I’m not sure how to take “Outlander” seriously. It’s somewhat offensive the show ever implies I should try; this episode makes me want to see if it somehow breaks my eighth amendment rights or something. It’s shockingly bad at what it’s trying to do, starting with what it’s doing in the first place.
The last episode ended with British time traveler from the future Caitriona Balfe agreeing to marry hot highlander Sam Heughan to foil evil British red coat Tobias Menzies’s plans for Balfe. Making matters worse, Menzies is an ancestor of Balfe’s husband in the future—also played by Menzies. Menzies doesn’t appear in this episode, which is fine. It’s got enough problems with the actors it does have.
This episode is all about their wedding night, including their sexy times. At this point, Balfe’s been living in the past for four months minimum, so you could think of her widowed four months. Except her plan is to go back to the future, where Menzies (the future one, not the rapist one) is still alive. Maybe. You wouldn’t know it from this episode’s narration, which might be the worst ever? And “Outlander”’s narration for Balfe is some of the worst narration I’ve ever heard, so… it’s an achievement to dig to a new bottom. Kudos Anne Kenney or whoever. Kenney gets the credit, but maybe it’s from the room; perhaps it’s from the source novels. Who cares.
Outside they’re decidedly dull nooky—it’s hilarious because Balfe and future Menzies were legit exhibitionists—they talk and flashback to Heughan’s day. While Balfe’s just marrying the sexy Scot barbarian because she doesn’t want to go to eighteenth-century prison, Heughan’s actually sincere in his wedding desires. Balfe’s a good match for him. Only the supporting cast has just recently become likable, and then they roll it way back with Graham McTavish, so spending an episode with them is tedious. But at least they’re not having boring conversations and bad sex. Though I think we get some man bum. There is lots of female nudity (the director’s a woman, Anna Foerster), but it’s still male gaze-y. All of it is unnecessary.
The episode never answers important questions—like how Balfe marrying wanted man Heughan makes any sense—and then probably some other ones. I don’t care. It’s so lousy commercial breaks would’ve been an improvement. Seriously, how did they decide to make this show but not decide the rules for Balfe’s narration—or, you know, figure out the character relationship with her and Heughan. In every episode, it seems like they’re strangers meeting for the first time even though they’ve known each other since the first episode.
I’m not sure if it’s unintentionally bewildering or just terrible, but given even usually sturdy McTavish can’t sell his latest mood swing, it’s probably the latter.