs. Baird is far less nosy than she is in the book.
posted by brujita at 9:14 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah but her smile at the squeaking was still entertaining.

Mrs. Graham just reminded me waaaay too much of Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey, hairstyle and all. I feel like there's a Scottish housekeeper archetype forming here.
posted by olinerd at 4:15 AM on August 7, 2014

I am not a book reader (but obviously enjoy the insight of those who have!) and I enjoyed the episode knowing almost nothing going into it. It did seem that the show took forever to jump into the past, which would not have been a big deal were it not for the fact it's a story that sells itself on one woman's travel to the past.

I enjoyed the introduction of the heroine, especially the nonplussed manner in which she wipes away the blood splatter from her face. Cool as ice. I thought the narrative did a good job of explaining the current situation between herself and her husband, and definitely seemed like she was the active player between the two in trying to bring about the reconnection. It definitely put a lot of emphasis on the importance of sex between her and her husband, that it was essentially the glue that would always bring them back together. This, in turn, has me curious about the ramifications of her being sexually involved with anyone in the past. I'm really curious how much time will pass before she decides to be involved with someone else, particularly given her husband's comments about "finding comfort." (Alarm bells! Was he unfaithful to her during the war?!)

I found the reverend's wife a little creepy, with the shift from warm friendliness to "WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOUR HAND?!" It was not surprising to see her amongst the dancers at the stones, which was a scene I enjoyed watching. It was enchanting even through a television screen. (The fact there wasn't a large stone tumbled over the skeleton of a massive bear implies that this isn't a shared universe with Brave - bad joke, moving on...)

I could be amiss, but it definitely seemed like Ron Moore muted the colors of the "present day" Scotland so he could ramp up the greens and what have you for the past.

I wasn't surprised to learn that Black Jack was ready to rape her, as generally, the label "Black" when applied to historical figures (Pershing excepted!) it's not given with kind connotations. The relationship between Black Jack and her husband, Frank, is another one I'm eager to watch unfold. Will there be certain traits that are shared between them? Will Black Jack kind of represent some kind of alter ego of Frank, as in, Black Jack represents a Frank who has experienced a different world or who holds different values that come from the same basis? Will we learn more about Frank's behavior/personality through Jack, or vice versa? Are they just played by the same actor and have no other relationship other than genetics?

It was fun meeting the Scots and also a little bit terrifying. I keep expecting to see one of the highlanders try and drag her off to rape her for being English as much as I did expect Black Jack tried to do thinking her an ally of the Scots (I do hope rape is not a major element or plot twist in this story, though).

The music was not bad, but I actually expect even better from Bear. He can do it!

In short, I'm looking forward to the next episode.
posted by Atreides at 8:23 AM on August 7, 2014

Atreides, I wondered the same about the colours. To me it looks like she goes through the stones on a frosty autumn morning and wakes up on a spring/summer day. It could have been deliberate or it could have been an attempt to show it's much later in the day? Hard to say. Presumably it's still winter in the past, because she's freezing in her "shift".

The Reverend's wife is actually just his housekeeper, Mrs Graham. It probably wasn't super clear to a non-book reader, actually.
posted by tracicle at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love hearing what people who haven't read the book think of this! Like with Game of Thrones, sometimes I kind of wish I didn't know what was coming next.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Reverend's wife is actually just his housekeeper, Mrs Graham. It probably wasn't super clear to a non-book reader, actually.

Ah, thank you for clarifying that! Given how formal some elements of British society could be (or so I thought!), I hadn't thought a housekeeper would drag away a visitor's wife for a sip of tea.

I also forgot to mention, Scottish accents are among my most favorite in the English speaking world. The show is already a win for me.
posted by Atreides at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2014

I hadn't thought a housekeeper would drag away a visitor's wife for a sip of tea.

In the book there's a bit of conversation that's not in the show (though they try to imply it) - once they're in the kitchen Mrs. Graham is like "Yeah I figured you were getting bored" and Claire is like "OMG YES" (I might be paraphrasing). In the show they tried to make Claire look eager to get away but it doesn't quiiiite work, just looks like she awkwardly interrupts Mrs. Graham during her offer.
posted by olinerd at 4:25 PM on August 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" is a great catchphrase for a book. It is an awful mouthful of sounds on a TV show.

