The beginning of forever…A Reflection on Outlander 3.13 “Eye of the Storm”

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I’ve been waiting for that moment. I’ve been waiting for that moment when I would know that they know.  When our hero introduces himself and his wife to the young Georgian family, he understands that for the first time in decades he is free to be himself without fear or subterfuge.  He is James Fraser and the woman safe in his arms is his heart, his love, his wife, Claire… who has promised never to leave him.  I’ve been waiting for forever to begin and this week it did. They are truly together, two halves of one whole.

Kudos to Matt B Roberts on his directorial debut and congrats to the writers’ room who somehow managed to wrestle this monster of a story into 13 episodes.  There were so many wonderful nods to the source material and its fans and yet enough surprises to keep me wondering what would happen next!  I love the show’s ability to call us back to previous scenes and seasons.  The Faith music caused me to get chills and they gave us a story that has come full circle.  The season began with Jamie near death and ends with Claire near death.  The dancing, so different and yet so reminiscent of Craig Na Dun, was a wonderful connection that explained the presence of the maroons.  And, constantly, woven throughout the story is the thread of fate.  We are reminded that all of this was meant to be and that there are forces beyond our understanding at work to both separate our two and keep them together.  There was a supernatural battle being fought for the shape of the future.  I had to wonder whether Zeus and Hera were at it again.

Saving Bree

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I was so proud of the observations I garnered from the last episode.  I talked about the differences between the two time travelers Gellis and Claire.  The scenes in Rose Hall bore out what I thought.  Gellis has completely identified herself with her ability to travel. Claire accepts it as just part of who she is, but it isn’t her identity.  I loved the interplay between the two.  The cat and mouse game was fascinating.  Our Claire is such a bad liar and Caitriona played it off so well, “My driver dropped me off at the bottom of the lane and I got lost trying to find the house…”.  yeah…riiiighttttt… On some level, we got the feeling that Gellis really wants to believe that Claire is her friend.  I believed her when she said it has been hard.  She is tearful when she asks Claire why she has pursued her all these years especially after she sacrificed everything for her at Cranesmuir. She is the outsider of all outsiders.  Gellis has never met another traveler besides Claire and she feels a connection to her and yet, she cannot trust her, “Why are you here?”  They come together “ominously” according to Gellis.  Claire is smart, but she cannot keep up with the deceptive Gellis.  She cannot think like Gellis because she hasn’t her motivation and mindset, her sacrifices for the “greater good” aren’t motivated by power. So, she reveals the very thing she shouldn’t in an effort to gain Gellis’ trust, Bree.  When we see Claire at the end of the scene looking around the hall, I could practically hear her saying to herself, “what the hell just happened?”

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Lord John!  What a great scene, played to perfection.  I loved that Jamie seemed a bit surprised at John’s ability to navigate this situation and his power play.  John large and in charge was a beautiful and sexy sight to behold! I loved Lt/Capt Leonard’s comeuppance, he deserved it the ungrateful little upstart. John is all a man should be, generous, loyal, loving, kind, and strong. I’m still hopeful Diana will write him a partner worthy of the wonderful man he is.

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The show keeps giving us great couples to love. We see the reflection of Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Fergus and Marsali and what wasn’t there to love about Margret and Mr. Willoughby? The show gave us another couple who loves beyond all understanding.  I admit to feeling that they and Jamie and Claire were very out-of-place in their surroundings.  They didn’t fit and I was a bit jarred by all that was going on around them. The frenetic dancing and voodoo like ceremony seemed so incongruous with Margret’s smiles and her holding “psychic” court.  Tein Cho’s assertion that they had been invited by these “kind people” was in direct contrast with the stereotypes around them.  It helped me see it all in a different light.  I got the feeling that this ceremony was ancient and wanted to know what the other ceremonies for standing stones and fire days looked like around the world.

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I love that Jamie and Claire are completely working together as a team.  The call back to Faith and their commitment to their daughter Bree was powerful.  They were in complete understanding, sealed with a kiss and a familiar nod.  Let’s do this.  What followed was primal. Claire was fulfilling her destiny.  I found myself wondering at the powers that were controlling or attempting to control them.  I’m not sure if Zeus or Hera won, but Bree is safe from the zealot Gellis. We were given a moment to fear that Claire was being drawn back through the stones and the only thing powerful enough to combat its lure was Jamie’s touch.  It is a lovely extended visual metaphor, the power of their reaching hands, we have seen them reach out to each other so often.  And, Jamie’s last look at Bree’s photo was everything. I loved that Jamie took the time to reassure Ian and Claire and drew them into an embrace and held them close.  At that point, I felt we all needed a hug!

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With time to serve her suitably

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True to form, Jamie and Claire have drawn close through facing difficulty together.  If there were any barriers left between the two they have been broken down by the time they are back on board the Artemis.  I loved that the show slowed things down and gave us this wonderful scene.  I was so happy to see them flirting and teasing.  The humor between these two is a joy that I have missed.  They are comfortable with each other once again.  You can feel the trust and confidence in their love and their future together.  It feels solid and true.  I recognized this couple.  They are altered by experience, but I recognized them nonetheless.  This was Jamie and his Claire, Claire and her Jamie, reveling in each other.

The Eye of the Storm

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I have given the next series of events a lot of thought.  It was fantastical to be sure.  At first, I was struck by how over the top it all was.  How in the world did Jamie know where to find her in that roiling sea and how could he have swam to her? Jamie is great, but that great?  So, I asked myself, why.  Why, did Matt and Toni and the others choose to play this in such an over the top way?  They certainly had the power to do it differently. What were they trying to tell us?  I thought and I thought and I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter.  It was a full-out, over the top, love letter to this couple and the thing between them that they cannot name, but is always there.  Why wouldn’t Jamie jump into the sea after Claire?  She would jump into the sea after him, or storm a prison, or travel through stones. Why would the thing between them not draw him to her? Why wouldn’t Zeus or Hera intervene to save them? One of them put them in a hurricane, why wouldn’t the other place them in the eye of the storm?

Forever Begins

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The story has shifted gears, it is no longer about falling in love or finding a way back to each other, but about how people stay in love.  The show has a chance to break new ground once more.  They can show us the intricacies of a long and loving marriage.  They can show us two people who are building a life together and stay together.  No matter what they face, and the Gods know they are always facing something, the love they share is a calm center in the storm.  Jamie and Claire are the core of this story, they are the anchor we hold on to that keeps us all enthralled and believing in the possibility of a love that is all that it should be.  I fell in love with the Jamie and Claire in Diana’s books and I’ve fallen in love with the Jamie and Claire in Ron’s show.  Both couples have a lot to tell us about living and love and I for one, am ready for the new world.

