I had to watch this one twice to really form an opinion of it (ha ha, ok, I watch them all at least twice, but I usually wait a few days in between viewings, this time I mean TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW). On a second viewing I actually liked it much better than I did initially.
Episode Four- The Gathering
First of all, we went to King Richard’s Faire (a Renaissance festival) yesterday, and I completely blame Outlander for me being seized with the burning need to obtain a corset. So I bought a corset. The front of it looks like a stomacher piece of Claire’s 1700s garb… so obviously I now need to get a big old timey looking skirt and some hip panniers to complete my insane sartorial obsession. I have problems.
Overall, I thought this episode did a great job of sketching out more of the politics between Jamie and his uncles, and the delicate position Jamie is currently stuck in. I also really liked how much more proactive and smart Show Claire is about her escape. I may just be misremembering the book, but I had an impression in the book that she kind of just seized the moment at the Gathering to run away without really planning. I liked her reconnaissance of the castle (and playing tag with the kids, it was so cute! Wee Hamish is adorable!), and her attempting to abscond with a knife from the kitchen.
Another deviation from the book that was totally 100% better in the show- Claire braining Dougal with a stool! Awesome! A kick ass heroine who doesn’t have supernatural abilities or superhero muscles, but can still take care of herself and fight when the going gets tough. Seriously, this show is scoring huge feminist points all over the place. I read a thoughtful review (either Jezebel or Vulture, I know it’s one I linked to in a previous post) where the reviewer remarked that during the Black Kirk scene in Ep. 3, it was refreshing to see Claire stride off to go take care of business and leave Jamie standing there watching her go. The show writers (and directors, and whoever else is making these decisions) are doing a fantastic job of really centering this show around Claire. Which seems silly to say, since the book is a first-person narrative of Claire’s experience, but women in television are not usually given this much narrative control. Jamie is such a compelling character, and Sam Heughan has buckets of charisma, but they are really restraining themselves from making this The Jamie Fraser story, and I applaud them for that. That said, I could have used some more gratuitous scenes of Jamie staring at / smoldering at Claire. I mean, I am human! But I appreciate their restraint, and I actually liked that after his oath ceremony he left with Murtagh. It would have been easy to write in a scene of Jamie and Claire interacting more right after that, but it was kind of satisfying to see him going off to do his own thing and segue into Claire being snarky at the boar hunt.
I read a bunch of people on the Outlander Facebook page complaining about the 40s music in the background during some scenes, but I loved it. It adds a subtle reminder of Claire’s fish-out-of-water situation, and as I’ve mentioned before, it just makes so much sense that Claire’s soundtrack to her own life is music from her time. It’s such a thoughtful detail.
Angus and Rupert continue to be way more charming and endearing in the show than they ever were in the books, I am totally loving all of their interactions with each other and with Claire.
Geillis remained weird and ethereal and creepily knowing. On first watch, I really didn’t enjoy her scene with Claire, it seemed way too wink wink nudge nudge, but on my rewatch I actually liked it better. There’s a lot of exposition that needs to happen for us to get to know Geillis, and I like how the actress is portraying her.
Jamie and Claire in the stable! Loved it. I especially liked how Jamie touched the back of his head when Claire said she broke a stool over Dougal’s head. Nice work, show! Another great detail was Jamie twitching his fingers on his leg before his oath ceremony- huge props to the show for that book detail (that finger-leg twitch is his tell that he’s nervous or thinking hard and it comes up a lot in the books).
I did wonder if the pacing of the episode was a little slow for non-book readers, because it kind of felt like not much happened. Next week- on the road! Yay! So excited!