It was a great sacrifice, but I had to watch this episode twice in the name of reviewing. How many more rewatches would it take for me to officially have A Problem? This show owns my life.
Episode Seven: The Wedding
I’ll admit, I was disoriented at first with the structure of the episode. I genuinely thought our dvr messed up the recording and we’d missed half the episode. It took me a bit in the first watch to get used to the flashback structure, but in retrospect, I think it was a smart choice. It was really the only way to keep the storytelling momentum through the hour, because otherwise the last twenty minutes would have just been softcore action. Not that pretty much everyone watching would have actually objected, but it doesn’t make for much of a plot. It was also a neat trick to put the audience in Claire’s perspective, because I felt a deep sense of “what is going on” and being caught up in a whirlwind that’s a little out of control. Nicely done.
This episode was written and directed by women, and I love how they successfully gave us a female gaze. Excuse me while I dust off my knowledge of film theory and the male gaze from that one class I took in college that was just watching movies and writing papers… well, this is about all I remember from that. But they constructed the love scenes with a focus on Jamie and Claire’s agency, and it was noticeably different from the way these scenes are typically shot. Seriously, well done, show! Gold stars! Outlander is pulling off feminism so well it seems like it really shouldn’t be so hard for other shows to be even somewhat better. I’ll keep my hopes alive that Sleepy Hollow will continue to deliver once I’m going through Outlander hiatus withdrawals.
I’ve read some complaints online about how Frank & Claire’s wedding was totally changed (in the book they were married in -way too conveniently- the same church Claire & Jamie get married in). I liked the change, because we didn’t need to be beaten over the head with the situation to get that Claire is obviously thinking about Frank and her feelings are complicated and sad. And Frank was way too endearing with his earnest proposal. Ugh, show, stop making me like Frank! They are going to have rewrite this dude if they get a third season.
Dougal really upped the ante on creepiness this time. I was starting to like him! What is his problem?! Damnit, Dougal! He was creepy telling Jamie to thank him, creepy telling Jamie to not seem overeager (and OMG, that line when Jamie told Claire he’s completely under her power, ah, I died), and super extremely creepy with Claire. I mean, it wasn’t totally unexpected from a book reader’s perspective, but it was surprising in this context because none of that happened in the book on the wedding night.
Murtagh, Rupert, Willie (my new favorite side character, that dude is bringing it pretty hard for a new-for-the-show character who only gets one scene an episode, I hope we see more of him), and even Angus were pretty adorable and charming. I love that they’ve made Rupert a better character for the show, he’s totally a one-note crude character in the book. And Murtagh! So awesome all the time.
One of Jamie’s lines, about seeing Claire was like the sun coming out on a cloudy day, was a Claire line in the book. I love the change, it’s actually way more in character for Jamie. Overall, I have to say the show has managed to make this whole story more mature and better for our audience sensibilities now, as opposed to the reader sensibilities of the late 80s / early 90s. Much as I am a child of the 90s, and it doesn’t seem like it’s that long ago, a lot has changed in pop culture and how we think about it and interact with it.
Everything about Claire and Jamie’s interactions was pitch perfect. Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are really fantastic actors. This was way more realistically awkward and nervous than the way things unfold in the book. Like, I was feeling nervous for them and I knew what was going to happen. Sam really sold Jamie as at turns hopeful, nervous, excited, disappointed, and totally in love. And the little shrug Claire gave when he first touched her hair while she was sitting down, that was practically heartbreaking. I can’t believe how well done this show is, it’s like if you write a show well and don’t treat the women characters and your women audience members like idiots, you can actually make a good show! Take note, Hollywood.