I Know What Lord John Grey is thinking… a look ahead to Outlander 3.3 “All Debts Paid”

Standard

images

The clip I can’t stop watching!

I keep re watching the clip from Outlander’s next episode “All Debts Paid”.  I find myself mesmerized by Lord John Grey.  I have to laugh at myself because I know these characters so well that I’m all up in what’s going on in Lord John’s head when he sees Jamie.  I’m already interpreting his facial expressions and body language!  This is one of the big issues we book fans turn TV series fans have to deal with…knowing too much! My knowing what Lord John is thinking is actually kind of ironic because I’m pretty sure this actor, David Berry, did not know as much about his character at this point in filming the story. I believe I heard him say he got the role one day and was on set the next. An actors’ life is a strange one to be sure. So, how did he manage to embody that character so quickly?  It’s gotta be magic or Kismet or some other kind of cosmic luck or a casting department that are clairvoyant geniuses! Seriously, their track record deserves its own olympics!  I KNOW Cait and Sam had no real idea just what kind of plum roles they had landed.  I think I remember reading about Sam telling a director/friend that he had just gotten something he thought might be a big deal. I’m pretty sure he knows now that it was.  However, that whole first season, I continued to wonder if they truly knew what great characters they were going to get to play.  Did they know they were going to get to play characters that struggled with real issues, made hard choices, lived with integrity, and evolved?  Do they know it just keeps getting better?

We fans have had eight books to get to know these characters intimately.  In Lord John’s case, Diana felt he was interesting enough to give him his own book series. His character arc of being a gay man in the 1700’s is interesting.  What would life be like for a gay man in a time when knowledge of your sexual orientation could get you killed and ruin the lives of everyone you care about?  Some would say not so different than now. Lord John is definitely one of my favorite characters. I’ve written before that I think he might actually rival Jamie in honor, integrity and loyalty and Claire for being caring and kind.

Recently, I read some research on the topic of loneliness.  I thought about that research this week after watching Outlander ‘s last episode “Surrender”.  Jamie, Claire, and Frank were all suffering from loneliness. The research I read suggested that loneliness was monstrous in its effects on the people who suffer it, mentally, spiritually, and physically.  They went on to distinguish what is true loneliness vs transient feelings of being lonely.  They concluded that the cause of loneliness was a want of intimacy.  I believe one of the deeper looks that Diana gives us in the life of Lord John Grey is also one of loneliness and a want of intimacy.

Psychoanalyst Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, an early researcher in the topic of loneliness, claimed that the lonely person was just about the most terrifying spectacle in the world. She suggested that we often guiltly avoid the lonely because it “touches on our own possibility of loneliness”.  The research, I read, suggests that there is a high frequency of loneliness in those who feel other, different, those that feel discriminated against. When the HIV epidemic was at its zenith, scientists found they were able to predict which patients would die sooner.  It wasn’t those who lacked family or support systems, as they expected.  It was those who were still in the closet.  The inability to be yourself and be accepted for who you are can have devastating consequences.  Lord John Grey is a man who must be in the closet and that takes its toll. When you are forced to present yourself as someone other than who you are every word must be watched, every look practiced, every touch measured, and every piece of information about yourself policed. A person forced to stay in the closet lives in constant fear of exposure or blackmail.  Intimacy and even friendships can, and at times must, be limited. Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John gives a look into the loneliness these sharp limits can create.

outlander-staffel3-john-grey.jpgWhen these two men, Lord John and Jamie Fraser, meet again in Ardsmuir Prison they are both lonely.  They are both in positions that require them to keep themselves somewhat separate from others.  Lord John is the governor of the prison and as such, holds a position of authority that makes few his equal. Jamie finds himself in a similar predicament. The men in the prison look to him as their leader and chief. As governor and as MacDubh, both men hold a position that naturally places them in a higher “social” station if you will.

Jamie has spent the years since he lost Claire in some type of “prison”.  Ardsmuir has provided him with more company than he has had in years and believe or not more freedom.  He is no longer being hunted, he is no longer a danger to those he cares about, but he is still without the intimacy that would relieve some of his loneliness. The prisoners give him something to care for and about, but they look to him as a leader more than friend and treat him with deference.  He is different and apart from them. John’s prison is the secret he must keep.  John has family and friends, but other than his occasional lover, he has no one with whom he can be himself.  He is different and apart from everyone even his own brother.  John has to measure every word he speaks and hide his true self from everyone.  He craves intimacy.

