Outlander Mid-Season Premiere Review: “Reckoning” (Season 1, Episode 9)

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in Outlander

The following contains minor spoilers for Saturday’s midseason premiere, which was made available for us prior to broadcast.

Returning to its original time and place after a lengthy hiatus, Starz’s Outlander comes back to TV this Saturday, looking ready and raring to finish off its first season as confidently as it began. A popular book series but an unknown quantity as a show, Outlander’s humble 2014 beginnings gave way to a bona fide hit for the network, with the final episode before the break doubling viewership from the pilot. Now that a receptive audience is practically a given, the only question left is whether the show’s momentum will carry forward after a six month pause.

The short, unsurprising answer: tomorrow night’s Outlander is more Outlander. That might sound dismissive, but the simple fact is that the midseason premiere is very much the next episode in a season that could have just as easily have aired all 16 episodes in one stretch. But if the show has taught us anything, it’s that time-displaced absences make the heart grow fonder, so fans of the show will no doubt be pleased with what “The Reckoning” has to offer. Outlander continues to be a rock-solid drama, featuring appealingly messy genre elements rubbing up against one another in exciting, romantic, and graphically titillating fashion.

If all you’re looking for is a spoiler-free endorsement of Saturday’s episode, then there’s not much else to be said. But “The Reckoning” does mark a turning point of sorts for the season, and it’s worth talking around how Outlander looks to be charting a new course forward after the midseason finale’s events. To recap: when last we left Scotland, erstwhile 20th century nurse/time traveler Claire Fraser (née Beecham, formerly Randall) was being held captive by the villainous captain Black Jack in his 18th century keep. With Claire’s bonny new husband Jamie having heroically arrived to save her, the midseason left off on a cliffhanger hostage situation, a pistol in Jamie’s hands and Claire in Jack’s.

“Reckoning” doesn’t pickup exactly where the finale left off, but it does continue one of the more interesting ideas introduced in that episode. Claire’s “modern” husband Frank finally returned to the fold in “Both Sides Now,” representing the first time the show had ever shared perspective with anyone other than its heroine. “Reckoning” fully wrests control of the story away from Claire for the hour, letting us see the lead up to the cliffhanger, along with the eventual fallout from its prompt resolution through Jamie’s eyes.