I’ve been away vacationing with my youngest granddaughters at the happiest place on Earth. So, I’m just getting around to this. Per usual, I haven’t seen or read anyone else’s response before hitting publish. I know I’m late to the party, but boy did I have a wonderful time. Thanks for reading, Beth
It was perfect. After you begin to read this reflection you might not think that is quite how I feel, but please be patient and keep reading.
I remember, very early on in the series, discussing the topic of this adaptation with a fan who felt that the show was missing the mark with how they were portraying the characters. I pointed out to her that the show had gotten the big things right. However, the nuances, small character traits, and pages and pages of internal and external dialogue that helped readers “know” these characters would be very hard to reproduce on the screen. I told her that the truth is we may never see “our” Jamie and Claire on our tvs. My observations were pretty prophetic. Here’s the thing. These two people on the screen are not the Jamie and Claire of the book, as much as I might wish that they were. I still like the Jamie and Claire I see on the screen, they are still characters I care about and the story is still a “ripping good yarn”, but it has somehow morphed into its own thing that resembles my beloved story, but is telling its own and I’m not so sure that that is not a good thing. I’ve finally come to accept that the two aren’t who I was hoping for, but there is enough “common ground” between book J&C and tv J&C for the story to feel familiar and watching worthwhile. It’s a good show.
I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare of writing and producing for this story. First, you have committed yourself to making a show for both book fans and folks who watch, but who don’t even know or care that there are books. Then you have to make decisions about what part to tell and what part not to tell, many times related to the reality of filming and each of those decisions will have long reaching consequences that will affect other decisions. No one can make me believe that these decisions are made lightly or without love for the fans and story. There has been too much proof that they care throughout the seasons. There are a lot of hands in this pie each with their own ideas how this all needs to go down. I get frustrated when fans want to play the blame game because they truly have no idea who wanted what or why, some of the hands in this pie have more power than others. It is a delicate and intricate balancing act that sometimes they get right and sometimes they get wrong. I can imagine if we were somehow as fans given the chance to write and produce this story other fans would have the same issues with us. Everyone sees this story through their own lens of what is important. That being said it doesn’t mean that the show should be free of critique.
The fish weren’t funny
They fooled me with the cleaning of the fish. I kept waiting for the comical attack in the books. It didn’t happen and I missed it. And, I think the show missed an opportunity to add in something their version of Jamie and Claire’s story has always needed. In my opinion, the tv version of the story has always needed more of the humor found in the books. It is part of the character development that endears Jamie, Claire and Ian to the fans and makes all that they endure bearable. I understood the scene change and how it moved the story forward. However, the lack of humor has made my experience with this couple less intimate and I feel less invested in their lives, as a result.
There goes the neighborhood
The writers decided to take a more adversarial stance between the Frasers and their neighbors. It is perhaps a more accurate portrayal of what things might have been like. Last week, I read some fans’ critique of Jamie and Claire staring out over the horizon having found a place to call their own…someone else’s place. Here goes that balancing act again. Yes, it was native land and Jamie certainly should understand what it feels like to have land taken from you, but the reality is that Fraser’s Ridge exists and the place and its inhabitants are the bulk of the story going forward. Like slavery in America, settlers laying claim to Indian land happened and it is a reality written into the story and as such must be dealt with. The writers cannot be blamed for wanting to deal with that reality with some consideration.
It really was pretty darn good
So, I’m finding myself watching the show differently these days and quite frankly, it’s a relief. Whether or not the show is like the book is becoming less and less important. What appears to becoming more important is the story that they ARE telling. This week, I thought they told a good story full of quiet character revealing conversations, heart-warming moments that actually made me tear up, and what’s going to happen next action (I really kind of like not really knowing). It was a quick hour of television and I found myself not wanting it to be over.
Claire worrying about Bree was such a relief. I always wondered how that would not constantly be on her mind and to the show’s credit they keep showing us that she is and Claire really does struggle with her decision to go through the stones. They also show us that Bree isn’t the only young woman missing her mother. Marsali may not be 200 years from her mother, but she might as well be. It really wasn’t uncommon for young adults during this time period to say good-bye to their parents knowing they may never see them again. Hopping on a ship for a voyage across the ocean was a dangerous and arduous journey and one probably not taken more than once or twice in a lifetime. Jamie’s reassurances about Brianna were well meant, but cold comfort to a grieveing mother who regrets leaving her child.
The scenes of the three Frasers clearing the land and the beginning of the first homestead on the Ridge were delightful as was our couple’s excitment and sense of pride. But, the scene that tore me up was Roger’s discovery of Jamie and Claire in America and his telling Bree. It was wonderfully emotional, Sophie Skelton and Rik Rankin were fantastic in these scenes. I could feel Roger’s wonder and delight and Bree’s relief and gratitude and the yearning they both had for each other. I love the change that puts all of their lives intersectioning on Grandfather Mountain. I love the idea that Bree could have been walking where her father had walked. I’m so excited about this new story line and relationship. Poor babies, I want to give them a hug!
Our introduction to the Cherokees was beautiful, a feast for the eyes and senses. I have no idea how historically accurate the costumes and dances were, but I know the actors were First Nation and a lot of research was done. I was fascinated. John Quincy Myers assures us that the local Cherokee tribe strives for balance and peace and that bodes well for the Frasers. The “Bear Man” was unexpeced and I wondered if he was based on a true story or legend. The tribe banished him for taking a woman who didn’t want to be taken. The community could not of sent a clearer message to their warriors about how they value women. Hard not to make comparisons and wonder what defines a savage. I wondered if their treatment of this man didn’t foreshadow some things for our Ian. They could not kill something that was already dead to them.
By the end of the episode, I came to understand that the show has in fact moved beyond the books upon which they are based. My beloved Outlander series of books will always be there and as always, I will enjoy immersing myself in that story and world. However, I now find myself immersed in a new story and world called Outlander. I love them both.