Despite, the difference in their stations and the odd circumstances under which they interact, it is not surprising that they would strike up a tenuous friendship. Had they met under different circumstances, they would have found they had a lot in common. John and Jamie are both learned men who share a love of books and philosophy. They are both soldiers who have had the responsibility of leadership. They get each other’s sense of humor. They are both fiercely loyal and protective of those they love.  And, I think as men of integrity, they recognize the honor in the other.

Lord John has the misfortune to fall in love with Jamie, a man who can never return his feelings.  Jamie has very real reasons for associating homosexuality with the abuse he suffered at the hands of BJR, and his reaction to John’s revealing of his desires is nothing short of violent and complete rejection. The fact that they are able to be friends after all, and in the end, speaks volumes about both men. I can’t help but believe that Lord John’s friendship became the most important of Jamie’s life and his for John, as well. I believe that each was able to help the other heal.

There was not easiness between them any longer—but there was honesty. And that was a thing he had had—ever would have—with precious few men.—Lord John in The Scottish Prisoner, Chapter 18

John challenged Jamie’s beliefs about love and friendship and made him a more tolerant and empathtic man and Jamie gave John the acceptance he craved and a purpose of sorts, someone worthy to love.

Could you call a man who would never touch you- would recoil from the very thought of touching you- your lover? No. But at the same time, what would you call a man whose mind touched yours, whose prickly friendship was a gift, whose character, whose very existence, helped to define your own?

—-Lord John in Lord John and the Plague of Zombies

I am so looking forward to watching this relationship develop, watch the show handle another difficult subject with sensitivity, and wonder at the power of acceptance and love.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Phantom hearts and Purgatory…a reflection on Outlander 3.02 “Surrender”

Standard

This move to Sunday night programming is throwing a definite wrench into my reflection and writing.  My real life is full of grandchildren’s athletic events, activities, and my own school work. There is rarely a day that I don’t have something to attend or something to grade.  My old Outlander viewing/writing schedule found me watching the show either lying in bed at midnight with headphones and an iPad or viewing early Saturday morning with two mini doxies on my lap and sipping several cups of coffee with cream. I would write a few notes and watch again and write a few more notes.  I would then watch the show on the big screen Saturday night with my husband, let my thoughts percolate until Sunday morning,  spend a few hours writing, revising, and proofreading and then hit the publish button around noon. Soon, I would find myself frantically correcting the proofreading errors I saw after I hit publish…sigh.

My time to write and reflect has been shortened by half and I am finding myself jealous of those folks who have access to “screeners” and time to sit with their thoughts. These episodes are so full of meaning, I could write pages.  I could write about how young men continue to dream of the glory of war and guns that become as rare and as mythical as unicorns. I could write of how hard life is and how quickly hardship can age and change us all. I could write of the cost of war and the destruction of the highland way of life, of sacrifice, and family.  I need time to think and so, I’m hoping my readers will wait until I find my focus and voice.

Jamie Grieves

Yesterday, I opened Twitter to find someone tweeting about episode 3.2 , “It looks like Jamie is missing Claire a lot more than she misses him”.  I quickly shut my feed, not wanting to be influenced before I had a chance to form my own opinions, but now I think that tweet might have help me find my focus…grief. Did Jamie miss Claire more?

Ian put it perfectly when he explained how a missing hand can still hurt even when it is no longer there and that, he reminded Jamie, was just a hand…”Claire was your heart”. The overwhelming sadness I felt watching Sam Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie cannot be overstated. His portrait of a man who has lost everything, including his heart, was visceral. I felt him.  I felt his absolute and abject loneliness. I felt his pain.  His heart has been ripped from his chest and yet, he lives. I marked his body language. He reminded me of a dog that has been beaten too many times. It was if he expected the next blow to happen at any moment and as a result, shies away from as much human interaction as possible. He walks as if he always has the deadweight of the deer on his shoulders.  He is never without the heavy weight of burden and grief. He is awkward and slow to respond and you wondered how often he ever spoke. It was almost as if he had to go find his words. He is emotionally exhausted.

