Saturday, August 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Claire Plots to Return to Her Own Time but is Kept a Guest of Clan MacKenzie's in 'Castle Leoch'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 1.02 "Castle Leoch"

Claire is taken to meet the Laird of Clan Mackenzie. As suspicions about her grow, Claire befriends the mysterious Geillis Duncan. When the clan discover her medical skills, Claire goes from guest to prisoner.

"Castle Leoch" is a much stronger episode than the premiere largely because it doesn't have to spend so much time establishing Claire's world in 1945. Now, the majority of the story is set in 1743 and at Clan MacKenzie's Castle Leoch. The premiere did an excellent job at hinting at what this universe would be like. And now, we are fully immersed in it. New characters are introduced - Colum MacKenzie, Mrs. Fitzgibbons and Geillis Duncan. All of whom will be valuable members of this ensemble show. The world just sparks instantly. We are just as much outsiders to this world as Claire is and the show isn't afraid to embrace that mood. Gaelic is a prominent language in this region. The show doesn't shy away from that and is completely comfortable just letting several people speak Gaelic without subtitles. Everything has to be translated to Claire and to us.

And Claire is fully under the believe that she will be with the Scottish clan for just five days - until she can hitch a ride and return to the stones that brought her to this period in time. She works hard to present a believable story to her hosts. But that isn't without hassles. Suspicion is quite high about her. No one outside of Jamie trusts her. He is willing to protect her. Mrs. Fitz is willing to give her food, clothes and put her to work. But Colum and Dougal know that she's hiding something from them. That not only establishes them as leaders but as leaders who are actually quite skilled at their jobs. They recognize that something is off with her. They can't place just what. So they need to keep her as their "guest" until they are 100 percent certain that she is not a spy and could bring about the destruction of Clan MacKenzie. Until such time arrives, she will serve the clan as their new healer. That skill has kept her alive several times already - and will likely be helpful again in the near future. All Claire wants is to get back to her time. So when that plan is shut down in front of her, it is completely devastating. That moment wouldn't have worked if the show hadn't put in the time developing the stuff in 1945. Now she finds herself as a prisoner in the very same room that she was so empowered in when she was there with Frank in the 20th century.

"Castle Leoch" also makes it even more apparent that Jamie enjoys taking pain for others. He took a flogging from Captain Randall just so his sister wouldn't have to go sleep with the devilish redcoat. Then when Mrs. Fitz's granddaughter was issued a beating, he was comfortable stepping in as her replacement. He's very protective of people. He knows how much pain his body can take. He knew that he could take that beating from his uncles. He would get over it in a couple of days unlike the young woman. That could be seen as chivalrous. Mrs. Fitz is very gracious that he did that for her granddaughter. But Claire is worried about him and how he's still injured from being shot. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Castle Leoch" was written by Ronald D. Moore and directed by John Dahl.
  • Colum may suffer from a disease that will eventually cripple him but he's still such a powerful and decisive leader.
  • The townsfolk believe that Geillis is a witch because of the herbs she uses for medicinal purposes. A label that is sure to be attached to Claire very soon because of her medical knowledge from the 20th century.
  • Loved the little scene between Claire and Mrs. Fitz about Claire's modern day undergarments.
  • Claire: "Is there ever a good reason for rape?" Yes! This show continues to be such a strong proponent of feminism that is still important to talk about today.