Outlander, a Parallel Universe… a reflection on 5.09 “Monsters and Heroes”

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Do you remember that book, Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?  I’m thinking of writing a new book entitled Everything You Need to Know About Adulting Can Be Learned in Outlander!

…But, that’s what Diana’s story does, isn’t it? The lives of her fictional characters hold up a mirror to the human condition and we see ourselves reflected in large and small ways in the tribulations, joys, hopes, and fears of the Frasers, MacKenzies, and extended family. God bless @Writer_DG  for helping us, educating us, nurturing us, and diverting us.                             

                                                          Connie here-for-Outlander Sandlin@Yr_Obt_Svt

And, God Bless Outlander Starz for staying true to the spirit of Diana’s story.  They too help, educate, nurture and divert us.  Parallels.  All I can see are parallels! I know the show was filmed a long time ago, but JHRC, it is practically prophetic.  How did they KNOW what we would need to see? I simply cannot watch these episodes without making a connection to our lives here and now.  This episode, in particular, struck all kinds of chords of recognition.

The colors of our lives are changing…

Claire’s voiceover sets the tone for this study in how coincidental and relevant one show can be:

Time is marked and measured in different ways.  The colors of our lives were changing…

Indeed.

Our time is being marked and measured by a virus.  Life as we have known it is changing.

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We should be there to help each other…

In this episode, we watched the women and men of the ridge pull together, work together, to survive.  Many hands are making the load lighter. Fraser’s Ridge is moving into fall with its colors and harvest and preparations for winter. We are moving into a time of preparation too.  Like the folks of Fraser’s Ridge many of us are creating the most with what we have, our homes are now our sanctuaries. We are gathering our harvests and preparing for a “winter” of sorts.  We are helping others where we can and we are sacrificing our liberties for the greater good. The show reminds us that life, at its most basic, is about providing for and taking care of those we love and care about.

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Find a way to make a difference…

Bree and Claire have a heart to heart about a person’s life purpose.  She is frightened that she may never be able to find a way to do what she is meant to do because of where and when she is living. Claire tells her that most people live their lives as they find them, as I believe many of us do.  A lucky few like Claire know their purpose and it will never change for them.  Claire tells her daughter she is an engineer no matter what they would call her in the 1700’s and encourages Bree to find a way to be who she was meant to be.  I am thankful for those on our front line.  The essential employees, the first responders, the care workers who have a calling and do the job they were meant to do, as Jamie says, “no matter what the cost”.

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Crisis can bring us closer

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Sometimes we are banded into a brotherhood or sisterhood because we were part of a group that fought and survived together. Through the struggle, we grow to appreciate each others’ strengths and weaknesses and see each other as human. Often, we discover the things that bind us together are far greater than those that separate us.  Roger and Jamie are thrown into a crisis together. Dealing with the snake bite acted as a bridge in their relationship.  It allowed them the opportunity to look at each other differently.  Jamie trusted his thoughts and feelings to Roger and Roger did the same. The crisis gave them the ability to cross over the bridge into understanding and respect for one another.  They now share a special bond that only this kind of stress and can engender.  I am hopeful that the crisis we all face now will do the same, serve as a bridge to understanding, compassion, and tolerance.

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Sometimes life throws us a reality check

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Jamie has a fear that Claire will amputate his leg.  He has a ‘horror” of it.  He makes Claire give her word she will not operate.  He does not want to live with half a leg. Claire is devastated.  She is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.  She is traumatized by her choices.  She doesn’t have a cure. Jamie’s fear is real, but sometimes our fears are…selfish.  Sometimes we need to be told the truth about ourselves from someone we least expect, but that we know loves us.  Ian told his truth to power.  Jamie’s actions were born of pride and stubbornness. He needed to take a look at himself.   I think this crisis we are living through has caused a lot of us to take a look at our attitudes.  We have time to think and nowhere to go!  In fact, many are experiencing an existential crisis.  Stripped of all our entertainments and ornaments, we are looking at the reality of our lives.

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Try not to think about what you lack…

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I have decided that Fergus is a life coach extraordinaire:

He understands loyalty, love, and duty.

…That I would depend upon him and he would be there for me…We should be there when he needs us that is all we can do…It is what we should do.

His devotion and gratitude are palpable.  He knows what it is like to live without someone to call your own or to know that you are loved.  He has an “attitude of gratitude”.

…We try not to think about what we lack, but about what we have…

How we respond to life is a much better barometer of happiness than what actually happens to us. I know a lot of happy and satisfied “poor” people and quite a few unhappy fortunate ones.  It isn’t about what you haven’t got, but understanding the value of what you do.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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In the books, Master Raymond touches Claire to heal her.  He reaches up inside her and touches her womb, he then asks her to call the “red man”.  She screams out Jamie’s name. Raymond seems to know that Jamie is the only thing that can bring her back. Now, … the book describes a blue glow emanating from Raymond’s hands and Claire he says has blue aura…so,… maybe Claire’s “touch” may be more than it seems?  However, on his deathbed, Jamie seems to instinctively know that Claire’s touch is the only thing that can bring him back.  The intimacy between the two is one of the main reasons I find the books and the show so appealing.  I want to believe that such intimacy exists and that one can have a soulmate.  It is a rare and beautiful thing to behold.

Jamie claims he came back because Claire needs him.  She is moved by this and tearfully jokes, “not because you love me?”  Jamie’s response is the ultimate reassurance that despite all that may happen to us in this life love remains…

Whether I’m dead or you, whether we are together or apart, I will always love you.

His love for Claire is a given. Got to say, this scene made me want to be the kind of person whose love is a given not even worthy of discussion.

We all have a choice to go forward or turn back

I was grateful for the happy moments and victories in this episode. I needed it. I was happy that Marsali has a Ma in Claire and Fergus a father.  Ian stood up to his Uncle and became the adult in the room and I was happy to see Roger find a way into Jamie’s heart.  Their teasing each other was funny and bittersweet.  Bree found a way to be an engineer and saved the day and Jamie let go of his pride.  And Claire, she gets to love them all.

Thank you to all the Outlander fans that let me use their tweets and pictures. I wanted to add a personal touch to this reflection.  I know we are all fearing the loss of our normal lives.  I just found out I won’t be going back to teach this year. For many, circumstances and resources have drastically changed.  We wonder who will we be now?  Jamie had a choice to go forward or turn back.  He knows there is a war coming and God made him who he is for a purpose.  He will go forward.  May we all find our way forward and reach out to each other with love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

54 thoughts on “Outlander, a Parallel Universe… a reflection on 5.09 “Monsters and Heroes”

  1. Geri Davis

    BETH…. “Silence is not having nothing to say, but being unable to find the words to be said!!! (Ines) thank you!

  2. Golly, Beth, the episode was a three-hankie cry for me but I’m tearing up reading your lovely words here. What you day is the truth: we will find our way forward through this with love and in a spirit of service and sacrifice. Thank you again for your perceptive wisdom.

  3. Susan Kamlet

    Yes, yes, yes and yes!
    Beth, I only know you through your writings, however, I believe you are a teacher as Claire a healer and Bree an engneer. Your words as well as Diana’s teach. Not being in a classroom doesn’t diminish your teaching abilities it just changes the environs and the students. I learn from your column.
    I have been a retired teacher for 17 years and it still is in my blood.
    I cannot count the number of times I have written this on a completed assignement or report card: “Keep up the good work!”
    Thank you,
    Susan

      • annie5nomus

        Susan, your reply about teaching being still in your blood brings tears to my eyes. I am a retired teacher too and I have watched former colleagues who are still teaching put their heads together to come up with this new method of reaching their students. They did it in a matter of only three days and it felt good to cheer them on. I used to say give me a book and an apple tree and I will teach them. That would still work, but not if they can’t attend class. Your words mean something, Susan. You are still teaching. Thank you.
        Vickie

    • Silke Weyers

      Susan, this was exactly my thought reading the text passage about a person’s life purpose, though I could not have put it in words like you did.

      Beth, it’s the same with me: I’m learning for (my) life with every recap you are writing. And as native German speaker, I’m also improving my English grammar. Well, at least I think the latter is the case. 😉

      I don’t know you personally but reading your blog every single time I have the impression that you are a person who MUST write and teach. Your writing is just so good! In German we call it “Berufung”: to be called to a certain job not only to get it properly done but to fulfill it with all your heart and passion by doing so.

  4. Beth,
    Thank you for this lovely piece on Episode 509. I think you are providing a very important service to all of us who read it. It gives us time to think and to reflect on these important truths in our own lives. Your words uplift, remind and encourage. Thank you! And be well and safe!

  5. Shopping Jam

    Beth you are one reviewer whom I totally respect and admire. You are honest and sincere without sugar coating anything. You give us your truth but in such a beautiful way. This was a very hard episode to watch and yet it was also a most emotionally heartwarming one too. A balancing act for the writers for sure. And your review absolutely did this episode justice. Bringing in the personal touch of individual tweets, e tc was a great addition. In the end it was an emotional chapter with fantastic acting – lots of tears but a warm feeling for all int he end.

  6. Lorraine

    I don’t remember when I was so riveted to any TV episode as I was to this one. Beth, you are 100% correct when you said that faith, hope, and love explode in this story arc, and thus touch each of us. Even though the timeline is of the 1700’s, it reflects the 2000’s to the dot. WOW.
    I am sorry you will not be able to finish the school year, and give your “words of wisdom” as the students move on through life. No closure is hard, just like the family members who are losing their love one, knowing they are dying without them by their side.
    At least we have a few more episodes to hear from you to look forward to. (Oh, oh. Did I just end that sentence in a preposition?)

  7. Thank you, Beth, for the well laid out thoughts on the moral value of this series. Having read Outlander back in the early 90s, and each subsequent novel as they were released, I have found so much inspiration and strength in having “lived” with Jamie and Claire and their responses to so many perilous predicaments. You wrote: “….this scene made me want to be the kind of person whose love is a given..” and my immediate thought was, Diana’s story has infiltrated my soul in such a way that I’ve found myself living out often the kind of perseverance, tenaciousness to truth and goodness, and get-on-with-it (call it optimism) that I may not have known in my own life but for these books. Thanks again, Beth, and stay well ❤

  8. Jude

    Beth thank you for another thoughtful and thoughtprovoking post about the wonderful 509…. but Diana’s story does that to us all the time doesn’t it? Outlander is life! It’s all in there and now in s5 it’s all back on screen too. I’m thrilled! I’m sorry you’re no longer able to teach as you were but your words reach out to many….keep writing. Xx

  9. It is precisely Jamie and Claire’s connection that draws me so into Diana’s story and I, too, felt the presence of Master Raymond in their deathbed scene. Your writings are always greatly anticipated as you never fail to reflect on that essential epicness (is that a word?) of J&C’s almost mystical relationship; it IS center of the story. You may not be in front of a class but you teach your readers all the time.
    thx ❤️

  10. S Cato

    Beth you never cease to amaze me with your commentary! I love to read your blog as a follow up to the episode and then rewatch it a second time. Thank you for your thoughtful, deep and concise assessment. You always provoke additional thought for this fantastic series.

  11. Hi there Beth. Oh girl, you have a way with words and I love the way you used the pictures and tweets, they really made your points hit home. You manage to wrap everything up in a bubble of understanding.
    I thought this episode was an emotional rollercoaster and so very well done, I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time. Even knowing Jamie survived Sam had me believing Jaime was going to die.
    I too couldn’t help comparing the situation we find ourselves in now with everything going on at the Ridge. Claire’s helplessness at not having a cure for Jamie. Bree’s frustration at how to best utilize her talents. It was so good to see Roger and Jamie finally see the worth of the other and forge a new beginning. Young Ian (he’ll always be that to me) finally getting Jamie to take a long hard look at himself – so well done. I think you are right about Fergus, he’s becoming a soothing influence. I was happy to see him finally do something.
    Here in Canada we are not in quite such a dire situations as you are in the US. Social distancing and isolation are becoming the norm. We still have new cases and deaths but the spread in the general population seem to be slowing down. The same can’t be said for our senior and long term health institutions. Like the folks on the Ridge we are doing the best that we can and learning as we go. Hopefully we will see and end to this pandemic sooner rather than later.
    I’m so sorry you won’t be going back to teaching this year but the pupils you have here are more than happy to have you teach us.

  12. Barbara Böttner

    Dear Beth Wesson, I enjoy your commentary greatly and rejoice over each new one. But I was astonished to see that your most recent post is just a preface for a huge advertisement for diet pills! Was this intentional? It´s hard to believe, particularly when the ad starts out with a news flash about Whoopi Goldberg being „lost“ to her fans and then continues with a rave for her magic weight-loss pills! I don´t know if you even see this message, but I hope you can respond somehow—I don´t think all of your fans will find this understandable.

  13. eataylo1

    One word describes this recap…LOVELY! During these apocalyptic times the best of us rises to encourage and embolden each other to persevere. Thank you for doing just that. You are the best, Beth.

  14. Renata Brannen

    Dear Beth, what a wonderful blog on a wonderful episode! A wise British Rabbi has said recently over here in the U.K. that this is a time of “revelation”. Not being Jewish I never quite understood the depth of meaning in that word. But now at this time I do. The importance of family and friends, the importance of community, shared values and beliefs, the importance of taking care of others by self discipline, taking responsibility and putting up with “cabin fever” for the greater good.”
    And above all the importance of kindness (love?). If you practise kindness, you are polite, considerate, aware of other people and of yourself and to use positive language to everyone, including yourself. In this episode – To be kind is Roger, To use positive language to make a criticism is Ian, to be aware of others is Fergus, to be kind and practical Marsali and Bree, to be aware and learn from criticism is Jamie and to never stop loving J&C.
    Stay safe Renata x

  15. Thanks once again for an excellent insightful blog post. I found this and the last episodes quite difficult personally because of my own transition and acceptance time in life: ageing and disability. I saw how pride was something Jamie had to deal with in the potential loss of his leg, how Roger had lost a sense of self in the loss of his voice. At this time when our own mortality is revealed by circumstances, and knowing I am at the age when many of my forebears were shuffling off their own mortal coils, it does bring out the truly important issues: Loving and being loved, faith and hope for whatever the future may hold for us.
    Sending love and prayers for your and your loved ones safety.
    Sharman
    Ps My daughter and son in law are head teachers and so concerned for their exam time students in this time of disruption and potential threat to their academic and workplace futures.

    • Hi there,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I’m so worried about my students. We live in a very rural area and many of my students do not have internet access and I have lost touch with many of them.

      • annie5nomus

        So sorry to hear about those who don’t have Inet access. The district I retired from had a program that provided students with access for the remainder of the school year. This is rural Kansas. I wonder if your district has such a program or can obtain help to get it. Good luck to you.

  16. annie5nomus

    Beth, there is much wisdom in your post here, and that is an understatement. Yes, the parallels in Outlander are astonishing, and this particular episode is rife with them. I know I could feel Jamie’s horror at losing his leg. Even in modern times that is a horrible thing to consider. Perhaps Diana G. has her finger on the spot that makes us all tick. Then again, fiction has a way to connect us all to itself and the world around us. If you haven’t read Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth” I hope you will. It was required reading when I was in grad school. Until today, the ideas he put forward have been an excellent guide to me when reading any kind of fiction, even the way out stuff. Thank you for your words of empowerment during this awful time. I am reminded of those who were in hiding during World War II and what they must have gone through. BTW, I am a retired English teacher and know what some of my colleagues who are still working are going through. I celebrate their creative ways of teaching their subjects. Good luck to you. I am sorry to hear that you won’t be reinstated. There’s more out there for you. I know.

  17. krisgesnergmailcom

    Well done and so insightful! This episode was so many things on so many levels. The acting was stellar and inspiring. Thank you for your review. I look forward to it every week.

    On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 5:15 PM My Outlander Blog! wrote:

    > bethwesson posted: ” Do you remember that book, Everything I Needed to > Know I Learned in Kindergarten? I’m thinking of writing a new book > entitled Everything You Need to Know About Adulting Can Be Learned in > Outlander! …But, that’s what Diana’s story does,” >

  18. Terri

    Sigh…you have done it again, beautifully written with one exception, you say that you are not going back to teach this year, but you are teaching so many of us that subscribe to your blog…..teach on we say!!
    Thank you again for your insight and lovely flow with the written word

  19. Beth, your analysis of the 5-9 episode of Outlander is masterful. I taught literature for 33 years, so I always look for journeys of heroes, giving back with one’s gifts, and symbolism in stories I read or watch. I agree completely with your analysis and analogies to our current condition. Thank you for your reflections! Your words lifted my day.

  20. Nancy

    Amen. For tonight I got to watch Outlander and cried throughout. And tonight I get to sleep next to my recovering husband and feel grateful for his big body next to mine. It was an incredibly hard weekend but Bob did the hard work of getting better and all I did was be there. Not a Claire. But close to it as far as love goes. Thanks, Beth. ❤️

  21. Sharon G Pekuly

    Your posts are so inspiring during regular times, but now they are like healing medicine, giving us strength to keep us living, and living well. I am one of those people who don’t mind spoilers, so I read your posts without having watched this season yet. (Will binge watch after the last episode as part of my keeping sane during the pandemic strategy-gives me something to look forward to. And as a tip to Outlander fans, try K Dramas on streaming like Romance is a Bonus Book or Hyena on Netflix-use subtitles. They will help you through droughtlander)

    I have read all the books and you always write about the major themes in them. My favorite is family. So many characters lost parents when they were young-Claire, Jamie, Roger, Fergus or had fraught family relationships, namely Bree and Marsali. So it is remarkable that they all fight so hard for their second chance families and therein liesv what resonates with me the most and what you do so well.

    You have my eternal gratitude for your part in keeping us well and inspired now.

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