That might sound like heresy to longtime fans of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series who consider Jamie Fraser to be the ultimate dreamboat of all fictional dreamboats. And there is no denying that Heughan is just about as delectable as TV heroes come. But by episode 6, “The Garrison Commander,” it’s clear that Menzies is the standout of Season 1 (so far).
Full disclosure: This entire PSA might change by the time episode 7, “The Wedding,” hits Starz on Sept. 20. That will likely be when TV audiences’ opinions of Jamie start to shift from seeing him as a kind-hearted defender of Claire to the man they never want to see wearing clothes again. I personally am dying to watch that episode play out.
But Menzies carries the weight of playing Frank Randall, Claire’s husband from 1945 who gets left behind, and Black Jack Randall, Frank’s ancestor with a sadistic streak, like it’s no weight at all. Frank, who is mostly only seen through Claire’s eyes in the “Outlander” novels, gets a new depth in Menzies’ performance that wouldn’t have been possible on the page.
It’s with Black Jack that Menzies truly shines, though. In episode 6, there is a 20-some-odd minute scene of Jack and Claire having a conversation that is one of the most captivating and engrossing scenes of the entire series to date. As Menzies teased to Zap2it at Comic-Con, “When Jack comes into those scenes, he drives the whole thing. It’s less of a conversation and more of a monologue.”
And oh, how Menzies nails those monologues. After watching that episode, I found myself crushing on him based on his acting skills alone — though it helps that he is a lovely man to look at. It’s very clear why he earned himself the roles of Black Jack and Frank, and he definitely deserves them.
Of course, once Black Jack gets truly despicable and Jamie gets even more swoon-worthy, these tides will likely shift. But don’t write off Menzies as your “Outlander” crush just because he plays a villain and a discarded love; he’s got all the makings of your new favorite TV dreamboat, and he certainly is mine.
“Outlander” premieres Saturday, Aug. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.