The rights to Diana Gabaldon’s New York Times Best Selling Outlander Series were tossed around for the better part of 20 years before Ron Moore, Maril Davis, and Matt Roberts came along. But what they proposed was something altogether different and exciting. They didn’t want to make it into a series of movies like everyone else. No, they wanted to take Diana’s world and make it an immersive television experience much to the delight of long time fans. Great choices of cast, set and costume designers, writers, and directors created a phenomenon that would take the world by storm, and the rest is history. Check out some of my favorite moments and creative choices below!
In “The Devil’s Mark”, Claire is placed on trial for witchcraft, and Jamie epically comes to her rescue shouting, “I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman. And if you’re telling me you consider your authority to be greater than that of the Almighty, then I must inform you that I am not of that opinion myself!” While the dramatic entrance makes for great television, it is a much quieter scene in the back half of the episode that makes my list of Season 1 Favorites.
When Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh na Dun so she can return to her own time, we see both of our protagonists faced with massive decisions. Jamie is choosing to do the right thing despite losing the one thing he loves most–because, in this moment, we know he really does love Claire, even if he hasn’t said it. He knows Claire belongs in her own time, and would be safer in the 20th century with her first husband. Claire on the other hand has struggled to get back to Frank for the better part of eleven episodes, but along the way found herself falling for a stranger, just as her fortune foretold in “Sassenach”. All of this comes together at the end of 111 to create fireworks, and I LOVE it!
Biggest Laugh Out Loud Moment
I will absolutely never forget the first time I watched “Sassenach”. It immediately jumped off the screen as something identifiably unique. It was beautiful, intelligent, sexy, and sometimes downright funny. While season one as a whole has some great giggle-inducing lines, the one that sticks out to me the most occurs in the series premiere. When Claire looks up at Rupert in the dark on the side of the road while treating Jamie’s gunshot wound, and says, “You can mind your own bloody business, and so can Saint Paul,” I lost it. It was the perfect way to combine Claire’s 20th century language with the band’s 18th century sensibilities and make us laugh at an otherwise serious point in the show.
Favorite Filming Location
Few places in the Outlander universe are as significant or as iconic as Craigh na Dun. It is often the location of life changing events for the Frasers and in season one this is certainly the case. In “Sassenach”, it is the setting of the Druid Dance that sets the plot for the rest of the series in motion, and the following day she is sent through the stones on her epic journey!
The actual setting of Craigh na Dun is located on private property at Kinloch Rannoch, and although there are no physical stones on the location, the magic is very much alive with a gorgeous view from the top that only adds to the mysticism of the spot in the show.
Biggest Tear Jerker
If you’re wanting a piece of television that is always bringing you to the brink of tears, than Outlander is certainly the show for you. However, when it comes to narrowing down all of those dramatic moments to the one that makes you cry the most? Well… that’s a little more difficult.
“Wentworth Prison” was a great episode for a lot of reasons, but the scene where Black Jack Randall nails Jamie’s hand to the table, and then our star-crossed lovers are forced to say goodbye once more has to be the biggest tear jerker of the season! Claire has dedicated every ounce of energy she had over the past three months to finding Jamie and bringing him home safe. Jamie on the other hand, has been fighting for all he’s worth to die with any shred of dignity he can manage, and it all comes to not for both of them in this heart-wrenching scene. Watching Claire throw herself at Black Jack and beg for one last goodbye is beyond terrible, and it reduces me to tears every time I watch it.
Best Character Arc
There are really only two characters that we follow over the course of the entire first season: Jamie and Claire. And of the two, I find Jamie’s arc the most fascinating. When we first meet James Fraser, he is a young nomad, on the run from the law with no ties or commitments, and over the course of the season we gradually see that change.
He commits to marrying Claire, and because we know what the sanctity of marriage means to Jamie, we know he is not going to shirk his duties or responsibilities to his wife. He promises her “the protection of his body if necessary”, and he ends up having to fulfill that vow multiple times throughout the course of the season. Jamie is often held to higher standards than any other male character in this series because he is “The King of Men”, but in the first season especially, we see him mature in nearly every episode.
The first evidence for his maturation is his willingness to set aside his own stubborn ideals and compromise with Claire in “The Reckoning”, then we see him sacrifice his own happiness to send Claire back through the stones in “The Devil’s Mark”. In “Lallybroch”, after a good shove in the right direction, he accepts Claire’s advice, and admits to Jenny he was wrong in how he handled things.
All of this leads to the events of “To Ransom A Man’s Soul”. In “Lallybroch” we saw that Jamie had been placed in a similar position before with Randall. “Give over to me, and I’ll give you what you want”, and Jamie refused. He didn’t believe there was any circumstance in which giving in would be the right thing to do, and in 116, we see that belief turned on its head. By the end of the season one finale, the Jamie McTavish we met in “Sassenach” no longer exists. He has mental, emotional, and physical scars that weren’t there before, but he also has infinitely more responsibility. He is a laird, a husband, and soon to be a father–talk about a complete 180!
The post World War II era has always been somewhat of a fascinating area of history for me, so I suppose it comes as no shock that I am a sucker for 1940s women’s fashion. Claire’s look when she arrives on holiday in Inverness is my favorite costume of season one! Her blue coat is absolutely fabulous, and it frames Caitriona’s figure beautifully. Of course, then there’s that great hat as well… please tell me where I can get one!
Favorite Musical Moments
I’m a very musically inclined individual, so I don’t consider a TV show or movie truly phenomenal unless the composer for the score is equally as talented as the director, writer, and actors. Luckily, Outlander hit the lottery with series composer Bear McCreary.
There are a couple of musical moments in the first season that really just make my stomach flutter with little butterflies of love. The first is a piece called “The Wedding”. Bear’s use of native Scottish instruments to really encapsulate the moment of Jamie and Claire’s union was truly fantastic.
The second song, “Dance of the Druids” is pure magic. It begins with these haunting, lyrical vocals in a foreign tongue, and then is propelled forward into this frenzy of excitement and wonder. Paired with the gorgeous dance choreography, it will go down as one of my all-time favorite musical moments in television!
…and with that, I bring my review of season one to a close!! I’m beyond excited to get into the political intrigue, plot lines, sets, and costumes of season 2. Make sure to check back regularly as I begin with my episode analysis of 201 later this week on The Sassenach Files Podcast!
Until next time, Cheers!!