TV Review: “Outlander” – “Castle Leoch”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 02, 2014

Outlander

If you watched the first episode of “Outlander”, called “Sassenach”, last Sunday on Showcase, you have probably been drawn into the world of brave Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and the unintentional journey she finds herself on. What was supposed to be a nice reunion trip with her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies), became a trip back in time to 1743 when Scotland is occupied by the English and the two countries are none too fond of each other. There she meets her husband’s ancestor who is definitely not as kind-hearted as her dear Frank, and she’s held by a group of Highlanders. She has to fix up a wounded Jamie (Sam Heughan) twice, and she warns the Scottish men of an ambush location. “Sassenach” ended with Claire arriving at a castle where her fate is to be determined.

 

In “Castle Leoch” Claire is exposed to this alien time. The clothes she must wear are complex and involve many layers, and she has to adapt to proper customs when dealing with the laird (lord) of Leoch. She has to be quick on her feet to construct a story about her background and how she came to be near Inverness. The laird, Colum (Gary Lewis), and his brother Dougal (Graham McTavish) are extremely suspicious of her; they don’t treat her too kindly since they don’t trust her. She sort of becomes accepted by Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) and Mrs. Fitzgibbons (Annette Badland), though she can’t trust them with the truth. Aside from them, her only ally remains Jamie though even he doesn’t know the truth. When Claire is given the opportunity to return to Inverness, she feels relieved that she’ll be able to travel back to her own time and reunite with Frank.

“It was like landing on an alien globe you’d only glimpsed through a telescope.”

“Outlander” seems to be picking up the pace now that Claire is being introduced to the people of Leoch. With her arrival, things become much more complicated. Dougal has his men following her 24/7 and reporting on her actions and behaviours. She’s certainly no guest, and Claire is quick to call out Colum at his use of the term. Since Claire doesn’t speak a word of Gaelic, she’s left to rely on Geillis to translate for her when possible. The language barrier no doubt adds more difficulty for Claire; she must rely on her instincts to survive.

Outlander

One of the relationships being explored in the second episode of “Outlander” is the one between Claire and Jamie. Since he’s wounded, he makes her feel like she’s accomplishing something as she waits to learn her fate. It also allows her to do something so familiar to her so she doesn’t feel so lost: be a nurse. Her career is so much a part of her that it would be hard for her to not care for others. Also, the two are becoming confidants of sorts. Claire sees that Jamie has a badly scarred back, and he doesn’t hesitate to share the story of how he got them. Of course, it involves Frank’s ancestor which makes her feel sick. In a rare moment of vulnerability, Claire cries about what she’s been through, about the situation she’s in, and about being once again separated from Frank. Jamie comforts her and the two bond over revealing these parts of themselves.

“You’re a kind woman.”

Since “Outlander” is so character-driven, it’s vital that the acting be on-point. It definitely is. Balfe is wonderful as Claire; she easily plays to the strengths and vulnerabilities of the character. Balfe easily carries the show as the main protagonist, and I think this is what makes the show successful. Heughan is also doing well. While at this point he isn’t a huge presence in many scenes, he will be given the way Claire and Jamie are bonding. There’s also tension between Jamie and his uncles, Colum and Dougal, which will likely be built upon in future episodes. McTavish (“The Hobbit”) is a wonderful actor, though most of the time he is very stoic and unreadable.

Outlander

Overall, the second episode of “Outlander” is just as good as the first. In “Castle Leoch” we see Claire being as brave, strong, and outspoken as ever, and she allows herself to confide in Jamie. While things become increasingly complicated and it seems like she’ll have to fight to leave Leoch so she can return to Inverness, she forms alliances that will likely help her in future episodes.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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