Outlander recently aired its mid-season finale, so now’s the ideal time to CATCH UP before the rest of the season airs next year. Ya hear that? It’s time for you to catch up on Outlander. They don’t call it the feminist Game of Thrones for nothing, and if you’re not watching yet let’s hustle.
If you’re unfamiliar with the book series written by Diana Gabaldon, try not to be hooked by this time-traveling plot: Claire and Frank Randall are on their second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland, after both serving in WWII. Together, they explore the Scottish lands in search of Frank’s family history. Great. Cute. Romantic.
While visiting the mystical Craigh na Dun, Claire is mysteriously transported back in time to Scotland, 1743. Claire must convince her Highlander captors that she is really just trying to get home – without revealing that home is actually 200 years in the future. Hooked yet? Here are some of the reasons why the show is the absolute best, and why you’re homework now is to get all caught up. The time has come.
The Strong Female Protagonist
Having served in World War II as a combat nurse, Claire Beauchamp Randall is intelligent, compassionate, and fearless.
After being saved/captured by a Highlander clan, Claire must balance her efforts to blend in with her attempts to escape. The clan members are wary to trust this woman who claims to hail from Oxfordshire, but she holds her own, earning their respect with her healing hands and quick wit.
In the episodes aired so far, she has survived assault and kidnapping, ascended from prisoner to respected healer, and withstood the harsh realities of being a woman in the eighteenth century – not without the help of Scottish soldier, Jamie Fraser.
Claire [to clansman]: I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right. That’s about all I believe.
The Love Interests
In 1943, Claire has already found the love of her life, husband Frank Randall, but a palm-reader is puzzled by her split marriage line.
After being transported back to 1743, Claire tends to Jamie Fraser, the nephew of the Mackenzie brothers/clan leaders.
Jamie quickly becomes Claire’s protector – he shields her from the cold, shares his food with her, sleeps in front of her door, but will not sleep in the same room as her . . . that would be too scandalous (restraining from spoilers).
They respect each other, look out for each other, and will not be leaving each other’s sides anytime soon. Not that Claire minds. Or the viewers. Or me.
Jamie: Ye need not be scairt of me, nor of anyone here, so long as I’m with ye.
The Hyper-Talented Cast
Tobias Menzies plays both Claire’s beloved husband, Frank Randall, and his eighteenth-century ancestor, Captain Randall. Claire quickly learns that her husband’s ancestor is the shocking opposite of her husband – a sadistic man who instills fear in the Highlander clans, as well as his own British compatriots. The show does not add facial scars or hair to distinguish the two, but relies on the actor’s extraordinary talents in subtlety – changes in voices, expressions, and gestures.
Captain Randall: I dwell in darkness, madam, and darkness is where I belong.
The rest of the cast contributes just as greatly – shout out to those portraying Scotts, who must switch between English and Gaelic like it’s nothing. Try going to “Castle Leoch” with your “mo nighean donn,” even though she actually wants to go to “Craigh na Dun.”
Outlander straddles between two great time periods – 1945 and 1743.
In the first episode, World War II has ended, but soon Claire finds herself in the midst of another battle, the rising Jacobite rebellion against the English crown.
Every moment is a history lesson for Claire and the audience – she must quickly figure out who is king, how to wear a corset, and what not to do or say, such as reveal the fact that the Scotts will not successfully rebel against the crown.
But who wants to rain on their parade? Or be accused of witchcraft?
When War Chief Dougal Mackenzie tries to school Jamie in a rowdy game of “Shinty” (kind of like field hockey, but way more terrifying).
The Book Series
I love reading books that have been (or are going to be) adapted and the fact that Outlander is a series is even better. You could either devour all eight right now or try to pace yourself along with the show – if you’re really, really not into spoilers.
SPOILER ALERT: Sometimes TV shows break away from book series.
Right now, there are eight books:
Outlander (Cross Stitch in the U.K.)
Dragonfly In Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo In The Bone
Written In My Own Heart’s Blood
And according to Diana Gabaldon’s blog, THERE WILL BE A NINTH.
So get reading. It’s always worthwhile to see where it all started.
*Outlander will return in April 4, 2015, but episodes can be viewed On Demand (Starz).