I'm rewatching the pilot now, and I feel like they're making a much bigger deal of Frank being MI6 (and Claire maybe being a leeetle naive about what that means, all "he stayed here and sent people on dangerous missions!") than what I remember taking away from the book. At first I thought they were just doing a better job of showing that both of them are justifiably post-traumatically stressed out the ass, but on rewatch I think they're installing hooks for more Frank Backstory.

Do we know who the "ghost" is, the one who was standing in the rain looking up at Claire's window and bumped into Frank and disappeared?
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's definitely implied (in the book and I thought also in the show) that the ghost is Jamie. Diana said at one point the ghost will be explicitly explained in the last book, but I don't know if that is still true - I read that years and years ago.

I also seem to remember that at some point in one of the books Jamie says something about having a dream in which he saw Claire brushing her hair in a room lit by electric lights. Does anyone else recall that?
posted by something something at 11:46 AM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

DG has made it clear on Compuserve that the ghost is Jamie. I'm glad that I could pause the scene when I streamed it.

Jamie can't time travel, but he does have dreams about the future in later books.
posted by brujita at 12:13 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Exile is the first third of Outlander told mostly from Murtagh's pov.
posted by brujita at 9:04 PM on August 9, 2014

I don't know what to make of it so far. I'm not in love. But then again, most of it so far has been slow and about Frank, so that doesn't help. Poor Frank. I fear only the author/Claire were ever really invested in him. Frank! He's such a good guy! He doesn't deserve what happened to him! He acts like a jerk later on, but can you blame him? etc., etc. It's just plain hard for the reader to be invested in Frank since it's not like we ever got to know him well--and well, Jamie blows him out of the water so thoroughly.

Also disappointed that Jamie isn't an actual redhead--they couldn't have dyed it? Isn't that a plot point in several places, such as Claire having a redheaded baby?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:26 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Uh, he looked pretty reheaded to me?
posted by olinerd at 2:40 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It looked red to me, too. Not as shiny copper penny red as it's described in the book, but I suspect book-red wouldn't actually look great on Sam Heughan. I bet they tried several different shades of dye before settling on the more auburny look he has. I like it, even though it's different from what I imagined reading.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 4:48 PM on August 11, 2014

DG has made it clear that Jamie is more auburn than carrot.
posted by brujita at 8:31 PM on August 11, 2014

The description I remember from the book is (paraphrased) "like a red deer's pelt". Googling brings up lots of reddish-brown or russet, and I think Show Jamie's hair matches that well.
posted by tracicle at 11:08 PM on August 11, 2014

Hey, I forgot about there being a new episode last night - I can't post any Outlander threads today, gotta save my posting privilege for tonight's Masters of Sex episode, so, whoever else wants to submit for "Castle Leoch" should go ahead.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:33 AM on August 17, 2014

Just watched the premiere! I could have done without the flashbacks - that was 20 minutes ago! And without the heavy handed VoiceOver. But am generally pleased.
posted by bq at 8:40 PM on August 22, 2014

oh no i think i like this show
posted by poffin boffin at 6:16 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm finally getting around to watching this. I haven't watched it before because I've read the books and don't usually enjoy watching filmed versions of books I've read, but there's a lot of knitwear in the show and my knitting blog readers have been asking me to write about it, so here goes. I thought it was quite well done, actually. Well cast on the whole and beautifully produced. Knowing exactly what's going to happen does take a lot of the enjoyment out of it, sadly.

My one quibble so far is Claire. Caitriona Balfe is lovely and a good actress, but I'm not really sold on her as Claire. Claire is supposed to have brown eyes and light brown hair, not dark brown hair and blue eyes. Also Balfe's affect is rather serene and restrained for my conception of Claire, who is forthright, quick-tempered, and rather earthy in the books. And yes, she's really not good at saying, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ".
posted by orange swan at 4:20 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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