“A story told is a life lived”…a reflection on Outlander 3.09 “The Doldrums”

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I’m sitting at home drinking hot tea and convalescing from some sort of bug. This is one of those times when real life conspires to interfere with my Outlander life.  I’ve watched the “Doldrums” several times and found it delightful, but was too sick to think about what I saw let alone write.  What I’m thinking about this morning, in between sips of Earl Grey, is the journey. Voyager is the name of the book this season is based on and I find it aptly titled. This couple has been on a voyage back to each other and the love they once shared. Diana’s story of two passionately committed people and the show’s version of their story have taken us on a voyage too. Both versions are epic in scale, detail, and truth about the human condition and I’m finding myself grateful for both.

The line of dialogue I can’t get out of my head is “A story told is a life lived”.  It reminded me of a line from George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  I shared last week that I almost quit writing the blog during the drought because it just seemed too trivial a concern in these current times.  I did not because I decided I enjoyed writing it and that was okay, no matter what was going on in the world. As I sat down to write today, I thought of my belief that what I was doing was trivial and then I thought about the joy Outlander’s stories have brought into my life. Not only joy, but insight, empathy, and healing. Mr. Willoughby’s story captivated the sailors and the show let us see that all who heard were moved by it. He told his story and then he had to let it go. I couldn’t help, but think of Diana and the creators of the show. When her book is finally ready and that first copy hits the shelf or when it comes time for the show to air, the story is in some ways no longer theirs. They tell the story and then they have to let it go. Just as each person on that ship listened to Mr. Willoughby’s story and connected it to their own lives, so do we. Story telling, I have now decided is not a trivial pursuit, but a noble one and a story told is a life… well lived. Because of writers and film makers, we get to live a thousand lives.

I had an experience with a poem that illustrated this point for me. Sam Heughan had tweeted a poem written by Kim Moore he had read and had evidently found moving.

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I read the poem and then speculated about why this poem would have meant something to Sam. I pulled it apart line by line and made connections to what life might be like for a struggling actor and wrote an article about it.  The poetess read my article and wrote to me! I was of course completely wrong about the intent in the poem.  It was in fact, a poem about an abused woman.  I was a bit embarrassed, but she assured me that it was okay and that in fact, she was fascinated.  She said she was glad I was able to see so much in the poem because it meant that the poem had life beyond her. Once again, a story told is a life lived.

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.

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life.  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’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s 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’m 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’s a book for that.”

There is also a movie for that. Film can impact us in a very similar way. Especially, if that film is full of visual metaphors and visceral images. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/is-your-brain-culture/200903/your-brain-movies 

I know that what Diana created for me was a reading experience that I have yet to duplicate. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much or learn as much from them. I’m still not sure exactly why her words and this particular story resonates with me, but it does.  What this show has given me is another way to interact with her story.  Although the series will never replace the books for me, in some ways, I found it just as impactful and at times, more so than the book. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the visual story I was told in “Wentworth” or “Faith”.  Seeing emotions on a real face is impactful and quickly takes you to a place of empathy. When we get lost in a book, or a quality film, 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!  Experience taking…a story told is a life lived.

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives.  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 Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the TV series have both enriched my understanding of relationships and truths about life.  If you can tell a story that can do that for a person than you are truly part of something bigger than yourself and by letting go of your story and releasing it to the wind you allow others to live a thousand lives. Bravo. I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

 

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“The show lives forever…” a mid season reflection on Outlander Season 3

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Sarah Y. @Meowzilla Replying to @RonDMoore
Was surprised by (-) reaction this season. Most fans ❤ it. Do u do pep talk w cast & crew since u’ve experienced this w trek?
Ronald D. Moore @RonDMoore
I tell everyone not to get too caught up in the reactions of the moment. The show lives forever, that’s the important thing.

 

I’m sure Sarah Y’s question was sparked by some of the stuff that has gone down in the fandom in the last three weeks. I believe that Sarah is right, most fans are thrilled with the show and believe it is one of the best things on TV , but…there is a vocal contingent that feels less so.  Their dissatisfaction is one of the things that has been bumping around my brain this week.  The discontent seems to be centered around the adaptation of the book and perceived changes to the characters.

 A commenter on DG’s page that is representative of concerns, but not abusive:

@knoxnervig  Replying to @Writer_DG   I think the need to “normalize” tv Jaimie has taken away from the integrity of the book Jaime.
A commenter on my blog page:

fclarecat: We have had the joy of an outstanding season; given by a team of incredibly talented people. Yet for some reason there have been some very disturbing comments on fan sites.
Reading is a very intimate form of art appreciation. No one can reproduce that imagined by one, in a visual medium.
No one works on Outlander because they hate it. Personally, I am grateful that something I hold dear, is now given to us on film.
One may make a comment, or state an opinion respectfully. Personal attack has no place in this wonderful Outlander family

I’ve written before that is difficult for book fans to objectively watch the show and I have often found myself jealous of those who watch the show first and then read the books.  They get to enjoy both in a way I’ll never get to experience.  Love this comment from an AVclub article discussing adapting books to screen.

Going from a derivative work to its source, people tend to expect fidelity less than when they start with the original, then move to the adaptation…When I read the book first, I go to the movie expecting to see a strict translation of what I saw onto the screen, even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story. Whereas when I see the movie first, I go to the book looking not for the same story, but for a greater insight into the characters…  Robinson

Yes, it is difficult, you cannot undo what you know or completely separate yourself from your expectations, even if you want to.

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Another idea bumping around my head this week was the benefits of bingeing a series and the pitfalls of episodic TV.  A friend said that she went back during the drought and watched the show in binge format.  She said she was amazed at the flow of the story and how differently she felt watching episodes back to back. Her experience was much more positive. We both speculated on the impact of weekly episodes on the perception of the shows success by fans.  The show’s creative team works hard to adapt the source material into 13 separate, yet connected story arcs, an episode. Some folks enjoy the having to wait a week to see what happens next or get their questions answered, they enjoy the speculation around the water cooler on Monday morning. However, I’ve come to believe, along with my friend, that the show’s episodic format contributes to a lot of the angst in the fandom.  I saw Ron’s advice to cast and writers, to not get caught up in immediate reactions, play out this week. I saw some fans’ rage and turmoil turn on a dime or episode 308, as the case may be.  The writers and producers have a long-range plan for the story arc and I have come to understand that we really need to withhold judgement of the success of the series until the end of the season, if not longer and not get caught up in our own immediate reactions.  Book/series fans reactions are volatile and we are not necessarily reliable narrators of the series weekly success.  We have too much of a personal stake in how we think this story should be told. I struggled with this very thing while watching “A. Malcolm”.

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The second half of Ron’s tweet also peaked my interest, ” The show lives forever, that’s the important thing”.  I wondered what makes one TV show better than another and gives it the chance to be remembered as a great show.  Ron tweeted that they try to please both book and non reading fans, but ultimately, they are trying to tell the best story they can tell.  I, for one, am thankful they are not influenced by the whims or immediate reactions of fans.  I know that some fans have running issues with how the characters are being portrayed and I know the writers and producers do read and respond to fan feedback, but that feedback cannot be the driving force behind creative choices.  From the AVclub article:

…Both book and film should be addressed as independent entities. …This means not going into an adaptation with a mental checklist of things that must be in the movie to make it good, and evaluating a film based on what’s on the screen, not what got left off. In that sense, a “good adaptation” may have to involve a good-faith effort from the viewers, who participate in the process by giving that story a chance on its own terms… But it takes two to tango. If viewers have a responsibility not to see a book as an unalterable outline for the film, then filmmakers have a responsibility to respect the book, to acknowledge that there’s a reason they’re telling this story, rather than another story altogether… Filmmakers should ask “What in this book do I want to emphasize?” The key words are “in this book.” Meaning, part of a good adaptation is knowing what to cut or revise, even if it makes the fans cry, but part of it is maintaining a meaningful relationship to the source material. Robinson

I went in search of criteria for what makes a “quality” TV series that will “last forever” and whether Outlander fits that criteria.  Please understand that my “lite” research is in no way exhaustive or particularly academic. I just read what I can find and use it to make meaning for myself.  Having qualified my bonafides, I did find some interesting stuff.  The study of what makes “quality” TV is a fairly new one and has picked up steam since the cable and streaming programming have increased their presence in the landscape of what is available for us to view.  I found some of the same scholars being quoted and cited in most of the articles and information I read.

One of those people most often quoted or cited was Robert Thompson.  He is considered an expert in TV.  He teaches on the subject, is founder of Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and has authored, co-authored, or edited six books on the subject.  Here is his take on what constitutes quality TV.

Robert Thompson: …quality television has the following characteristics: It must break the established rules of television and be like nothing that has come before. It is produced by people of quality aesthetic ancestry, who have honed their skills in other areas, particularly film. It attracts a quality audience. It succeeds against the odds, after initial struggles. It has large ensemble cast which allows for multiple plot lines. It has memory, referring back to previous episodes and seasons in the development of plot. It defies genre classification. It tends to be literary. It contains sharp social and cultural criticisms with cultural references and allusions to popular culture. It tends toward the controversial. It aspires toward realism. Finally, it is recognized and appreciated by critics, with awards and critical acclaim…

I found myself mentally ticking off the boxes in regards to Outlander.  

