Outlander “The Watch” Review (Season 1, Episode 13)

Outlander The Watch Episode 13 (6)

I don’t like comparing Outlander to Game of Thrones because I think they are two very different shows. And anytime I hear that Outlander is “GoT for women,” I want to vomit. That being said, there is something these projects do very well: conversations between two people. Game of Thrones is a master class in the intimate conversation, and Outlander is on its way to achieving this feat as well. “The Watch” was a great example of this between various pairs of characters and also continued on the brilliant work that was seen last week in “Lallybroch”.

Let’s begin with Claire and Jenny because I could honestly make this review a Laura Donnelly appreciation piece. Donnelly’s first appearance was in the front half of the season, but her real entrance was last week. And she slayed it. “The Watch” continued to be an excellent showcase for her. Jenny just radiates. I can’t put it any better. It’s as if she came onto the show fully formed. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have settled perfectly into their roles, but it took a few episodes to see that comfort permeate through. I don’t know if Donnelly has it more difficult coming this late into the season or not. For a brief bit, she almost came off adversarial to Claire and Jamie. I could see how many viewers would not take her calling our heroine a ‘trollop’ too kindly. At the same time, her later appearance allows the audience to take her in more than if she was thoroughly introduced when we were still learning about Claire and Jamie. Either way, Jenny leaps off the screen, and her scenes with Claire this episode continued to impress me with Donnelly’s work. Jenny is strong and independent yet the fear of dying in childbirth (or losing the baby instead) is going to affect any woman at that time. Her apprehension is justified and still feels wholly in character. Then there is also the joy Jenny feels in describing the sensation of being pregnant. That makes the possible outcome even more saddening that after those 9 months, she or the baby, or both, may not make it out. The birthing scene was also expertly directed in the staging of it. That looked painful, uncomfortable, and very real. Just wonderful work from Donnelly, Balfe, and the team all around.

Speaking of Balfe, I knew that Jenny’s conversation with Claire would result in an admission by the latter that she couldn’t have children. While our heroine is a modern woman, she is still a woman, and the ability to bear children is one of the aspects of femininity that is still defined today. It must be all the more heartbreaking too that Claire has saved countless lives but can’t make one of her own. That’s not an easy thing to admit to anyone, least of all your husband, and Balfe conveying that beautifully to Jamie. Sam Heughan, in turn, continued his perfectly delicate way to respond. It’s safer for Claire this way, and he as Jamie, couldn’t bear to lose her.

Heughan also had two great scenes with the other men in the episode. First with Ian, after Horrocks is killed, and later with Taran while riding to intercept the raid. Like Donnelly’s Jenny, Steven Cree’s Ian also arrived fully formed. And Ian’s PTSD moment after stabbing the Irishman was hard to watch. In the same way that he balances Jenny’s fierceness, he does so with Jamie. In return Jamie and Jenny can bring that inherently strong man out of Ian. It’s a rapport that is telegraphed strongly between the actors. Jamie and Ian may go to hell, but at least they’ll go together. On the other end of the spectrum, we had Jamie’s eventual understanding and trust of Taran MacQuarrie form. This culminated in that wonderful horseback ride in the rain where Taran pledged to never turn Jamie in to the British. Taran may be a thief and not partake in the most respectable activities, but he’s loyal. And it was this scene with Jamie that reminded me the most of something I’d see on Game of Thrones. In fact, Douglas Henshall would fit on that show quite nicely.

Once it was clear the British would ambush the Watch, I knew Jamie would not make it out. Now it’s Claire’s turn to find and save her husband.

One Final Thought Before I Take Matters Into My Own Hands

I was thrilled to see GoT‘s very own Yoren show up as Crenshaw this outing (though I wish Francis Magee would have been given more to do). Those intimate conversations I keep going on about? Magee had one of the best on Game of Thrones with Maisie Williams as Arya. Just a stellar scene between the two of them. And Magee can’t escape playing characters being involved with some kind of watch: the Night’s Watch on GoT and then the Watch here. He also gets these hilarious lines to say and speaks them with such ferocity. And the quotes only work because he comes off so damn likable.

“Woman, quit your screeches!” – Tonight’s episode
“Wake up you lazy sons of whores, there’s men outside want to fuck your corpses!” from Game of Thrones “What is Dead May Never Die” (written by the brilliant Bryan Cogman, who I would love to see pen an Outlander episode)