Outlander: Castle Leoch Review

The second episode of Outlander represented a huge leap in quality from the pilot... and in nudity.

If I thought my worries about the pilot could temper any enthusiasm I felt about Outlander finally existing from week to week on the small screen, I was a fool.

This week’s episode was unique, not only because of the story it occupied its time telling, but because it made, to my mind, an unprecedented leap in quality from pilot to second episode. Also, there was more nudity and we got to hear Jamie flirt with Claire for the first time, which was unspeakably delicious.

My main bugaboo last week was the sheer volume of Claire’s voiceover. Guess what? We’re two episodes in and the voiceover is already beginning to dwindle! It looks like they are phasing it out in favor of flashing back to the future (ha ha ha, I wrote out ‘back to the future’ in a real and sincere way) to juxtapose Claire’s new world and the one she left behind. And it works so much better!

Walking down the hall to the surgery in the final moments of the episode to learn her fate from Collum? That was made doubly eerie with the flashes to her last visit to the surgery – where she got orally freaky with the husband she may never see again. 

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I feel like I need to qualify something I said last week: I don’t universally hate voiceover. I think it has a time and a place. That said, the time and place for it are infrequently and in moments where it provides us a window into the character’s mind that the frame we’re looking at doesn’t present to us clearly.

One of the sexy and savvy commenters last week mentioned that the voiceover at the top of episode one as Claire considered the vase in the shop window as being excellent, and I was wrong not to point that one out as a good example. It was an excellent one. This week’s best voiceover lets the audience in on her panic, saying that while she knew a little bit about this time period, it’s not a lot and she’s worried about being caught out. That’s important for us to know, and not something she could have communicated otherwise.

It comes as a surprise to officially no one to that I dig on these books in a major way. Something I’d forgotten that the series got across stunningly this week? The sheer sense of terror Claire must feel as she struggles to keep her secret and to gain her freedom from castle Leoch. I know what happens but I was only one more glass of white wine away from being all, “IT’S A TRAP!” loudly in my living room every time some member of clan MacKenzie tried to pry her for information. Well done, show! 

Other things which were awesome and had me once more doing a small, circular run-and-squeal of appreciation: The introduction of Geillis Duncan — Geillis is perfect, she is wicked, and she presents as a great ally for Claire at this, the start of the season. As it stands, she’s a great link into this new world for Claire. Let us discuss also how Jamie is the greatest. The flashback to a shirtless Jamie being flogged? Deeply sexy.

The scars left on his back by his flogging? Deeply upsetting. All those chemistry tests between Sam and Caitriona definitely paid off. So far all the woman has done is tend to the dude’s various slashes, beatings, and gunshot wounds and it’s all been laden with mad sexual tension.

Oh Jamie Fraser. You can speak Gaelic to me any day of the week.

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4 out of 5