Time is in abundance, yet somehow I’ve found myself watching even less television than usual. I’ve been staying with my sister and her family in New Jersey during this Coronavirus pandemic. It’s hard to watch TV 24/7 like I’d usually because her kids, aged 6 and 10, come running into any room a TV turns on like a cat to an opening can of tuna. I started letting them watch General Hospital with me which was wonderful, until the six year old asked at dinner, “Daddy, what are drugs?” and the 10 year old took way too much interest in the teenagers kissing. So now they just get recaps like “everybody talked a lot but Cyrus isn’t out of jail yet and we didn’t see baby Wylie but I know he’ll be OK.”
The good TV happens once the kids are asleep. I finally got my sister to watch the beginning of Outlander with me, after which she said she appreciated the concept but absolutely could not watch something so slow right now. I’d always thought of the show as 100% action, every moment luscious. Through her eyes I realized I enjoy every moment because I’m in love with it. Truly, it’s a simmer, occasionally shot at by cannons and exploded. The beauty is in the space given to the moments. This is as true in the current season as it was in the first.
Watching the first season again is great- seeing the characters that are long gone, some longer than others. There’s so much story that I’d forgotten about. And how young Jamie and Claire both look, as well as Murtagh! The most recent current episode, 507, stabbed me in the heart and going back to 101 stitched it up.
This show is also TENSE! Season one runs back and forth between pleasure and torture, and season two is trouble in paradise. All you want is for Jamie and Claire to be together, but those precious moments are so few and far between for everything that can possibly happen to them pulls them apart. They don’t just look aged in season three, their characters have weathered unimaginable trauma that starts to mature near the end of season two and entrenches further through each season. The love story for these characters feels deeply earned because they have been through so much yet always decide to come back together. Watching Claire navigate her circumstances, which are drastically unplannable, is comforting because she takes the biggest swings and is so smart and capable. Jamie’s got the most magnificent broad chest and shoulders, but he’s also kind, wise, and always holds Claire in the highest regard as he fights for his love and his family.
Outlander is the tonic that I needed for these uncertain times. The same holds true now that did when I first read Outlander at the age of 16. The reward is the biggest love, shown with the most beautiful cinematography and music, and the feeling that I get from this show is absolutely enveloping warmth and affection for these characters that I’ve known, loved and appreciated for the past twenty years.