I’ve had an interesting ride with Outlander on Starz. When it debuted in 2014, my wife and I thought it would be a good show to watch together. Neither of us knew exactly what it entailed, just that it was a popular book series and that a lot of people were looking forward to it.
Though it ended up being more intense than either of us expected, we loved the story, the acting, the costumes, the settings, and the charisma between Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, the two main characters played by Caitriona Balfe and Same Heughan. Again, the violence surprised us, as did the very graphic adult content, but overall we were won over.
The second season did not impress us as much as the first. Claire’s penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time began to wear thin with me, as did Jamie’s constant frowning. However, the time travel element got more and more complex, as did the historical aspect of the show in regards to Scotland and it’s struggles with England.
That being said, I can’t lie–I quit the third season after a few episodes. The coincidences became too outlandish, the situations too forced, and the dynamic between Claire and Jamie a little too stale. It seemed like the same things kept happening over and over, just in different settings.
However, the premise of the fourth season fascinated me, so I came back. Claire and Jamie are now living in the New World. Jamie has built a cabin in the wilds of North Carolina and has been given a vast amount of land. He and Claire, along with his nephew Ian, must learn to coexist with the Cherokee as they also navigate the growing political unrest within the colonies.
A much-needed complication arises with Brianna, their adult-daughter, and Roger, Brianna’s on-again-off-again love interest. We last saw them quite a bit in the second season. At the risk of spoiling the latter half of this latest season, Brianna and Roger make their way from the 1960s to the late 18th century. Why do they visit Colonial America? I won’t give that away, but Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin bring a refreshing energy to the show. Though we’ve seen them before, we’ve never encountered them facing real danger. Brianna and Roger are both thrown right into the frying pan after traveling to Claire and Jamie’s era. Though Brianna and Roger’s relationship can be infuriating, seeing them interact with Claire and Jamie brings a new vitality to the show. It’s also captivating to see Jamie playing a father to the daughter he never thought he would meet.
This fourth season isn’t perfect. For example, Claire’s habit of finding skulls is … weird. Jamie still seems to only have three or four facial expressions. Roger is flat-out unlikable through much of the season. Brianna takes unnecessary risk after unnecessary risk, effectively replacing Claire in that regard. And there are once again some far-fetched coincidences, inexplicable actions taken by characters, and bizarre plot points.
But, overall, I really enjoyed the season. Jamie and Claire’s characters are growing, the change in scenery is fun, Brianna and Roger are interesting, and the stories involving both the colonial politicians as well as the Native Americans are gripping. The sets, though subtle, are stunning, and the costumes are–as always–fantastic.
Be warned, though. This season can get very explicit in regards to adult content. There isn’t anywhere near as much nudity as the first season, but there are several disturbing moments of sexual violence. It’s very upsetting–as it should be.
I’m glad I came back to the show. If you moved away from it like me, I recommend giving the fourth season a try. I think Outlander will recapture your attention.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)