 

 

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Ghosts of All Our Pasts… a Reflection on Outlander 3.12 “The Bakra”

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“…fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crown’d.” —William Shakespeare MacBeth

This week’s installment of the adventures of Jamie and Claire Fraser was a fantastical story told in lush colors, exotic climes, and preternatural coincidence.  As much as I lamented the improbable story told in “Uncharted”, I rejoiced in this week’s improbable events and coincidences because there was a substantial metaphysical theme, a thread of supernatural commonality that held the whole thing together and kept me wondering what new surprise fate had in store. Outlander does not often focus on its fantasy aspects.  The standing stones and Claire’s ability to time travel have almost always been in the background.  This week in “The Bakra”, the show wisely decides it is time to deal with its fantasy roots. Claire told us in “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” that the only way she could make sense of all that had happened to her was to believe that it was all for them, she and Jamie belonged together.  The universe has conspired to make it happen and this week we saw more evidence that there are powers at work here that surpass our understanding.  This episode finally allowed the story to deal with its sci-fi elements and the fact that Jamie and Claire’s story transcends the rules of time and physics.  When Jamie wonders out loud, “Maybe it’s because you came back through the stones”, he is leading us all down a path that leads to an intersection of the lives in this story.   They are all attracted to each other, pulled together like magnets for a purpose.  The story effectively reminded us, at every turn, of its own past and the feelings and meanings associated with those “ghosts”.  In “The Bakra” episode 3.12, the ghosts of the past, present, and future all had a role to play in the fate of our couple.

 

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Gellis a ghost from the past and the future

Currently, we know of only two time-travelers in this story and I was struck by the difference between the two.  Claire is an accidental traveler. She had no idea she could travel and therefore no plans.  She comes back a second time to be with Jamie and for no other reason.  She does not purposely try to affect history.  We all know how that went when she did try to, I’m fairly sure at this point, she believes that it cannot be done. However, she obviously does make a difference to those around her.  She heals and is a woman out of her time with knowledge of the future, but the big events are just too convoluted, too many variables.

I don’t think Claire dwells on thoughts about the “why” of her ability to travel, she has “compartmentalized” it.  She has put it away, so that she can live her life.  She accepts it as part of her reality and like the practical person she is, she moves on.  It is part of her, but certainly not her identity.

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The episode starts with letting us know what happened to young Ian.  We find out he is being taken to the Bakra because she likes young boys.  What followed was worthy of every Grimm’s fairytale ever told.  We meet our first ghost, our second time-traveler Gellis, the Bakra, who was not burned at the stake. Ian is no dummy, but he is no match for the witch Gellis who has been practicing her seductive powers for decades and across centuries. I hope we will get to see how this unwanted and forced sexual experience will change Young Ian.

Gellis is a deliberate time-traveller who has completely identified herself with her magical ability.  I’m not sure how Gellis discovered she could time-travel or if the knowledge was something passed down to her.  I wonder at her back story.  Is she the child or grandchild of a traveler from the past?  Was she groomed to save Scotland?  So many questions.  The Gellis we see in this episode is one who has taken on the mantle of “The Bakra” and is using it to her advantage.  She believes herself to be different, special, and has cultivated her image, embraced the mystery and expanded her knowledge of and belief in the magic she is so obviously part of.  Unlike Claire, Gellis believes she can change the future.  It is why she is in the past.  She is here to save Scotland.

I once wrote an article about how evil is represented in Outlander.  In that article, I talked about the differences between the villainy of Black Jack Randall and Gellis.  My conclusion was that Gellis was the more insidious and therefore, the more evil.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that both BJR and Gellis are perceived as villains. But, personally, I find Gellis to be the more insidious. I doubt there are very few people who meet BJR who do not recognize the need to be careful in his presence. The man practically drips malevolence. Gellis on the other hand keeps her nature very well hidden under a quirky wit and charm. Claire is fooled by her and as a result so are we, at least for a while…

… In many respects, she appeared to be “normal” even being a friend to Claire. But, on further “interviewing” (when they were kept together before the witch trial) we see the “matter of fact” way she describes killing her husband and her zeal for the Jacobite cause. Not unlike the Nazis, she has bought into an ideal, a belief  and given over her thinking to bringing about a free Scotland. What ever she needs to do to make that happen she does. She sees her actions as justifiable and the damage she inflicts collateral. To me, it is this lack of remorse that labels her as evil and…maybe she is mentally ill. She represents the idea that evil can come in many guises including a person who believes their actions are going to right an injustice and make the world a better place.

She is the proverbial snake in the grass biding her time and waiting to take victims unawares.

The show has taken a slight departure from the book and it is a brilliant one, the Brahan Seer prophecy that predicts a free Scotland.  It is obvious that the show is centering everything around this prophecy and it is connected to Jamie and Claire and a two hundred year old child that must die for a Scottish king to rise.  Is this the reason for all that has come before? Fate has brought them all to Jamaica, a place ripe for magic, and Jamie and Claire and …Bree are in real danger from a zealot Gellis.

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Ghosts of Paris and Culloden

Once again, the costumes told us a story.  We see Jamie and Claire dressed in remnants of their past and it calls back memories of their time in Paris.  We are reminded that their time at Versailles was about espionage and that these clothes had been part of a disguise and a lie that cost them both dearly.  Seeing them dressed in this finery made me uncomfortable.  They seem ghosts of themselves and it contributed to the sense of foreboding, everything is familiar and yet, slightly altered.  Although the clothes are beautiful and they beautiful in them, they have come to represent an ugly time full of loss and pain.  They tried to change history and failed and lost each other.

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Ghosts of Jamie’s past

I still miss the conversation between Lord John Grey and Claire on the Porpoise, but felt this adaptation worked.  John becomes part of the story and fated to be here in Jamaica with the third sapphire.  His reaction to seeing Jamie was perfect, his acceptance that Claire was Jamie’s every heartbeat was quite frankly, heartbreaking. Claire has to be wondering what happened between these two men that Jamie hasn’t shared.  I don’t think John’s role is done here and I predict he is fated to free Jamie.

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Ghosts of the present

I’m not sure if I’m talking about ghosts now, but rather old souls.  I loved the connection between Yi Tien Cho and Margaret.  It makes sense to me that he would recognize her rare soul and she his.  Fate has once again brought two outsiders together and I’m sure that together they will play their part in stopping Gellis.

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The thing between them that they cannot name

In an interview, Caitriona Balfe commented on Claire’s experience of Jamie.  She said it was so powerful as to be almost metaphysical, a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses.  They recognize it and feel it, but they cannot name it.  I felt the moment between the two in the reception line spoke to that reality.  It is always there between them no matter what is going on around them and in that moment they felt it and its strength.  What it is between them feels magical and mysterious.  Plus, it was sexy as hell.  

