SPOILERS: Voyager…Outlander’s journey back to love

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Over the Sea to Skye

In celebration of the announcement of a season 3 + 4 for Outlander, I thought I would republish this article because….print shop. ūüėČ

 

This morning on Twitter, Richard Kahan, a member of the Outlander on Starz writing team and new “tweep” shared that he was about to start reading Voyager. ¬†Someone else shared that they were starting the¬†Fiery¬†Cross. ¬†Someone else shared that they had been completely spoiled by the Outlander series and have other books to read, but find themselves rereading…again.

I found myself nodding my head and responding to them all!

“Voyager is one of my favorites! It’s so quotable! Poignant! ”

The¬†Fiery¬†Cross” Loved it! The longest day ever written! LOL! Love that each book is so different! ”

“I keep going back to ABOSAA because it reveals so many truths about true love.”

” Yep…never been able to duplicate the reading experience Diana has created for me. ¬†I NEVER tire of reading her books…again…and again. I’m ruined.”

I’m constantly thinking about why this series resonates so much. ¬†Right now, however, I’m thinking about Richard reading Voyager and what he’ll find revealed between those pages.

The book opens on the battlefield and it is truly one of the best opening scenes I’ve ever read. Culloden’s legacy was one of grief, starvation, and despair for the people of the Highlands and for Voyager’s¬†main character’s Jamie and Claire. ¬†They both believe the other is lost to them forever and they are trying to find a way to live “without their hearts”. They are starved for each other’s company and face the despair of knowing they will never again have the kind of mutual love they shared. Too many of us can relate to their need to go on living despite devastating loss. ¬†In Claire’s case, she pushes forward for Bree and Jamie for Jenny, Ian and their children. They go on…they exist. ¬†Diana lets the reader see that our beloved couple are never far from each other’s thoughts. She¬†paints us a picture of two people who truly aren’t complete without the other. They long for each other and when I read of their longing my heart aches for them.

I love the way Diana has structured this book. The mixture of the present day with flashbacks to the past slowly builds the suspense and intensity of emotion. ¬†The search for evidence of Jamie’s survival is then followed by the reality of the Dun Bonnet’s real story and we see the names on the Ardsmuir roll sheet in the flesh. And… experience the years of the empty and deprived life Jamie led in Claire’s absence. We are then transported¬†to the inner workings of Claire’s¬†marriage¬†of convenience. She did love Frank and I know those feelings must surface, but¬†Claire’s heart is truly and irrevocably Jamie’s. What ever she feels for Frank pales in comparison to what she feels for Jamie.¬†And, despite what I know some fans think,¬†I believe¬†Frank’s biggest sin is¬†that he simply¬†isn’t¬†Jamie.¬†¬†When Claire finally realizes that Jamie is most probably alive, we see her struggle with her choice to leave her daughter forever and we see more of what her relationship with Frank was really like.

“...he looked like Bree, didn’t he? ¬†He was like her?”

“Yes.”

He breathed heavily, almost a snort.

“I could see it in your face– when you’d look at her, I could see you thinking of him. ¬†damn you Claire Beauchamp, ” he said, very softly. ¬†“damn you and your face that can’t hide a thing you think or feel.”

“…I did love you, ” I said, softly, at last. “Once.”

They go on to discuss why he didn’t leave and Frank wonders out loud,

“...but you couldn’t see her (Bree) without thinking of him, could you? ¬†Without that constant memory, I wonder__ would you have forgotten him, in time?”

“No.”….

They are moving scenes, but I have to say Jamie’s solidtary existence and yearning tears me up. From the moment he becomes conscious that he has survived the battle, his first thoughts are of Claire.

…he began to take stock of whatever other torments he might be required to endure. ¬†There were numerous cuts, gashes, and bruises here and there, and he was fairly sure he’d broken the fourth finger of his right hand again__difficult to protect it, the way it stuck out so stiff, with the joint frozen. ¬†None of that was too bad, though. What else?

“Claire. The name knifed across his heart with a pain that was more racking than anything his body had ever been called on to with stand.”

“…Lord that she may be safe. She and the child.”

I always felt Jamie’s celibacy spoke volumes. ¬† As Jenny surmises, this is a man who is not meant to sleep alone, but he so closely relates sex to love that he cannot bring himself to seek out solace in someone else’s arms. ¬†He has resigned himself to living a lonely existence.,”…but he had long since accepted the fact that for him, life was unlikely to ever be otherwise.” ¬†Any of you, who have read the scene in The Scottish Prisoner where Lord John over hears Jamie longing for his “dead” wife, actually emit a choked sob while reading? (Raising my hand) ¬†They both dream of being in each other’s arms once again. So, when their ‘voyage’ back to love is finally realized, as readers we are entirely invested in the reunion of these two lost souls.

The reuniting of these two characters gives birth to some of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever read. Claire’s trip to the printer’s shop is full of those scenes. ¬†Let’s start with the scene after Jamie realizes Claire has truly returned to him. ¬†They are holding each other and Claire notices they are both trembling with,”…longing of twenty years streaming down our faces”. ¬†They touch each other’s features in wonder. I believe I could barely breathe when I read this scene. ¬†The intensity of their need of each other was palpable. ¬†Not the intensity of lust, but of need. And the scene where Claire shows Jamie Bree’s pictures? ¬†My favorite. When he turns and ‘falls to pieces” in her arms, I couldn’t help but think he had been needing to fall apart for twenty years, but her arms were the only place he could do that…be himself…without fear.

I love that they do not fall in to bed right away. ¬†We get to see the delicate dance of their becoming re-acquainted with their lost other half. ¬†They are shy with one another; she lets us feel their insecurity, ¬†“...Will ye take me__and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew...”

And even when they do at last come together physically Jamie lets us know that this romance isn’t just sex,

“…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”. ¬†And she replies, “¬†It was lonely without you, ” I whispered,” so lonely.”

Later, we find that Jamie did try to pick up his life and move on without Claire. ¬†It didn’t work, but he is now left with responsibilities and…another wife…which he hides from Claire. ¬†I was so moved by his desperate explanation,

…” I was half-sobbing with rage, gasping between words. ¬†“You should have told me, the minute I came! ¬†Why in hell didn’t you tell me?” ¬†…” I drew back my fist and hit him in the chest.

“Why?” I shrieked, hitting him again and again and again, the sound of the blows thudding against his chest. “Why, why,¬†why?!

“Because I was afraid!” He got hold of my wrists and threw me backward, so I fell across the bed. ¬†He stood over me, fists clenched, breathing hard.

“I am a coward, damn you! I couldna tell ye, for fear ye would leave me, and unmanly thing that I am, I thought I couldna bear that!”

“…do ye know what is like to live twenty years without a heart? ¬†To live half a man, and accustom yourself to living in the bit that’s left, filling in the cracks wi’ what mortar comes handy?’

“Do I know? I echoed. …” Yes, you bloody bastard, I know that! What did you think, I’d gone straight back to Frank and lived happily ever after?”

This revelation results in Claire’s leaving. ¬†On the road away from Jamie we see her grieve for the life she spent in constraint, detachment and disengagement. ¬†Only with Jamie is she able to be herself.

“...with him, given him soul as well as body, let him see me naked, trusted him to see me whole and cherish my frailties–because he once had.”

“I had feared he couldn’t, again. ¬†or wouldn’t. ¬†and, then had known those few days of perfect joy, thinking that what had been true was true once more; I was free to love him, with everything I had and was, and be loved with an honesty that matched my own”

When circumstances return her to his side she understands how shallow was her wounded pride because her love of Jamie was like “the turn of a great key, each small turn setting into play the intricate fall of tumblers within me.”

And then,… she hears his fevered confessions , “I was so afraid to lose ye again, mo chridhe, ‘ he murmured. “So afraid, I havena loved anyone but you, my Sassenach, ever since the day I saw ye–…

Is it any wonder why so many of us treasure these books and characters? Voyager’s journey back to love is a story savor.

Do you know, his voice said, whispering,” What it means, to say again “I love you” and mean it?”¬†

Enjoy Richard…

SPOILERS THROUGH VOYAGER! Frank’s wisdom… loving a special woman

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It has been brought to my attention that I write about the characters in Outlander as if they were real people. ¬†I’d like to acknowledge this truth and maybe explain…if I can. ¬†First, I’m not delusional. ¬†I’m aware they are not real and totally the creations of Diana Gabaldon’s prolific imagination. ¬†Second, I think my ability to write about her characters as if they were real people could be seen as a tribute to her skill. She has written characters of such depth that she has made it possible to analyze their personalities. ¬†I’ve read some of what she has said about her writing process and I know that she “listens” to her characters. To say I am jealous would be a bit of an understatement! ¬†¬†They speak to her and appear to act out of their own values and personalities. ¬†The more I write about her writing the more I understand how truly gifted she is and the more intimidated I become! ¬†It hasn’t stopped me from trying to write, but wow…just wow.

Diana posted an article I’d written about Claire and womanhood on her Facebook page (how totally freakin awesome is that?) ¬†I wrote about Claire being a wonderful example of a woman of worth and substance. Her acceptance of herself and all that means to her life is what I’m still thinking about today. Specifically, I’m thinking of her knowing she was meant to heal and her decision to become a doctor in a time when women just didn’t do ¬†that.

Anytime a women decides to do something as monumental and time-consuming as becoming a doctor they must consider the cost. ¬†They just do. ¬†Fair or not fair, women have biological clocks that have expiration dates. Many women who seek extremely time-consuming careers choose to delay starting a family or know their choice will leave them with precious little time to be with their loved ones. It’s a no-win situation for women, as both choices require a sacrifice.

I find when I read Diana’s stories it is easy to make parallels with real life. ¬†I have a cousin who obtained her dream job of being a college Sociology professor. Her husband worked in the world of business and finance. ¬†Like many of us they started a family and balanced parenthood with full-time jobs. ¬†Their second child was born and it soon became obvious that their newest had special needs and would require full-time care.

May we ALL..find a partner in life… like my cousin’s husband. ¬†I’m sure they had exhausted all options and had finally come to the conclusion that one of them needed to stay home with their child. ¬†When the time came to have “the conversation”, my cousin’s husband told her that he would stay home because, “I ¬†just have a job, but you have a job you love”. ¬†He understood the sacrifice would be too great for his wife. ¬†I can’t even imagine her relief and gratitude. ¬† In a society where a man’s job often defines him, this man chose to be a father and husband first. His insight into his wife’s needs and then…his actions based on that knowledge showed him to be a very wise man indeed.

In Claire’s case, she already has a child and a husband when she chooses to pursue her passion.¬†Throughout the books, Frank is portrayed as the stereotypical 1950’s man. ¬†He has bought into the nuclear family status quo. He has every intention of bringing home the bacon and letting Claire fry it up in the pan. She is taking up a study of medicinal herbs as a hobby to fill the void of no longer nursing. ¬†We aren’t privy to any conversation that lead to this decision; we just know that it is true. Can you imagine Claire as a housewife only? Me either.

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In Voyager, Claire has returned to Frank, but she has not returned to being the little woman. ¬†She knows she is meant to heal and this changes everything for her. ¬†Claire isn’t cooperating with the role to which she had been assigned. Instead, she is breaking the gender mold, pushing the envelope, and is wholly unapologetic. ¬†His wife has returned, but she is not the woman he went on a second honeymoon with to Scotland. Claire is there in the 1950’s, but she left her heart in the 1750’s.

Upon her return, Claire offers Frank a divorce, but they are Catholic and have a daughter (Frank gets mega bonus points from me for loving this child). Given the time period and Claire’s resignation to her loss of Jamie, and the fact that Frank isn’t a “Cad”,¬†they stay together. I can only imagine Frank’s consternation and frustration.

Frank…I’m still not sure I’ve figured this man out. In my opinion, he is¬†one of the most enigmatic characters in the series. ¬†I’ve run the gamut of dislike to pity to admiration with this man. And,…just when I think I understand him, Diana throws in a moment like the moment my cousins must have had…things have come to a boil and Claire and Frank have “the conversation”…

Claire is late coming home from the hospital…again. Fed up, Brianna’s babysitter leaves the child alone and Brianna goes looking for her mother. She is hit by a car. Thankfully, her injuries are not severe, but this close call causes Claire to question (I’m sure not for the first time) ¬†her decision to leave her child in the care of a yet another stranger while she pursues her medical degree. The cost has become too great and she tells Frank she is going to quit. He could have let her. He didn’t.

