Outlander "Castle Leoch" Review: A Real Bodice-Ripper

By Lily Sparks

Aug 17, 2014

Outlander S01E02: "Castle Leoch"

As of “Castle Leoch”, Outlander is literally a bodice-ripper. Whereas once I thought “bodice-ripper” was a cheeky way to reference a certain lusty, historical-romance sensibility, in Outlander we quite literally saw Jamie’s sister Jenny Fraser get her bodice ripped clean off, and it did not look easy. With all that stiff fabric, tearing a bodice must be like trying to rip a phone book in half. Props to the actor playing Black Jack Randall for managing that one-handed, though I suspect a break-away bodice was involved. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Claire arrived at Castle Leoch with Jamie after two days of hard riding, and she was now disoriented enough that she had no idea how to get back to the standing stones, assuming they would even get her home. Luckily the castle was outfitted with a cozy woman with a heart like a teapot (warm, yet breakable): the lovely Mrs. Fitzsimmons, who ran out to meet the Highlanders at the gate and most importantly encouraged Claire to help Jamie go and take his shirt off get his bandage changed.

This led to the nasty reveal that Jamie’s back looks like a roast cooked with the string wrapped 'round, all criss-crossed with deep, juicy scars. Jamie explained that he got them trying to defend the honor of his sister from Black Jack Randall and his crew of extremely inappropriate redcoat soldiers.

Not five minutes later, apparently hungry for the spotlight, Claire was swept away imagining what Frank was going through now that she’d been gone for two days (a book about genealogy, I’d imagine) and started weeping. When Jamie asked why, she choked out, “My husband!” 

“Is he not alive?” asked Jamie, and Claire was like “Actually... no... I’m single. I’m so, so single!” 

The two embraced, and then remember they’d been on the road for two days and both needed showers and reluctantly parted ways. For Claire, it was time to get some rest before her big 18th-century makeover curtesy Mrs. Fitzgibbert, which would involve her bra getting some major side-eye, but when it was all done Claire looked EVEN HOTTER:

Knit gauntlets and an up-do suit her well. She was made presentable for an audience with the Laird MacKenzie and used her time in his study to rummage around his papers to figure out the actual year was 1743 before the Laird shows up at the door, surprising her with both his abrupt entrance and CGI legs.

Seriously, what in the world? The special effects here are maybe a little extreme, but sure. Let’s roll with it. The Laird MacKenzie grilled her on how she managed to wander into a battlefield wearing a dress made out of a fabric I don’t think had even been invented yet and Claire rapped out a cockamamie story about journeying to France to live with relatives there. She received a lot more side-eye from the Laird, but he told her he could arrange transportation for her as far as Inverness, in five days' time. Claire had five days of vacation in the 18th century whether she liked it or not. And maybe she liked it, after all.

It turns out that plucking mushrooms, wearing bodices, and watching Jamie train a young spirited horse to surrender to his touch are not the worst ways to spend a week. Claire was going above and beyond in terms of diligently changing those bandages, and Jamie was not complaining. The two even managed a picnic lunch date during which Jamie forgot to cross his ankles and also told Claire there was a price on his head. He is a wanted man in every sense.

Unfortunately there was also the fact her bullshit story to the Laird wasn't really fooling anyone. MacKenzie got a few glasses of wine in her and everything started falling apart. She also put her foot in her mouth in a very big way by mistaking the Laird’s heir for the Laird’s brother's son. When she innocently said to the boy that she saw him playing with his father Dougal, everyone got extremely quiet and angry, like you do when someone makes an honest mistake, and it was all so awkward and she was so drunk that she had to fake a stomach bug just to get out of the room. Dougal had her followed the rest of the week, and it became clear that her half-baked story and overall unaccountable appearance in the 18th century were not going over very well. 

On her last night in the Castle Leoch, Claire attended the stately tradition of the Hall, where the Laird MacKenzie shimmied in on his CGI legs to sit in state and and dole out judgement on all the complaints, requests, and cases of his clan. Mrs. Fitzbibbins had even managed to scrape together an elegant beaded choker for Claire, so it must've been quite an event.

When a young girl was pulled before the Laird to receive harsh justice for like, winking at gentlemen or something ridiculous, she was condemned to a whipping, but Jamie came forward and offered to take the beating for her. We were then treated to the sight of Jamie, who just last episode was shot and had his arm broken, getting pummeled mercilessly in full sight of everyone he knows. Claire was horrified and chased him down after the ordeal to firmly chasten him for putting his perfect pectorals at risk again... and also to tell him she would be leaving the next day.

There was a tinge of regret when Claire told Jamie she was leaving, and then the young girl, Laoghaire turned up and Claire, fooling no one, was like, “Excuse me, someone wants to talk to you hahaha I’ll make myself scarce so you two unattached kids can go at it” and went back to her room to, I’m guessing, write down all the reasons she loves her hubby Frank until her quill or her hand (or her heart) broke and then sob herself to sleep, whispering Jamie’s name as she finally drifted off. Anyhoo.

The next day Mrs. Fitzibble comes through with a FUR RUFF for Claire’s journey to Inverness—which, whoa, very decadent. Claire had a basket all packed and was ready to return ( to the future!) when Dougal showed up and said Laird Collum needed to see her.