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The ghosts of all our pasts

A few weeks ago, I wrote a reflection on season 3.  I did some lite research into what criteria is used to measure quality TV.  I discovered that Outlander fit all of the criteria established by TV expert Robert Thompson. I thought about that criteria this week when I watched episode 3.12 “The Bakra”.  I found myself mentally checking off the boxes of criteria once again.  However, one particular area stood out for me, “It contains sharp social and cultural criticisms with cultural references and allusions to popular culture. It tends toward the controversial. It aspires toward realism. ”  I’m amazed how timely these episodes are despite having been filmed for the most part over a year ago.  I’m sure I’m not the only fan who is struggling with the political situation in America and both dismayed and grateful that the bigoted, racist underbelly in our country has been brought into the light.  When my shivers over the goat blood scene reminiscent of “True Blood” settled, I was impressed by the timeliness of the social commentary in this story and its own timelessness.

We have all seen scenes of slave trade in modern film.  I have found it no less disturbing for having seen these types of scenes before. The show did not shy away from showing us the reality of the times, but I did not envy them the difficult task of deciding what they wanted to say about this reality.  We see Claire, a modern woman whose best friend was a black man, walking through a slave market.  I am not surprised that despite her need to remain under the radar, she could not contain her sense of outrage or her need to do something.  We are upset by seeing people of color caged, branded, and treated less than human on our TV, but forget this isn’t just our past, things really haven’t changed, our country remains one of white privilege.  People of color are still caged, branded, abused, and treated less than others. Claire becomes the metaphor for what it will take to change this reality. White people need to rush into the fray and confront other whites.  I appreciated that Jamie and Claire treated Temeraire with respect and concern. The irony that Claire became a part of history as a slave owner was not lost on me.

Gellis zealotry feels timely to me as well.  She would not be the first person to give over her thinking and ability to make rational choices to an idea and a belief.  I currently see a lot of people with power unconcerned for anyone standing in the way of their goals.  The poor, marginalized, and sick are blamed for their circumstances and become collateral damage in the name of “the greater good”.   This episode focused on Jamie and Claire’s ghosts, but I couldn’t help but feel the episode spoke to ghosts of all our pasts that continue to haunt us today, racism, sexism, bigotry, and abuse of privilege and power.

 

 

And, the layers come off… Outlander 3.11 “Uncharted”

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Outlander on Starz  took us on a voyage across the seas and into uncharted territory this week.  The show has also provided my maiden voyage into fandom and it has been a trip filled with treasure troves of unique opportunities to learn about film-making. Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the show, has been very accessible to fans who are genuinely interested in what she does and how she does it.  She has been open to questions and very generous in sharing the thoughts and the work that goes into creating for the show.  Because of Terry’s generosity, I’ve learned that costume designing is about supporting the story and helping to develop the characters.  I’ve learned that costume designing isn’t about parading pretty clothes across the screen, unless that is what the story warrants.   I have learned that costuming is storytelling.  And, this week, Terry once again proved she is a great storyteller.

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I’m constantly amazed at fans who aren’t willing to give the story time to develop or wait to see the costumes in context.  Terry often takes a lot of flack for PR pictures or magazine photo shoots that show the characters in costumes ahead of airing or styled for the shoot.  If you hung around social media this season, you couldn’t have helped but notice that there was a kerfuffle over Claire’s non-period blouse and a scandal over what shall forever be know in Outlander lore as “Beltgate”.  The now infamous “Batsuit” has had its share of critics.  Terry’s choice to have Claire make her own dress was a departure from the books and one given much consideration and deliberation.  She thought about the story and Claire’s place in it.  Terry asked herself what she would she do if she was traveling back in time for a second time.  What would Claire do to prepare herself for circumstances, difficulties, and needs that she could anticipate having.  The result of that thought process was a suit made of raincoats with secret pockets.  The suit was a wonderful mixture of available modern materials made to look as period appropriate as Claire could manage.  Her period inappropriate blouse was deliberate.  It was a nod to the story and Claire’s character.  She wore a blouse she borrowed from the daughter she was leaving behind.  She was wearing a reminder of her daughter on her skin.  I can imagine that for awhile the clothing even smelled like Brianna.  I am called back to Jamie sniffing Claire’s arasaid at the stones in the Culloden flashback.  Brilliant, but the thought that went into that garment doesn’t stop at utility and sentimentality, it becomes a metaphor for Claire’s personal journey.

Terry’s design told us Claire’s story layer by layer.

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The Claire at the beginning of the season is a Claire who has repressed feelings and a Claire who has deliberately disconnected parts of herself, especially those parts that she closely associates with Jamie like her sexuality.  She has wrapped herself in her work and her identity has been shaped by her identity as a healer.  She has closed herself off to protect herself.  The Claire we see travel back through the stones is buttoned up and covered in tailored layers and fitted stays.  As the story progresses and we see Claire forced to come to terms with her reality, we see her lose her layers metaphorically and physically until finally, we see her completely herself unencumbered.  We finally see Claire, her hair loose and dressed only in her shift, at ease with herself, confident and rejoicing in her sexuality with her Jamie.  The suit has served her and the story well as we watched it become an integral part of Claire’s survival and her shedding of her layers.  The choices Terry made in context of the story are pure genius.  The thought that she put into that costume more than enhanced the story it was an essential part of helping us understand Claire and her journey back to her authentic self.  As Claire sheds her layers of protection she reveals the strong unique and beautiful woman we hoped was still there underneath.

I would love to say that the rest of this episode was as wonderful as Terry’s costuming, but…I can’t.

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Why did Claire jump off that ship…oh yeah…

I can see why Diana Gabaldon said Outlander episode 3.11 “Uncharted” was one of her favorites this season.  It was full of scenes right from the book.  It pains me to say this because I know how hard these folks work and how much love goes into this production, but I wasn’t quite as impressed.  It wasn’t because there weren’t some delightful scenes because there were delightful scenes.  It would be hard not to love Jamie giving Fergus his name, the wedding, a pot smoking priest, and turtle time. Hang on to your rafts made out of barrels, but I think they needed to throw away the book this week.  I love this show, but this week, I loved it less.  Having said that let me explain where I think things went wrong.  They ran up against some uncharted territory.   They tried to adapt Voyager.  We all knew it was going to be hard and wondered how the hell they were they going to be able to do it.  The answer is not easily.  If you have to have your “Laurel and Hardy” comment on the ludicrousness of the improbability of your plot then…maybe you need a different plot! LOL!  I know it is story about time travel and the whole thing is crazy, I know that they want to honor fan expectations and wishes, but I want them to tell the best story they can and I’m not sure the source material helped them do that this week.  I think they struggled to wrestle this monster of a story arc into some kind of logical shape…sigh…they can’t win, LOL.

