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Outlander S01E04: "The Gathering"


Outlander’s fourth episode, “The Gathering,” opened with Claire frolicking in a damp field with a bunch of ragamuffins, the kiddies deliriously laughing at their protean game of tag. But the joke was on them as Claire had been engaging in the game primarily to chart an escape route from the castle out into the wilderness, and from there to the standing stones! That’s right, our fourth episode was Outlander: Prison Break, and Claire was determined to get back to Frank if it was the last thing she ever did! (“Why?” we all wondered, silently. “He seems so dull?”)




Claire had cleverly (or perhaps stupidly) decided to make a break for freedom during the titular Gathering, a time when every member of the clan MacKenzie would descend on Castle Leoch to pledge fealty to the Laird and get a fine sip of his rennish in return. She'd bundled up a bindle of food, counted out the number of watchmen, memorized their positions throughout the day. Even though Miss Fitzmuffin pressured her into putting on some extremely drab formalwear and making an appearance at the oath-takings, Claire suavely drugged her personal guard, snuck past the watchman, clouted Dougal on the head when he made a pass at her in a corridor, and successfully made it to the stables! Freedom was in sight!


And then, she tripped over Jamie.


Freud says there are no mistakes, and faced with braining Jamie and riding for the standing stones (and back to Frank) or just sheepishly confessing the whole plot to Jamie and hanging out with him for a while, guess what she did? She told Jamie all her problems. We don’t blame you, Claire. It’s hard to whip up a sense of urgency in getting back to old Frankie boy. Wouldn’t we all rather bundle down in the hay with Jamie and crack jokes and drink whiskey while everyone else pledges oaths than return to Frank, with his genealogy obsession and utter refusal to crack a smile?


“The Gathering” was the first episode of Outlander that pitted Claire against a ticking clock. She had a limited window of time in which to achieve a goal, and when she failed, the conflict shifted. Naturally, it shifted to the primary concern of the series: Beautiful Jamie is at RISK! Yes, because of Claire’s shenanigans, Jamie’s own, more humble plot (to hide out with the horses) was discovered, and he was dragged forcefully to the Gathering where he would be faced with a terrible choice. Either (A) pledge fealty to the MacKenzies and put a target on his head for emerging as a strong contender to be the next Laird, or (B) not pledge fealty and be killed by a thousand drunken MacKenzies for disrespecting the Gathering. But Jamie, because he is Perfect, came up with option (C): Sweet-talk the Laird, assuring him of his loyalty but assuring all other concerned parties that he was not interested in ascending to the throne (chair? tuffet?) of Laird Mackenzie.


Well done, Jamie. Thanks to his smooth diplomacy, everyone could just relax and go on a boar hunt, except boars are apparently faster and deadlier than Batman and managed to kill poor Jody, which meant that Claire, who was brought along on the boar hunt as a protean EMT, had to hold his hand and talk him through dying. Thanks to a truly amazing performance by Caitriona Balfe, we understood immediately that Claire had done this many, many, many times, too many times dear Lord, as a nurse during World War ll.




Then everyone played field hockey, a sport beloved by hot high school girls on the East Coast and a crazy Laird-to-be who wanted to crack some balls and send people face-first into campfires.


"The Gathering" was a weird episode, I’m not going to lie. It featured a premise with a lot of urgency that promised thrills and chills but was deflated almost immediately, and then it moved through several arbitrary moments that didn’t branch organically from the A-story but attempted to naturalistically convey what a “gathering” would've been like for a healer. That’s kind of the stumble of Outlander as a series; the show is following a book with a lot of detail that wasn't written to any real standard format, because it’s hard to apply a realist approach to time travel. It's admirable and enjoyable as a concept, but challenging for those viewers used to a show hitting very specific story beats. 

There was also the unforgivable line, “There’s no place like love” which Claire gave Laoghaire as a spell to use to win Jamie’s heart through magick (along with some powdered horse dung).





The hour ended with a very promising cliffhanger (though, honestly, every episode so far has ended with a very promising cliffhanger): Next week, Claire is on the road with Dougal and Jamie collecting the rents! Scenery is going to change! Stasis will shift! Normal will be no more!