Claire immediately sensed this was not good news and besides, the tinker was on a tight schedule as there were metal items up and down the land that needed tinkered with and she didn’t want to get left behind. But Dougal was insistent, and he led her through a labyrinthine hallway Claire remembered to a dark, drafty surgery basement, where the Laird revealed to her that she would be staying indefinitely as his new doctor. It wasn't so much a promotion as a nightmare for Claire (no more lunch dates in the stables?!), but the Laird MacKenzie told her that until he knew for a fact that she wasn't an English spy he had no other choice. 

He said something like, “You have secrets, and whether they’re the kind of secrets every woman has in her heart or something more, I’m not letting you leave until you find out.” (As a woman, my secret is that I CAN’T get drunk on Fireball Whiskey. Believe me, I’ve tried! I don’t know what it is. I should figure out some way to make it work for me. Like go into the CIA and question people after we’ve both had a few shots of Fireball. CIA, direct message me for details.)

Ahem. Still, as viewers, we have to be a little relieved that Claire isn’t going anywhere yet. The real story is with handsome, captivating, wronged outlaw Jamie, and the closer she is to him, the happier we’ll be. Sorry, Frank.


... What are your secrets?

... Did the special effects team get a little too extreme with the Laird’s ankles, or did the computer rendering seem accurate to “Toulouse Lautrec syndrome”? I’m no doctor, but would he really be able to walk smoothly if his muscles were that displaced and atrophied?

... If you were Claire, would you want to return to the 1940s or would you be down to stick around for a little bit?

... How much do you bet this is Loreena McKennitt’s favorite new show?

  • Comments (62)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • jennlass Aug 27, 2014

    Oh yay - I am so glad you are recapping/reviewing this one, Lily!

  • nanoute Aug 21, 2014

    I am So happy that they are keeping the dialogue and pretty much everything the same from the book! I'm not interested in another True Blood series (where everything went off book.. ). Fingers crossed they keep going in this direction :)

  • songokou77 Aug 19, 2014

    One last last thing lol why aren't you guys reviewing The Knick? Besides Outlander which I am liking very much I truly have fallen in love with The Knick. The camera work, the soundtrack, the actors, the overall interesting plot( even if it somehow falls into 18th century House, which is both fair and unfair)

  • harpier Aug 19, 2014

    Whatever else The Knick is, it doesn't strike me as anything at all like House. (It's early 20th century, as well, not 18th.) Despite my difficulty watching some of the premiere episode, I LOVED it. Episode 2 was considerably more underwhelming, but I have hopes for the series...if I can stand to keep watching. Early surgery is just gruesome.

  • songokou77 Aug 23, 2014

    I mentioned House because I saw a bit of the diagnostics play in a part of the episode, but I'm loving it. The music is weirdly modern and everything looks great.

  • songokou77 Aug 19, 2014

    Also I think I haven't seen the actress playing Claire before, she is wonderful, but for a long while she looked to me as a slimmer Anna Torv aka. Olivia Dunham lol

  • songokou77 Aug 19, 2014

    Do you guys even Ken? hahahaha I was lost a bit at first, but love that they stick to language this well.

  • LaurenLS Aug 18, 2014

    I would be going right back to the 1940s. I know enough about grooming habits and bathing in the 18th century that I wouldn't want to be there very long.

    I love how she totally bactracked out of having a husband though. Very funny.

  • harpier Aug 19, 2014

    I agree about the odors of 18th-century life. Gabaldon mentions it early in Claire's time-traveling but—probably since it would be tiresome to keep reminding her readers—she more or less lets it fall away. Perhaps we need scratch-and-sniff novels...and television. I suppose for those living in it, unlike Claire who knew otherwise, it's just the way life smelled, in the same way people who live in New York (or other major cities) aren't bothered by most urban smells and people who live in farming areas aren't bothered by the smells of most livestock.

    As for Frank, there's certainly a "convenience" in losing her husband in time, though I suspect her reluctance to tell people about Frank stems from her instinct to keep as much about her personal life as she can to herself, like her last name.

  • stopeer Aug 18, 2014

    1. Nothing concerning CIA.

    2. Don't know, I've never seen a person affected by that disease.

    3. With all the strength I have, I would want to go back to the 40s. The 18th century doesn't seem like my place, I just doubt I can live with all that mud.

    4. Not much.

  • janewarren31924 Aug 18, 2014

    Brilliant! Love your review! Too funny! I am soooooooo addicted to Outlander!

  • pa-tan Aug 18, 2014

    ... Not telling! cause they are all boring and involve dirty books
    ... Thank G I wasn't the only one thinking that the Laird shouldn't be able to walk! I mean I am no expert but still it seems unlikely that a men that old with those legs would be walking as fast as the Laird was.
    ... If I were Claire I wouldn't be as half as comfortable as she was specially with the corset and lack of shampoo and make up. So nop I wouldn´t stay around unless Jamie´s fabulous abs were infront of me *sigh*
    ... er nothing?

    So Claire is a suspect of being a spy - assassin and they left her in charge of being the castle's healer.... No wonder people's life expectancy was really low.

  • anthonyclay37 Aug 18, 2014

    Why did they show her nude for no reason. Could have at least had her hide her boobs. If you're going to show a main actor nude it should be a purpose or good scene. save it not waste in second episode pointless scene.

  • dofuscato Aug 18, 2014

    But the nudity in itself is the purpose, is it not?

  • See More Comments (22)