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The Colonies Make Their Appearance on 'Outlander'
November 4, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

The popular Outlander series adds a new character for its fourth season: a young whippersnapper called America.

Outlander returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Starz, and it continues to be one of the most solid dramas in this platinum age of television.

After spending large chunks of previous seasons in Scotland and France, our heroes Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) Fraser start this year in the colonies that would soon break off and become the United States of America.

More specifically, they’re in North Carolina in 1767, and debating their next move. Claire, being from the future and all, knows that within the next decade the colonists will rebel and eventually break free from what they see as the tyranny of the ruling British.

Jamie, having barely survived the failed rebellion of his fellow Scots against that same British crown, has some decisions to make. You might think he’d be delighted to be on the side he knew would win, but it turns out not to be quite that simple.

Also, the American revolution is still some years away, so for the moment Jamie and Claire remain under British authority, which in Outlander never seems particularly enlightened or admirable.

The Frasers arrived in the colonies with several members of their extended family, including Jamie’s nephew Ian (John Bell), and some of them are in trouble the moment they set their suitcase down.

Jamie and Claire also run into the notorious pirate and smuggler Stephen Bonnet (Edward Speelers). It’s a reasonably benign encounter, which leads to the obvious question of exactly what kind of role Bonnet is going to play for the rest of the season.

Without getting into spoilers, there are stretches in the premiere of this 12-episode season when things seem to be going quite well for the Frasers. This, we can assume, is the surest indication that many of those same things will at some point go terribly bad.

To a measurable extent, that’s where America comes in, and lest anyone think location is incidental, that should be pretty much put to rest when we hear Ray Charles blast out “America The Beautiful.”

Outlander has understood from the beginning the value of constantly refreshing its world. Now it has placed Jamie and Claire in a land that’s technically British, but is rapidly developing a mind and will of its own.

Jamie, and Claire by extension, ran into one issue after another during their time in Scotland. If it wasn’t intra-clan drama, it was the repressive Brits. Meanwhile, Claire had to wrestle with questions like choosing between living in the 18th century with Jamie or the 20th century with her increasingly annoyed husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) and her daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton), whose bio-Dad is Jamie from two centuries earlier.

Yet as this new season begins, we’re reminded that the Frasers have now been together for 24 years, give or take the time Claire spent in the 20th century. These two people we met several seasons ago as the unlikeliest of paramours has morphed into an old married couple – not old in a geriatric sense, but old in having several lifetimes worth of intense shared experiences.

Balfe and Heughan capture that in their acting. Where their past relationship has often been fraught with uncertainty, now they radiate a comfortable togetherness.

There remain some serious loose ends, including the Frasers back in Scotland and Brianna back in the 20th century. Presumably we will not be discarding either, nor will Claire’s and Jamie’s bonding protect them from the turmoil of the 18th century.

We do, however, know this: Outlander has managed to avoid becoming a one-trick time-travel novelty act and instead turned into a rather addictive romantic drama.

And this year our romantics step into an early version of The American Dream.

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Mark Isenberg
Still worthy even for guys so encourage others to buy a discount subscription via Amazon Prime and enjoy it.
Nov 5, 2018   |  Reply
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