As the final sample in our 4-Episode test, “The Gathering” affirmed what has been apparent from the outset: Though Outlander boasts a beautiful setting and incredible art direction, it’s a series about INTERNAL drives and conflicts. The real action takes place in the characters' hearts and minds, and you have to identify strongly with the proxy to feel those highs and lows. The primary arc will always focus on Claire’s experience in the Highlands, her decisions regarding Frank, and her decisions regarding Jamie.

Personally, I love that. I love character studies, I love naturalism—especially in period entertainment—and I love stories that chart emotional geography. To viewers who are looking for peppy battle scenes or a traditional A-story/B-story, false defeat/catharsis/resolution/return to the status quo story wheel, a character study will at times feel quite slow. Outlander is “slow” in that Claire's experience is unfolding in real time, just as it does in the book, taking us through the day-by-day of a surreal situation. This series is not by any means giving us the “best parts” version of a huge, wordy tome. It’s developing the themes and events of the book with painstaking faithfulness.

So, my 4-Episode Test verdict is a little tricky. There are a couple caveats. But here’s what I want to say: If you’re a fan of the books by any means, you’re a fool not to watch Outlander. Like, you are the Grinch on Christmas. You’ll never find a production as highly budgeted, as faithful, as dedicated to the source material. Hell, the author herself, Diana Gabaldon, even guest-starred in this episode. The production is LEGIT.


If you are someone who rolls your eyes at a character study and a slower, more thoughtful pace, this series is simply not for you. God bless and move on. Gotham is premiering soon and looks AMAZING. Enjoy. 

If you’re on the fence, I implore you to stick with this series. Outlander has only scratched the surface of the themes explored the books and the relationship between Jamie and Claire. However, let me add this disclosure: If you are someone who is going to experience PTSD from depictions or discussion of sexual assault, know that these themes will come into play both on and offscreen. I don’t want to spoil anything, maybe I just saw Clarissa too young, but TRIGGER WARNING. A million times a trigger warning.

All told, I love Outlander. If I were Diana Gabaldon I’d worry that I'd somehow sold my soul to the devil to get such a prestige retelling that’s so faithful to its source. The cast is amazing, the setting and overall production are captivating. The thoughtfulness invested in developing Claire and Jamie as individuals and as a couple is perfect. The books couldn’t have asked for a better adaptation. Four episodes in, Outlander has left a lasting impression thanks to the overall quality of the production. More of this please, and thank you, Starz. 

What is your 4-Episode Test verdict on Outlander? Keep watching or head for the inlands?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 7/9/2016

Season 2 : Episode 13

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I agree wholeheartedly with @LilySparks review and 4-ep test. I've binged this weekend watching the 4 whole episodes and I am very impressed.
  • Not only the scenery is fantastic but the characters are heartfelt and properly fleshed out ie not one-dimensional: from the Mrs. Fitz to the complex brothers in charge Colum and Dougal and Claire's girlfrenemy (Geillis Duncan I think), you can tell they have their good and not so good sides. The lack of cliche is such a rarity these days.
  • I especially love that Claire hasn't suddenly fallen in love with the bucolic lifestyle of the highlands (in fact we have seen plenty of harsh reality) nor with Jamie even if she has the hots for him (obvs. who doesn't?!?). I actually appreciate that the unavoidable hook up with Jamie hasn't happened yet.
  • Even the small plots around a boar hunt or a boy's 'exorcism' are a good watch even if the most interesting is of course the time travelling
  • The actress playing Claire is doing an amazing job and kudos to her because most of her experience before 2012 was being a model. So WOW lady!
Esp. considering all the total trash there's on TV right now this show is a total winner... Well done Starz and it doesn't even have too much gratuitous nudity/sex (or at least not for now minus perhaps the pilot)


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For me it's definitely a keeper... I like slow and in depth, well acted and staged. What else can I say? I feel like reading a book!

