Starz's captivating new drama "Outlander" made its television debut on Saturday night and delivered on every level. There was romance, heroics, hot men in kilts, fighting, witches, time travel, the breathtaking Scottish countryside, and Claire Randall, an amazing female protagonist, whose story we can't wait to see roll out over the show's 16-episode first season.
Here's 10 impressive moments from the premiere:
10. The Opening Title: Composer Bear McCreary knocked it not just out of the park, but into the stars (the kind you can really see when there are no 1900s lights) with the show's theme. After a haunting opening, the melody grew into something warm, romantic and even regal alongside Raya Yarbrough's elegant vocals, giving us chills.
9. Mrs. Graham's Reading: Claire Randall thought it would be a bit of fun to have a cup of Oolong tea with Reverend Wakefield's housekeeper, but she found it anything but. Those bottom-of-the-cup tea leaves and Claire's palm lines indicated so many contradictory things that it left Claire rattled. "The life line's interrupted. All bits and pieces. The marriage line's divided. Means two marriages. But, most divided lines are broken. Yours is... forked," Mrs. Graham said. Claire made her excuses and left, feeling shaken.
8. Murtagh Defending Claire's Honor: With all those Gaelic conversations going on, it was hard for Claire to know exactly who to trust, but Murtagh certainly set himself up as a kilted king of chivalry when he protected Claire's honor on two occasions. First, he saved her from nasty Black Jack Randall, and then, he was willing to risk a prized possession, betting that her reputation was not a naughty one. "I'll stake my best shirt she's no' a whore," Murtagh told Dougal. Three cheers for Murtagh!
Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fitzgibbons in Ã¢â¬ËOutlanderÃ¢â¬â¢ (Photo Credit: Starz)
7. A Kilted Watcher: While his wife was upstairs at Mrs. Baird's B&B, cursing her way through her Claire hair tangles, Frank caught sight -- through the rain -- of a kilted, male figure (in 1700s garb), staring up into Claire's window. His anger faded and was replaced with the feeling of having seen a ghost when the figure brushed past him -- without touching -- and seemed to vanish.
6. Claire Meets Black Jack Randall: After falling through the stones into 1743, where she was forced to flee redcoats who were shooting at her, Claire stumbled down a slope and spotted a familiar face Ã¢â¬â Frank's. But, it most certainly was not her beloved husband. It wasn't just the man's long, tied-back hair that made him different. This man by the stream looked her over lasciviously and when he didn't get answers he believed out of her, he called her a whore and attempted to take her by force. Thankfully, a Highlander was nearby and knocked him out.
5. Hot Frank: It wasn't just his brains that made soon-to-be Oxford professor Frank hot. His past as a former spy was revealed, and his openness to using more unusual spots (like castle ruins) to rekindle his romance with wife Claire, combined to make Frank one hot husband. He showed off his post-war risky side too, waking Claire upÃÂ to make a pre-morning trip to Craig na Dun for some eavesdropping on a private, druid ritual.
4. Jamie & Claire's First Meeting: There were gasps in the audience at the show's premeire at Comic-Con in July when fans got their first look at Jamie, all battered and bruised and with a painfully dislocated shoulder. Knowing the clan members were about to do permanent damage with their brutal bedside manner, Claire leapt into action and stopped them, taking on Jamie's arm situation herself. There were several glances between the two (sending hearts fluttering) before Claire popped the joint back into place.
3. The Druid Ritual At The Standing Stones: Just before dawn, Frank and Claire crouched into the grass, getting front row seats for a bewitching ritual where the witches/druids of the village gathered at Craig na Dun, and danced and sang until sunrise. It was positively enchanting and so intimate that Claire said she felt as if she "was an unwelcome voyeur into something ancient and powerful."
2. Jamie Calls Claire 'Sassenach' For The First Time: After tending to Jamie's gunshot wound, and fixing him up enough to ride again (and not have to wait on the road to face off with Black Jack Randall, who he assumed was in pursuit), a moment passed between Jamie and Claire. "Thank you, Sassenach. Truly," Jamie said. His genuineness caught Claire off guard. She straightened up and offered a professional response to cut through the mood. "All right, well, on your horse, soldier," she replied.
Caitriona Balfe & Sam Heughan (Photo Credit: Starz)
1. Caitriona Balfe As Claire Randall: It was going to be hard to find someone to play the protagonist of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series. Claire is the viewer's window into everything, and in order to get swept away in the drama, it's her the watcher has to be invested in. She's got to be tough enough to be able to boss around 1940s soldiers and 1740s Highlanders believably, but feminine enough for a few of them (including one very hunky Highlander), and all of us, to fall under her spell. She has to make us root for her, but at times, also make us tear our hair out over some of her decisions. Caitriona nailed it.
"Outlander" airs Saturdays at 9 PM on Starz.
-- Jolie Lash