Wednesday, September 3, 2014

OUTLANDER: Season 1, Episode 4: The Gathering

First, let me say I love this series, have waited for it or some version of it for nearly 20 years, am still entranced by the story, and will forever love Jamie Fraser. However, having said that, this particular episode was not spectacular—overall. There were bits that were good and necessary to the telling of the story, but there were quite a few things I didn’t care for.

But before I begin on any of the specifics of this episode, I feel it necessary to address a larger problem about which some faithful Outlander readers have their panties in a wad. Especially a friend of mine, who first brought it to my attention. The problem: the time of year in which the story in set. In the book, Claire travels through time on Beltane, May 1st, not Samhain, October 31st, as in the TV series. Scottish clan gatherings traditionally took place in the summer, and the lairds went on the road to collect taxes during the summer as well. The summer season and its better weather were the reason why, of course. That the TV series has flipped the timing and seasons has some people a little ticked off. But as I suspected, and told my friend, the producers got the okay to begin production at a time that would have meant waiting several months before beginning filming if they were to keep to the book’s timing, and that wasn’t acceptable. And I for one, am glad they didn’t wait. We would still be waiting for Outlander to begin.

Now, for this episode specifically—there was way too much fluff and padding. The oath taking ceremony was fun to see, but the long, lingering camera shots of the crowd were unnecessary. Ditto the hurling game with Dougal and Jamie fighting it out. The boar hunt and Geordie’s death are important to the character building of Dougal and his relationship with Claire, but it could have been tightened up. As I watched this episode I found myself worrying that the viewers who had never read the book would be getting bored and tune out.

From my perspective, the goal of this episode was to show the growing respect that Dougal and Claire have for one another. It did that well. There’s a lot of change in their relationship in this episode, beginning with the drunken Dougal trying to have his way with Claire, to the almost tender moment at the end when he’s thanking her for her kindness to the dying Geordie. During Geordie’s death scene, we get Dougal’s ‘save the cat’ moment, as we see a caring, gentle side of him. Claire’s impression of him changes a little right there.  Later, when Dougal says to Claire, “You’ve seen men die before—and by violence,” and she answers, “Yes, many of them,” we know they have a new understanding of one another, and a new respect. It is due to this understanding and respect that Claire now feels safe to travel with Dougal when he tells her she will be going on the road with him.

Very little of Jamie in this episode, but some nice chemistry was evident during the stable scene. And my heart melts a little every time he calls her Sassenach.
Claire’s looking for this road trip to finally give her the opportunity to make her escape and find her way to the stones and back to the twentieth century. I’ve been looking forward to the road trip because I think it’s where the story really begins! I can’t wait for the next few episdoes!

A BRIEF CONTINUATION OF AN EARLIER RANT: What is with the spectacular wardrobe Claire is wearing? She’s supposed to be wearing a couple of old cast-off dresses, not a new dress every day, let alone an elegant gown to the oath taking ceremony!! She looked regal at the ceremony! That is just wrong.

Note: Did everyone catch Diana Gabaldon’s very brief cameo? I loved Mrs. Fitz’s snarky remarks to her!!

Slàinte mhath!


  1. Your review and commentary on this episode are spot on! Necessary story elements could have been presented in a tighter format! However, as long as Jamie Fraser appears I'll keep diligently watching!

  2. Hi Anne! Yes, to Jamie Fraser, but don't you think we could have had a little more of him in this episode?

    I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who feels this episode wasn't up to par. However, I have great hopes for the next few episodes!

    Thank you for the comment, Anne!

  3. I loved the shinty game. Really shed some light on Jamie and Dougals relationship.

    Claire's costumes are being used to show the passage if time. Weeks have past not days. Her dresses are mix and match...I think the costume designer said in a podcast there are 6 tops and 4 skirts.

  4. Thank you, marcyh! Okay, I'll give you the game--it did further develop Jamie's and Dougal's relationship, which is a nice mirror to the overall arc of Claire and Dougal in this episode.

    But, I still maintain that Claire's clothing choices are an anachronism--the many choices are not in keeping with the time, and certainly not with the book. Having said that though, they are fun to see!

    I'm glad you stopped by and took the time to comment, marcyh! Please keep visiting as the season continues. :-)

  5. Speaking of the Claire's clothes--I want Outlander paper dolls!! I don't care that I'm not 6 years old anymore--dressing Claire and Jamie and the rest of the characters would be so much fun! I think I could channel my inner 6 year old!!

    Does anyone know if such a thing exists? And if it doesn't could someone make it happen?! Please.