by KARA VANDERBIJL
Just like that, it’s time to bid adieu to Outlander — at least until April, when the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s beloved novel will return to screens with its first season’s final eight episodes. Seriously, whoever created mid-season breaks needs to be taken out and flogged. While that’s happening, let’s take a look at a few things we’ve learned from the show over the past eight weeks:
Explaining this story to people who haven’t heard of it never gets easier. Eventually the only solution is to dish up a healthy serving of black pudding, sit them in front of the telly, and make them watch it.
Or else pass them a copy of Gabaldon’s book and watch them fall into spasms of delight when they realize there are SEVEN MORE IN THE SERIES.
Speaking of spasms, if a group of ancient stones starts whispering to you, your vacation is not going well and you need to leave.
Should you get sucked into the past via the aforementioned stones, don’t fret: your life is about to get a whole lot more exciting.
People pay good money to have experiences like yours, Claire. Haven’t you heard of living museums?
Just think: if you travel back to the past, you start a never-ending cycle wherein you never really cease to exist.
Don’t trust Redcoats.
If the captain of the Redcoats, who looks suspiciously like the husband you left behind in the future, starts confessing his sadism to you, this is not your cue to let your guard down.
This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.
But it is a romance, so look alive, Claire!
When you have a completely unexplained but intense attraction to a perfect redhead who calls you by a cute nickname and wears a kilt, you need to do what God intended and jump his bones immediately. Don’t wait six episodes.
Then again, seven is the perfect number, isn’t it?
The wedding is pivotal, and not just because of its consummation. Every decision thereafter involves another person. Claire cannot escape through the stones anymore without facing the consequences. There are consequences, there is loss, on both sides now.
Outlander as a portrait of female desire.
If you are a woman in the 18th century, you will narrowly escape rape in pretty much every episode.
By the end I wouldn’t have been surprised if Claire had just rolled her eyes and hiked up her skirts. “Let’s just get this over with.”
All in all, it has always been a drag to be a woman.
But that’s okay, because Jamie exists.
Behind every good woman is a well-written male character.
There are few greater male characters than ones who are written into existence by women who are obviously in love with them.
If you don’t believe me, read the books.
Scars are sexy.
Do NOT fuck with anybody whose last name is Randall.
If your name is Frank Randall, you’re boring but we still feel sorry for you. We’re sorry you’re boring. Somehow, despite being boring, you manage to be important, which probably wasn’t easy for Diana Gabaldon and certainly isn’t for Tobias Menzies, who plays you. He’s doing a great job, though.
Frank, your theme song is Fleetwood Mac’s “Secondhand News.”
Obviously casting Menzies as both Frank and his ancestor, Black Jack Randall, was a key move, if only because it gets us thinking about family resemblances, which aren’t just skin deep. Violence, abandonment, detachment, psychopathy… couldn’t they also be inherited?
The following things look comfortable: sheepskins, kilts, cloaks, Highland grass, those cozy knit caps all the guys seem to wear, not having to wear any panties under your skirts (!)
The following things do not look comfortable: corsets, any of the chairs, that weird roll thing Claire has to strap around her middle to make her ass look bigger underneath her skirts, saddles, putting a knife inside your boot, being flogged, wigs, those strips of cloth men had to tie around their necks for whatever reason, not having to wear any panties under your skirts
Everything else aside, ripping open a bodice seems pretty satisfying.
There are a lot of ancient euphemisms for sex and all of them are wonderful but they’re used in such distasteful situations that it’s hard to imagine asking anyone to grind your corn and have it sound even remotely inviting.
None of the food looks good.
Books aren’t just for smarts; they’re also for tickling the deep, abiding parts in all of us that want to fall in love. That want adventure, and risk, and a good, hot, long roll in the hay discarding 18th-century clothes. That want men who wear their kilts and scars with pride.
Romance is the only genre.
Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording.