I must have been living under a rock when I happened to come across the premier of a new show on Starz called Outlander, because I didn’t know what it was. Originally, I thought it was going to be a TV series of the movie (with the same title) about a guy from outer space, crash landing on Earth during the Viking times. The two-sentence description said it was about a married combat nurse from 1945 who is “mysteriously swept back in time”. That caught my attention. It’s not my typical zombie apocalypse or action filled fantasy and horror, but this story appealed to the romantic in me. I was hoping for something similar to a Richard Matheson story but I got much more. Of course, I didn’t mind that the two main characters in Outlander are played by two very good-looking people. All the actors were unknown to me, so I completely believed them as the characters they portrayed. After watching the season premier, I was undoubtedly hooked.
When I learned it was a book, you better believe I went out and got it. Yes, I’m one of those people. When I like something, I will consume everything about it. I just had to know what happened next after watching that first episode. The book, written by Diana Gabaldon, was published in 1991, so it’s not new. It has a good amount of “romantic sex” in it and being only 11 years old at the time, it wasn’t in my section of the library. Why did it take so long for it to be adapted for the screen? I couldn’t imagine any of it could be adapted for a two-hour movie, or even a series of movies. It definitely couldn’t be made for network television then. Only recently has television evolved into what it is now and shows like this can be made without compromising the original work. The show is true to the book, even taking dialog straight from the pages. Outlander fans have waited over 20 years for this and now it’s finally here. I’m just lucky I didn’t have to wait that long since this is a new discovery for me.
Outlander is a story about a former British army nurse named Claire Randall in post WWII Scotland. It starts out with her and her husband, Frank, on a second honeymoon to rekindle their marriage after being apart for six years during the war. During their stay, Frank traces his genealogy, they both learn about his ancestors and the history of the land. On an outing by herself, Claire touches a boulder at an ancient stone ruin in what looks like a mini version of Stonehenge and is instantly transported back to 18th century Scotland. She immediately crosses paths with Frank’s ancestor, Dragoon Captain “Black Jack” Randall, who turns out to be the complete opposite of her peace-loving, gentle husband. Black Jack’s attempt to assault her is interrupted by a Scottish Highlander, who is also fleeing the English Captain. The Highlander reluctantly rescues her and takes her with him to regroup with his clansmen.
Claire realizes pretty early on she’s not in her own time and keeps this fact about herself secret in hopes to survive long enough to find her way back to the stones and to her home. During her captivity with the Highlanders, she helps reset a dislocated shoulder of one of the men injured during an earlier fight, the young Scottish clan lord named Jamie. Thinking she might be an English spy, they decide it wouldn’t be wise to leave her for the English soldiers who were tailing them. If she were not a spy, it would be cruel to leave a helpless lady to die.
In order to save her life, Claire and Jamie are forced to marry. She accepts her new life, but deep-seated, was her desire to return to her own time and to her husband Frank. Claire and her new husband encounter many perils during their journey through the Scottish Highlands. Jamie is a wanted man, accused of a murder he did not commit and seeking refuge among his uncles also proved to be dangerous due to an internal feud for who was to succeed as the new clan Laird. Being a blood relative and nephew to current one, he had valid claims to the seat but did not want it. Yet, he remained a threat to his uncles. Claire and Jamie evade capture, war, raiding border clans, death, the devious Black Jack Randall and find love for each other along the way.
Outlander reminds me a little of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series (which I also adore), especially with the mystical, sci-fi’ish elements. Outlander is filled with adventure, history, romance, and mystique. The relationships between the characters and their lives are absolutely captivating. I thought I had stumbled across something remarkable all by myself. Little did I know how big it really was.
Watch it with me. The second half of season one will return on April 4 on Starz and if you have read the book, you know what’s going to happen.