Will try to look for and read the books as well LOL
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Claire and Jamie should just get it on already. All the sexual tension is just plain silly dilly. Can't wait to see how Claire is gonna escape and if those magic rocks of hers will work to bring her back to her boring present.
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I think what you just said in a very nice way is that Outlander is not for dummies. ☺️
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Well I like it and I'm sort of a dummy so that can't be true!
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The field hockey is either called hurling if you're Irish and shinty if you're Scottish.That oath ceremony was long wasn't it? I bet Laird Squinty Legs wa dying for a nice sitdown and cup of rhennish made from fresh rhenns picked only that morning..
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It passed my 4-epsidoe test and I'll keep watching it, really because I am devoted fan and I know this is only the start of a much more compelling and riveting story. And because of Jamie ;) But, as an avid fan of the books, I am finding myself in a situation very similar to when I saw the Harry Potter movies and took it personally (as an fan would!) to any plot alterations/exclusions. That aside, I can see that the writers are dragging on the episodes so that the 1st quater of the season dealt with Claire accepting the fact that she time traveled, getting acustomed to 18th century life, and using Leoch to set the stage for the much subtler political tension between Dougal and Jamie. Meanwhile, the writers are building on certain characters that didn't have many scenes in the books (Mrs. Fitzgibbons, Father Baine, Loaghaire, etc.) I understand that they're are doing it so that by the time they get to the "Cranesmuir" scene (side note--with things going so slow will that even make it to this 1st half of the season this fall, or will we have to wait until the 2nd half of the season this spring to see it?) it will all make more sense that it transpired from all of the tension building from the start. But I'm still agitated that they're pissing taking so much time on this and not getting to the good stuff-- i.e. the epic trip Claire is about to take with Jamie and the crew (IDK why, but I am so excited to meet Ned Gowan-- love me some Ned!)
I still have trouble with the fact that Claire's surgery is this huge dungeon and that she sleeps down there (...?) and feels like a prisoner. And what is up with Dougal's poor excuses for having her accompanying them on boar hunts and the rent collections because she is a physician and she'll be handy to have nearby. The boar hunt one I can forgive, but the rent collecting trip...why do the writers feel the need to keep inserting more conflict and aggression between Dougal, Collum and Claire when there is not that much (or at least that obvious) in the original plot? The reason she goes on the trip is because they say that there is an English officer they believe may be of some help to her and getting back on track to France (when really Dougal and Collum want to see how Claire interacts with a British officer and if it'll reveal whether or not she is an English or French spy).
Last but not least, I've been noticing some other viewers have posted about Claire's signature curse line: "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and about her constant motivation to return to Frank.
1.) She's said "JHRC" at least once per episode, so I don't think it is overused. I love this line because of the back story of its origin, and it is just so 20th century. However, as much as I love Caitrione Balfe's portrayal of Claire, I don't think she's mastered saying it as naturally/effortlessly as it reads in the books, which makes it stand out as a little awkward to viewers.
2.) And yes, every one is waxing on about how much Claire waxes on about escaping and getting back to the stones and back to (boring) Frank. I believe it is the writers just trying to reiterate to viewers (esp. those who haven't read the books) that Claire has just survived a MAJOR war, finally been reunited with her husband and starting a fresh life, free of danger or dilemmas. So I don't blame her for acknowledging that it is unnatural for her to be in the 18th century, and that she doesn't particularly want to be there. Of course she doesn't! Someone she cares about (no matter how boring he may seem) is home worried about her, and she about him. There is no electricity, modern medicine, science, nor a place for her as a woman. Plus, there is danger around every corner for her as a woman, and because she is English. She knows her history and that more war is ahead.
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I liked the show a lot, the only "little" problem I have with it is that I'm not Scottish!!!!
Then I lost a lot of what they say :D!
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A lot of it is in unsubtitled Gaillic, so you get the feeling of how Claire would have felt being in a place where she doesn't speak the language. You're not alone!
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It is more an accent's problem than a vocubulary’s problem.
I know the word but too "badly" spoken.
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I think Claire thinks of going home mainly cause she is suppossed to want to get back.
And I do think that she has been treated exceptionally well for an outlander and a woman with different ideals and customs, for now... I hope. In a series like this I want confrontation, action and more of Jaime shirtless! Not everything can be easy and with a hint of suspicion.
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Four episode test score: Full marks. Extreme win.
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It doesn't need to be this slow. I appreciate a good character study and it is a good way to think of it. But the characters are mainly defined by actions--especially Jamie and his sense of responsibility. Claire ineffectually trying to get home to a boring unattractive man isn't a compelling plot. I keep hoping it will pick up and get out of Claire's head, but faithful to the books it is remaining. I find myself constantly wanting to read faster. Instead like the cast, the show is overly emphatically emphasizing every. single. word.

Please: we can walk and talk at the same time, we can say more than two words without stopping, we don't need to reiterate the plainly obvious with voice over. Oh Claire wants to go home? She is lonely? She is ready? Packing a bag and staking out ways to disappear makes it perfectly clear she is plotting an escape, don't retell. They actually had conversations this episode and that is so so much better than listening to Claire talk.
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Oh, and please. It's Rhenish, not "rennish," a wine from the Rhineland region of southwest Germany.
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Nobody gives a damn but you about the spellings of your obscure proper nouns.
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Yeah, well, I only drink shampane and mirlow anyway.
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Twoshay.
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You two are hilarious (sorry can't figure how to misspell that properly)
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I'm sticking with it! As you said- if you're a fan of the book series you'd be crazy not to watch this (or something along those lines).
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Another great episode!!!
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I'm lovin' the series, but getting a bit tired of Claire trying and failing to return to boring Frank, if she does go back to him, betcha anything, she returns to Jamie.
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I'm not going to say that it is bad. It is a very good show, the acting is great and it is shot well. But it isn't really must see for me. I like it all right, but for me, it seems that they are dragging out the obvious hook up between Claire and the MacTavish guy in order to keep those with XY chromosomes around. I am not sure if that was the case in the book or it is just made a little more obvious on the show. It is a good show, but once that dam breaks I am sure they are going to lose a good deal of their male viewership.

Oh and there was a critic somewhere, or maybe it was a Starz presser, but someone, somewhere said this was Starz' answer to Game of Thrones. That person should be fired or Slapped or some type of reprimand given. Because no.
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I'm not sure I agree with you on the romance bit. I'm not typically a big fan of romance plots, or (more accurately) plots that depend heavily on them. While I appreciate this particular relationship more than most, largely because (again, unlike a lot of other Outlander readers) it's such a fraught one that doesn't shy away from its conflicts or problems, I think once Claire and Jamie get together, the novel—and hopefully the show will follow suit—is able to allow other conflicts to take center stage. So far, the show's been pretty heavy-handed with their flirtation. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. But for all the sex they'll have, Claire and Jamie's relationship gets far less dependent on doe-eyed gazing, and that's definitely a good thing. After that, those viewers a little less enamored with the romance-y bits—including, I assume, your "male viewership"—might very well enjoy it more. Of course, that all depends on how the adaptation chooses to go about its business.
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Perhaps. It really is determined by how the runners and writers of the show. I have more faith in them than other shows, mostly because nearly everything in this show is done at a very high level. I am just concerned about the love story. Sometimes shows, perhaps lesser shows, don't portray it well and tend to hit you over the head with it constantly which can lead a segment of their viewers to run away from the show. I have nothing that would suggest that this show would do that other than they seem to be dancing around a bit with the love story despite even lay people like me with no knowledge of books knowing that it is coming. That I have to question their intentions and again I have no knowledge of the books, this could be the same timeline as the book and their burgeoning relationship, but for me as a viewer and a male viewer at it seems like they are putting it off a bit in order to hook attempt to hook us. I presume this because I think they need a strong viewership in both genders in order to show Starz that they are worth it to keep around.

But I could be wrong. I know the era fairly well historically and know the geography of the area extremely well and they have loads of potential stories that they could, if added well with the love story, could be very well integrated and keep all types of viewers engaged in the show. I guess we shall see. It has passed my 4 episode test and I will continue to watch it, but it isn't necessarily a priority anymore.
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Love this show! This episode seemed a bit slower than the other 3, but that's because it's warming up for things that will happen soon. Everything will change. I started reading the book after I watched 2 episodes of the series (reading the second book now) and I can say I loved the book and the show is very loyal to it. So if someone have read the books and did not like them, I would advise not to watch the show. I can't wait for next week!
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While I enjoyed many aspects of this episode, none more so than Dougal's final visit to Claire in her surgery, I think it was easily the weakest—not just the slowest—of the first four. But I also anticipate that things will really kick off next week once they hit the road. And I really can't wait to meet Ned Gowan, the filibustering champion.
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I'm loving this show. It definitely passed the 4 episode test for me.
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I waited for the 4 ep test and I think I am going to start watching it. It seems my kind of show :)
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calling that Field hockey is saying Rugby/American Football is like soccer. It looks more like hurling.
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Is it just possible that calling it field hockey is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that this is a foreign culture and we Americans are just not going to get some things and to the uninitiated it looks vaguely - without our contacts in - like field hockey? We shouldn't have to know all the subtle details of highland culture to enjoy - or comment upon - the show.
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It's called Shinty and is mainly played in the Highlands of Scotland.
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To be honest I have thought I would not love this show and would get bored. But somehow I really started liking this show. There is something about it that just captures your attention and keeps you hooked.
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I love it and yes, it passed all the tests))
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The catch-up at the beginning of each episode always throws me. The scenes make perfect sense and didn't seem at all ridiculous when taking place during their episodes but hearing Claire say each week 'I had somehow time-traveled' just sounds so out of place and bizarre.
Also- 'I must get back to the stones or die trying'?!
Claire, don't you mean, 'if at first I don't succeed- hang out with Jamie some more, and then give it another go'?

