In Defense of the Weekly Episodic via Outlander

CAU: 4 (on a relatively empty stomach)

Rupert Claire Angus Murtagh
via Starz

So here I sit at 10:18pm on a Friday night and I am all atwitter! The first season finale of Outlander is less than two hours away and I’m filled with the kind of nervous, excited anticipation generally reserved only for freshmen on the first day of high school.

Which makes my point.

I suddenly understand the deep breaths drawn through smiling, clenched teeth that Sam Hueghan so often displays before he speaks in interviews when he’s asked about the final episodes of Season One.

There’s anxiety there, and rightfully so, the content is weighty and not to be taken lightly. He gets what he’s putting out into the world and what he and his cast mates afforded it.

For he, the cast and crew, it’s in the bag. Done. For me and the thousands of Outlander fans around the world, it’s yet to be realized.

And I now understand Diana Gabaldon saying to Sam, months ago, “I hope you’ll take this in the spirit intended, Sheugs—but I really want to see you raped and tortured.”

Sam Heughan
via Starz

For me, and I assume for Ms. Gabaldon, at this point–knowing what happens via the source material–it’s not about what happens so much as how it happens.

Maybe this is a deficit, knowing how the book ends. But it in no way diminishes my excitement to seen how these adaptors and actors bring it to screen. With images and costume, set and sound, come all of the damnation and redemption of the book to the screen. I can’t bloody wait!

Since the finale of Breaking Bad I can’t remember a time I’ve been more excited to sit rapt on my couch and emotionally be a part of something on the screen.

Comparisons aside, this is set to be a boldly singular event, because that’s how this story was written and how it has been adapted. I can’t recall a time in television history that traditional masculinity has been so thoughtfully challenged. Never have we seen a hero taken this far. The story is a triumph for men and women, which is spectacular!

I watched “Wentworth” (115) two weeks ago then immediately watched “Sassenach” (101) and was blown away by the range of all the actors involved. To see the depth of change in these characters was nothing short of mesmerizing.

And all of this happened over weeks and months of viewing. In addition to the show and books, I am a party to Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, and hashtags that have commiserated for (thus far) over a year about a story to which most already know the outcome. It doesn’t bloody matter. We burn, pine, and perish (nearly) for the next installment.

But we have a full week between episodes to share anxieties and anticipation for the next episode. Together. Whether it be actual or virtual, we have created a water cooler around this weekly episodic show. And it is an absolute delight!

We have the time to thoughtfully discuss the differences between source material and adaptation, the meticulous quality of the production, the…ahem…appeal of the actors, and all things Outlander.

It’s a lost source of community in an age of binge watching which separates the “seens” from the “seen nots.” I’m saying that there is still a place for content to be served slowly–a place for creating

an-

ti–

ci—-

pation.

And Outlander is delivering. Week by week. The way the television gods intended.

Here it is, nearly midnight. And I’m so excited! (And terrified.)

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