So for those of you that follow this show, the season finale was last night and I have GOT to talk about it. Welcome to my review, where I’m going to attempt to not spoil too much but also convince you that you need to watch this show.
*If you’ve never read Outlander before/know nothing about the story…there could be slight spoilers to come. We are in book 2 after all.*
So in this season, based on the book Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie and Claire are exiled from Scotland and living in France. Desperate to try to stop the battle at Culloden Moor, they attempt to ingratiate themselves in Parisian high society and subtly undermine the Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Let’s start by talking about the phenomenal acting. Obviously, Caitriona Balfe knocks it out of the park. She’s expressive and totally gets who Claire is. I love watching her because she always nails it. (Best episode is easily 2.07 “Faith”.) She can do everything from showing Claire’s cunning and manipulative side (which she needs to survive in Paris) to her caring and heartbroken side. I have a mad girl crush on Balfe. So much love. Granted, TV show Claire is a little different from book Claire, but she’s still totally amazing.
Now for Sam Heughan. Obviously, he’s hot (except when his hair is always pulled back in Paris). Jamie begins this season broken and Claire has to slowly piece him back together. (Also, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the season, they’ve more or less forgotten about his hand issues…) Now, Heughan is a fantastic actor. He handles the battle scenes with the right amount of strength, regret, and determination that make up Jamie. But I’m also kind of sad that Jamie is no longer the expressive young man he was in the first book. I can’t tell if that’s because his character is written that way given what happened at the end of season 1 or if that’s an acting choice of Heughan’s, but it has made it a bit harder for me to really feel for Jamie.
And it’s time to do a massive gush for my minor characters. Duncan Lacroix really made Murtagh bloom this season. While Murtagh is still that serious, stubborn man he’s always been, he’s now added humor and fantastic one liners to his repertoire. Graham McTavish gave Dougal a desperate, unbridled edge that made him a great addition to the later part of the season. Stephen Walters knocked it out as Angus, as he always does. You truly never know what Angus will say or do next. Romann Berrux is the most adorable Fergus I could wish for. Stanley Weber is delightful as the cunning Comte St. Germain. Rosie Day is beautiful as the innocent Mary Hawkins. But two of my favorites were Dominique Pinon as Master Raymond and Frances de la Tour as Mother Hildegarde. Those two tended to steal scenes they were in.
I am also madly in love with the casting of Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton as Roger Wakefield and Brianna Randall. By the middle of the finale last night, I knew that I truly liked Rankin’s Roger. He’s adorable. The only thing I was unhappy with was the little screen time the two of them got.
For those of you familiar with the book, you are probably aware that the book is not written in chronological order. (I remember freaking out terribly when I started that book, wondering what had happened.) The show attempts to do that as well, but not to the degree that the book does. It’s modified. And in fact, they basically push all that stuff in the beginning of the book to the finale. I was dying. For as much as I was struggling with it when I read it, it’s become some of my favorite stuff.
As typically happens when a book gets turned into a movie or TV show, some things get cut or changed. I’d say probably 85% of the show stays true to the book. What I mean by that is that many of our favorite scenes (Faith, the duel, Fergus, etc.) are what we remember from the book. But every few episodes, something I considered biggish would change. Plot lines simplified. Little surprises planted to keep even the most devoted readers guessing. Those kinds of things.
Still, some of my favorite things got cut as well. I felt that some of Claire’s strongest moments were missing in the second half of the season, making her seem more frail in some respects. Her medical side is nearly dropped altogether because of the amount of action happening in the rest of the story. I was a bit disappointed by that, but Claire was still feisty whenever she had to go toe-to-toe with Jamie or anyone else trying to push her. And everything from that later time period felt lacking because so little time was allotted to it. That was perhaps my biggest disappointment of the season.
But seriously thought, this show goes above and beyond so much else on TV right now. Whether you’ve read the books or not, you can get into this. One of my family’s friends was watching the show once and her husband, who knew nothing about the storyline at all, got sucked in and loves watching it.
It’s definitely violent and gory and sometimes disturbing, but it’s not usually every episode. If you can put up with the occasional gore (we are in the middle of a war, after all), this is so worth it. And typically, you can feel the violence coming. It doesn’t usually spring out of nowhere like in a horror film.
The writers did a fantastic job with this show, one episode even being written by Diana Gabaldon herself. (You can just feel how that episode is different from the rest. It’s so her.) The set design crew and costume department did magnificent things when they were in Paris. It’s beautiful.
And in the finale? Tons of little Easter eggs about things that happen in the future if you’ve read the books. My mom has not gotten past book 3, Voyager, so I had to bite my tongue to keep from spilling secrets.
I love this show so much and if you’re full of feels right now too, LEAVE A COMMENT AND WE’LL GUSH TOGETHER.