Saturday, April 18, 2015

Brace Yourself for Outlander's Return

by Spencer Blohm

For book fiends worldwide the news that Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling series Outlander was being adapted into a television show for Starz was met with mixed feelings. Obviously there were the fears based on the innumerable film adaptations of books which flopped, but given the massive success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, there was a ray of hope a cable network could do the books justice. It turns out those optimists were right as the series broke records for Starz and has become a sleeper hit.

Now, as the midseason premiere of the second part of season one is set to premiere in April, we’re all likely to need a refresher for what happened during the first part (due in large part to the criminally long break Starz took). However, if you’re not all caught up with the series, you’ve got some time to binge watch the first half of the season on Starz Play or DTV before the series returns on April 9th.

When we first met the protagonist Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in the premiere episode, she had just reunited with her husband Frank after the two were separated during WWII which saw Claire working as a nurse. In a bid to spend some romantic time together, they venture to Inverness, Scotland, where Frank is researching his family and discovers an ancestor named Black Jack Randall but neither think much of it. As Claire ventures along the hills of Craigh na Dun she hears something coming from one of the rocks and after she reaches out and touches it she blacks out.

Claire wakes up finding herself transported to 1743, the peak of the Jacobite Risings in the Scottish Highlands. She soon finds herself in the midst of a battle between the British Army and the Highland rebels. Before long she meets Black Jack Randall who, as it turns out, is a military Captain for the King and not a very pleasant person. As she realized what’s happened to her, she’s rescued by one of the rebels, a man named Jamie Fraser, who brings her back to his clan's castle. It’s there that Claire is immediately suspected of being a British spy by Jamie’s clan, the MacKenzies. She’s able to help Jamie with his wounds from battle thanks to her knowledge of modern medicine and the clan’s leader, Colum, decides to detain her as the clan’s healer.

Slowly, Claire is able to convince the clan she’s not a spy, but she inadvertently makes herself indisposable to them as their healer. As she’s plotting her escape she becomes further entrenched with the clan and earns their respect and trust enough for them to take her along on various outings like collecting funds for the Jacobite army. Despite her knowledge that the Jacobite’s are destined to fail, she feels safer with them than with Jack Black’s “Redcoats” thanks in large part to Black Jack’s lecherous behavior towards her. It soon comes to light the best way to protect herself from him is to marry Jamie. It’s here that Claire faces a highly emotional crossroads; she can’t deny she’s been developing feelings for Jamie, but she has a husband who she loves, even if he’s 200 years away. She goes through with the wedding and their relationship starts to blossom.

Image from The Futon Critic
She soon discovers his loyalty and affections towards her when he rescues her from an impending attack by Black Jack after he captures her trying to venture back to the stones at Craigh na Dun. It’s there she hears Franks voice and he hers, albeit some 200 years later. We were left off with Claire being pulled by three different men with almost no idea what’s next or what to do for herself. However, if the new promotional posters are any indication, Claire certainly isn’t going to succumb to the damsel in distress state of being, and that Black Jack better watch himself.

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