My Pre-finale reflection…all indicators are…Outlander did it!


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I woke this morning to yet another glowing, respectful and…insightful review of Outlander. And, it wasn’t just about the finale, the entire 1st season is being touted as the most brave and honest show on TV.  I have had nothing to do with anything other than being along for the ride from the day Diana announced the series was a go and yet, I’m as proud as a parent of a particularly bright child!  I am proud to be a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s wonderfully detailed books that are grounded in truths about life, relationships and the nature of love and now I’m a proud fan of a TV show that wasn’t afraid to do the same.

I know there continues to be some concern from some book fans that Jamie and Claire’s relationship got short changed in this adaptation process.  I’ll be the first to admit, I had my own concerns and voiced them, but I’ve since grown to be a bit more relaxed about this whole adaptation thing.  In fact, this week I realized Ron’s version may have managed to correct an often voiced complaint about both main characters in the book.  Frequently, I’ve heard fans say that both characters are almost to good to be true (well, Jamie at least), too perfect or too strong to relate to. I’ll admit Claire intimidates the shit out of me; that’s one hell of a woman.  The TV version of Jamie is more relatable, less funny IMHO, but less perfect and therefore more relatable.  He is still being portrayed as a young man with “nice feelings” , emotional intelligence, a man who thinks on his feet.  However, he is also been allowed to fumble a bit (Lallybroch comes to mind) just like any young man in his situation would.  He ISN’T perfect, but true to Jamie form he always gets it right in the end.  He is a wonderful example of what it means to be a man and that includes owning up when you’ve made a mistake and not being afraid to try a new way of thinking.  Those things I truly loved about book Jamie are still there loyalty, integrity, bravery, sensitivity, vulnerability, and the ability to love unselfishly.  How often have you seen a man portrayed like that on TV?

And Claire? Has a woman portrayed on TV ever been allowed to be as one critic said “a true superhero” ?  Claire has always made me proud to be a woman and TV Claire has just reinforced that I was right to feel this way.  The show has managed to show the world that a woman can be all things; strong , smart, compassionate, sexually confident, gentle, loving, and fiercely protective of those she loves.  “God help the man who gets between you and what you want”.  And, yet she is portrayed with faults as well. Tell the truth, how many of you wanted to reach through the screen and shake her for not keeping her mouth shut!

I’ve heard Ron say they knew where the show was going and they discussed how to get the characters and story there through each episode. They did it by foreshadowing the end from the very beginning.  They did it by staying true to the spirit of Miss Gabaladon’s story and the character’s motivations.  They weren’t afraid to go there.

The critics are saying that nothing feels gratuitous. They say the characters and story have EARNED the audiences’ respect because it stays true to its vision to show these characters reacting honestly to what happens to them.  The show is being called ground-breaking, brave, fearless, and confident.  This is a far cry from those initial critiques that warned that the show was based on, and I quote, “a bodice ripping romance novel that will only appeal to bored middle-age housewives and your grandmother”.  So, despite the fact that Frank was given time on screen,  Jamie was portrayed as less than perfect, and Claire didn’t get to tell Jamie the reason she chose to stay, I’d say they did Herself and fans proud.  I’ll be watching tonight to see what evil can do and what love can do and what dedicated actors, writers, directors, costumers, set designers, and…producers can do.


43 thoughts on “My Pre-finale reflection…all indicators are…Outlander did it!

  1. Kathy Lind

    Well said Beth. I would add that I wouldn’t be surprised if they included Claire’s “reason she chose to stay” in a future episode…maybe even the final. Also, whenever I read complaints from book fans picking nits, I always want to yell at them, “do you have ANY idea how lucky we are that this series is being made by people who love the source material as much as we do?” Without Ron Moore and his team’s involvement, this series could have been an epic disaster made by people simply going through the motions. Instead it was a labor of love and that’s what shines through.

  2. Connie H.

    So happy I have company in being a proud “parent” of this amazing show! Diana always says the characters tell her which way the story will go and I think Ron Moore has the same gift. We are so blessed to have them both (and Cait, Sam, Tobias, Terry,etc. etc.)

  3. Jules

    Well said!! 🙂 Now finding out the differences between TV and book I must say both materials are so rich and they meet where they should. I’m a very recent fan (and I am as old as the first book so in your face critics ahah :P) but I am already so involved in this…

  4. Well move over, because I’ll be there right along with you cheering them on. If they don’t win a bunch of Emmys I may send a team of psychiatrists to find out where the voters heads are.

