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Outlander: A Title and a New Way of Television

This show just keeps breaking down boundaries.

Sunday saw the finale episode of the first season of Outlander, the Starz television program based on the series of books by Diana Gabaldon. As always, those Scots know how to make an entrance. In the previous episode we are left with an epiphany that lightened the mood- there really is nothing like a herd of cattle to stir up some trouble. The Mackenzie men are able to rescue their captured friend, but the man they find lying in a prison cell is not the same Jamie Fraser.

The graphic detail of Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) torture just goes to show that the story is not out to show a PG-13 interpretation of history. The invincible Jamie Fraser is found broken, inside and out. Of course, this version is still as stubborn, but this is a leap to see this side of his character and not the usual bold and gallant Scot with a quick wit.

Disturbingly graphic, the rape scenes were more than enough to leave you squirming in discomfort in your seat. To film such a scene was obviously not the average, lightly humoured sitcom-acting job. Better to convert those disturbing feelings into kudos for the actors’ tremendous acting. The show as a whole has brought what is usually left to the imagination, to the screen. Which in turn brings more of the steamy but not to forget the level of pain and darkness within the story. Creating a major heightening of the viewers connection to the characters, whoever the individual subject.

Straying from the typical male preys on female scenario, the rapist also focused on a psychological aspect that tangled Jamie’s thoughts and feelings. The predator and British Captain, Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) earlier on in the season made his sexual fascination about the Scot obviously known. Conditioning Jamie to associate Randall’s torture with the image of Claire (Catriona Balfe), Randall did successfully perverse Jamie’s mind into what might be permanent feelings of revulsion towards his own wife.

To differ even further from a stereotypical plot line, this story challenges traditional gender roles left, right, and centre. For it was not the brave Scotsman who came to the rescue, it was his lady. Although Jamie has been supportive of the fact that Claire comes from a different time,  he has been quick to adapt to the equal gender roles that are so foreign to him. (Although, his own sister may test that theory.) After the spanking incident, Claire made it quite clear to her husband that would not be a reoccurring action. The two were able to move past this together but their love be enough to move past Jamie’s emasculation?

About Christine Smith

Christine Smith
Christine is living an east coast lifestyle in Canada's capital. One of those odd duck artsy types, she will one day accept her destiny as the scatter-brained history professor. Until then, (& extremely late Hogwarts letter permitting) she has her heart set on being Indiana Jones. Contact Chris: