TV Review: “Outlander” – “The Gathering”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 19, 2014

Outlander

“Outlander” is proving to be a wonderful TV show. There’s a strong, witty, and intelligent protagonist; a wonderful husband with whom she was recently reunited; and there’s an unexpected, mysterious journey to a different time and place. The pacing of the show may be a bit slow for some, but to me it’s an interesting, engaging and increasingly action-filled adventure on the small screen. While the tone is rather dark because of the dangerous, but fascinating circumstances Claire (Caitriona Balfe) finds herself in, comedy is becoming an increasing presence in various scenes to balance the dark with some light. The latest episode, called “The Gathering”, is further evidence of just how good a show “Outlander” is, and how refreshing it is to have such compelling characters and a unique plot.

 

“The Gathering” is a more more exciting episode than previous “Outlander” episodes because there’s an important political event occurring, and Claire has planned to escape during it. But even that is over-simplifying things. Claire runs into trouble with some drunk clansmen, and Dougal (Graham McTavish) is his usual charming self; note: he’s an ass. So there’s more danger than Claire anticipated because apparently these Scottish men can’t handle their liquor well, or they’re just a bunch of perverts (though that’s putting it mildly). Jamie (Sam Heughan) is hiding because being at the gathering would put him in serious danger. And once again Claire is needed to help the injured. Also, the author of “Outlander”, Diana Gabaldon, has a pretty lengthy cameo.

“Sometimes you find yourself on a path you never expected.”

Again and again Claire has proved how smart and resourceful she can be, even in 18th century Scotland. She plays with the children in the woods so she can find possible escape routes. She makes nice with one of the men guarding her so she can slip him a drink with some herbs to make him sleep. She’s thought of so many details, and all the while no one has caught on to her even making these preparations. All she wants is to return to her own time, to be with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). The last thing Claire wants, as she indicated in the previous episode, is to remain at Castle Leoch any longer than she already has.

Outlander

More and more there’s the presence of politics in “Outlander”. In “The Gathering” we get more than a taste of what life in Scotland was like during the 1700s, and it’s a fascinating thing to see. The increasing focus on politics allows for sub-plots to be introduced; for example, the fact that if Jamie desired, he could be in line to be the laird of Leoch once Colum dies. Dougal really doesn’t want to compete with Jamie. Unfortunately for Claire, she’s at the mercy of such politics and ways of life until she can find a successful way to escape.

“I need to leave this place.”

I’d be remiss for not discussing how good the acting continues to be on “Outlander”. Balfe is fairly new to the acting world, and certainly new to being the lead, but she carries off the role of Claire so well that it’s hard to believe she doesn’t have a longer acting resume. Heughan does pretty well as the friendly and complex Jamie. It’s easy to believe the two characters are becoming friends. The supporting cast do well which makes the show easy to be drawn into. After all, a good script can fail if the acting isn’t done well. Luckily “Outlander” has good scripts as well as a good acting.

Outlander

Overall, “The Gathering” is one of the most interesting – and surprisingly funny – episode of “Outlander” so far. We see Claire make an escape attempt, we learn why Dougal is so cruel to Jamie, and we’re told the next episode will take us on a journey away from Leoch. There was a lot accomplished this episode, and everything is picking up as we see Claire going on yet another journey.

My Rating: 9/10

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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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