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His­tor­i­cal sci- fi with ex­tra depth

Sep­a­rat­ing its de­but

sea­son into two halves, the his­tor­i­cal, sci- fi epic Out­lander re­turned in April with eight more episodes chart­ing the ad­ven­tures of time- trav­eller Claire Beauchamp and her Scot­tish clans­man pro­tec­tor, Jamie Fraser. Fi­nally com­mit­ted to stay­ing in 1743 be­cause of her love for Jamie, Claire faces ac­cli­ma­tis­ing to a male- dom­i­nated so­ci­ety that con­tin­ues to grate on her “mod­ern” 1945 sen­si­bil­i­ties. She has to suf­fer mar­i­tal dis­ci­pline, Black Jack Randall’s ( To­bias Men­zies) con­tin­ued masochis­tic as­saults, and even the threat of burning at the stake. But for all the the­matic ug­li­ness, there’s ar­guably not a more hand­some tele­vi­sion se­ries right now than Out­lander – and that in­cludes its cast.

Thank­fully, the dark­ness of the era and some of au­thor Diana Ga­bal­don’s most un­pleas­ant set­pieces are tem­pered by the evolv­ing re­la­tion­ships of Claire, Jamie, his ex­tended fam­ily, and Claire’s witchy friend, Geil­lis Dun­can. Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ron­ald D Moore scores points for do­ing what he needs to tell his ver­sion of Ga­bal­don’s story, such as chang­ing up the first- per­son point of view in “The Reckoning”, so we get in­side Jamie’s head. The de­vice makes him less of a fairy­tale

bonus fea­tures

Be­hind The Scenes: Out­lander is ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by two Star Trek fran­chise heavy­weights: Ron­ald D Moore and Ira Steven Behr.

Star Turn: There’s a spe­cial twin­kle in the per­for­mance of Lotte Ver­beek as mys­ti­cal charmer Geil­lis Dun­can. Her arc ends in a great re­veal that makes her per­for­mance even more de­li­cious.

Lo­ca­tions: Out­lander is shot on lo­ca­tion in Scot­land. Cas­tle Leoch is ac­tu­ally Doune Cas­tle in Perthshire and Lally­broch is Mid­hope Cas­tle near Ed­in­burgh.

It’s Wos­sis­name! Ac­tor Gra­ham McTav­ish is a genre vet known for voic­ing Loki in the Avengers an­i­mated se­ries, tons of videogame char­ac­ters, and for play­ing Dwalin the Dwarf in the Hob­bit films.

Best Line: Jamie: “Jenny, will you please turn around while I try to get out be­fore my cock snaps off?!” prince and more of a well- rounded man of his times ( al­beit a pro­gres­sive one) strug­gling with his own fail­ures and a stub­born­ness that ri­vals his new wife’s.

The genre part of the show also comes back out to play when Claire and Geil­lis are ac­cused of witch­craft by the sus­pi­cious com­mu­nity of Cas­tle Leoch. Moore ad­dresses the per­ils of su­per­sti­tion and the dam­age that Claire in­ad­ver­tently un­leashes when she tries to re­verse cen­turies’ old be­liefs. There’s also quite a twist that blows open the ran­dom­ness of Claire trav­el­ling back in time. It leaves the au­di­ence pon­der­ing in the best way, and doesn’t pull fo­cus from the char­ac­ter mo­ments the show does so well. Other episodes fea­ture high­lights such as Simon Cal­low as the Duke of San­dring­ham, who il­lus­trates the slip­pery po­lit­i­cal slope of English/ Scot­tish re­la­tions.

By ex­plor­ing the bru­tal­ity of the time and the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of op­pres­sion ( po­lit­i­cal, sex­ual and gen­der- based) via the char­ac­ters’ poignant points of view, Out­lander is prov­ing to be a re­fresh­ing, in­tel­li­gent, genre of­fer­ing. Tara Bennett

Won­der what Claire’s views on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence are…

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