Outlander: Review: Series 1 Episode 2: Castle Leoch

Outlander 2Resigned to the reality of her situation, Claire finds herself under suspicion as an English spy…

Outlander maintains its deceptively slow pace – it feels as if not much is happening as you’re watching, but the hour goes by quickly as Claire starts to get to know the folk at Castle Leoch. We get a few flashbacks to her life with Frank (basically those bits of plot setting up which weren’t relevant to the historical scenes of the first episode) and Jamie narrates the tale of Frank’s ancestor’s wickedness towards his sister, which allows Tobias Menzies to twiddle his metaphorical evil moustaches.

She’s regarded with suspicion by most of the people present (which isn’t surprising, given that she has to lie about pretty much everything) – bar Annette Badland’s Mistress Fitzgerald, who lifts every scene she’s in – but things are clearly not okay at the castle. Tensions between the laird and his brother are simmering just barely beneath the surface, and Jamie is an obstacle of some sort. We also meet some of the villagers outside the castle, and see eighteenth century justice in action – much to Claire’s disgust.

The ending of the episode is no real surprise – there is no way that it would be that simple for Claire to leave – but it is still effective, and Caitriona Balfe has no need of voiceover to get Claire’s feelings across.

Verdict: An episode of acclimatisation for both Claire and the viewers that gives us a good feel for the society in which she’s trapped. 7/10

Paul Simpson

<<< Episode 1: Sassenach

 

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