TV Review: “Outlander” – “The Reckoning”

Written by Caitlin Cooper April 10, 2015

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I think it’s safe to say that one of the most popular shows on TV right now is “Outlander”, at least in terms of sci-fi dramas. There are countless magazine articles about it, and the book series it’s based upon are front and center at bookstores. The show premiered in September 2014 in Canada, and it definitely lived up to the hype. But the network decided to do something daring: have a mid-season break that lasted months, not weeks. Now that the show is back, can it maintain the good writing and acting of the first episodes, especially that intense cliff-hanger from episode 8?

“Outlander” tells the tale of a 1940s combat nurse, Claire (Caitronia Balfe) who, whilst on a reunion trip with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies), is mysteriously transported back in time to Scotland in the 1740s. Since her arrival, she’s faced a lot of danger and she’s stood out as a person who speaks her mind in a time when women were expected to be silent. But a malicious English officer, Captain Jack Randall (also played by Tobias Menzies), has targeted Claire. In an effort to save her, Jamie (Sam Heughan) has married her. But Randall won’t be stopped. He has Claire captive and is violently interrogating her. When Jamie learns of what’s happened to Claire, its clear that things will never be easy. Married life for these two allies becomes more complicated when their different world-views clash.

“You think I’m your property, don’t you? You think I belong to you.”

Unlike other “Outlander” episodes, we’re seeing the story from Jamie’s point of view rather than Claire’s. The decision to do this is likely to give the audience more insight into the character, since he is central to Claire’s story. It’s nice to have insight into an 18th century mind since we only had access to it through Claire’s more modern 20th century mind. We also got to see how Jamie interacts with his political family members, and how he carefully toes the line of being loyal to the Frasers and the MacKenzies. The tensions between Colum (Gary Lewis) and Dougal (Graham McTavish) are more prominent, and it was interesting to see the two go head to head in front of others. It definitely set up a plot-line of struggle and tension between the two. Another tension introduced into this episode is that between Claire and Jamie. Their marriage isn’t all going to be fun times, and they realize that it’s going to be difficult, especially since they’re so different. Something that really bothered me about this episode is that Claire says,”I’ll obey orders, even if I don’t agree with them”; even though it’s under duress, the Claire for the previous episodes never would have said that. Basically, Jamie is an idiot in this episode…so many times. Just because he’s fighting with Claire, he let’s Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) get close to him and touch him before he tells her that he’s married and will be faithful to Claire. I mean, really? You said you’re falling in love with Claire and yet you almost cheat on her? Bravo.

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My least favourite aspect of this “Outlander” episode is the way it handles the fight between Claire and Jamie. Claire ran off so she could travel back to her own time and instead got captured. Sure, she did something impulsive and reckless, but she was trying to get back to her life. After Jamie rescues her and they have a yelling match, it becomes clear they have different ideas of what marriage is. He thinks it means the wife listening to her husband. She, quite rightly, thinks it’s about people being equal partners. She apologizes and forgives him easily when in reality it didn’t solve anything. That much is apparent when Jamie spanks her for putting the men in danger (which disturbed me). Though she fights back, it feels like the issue isn’t really focused on. And even though Jamie starts to realize that what he did isn’t okay, I feel like she forgives him very quickly which isn’t realistic. Also, the make-up sex scene is just ridiculous. There are cheesy lines galore, and she also holds a blade to his neck and threatens him. It was the most odd sex scene ever.

“Let your brother play the rebel, as long as he does it quietly.”

Balfe is still compelling as Claire despite the fact that I don’t think the script did her character justice this week (be consistent, writers). Heughan gets to take center stage in this episode, and he does a good job except for the fact that he looks super into Laoghaire. I don’t hold it against him that his character is an idiot this episode. Menzies, as Randall, says, “let’s everyone keep calm,” directly after he yells like a psycho so apparently he doesn’t include himself in that statement. There’s a really awkward scene that’s meant to be intense, but because of the way it was acted, I felt second-hand awkwardness. The Laird, Colum, basically does a silent stare twice. But because the silences are so long, it was odd.

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The mid-season premiere of “Outlander” was a bit of a disappointment for me. Whereas the script and the acting is usually top-notch, I found both to be lacking in some aspects in “The Reckoning”. Some parts were really good, like the political tension. Even though this episode wasn’t the greatest, it hasn’t dissuaded me from watching the next “Outlander” episode.

My Rating: 7/10

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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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