We know there are many great performers on Starz’s Outlander, but we are getting an especially pleasant surprise courtesy of John Bell.
When the character of Young Ian was first cast, obviously there was a ton of hype and expectation around him. He is a fan favorite from the novels and there’s a lot of story revolving around this character. Based on where we are in the story right now, it goes without saying that he is important. After all, his capture seems to be the impetus of the big voyage that Jamie and Claire are about to go on! Claire has only just come to know Ian and cares about him, so she will do anything that she can in order to help save him.
As great as the story and the writing are for the character right now, the performance of Bell is what is really selling it. He brings so much life and energy to Young Ian beyond even what we expected going into the show. The character is fun, vivacious, exciting, and different. There’s a little bit of naive charm to him, but also ambition and zeal for life. You can tell that this is a young man who’s spent the majority of his life at Lallybroch somewhat separate from the rest of the world. He’s eager to get out there and see new things; he wants to understand more of what the world could hold for him. He has a little bit of Jamie’s roguish attitude, but also a little bit of the pensiveness of his father and the inquisitive nature of his mother.
Even if it’s only been a few short episodes, all you have to do is look online to see the reaction Outlander fans have towards Bell as Young Ian — that proves just how beloved he is. He’s serving as a tremendous source of comic relief, but there is also something beyond this that makes him stand out. It’s his heart, his desire to be a good nephew to Jamie and Claire, and his ability to form quick bonds with some of the other core characters. We’ve seen his bromance with Fergus (pictured above) and there’s so much more to come in terms of his relationships with some other characters. If he can do this much in just a few episodes, imagine the rest of the season/series.
We cannot speak for how Young Ian plays as a character within the books, but in between the writing and the performance of Bell on the show, few characters on Outlander from the beginning have been introduced as well as this one. This is what makes his current capture all the more painful — we don’t what to see anything happen to him!
What do you think of the Young Ian character so far, and of Bell’s performance? Let us know in the comment section below! Meanwhile, be sure to check out this link to read our full review of “First Wife.”
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