Love! War! Sex! Time travel! Men in kilts! This is Outlander, where history meets sci-fi in a brand new show based on author Diana Gabaldon’s wildly successful historical fantasy series.
Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall (portrayed by the luminous Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945 who is swept back in time to 1743 Scotland, where she is thrown into an unknown, threatening world. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser (deliciously embodied by our new kilt-sporting boyfriend, Sam Heughan), a chivalrous and romantic Scottish warrior, passion pits Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
We meet Claire when she’s on holiday in Scotland with her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). A history professor, Frank hopes to research his family tree while Claire indulges her interest in healing herbs. Their relationship is tenuous after a 5-year war- induced separation and on this trip, the formerly inseparable lovers hope to reconnect while exploring the countryside. Awkward and formal together unless they’re in bed, we can’t help but wonder whether this marriage can survive.
After the two secretly observe a nighttime druid celebration, Claire returns alone to the ancient standing stones where she is mysteriously transported back to the 18th century. Shocked and confused, she meets, and is nearly raped by, Frank’s doppelganger ancestor, Jonathan ‘Black Jack’ Randall. Rescued by a band of Scottish brigands, she’s taken to their hideaway where sparks fly – because by the fire, like a buff injured puppy, sits our unlikely hero, Jamie Fraser. It’s at that moment that we, and Claire, understand what kind of trouble she’s actually in.
Torn between past and present, Claire faces the most difficult of dilemmas. Eventually, she must decide between her loves and the characteristics they embody – staid and loving or dangerous and intense. She must choose between two values she desires, security and wildness, the one she knows well or the one who has taken her heart.
Authentically and beautifully filmed, this dramatization of a beloved series is spectacular. Catriona Balfe is mesmerizing as Claire and if it weren’t for Heughan’s charisma, and the chemistry the two share, she would steal the show from the gorgeous Scottish scenery. Impressively historically accurate—even the horses are shoed in the old methods—the production has something for everyone: There’s enough nudity, intrigue, and violence to please even the most discerning cable TV watcher.
Outlander is haunting and addicting and the perfect remedy for bereft fans of Game of Thrones, The Tudors, and Downton Abbey. Plus, did we mention the men in kilts? Or more specifically, Sam Heughan shirtless in a kilt?
The Brazen Take: Prepare for an Outlander hangover. Our advice? Set your PVRs so you can watch over and over. Because, you know, so you can learn Gaelic. Outlander premiered August 24th on Showtime and airs Sundays nights at 10 pm. Beware of the standing stones.