Outlander: of fascinations and frustrations — Part II
The first few scenes of the pilot established a mystical ambience that acted as the perfect launch pad for the approaching other worldly premise: the pervading mood of the city of Inverness was strikingly Celtic in its dark, broody ambience. And when the Gaelic festival of Samhain as the origins of Halloween was mentioned, my eyes dug into the telly. As a history aficionado, I already held sentiments of awe for the Celtic world. This saga, therefore, could scarcely have been held anywhere else.
Claire’s eloquent narration (borrowed from the novels) peppered at crucial junctures acquainted us with her tumultuous mental state as well as seamlessly tied the plot together by revealing her motivations and apprehensions. Within the first episode itself, an exciting conflict arose: our modern protagonist clashing with a raw world of parochial ideas. She has to grapple with men who are appalled at the notion of a lady ordering them about; of a lady decorating her parlance with the choicest cuss words that made their flesh crawl and convulse. Then there’s the wide chasm between her knowledge as a nurse who served in the WW2 and the sum of 18th century medical expertise no less exemplified by the flummoxed looks she received every time ‘germ’ or ‘infection’ were spouted. Numerous such collisions gave Claire a stage to demonstrate her strength of will and courage, traits that make her endearing to the viewer notwithstanding the vexation her obstinate compassion occasionally caused which all the more illustrated our affection when we advised caution for her sake, “Oh c’mon! Get back to the stones, you wannabe Dalai Lama!” Pay due heed, this was the man claiming to share the same soul as the one who snorted out an ‘Oh really?’ when a certain nerdy looking kid ran through a brick wall that is the platform 9 and 3 quarters. How the mighty have fallen.
Must I add how the magic of the title sequence perfectly contributed to the tone of the show. I love that song! Upon contemplation of the lyrics, a certain line struck me: “Merry of the soul she sailed on a day…”; I reckon these words are a great ode to the persona of Claire. She truly is merry at heart as is testified by the adaptability she showed once thrusted back in time. Let’s entertain an outlandish contemplation by forsaking logic and making an allowance for a preternatural earth — a novel task for I, certainly; the teenage me would have issued a snicker upon discovering how wantonly I am indulging in fantasies egged on by a lame show! — and marvel at your or my conduct had we met such a fate as Claire did. Shock. Sheer shock would have consumed us. Tethered to the familiar but disquieting, dark alleys of our mind, we’d have stood transfixed, unable to process this utterly fantastic occurrence that befell us. Had I managed to evade what seems a highly probable mortal end, my grumpy soul would have marvelously struggled in finding a firm footing in the olden days. Tip my hat to you, Claire: your little mutinies to impart care to Jamie while he was still a stranger were a strong demonstration of your stubbornly principled character albeit the oddness of it did earn my disbelief, which, however, was not unassailable in the least. Certainly, some of that assailability is owed to the vitality of the plot; that had Claire not worn a disguise of ease, such a beautiful tale would never have blossomed.
The disguise didn’t fool everyone though, least of all the canny Dougal. I think, I should chalk it up to the active nature of Claire; under danger, only and only after the expenditure of every possible courageous mode of action, would she maintain, and reluctantly so, a low profile; never would I expect her to succumb to a benign state devoid of any ambitions the manifestations of which could entwine with others’ schemes. Further testimony of her adaptability actually resides in Claire’s disposition prior to journey through time. What can only be alleviated by Diana’s pen, is the wonderment that maybe, Claire, through certain spiritual ties, the character of which is obscured by the enigma that is the subconscious, was always connected to the otherworldly. Perhaps in hindsight, all this explanation isn’t needed if one imagines an alternative, a tad more realistic reaction of being dropped into the past: a disheveled Claire, dissolved in whimpers keeps muttering ‘Frank’ over and over till the people drag her to some shady, local Freud who diagnoses her to be taken in by ghosts. Maybe she gathers her wits about her and manages to sneak away to the stones and to Frank. Maybe, she gets consumed in shock and turns vegetative. Either way, I don’t see juicing out a season from this.
My second thoughts…again
Now, with my spirit transfixed at the telly in fascination, I had to know if my sincere emotional investments would yield the profit of joy; a journey I undertake every time a story catches my fancy. Meandering through forums, subreddits and reviews that hours ago would have stayed put in deep recesses of the internet with I utterly oblivious to their mere existence, I scour through skillfully argued opinions of strangers far ahead on the emotional voyage than I. Spoilers are landmines and I, a soldier on speed deftly avoid oncoming text suspected to be as such. I have to annex territory but sans the earth blowing, to smithereens, the possibility of any aspect of thrill that arises from dire anticipations being challenged. However, all that effort had to fizzle out upon the discovery of commentaries on the novel that yelped in caution, “Hark! Bodice Ripper! No go.” As someone who carries remarkable expertise of not being an adolescent girl I supposed myself as not a member of the ‘authorized personnel’ — my libidinous persona notwithstanding! — I sat back in disgust and semi-relief that I was just in time to break what was about to be an alliance of emotional strength with a plotline that’d do well to kill my neurons with its cheesy nature. Thus, I slumped grumpily on the sofa, swearing to not resume watching the show that had dared to first canoodle and then pinch me. Nevertheless, as you know, the paradox of choice that Netflix presented weighed heavily on me along with a burning curiosity whose existence I was too abashed to admit. My resolution had to crumble and boy did it! I swallowed — I swallowed! — the series.