Please understand this is just my own personal opinion, but I think in the pressure to fit it all in they lost what held it all together.  They struggled to advance the relationship at the core of our story, Jamie and Claire. I get why Claire felt the need to get off that ship and the show did a better job of showing that her plan had a chance of success when we could actually see civilization on the shore.  She lets the current take her to town, she is able to get on the next ship outta there and somehow intercepts Jamie before the Artemis gets him and then we have time for the Jamaica story line.  But, instead of that we have Claire wandering an island.  My husband, a non book reader, asked “How is she going to get to Jamie if it takes her days to wander this island?”  Good question.  By the time she makes it to the Father’s hacienda, she is in no shape to continue her journey.  I think the time Claire spends struggling to get to Jamie was meant to show us her devotion and help her shed those final layers, and there were some moments between Claire and the father that remind us of Claire’s sacrifice with Brianna and the truth of her need of Jamie, but it still fell short of the epiphany I was hoping for.  I’m still waiting for the “Jamie is the key” voice over!

After learning the father’s story, getting called a “hoor” one more time and talking to the coconut, Claire believes she is back in pursuit of her goal, to get to a ship and find Jamie, but instead she thinks Jamie may have been shipwrecked just down the hill… to the right, to the right! In the show’s defense, it didn’t seem so improbable when I was reading the story.  The words “delightfully coincidental ” come to mind instead.  I think it is the flow that feels off.  It felt like the scenes book fans wanted to see were plugged in. Instead of a plot that advances the characters’ growth and the story’s goal we got a series of events all loosely held together by Claire’s desperate need to get to Jamie.  It felt formulaic. Claire pockets a mirror because she is so vain? She has a premonition she might need a mirror? The scene of Jamie running off the boat and to Claire made me wince and laugh out loud.  I’d have been waiting at the shore when the boat came in and probably sunk to my knees in relief. It felt horribly melodramatic and then…nothing.  We don’t hear any of the convo that needed to happen between the two. “I still can’t believe you jumped off that ship” was delivered with such casualness that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been accompanied by a knee slap.  I thought a scene like the one by the river in “The Reckoning” was warranted.  They needed a private moment. Everything is delivered like an exposition and very anticlimactic.

Why are they on that ship in the first place…oh yeah…

gotta get to Ian and all the stuff that happens in Jamaica …keep your hands and feet inside the ride and hold on to your remote this is gonna go all rollercoaster on us.

What has been left unresolved…oh yeah…

their relationship.  Maybe I am completely wrong here, but when is the convo going to happen?  When is Claire going to tell us or Jamie that she made the right choice?  I know the writers have said that actions speak louder than words, and Claire is notoriously bad at expressing her feelings (which makes when she does that more powerful), and Claire’s efforts to save the man she loves are heroic.  The tender snuggly moments at the wedding boded well and I loved the father’s blessing, but I think at some point Jamie and the viewers deserve to be reassured that she “just can’t live without you James Fraser”.   And then again, maybe, I need to wait until they are done telling the story!

 

 

 

 

It’s a long way down to where they started… a reflection on Outlander 3.10 “Heaven and Earth”

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In my review of Outlander 3.06 “A. Malcolm”, I wrote about having expectations of the print shop reunion.  I jokingly said I missed the “slobber knocker” scene where they cried and shook with the longing of twenty years streaming down their faces. I got over my missing scene because after I calmed my book-loving self down, I realized what the show had given me was practically perfect in every way. After watching 3.10 “Heaven and Earth”, written by newcomer Luke Schelhaus and directed by David Moore, I thought of my missing “slobber knocker” scene again.  I thought about why it had been important to me and decided it was because it was a visceral reminder of the need Jamie and Claire have of each other.  True to form, the show gave me what I was missing, they just didn’t give it to me as I expected.  This week they gave me that need and the somewhat frightening reality of what that kind of need can do to people.

I have written about why we needed to see the 20 years apart between these two in order to understand the reunion.  I also wrote about the period of transition I thought we were going to see after the reunion.  The show has taken pains to let us see that though our couple’s memories of each other remained frozen in time, they were not.  They both had lives and they are both changed by the time they were apart.  Claire’s fear that she would find the man she left changed came true and she is certainly not the same woman who left Jamie 20 years before.  It has been more difficult than any of us could possibly have imagined.  I believe they are at the core the same people they each fell in love with, but 20 years of wearing masks, suppressing feelings, and doing what you need to do to survive have covered those cores in layers of protection.  It is a long way down to where they started and I’m not sure how long or what it will take to get them both back there, but I think we saw part of that journey in this episode.

 

Confined and Compartmentalized

I’ll admit that I watched and re watched and re re watched the initial hold scene between Jamie and Fergus. I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing. It seemed out of character for Jamie to be so callous and manipulative (and, I saw today that Diana agrees).  It wasn’t a very flattering look for a “king of men”.  I kept watching trying to figure out what exactly the writers were trying to show us.  Then it hit me.  I’d been there.  I’d been Jamie stuck in a cell and powerless to protect someone I desperately loved.  Without going in to too much detail, last December I found myself sitting in an ER with a loved one, powerless to protect them or effect change and angry, very angry.  I would have moved Heaven and Earth to make it different, but there was absolutely nothing I could do and my anger grew to rage.  I understood Jamie attacking Fergus unfairly.  I recognized his displaced anger because I had displaced my own.  I took my frustration out on someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I truly think I lost my mind for a bit or a least control of my emotions.  I was being irrational and unfair, but I couldn’t stop myself. With my personal experience on my mind, I watched the scene one more time.

Jamie Confined

I think we are seeing Jamie’s past pain resurface.  Claire being taken from him has brought him to a dark place, I think we see Jamie as close to madness as we have ever seen him.  When he realizes his wife has been kidnapped and the captain is complicit, he reacts violently and as a result is thrown into the hold. Just before he is pushed down into the cell, we see him desperately look to the Porpoise, as it puts distance between him and Claire.  He is once again confined, “I’m well acquainted with the inside of a cell.”  I couldn’t help, but give this statement more meaning than the literal.  Jamie has spent the better part of 20 years without personal agency.  He has been confined in more ways than one.  His being once again behind bars has to be bringing it all back, the loss of Claire and the desolate life he lived without her.  The thought of losing her again is now made more cruel by her miraculous return and their tenuous bond.  He truly can’t lose her again.  He is desperate.

It isn’t just the plague that concerns him, “There is more than disease on that ship there are 300… men.”  A very timely statement given the current atmosphere and the idea that women are never safe from molestation.  As we see what transpires on the Porpoise, we know that Jamie’s fears are not unfounded.  Claire is in danger from men.  He needs to get to her. He needs to protect her.  He needs her. But, he is locked up and powerless to reach her… once again.

In the books, Jamie confesses to Claire that he had not been afraid for a very long time and that with her return he began to feel fear again because he had something to lose once more. I think the show has shown us that reality, in Ardsmuir Jamie tells John Grey to do what he will, there is nothing they can do to him that hasn’t been done.  He had lost everything that truly mattered to him.  And, even though he cares for his men, his family, Willie, Murtaugh, and Fergus, it is his loss of Claire that changed him forever. He is not complete without her and having found her once more he, “…would do more than lie to keep her.” He would in fact move Heaven and Earth and risk Hell, as easily as the prick of a pin.  I can remember sitting in that emergency room my thoughts spinning from one possibility to another, looking for a way out, looking for a way to fix things, looking for a way out of my fear.  Jamie is doing the same. His fear and desperation have made him irrational, he is grasping at straws and ignoring the facts of their situation as described by Fergus.  When Fergus doesn’t buy into Jamie’s irrational and desperate plans, Jamie’s impotent fear and anger become displaced and Fergus becomes the unfortunate target.  In the mist of his despair and displaced anger, Jamie says he was right to deny his blessing on the marriage to Marsali because Fergus doesn’t know what love is.  Saying this out loud brings a last desperate idea to mind.  He will do more than lie to keep Claire, he will in fact, use Fergus’ love for Marsali.  The darkness he has inhabited to survive without Claire has made this possible, but we all cringe at the cruelty and manipulation and we know it will not come without a cost to his relationship with Fergus.

Luckily for Jamie, he has good will on account.  He has lived a life of honor, been there for those God has given him charge of, and sacrificed his own interest for others over and over. “You can trust me to keep my word” says Jamie,”I have always trusted you Milord” says a newly maimed Fergus.  Fergus is in the unique position of knowing what Claire means to Jamie and what he was like after losing her.  And, after hearing the sailors discussing Jamie, himself and Marsali, he realizes what it is Jamie is feeling.  He tells Jamie he will not bring him the keys and place them all at risk.  He tells Jamie he is willing to move Heaven and Earth to keep the woman he loves safe even if that means he cannot marry her.  Marsali understands that it is not only love of her, but love of Jamie that makes Fergus tell him, no.  He will move Heaven and Earth to keep Jamie safe, as well as Marsali.  And, God, I love Marsali for telling him if he doesn’t understand that then he “doesn’t deserve” to be set loose.  They love him and so, they do what is best for him and risk his anger and…forgive him because sometimes we forgive those we love even when they do not deserve it.  Fergus is indeed like Jamie and proves himself to be his son by his noble actions.  To Jamie’s credit, he gets it right in the end and gives them his blessing.

Claire Compartmentalized

Despite my need to see Jamie forgiven and he and Claire together forever and all well between them, Claire stubbornly refuses to reassure Jamie that all is well and that she is there forever.  The specter of those 20 years apart continues to haunt them. There have been moments where she seems to come close and she has never denied her love of him, but just when it seems they are finding a way back to each other something conspires to keep them apart.  I loved the moment in the “Doldrums” when Jamie realizes that he must let Claire be who she has become and lets her go despite his need to keep her by his side. He takes her into the hall, but when he sees her standing there with her arms crossed, a look of challenge on her face, he resigns himself to the reality that she will go whether he says no or not. He touches their wedding ring as he says he has taken an oath or two himself and taken them all seriously.  He is devoted to her and trying hard to be the man she needs him to be. Through out this episode we are reminded that a word given is a bond, Claire, Jamie, Fergus, the Captain all are bound by their oath.

On the English ship, we see Claire slip into her familiar role as surgeon.  She knows exactly who she is when she is healing the sick and it serves to emphasis how unsure she is when she is not.  Watching her deal with the plague was a glorious celebration of the woman who is Claire and I have to wonder if anyone could have done this job besides her.  Her sense of self and her authority in the face of so many men was honed in another time when women in medicine were just as rare and looked upon with suspicion.  Having her abilities, knowledge, authority questioned by men is nothing new.  She handles what ever they throw her way with the aplomb of a woman who has been there and done that.  There is no doubt who is in charge. I loved the irony of authority being given to the youth of the captain and Mr. Pound.  I believe the unusual circumstances that led a third lieutenant to become captain and a 14 year.old to be addressed as sir were actually in her favor.  The band of unlikely save the day.

Claire has never been as open with her feelings as Jamie nor as eloquent in expressing them, but we can judge how she feels through her actions.  She does share with us that she is feeling the impact of being separated from Jamie.  It has been less than a day and fifty miles only that separates her from him, but she tells us it feels like 200 years.  Talking about leaving Jamie and actually leaving him seem to be two totally different things. Despite her misgivings and confusion there is no doubt that she loves him and that the only comfort she finds in him not being with her is that he is safe from the typhoid.  However, she seems to be able to function without him in a way he cannot without her and Elias discovers her secret for us.  She tells him there is a word for what she does, compartmentalizing.  She has learned how to put different parts of her life away into compartments and keep her feelings separate, so that she can do her work.  We know that she has been doing this with her feelings for Jamie for 20 years and we wonder when and what it will take to make her take those feelings out of the boxes she has stored them in and incorporate them into who she is now.  How long will it be before Claire can become whole once more?

We may have seen Claire come close to understanding her need of Jamie when she reads the captain’s log and discovers that Jamie has been found out and is in danger.  We see what she is willing to do to keep him safe.  We see Claire lie to those who trust her, threaten to cry rape, and even commit murder.  I had no doubt that if Claire had believed cutting Thompkins’ throat would have kept Jamie safe, she would have done it, despite her oath to do no harm.  As she listened in horror to the story of the body being found in the cask of Creme de Menthe, the charges against her husband, and the unlikelihood that the captain could be convinced to not write a report once they reach Jamaica, she understands that she may lose him again.  Her eyes filling with tears were powerful evidence that she cannot lose him again and so, she jumps into the bottomless sea for Jamie’s sake. Nice metaphor that.

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No matter what happens around us

The fact that these two were meant to be together is never in doubt for us, but we have to be patient while they peel back the layers and find the way down to where they began.  They need to know that whatever it is between them that they cannot name is powerful enough to keep them together despite anything that goes on around them.  Maybe the very real possibility that they may lose each other again will be enough to make them both accept they are mated for life and fated to be together through time and past all understanding.

Some final thoughts

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Elias: How impressive was Albie Marber as Elias Pound ? ! The character was a delight and I loved his chemistry with Claire.  In the time he was on-screen, Albie managed to make us care about his Elias and as result, mourn his loss. I felt his concern and love for his shipmates and his respect for Claire. His delight in her telling him he was an impressive young man was heartwarming and his cheeky smile at her cursing adorable. His concern for his men touched me, “Feel better Mr. Owens”.  May we all have children of such strength and integrity.  I couldn’t help, but think of the difference between the young men in this episode and the extended period of adolescence in our culture.  It spoke to the fact that children will rise to what is expected of them and that we do our children no favors by taking the opportunity for self-sufficiency away from them.  We need to allow our kids to make choices and mistakes.  Mr. Pound was an impressive young man and if I was his mother, I too would be proud.

Typhoid Fever: Claire’s process in dealing with the plague was fascinating and gruesomely realistic.  The effort that goes into this production continues to stagger.  When Claire looked around the deck, I felt as overwhelmed as she must have been.  I’ve of course never been around something like this, but it felt pretty real.  I was pleased to see there was more to the story than just dealing with the disease.  They did a wonderful job of letting us see the human side of such an event and I couldn’t help, but be reminded of all of the natural and unnatural disasters we have had this year and the stories of humanity that came out of those.  We saw the frailness and preciousness of life, and the real grief over the loss of fellow human beings.  The burials and Lord’s prayer were moving, in the end, we are all the same.  We all want to be loved, cared for and respected.

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Swabbing: On a lighter note, my husband’s favorite uncle retired from the Navy and had a little dachshund he named Swabbie.  I thought Swabbie was the name given to most lower ranked sailors because they “swabbed” the decks.  I got puppy fever one day and came home with two little dachshunds, I promptly named the little brown one Swabbie in an effort to endear my husband to my suprise purchase.  After this episode, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look at my dog in the same way again.  Swabbie doesn’t sound so cute anymore!

 

 

 

 

 

“A story told is a life lived”…a reflection on Outlander 3.09 “The Doldrums”

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I’m sitting at home drinking hot tea and convalescing from some sort of bug. This is one of those times when real life conspires to interfere with my Outlander life.  I’ve watched the “Doldrums” several times and found it delightful, but was too sick to think about what I saw let alone write.  What I’m thinking about this morning, in between sips of Earl Grey, is the journey. Voyager is the name of the book this season is based on and I find it aptly titled. This couple has been on a voyage back to each other and the love they once shared. Diana’s story of two passionately committed people and the show’s version of their story have taken us on a voyage too. Both versions are epic in scale, detail, and truth about the human condition and I’m finding myself grateful for both.

The line of dialogue I can’t get out of my head is “A story told is a life lived”.  It reminded me of a line from George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  I shared last week that I almost quit writing the blog during the drought because it just seemed too trivial a concern in these current times.  I did not because I decided I enjoyed writing it and that was okay, no matter what was going on in the world. As I sat down to write today, I thought of my belief that what I was doing was trivial and then I thought about the joy Outlander’s stories have brought into my life. Not only joy, but insight, empathy, and healing. Mr. Willoughby’s story captivated the sailors and the show let us see that all who heard were moved by it. He told his story and then he had to let it go. I couldn’t help, but think of Diana and the creators of the show. When her book is finally ready and that first copy hits the shelf or when it comes time for the show to air, the story is in some ways no longer theirs. They tell the story and then they have to let it go. Just as each person on that ship listened to Mr. Willoughby’s story and connected it to their own lives, so do we. Story telling, I have now decided is not a trivial pursuit, but a noble one and a story told is a life… well lived. Because of writers and film makers, we get to live a thousand lives.

I had an experience with a poem that illustrated this point for me. Sam Heughan had tweeted a poem written by Kim Moore he had read and had evidently found moving.

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I read the poem and then speculated about why this poem would have meant something to Sam. I pulled it apart line by line and made connections to what life might be like for a struggling actor and wrote an article about it.  The poetess read my article and wrote to me! I was of course completely wrong about the intent in the poem.  It was in fact, a poem about an abused woman.  I was a bit embarrassed, but she assured me that it was okay and that in fact, she was fascinated.  She said she was glad I was able to see so much in the poem because it meant that the poem had life beyond her. Once again, a story told is a life lived.

When I went to college, I was already an adult with 28 yrs of life experience. My husband gave me a little insight into what college was likely to be like for someone such as myself, “You’ll be like a sponge . You’ll love every minute.  The professors will love you and the kids will hate you for making them look bad! “. He was pretty prophetic.  I did love every minute and the kids tended to roll their eyes at me and my eagerly raised hand. I wanted to discuss and share! They wanted to pass the class with as little effort as possible and I was making them look bad. However, after a long night partying and a short night studying, some of my fellow students saw me as a valuable commodity, “Let’s ask Beth what the reading was about”.  I may have gotten my fellow students out of a sticky situation temporarily, but I always felt they were missing the point…reading was life changing.  At least, I felt so.

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life.  Studies are indicating that people are inspired to make changes in their own lives as a result. In the article,  If You Didn’t Love Reading Before You See This, You’ll Love It After  by Sarah White, the author says that  studies show that reading fiction,

“…teaches you to be human…helps you see other people’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s skin, and it can help us understand the real people in our lives a little better. …Reading can give you a new perspective. Here I’m not just talking about getting to peer into different worlds, but the fact that reading about life situations similar to your own may give you a different perspective on things. Whether you need help navigating a breakup or dealing with your parents, there’s a book for that.”

There is also a movie for that. Film can impact us in a very similar way. Especially, if that film is full of visual metaphors and visceral images. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/is-your-brain-culture/200903/your-brain-movies 

I know that what Diana created for me was a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much or learn as much from them. I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does.  What this show has given me is another way to interact with her story.  Although the series will never replace the books for me, in some ways, I found it just as impactful and at times, more so than the book. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the visual story I was told in “Wentworth” or “Faith”.  Seeing emotions on a real face is impactful and quickly takes you to a place of empathy. When we get lost in a book, or a quality film, studies have shown that we might actually change our own behaviour and thoughts to match that of the character.  It is a phenomenon that researchers are calling “experience-taking”. They found that “experience-taking’ can lead to real-life changes. Strongly identifying with a character who overcomes can lead to over-coming!  Experience taking…a story told is a life lived.

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives.  I too have been changed by books. The Box Car Children and Queenie Peavy helped to shape the child I became.  Corrie ten Boom and The Hiding Place taught me about faith and what it means to care for others and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the TV series have both enriched my understanding of relationships and truths about life.  If you can tell a story that can do that for a person than you are truly part of something bigger than yourself and by letting go of your story and releasing it to the wind you allow others to live a thousand lives. Bravo. I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

 

“The show lives forever…” a mid season reflection on Outlander Season 3

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Sarah Y. @Meowzilla Replying to @RonDMoore
Was surprised by (-) reaction this season. Most fans ❤ it. Do u do pep talk w cast & crew since u’ve experienced this w trek?
Ronald D. Moore @RonDMoore
I tell everyone not to get too caught up in the reactions of the moment. The show lives forever, that’s the important thing.

 

I’m sure Sarah Y’s question was sparked by some of the stuff that has gone down in the fandom in the last three weeks. I believe that Sarah is right, most fans are thrilled with the show and believe it is one of the best things on TV , but…there is a vocal contingent that feels less so.  Their dissatisfaction is one of the things that has been bumping around my brain this week.  The discontent seems to be centered around the adaptation of the book and perceived changes to the characters.

