It’s Sunday morning and I’ve just finished watching Outlander episode 2.2 “Not in Scotland Anymore” for the third time. In the past , I’ve found that it takes me three viewings to be able to just watch the episode for what it is. This season has been no different. The first time I watch, I find my knowledge of the book interferes with my enjoyment. The second time I watch, I’m looking at the episode with a critics’ eye. I watch the third time with my husband who has never read the books. I note when and why he reacts to what is happening on the screen and grudgingly answer his questions (can the man just not read the books already).
MY FIRST VIEWING
After my first viewing, I found myself not being sure I liked the episode. Good Lord, I thought, they put half the book in one episode! It was disorienting and felt choppy to me. I felt that the scenes lacked the impact of the scenes I read in Diana Gabaldon’s book. The scene that was most drastically altered for me was meeting Alex Randall and the news that his brother Black Jack was alive. Ron and crew warned us that this book was much more complicated and therefore more difficult to adapt. Adapt they did.
I also had a question answered for me in this first episode. When pictures of costumes and sets were leaked there was quite some disagreement as to how that would affect fans’ enjoyment of the show. Terry Dresbach, expressed her disappointment and tried to explain why she felt it was best to wait to see the costumes in the context of the story, as designed and intended. She has since backed off..a bit..from that belief, after being impressed by Starz PR campaign using the red dress. Many fans, starved for news about the new season, proclaimed that seeing they costumes only heightened their excitement and they felt seeing the costumes ahead of time would not affect their enjoyment of the show. I wasn’t so sure. I wondered how seeing these images early would affect my viewing. Would I still be able to suspend my disbelief and become immersed in the story?
There was absolutely no way to avoid seeing images of the sets or costumes if you were on social media. I began to wonder if there would be anything we hadn’t seen before the season started! But, surely, I proclaimed they wouldn’t release the image of the red dress whose reveal was an important moment. Jamie’s reaction was one of the funniest and most endearing moments in the book. So, color me surprised when I saw that red creation painted across magazine layouts and even the side of a building. It was a striking image to be sure and even caught my daughter’s attention who has never shown any interest in reading the books or watching the show. So, I’m sure there was some PR savvy employed in deciding to use that image to catch potential viewers’ attention, but I have to say, in this one instance, my enjoyment was diminished. The big reveal moment was ruined for me. I needed to be as surprised as Jamie.
This dress needed to be seen for the first time in the context of the show. It felt anticlimactic and that is a shame because it was filmed beautifully.
MY SECOND VIEWING
The second viewing had me looking at how the story had been adapted. I felt more charitable about the flow and could totally see how most of the changes were going to work. Except, for Claire knowing that Jack Randall lives. As book readers know, the moment that both Jamie and Claire come face to face with BJR was full of suspense and foreboding. However, I have learned to be a bit more patient and to give the writers the benefit of a doubt. They always seemed to bring the story around to where it needs to go and develop the characters to reflect the people I knew from the books.
I was able to appreciate the wonderful creativity of the costumes, sets, and filming. It was more than believable. I can imagine myself watching this over and over again just to see what wonderful images and details I missed the first 10 times through. It truly was a feast for the eyes. But, beautiful sets, costumes and scenery aren’t enough if the story isn’t as beautiful or worthy of its setting.
MY THIRD VIEWING
I have no real idea why, but three truly is the magic number for me, LOL! After a good night’s sleep, a couple of cups of coffee, and some “parritch” (thanks Jamie), I was ready to watch this thing for real. The theme that stood out for me was the one I think they intended. They weren’t in Scotland anymore! It might as well have been Oz because everyone in our trio definitely felt themselves to be outlanders and some of the creatures they met as were as odd and different as a cowardly lion, tin man, and scarecrow. Everybody was uncomfortable as shite!
Poor Jamie. Thank you to Ron and the writers for continuing to allow Jamie to deal with his trauma. It goes a long way in making up for what was the short-changing in “somebody has to go into the darkness” I felt in the last episode of season 1. In true Jamie fashion, he accepts his reality and keeps putting a foot forward. Can’t we all relate to the idea that we can’t stop thinking or rethinking some traumatizing issue. It’s tough to get things “out of our head”. This is a problem Jamie cannot solve with a sword or charm or wit. Like all victims of such violence, he can only accept it and find a way to live the best he can. His higher purpose of trying to save Scotland helps, he has something to concentrate on besides himself. I loved his lighter uncomfortable moments as well. We were ready for some comic relief! His reaction to his former flame, the foot kissing suitor, and the King’s not so personal personal issues were amusing and helped set the story and his place in it.
Poor Claire. Her ability as a healer has to be chaffing a bit. She has helped Jamie heal physically, but we see her struggle to help him mentally. How difficult it is for us to see a love one suffer and not know how to help. My heart breaks for her and Jamie as it was made obvious that Black Jack is part off an unwanted ménage a’ trois . I felt her concern and fear. Her efforts to entice Jamie to her bed with a waxed honey pot was endearing and sad.
Claire’s discomfiture with the role she now finds herself in is so fitting with who she is as a person. The fussiness and general restrictive situation must feel like a prison to a woman who sees herself as an equal to any man. You just know the incident with the poxed ship won’t be the last time her modern sensibilities will get them in trouble.
Loved her lighter moments as well. Claire and Mary watching the “waxing” was hilarious and her interaction with Master Raymond charming ( Good Lord! that , his vest, the shoppee, the music and the wonderful ladders…loved it!)
I know it won’t serve the story, but I’m about to join the “Save Murtaugh” campaign! of all of the characters Murtaugh’s uncomfortableness was the most acute and the most entertaining. Some great quotable one-liners that I’m sure @ConnieBV will soon turn into entertaining gifs.
“assholes and armpits” “lard bucket and big head” “only in France does the King need an audience to shit”
The fleshing out of his characters has been one of the best things the adaptation has done. His “sunny disposition” and loyalty to Jamie and Claire is an absolute delight!
The characters in this story aren’t the only ones who are feeling uncomfortable as shite. The politics are staring to feel dangerous already. If Murtaugh doesn’t slit Prince Charlie’s throat, I think I just might. Love how he is being portrayed. The Duke of Sandringham is a piece of work and I want to kick his cowardly lion ass! It was crazy being at the King’s levee and swan nipple jewelry? (cringing)
Overall, I felt it was an episode that intended to set the scene and introduce us to the players. The costumes and sets served the story and characters well and the story was worthy. I’m intrigued with how the writers will be moving the story forward and look forward to next week’s installment of life in Paris and Versailles. Vive Les Frasers!