Outlander: Season 01, Episode 01 – Sassenach

Before I’ll watch the episode for a third time tonight (I’ve waited five years for this, so don’t judge me! *g*) I want to share a few thoughts about it. I don’t plan to write detailed recaps or elaborate reviews of this episode or any other episodes in the future. At least I say that now. This one is getting long enough and I’m only scratching the surface. But there are dozens of fans who write great reviews in my stead, so I can save myself the effort.

Did the premiere live up to my expectations? Yes, it did! Very much so. But as a fan of the books and someone who has followed the whole production process closely over the last year and who loves how openly a lot of the cast and crew have shared parts of the process, I am, of course, totally biased.
I should start this review with the one thing though, that makes me a wee bit worried in regards to the TV viewers who neither are fans nor know the books yet: the slow and on first sight uneventful first 40 minutes of the 1 hour premiere. I know everything in this 40 minutes is an important part of the story and it includes a lot of essential information (character backstories, the state of Claire’s marriage to Frank) but the average TV viewer might be wondering if anything will actually happen any time soon. I’ve never read or watched “Game of Thrones” but Outlander is often compared to it and I imagine after the first 40 minutes of any GoT episode three fights and two deaths will have already happened. Or something like that. I don’t know.
I just hope that the majority of the TV audience will stay patient and not switch off before Claire is whisked through the stones. Writing this down so bluntly reminds me of the friend who introduced me to Outlander all those years ago. Whenever she recommended the novel to anyone she usually said something like “don’t let the boring first 100 pages turn you off!” *g*

Anyway, I personally loved the premiere episode. And I’m so glad to see that they follow the original story closely, but still managed to include scenes that – as Diana Gabaldon herself once put it – “aren’t in the book, but could have been, because they have happened ‘off-screen’ “. The cinematography is beautiful and so is the music and the costumes and of course the landscape of the Scottish Highlands. I think Tobias did a great job portraying two so very different characters. The way Black Jack Randall raises his eyebrows in suspicion alone gave me the creeps. I already know I’m going to hate BJR with a vengeance! And I will love sweet, kind Tobias for doing such a great job that makes me hate him in this role :-)

I love Caitriona as Claire. She is perfect for this role! Period! I’ve read some fans being a bit turned down by her voiceovers and even though it is indeed an unusual way of telling a story throughout a whole episode, I think it’s necessary for this season at least, because the story of the first book is solely told through Claire’s eyes. The reader is sort of in Claire’s head all the time. And I can’t imagine another way to transfer that to the screen without a voiceover. It worked very well for me.

And Jamie? Oh, my dear all-time favourite book-boyfriend James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser. He couldn’t have wished for a better actor to bring him to life than our dear Sam Heughan. From the moment I saw the first photos of Sam as Jamie and from Sam’s other works I’ve watched and from the kind and generous and awesome way he interacts with us fans, I knew Sam was the right choice. Hell, yeah, he was the only choice for this role :-) He didn’t have too many scenes yet, but he was pretty darn awesome in this episode so far. But I’ve been a “card carrying” members of Heughan’s Heughligans from early on, so I’m totally biased. Again.

When I watched the episode for a 2nd time this morning I paid special attention to Jamie in the scene when Claire is treating his bullet wound. Because it is an important scene for a specific reason, which I don’t want to give away now to not spoil anyone who hasn’t read the books or doesn’t remember why this is a pivotal scene. Anyway, Sam was swoonworthingly awesome in it. My happy, satisfied and very deep sigh after his “Thank you, Sassenach. Truly.” probably could be heard by all my neighbours…

My favourite novel really couldn’t be in better hands to be transferred to the TV screen. Thank you so much to everyone involved. And here’s to (eight) more seasons to come :-)

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