It is true that the mind and soul can only take so much before they shut down and It appears as if he has stopped caring.  He just gives a slight nod when he hears Ian has been arrested, again, and Fergus cannot provoke him to a reaction even when he calls him a coward.  As I watched, I kept thinking it isn’t that he doesn’t feel, it’s that he feels too much.  He can’t escape his loss, it is all around him. Lallybroch has always been his dream, his place of refuge, but even it is now a reminder of all that has been lost. He cannot even live in the open without causing them all danger and so literally and figuratively exists in shadow. He has no where he can go, he has lost both of his homes, Lallybroch and…Claire.

Claire Grieves

“My mother. My mother lives in another world.”  says Bree.

Our glass faced Claire cannot completely hide her feelings even when she tries.  And,…she tries. If Jamie feels too much in his grief, it seems Claire feels too little. Jamie wakes from Culloden to another nightmare, living instead of dying.  Claire didn’t have to wake up to the nightmare of living without Jamie.  She has been forced from the beginning to walk into hers.  She believes that Jamie died at Culloden and believes herself to be a widow. As a result, her grief is different. Her grief is about trying to find a new normal, a new self without Jamie.  She suppresses and moves on because she promised Jamie she would. She suppresses and moves on because she promised Frank she would.  She suppresses and moves on because she has a daughter who needs a mother.  She can’t afford to lose herself in her grief.  She has to let go of the past because she has a future. Feelings, however, cannot stay suppressed inside the skin forever.  Caitriona Balfe’s subtle performance let’s us see how hard she is trying. Her feelings come to the surface and escape through a crack in her facade in the form of a flinch, a comment, a look of longing, displaced anger, and emotional distance.  Claire needs to be in the present, but she cannot truly come back from the past.  She too is trying to find a way to live without her heart and the phantom hurts and burns and keeps her up at night.

Filling in the Cracks With What Mortar Comes Handy

Jamie and Claire are only human. Jamie so closely relates sex to love that he cannot bring himself to seek the comfort of laying with anyone but Claire. Jamie longs for tenderness, for the gentleness of a woman’s touch, for intimacy to take away the sting of his loneliness. Mary’s acknowledgement of his love for Claire and her offer of something less than, but something they both need to keep them whole, is just too sweet to resist.  And, so he closes his eyes and faces his need with a single tear. Claire misses her husband…Jamie. She misses how he completes her and makes her feel alive and whole. And, so in her loneliness she reaches for her husband Frank, across their bed, closes her eyes and faces her need.

Finding a New Normal

They can never truly be the same again, but come to the realization that they have to find a way to live. For Jamie, it took the loss of Fergus’ hand to wake him up to the realization that he does have something to live for and for the first time in six years, he looks to the future and takes action.  He is trying to find a new normal, a way to live without his heart.  He has so few options, but he takes advantage of the one he has been given by the redcoats. He sends himself to prison to provide for Lallybroch and his family.  He keeps them safe the only way he can by exchanging one type of prison for another.  In truth, I had the feeling that this is Jamie’s purgatory for the sins he believes he has earned and he is enduring, “even 200 years” without Claire, until he can find her again in death.  In the book, Jamie understands that his life will hold little happiness and he accepts that is his lot.

Claire suffers her own type of purgatory, living in neither heaven nor hell, in her marriage of convenience. Like Jamie, she has surrendered to her circumstances.  She has accepted the things she cannot change and has come to the realization, that for her, finding a new normal must include the element of living for more than just herself.

“I once believed I was whole. But, the man I loved was Jamie.  I was part of something bigger than myself”.

She misses her calling as a healer and making a difference.  We see them both surrender to a new future, a new normal, and watch them move away from the past to the sound of bagpipes playing Scotland the Brave.

Foreshadowing

I was moved by both Jamie’s and Claire’s visions of each other. I felt sorry for them both, he for seeing her and realizing once again that she is gone, and her for her loneliness, for the intimacy she craves.  But, both scenes left me with a vague sense of unease.  Their images of each other have been frozen in time. Jamie sees Claire in her 1700’s clothing with her wee herb basket on her arm, smiling gently at him, all womanly grace and beauty.  The reality of who Claire is becoming is more warrior than woman.  She is going into battle and it will change her.  Claire’s vision of Jamie glowing in firelight, forever young and virile and smiling, is a far cry from the feral bedraggled and imprisoned man he continues to be.  Jamie is no longer the warrior he once was and struggles to find agency. His struggles will affect who he becomes, as well.  I am once again afraid that when they do finally reunite, they may not find the man and woman they once loved.  But, I trust in the power of love to overcome and who Jamie and Claire are when they are together…something bigger than themselves.

 

 

 

When Art Imitates Life and that is a Wonder…Outlander 3.1

Standard

 

S3-Jamie

There were a lot of good articles written this week by reviewers who have seen the first few episodes of Outlander.  There was a lot of great insight, but I keep going back to the article written by Maureen Ryan of Vanity Fair  .  The article on the surface seems to be a report of a conversation had between the actors about the show and their roles in it, but I believe her article, in truth, goes to the heart of what is making this show successful.  She speaks to the care and committment given to honoring the source material and its characters.  She speaks to the commitment to their craft of all involved and their desire  to get this thing right.

Heughan: What’s funny is Jamie actually never wanted to be involved in any of this. He never wanted to be part of the Jacobites, he just wanted an easy life. He wanted to be with his wife. It’s just fate, and history has just forced him to this point. When we meet him again [when he’s older], he’s printing seditious material. He is a rebel again. He just wanted to go home to Lallybroch. But history has forced him into that situation.

Menzies: He’s not driven by ego, is he?

Heughan: No.

I found myself astonished that she would end the article in this way.  I know she has been doing this for a while, but wow, what a great choice.  I looked up from reading and said , “She gets it.  They all get it.”  I’ve always maintained that it is possible to find truths about life, what it means to be in a relationship, what it means to love, in the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s books.  I recognized myself and others in her stories.  If the sci-fi, time travel situation Claire finds herself in seems like fantasy, the feelings don’t.  I would often find myself nodding my head in recognition while reading.  It is perhaps why these novels remain one of my favorites and I re-read and never tire of what I find there.  Like the actors in Mo Ryan’s article, I find I can analyze these characters and their motivations because they are written with such depth.  Yes, Jamie isn’t motivated by ego.  Yes, Claire has a calling.  Yes, Frank is a tragic character whose only real fault is that he isn’t Jamie.  And, yes, it isn’t about ego for these actors, either, it is about their craft.  And, yes, because of the talent and commitment of all involved, it looks like the TV version of this story is only getting stronger and will have the chance to represent on-screen the reasons I love these characters and what they have to tell us about…us.

The Battle Joined

outlander-s03e01-the-battle-joined-720p-mkv_000123791.jpg

I heard that the first 10 minutes of episode 3.1 were breath-taking. I didn’t realize they meant that literally.  I had to stop watching, catch my breath and gather my emotions. I was shaking.  I guess I knew that it might be difficult to watch this episode, but they have handled difficult subjects so well, I found myself anxious to watch how they handled the battle of Culloden.  This morning I find myself glad I did and reflective about what I saw. Because, despite its fantasy wrapping there is truth about real life in Outlander.

I am reflective, in part, because we just buried my dear mother in law yesterday.  Through no fault of her own my mother in law had to struggle to find a new path forward.  Her life and happiness had been compromised by circumstances beyond her control. Mental illness had robbed her of everything she valued; her work, her marriage, her children.  When we knew the moment was near, the hospital sent a pastor to the room.  He gathered us around the bed and asked us to tell him about our mother.  An overwhelming sadness came over me for her difficult life, for her struggle to find a purpose, a grip on her reality through all of her illness and loss. We all struggled to find anything positive to say and it broke my heart.  So, naturally, when I watched Jamie, Rupert, Claire, and Frank trying to deal with the sad circumstances they had been handed, I once again found myself nodding my head in recognition of life’s sometimes sad truths. The lives Jamie, Claire and Frank now face remind me in a very real and emotional way of our mother’s difficult and disappointing life. Sometimes life is unfair.  Sometimes life is cruel.  Sometimes we have no choice but to move forward even when we cannot see a way ahead or even want to go. Outlander’s imitation of life is a wonder.

One of the things I have learned is that this is no longer just Diana Gabaldon’s story, it is also Ron Moore’s.  I know that Ron is a student of human nature and that fact was very evident in this particular episode. In the guise of a Sci-Fi fantasy, Ron Moore wrote a wonderful episode that told us these truths about life, moving on and more.

