By this point, Outlander has established itself as a slow-burning peek into (slightly anachronistic) 18th century Scotland through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with it. It is deviating a little from the book it is based on, but still very similar to the source material. I think this might be the episode where a lot of people will decide whether or not to stick with it.
I think this third episode actually showed more promise than the first two (though it’s far from perfect), and this is probably because it had a different writer and director.
Claire is adapting to life in the castle and dealing with the limitations of science and an overuse of religion. Even though I’m wondering why in the world she isn’t more panicked about being stuck in the past, I liked a lot of things about these scenes. Some of what we were shown seemed more like the Middle Ages than the 18th century, but I think this has more to do with Diana Gabaldon’s anachronisms in the book than the people writing for the show. For example, witch burning – which becomes a big part of the storyline later on – was well and truly done away with by the time this show takes place.
Caitriona Balfe is starting to look a little thin in her portrayal of Claire, but I think she was a bit stronger here than in the last episode. Nothing is going to change the fact she’s a retired catwalk model up against actors from prestigious acting academies with lots of fancy awards to their names. But she’s cast now, so it’s too late for a change.
Something that distracted me terribly in this episode was her height. I swear she’s grown four inches since the last episode, and she was standing eye-to-eye with “giant Jamie” in every scene.
Fans of the book are gleefully cruel about the character of Laoghaire MacKenzie, which I find incredibly unfair. I like Nell Hudson in the role. And anybody saying she’s not a proper blonde needs to remember firstly that she is, and secondly that bleached white is a new invention.
For a show that makes such a big deal about historical accuracy, I have to wonder why there’re so many inaccuracies in costuming! I guess they thought it would be unsexy to have the married women going around dressed as married women would be, so instead have them gallivanting about with hair flowing while speaking like they’re from the 21st century.
Claire’s modern-day knitwear might match her modern-day hairstyles, but even for a woman from the 1940s, she looks too out of place on the screen. I do think the 18th century suits her much better, however! She’s almost unrecognisable from the Claire of the 1940s!
Sam Heughan continues to be the best thing about the show. Knowing what he’s going to get up to later in the series, he’s never, ever going to be my dream man, so it isn’t about that. He is simply fantastic in his role and he has charisma piled on charisma. I do think he looks horribly mismatched with his Claire, who seems more like his mother than a love interest (though the actors are a similar age).
I’m also really enjoying some of the secondary members of the clan. There was more humour in this episode (though some of the toilet humour was unappreciated).
One weird thing that has happened in two episodes now are the scenes where Claire gets drunk. The poor editing makes it seem like it happened in the space of two minutes – in this case when she talked her way through one song at a concert before stumbling off. It was a messy scene.
Criticisms of the show’s pace are valid but also the fault of the book. In this episode I thought both writer and director did an excellent job of holding my interest – much more so than in the first two episodes.
I wasn’t so sure about this show after the second episode, but episode three was definitely a big improvement.