blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Outlander (2014) s01e04 – The Gathering

I’m profoundly disappointed this episode, The Gathering, did not involve all the dudes chopping each other’s heads off a la Highlander. I can only imagine the Quickening episode of “Outlander” will someday similarly disappoint.

“Outlander” ’s Gathering is where all the clan guys gather at the castle, pledge fealty to Gary Lewis, get drunk, and try to rape random women. Of course, if they aren’t lucky enough to rape anyone, they’ll take consensual sex, but it’s not the preference. Time traveler Caitriona Balfe is hoping to use the confusion to escape to get back to the time travel rocks so she can go back to the future. But she’ll find even after an indeterminate amount of time spent planning, getting away is more challenging than coming up with 1.21 gigawatts of electrical energy.

First, she’s got to distract guards Grant O’Rourke and Stephen Walters by siccing them on ladies. Though, to be fair, Walters is a whole lot less rapey this episode. He’s a more genial sexual predator. It’s unclear if it’s character development or just some of the episode’s weird character shifts. Matthew B. Roberts gets the writing credit, and in some ways, it’s the best-written episode. The narration’s terrible, the dialogue’s tepid, the continuity’s off, but it’s still a lot less manipulative than usual.

It also feels way too self-contained, with none of the previous episode’s character work actually mattering. For example, Lotte Verbeek is still snooping around Balfe, trying to discover her secrets, but it’s independent of their relationship arc. Ditto Sam Heughan, who’s barely in the episode—because he’s in danger of losing his head, though not for the Prize—when he and Balfe have scenes together, they’ve got less familiarity than Balfe has with any of the other characters. The episode doesn’t dial back their chemistry; it forgets they have any.

Once again, Graham McTavish is easily the best actor in the show, even if he’s not good at acting blackout drunk.

Brian Kelly directs and turns out to be incapable of action or suspense scenes, which is a bummer. Though someone on the crew has seen Evil Dead 1 and 2 thank goodness. But the slowed down and sped-up rugby match is a silly fail. Kind of like using pop music from the forties as background music for Balfe, though at least the music makes sense, bad or not. Trying to make the rugby look cool is nonsensical.

Though at least there’s not a bunch of weird nudity. Still the terrible narration, of course. They really don’t know how to make this show. Just fundamentally, they can’t figure it out.

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