Black Jack and Jamie

outlander-s03e01-the-battle-joined-720p-mkv_000700367

Viewers of the series will recognize that this is a moment Jamie had longed for, the chance to kill Black Jack Randall.  He had desired nothing that was happening on that battlefield, but this…he wants.  We all want this.  We all want Jamie to get the revenge he deserves, longs for and needs. The look on his face while he waits for Jack to see him is almost triumphant.  But, somewhere in the battle the feeling changes. One of the reviewers this week suggested that this death dance was “homoerotic”.  I’m not sure I agree. It is hard to understand, but in an a way more than physical, Jamie knows more about Jack and Jack knows more about Jamie than perhaps anyone else in either of their lives. That last embrace on the battle field felt more intimate than erotic.  The horrible bond between them is finally broken and yet, it felt fitting that these two men should fall as entwined in death as they were in life.  The irony that, in the end, that very entanglement probably saved Jamie’s life, is not lost on me.

Claire and Frank

 

I always admired the fact that in Diana’s Gabaldon’s books there were a lot of “ahas” and connections. Things discussed on the first pages of the series come into play in later books and the same can be said of most things she adds.  It is one of the joys of delving deeper into her stories. I love and continue to love how this show also makes connections with its past episodes.  They give us lots of “aha” visual moments.  The scenes between Frank and Claire reminded me so much of the early moments in Jamie and Claire’s marriage.  Claire is in a relationship that she doesn’t really want, but has agreed to be in out of necessity.  She is trying her best to make the best of a bad situation, but her suppressed feelings keep rising to the surface.  When Jamie tried to touch her intimately at the table after they first make love, she flinched.  She flinched because she still loves Frank and at this moment, his touch feels too intimate, and I would argue that she is already afraid of her feelings for Jamie.

Claire is once again in a relationship she doesn’t really want.  When Frank puts his hand on Claire’s shoulder in the kitchen you can watch her try.  She tolerates this touch because she knows she should, but when he reaches for the stomach that carries Jamie’s child?  She flinches.  Unfortunately, for them both, this time Claire is not conflicted by her feelings.  Her heart is irrevocably Jamie’s.

 

I thought the fight that followed also echoed the fight between Jamie and Claire at the river, the “good fuck” convo, Claire’s chin up in defiance, the moment they both realize that they have perhaps gone too far, and Frank, in his own way, making her realize she was tearing his guts out.  At the river, Claire goes to Jamie and asks his forgiveness.  In Boston, we see Claire begin to go to Frank and then stop.  She cannot bring herself to come all the way back to him, she cannot come back from the past. The show has already done a wonderful job of showing us that sometimes wanting something to be true and working hard to make it happen isn’t enough.

 

outlander2.jpg

“Where’d she get her red hair?”

Rupert Thomas Alexander Mackenzie

Unknown

Saying goodbye to Rupert was bittersweet.  In the end, his loyalty to his friends and clan, his pride in the face of his captors, and the dignity in his last moments spoke volumes about himself, the highlanders, and the senseless loss of lives.  When he spoke up, stood straight, and took charge of his last moments as best he could, I was proud.  Who would have thought that Rupert would become the leader Dougal could never quite be.  “I will not go to my grave hating you. God will judge us both and I trust in his mercy.”  The gift he gave Jamie and himself with these words was moving.  May we all choose love and trust in mercy.

Overall, this tale was told with sensitivity and creativity, the performances were stellar, the sets and costumes perfection, the battle joined was gruesome and yet moving, and I was left wondering how I was going to wait until next week.

After watching this episode, I understand a bit more about why actors and show runners might do what they do.  Sometimes, you get a chance to work on a project like Outlander.  Sometimes, in the guise of entertainment, you get to be part of something bigger than yourself.

 

A Review..of the Reviews…Droughtlander ends

Standard

 

DJKMHDsUQAAemJO.jpgThose of you around since the beginning can remember the excitement we all felt about Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander finally being  put on a screen.  We had waited a long time for someone to come along with a “plan” that would do justice to her epic, hard to describe, genre-bending story.  We couldn’t wait for the world to see what we believed to be one of the best stories ever written.  We just knew people would fall in love with it as much as we had.  So, we speculated and discussed and hoped that Starz and Ron Moore and company would do it justice.  I can remember how excited we all were to read what others, non-book fans, critics, thought of the series.

image

I’ll admit to being a bit invested in the show’s success and maybe not the most unbiased of reviewers of the reviews, but reading those first articles was a real eye-opener for me and other fans.  I learned a bit about how the critique game seems to work and about the biases that seem to be inherent in that field of endeavor.  We learned very quickly that the show had an image issue.  It was being dismissed because of it’s perceived subject matter and the fact that it was a show being marketed to women.  To quote my writer self of three plus years ago:

I find it very disturbing that in addition to disparaging middle-age, it seems being a woman disqualifies us as purveyors of what is worthy.  Really? Look around.  I believe that the world is full of …women… who work, pay taxes, run for office, educate, raise families, run charities, serve in the military, run and create businesses, heal and write.  And, us middle-age ones often have enough money to buy books AND movie channels! Not sure some folks understand that women are a force to be reckoned with!  But, take it from this middle-aged woman who tries to create a loving home for her family and at times is bored (not while reading Diana) some t.v. Execs and media moguls are about to find out!

The critics and entertainment writers for the most part seemed to latch on to each other’s perceptions and the same pop-culture cliques were bandied about and sprinkled through almost every article we read.  We repeatedly saw comparisons to Game of Thrones, insistence that this was bored housewife porn, and that it was romantic fluff not to be taken seriously and that it certainly wouldn’t be watched by men and therefore was doomed to failure.  We weren’t happy campers. Our battle cry was “Just wait you’ll see!” We KNEW why Starz bought Ron Moore’s pitch.  They recognized a “ripping good yarn” when they saw one.  Kudos to them for taking a gamble and not being afraid to produce a show targeted to a female audience.

I’m happy to say that the reviews got better as the seasons progressed and more and more folks have started to sit up and take notice of this show.  Men do watch by the way, but even if they didn’t, I would say that Starz has to be happy they took the risk.  Outlander is a great show and despite our occasional grumbling about what has been left in or out of the story or departures from the book, most fans are thrilled and proud of the production.  This season it appears our hopes for the show, its producers, directors, stars, writers, production/creative directors, their staff and crews have come true.  Me thinks “they” finally get it and Diana’s wonderful story and the loving produced production will finally get the attention and accolades they deserve.

I haven’t found a single negative review.

In fact, the praise as been nothing short of remarkable. Here are some of my favorite comments and some links to the articles.

Unknown

NPR

…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….

…Physical intimacy advances character development rather than checking a prestige-television boobs box. Claire and Jamie have a real relationship, and their connection is more than chemistry; it’s the work that goes into any couple’s emotional and sexual life…

…It’s a romance, but it’s not a fantasy. So go ahead — watch Outlander with pride. It’s more than a pretty face (and buttock)…

http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2017/09/08/548990502/pop-culture-happy-hour-outlander?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social

Vulture

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

EW

…Outlander remains a broad-minded entertainment, but what gets me the most hot is the romance — and how everything else the show does well makes the romance more ravishing.

…In season 3, Outlander, TV’s best romance, soars by making you fall in love with it all over again. A–

http://ew.com/tv/2017/09/07/outlander-season-3-ew-review/

Deadline

…Like The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, Outlander often hits the target because of its brazen approach. Yet, to its credit and craftsmanship, in this latest chapter of Claire and Frank’s tale there is an empathetic and insightful touch the series previously only hinted at in its bodice-bursting passions. It’s a touch that makes Season 3 of Outlander something you’ll want to see this fall.

…Then there is a bit more, an important addition that scales the Golden Globe nominated series to a new level. By that bit more, I mean that Balfe and Heughan are stronger than ever this year, as is the excellent Menzies. I also mean (and Heughan fans hear me out) the doomed heart of the early part of this new season, which Moore has called transitional: the grinding reality of Claire’s loveless, faithless but child-rearing marriage to her first husband and Black Jack descendant Frank in the Boston of the mid-20th century.

http://deadline.com/2017/09/outlander-review-season-3-sam-heughan-caitriona-bafle-tobias-menzies-starz-video-1202163051/

Salon  (loved this)

…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.

…Romance tends to be dismissed as a soft genre. “Outlander” is anything but soft. Time and again it visits unspeakable cruelties on its hero Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), Claire’s great love in the 18th century, including in the second season finale, when Jamie virtuously sends Claire back to the 1940s and into the arms of her first husband, Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), who is waiting for her.

