All it takes is one guy going to take a piss to ruin everything. When the first half of Outlander‘s freshman season ended, our poor, time-travelin’ Claire had been recaptured by Black Jack Randall and in some seriously perilous-looking danger. And season 1B picked up right where 1A left off — only with a slightly different point of view twist. Your favorite series about a sassenach and the Highlanders who reluctantly accept her has returned with a bang!
From second one, the episode took us in directions previously unknown (which is really saying something about a series that involves a woman who falls 200 years through time like nothing), putting Jamie in the driver’s seat both in terms of action and narration. Because, as we last left Claire, she was indisposed thanks to her capture by the English soldiers under the tutelage of Black Jack Randall. Which, natch, forces Jamie on a highly dangerous superhero mission to save her, ultimately forcing the two to deal with the realities of their very different worlds.
Because while, yes, the escape was heroic, unexpected, and action-packed (seriously though how in the world did that string and shoddy piece of wood hold Jamie as he shimmied himself down a steep castle wall?), it was after the fact that the real battle began its rageful turn.
By that we mean the one between Claire and Jamie.
What makes a show like Outlander so fantastic is how aware it is of the issues that face this unlikely duo, and how willing they are to dive headfirst into the chum. Claire is a 1940s woman — and a very modern one at that — while Jamie is moral, loyal, and (largely) rule-following laird-to-be of the 1740s. Both of them have certain societal standards that have been de rigeur in their own lives …standards that just so happen to be largely diametrically opposed. Which was put on wild and emotional display in their epic exchange of words next to the river. The two laid it all out and didn’t mince words about it.
But, thank goodness, Claire is not one to lay by so idly and not stand up for herself — which makes for great television when her modern ideals butt up against those of Jamie and the highlanders. (To say nothing of how empowering it is simply for being broadcast with such nuance and gravitas). Even when the combat got physical — after the pack returned to the castle — the jabs and barbs were evenly distributed, which gave an even feeling to the argument. “You come from a place where things are easier. I think,” Jamie says at one point.
It would be very easy — and perhaps more palatable for our modern sensibilities — if the physical violence aspect was cut-out altogether, but that wouldn’t be very honest to the times, now, would it? Because the fact of the matter is this: husbands beat their wives in the 1740s, and women were frequently threatened with (or experienced) rape, so it’s no surprise that it occurs as often as it does in the series. But unlike other series which so often romanticize the victimhood of women, it’s handled with far more grace and authority. The way Claire always fights back — with words or her own physicality — shows the audience how much respect both the show and the character herself has for her personhood. That even in those scarier moments, the women on this series hold their own, is both subversive and empowering.
She may not have had the last laugh during Jamie’s little jaunt down his particular sado-sexual lane, but she was sure as shit to stake it when she was on top (literally and metaphorically speaking, natch). The emotions these two were dealing with, you guys! They were all so real! Because Claire is wildly intelligent and quick — she knows how to use what she has available to her to stake her own claim and autonomy in the world. Be it her healer abilities or her sexual prowess, there’s nothing more empowering than seeing a woman be so resourceful and save those around her — from themselves, their habits, and one another. Their relationship is a balancing act with constantly shifting understandings and evolutions. Theirs was a reckoning that was far from swift, but it was, probably, the only way they could end up on even footing. They had to play each other’s games and lose, so to speak, in order to win with one another.
Needless to say, next week’s episode is going to be good.
Other Things to Note:
– Fightin’ families — The Jacobite Rebellion is coming between the brothers Mackenzie. And that whole realization that Dougal is actually the father of Colum’s heir.
– Jamie Saves the Day — It’s nice to see that he’s good for something: namely, busting up family kerfuffles.
– Leery Laoghaire — Oh my goodness girl, no. Just no.
– The Hex — NEVER A GOOD LEWK. Also Jamie you burn that shit with FIRE! Don’t toss it aside like it’s nothing. We’ve all learned by now that magical business is really-real for the folks of the highlands.
What did you think of Outlander‘s return? Let us hear it in the comments.