 A commenter on DG’s page that is representative of concerns, but not abusive:

@knoxnervig  Replying to @Writer_DG   I think the need to “normalize” tv Jaimie has taken away from the integrity of the book Jaime.
A commenter on my blog page:

fclarecat: We have had the joy of an outstanding season; given by a team of incredibly talented people. Yet for some reason there have been some very disturbing comments on fan sites.
Reading is a very intimate form of art appreciation. No one can reproduce that imagined by one, in a visual medium.
No one works on Outlander because they hate it. Personally, I am grateful that something I hold dear, is now given to us on film.
One may make a comment, or state an opinion respectfully. Personal attack has no place in this wonderful Outlander family

I’ve written before that is difficult for book fans to objectively watch the show and I have often found myself jealous of those who watch the show first and then read the books.  They get to enjoy both in a way I’ll never get to experience.  Love this comment from an AVclub article discussing adapting books to screen.

Going from a derivative work to its source, people tend to expect fidelity less than when they start with the original, then move to the adaptation…When I read the book first, I go to the movie expecting to see a strict translation of what I saw onto the screen, even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story. Whereas when I see the movie first, I go to the book looking not for the same story, but for a greater insight into the characters…  Robinson

Yes, it is difficult, you cannot undo what you know or completely separate yourself from your expectations, even if you want to.

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Another idea bumping around my head this week was the benefits of bingeing a series and the pitfalls of episodic TV.  A friend said that she went back during the drought and watched the show in binge format.  She said she was amazed at the flow of the story and how differently she felt watching episodes back to back. Her experience was much more positive. We both speculated on the impact of weekly episodes on the perception of the shows success by fans.  The show’s creative team works hard to adapt the source material into 13 separate, yet connected story arcs, an episode. Some folks enjoy the having to wait a week to see what happens next or get their questions answered, they enjoy the speculation around the water cooler on Monday morning. However, I’ve come to believe, along with my friend, that the show’s episodic format contributes to a lot of the angst in the fandom.  I saw Ron’s advice to cast and writers, to not get caught up in immediate reactions, play out this week. I saw some fans’ rage and turmoil turn on a dime or episode 308, as the case may be.  The writers and producers have a long-range plan for the story arc and I have come to understand that we really need to withhold judgement of the success of the series until the end of the season, if not longer and not get caught up in our own immediate reactions.  Book/series fans reactions are volatile and we are not necessarily reliable narrators of the series weekly success.  We have too much of a personal stake in how we think this story should be told. I struggled with this very thing while watching “A. Malcolm”.

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The second half of Ron’s tweet also peaked my interest, ” The show lives forever, that’s the important thing”.  I wondered what makes one TV show better than another and gives it the chance to be remembered as a great show.  Ron tweeted that they try to please both book and non reading fans, but ultimately, they are trying to tell the best story they can tell.  I, for one, am thankful they are not influenced by the whims or immediate reactions of fans.  I know that some fans have running issues with how the characters are being portrayed and I know the writers and producers do read and respond to fan feedback, but that feedback cannot be the driving force behind creative choices.  From the AVclub article:

…Both book and film should be addressed as independent entities. …This means not going into an adaptation with a mental checklist of things that must be in the movie to make it good, and evaluating a film based on what’s on the screen, not what got left off. In that sense, a “good adaptation” may have to involve a good-faith effort from the viewers, who participate in the process by giving that story a chance on its own terms… But it takes two to tango. If viewers have a responsibility not to see a book as an unalterable outline for the film, then filmmakers have a responsibility to respect the book, to acknowledge that there’s a reason they’re telling this story, rather than another story altogether… Filmmakers should ask “What in this book do I want to emphasize?” The key words are “in this book.” Meaning, part of a good adaptation is knowing what to cut or revise, even if it makes the fans cry, but part of it is maintaining a meaningful relationship to the source material. Robinson

I went in search of criteria for what makes a “quality” TV series that will “last forever” and whether Outlander fits that criteria.  Please understand that my “lite” research is in no way exhaustive or particularly academic. I just read what I can find and use it to make meaning for myself.  Having qualified my bonafides, I did find some interesting stuff.  The study of what makes “quality” TV is a fairly new one and has picked up steam since the cable and streaming programming have increased their presence in the landscape of what is available for us to view.  I found some of the same scholars being quoted and cited in most of the articles and information I read.

One of those people most often quoted or cited was Robert Thompson.  He is considered an expert in TV.  He teaches on the subject, is founder of Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and has authored, co-authored, or edited six books on the subject.  Here is his take on what constitutes quality TV.

Robert Thompson: …quality television has the following characteristics: It must break the established rules of television and be like nothing that has come before. It is produced by people of quality aesthetic ancestry, who have honed their skills in other areas, particularly film. It attracts a quality audience. It succeeds against the odds, after initial struggles. It has large ensemble cast which allows for multiple plot lines. It has memory, referring back to previous episodes and seasons in the development of plot. It defies genre classification. It tends to be literary. It contains sharp social and cultural criticisms with cultural references and allusions to popular culture. It tends toward the controversial. It aspires toward realism. Finally, it is recognized and appreciated by critics, with awards and critical acclaim…

I found myself mentally ticking off the boxes in regards to Outlander.  

Break the established rules of television

From the very beginning this show has shown itself to be willing to take risks and create itself outside of the box.  The biggest risk being bucking the idea that a show marketed to women was destined to fail.

Like nothing that has come before

Like the books they are based on.  Have you ever try to tell someone what this show is about?

Produced by people with quality aesthetic ancestry

Ron Moore and company have a track record that impresses and his work continues to held up as an example of what can be done in television. This show is no small undertaking.

Attracts a quality audience

The ready-made base for this show were intelligent, educated women from all walks of life from around the world.  These were women who were in love with “big books” that bent genre were richly full of details and that spoke to the truths and ironies of life with characters who struggled with hard choices and for the most part chose to do the right thing despite the cost to themselves.  Not everyone in the fandom is there for the deeper story, but many are. I love it when I see folks who thought the story was “housewife porn” catch on and become wowed by this story.

Outlander is already considered a phenomenon to those who have fallen under the spell of the books and this exceptional adaptation. In its third year on TV, it feels primed to break through even wider, not just as a filler of the Game of Thrones void, but as an emotionally rich, powerful piece of storytelling in its own right.

http://www.vulture.com/2017/09/outlander-season-three-review.html

Succeeds against the odds after initial struggles

Those of us around since the beginning remember the initial reviews for the series.  We were disappointed that critics were just buying into and repeating “pop culture” cliches surrounding the buzz about the story and not giving it a chance.  The ready made fan base, “the book fans”, knew this story and its depth and adventure.  Our battle cry was “just wait and you’ll see” and they did.