For all of the despair the narrative visits upon its characters, “Outlander” remains as seductive as ever, in part due to the dangled promise of the second season finale that its lovers would one day be reunited. Because of this, the story never sinks under any ballast of hopelessness, choosing instead to spend time allowing viewers to perceive the pangs of loss in order to sweeten the arrival of any uplift fate, or the show’s writers, deem fit to dispense.

http://www.salon.com/2017/09/06/outlander-in-the-third-season-alls-unfair-in-love-and-war/

Hollywood Reporter

This article interviewed the creators and cast and it confirmed for me that they get it too. They know these characters and the story and they care. This is a quote from writer executive producer Matt B. Roberts.

“What’s so interesting to me is that people always talk about the print shop scene, and really for me it’s the print shop episode,” she says with a smile. “[Writer] Matt Roberts did such a great job in giving fans, hopefully, what they want in trying to create his own story as well. For me, it’s just the whole episode I needed to get right, not just that moment. It’s not just one scene.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/outlander-season-3-preview-ron-moore-maril-davis-caitriona-balfe-tobias-menzies-1035596

Variety

7d285141-5620-466f-9763-08c6d553da92.jpg

This article is written by Mo Ryan, one of my favorites, who always seems to be thoughtful and honest.

…Over the past two seasons of the show, it’s become obvious that they’ve all worked hard to make the emotional bonds among their characters meaningful and even a little unpredictable.

In this article, the actors discuss their characters and how they decided to “play” them.  While discussing Jamie, Tobias asserts:

Menzies: He’s not driven by ego, is he?

Heughan: No.

http://variety.com/2017/tv/features/outlander-season-three-sam-heughan-caitriona-balfe-tobias-menzies-interview-starz-120255065

Yeah, me thinks they all get it and I couldn’t be happier.

A poem…Jamie says her name

Standard

outlander-the-reunion-of-the-centuries-trailer-starz-mp4_000007716

Her Name

 

“Claire…

Her name is Claire.”

 

Words spoken choked by emotion

served with a bittersweet smile

 

To utter her name

fills his eyes with unshed tears

 

“Claire…

Her name is Claire.”

 

Her name so often on his mind

Rarely crosses his lips

 

To utter her name

a vise gripping his heart with grief

 

“Claire…

Her name is Claire.”

 

Her name heartbreakingly sweet

Her love, so sorely missed

 

To utter her name

to admit that she is gone and he is lost

 

Lost and forever grieved

By a name …

 

By Beth Wesson

 

The Starz promo that inspired this poem
https://youtu.be/yoVXK5hG93U

The time between, reunions, and…transitions…Looking ahead to Outlander season 3

Standard

I know I haven’t been spending much time in the Outlander Universe lately, but season 3 is upon us, so I’ve been trying to get caught up with all the news! I’ve had a chance to read and watch a few interviews with the cast.  One of the reoccurring themes in these interviews seems to be the cast reminding us that this couple has been apart for 20 years.  It is a good point and a fascinating one. How does one go on? How do you live a life you no longer want?

As I’ve said before and will again, we NEED to see what life was like for these two in their years apart . The story needs it ..the print shop reunion NEEDS it. From just the few things the cast has said, I believe they will do a wonderful job of representing those years and that reunion.  Oh God, I’m getting choked up just thinking about it…

“…,but you couldn’t see her without thinking of him, could you ? Without that constant memory, I wonder—would you have forgotten him, …”

“I shook so that it was some time before I realized that he was shaking too, and for the same reason. I don’t know how long we sat there on the dusty floor, crying in each others arms with the longing of twenty years spilling down our faces.”
― Diana Gabaldon Voyager

…He buried his head in my shoulder and very quietly and thoroughly went to pieces.”

Truly, some of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever read are in this book and in that print shop…

