“Outlander” episode three, “No Way Out,” aired on Saturday (Aug. 23) and if you didn’t get a chance to see it, Starz is repeating this show ALL THE TIME so never fear. But this is our “how close to the book did they get?” discussion, covering differences or additions that may (or may not) prove to change something going forward, or just sweetened the beloved text somehow. So pull out your dog-eared paperback, won’t you, and follow along. Because this one is a doozy.
Frank and Claire are parted
The opening scene, Claire getting on a train and leaving Frank, is decidedly not in the book, but as this show continues to do — and do well — is develop a richer backstory for this couple, and for Frank especially. It highlights and adds to Claire’s longing to return “home” to this devoted man, who, like Claire, is healing from the horrors of WWII. #TeamShowFrank all the way. It was a beautiful addition, and the line “Claire Beauchamp Randall, promise you’ll return to me” made me say “awwwwWWWwww.”
“You’re a witch”
Claire’s fear of discovery is only matched by her longing to return home. Watching her brain act out how she could possibly tell the truth of who she is (to a sweet lady like Mrs. Fitz even) without being, well, killed, was shattering. It did a wonderful job of showing how that Claire feels, at this point, she has no one to trust nor confide in. Admittedly, that scene alone gave me more goosebumps for her predicament than any of the, uh, hundreds of times I’ve read the book.
Colum’s scene with the coatmaker, and the transferring of Claire’s massaging Old Alec to instead massaging Colum served an important purpose: It gave us more insight into Colum’s own stubborness and pride, as well as underscoring his purpose for making Claire stay at Castle Leoch while he plots and ponders what and who she is. Again, the special effects for this show are top-notch.
Showing up Father Bain
And now, for a completely new storyline: Claire discovers what made a young boy die, and another almost die, and counteracts the poisonous lily of the valley with belladonna, much to the complete and total damnation of Father Bain. Of course, he believes the boys, who had visited the Black Kirk, a ruined old church, to be possessed by demons.
In the book, Father Bain just didn’t like Claire because she was a strong woman, and a strong woman healer to boot, and then she had to go and “curse him” by telling him his wounds would get infected if not treated. He’s also described as resembling “a sullen potato more than anything else, brown face lumpy with resentment.” Here, however, he’s tall and vicious looking, and we’re treated to a full story, delving into science vs. religion, and the depth of belief in the tricky, always-present Devil in 1740s Scotland. Demonic possession is real.
Claire, of course, is dubious as to the amount the Devil actually has to do with anything, but then, how did she get there in the first place? And it provided a poignant moment with Geillis, who used the opportunity to try and define Claire and her beliefs.
We also got an extra bonus scene between Jamie and Claire, and no one is going to be opposed to that, where the sunset glinted just so off Jamie’s hair …
I’m sorry, what was I saying?
This was the first offshoot story, created and sourced from character behaviors in the book, but entirely new. The writers continue to honor and pay tribute to the spirit and feel of the books. It will also provide a better sense of drama for future show scenes with Father Bain … <ominous organ spoiler sounds here> as well as the trust Mrs. Fitz (and eventually Colum) has in Claire and her abilities.
If anything, these additions feel like new “bonus chapters” we just never knew existed previously, and are just being presented with now.
- Did anyone else have a “feels like Harry Potter” moment in at the train station and in Claire’s surgery? Hogwarts Express and glass bottles and everything felt Snape-ish. Oh wrong book. Nevermind.
- Angus and Rupert continue to be my favorite comedic relief team.
- Claire and Jamie’s scenes (listening to Gwyllyn’s folks songs while Laogharie pouts, and the freeing of the young boy from the pillory) continue to be almost verbatim to the book, which will, of course, keep the fans happy. Yes, Gwyllyn’s folk song scene was broken up on the show, but that just made for good dramatic effect and setting up for her escape plotting. “It’s always two hundred years in the Highland stories” indeed.
“Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.