Outlander: SDCC Premiere Photos & Episode 1 in Review

Outlander - Claire and FrankI have to admit, I’ve been on the fence about Outlander ever since I first heard about the series back in 2013, just before I had the chance to interview series author Diana Gabaldon, and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore at the New York Comic Con (yes, I know I’m a bit behind). On the face of things, it has everything I usually love. History, Time Travel, and Romance in one story? Yes, please. But somehow I’ve been holding back, not sure if I should dive head first into the series (eight books, hmm), wait for the television series, or avoid it all together.

I didn’t read the books, and I was still on the fence about the tv series, until we were invited to the premiere at SDCC. Two weeks later, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the series, and anticipating its premiere. In short, I want more.

The premiere episode, Sassenach, sets such a lucious landscape to the world of Claire Randall that I’d be tempted to watch to see the stunning visuals alone. But it’s the characters that create the real intrigue. Even with just a tease of one episode, I’m dying to know more, and I’ll admit, the urge to look for book spoilers is strong in this one.

Outlander - Claire and JamieClaire is a feisty, confident heroine that is still rare enough these days that she’s like a beacon in a dark and dismal world of damsel in distresses. Even though she clearly needs help after having been thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, she has a fire to her that cannot be denied. She’s thrown from the confusion of a world rebuilding itself after the second World War, to the 18th century and a world even more chaotic and unknown than the horrors she faced during the war. She proves her measure and strength in a the toughest situations by by being assertive and determined to make her voice heard even while her world has been thrown upside down.

This first episode doesn’t tell us much about Jamie (Sam Heughan), who is so clearly the romantic lead in this story, whether you’ve read the book or not. At this point in the story he is intriguing mostly because of his reaction to Claire. That he doesn’t balk at her assertiveness and seems interested in her from the very beginning is what makes him fascinating at a time when little has been divulged of his character. The accent also doesn’t hurt. Nor do the curls. But I’ll try not to be shallow.

But perhaps the most fascinating character so far is the character of Frank Randall, as played by Tobias Menzies. As the story is so clearly set up for a love story between Claire and Jamie, it would be so easy to make Claire’s husband in the future a throw away character; someone one dimensional and unimportant. Instead we’re given a fully fleshed character, who will inevitably play a bigger role in the story that is unfolding. His ancestor, Black Jack Randall, will clearly be the more present menace in the 18th century story, but it is Frank who may be the bigger adversary to the love story that is sure to be the heart of the story.

In the end, I’m hooked. But I think I’ll still avoid the books for now, and watch the show play out without the burden of the knowledge of what was on the written page.

Outlander airs on STARZ in the US on Saturday nights. You can watch the first episode free here.

Take a look at our photo gallery from the Tartan Carpet premiere of Outlander at SDCC 2014.

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