It is an often lamented fact that a movie /TV series can never truly replicate the book from which it is adapted.  Of course there are things that I would have liked to have seen in the show and I’m SURE there are fans who could say the same.  We waited a verra long time to see this story and each of us thinks we know how it should have been told.  Overall, I am more than satisfied with this adaptation. It isn’t the book verbatim, but I believe the complicated story has been loving told and the characters are recognizably our beloved Jamie and Claire. To my surprise, I often found myself anxious to watch the next week’s episode to see what was changed. I’m pleased to say that I have found that the TV series can actually make parts of the story better (I know heresy) or at least more real.  There are definite advantages to understanding character and motivation when you can actually hear tone of voice, see emotions on a face, and interpret a character’s body language and I have say the Versailles and Culloden on the screen were much more detailed than the ones I had cooked up in my head and therefore, I found myself more immersed in the story and able to suspend my disbelief. I found myself startled to realize that I more fully understood moments and ideas I thought I already understood because I was seeing and hearing characters move through the worlds Diana had created.  The example that comes to mind was the episode The Garrison Commander.  Now, I knew that Black Jack Randall looked like Frank, but I have to say the confusion that would have caused Claire became clear to me after seeing her respond to Jack’s tale of being changed by war.  I suddenly realized she saw Frank sitting across that table!  Amazing. And, as wonderful as that reunion will be, today I find myself suspecting that season three of Outlander is going to get the chance to make something else more real to me…the transition.

One of the most endearing moments in the Voyager reunion is Jamie’s faint when he realizes Claire is actually real and not a figment of his imagination.  “He fell rather gracefully for a large man..”, Claire thinks.  The whole dynamic of Claire preparing herself and saying goodbye to her life in the 20th century juxtaposed to Jamie having her resurrection “sprung” on him has the potential for some entertaining TV.  They really can’t pick up where they left off no matter how much they desire to.  It has been twenty years.  A lifetime. The books certainly address this issue of time and the possibility the couple are not the same people they were 20 years before…

“…Sassenach, will you take me and risk the man that I and- for the sake of the man you knew?”

There are moments when Claire can see the memories she doesn’t share with Jamie flit across his face and she is reminded of the chasm of years they spent apart.  Jamie in fact reminds her that they know each other less now than when they wed.  In the grand scheme of things, they were in truth together a very short time.  Things change and so do people.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how fortunate I feel that in my 41 + years of marriage my husband and I did not grow apart.  It happens.  The rigors and mundane activity of living can often take its toll on relationships if they aren’t carefully nurtured.  We are certainly not the same people who said their vows over 40 years ago.  I believe, over the years, we each sort of took turns changing and growing and I remember the patience and sometimes stress that caused.  We worked through each of these times…together.   Jamie and Claire have not had the luxury of time together to change and grow.  They have become the people they are now because of the things that happened to them while they were apart.  And, it occurred to me that each may be longing for someone who no longer exists.  Scary stuff.  It makes that trip through the stones an even bigger gamble than I first thought and that ringing shop bell sounds a bit more like a harbinger of uncertainty than of hope.

What could possibly make Claire take that risk, along with traveling through the stones and leaving her daughter for what she has to believe is forever?  I have to wonder if she truly had a plan B.  What was she going to do if she found him married or recognizably altered from the man she knew?  Would she have stayed just to be near him committed to loving him however she could? Does she love him that much? It feels very much like blind faith to me.  Faith that the man she loved and still loves would be there.  Despite whatever he had to endure, she has to believe he will still be her Jamie. My own life experience tells me she is probably right, but it was still a hell of a risk.

I sometimes get frustrated by how different my husband and I are, but time after time, when I need him, that principled honorable kind man I married, I find him still there.  A man like Jamie, so deeply committed to responsibility, honor and keeping his word would still be that same man at his core.  I want to see them go through this transition and face those fears and insecurities and find the people they love and have loved for twenty years and two hundred years apart.  Come on September 10th.

Outlander released a trailer for season 3… that last scene got me!

Standard

Some you may have noticed I’ve been a bit scarce. My life has been taking me in directions away from Outlander, but tonight I got right back on the path leading to the season 3 premiere!  We have a 2 minute trailer to watch and re-watch and speculate over!  Oh, happy day! I’ve only watched it three times and I’m sure it will spark some reflection and writing soon, but what I was left with tonight was the poignancy of that last scene. I continue to be grateful for the attention to detail and care this team gives my favorite story.  When I saw Claire fixing her hair, I have to admit I got choked up.  I’ve always been moved by Claire’s womanly insecurity and the courage it took her to open that door.  In fact, I wrote a poem about it several years ago.  Here is my little poem.

 

The Hardest Step

Unknown.jpg

Nervously she tucks a curl

Her thoughts, her feelings all a whirl

Her plans, her hopes may all unfurl

Nervously she tucks a curl

Her fears may lay behind that door

Her heart may lie behind that door

Nervously she tucks a curl

And takes a step

By Beth Wesson