  5. Linda Lane

    Thanks Beth for this insightful reflection. I have really enjoyed season 1 and am looking forward to the finale. I feel confident we will see some breathtaking TV. Both the series and the books are absolutely fabulous. This show has been a huge team effort. I’ve also really appreciated the education along the way i.e. Ron’s podcasts, insight from Herself, directors, writers, actors, Terri’s & Bear’s blog and terrific communication from Diana, Maril, Terri, Bear etc etc etc. Then there are the terrific blogs from fans such as yourself, Connie, Outlander Anatomy and others – the whole experience of this show has been incredibly awesome. I’ve never been part of anything like it. We are very fortunate to have an amazing cast and crew under Ron’s leadership and their work deserves to be recognized and I hope it is with Emmy nominations and wins.

  6. Patricia Hare

    As always, you put everything Into perspective. I so enjoy reading what you have to share with us. Just as Diana in her blog said recently, cherish the book for letting your imagination take you where you wanted the story to go and enjoy the TV adaptation for focusing on the essence of the story. Love them both.

  7. Very good. I have loved the books for years and now I’m happy to say, I love the show. This show deserves many awards, for writing, directing, acting, costume design, you name it they deserve it.

  8. Beth, thank you for so succinctly giving perspective on the culmination of this season’s events. I always find it challenging to express to people how difficult/tremulous it can be adapting a novel. The adaptation in itself is an art form. There are only a handful of screenwriters that can ever strike the perfect balance and they are coveted like gold. As much as readers would like to be truthful to source material, the visual medium does not allow for such deep introspection into characters. That is why it is such a gift to have actors such as Cait, Sam, Tobias, Graham, Duncan, Gary, Laura and Lotte (just to name a few) who are able to so expertly express the inner feelings/thoughts of the characters with just a look, gesture, or blink of the eye. I think this show has done the NEAR impossible of taking a beautiful novel and creating a life for it that is woven into the material and still keeps its own vitality. Game of Thrones has received a lot of flack for digressing and making choices independent of the novel. Not to make too fine a point, but I feel like some of it is fair and some of it unfair. The difference here is that GoT gained the viewers trust over many seasons and continues to seemingly throw that trust away. What we witness in Outlander is the knowledge that everything comes back into play and nothing is taken for granted. What we will witness tomorrow will be vile, difficult, sad, sick, tragic, and ultimately touching. There is a truth to it that can not be denied. Our faith & trust in the showrunners is never taken for granted and the honesty shown can not be denied. So far, I have not read one single review where the writer didn’t understand WHY they were being shown such graphic and ugly material. They saw the phenomenal work being done on and off screen. I believe that is what we viewers experience as well. I know there will be many more discussions in the weeks to come, but this feeling I have now is palpable. The Emmys are such a strange game that is played behind closed doors, but I know in my heart I have witnessed a superior art form, regardless of the accolades.

    • Thank you for once again writing a lovely response. I’ll admit it was difficult to let go of the book, but somewhere (I’m thinking when they chose to switch POV) a lightbulb went on and I got it. Like you I like GOT for what is/was, haven’t watched this year, but what it is is a far cry from what Outlander is or tries to be. I’m still in awe of the fact that the project was taken on! And, that we are watching characters with “redeeming” qualities and values. I’m hoping Outlander’s success will mean more shows of its kind! Thanks again!

  9. Tepperson0101

    Beth, I’ll be watching right along with you, at midnight if Satz allows it! This has been an amazing ride. Hate to see it end no cant wait for season 2

  10. GGW

    I, too, have been enjoying the recent rush of respectful, congratulatory and even (dare I say) insightful reviews in the lead up to the finale. So much more rewarding to read than all of the virtual hand wringing in the lead up to ep 115. Like you Beth, I’m SO thankful that I’ve gotten to see my favorite book series treated so lovingly. While I won’t deny there are a few things I would have liked to have heard or seen, I have no real arguments with this adaptation and agree that “the show” Jamie is far more relatable. I was one of those who felt that the King Of Men of the books was just too good to be true (newly married when I first picked up OL in 1993, my young hubby didn’t fare very well by comparison!)! And while Claire’s kick-assed-ness is for me one of the greatest parts of her appeal, I cannot count how many times she deserved throttling (not only in OL but in the subsequent books as well)! I will be watching the finale tonight and will be thinking about how thankful I am for the last 10 months of excitement, new friends, dipping my toes in SM, amazing reading (of which I count your blog on top of that list) and seeing my favorite words lovingly portrayed by the amazingly talented cast and crew for 16 unforgettable weeks! I’m sure blogging during Droughtlander will be a change of gears, but I sure hope you plan to do so! I especially look forward to your next post!!!

  11. Oh my. I have nothing original to add to the article and subsequent posters except to say, I agree.
    You all are very eloquent.

  12. I love reading your thoughts and feelings surrounding Outlander, they are so full of insight. I found the books through a friend on Twitter last year, who recommended them to me before the TV show aired. I raced through all of them so in thrall with the unique life story that they told, and in my need to have read the book first before I saw the show. I quite literally couldn’t put them down, I am sure my children think my left hand has had an extension fitted – a DG book LOL!
    I have since re read them all numerous times, picking up the subtleties I missed the first time around in my excitement to know what came next. This is what, as an avid reader, I love about DG’s books, there is always something new to find, some hidden meaning i didn’t pick on first, second or even third time around due to the astounding talent that is DG. I have never re read the same books so many times over – my cover of DiA is falling off already!
    So, I then did wonder how would the TV show fare with book fans like myself? BUT, I have been so enthralled by the TV show and the care and attention shown to the original words by the team assembled by Ron Moore. I feel the love they have for the books and the characters therein shining through in the TV adaptation. Sure there are odd bits that I have cocked my head to one side about and frowned, but only momentarily, I recognise that you can never put on screen everything that there is in the books. In one way I feel like I have the back story in my head and I can fill in any perceived gaps with that knowledge and so have an even greater experience, should I feel the need. However, I can also sit back and just enjoy the show for what it is, an amazing feast for my eyes, a stage play of all the scenes I imagined in my mind, that I now no longer have to imagine. They are there, and I can just soak them up, enjoy the wonderful scenery of Scotland, beautiful and authentic clothing and imposing castles. Then layered on top of this amazing backdrop have been the most impressive & outstanding cast performances, the way they have embodied the very characters of those they portray so wonderfully. It has been a privilege to watch and I have never once been disappointed, only thrilled to be watching this amazing work of art brought to life before my very eyes and I want to say thank you, I have loved it.

  13. As any proud parent would, I literally sobbed with tears of joy through half of the first episode. I was so happy to see my beloved characters on the screen doing what I knew they would be doing, and saying what I knew they would be saying. The changes never bothered me, they excited me. I’m looking forward to many more years of Jamie and Claire!

  14. meredith

    Yep agreed. Feel the same….proud parent and like a parent i love both book and series equally, don’t play favourites, and appreciate the differences and the similarities

  15. I don’t think Claire would be able to look Frank in the face without thinking of Randall if she went back to her time. I haven’t read the books, so I have no clue as to what is hoing to happen. However, I LOVE the show, and the season finale blew my mind. Such passion between the main characters. I know they are acting, but the intensity is so REAL. Bring on season 2. Waiting with bated breath.

  16. I feel almost repetitive – well, no almost about it – agreeing fully with you all, except for one thing: I’ve been in the middle of a move, and while I DVR’d each episode, I hope what happened when Stevie Nicks was on American Horror Story didn’t happen here. I missed the final episode of that, and haven’t been able to find it. I thought the final episode of Outlander would be Jamie’s escape from Wentworth with the cattle, but I couldn’t find it. So did it end without the escape this season or did I screw up? And if I did, can anyone tell me how I can see it? It won’t be until I’m actually IN my new home, because of the tornados and rain in this part of the U.S. I would very much appreciate any tips, tho if no one knows, no matter. I’m sure someone from one of the fan pages on FB can tell me.

    And just one other note. While I would OF COURSE love to see Outlander win Emmys (and DG win the Nobel Prize for literature, lol – can you imagine her face???!!!??), Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black” was totally snubbed last year, and this season she’s even playing more roles. Although I loved Julianna Margulies from the first episode of ER, and I even think she did a decent job as Morgaine in “The Mists of Avalon,” another eternal favorite book of mine, I don’t think her performance in her series outdid Tatiana’s. With that in mind, perhaps Cat will be satisfied just to be nominated. Please, don’t you all hate me for saying that. I still think Beth Wesson’s post was extremely well-written, as were all the responses. And at the risk of sounding snobbish, being here in Texas –? It’s SO very nice to read/hear the English language used as it should be in terms of grammar, spelling, syntax, and overall skill! Thank you so much for that.

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