Outlander Season 1 Review “The Gathering”

Outlander 2014

“It’s near a white glen…”
“You’ve seen men die before. And by violence.”

“The Gathering” started out as what I thought would be my least favorite episode of Outlander so far yet ended up becoming the pivot point of the show for me. I liked the first three episodes enough but am now 100% on board. For Game of Thrones, it was Arya’s first meeting with Syrio Forel at the end of Episode 3. I remember having goose bumps as the end credits rolled and being invested in a way I hadn’t been previously. Dougal and Claire comforting Geordie as he died followed by Dougal’s intense game of shinty was that moment for me in Outlander. My exclamation of ‘poor pigs!’ and ‘intestines yuck!’ developed into my surprise tears at this man’s death. I couldn’t tell you if Geordie was in an earlier episode, but he didn’t need to be. And while his character basically is there to develop Claire and Dougal’s relationship, actor Bryan Larkin gave him a weight that I wasn’t expecting and won’t forget. There was no somber music playing in the background; no theatrics; just three actors doing beautiful work.

Graham McTavish leaped off the screen this outing. Dougal has his issues (bad move against Claire sir), yes, but dammit if I don’t still admire him. He could have disregarded Claire and her abilities in her first encounters with Jamie, but didn’t. He cares deeply about his “nephew” and fellow clansmen. His distrust of Claire causes frustration on our side yet it’s not unfounded. On top of all that he must live in his brother’s shadow fearing that Jamie could take his place. Speaking of which, Jamie may have not outright sworn fealty to the Laird but the smile Colum gave him after this oath probably worried Dougal just as much. McTavish has taken a character that could be easy to hate due to his antagonism towards our heroine and created one with infinite shades of gray. That scene with Geordie and Claire (along with the last one of the episode) utterly proved it.

“The Gathering” also made me fully onboard the Claire train as well. Again, I already liked her spunk, intelligence, ingenuity, and honesty, but having her as the main character added to all that. Her calm and sincerity in dealing with Geordie’s death though added in a different dynamic. Caitriona Balfe just radiated in this episode with so much to play with: planning her escape, giving the drunk Dougal what he deserved, the sly attitude with Rupert and Angus, her distraught over her foiled escaped plan and putting Jamie in that precarious situation, and then Geordie’s death. Claire Beauchamp Randall, I salute you.

Oh yeah, and I liked Jamie plenty enough before too but am truly head over heels now. Sam Heughan’s smile is intoxicating whether it’s to Claire in the barn or to Colum in the hall. It speaks miles. And I’m looking forward to the many more that will come.

More Thoughts As I Run Away from a Pig (excuse me, boar):

– Glad to see that we’ll get a change of scenery now with Claire leaving the castle to go on the road with Dougal, Jamie, Angus, Rupert, etc.

– Why You Don’t Go on Boar Hunts Take 2: I won’t say who from A Game of Thrones bites the dust from a similar boar injury like Geordie’s, but this is why you don’t hunt big ass pigs.

– Claire’s love potion to Laoghaire had me laughing. Yes, dried horse dung and a Wizard of Oz-like saying are the true way to a man’s heart. Poor, naïve Laoghaire.

– In this episode of “Geillis acting shady” she questions Claire about her love life and comments that she could be barren. Lotte Verbeek is very good.

– The ending voiceovers are my least favorite of Claire’s. I think the show could do away with them and not lose anything.

– Totally missed the Ron D Moore cameo in this episode (thankfully this one wasn’t as blatantly obvious as Battlestar Galactica’s). I saw Diana Gabaldon but didn’t recognize that it was her.

– I know now a new sport: shinty!