“I can’t stand leaving Bree, and not knowing if she’s well cared for-and knowing she isn’t happy. ¬†You know she doesn’t really like any of the sitters we’ve tried.”

“I know that, yes.”… he said, “But I¬†don’t think you should resign.”

…”You don’t?”

“Ah, Claire.” He spoke impatiently, but with a tinge of affection nonetheless. ¬†“You’ve known forever who you are. Do you realize at all how unusual it is to know that?”

…”No, I suppose not,” he said.

…”I haven’t got that, ” he said quietly at last. ¬†‘I’m good, all right. ¬†At what I do– the teaching, the writing. ¬†Bloody splendid sometimes, in fact. ¬†And I like it a good bit, enjoy what I do. ¬†But the thing is–” ¬†He hesitated,then looked at me straight on, hazel-eyed and earnest. ¬†“I could do something else, and be as good. ¬†Care as much, or as little. I haven’t got that absolute conviction that there’s something in life I’m meant to do — and you have.”

He goes on to tell her that having her kind of passion is very rare and wonders if some people are born with that passion or just find it along the way. He also  feels the need to warn her.

” But Claire–“…”They paid for it”…

Claire nods her head in agreement and feels the despair of failure. ¬†She believes she has made a mess of everything; her career, motherhood, and her role as Frank’s wife. ¬†And then, he does the last thing she expects, he says…

“I’ll take Bree.”

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I’ve always been willing to give Jamie the benefit of a doubt. After all, he’s an 18th century man and we can’t expect him to have the same sensibilities as a modern man. So, when Jamie rises above his 18th century upbringing, we are in awe and love him for his open mind and heart. ¬†Why I can’t seem to cut Frank the same break is something I might want to take a closer look at. ¬†After all, Frank is a man of his time period as well. We admire Jamie for his ability to express what he feels. ¬†However, I was recently reminded that MOST men are unable to express their feelings as poetically as Jamie. ¬†That doesn’t mean they feel less. And, despite Frank’s stiff British upper lip and his 1950’s male perspective (remember when he thought Claire did nothing all day because she was home with the baby?) He seems to do the honorable thing…often.

I would love to say that his choice was made solely because of his love and understanding of Claire. ¬†That isn’t exactly the feeling I get when I read this scene. His wisdom seems tempered with reality rather than love. ¬†He knows Claire is meant to heal and recognizes that life will just be easier for them all if he just steps up to the plate…I think. But, there is another side of me that says no matter how the choice is presented, he still made the choice and allowed Claire to be exactly who she is. ¬†He overcomes his own 1950’s gender expectations and sensibilities. He loves her even if he does think she’s a pain in the arse. (sounds pretty familiar to me!) ¬† It’s not easy loving Claire! ¬†There is a price to be paid for passion and for loving a special woman. ¬†Frank’s wisdom in this situation should be a lesson to us all.

Here’s to the costumes…what a fan learned from Outlander

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My maiden voyage into fandom has been filled with treasure troves of friendship, self-discovery and unique opportunities to learn the lay of the land that is film-making. In short, Outlander on Starz has been a singular experience. One of the reasons this experience has been so positive is my  interaction with the author and the folks making my favorite book come to life on the screen. I never dreamed I would have such access and the reality of their willingness to talk with and share with fans has resulted in a life-enriching experience.

Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the show, has been one of the more open and accessible folks. ¬†She very quickly realized that fans were genuinely interested in what she does and how she does it. She has been open to questions and even started a blog to help satisfy our curiosity about her creative process TerryDresbach.com. I have laughingly said she is like the Wizard of Oz and has let us see behind the “creative curtain”. ¬†She has let us into her world of research,¬†sketches, swatches, and interpretation. It has been fascinating.

Like many fans, I’ve been oh-ing and awe-ing over her creations. I’ve listened to her explain her creative choices and¬†how she has blended historical accuracy with the needs and the realities of making a film. I’ve learned a lot, but per usual for me, there was an “aha moment” that caused me to look a little deeper. It was this.

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I’ve heard Terry say that costume design is about telling a story and I guess at some level I understood that, but this was the moment I think I truly understood what she was saying.¬†HER COSTUMES HELP TELL THE STORY. Yeah…we understood that…I can hear you saying, but for me it took this minimal costuming to clarify what I learned.

“What is it that costume designers truly do for a production?” was the question I clarified for myself when I heard Terry explain this scene. Her choice to let these characters be clothed in pale linen and their own skin allowed the viewer to focus on what the actors were saying. ¬†We were not distracted by the “costumes”. However, I’ve come to see that her design was about more than that; there was a connection to the Abby and the practicality of nursing Jamie’s wounds and innocence and intimacy¬†and vulnerability and unity with the set design and….probably a lot more. ¬†The thought that went into those simple garments staggers.

Here, in this scene, I understood the genius that is her costume designing.

I’ve come to understand that it isn’t about parading beautiful clothes across the screen, but about helping the viewer become immersed in the character and story. She makes her costuming a seamless part of the storytelling. Sometimes, she chooses to make something stand out on purpose and sometimes, like the abbey scene, the costumes make the scene standout by making the costumes not stand out.

I wanted to know more, so I did a little lite research. I read an interesting excerpt from the book Filmcraft: Costume Design  by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the 2015 Edith Head Award for the Advancement and Education of the Art of Costume Design recipient.  Ms. Landis says that the role of a costume designer is to design the people in the show.  She says that film costuming serves two purposes,

” …the first is to support the narrative by creating authentic characters (people); and the second is composition, to provide balance within the frame using color, texture, and silhouette.”

The abby scene illustrates this point perfectly. ¬†Terry’s choice in color and simplicity helps, “support the narrative and create a unified fictional space”.

Now, I’m thinking…where else did I see this color and simplicity? When I realized where, it literally brought tears to my eyes…the Wedding.

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Once again, her design tells the story of intimacy, innocence, and vulnerability.  There is nothing in the design to get in the way of the words and yet it enhances what is happening on the screen.