Anyhow I read the first book voraciously and now love the real-time aspect of the show.

Poor Claire is so used to electricity that she leaves dozens of candles burning in her sick bay all day and night, I guess burning the castle down is Escape Plan B.
And Plan C will be to ask Geillis for advice- because there is no way Geillis hadn't figured out Claire's intentions within five seconds of setting foot in the sick bay. There's a potential fanfiction right there, Claire and Geillis escape and ride to Craig Na Dun Thelma and Louise style.

I do wish there were subtitles for the Gaelic, but there's always someone nearby to translate for Claire and points to all the actors for the skill in speaking the language.
For a serving girl, Laoghaire was exceptionally well dressed. Speaking of- where are all Claire's clothes coming from? I assume Collum's wife unless an H&M employee decided time travel was preferable to working a Sunday shift on the registers (we've all been there, it's totally a viable choice)

For those with a vague understanding of Scottish history, the reason there was extra sentries posted around the night of the Gathering with 'all the fighting men inside' was because in 1692 there had been a brutal massacre in Glencoe by men who had been invited into the home of the victims by the laws of highland hospitality. So the Laird would still be worried about attacks as explained in the book.

Am I the only one whose feet and legs ached just looking at poor Collum standing for hours on end?

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My only complaint is the casting of the female lead. I don't know which is more annoying, her incessant whining or the fact she says "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" every 10 minutes. The scene with Jamie in the barn was almost unbearable.
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The Roosevelt Christ thing is a bit much (it's a bit much in the book, too) but Balfe didn't write the lines. But I don't know I've come to really enjoy her as a proxy. I find her voice super soothing. If they did another audio version of the book with her reading I'd snap it up.
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Obviously you've never read the book. The casting is spot on for the book character of Claire. And 'Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ' is her signature swear, if you will. A little silly, yes but I guess it's her way of swearing and getting around saying something worse - but god knows she doesn't mind saying worse. . .

I also wouldn't call her a whinger. You just hear all her internal thoughts, just like the book, of which I am sure you as well as everyone else has. It's basically going to be an entire show of her thinking about stuff, so you might want to quit while you're ahead.
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Eventually even Gabaldon stopped with everything being in Claire's head. It gets tedious and all the action happens off the page. I'm with @Elleee we don't need the constant narration. We can see it in a way you can't in the book. For me it is coming across as really heavy-handed. If you don't enjoy the casting of Claire, it is hard to always follow her around and have to listen to her saying things that reading you can gloss over but hearing are abysmally trite.
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I can like a book and accept it is far from perfect. Outlander is a good book séries but it has many flaws. I was hoping there wouldn't be a voice in the backround of the show. We don't need Claire to tell us what's happening, we see it !
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What show needs is that Reign soundtrack, you know the one with the guy practising playing guitar in his toilet really badly for hours,at least Outlander has some decent soundtrack, speaking of which listen to this, if you start to well up in the first 30 seconds, then congratulations or commiserations, you're Scottish!
http://thejaggythistle.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/no-im-fine-ive-just-something-in-my-eye.html
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They do the 40's music overlaying the Highlander scenes, which is clever but also a little silly.
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I really like the way Outlander uses the 40's music as a reminder of Claire's anachronism, especially since the show is, as much as possible at least, told from her point of view. Like the flashbacks, it's what's going on in Claire's head. I'll be interested to see if the show gradually weans her off of the 40's music as she becomes increasingly at home in the 18th century. Even her pop culture touchstones could change.
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Good point well made. I will be listening not as well to see if they start backgrounding teh 40's faves!
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Everything is gorgeous and lovely and perfect, but... meh? Something just doesn't seem to be connecting. I'll keep watching for Sam Heughan's beautiful face, but it definitely isn't a must-watch for me. (I didn't particularly like the books, either - I finished the first one and was like, nope. Nopenopenopenope. That's it. Done.)
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I had the same reaction vis a vis the books...the first book has a lot going for it, but by the end I felt like I had gotten through a traumatizing ordeal I was in no hurry to revisit.
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Yeah, it was a trauma congo towards the end... I also had MAJOR problems with how Jamie's "disciplining" of Claire and the aftermath played out.
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Reign Outlander cross over needs to happen.
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Well, if you're going to go nuts, then cross Outlander with Game of Thrones.
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But... There's a good 200 years between them. Reign takes place during the reign of Mary of Scots, c. 1550, while Outlander takes place during the reign of Mary's granddaughter's grandson, c. 1745.
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Psst...Reign has so little historical accuracy that it could so totally happen. Plus Reign has magic so Claire and Jamie could totally have an episode with Mary and Catherine
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true but claire does time travel. hehe
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Mary could always go to the standing stones and time travel.
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I'm enjoying this show so far, but I enjoy a good romance. I think a struggle that it has is that it's focusing (so far) too much on the romance in the books and not enough on all the other aspects of them.
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I agree mostly, but that seems to be more a pressure of the source material than anything. I anticipate things shifting a little now that they're on the road, and I anticipate things shifting dramatically when the show comes back from its hiatus in January.