…But tucked inside Outlander‘s salacious exterior is an intelligent, well-acted drama about the nature of love and intimacy, with an often radical position on sex…. NPR

Large ensemble cast allowing for multiple plot lines

As the story progresses and we see new characters added, we will see more plot lines with Jamie and Claire the matriarch and patriarch of a large extended family and story. We will become invested in the stories of Roger and Bree, Fergus and Marsali, Wee Ian, Auntie Jocasta, Lord John, and all of the folks on Fraser’s Ridge.

It has memory

This is one of the things I am most enamored of in this series. They are always calling us back to events in the story with beautiful parallels, dialogue, and visual metaphors.

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Defies genre classification

A historical, sci-fi, adventure, romance…did I miss anything?

Tends to be literary

A book adaptation.

Social and cultural criticisms

They are subtle and the more effective for it, in my humble opinion. The treatment of and value of women is one of the key criticisms and a timely one.

Tends toward the controversial

Think about the subjects this show hasn’t been afraid to tackle, from male rape to miscarriage.

Aspires toward realism

The detail and care given to suspending our disbelief is staggering.  Everything is telling us a story and everything is thought out.  Terry Dresbach, the show’s costume designer, Jon Gary Steele, production designer, the writers and producers, the actors have all taken the time to share the inner workings of the their jobs and how much they think about the story and how to present it to us. They have given us realistic standing stones and mystical ceremonies, Scottish and French castles, witch trials and apothecaries, battles and prisons, print shops, brothels, and ocean voyages.  It is a show wrapped in a fantasy, but I challenge anyone who suggests this show doesn’t strive to show us the truth in relationships, war, loss, and love wrapped in a richly detailed and realistically beautiful package.

Recognized and appreciated by critics, with awards and critical acclaim

Well! Yes, more and more. #Goldenglobes

…Often the Starz drama is lauded for its incredible set and costume design and ambitious cinematic scope, but the series’ pensive, poetic exploration of the human heart’s mysteries, and the quixotic nobility of commitment, is singularly brilliant and underappreciated in the realm of top shelf TV dramas. Salon

 

As you can see, Outlander easily meets the criteria Robert Thompson sets forth for Quality TV.

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Another expert:

Dorothy Swanson  (Viewers for Quality Television) argued that “A ‘quality show’ is something we anticipate before and savor after. It focuses more on relationships than situations; it explores character, it enlightens, challenges, involves and confronts the viewer; it provokes thought and is remembered tomorrow. A quality show colors life in shades of grey.”

This show does focus on relationships, provokes thought, and despite the frustration of some fans lets us see life and our characters as complicated imperfect people and their life choices in “shades of grey”.  We anticipate each episode and savor after (how many times have you watched the print shop, lol).  I anticipate re watching these shows for years to come just like I re read the books.

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Amateur critics

One of the interesting phenomena I read about when researching this topic was the rise of amateur critics due to the easy accessibility afforded by the internet.  I guess I should consider myself one of these at this point!  I watch and continue to watch Outlander because it continues to hold my interest and I am fascinated by the creative choices that are bringing my favorite characters and stories to life.  The characters and story are recognizably Outlander and yet, uniquely it’s own entity and I am enjoying the hell out of coming along for the ride this team of hardworking creatives is taking me on.  Will this story last forever? Yeah, I think it will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYI: My Outlander Blog is going to remain a place for respectful discussion

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This last year has been a tough one both personally and globally.  Since October of last year, my daily stress level has been hovering around a 7 out of 10.  I’m pretty sure many of you can relate.  Along with crap I’m dealing with personally, I feel bombarded by bad news, new lows, and feeling powerless to effect change.  But, I’m a survivor and a fighter.  I can usually figure out what is worth worrying about and what needs to be let go of.  I do what I can to help change my little part of the world and hope that if we all decide to do the same we can make changes that matter.

Outlander has been my little bit of escape from a world that is just too full of scary, monumentally important things.  For a little bit, I can escape into a fantasy and share the fun of watching my favorite books put on the screen and talk about it with fellow fans.  For the most part, Outlander has been a good healthy escape from the pressures in real life. There was a point mid drought that I considered not writing the blog anymore.  It just seemed too trivial a concern.  There were so many other things I could be spending my time on besides writing about a book/tv show.  But, when push came to shove, I realized I enjoyed it and that was okay.  We are allowed to participate in things we enjoy even if they seem trivial.

My blog has always been a place where people are welcome to discuss the show and books.  I have never had much of a problem with my readers saying disparaging things about the author, cast or creators of the show.  I have always been proud of the intelligent and articulate way they are able to disagree and still be respectful.  But, in the last few weeks, I have seen some folks find their way to my blog who somehow believe I will give them an open forum to spew their disrespect, conspiracy theories, and vitriol.  I will not.  So, if you notice that your posts have been taken down or not approved, please understand you are not welcome.  I TRULY don’t need more stress in my life and I am weary of opening my feeds and reading the fan drama du jour. I’m tired of looking the other way when “fans” use the cast, crew and creators as their personal punching bags and I certainly won’t tolerate it on my own blog page. I’m tired of the entitlement that makes it okay to forget there are real people working to bring a story to the screen they hope we will like. The whole thing is making me sad.  I can understand critiquing the show, truly.  I have done my share. But, it is starting to morph into something much less reasonable and sane.

I don’t really “know” any of these people who work the show other than through interactions on social media, but I do know they are real people who work hard and try to create the best product they can just like the rest of us do at our own jobs.  No one deserves some of the disrespect sent these folks’ way.  They can’t win.  Even, when they try to engage fans and answer questions it all goes awry.  On Twitter a fan responded to some of the latest disrespect by saying , “Here we go again actors can’t have political opinions and writers aren’t allowed to get insulted.”  I found myself shaking my head in agreement, here we go again. There truly is a difference between critique and criticism.  People making this show are prepared for one, but don’t deserve the other.  They have done nothing to deliberately “ruin” anything for anyone, they have made creative choices. If you like them fine and if you don’t fine, but good lord…get some perspective and maybe some courtesy?

I’m starting to understand there are a lot of people who have a say in how this “product” gets delivered to us. Writers write things that don’t make the cut, actors act out their interpretation of the character, directors try to fiddle with a scene and the acting until it feels right, editors cut and rearrange and decide which scenes work with feedback from producers and the studio, and finally it gets put in the “can”.  As fans, we truly don’t know what went down or what influenced what.  My husband was a football coach for a lot of years and I had to sit in the stands and listen to people pass judgement on him.  It was frustrating and I had to fight down the need to defend him.  He reminded me often that he was capable of standing up for himself and that he had a tougher skin than I might think.  I know these people are tougher than I think too, but damn …I keep thinking they shouldn’t have to be. I’m so friggin tired of living in a world where it is now the norm to be rude, offensive and judgmental of others.  And today, I’m sad that one of my few escapes is starting to feel like one more pile of shit I have to deal with.