TV Review: “Outlander” Takes Claire On A Tour Of Castle Leoch

Claire lands at Castle Leoch and Outlander settles into its groove with this week’s episode.

Her arrival creates waves at the castle, the same one she and Frank explored back in 1945. Now we get to see the castle populated and functional, and nearly everyone is curious or suspicious (or both) of Claire. There’s a scene about halfway through the episode, where Claire drops the last remaining pieces of her present day life, as Mrs. Fitz prepares her for a meeting with the castle lord. Claire strips away her white dress, down to her bare skin, and dons more era appropriate garb. It’s a great symbolic moment that illustrates Claire’s transition into 1743, made doubly better by Mrs. Fitz’s reaction to her charge’s bra.

Clare struggles to maintain her cover story, fearing that the truth would get her killed. Her story begins to crumble, as Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis), the lord, and his brother Dougal, whom we’ve already met, begin to put Claire to the test. They ply her with food and booze, all the time throwing question after question at her the more intoxicated she becomes. It’s enough to put Claire on guard, and to force the brothers to assign a shadow Claire in her few days at the castle. Colum initially plans to send her along on a trip where Claire will have the opportunity to reach the stones, but as she gets worse at lying, he cancels that. Using her medical knowledge as the vehicle, Colum demands she stay on site, where he can keep an eye on her.

Even though it appears to entrage Claire, this new imprisonment does afford her more chances to keep checking on Jamie. After all, she seems to be constantly pursuing him this hour, where they get plenty of chances to let the sexual tension between them grow more and more unbearable. I’m starting to think she’s changing bandages just to get his shirt off.

With Castle Leoch, Outlander continues to keep its pacing slow. There’s no abundance of exposition this episode, but rather the show uses the time for world building and character development. We get a crash course, through Claire’s eyes, of life in this castle on the stuning Scottish countryside. Many scenes are filled with gaelic dialogue, sans subtitles, putting us in the same boat as Claire. Better yet, we get to delve into Jamie’s background more, with a bit of a Braveheart callback. Later, when he takes a punishment for a village girl accused of impropriety, it cements him as a man of honor.

Although Castle Leoch has a few too many scenes where Claire seems to chase after Jamie, she’s still that strong and resourceful protagonist set up previously. She holds her own during her initial interview with Colum, when he makes anoff the cuff reference to rape, she puts the man in check right before our eyes. In a later scene she tells off the man Dougla sent to follow her around in the same form we’ve come to expect.

With two episodes under its belt, Outlander is quickly establishing itself as a series, compelling and rich with story. The news that Starz has already ordered a second season is good news for fans and should hopefully bring even more of an audience on borard, who may be reluctant to start a new series in a crowded televison market.

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