Her designs are helping to create authentic people within the parameters of a historical period and with an idea to each character’s personality and place in the story. A case in point is Black Jack Randall and Frank Randall. ¬†I remember Ron Moore, the executive producer who just happens to be Terry’s husband and the person who thankfully talked her into designing for this show, describing his watching Tobias Menzies trying on his costumes. ¬†He said he quickly went and got Terry to see Tobias, “doing it again”. What he meant by this was the transformation that seemed to occur when Tobias put on his costumes. He stood differently,…his body language was different. ¬†The costumes helped him create and become his character. ¬†Terry “designed” Black Jack Randall and Frank.

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I’m starting to notice other little touches and nods to character, color and texture in her designs. I was admiring the elaborate and beautiful wedding dress when I realized Terry was telling the story of two weddings! Both in silver! And, both were telling something about Claire’s role in two different time periods. ¬†In 1945, Claire is wed in a beautiful silver suit with simple lines that is as modern and confident as she is herself.

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In contrast, in her 1743 dress she is completely the opposite.  Once again dressed in silver to be wed, she is anything but modern, simple or confident.

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She looks like a fairy-tale, but the elaborate gown only accentuates that she is a stranger in a strange land. I¬†can’t help but speculate about what else this deliberate design choice was saying about Claire and the story. Is it that the more fairy-tale like dress foreshadowed the fantasy quality of Jamie and Claire’s relationship?¬†Is the rushed and simple wedding significant of Frank and Claire’s doomed relationship, etc…

Once again, costumes help tell the story and design the “people”. A costume designer’s job is to help realize¬†the¬†screenplay, but, I’ve learned that isn’t an easy thing to do and my respect for Terry and the job she tackles has grown!

…A designer‚Äôs work is inextricable from the theatrical context and collaborative interrelationships in which they work‚ÄĒthe dialogue, the actor, the cinematography, the weather, the season, the time of day, the choreography of movement and a dozen other dilemmas all present challenges…¬†Deborah Nadoolman Landis¬†¬© 2012

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Terry doesn’t do this all on her own. Her designs are brought to beautiful fruition by a very talented team. I’m sure her love and appreciation of them is great. The quality of workmanship is obvious and their dedication to their craft very much appreciated by this fan! They make me proud!

So, here’s to the costumes, their designers and makers because of you Outlander is beautiful and the characters and story have a soul.

Jamie Fraser….portrait of a father…in Outlander

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My re-blog in time for Father’s Day!

My Outlander Blog!

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Spoilers: this post contains info about the entire series

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Every year, Father‚Äôs Day is celebrated in the U.S. on a Sunday in June. This day is often filled with family get-togethers, BBQ and gifts of some really ugly ties! ¬†This wonderful family day can be bittersweet for many including myself. Memories of imperfect relationships, complicated emotions, and regret tend to rear their ugly heads. ¬†It took me years of living and reflection to be able to look at this particular relationship with any semblance of objectivity. I had to become an adult with adult children before I could truly begin to understand my father. ¬†I‚Äôve heard people say, when discussing parental dysfunction, ‚Äúhe did the best he could with what he had‚ÄĚ. I‚Äôm not sure that was true in my fathers‚Äô case. It seems to me he had been given a lot to work with‚Ķ

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“I expected to be entertained , not healed”… OUTLANDER AND READER RESPONSE

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My readers have graciously requested that I continue to write during “Droughtlander¬†the Sequel”. Admittedly, I was a bit worried about that. I wondered what I would write about after the show was over! Oh, I of little faith, the fan-dom has given me plenty of fodder! They are constantly saying or doing something that inspires me to think and then write. ¬†For instance, Diana Gabaldon recently posted a favorite fan comment of the day.

FAVORITE READER COMMENT OF THE DAY:

“Outlander was thrust upon me by a very insistent long time fan. I expected to be entertained, not healed.”

–Beth B.

My response to this was “Awwwww”

Other readers? Not so much…

See what I mean? Plenty of inspiration fodder!

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.

One of the things I learned while earning my English degree was a theory called Reader Response. In a nutshell, the theory proposes the idea that no two readers have the same reading experience because no two people are the same. ¬†We come to a book or movie for that matter with everything we’ve read and seen and all of our life-experiences. In addition, we often come to a reading from different places in our life’s journey. Some may read a piece of literature as an 18 yr old virgin others as a 40 something well “seasoned’ individual. Some may come to a book having just experienced a most meaningful moment of human bonding. Another reader may have just experienced a devastating loss. The theory proposes that all of these things affect our response to what we read.¬†We all make meaning and then incorporate what we’ve learned from what we read to suit our individual needs and experience. What moves me may not move you and vice versa. We react to what we read and it becomes part of us. ¬†It makes sense and I have seen nothing¬†since that refutes that theory. ¬†In fact, we now have some brain science to back its validity!

Author Hilary Freeman was intrigued by the benefits of reading and wrote the article “Getting Lost in a Good Book Can Keep You Healthy”.

…there’s increasing evidence that reading for pleasure isn’t just another leisure pursuit, or merely a way of improving literacy skills and factual knowledge….It might actually be good for our mental and physical health too.”

She cites the findings of several studies and quotes neuroscientists in her article.  She concludes that reading for pleasure has both mental and physical benefits. It helps us think more clearly, enriches our relationships and can even increase our empathy.  One of the more interesting things I read in this article was a quote from John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford.

‚ÄėWhen we ‚Äúget lost‚ÄĚ in a good book, we‚Äôre doing more than simply following a story. Imagining what‚Äôs happening is as good at activating the brain as ‚Äúdoing‚ÄĚ it.‚Äô

Recent brain scan studies show that when we read the same areas of the brain, “that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways”. ¬†So, when we read it is as if we are experiencing it ourselves. ¬†Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html#ixzz3cZZ0UZgR

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life. ¬†And, these 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‚Äôs perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person‚Äôs 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‚Äôm 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‚Äôs a book for that.”

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-reasons-read-that-will-change-your-life.html

So, it would appear that books have the potential to heal as Diana’s reader suggested.¬†When we get lost in a book, 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!

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives. ¬†Like Diana’s reader who found herself surprised to be healed by Ms. Gabaldon’s story of Jamie and Claire and all the other myriad characters she has work through all of life’s challenges and ironies, 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 …

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Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series has helped to enrich¬†my relationships with those I love. So, can a book heal? I’m gonna vote yes and feel sorry for those whose worlds and experiences are limited by¬†a life without fiction.

“No but weak words”…Outlander Episode 16…To Ransom a Man’s Soul

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I am a woman in love with words.  I believe they have power. Well chosen words can bring you to tears of joy and sorrow. A turn of phrase can change a mind or kindle action. Words can bring solace and peace to wounded hearts and stir anger in others. So, it is ironic that in this episode, I was shown how powerful are words left unsaid.

As I predicted, viewers of Outlander on Starz learned that Claire was a woman worth caring about¬†http://wp.me/p4mtBT-ah¬†and¬†Outlander has fulfilled its potential to be something different. It has told a story full characters who possess redeeming qualities who grapple with choices, moral and ethical dilemmas and often choose to put their own interests aside for the sake of another. ¬†A rarity on TV for sure. These two final episodes meant something to viewers because of the time and care that was given to character and plot development. We care about what happens to these ” people”.

The acting was once again stellar. I’m happy to say that although Tobias’ portrayal of Black Jack was perfectly perverse the scenes were truly and rightfully about Jamie. Sam let us see Jamie thinking and feeling. His ability to emote continues to astound. I felt the tension in his body, the pain and the shame. Although there were wonderful lines spoken, they were “no but weak words” when compared to the story we SAW. There were images on my TV tonight that will not likely be forgotten. Jamie’s absent face as he lay on the pallet¬†reminding BJR of his promise to kill him and his devastation following his orgasm at the hands of his rapist.¬†The prison scenes truly exceeded my expectations and I cannot say enough about the dedication to their craft exhibited by everyone involved. Emmy worthy. Ground-breaking. It was a brutally honest portrayal of rape and its aftermath.

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For the most part, being a fan of the books has not seriously interfered with my enjoyment of the show. I have learned to relax and trust that Ron and crew were doing justice to my beloved source material and characters. However, despite Diana’s warning to “put the book down”, tonight I found there were scenes where I couldn’t. Tonight, I felt the adaptation missed the mark and a particular scene lost its magic and meaning.¬†Diana is an amazing wordsmith. Her mystical version of what happened in that Abby, truly showed me that Claire was willing to go into hell to get Jamie back. She was willing to take the risk of dying at his hands because if she failed she would lose him and she couldn’t live without him. It was powerful.

I’ve read what critics and other’s who had seen the finale said about their reaction to this particular scene. They were sobbing with a gut wrenching connection to characters on a TV show, something they had never experienced before. I believe them. It was a beautifully filmed and acted episode. I probably would have felt the same, had I not read the books. I wanted that experience! I wanted to be so moved I couldn’t breathe! ¬†It isn’t what I got and quite frankly, I’m jealous. Words in a book robbed me of having that meaningful experience with this scene. I’m afraid lavender oil and a couple of slaps on the face were not enough to bring Jamie back from the hell he inhabited in the books. I wanted to see them wrestle the demons and win. I wanted Jamie to build that lean-to for his soul to take shelter in. The show previews for the last episode showed Murtaugh asserting that SOMEONE needed to go into the darkness with Jamie and get him out. The Episode’s name To Ransom a Man’s Soul helped to fuel my belief that we would indeed see Claire go there. But, what I got instead were “no but weak words”. I wanted to scream that’s it? It was too easy.

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To be fair, despite my disappointment over this scene, most scenes were wonderful and meaningful.¬†¬†Like showing me¬†exactly why living was the worst thing that could have happened to Jamie.¬†Sam’s portrayal of a broken man was painful to watch and yet,…so moving I couldn’t look away. ¬†Once again, words were not important. I didn’t need to understand¬†Gaelic to understand what was happening¬†between Murtaugh and Jamie. ¬†I could read the fear for Jamie on Murtagh and Claire’s¬†faces and felt their desperation to help him. What words are strong enough to convince a man longing for death to live? So much was communicated without using “no but weak words” .

Overall, It was a fitting ending to a well told story. Love of Claire was still the only thing powerful enough to move Jamie to make an unthinkable choice, to choose to live.

As Ron once said Outlander was, “a ripping good yarn”.

With my own weak words, I’d like to try to express how I feel as this season comes to a close. This has been a singular experience for me. My favorite book series was made into a TV series and I have gotten to be there from the beginning. From the beginning, we have had unprecedented access to the people creating our “dream come true” of seeing our favorite story and characters come to life. They interacted with us lowly fans. ¬†I can’t help but feel that if we didn’t have this particular collection of people we wouldn’t have had the same experience.¬†Because of this unprecedented interaction with the author, the folks creating the show and the fans, my life has been enriched.

I have made real-life friends with  fans I have met on Twitter!  I have engaged in wonderful discussions about the book and show that have challenged my thinking. Outlander fans are smart. If you want to get into a philosophical or intellectual discussion with them you better be prepared! I might not always agree with everyone, but I always walk away from these discussions with new perspective.

I have, thanks to the Outlander phenomenon, discovered I love to write. I’m a writer. Who knew? Certainly not me. ¬†For that discovery, I will be eternally grateful.

Watching that ship sail away left me with the same feelings I had when I finished the book. I felt a lump in my throat and an ache in heart because my friends were going away and I will miss them. But, I know I will see them again and I smile when I realize the story of their lives together has only begun.

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Thank you all for reading my ramblings ….Beth

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.

He Thought He Was Going to Die… now… how does he live… Outlander Episode 15 & 16

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I WAS prepared. ¬†The scenes at Wentworth unfolded much as they had in the book. ¬†The menace was there. ¬†The eerie certainty that Black Jack Randall would have his way was there from the moment he rode in to ” save” Jamie from the noose. ¬†He could barely contain his relief and excitement. ¬†His masterpiece lives and is his. ¬†Tobias’ portrayal of Jack’s sick fascination with Jamie was perfectly executed in shades of reverent respect and barely contained sadistic lust. He would have his surrender. I was horrified and moved.

I’ve tried to boil down what exactly it is that moves me so much about the scenes between Claire, Jamie and Black Jack in that dungeon in Wentworth Prison. I think it has to do with this piece of dialogue from the book;

You can‚Äôt,‚ÄĚ I whispered. ‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt. I won‚Äôt let you.‚ÄĚ His mouth was warm against my ear. ‚ÄúClaire, I‚Äôm to hang in the morning,. What happens to me between now and then doesna matter to anyone.‚ÄĚ I drew back and stared at him. ‚ÄúIt matters to me !‚ÄĚ The strained lips quivered in what was almost a smile, and he raised his free hand and laid it against my wet cheek. ‚ÄúI know it does, mo moduinne . And that‚Äôs why you‚Äôll go now. So I‚Äôll know there is someone still who minds for me.‚ÄĚ

The gut-wrenching knowledge that this could truly be the last time she saw him, knowing she had to leave him battered and in pain and in the¬†fiendish hands of Black Jack Randall was painful to watch. ¬†Her only chance to save him was to leave him …but… she knew she was leaving him to face his last few hours on Earth in a nightmare. Jamie was sacrificing his life to save hers…¬†his compliance was being assured with a threat to his wife’s life. ¬†He is keeping his word to give Claire time to get away, ¬†He thought he was going to die, so what did it matter… her decision… his decision… both rooted in their love for the other. This is what moves me so much.

Cait’s tears of pain and grief gutted me. But, Sam’s silent tears and eyes wide with pain shook me …beyond words. It took me a moment’s reflection to understand what I was feeling and to understand those tears silently falling down his cheek. I saw the agony visited on his heart. ¬†He was doing what he never thought he’d do…he was giving in …and suddenly he could still feel his father’s kiss, but now it was forever linked with the revolting kisses on¬†his back and the taste of his wife’s salty tears of anguish on his lips. Yeah…I was moved and horrified.

The sacrifice was bigger than either of them could imagine. ¬†The deliberate infliction of pain and humiliation by the rapist and sadist named Black Jack Randall, a man who finds his pleasure in the total domination of another, could not have been imagined despite the evidence before them both. Jamie naively believed that he would be able to remain unaffected by Black Jack Randall’s advances. ¬†He knew there would be pain involved and he would feel repulsed, but he believed he could remain emotionally distant. ¬†His illusions will be shattered within minutes.

What will we see in Episode 16 and the Aftermath of Wentworth

Later, In the book, Jamie feels the need to tell Claire what he experienced. He tells her that anyone can be broken if you work hard enough at it and Black Jack worked hard at it. ¬†He wanted Jamie’s surrender, he wanted him broken and begging. His dark appetites for control and power over this seemingly unbreakable man were satisfied.

BJR will rape Jamie. The damage done physically would¬†heal.¬†What is more difficult to heal, of course, are the wounds that cannot be seen. Like many who suffer such trauma, once the shock fades and he has had time to process what has happened, Jamie feels distraught to the point of wanting to die. It is his own belief that suicide is a “mortal sin” that prevents him from taking his own life to end his despair. That and a desire not to give Black Jack Randall one more moment of his life, “…he has damned me in life. He willna damn me in death”. ¬†.

What we haven’t talked about is the part a lot of rape victims don’t talk about, physical arousal during a rape. ¬†This seems to be the aspect of the rape that ¬†causes Jamie the greatest mental conflict. This is the part that causes him to cry out in anguish,

“…¬†he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!” ¬†The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.”

The guilt, rage and shame that Jamie expresses over his physical arousal and orgasms at the hands of his rapist causes Jamie to question his identity. ¬†I’m not saying that he questions his sexuality; he is hetero. ¬†However, I do believe for the first time, Jamie isn’t sure he can trust himself. ¬†He feels betrayed by his own body and mind. ¬†Adding to the confusion is ¬†BJR’s use of pain and mental gamesmanship. ¬†We know that Jamie does recover enough to be with Claire and they go on to live their lives. ¬†But, the fact that he was able to have a functioning relationship with Claire? ¬†A miracle

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there was some sound scientific theory behind Claire’s rescue attempt. ¬†She used his own weakened and traumatized ¬†mind to set him free. ¬†It was sort of like a version of aversion therapy. ¬† She exposed him to what he feared, but this time…he got to fight back. His Highland Warrior spirit fought its way home. ¬†It makes sense, but the fact that it worked? ¬†A miracle.

Like so many of us who journey through this world with the baggage of our past, Jamie must find a way to carry his knowledge and pain. He was going to die…so, now how does he live? The aftermath of Wentworth is living a life with a self-image, a core, that has been torn apart and patched back together. The scars are always there. Jamie is not the same man he once was. And… he discovered things about himself in that dungeon he didn’t know and now regrets knowing.

Jamie came to his wedding bed a virgin. His experience of sex up until Wentworth was found in the arms of his loving wife. Like many men, I believe Jamie closely relates sex to love. In fact, in one of the later books, Claire makes a comment to Jamie that love and sex are actually two different things. Jamie’s reply is that for him …they are very close. He associates sex with love. How confused must he be by his own body and its traitorous response to Black Jack’s “acts of love” .

In Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie has returned home from a night observing and resisting debauchery. He and Claire fight and he admits it was a near thing;

‚ÄúToo close,‚ÄĚ he repeated, moving back a bit. ‚ÄúIt was too damn close, Sassenach, and it scared me.‚ÄĚ …”…it was ‚Ķ well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not ‚Ķ‚ÄĚ … ‚ÄúBut the ‚Ķ the lusting, I suppose ye‚Äôd call it ‚Ķ that was ‚Ķ too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it ‚Ķ well, it doesna seem right to me.‚ÄĚ …‚ÄúI always thought it would be a simple matter to lie wi‚Äô a woman,‚ÄĚ he said softly. ‚ÄúAnd yet ‚Ķ I want to fall on my face at your feet and worship you‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ he dropped the towel and reached out, taking me by the shoulders‚ÄĒ ‚Äúand still I want to force ye to your knees before me, and hold ye there wi‚Äô my hands tangled in your hair, and your mouth at my service ‚Ķ and I want both things at the same time , Sassenach.‚ÄĚ He ran his hands up under my hair and gripped my face between them, hard. ‚ÄúI dinna understand myself at all, Sassenach! Or maybe I do.‚ÄĚ …‚ÄúSuch things‚ÄĒ the knowledge of them, I mean‚ÄĒ it came to me soon after ‚Ķ after Wentworth.‚ÄĚ… ‚ÄúI thought at the first that Jack Randall had stolen a bit of my soul, and then I knew it was worse than that. All of it was my own, and had been all along; it was only he‚Äôd shown it to me, and made me know it for myself. That‚Äôs what he did that I canna forgive, and may his own soul rot forever in hell”…‚ÄúYou‚Äôll lie wi‚Äô me now,‚ÄĚ he said quietly. ‚ÄúAnd I shall use ye as I must. And if you‚Äôll have your revenge for it, then take it and welcome, for my soul is yours, in all the black corners of it.‚ÄĚ

This story of a woman and the man that she loves is so much more than a romance or an adventure. To me, the books and show are a monument to what it means to be human and … to the power of true love.

“Blessed is the influence of one true loving soul on another” Unknown

 

 

 

It’s taking on a life of its own….Wentworth and the Outlander fandom

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*Photo credit to Britta Fahl

If it’s being talked about this much now, what will the talk be after?!?! Wow, the response to this week’s upcoming episode of Outlander’s “Wentworth” seems to have taken on a life of its own! ¬†If I was writing a plot for what is happening on social media it might look like the cover of “Moby”, ¬†intersecting twists and turns. I fully expected people to feel nervous about watching, after all it is about torture. However, I didn’t expect the variety of and depth of reaction in the fandom.

Folks in the media who have seen the episode have seen fit to “warn” us that it IS horrifying. I believe their warnings were well-intentioned, but the words they have chosen to describe the episode have moved me from feeling nervous to almost feeling fearful. ¬†THEY, the people who watch TV and movies for a living, have been taken aback by what they’ve seen. After reading some of these warnings, I find myself wondering what in the heck did they do? I was prepared for uncomfortable and maybe even difficult, but I expected to be moved not traumatized! ¬†And, I am evidently not the only one. Fans are starting to buzz about how bad this really is! ¬†And, the reactions are all over the place!

The I can’t watch folk

There is a certain population of fans who do have PTSD who knew they would need to skip this episode. I respect their decision for self-care. It is just a TV show and not worth the pain. But, there are others who have joined the ranks of the I can’t watch folks because they are too fearful that the scenes WILL be too close to the book and the media warnings. ¬†There are some things I know I can’t watch like slasher films because I …well…I just can’t. ¬†There seems to be a growing number of folks who have decided they can’t and WON’T be watching what happens to Jamie.

The “creative” watchers

These folks should be sitting in “think tanks” solving bigger issues! They have come up with all kinds of ways to help them through Wentworth. Seriously, I think they¬†could have figured out how to get Jamie out of the prison cell last Monday! They have created ¬†survival packs that consist of chocolate, whisky, tissue boxes and various assorted cuddly objects that can double as a shield. Some fans will be watching together and live tweeting each other for support. ¬†The most ingenious folks, in my opinion, have an idea that probably won’t make Starz happy, but they are planning on waiting and then watching episodes 15 and 16 back to back! They feel they could handle 15 if they know some light will be coming in the next hour rather than two (you heard me right) weeks!

Those folks who are getting feelings and need someone to blame

I’m seeing some grumbling, as well. Some fans are wondering why all this “sex” and violence is necessary. They can’t see “why” this has to happen to tell the story. In fact, they see it as distracting and detrimental to the story line. ¬†They are blaming Starz and are leaning toward creating conspiracy theories that ¬†claim it’s all a plot to earn awards and money for the studios. To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that”.

Folks who are having a tough time not blurring the lines between art and real-life

This afternoon, Diana posted a lovely letter on her Facebook page from a lady who was an actress. ¬†She had acted in difficult scenes of a violent and sexual nature and wanted to share how taxing these were for actors. She shared that it took a great deal of vulnerability and trust to truly do these scenes right. The emotional toll appears to be great. ¬†She felt the need to write because of some the crude and unkind things she was seeing written on social media. After her letter appeared, I saw a flurry of memes and posts reminding folks that these actors were playing a part. Tobias isn’t Black¬†Jack. I’m sorry to say there are folks who need and will need reminding. What truly makes me shudder about the Wentworth episode is that after it airs there is chance these brave actors might actually read some of this insensitive thoughtlessness.

The I’m scared, but I’m excited too folks who are going to watch

Count me in this group. ¬†I just know that no matter how uncomfortable this episode will be to watch, I WILL watch because I just know they are going to do the material justice! They have so far and I couldn’t be prouder of the whole bunch. This story is complex and full of real emotions and truths about what it means to suffer, persevere and love. ¬†The sex and violence in this story is not gratuitous and is an integral part of the plot and the characters’ development. Wentworth and what happens there affects Jamie and Claire for the rest of their lives.

We are getting to see our beloved story come to life and I’ll be in front of my TV (probably with one of those survival packs) feeling anxious, excited and proud.

p.s. I’ve heard from some folks who have said Hey! You forgot about us! The just “show the damn episode” group ! (STDEs, ūüėāūüėāūüėā) ¬† These folks are fearless and ready!

The One Where I Was a Fly on the Writer’s Room Wall…Outlander Episode 14

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ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! It is 3:00 am Monday morning and I JUST got done watching Episode 14 “The Search”, ¬†the world and a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend conspired against me! Woke up about an hour ago to a finally quiet house and couldn’t go back to sleep knowing that I still had some viewing to do! I really should find out how people get those advance viewing privileges….anyway….let me say ….wow. ¬†There have been some beautiful scenes shot in this series, but as of right now, ¬†these scenes are my favorite! I felt this episode was rich with strikingly beautiful or unique images that I am officially dubbing “Metaphorical Moments”. ¬†The puppet show alone was worth watching the entire episode! I’m in love with whomever thought of and created that piece of whimsy! And,…Murtagh…alone against a starry sky? ¬†Sniff …sniff…

It strikes me as ironic that just about the time the series is over, I’m finally starting to understand this adaptation stuff! ¬†One of the many reasons that I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and her writing style is the amount of rich detail she uses. ¬†In her books, I have learned everything from how to keep and store a cadaver to how to make blood pudding. Her descriptions of what it feels like to give birth or put your hand inside a live body or watch a beautiful man sleep naked among the ferns while an ant crawls across his hand are written so descriptive that isn’t hard to imagine what the character sees, hears or feels and I find myself lost in her stories as a result. ¬†But, sometimes …she leaves things to the readers’ imagination (like a good writer should) and I’m starting to see how that fact might play out in the Outlander on Starz writer’s room.

