This Outlander review contains spoilers.
If you are anything like me, you’ve spent these past few Outlander-free months pining away for your favorite romantic time-traveling drama. Maybe this just meant rewatching the first eight episodes, maybe you went further and downloaded a bunch of bagpipe music to listen to while doing your morning calisthenics, or perhaps you went nuts and vowed only to eat haggis until its return.
However you spent the time, you and those you love who have been forced to spend time with you will be pleased to learn that Outlander has returned — and it’s reintroduction is its best episode yet.
If Outlander was Friends, this, the first episode of the second half of season one would have been entitled “The One With The Spanking.” But, while Toby Menzies as Black Jack Randall does seem like someone Rachel would’ve dated early on, Outlander is not Friends and so this episode was called “The Reckoning.” I can hear a writer in the room pitching the title with slightly too much fervor. “See, it works on a couple of levels, right? Because there’s the reckoning that takes place when the party returns to castle Leoch AND the reckoning that happens betweens Jamie and Claire when he thinks it is a good idea to brutally whip her ass.”
You might remember that for the first half of the season, I had a hard time with the volume of Claire’s voice-over. As the show continues to soldier on and trust its own voice, the voice-overs are fading into the background. The only reason they even popped this week was because they were done by Jamie rather than Claire. Admittedly, the sweet cadence of our favorite Highlander might be affecting my objectivity, but I like to think I’m stronger than that.
I have worried about the story told this week since I first read it — long before the series was announced to be in the works. I cannot tell you how many times I told people that Outlander was impossible to adapt because of the spanking scene. In the book what comes across as sexist, silly fare was turned into something comedic, violent, and balanced. When Jamie tells Claire that because she disobeyed him and ran off putting not only her life in danger but the lives of his men as well and as such she must be spanked, Claire’s reaction is the same any woman flung back in time might be. But what made the scene work was Claire’s scrapping, she fought Jamie tooth and nail though he was ultimately the victor.
If this had been the end of it I would’ve been miffed. But it wasn’t. Later, when the two reconcile, Claire — in the middle of sexing up Jamie’s world — holds a knife to his throat and swears to kill him if he ever harms her again. It is deeply erotic and dangerous and demonstrates not only Claire’s power but her state of mind. Don’t forget, this is all happening just a day or two after she was nearly violently raped.
Jamie and Claire loving each other as equals is the crux of the Outlander saga. It has finally been portrayed as a relationship worth giving up a life for.