"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Outlander 1.6: Outstanding

Well, I've been watching and much enjoying Outlander - enjoying it as historical fiction not time travel - but tonight's episode 1.6 was just outstanding.

We finally see what Black Jack is made of, and it's ugly indeed.   I don't like half-hearted villains. One of the things that made Alfred Hitchcock's movies so memorable is that his villains were bad through and through, like Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train, who, dying, still points his finger to frame an innocent man.  Black Jack appears to be just as bad - he nearly whipped Jamie to death and came to enjoy it as art, and he's likely to do the same to Claire if she doesn't tell him what he wants and he can get away with it.

The question is what makes him so bad, especially given that he has some obvious connection, not yet revealed in the television series, to Claire's husband in the 20th century.   Is the message here that time mellows a bloodline, if Black Jack is Frank's ancestor?   Whatever the explanation, and whatever its resolution in subsequent episodes and seasons, Tobias Menzies has given this all-but-depraved character a sterling performance.

Meanwhile, Dougal's plan that Claire marry Jamie as the only way she can be legally protected from Black Jack and the redcoats is a good one, both for the logic of the story and because Jamie and Claire go so well together.   But if they have children, what role will their descendants play in the 20th century, where Claire is also alive?   At very least, it avoids the possibly incestuous consequences of Claire sleeping with Black Jack out of love for Frank.

Ah, but this goes back to the paradoxes of time travel, which so far Outlander has been little about.

What it is excelling at beautifully is a story of how a woman with future sensibilities and literal experience can fare in a wilder time two centuries before her.   I'm looking forward to the two final episodes of this inaugural season, and Season 2 and beyond.

See also Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel

podcast review of the first half season

Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel


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