I don't think the show has been exactly focusing on the romance plot, but it has made all the "romantic" moments and narrative beats very, very heavy-handed. I don't think it needed to, especially since as a reader I really resist this particular manner of reading Claire and Jamie's relationship. So, for instance, I think Claire should feel a tangible threat from him when she is first kidnapped by the Scots and forced back to Castle Leoch. The echoes that her sparring with Jamie after the ambush at Cocknammon Rock shares with Captain Randall's attempted rape at the foot of Craigh na Dun should be unsettling. In other words, their relationship is inevitable—in the sense that so much of Claire's journey seems propelled and marked by destiny, as is almost necessitated by all time-travel plots—but it should not be inevitable to the characters.
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You put in words here the problems that I've been having with the show and struggling to express.

I think in as much as the books are about the epicness of Jamie and Claire's love, they're also about so much more. Claire falls in love with Jamie because they're meant to be, but it isn't until after events that haven't happened in the show yet that she even realizes she's in love with him. There's an attraction, but there's also so much more going on - particularly her displacement in time and adjusting to the surroundings, but also her love for Frank (which I think the show has done a huge disservice to; the first book mostly sold me on the love between the Randalls, the show hasn't done that at all), so the books become something more than just about the love at its helm. The show, so far, has been moving somewhat slow (which I'm okay with), and placing more of an emphasis on the attraction than on Claire being out of time, making it come across as more of a love story than the books do (even if they're telling much of the same story at this point).
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Yes. Just yes. This is precisely why I genuinely don't understand readers/viewers who themselves can't understand why Claire would want to return to Frank because, obviously, there's a perfect—like walks-on-water perfect—Scottish hunk making soap-opera eyes at her. Jamie's intriguing and clever and built like a well-muscled door, but he's also part of a dangerous world that keeps showing its dirty, nasty underbelly. Any time Claire thinks she feels safe, another threat presents itself. Sometimes I think we get too distracted by the narrative momentum of romance story plots to recognize that that kind of written-in-the-stars love just doesn't actually work that way. Even if we buy into their epic love story, WE know Jamie may be her true love, but from CLAIRE'S perspective, he could easily be just another fading, handsome infatuation, just another hot, charming soldier passing through her hospital.

While I think I have a more favorable impression of the show's depiction of Frank than you do, I agree with every point you make about him. Their marriage is in flux, but I entirely believe in the love these two have for one another. It's not fleeting or superficial, though years and a war apart have blistered their chemistry and rapport. It's a terrible but all too common consequence of military service. [In their Outlander podcast—with the inspired title Outlander Cast—husband and wife duo Mary and Blake give a very heartfelt and sincere tribute to this in their response to Episode 1: here.] Now they have to learn how to live together again, and while they seem mostly to be doing their own things, they do share moments of witty flirtation and restorative sex.
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I agree completely. There's also the fact that while WE know Jamie is Claire's true love, Claire is still thinking that Frank is her true love.

