Alright, Sassenachs: gather ’round ye all. We’ve got half a season of Starz’s adaptation of Outlander under our belts and, well? We’ve got some discussin’ to do of the events thus far. For as quickly as this first half flew by, so much has happened to poor, time-travelin’ Claire Randall. But would you expect anything else from a novel-turned-TV-series that blends historical fiction, romance, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy all into one bangarang story? We didn’t think so.
Now it should be said that this particular author has yet to read the novels, but is well aware there are some discrepancies already between the novels and the show. So no spoilers in the comments, kids! Let’s view this one as it is on screen, mmkay?
So — what managed to happen in a mere 8 hours of television? HEAPS. Claire Randall, army nurse in the 1940s, goes on a second honeymoon to reconnect with her husband Frank following their five year separation during the war. In Inverness, Scotland, the two manage to do just that, taking in the sights of Castle Leoch’s ruins and a local pagan ritual of dance and light and rocky formations. Unfortunately, their honeymoon doesn’t last long as Claire, after heading back to the stones to pick up a few more Forget-Me-Nots, manages to fall through time and into 1790s Scotland. There she barely survives an encounter with one of Frank’s distant, and very bloody, relatives — only to be rescued by the Clan MacKenzie.
From there, things only get more interesting — if you could believe it! Claire’s knowledge of medicine and botany becomes her greatest asset, if not also her biggest issue for the locals. An educated English woman in the Scottish countryside? One that cannot produce a believable story about her origins? What gives, right? Very quickly, Claire becomes a sort of prisoner of the MacKenzies, but she remains hellbent in proving she is no threat to them. A particularly tricky deed when it comes to Dougal MacKenzie, the War Chieftain of the Clan.
While there under the care of Laird Colum MacKenzie, Claire acquaints herself with the local and time-relative customs, and befriends a woman named Geillis Duncan — a mysterious sort who definitely has something she’s not telling people (another time traveler, perhaps?). All while trying to make herself useful, stay out of trouble, and — oh yeah! — find her way back to the stones of Craigh na Dun so that she might traverse back to her modern times once more.
Oh yeah, there’s also the issue of Jamie. (You didn’t think we forgot him, did we? CHILD PLEASE.) James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, to be exact. He’s a cousin of Dougal and Colum MacKenzie (Dougal is his mother’s brother), and has been under the protection of his cousins since he was wrongfully accused of a crime for which Jonathan Randall, that pesky relative of Frank’s, bestowed upon Jamie’s back a flogging of 100 lashes on top of a previous 100, very nearly killing the poor boy. Claire and Jamie’s is a chemistry most instant, from the second she encounters him and his dislocated shoulder. From there love blooms quickly between the two, though it is all very cordial and above-board given the times (and the fact that Claire told them all she had a husband).
Things took a turn for the sexy once it was determined that, in order to keep Claire safe, the two should wed (something that Mr. Dougal Mac didn’t seem so keen on, did he?). And so they do — and she teaches him the ways of a thoroughly modern woman. Which is to say: they have some seriously good-looking sex.
Their bond is special but not so secure that Claire doesn’t regularly dream of and plan her escape back to 1945. But that plan was foiled at the end of “Both Sides Now,” the midseason finale, thanks to — you guessed it! — that bastardly J. Randall and his redcoat henchmen. Frank, of course, has never stopped looking for his wife these six weeks since she disappeared into the ether. But he grows weary and seems to all-together give up after Mrs. Graham, the palm-reading, druid-dancing housekeeper from their inn, and her theory that maybe Claire was simply time traveling. At the same place in different times, Claire and Frank were so close to their reunion they could hear each other, but apparently it just wasn’t in the cards.
Claire has faced death, rape, war, loss, love, and so much more in these few weeks in the Scottish Highlands. All the while remaining a brilliant, fully realized woman that can hold her own against all odds. Hers is a story most captivating, regardless of place or time. Will she find her way back? How does she reconcile her two loves, her two lives, her two beings? And how does she manage to do it, with all those myriad odds stacked against her?
There is clearly much more to be learned about this legendary, generation-spanning time travel and the women who’ve done it. Where will we go now, you think? Let’s discuss our thoughts and theories in the comments while we wait the god-awful length of time that lies between now and the series’ return… on April 4, 2015.