Like many of Diana’s long-time fans, I’ve had the singular experience of watching the whole TV adaptation unfold from the first day she announced that the series was a go. What a wonderful time we have had interacting with the folks creating the show. Over the past year or so, I feel like I’ve gotten to “know” some of the creative folks helping to make our beloved books and characters come to life. ¬†We’ve had a chance to ask them questions, read their tweets and as a result, gotten to know a little bit about what they do and something of their individual personalities. ¬†So, I’ve decided that in this article, I’m taking creative license and writing my own screenplay…about what I think might have happened in the Outlander Writer’s room when they were creating this episode…..

*Producer’s note: (that’s me! Giggle, snort!) I really don’t know if these things were ever said or who might have said them. ¬†It’s based on my experiences “interacting” with Ron, Maril and Matt over the last year that guides this bit of guessery!

Setting the scene: A room with folding tables their tops scattered with paper and resource materials and the remnants of assorted beverages. At least three writers, Ron, Matt and Maril are sitting in various states of contemplation as they stare at a wall full of chronologically posted dialogue from Diana’s book. ¬†They are discussing how to write episode 14 “The Search”.¬†

Ron: Okay…we’ve got two women striking out on their own to rescue a man they both deeply love…a devoted sister and a desperate wife.

Matt: It makes sense to follow the chronological order here, in fact, I think we have to. ¬†The arc for this episode isn’t going to be hard to figure out, it’s all there.

Maril: Yes, I think it’s going to be pretty easy to stick to the book this time. Nods her head in satisfaction

Ron: Agreed. ¬†Now, let’s start by discussing these women. ¬†They are not going to have the benefit of superior strength or intimidation that a male might be able to use in this situation. They aren’t going to over-power anyone. Ironically, it is their femaleness that is their best weapon.

Matt: Yes!  The whole deal with Jenny throwing herself into the road relies on chivalry for its success.  Poor man never knew what hit him. Doomed by gallantry. Chuckles at the irony

Maril: ¬†Might be fun to play with the interrogation. ¬†Diana doesn’t give us a lot about that scene other than they made it uncomfortable enough that he told them what they wanted to know. Now what would that look like?

Ron: shrugs Good cop, Bad cop?

Matt: Ohhhhh…I like that…Claire, of course, is the good cop convincing the prisoner that Jenny is just a hair-trigger away from doing him some real damage!

Maril: Which she probably is! ¬†What could she do to him…..?

Group continues to discuss the good cop bad cop idea and concludes it would be the perfect time to introduce Murtagh to the story-line

Matt: ….and, he prevents the women from having to commit murder.

Maril: Murtagh is one of my favorite characters. ¬†His devotion to Jamie! Diana doesn’t tell us a lot about him. ¬†He’s always portrayed as quiet, dour, serious, a bit of a mystery really.

Ron: LOVE his devotion to Jamie and… how Claire might be the only one who really knows why Murtagh is so devoted. ¬†The viewers are going to love finding out about the bracelet connection. ¬†We have a chance to develop Murtagh’s character here. He and Claire working together is an interesting dynamic.

Matt: Nodding Yeah, it is! ¬†Love how Diana had Murtagh devise a plan to find Jamie. They have no idea where to look, ¬†so they are trying to help Jamie find THEM by making themselves the talk of the Highlands. ¬†They travel from village to village exploiting their skills to call attention to themselves; Claire’s healing, fortune-telling and Murtagh’s singing. ¬†chuckles Does anyone know if Duncan can sing? Or Cait?

Maril: laughing¬†I think Cait can and I’m pretty sure I heard Duncan can’t. ¬†Going to have to find another skill to highlight. ¬†Dancing?

Ron: Diana left a lot to the reader’s imagination with the visits to the villages. We could really run with this. ¬†¬†They stare at the wall for a while and then suddenly Matt begins scribbling madly on a piece of paper.

Matt: Okay, okay listen to this. ¬†Reads from his scribbles ¬†What if we DO go with dancing? ¬†Murtagh doing the sword dance, but here’s the thing. ¬†He isn’t any good. They boo him. ¬†Throw vegetables at him. ¬†It would highlight the lengths he is willing to go for love of Jamie. ¬†The serious dour man allowing himself to suffer the indignity of dancing in front of a crowd.

Maril: warming to the idea ¬†I like it! ¬†The women had to step outside their comfort zone to rescue Jamie and so does Murtaugh. ¬†But, how about this twist? ¬†He thinks he’s good!

Ron: Laughing ¬†It has a whole¬†¬†“Shakespeare in Love” vibe. Actors acting about acting and performing. ¬†Nothing’s really changed has it?! ¬†They laugh at Claire getting comfortable with her performing and Murtagh’s anger at their audience’s obvious lack of appreciation for superior dancing skills. They rapidly add ideas to the pot including nods to 1945 and Claire’s new performance incorporating a song Jamie would recognize.

Matt: ¬†…And…the gypsies. ¬†They play an important part in this.

Maril: There wasn’t much about that in the books either.

Ron:  Gypsies?! How great is that going to be? What are gypsies famous for? More discussion insues and they decide that the gypsies steal the Sassenach song and complicate things for Claire and Murtagh.

Maril: …so, that’s how Jamie gets caught. ¬†He follows the song right into the path of the Redcoats.

RON: …and that leads us to the scene with Dougal. ¬†I think we can stick pretty close to what Diana has written. ¬†It’s a great scene. Powerful and a bit shocking. Not liking Dougal much in this scene.

The group continues to do what they do best…look at the source material and adapt it for a visual medium trying always to bring the story back around to where it needs to go. I ‘m sure this process takes hours and not just bit of argument. Hence the need for drinking and naked Twister afterward. ¬†

So, this is what I imagine goes on in the Outlander’s screenwriter’s room. ¬† This episode made a rather vague area of the book fairly pop with intriguing possibilities and images and still brought the story back to where it needs to go. ¬†I get it. ¬†And … I. Love. It.