Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: Outlander, season 1 is just the beginning

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander

Outlander began season 1 in 2014. Season 6 will release in 2022, and a 7th season is in the works. I’d never seen it because it was on a channel I didn’t get. But seasons 1-4 are now available on Netflix, where I can watch it!

The Outlander series is based on a series of Diana Gabaldon’s books [affiliate link]. I read the first one and couldn’t wait for additional books. These books are long and involved. Very long. Very involved. And absolutely compelling storytelling.

The series looks as long and convoluted as the books. I’ll give you the basics of the story as it happens in season 1, but it wanders all over time and the world before the end.

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) are in Inverness, Scotland. It’s 1945. They both served in the English army during the war. Claire was a combat nurse. They are getting reacquainted now the war is over. They secretly watch a ceremony among some standing stones atop a hill with women dancing and chanting in the moonlight.

Later Claire goes back to the stones alone. She touches one of the stones and wakes up in 1743. She’s almost captured by some English redcoats and has her first encounter with her husband’s ancestor Captain Jack Randall (also Tobias Menzies). She’s rescued from that by an band of filthy Scots.

They take her to a cabin when she sets the shoulder of a strapping young redheaded Highland Scot named Jamie (Sam Heughan). The Scots take her home with them. She is welcomed, but not trusted. The Scots hate the English.

There you have the main cast of characters for season 1, all neatly introduced in the first episode. There are 18 episodes in season 1.

Caitriona Balfe in Outlander

Claire slowly figures out where she is, what time period it is, and how her situation works. She’s desperate to get back to the standing stones and return to her own time. She doesn’t make the trip in season 1, but I know from the books there’s plenty of time hopping in the future involving her and her entire family.

Sam Heughan in Outlander

Claire and Jamie get married. They say it’s a political act to keep them safe, but they fall in love and hard. There’s no scrimping on the sex scenes between them.

The series has two qualities. It’s very sexy and it’s very brutal. Eighteenth Century Scotland was a brutal place.

Tobias Menzies in Outlander

Most brutal and sadistic of all was their mortal enemy, Black Jack Randall. The scenes of brutality from him are as involved and detailed as the sex scenes I mentioned before. Diana Gabaldon is a writer with a lot to say and it’s minutely detailed.

One thing the series does not have that a lot of people loved about the books was recipes. There were blogs and books devoted to trying out the many recipes mentioned in the book.

In season 1 alone, Claire and Jamie survive a number of horrible events, have some respite in his home castle, and end the season on their way to what they hope will be safety in France.

Here’s a trailer and some background for season 1.

A poster for Outlander

If you’re a fan of this series, I’d love to hear from you. What keeps you interested? Have any favorite characters or characters you love to hate? Most importantly, do you think Netflix will carry seasons beyond the 4th soon?

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9 responses to “Review: Outlander, season 1 is just the beginning”

  1. I love the books and am very disappointed in the series. I watched seasons 1-3 and then gave up. Diana’s writing is fantastic and she has a great sense humor. That sense of humor is missing from the series. Also, I don’t like how they added characters and storylines not in the books. They left out some fantastic storylines.

    • Adaptations from books always have issues. But Diana Gabaldon is involved in the process on the series and hopefully is keeping things as true as possible to her vision. I just finished season 2 yesterday and plan to keep going.

  2. there was too much sexual assault. that it happens to both women and men doesnt make it more palatable for me. not having read the books, i dont know if those scenes are included in the show for ratings but it was disquieting for me.

  3. The sexual assaults and sheer brutality of the books is greatly reduced in the movies. This is upsetting for some people but on the other hand, it does give a very clear picture of what life was like in those days and possibly an appreciation for what we have and what we stand to lose if we don’t maintain vigilance. The Ukraine is a current example that real life can be brutal any time anywhere. No point in being a wimp about it. If you don’t know these things can happen, your lack of awareness makes you a perfect target. That type of coziness is irresponsible.

    I’ve watched the Series to Season 4 several times. I’m in the middle of Season 5 right now. The series maintains it’s intensity from start to finish. It puts any other series to shame in my opinion but for La Niña.

    By now, Caitriona Balfe is probably the most beloved woman who has ever lived, courtesy of her dramatic excellence as Claire Frazer. She is awesome in every way imaginable. She makes the series. When you watch this you are THERE. You’re a witness if not a participant.

    Sam Heughan is a giant of a man who makes the Marvel and DC super heroes look one dimensional and irrelevant. Fluff.

    Between Claire and Jaimie, they can teach just about anyone something about love. Most people will learn a lot. I don’t mean about sex. I mean about the process of developing a binding relationship with another person. Never have I seen such a depiction be so relatable and from so many different viewpoints. This is not just entertainment, it’s life lessons for everyone.

    The main thing is, that if you watch it enough times, you see clearly how attitude shapes everything and has consequences. Watching it once you get the story. Watching it multiple times, you see the brilliant thought processes that went into this movie at every level by each and every character.

  4. I got halfway through Season 1, through the wedding night, and I was exhausted. Each series has so many episodes, I’m not sure I can get through one, let along five series! I really enjoyed what I have seen of season 1, but it was draining. I am sure I will pick it up again. The depiction of the 18th c Scottish realm was marvelous and I agree that Caitriona Balfe is larger than life and has done an amazing job with her character and I believe that many people have been pulled into the larger universe of the books, which is a great accomplishment.

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