I really like what you and the podcast have had to say about the Frank/Claire relationship. I like that they've shown the relationship as being in flux and all of that because it totally makes sense. My problem is more... the first time I read the first book, I saw chemistry between Claire and Frank. They were struggling to reconnect, yes, but there was still this chemistry between them. To me, as much as they were drawn apart by their different hobbies and passions (history vs. botany) they both also tried to show interest in the others passions, and were very grounded sexually. And as she went out of time and her relationship with Jamie developed I wasn't entirely sure who I wanted Claire to end up with - as a reader I knew who it would probably be, but there was an intense part of me that felt that Claire belonged with Frank as much as she belonged with Jamie (this opinion changed with time, but that's how I felt at the start). In the show though, I didn't get that chemistry between Claire and Frank. I can see that he loves her and I'm told that she loves him, but I don't feel it. I don't feel that he's really interested in her passions in the show, or that she's interested in his passions either, and the show placed a lot of the sex on her - Frank almost seems to be going "oh, okay, if we must" at times. At the same time, there is this amazing chemistry between Jamie and Claire, so as a viewer it's very easy for me to go "why the hell would you want to go back when you have this gorgeous Scottish hunk making googly eyes at you?"

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I don't mind it but it hasn't become a must watch
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Loving this show big time and I am not into romance plots.
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Maybe I need to have read the books to enjoy this?
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I'd give the first book a shot. The show feels slow, and a big part of that for me is the week long wait! I loved the books, they're the kind of big that tucks you in for two weeks. It would be a more cliched mommy romance if she just jumps into it with Jamie, in the beginning this book is not a romance, it's sci-fi. It gets really good, as I finished this episode I secretly wished it was on Netflix so I could binge watch more, I don't mind the slow pace just the wait (ironically, the series took 5+ years between books, so slow and steady is a theme...!)
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If you're not enjoying the TV series at all, I can't imagine that you'd find the novels much more entertaining. However, I find that because the show is predominantly faithful to the source material, the two complement each other exceptionally well, more so than just about any book-to-screen adaptation in recent memory. I find myself routinely revisiting and reconsidering scenes from the novel because of the show's interpretation of them. I also find that details from the novel can inform the show's smaller, subtler moments in equally interesting ways. (In particular, the nuances the actors often give particular moments are better appreciated with the novel in mind.)

If you find the show's structure (or the episodes' structures) strange or unwieldy, and this is a significant part of your criticism for the show, it's also worth mentioning that the same storytelling style works much better on the page. The latest episode, "The Gathering," is probably the most glaring example of this so far. While I expect the series to have a strong narrative rhythm and solid pacing, I anticipate that several individual episodes will continue to fall short on their own.

Last detail: The novel—and, it appears, the show as well—are basically two closely linked but separate stories. There's a significant shift in tone and conflict half-way through. So, once again, depending on the reasons you're unhappy with the show right now, you might really like the show later on, when it picks back up in January.
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No, if you're not enjoying it then I don't think reading the books will help. It is pretty faithful to the source material. I love the books (they are not huge, winding and boring as Emma says although that certainly does describe the later Game of Thrones books!) and will keep watching the series although it's not as good as I hoped it would be.
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LOL to each one its own I s'pose :D
(Oh, and I ditched GoT books too. I have no use for literary masturbation).
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Yeah at the risk of being pummeled with rocks & fists I infinitely prefer the tv series to the actual game of thrones books...and it was disturbing how young Daenarys was in the first book, she gets married at like what, 13, 14? and then boom: graphic sex scenes.I was like "uhhhhh" and moved on to another book.
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No ! Don't read the books ! They're no Game of Thrones ! They're huge, winding and boring, I stopped at n°2. LOL
However, the TV series is excellent: it only uses the useful parts of the plot, discarding the rest, the pace, the characters the filming are all very good to me so far ! :D
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Over all I'm sad that Ronald D Moore's + Bear Mcreary and a bunch of good actors just isn't enough to elevate the story beyond the romance-style hunk-and-maiden-fair storytelling.

This didn't pass my 4 episode test.
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Ronald Moore's decision-making is a good part of that. He is doing a crap job of explaining any of the other plots. Almost all the clan politics have been lost and all we're left with is Claire trying to get home and Jamie being Jamie.
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