OUTLANDER Project

My take during Season One was to look at how Outlander is being translated from the eponymous novel,with a few other tangents and insights along the way. For Season Two, I invited the woman who introduced me to the novels, as well as the woman who introduced her to the novels, to review the shows in a more conversational way.

Episode 204

Episodes 201 and 202 had dude fingerprints all over them. They were all well and good but a little mansplain-y, IMHO. 203 was written by Anne Kenney and Outlander Nation rejoiced. If you want the feels, get Anne Kenney on it, stat. Last year, she wrote The Way Out, Lallybroch, and, um, The Wedding… hello? This week, we get Toni Graphia. If you want a script where people get sh*t done, Toni’s the woman for the job. She wrote Rent, The Devil’s Mark, and The Watch last season — all huge plot-movers.

Episode 203

Rhenish (Joanie): I am officially troubled with the portrayal of Jamie and Claire’s relationship at this point. We are missing a whole lot of the relationship between them — the way they spend a lot of quiet moments talking and comforting one another in the book, through the nightmares, insomnia, morning sickness, afternoon sickness, and so on. There’s a lot of weight on the disconnect between them in the show — Jamie’s post-Wentworth PTSD, his discomfort with mind-of-her-own Claire’s red dress, and now how she’s spending her free time at the hospital. I just wish we were getting some of the tenderness to balance it out. I really miss that.

Episode 202

MARY: I’ve had Versailles on the mind ever since Saturday. I have so many thoughts about this episode. When it started, my first thought was, “Joanie is going to be happy that they started with sex right out of the gate!”

JOANIE: I was ecstatic with the start of 202 — and it appeared that Jamie was ecstatic, as well… for the first 15 seconds. Then, BOOM… gotcha! I get it, Jamie isn’t emotionally healed yet, and we need to see the nightmares that will continue to plague him. But why, oh, why did they have to make this particular nightmare so darn bloody!

HOPE: Right? Not only did the scene bug me, but it’s like — I know this isn’t the book. It’s an omniscient point of view by the nature of the medium. When you read, we’re only told about Jamie waking up sweaty, chilled, clawing, and screaming… now and for the rest of his life. I’ll give them this one time to show us the nightmare, but I think it’s the wrong choice to convey the gravity of the situation this way anymore. What would be equally terrifying to me is being in Claire’s position, trying everything she can think of to help him heal and failing.

Episode 201

Is there any other show on television that does poetic, cinematic, or theatrical better than Outlander? We don’t get an episode each week; we get a movie. The production has set the bar so high that it’s hard to keep my expectations in the stratosphere. So, putting any of my… let’s call them “constructive observations” instead of criticisms, in context, can we talk about the many achievements of this episode and the *very* few occasions that the “look at me” symbolism, parallelism, and foreshadowing felt a little heavy-handed (pun intended, read on)?

Episodes 115 and 116, an update

Episodes 115 and 116 were just too much for me. I had read the chapters in the book, and I watched the shows—I couldn’t not watch them—but dissecting them proved too overwhelming. The tour de force work by every last actor, director, producer, writer, and crew member melded to provoke such a primal, visceral response in me that I was left speechless. And anyone who knows me knows that takes some doing. Among all the other feelings I experienced, I felt guilty—and my guilt confused me. If the TV show unraveled me, shouldn’t the book have done the same thing?

 

Episodes 115 and 116

After much contemplation and consternation, I’ve decided to hold off on writing my study/review of the last two episodes of Outlander, Wentworth Prison and To Ransom a Man’s Soul. I want to appreciate the season’s concluding episodes in context with one another and the season as a whole. I’ve been energized by the shorter time frames reviewing the season’s second half, but I am far more pleased by the content and message of my first eight reviews. #DroughtLanderIsComing and with it much time to reflect and consider. I intend to report, glow, and analyze this great story in posts throughout the hiatus. In the meantime,  feel free to share your thoughts on the #OutlanderFinale here. #FreeJamieFraser and #TulachArd

You couldn’t fire a bit across the World Wide Web this week without hitting a preview for Outlander‘s next installment, Wentworth Prison. Scarce was the review of last week’s episode, however, save discussion of lactation. BRAVA to Laura Donnelly, whoever was responsible for creating the working prosthetic mammary glands, and everyone who had anything to do with bringing this proper demonstration of the human female breasts’ intended function, true to the passage in the novel, to television. #Freethenipple.

Unfortunately, most of the remaining talk about The Search fixated upon how little it did to advance the overarching series plot. While a lot of pastoral goings-on during the Lallybroch episodes was lost to editing, this rather brief portion of the book was expanded into a full-blown Murtagh and Claire road show to the outer Highlands.

Outlander 2014

Cosa Nostra—A Study of “The Watch” Episode 113

Posted on May 8, 2015

Playing to expectations, gratitude for artistic latitude, and my other brother Darryl in this week’s Outlander‬ study.

Just Eat Your Cake—A Study of “Lallybroch” Episode 112

Posted on May 1, 2015

This week, I compared the patient plot weaving and nuanced character development in Outlander to the standard set by the Mad Men television series. I also work in references to LL Cool J, Seinfeld, The Lego Movie, How I Met Your Mother, Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, and Welcome Back, Kotter (I’m probably forgetting others). That’s just how I roll.

Bismillah—A Study of “The Devil’s Mark” Episode 111

Posted on April 24, 2015

This week’s study ponders how much is too much to pack into a story, what it means to critique, showing versus telling, and being there-you know-for *her*. To say that The Devil’s Mark was a show bursting at the seams is a gross understatement. I agreed with what Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore said in his podcast; each of three events within it—the trial, the revelation, and the decision—didn’t merit their own episodes but were a challenge to execute within just one.

In my previous post, I called attention to the number of parallels among the many Outlander characters’ plot lines. I got to do something similar this week, except instead of plot lines, By the Pricking of My Thumbs delivers a cavalcade of parallel character traits. Namely, we get to see how single-mindedness plays out, for better or for worse, in service of the story.

The One With All The Reckonings—A Review of Episode 109 (Part 2)

 Posted on April 13, 2015

The second half of Episode 109 serves as a great example of how variations on a theme make for fascinating storytelling.

All is Forgiven—A Review of The Reckoning, Episode 109 (Part 1)

 Posted on April 10, 2015

As a writer, it’s interesting to sit on the other side of the table as a reviewer. It’s not easy work, even if – especially if what you’re reviewing is so compelling and confounding all at once.

Illusions I Recall—A Review of Both Sides Now, Episode 108

 Posted on April 2, 2015

I’ve been rather fangirl-swoony in my reviews of Outlander up to this point. Counting the hours until the series return, I really wanted to glow about Both Sides Now, but I just couldn’t. Even this episode still outmatches virtually every other program on the air, but it I didn’t find it to be in keeping with the incredibly high standards it’s set for itself.

Mind, Body, and Soul – A Review of The Wedding, Episode 107

 Posted on March 30, 2015 

A study of what a storyteller’s gender–in this case, that of episode head writer Anne Kenney and director Anna Forrester–has to do with the authenticity that results.

Know Thy Enemy — a Review of The Garrison Commander, Episode 106

The producers of Outlander did a brave thing in this passage, both on page and screen. By not pulling punches (pun only slightly intended) in The Garrison Commander, Gabaldon and screenwriter Ira Steven Behr send the message: if you’re squeamish or skeptical now, best return this book to the shelf or change he channel; I’m sure there’s a rerun of Home Improvement somewhere on the dial.

Like La bohème, but with Less Consumption and More Live Pigs – A Review of Rent (Episode 105)

Posted on

Definition of Rent:

1: To grant or gain temporary possession and enjoyment of something in exchange for payment.
2: An opening made by or as if by rending.
3: A split in a party or organized group; schism.
4: A rock musical based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème.

I wish I were clever enough to have noticed the multiple meanings of this episode’s title right away.

Two Roads Diverged – A Review of ‘The Way Out’ and ‘The Gathering’ (Episodes 103 & 104)

Because of some bold choices, sure direction, and unfailing support from cast and crew, The Way Out and The Gathering scripts advance the story lines somewhat more succinctly than what the novel prescribes while also create episodic arcs of rising action, climax, and resolution.

Majesty and Mayhem – Recap of Castle Leoch, Episode 102

A blog post about backstory, pacing, sequencing, narrative arcs, costumes, set design, and knee porn.

Prologue and Foreplay – Recap of Sassenach, Episode 101

We’re just about eight weeks out from the return of new Outlander episodes, so there’s no time like the present to revisit the past. I do not hold myself up…

The Medium is the Message

A post about audiences’ preconceived notions regarding how novels should be portrayed on the screen.

May the Fourth Be With You

We were told that each of the #4Droughtlander video clips, which have been coming on the Fourth of each month prior to the April 4th Outlander return, would…

For Those of You Just Tuning In

Last week, Starz posted the announcement that the opening scene of Outlander’s mid-season return would air immediately before the Black Sails season 2…

My First Guest-Blogging Gig, and it’s a Big One!

I’ve got a couple of other opportunities in the pipeline, but this is the first: Meet your new Outlander correspondent for Basket of Kisses! Outlander: I’m a Little Late to the Party. Are You?.

 

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