Break the established rules of television

From the very beginning this show has shown itself to be willing to take risks and create itself outside of the box.  The biggest risk being bucking the idea that a show marketed to women was destined to fail.

Like nothing that has come before

Like the books they are based on.  Have you ever try to tell someone what this show is about?

Produced by people with quality aesthetic ancestry

Ron Moore and company have a track record that impresses and his work continues to held up as an example of what can be done in television. This show is no small undertaking.

Attracts a quality audience

The ready-made base for this show were intelligent, educated women from all walks of life from around the world.  These were women who were in love with “big books” that bent genre were richly full of details and that spoke to the truths and ironies of life with characters who struggled with hard choices and for the most part chose to do the right thing despite the cost to themselves.  Not everyone in the fandom is there for the deeper story, but many are. I love it when I see folks who thought the story was “housewife porn” catch on and become wowed by this story.

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

Succeeds against the odds after initial struggles

Those of us around since the beginning remember the initial reviews for the series.  We were disappointed that critics were just buying into and repeating “pop culture” cliches surrounding the buzz about the story and not giving it a chance.  The ready made fan base, “the book fans”, knew this story and its depth and adventure.  Our battle cry was “just wait and you’ll see” and they did.

…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…. NPR

Large ensemble cast allowing for multiple plot lines

As the story progresses and we see new characters added, we will see more plot lines with Jamie and Claire the matriarch and patriarch of a large extended family and story. We will become invested in the stories of Roger and Bree, Fergus and Marsali, Wee Ian, Auntie Jocasta, Lord John, and all of the folks on Fraser’s Ridge.

It has memory

This is one of the things I am most enamored of in this series. They are always calling us back to events in the story with beautiful parallels, dialogue, and visual metaphors.

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Defies genre classification

A historical, sci-fi, adventure, romance…did I miss anything?

Tends to be literary

A book adaptation.

Social and cultural criticisms

They are subtle and the more effective for it, in my humble opinion. The treatment of and value of women is one of the key criticisms and a timely one.

Tends toward the controversial

Think about the subjects this show hasn’t been afraid to tackle, from male rape to miscarriage.

Aspires toward realism

The detail and care given to suspending our disbelief is staggering.  Everything is telling us a story and everything is thought out.  Terry Dresbach, the show’s costume designer, Jon Gary Steele, production designer, the writers and producers, the actors have all taken the time to share the inner workings of the their jobs and how much they think about the story and how to present it to us. They have given us realistic standing stones and mystical ceremonies, Scottish and French castles, witch trials and apothecaries, battles and prisons, print shops, brothels, and ocean voyages.  It is a show wrapped in a fantasy, but I challenge anyone who suggests this show doesn’t strive to show us the truth in relationships, war, loss, and love wrapped in a richly detailed and realistically beautiful package.

Recognized and appreciated by critics, with awards and critical acclaim

Well! Yes, more and more. #Goldenglobes

…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. Salon

 

As you can see, Outlander easily meets the criteria Robert Thompson sets forth for Quality TV.

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Another expert:

Dorothy Swanson  (Viewers for Quality Television) argued that “A ‘quality show’ is something we anticipate before and savor after. It focuses more on relationships than situations; it explores character, it enlightens, challenges, involves and confronts the viewer; it provokes thought and is remembered tomorrow. A quality show colors life in shades of grey.”

This show does focus on relationships, provokes thought, and despite the frustration of some fans lets us see life and our characters as complicated imperfect people and their life choices in “shades of grey”.  We anticipate each episode and savor after (how many times have you watched the print shop, lol).  I anticipate re watching these shows for years to come just like I re read the books.

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Amateur critics

One of the interesting phenomena I read about when researching this topic was the rise of amateur critics due to the easy accessibility afforded by the internet.  I guess I should consider myself one of these at this point!  I watch and continue to watch Outlander because it continues to hold my interest and I am fascinated by the creative choices that are bringing my favorite characters and stories to life.  The characters and story are recognizably Outlander and yet, uniquely it’s own entity and I am enjoying the hell out of coming along for the ride this team of hardworking creatives is taking me on.  Will this story last forever? Yeah, I think it will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYI: My Outlander Blog is going to remain a place for respectful discussion

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This last year has been a tough one both personally and globally.  Since October of last year, my daily stress level has been hovering around a 7 out of 10.  I’m pretty sure many of you can relate.  Along with crap I’m dealing with personally, I feel bombarded by bad news, new lows, and feeling powerless to effect change.  But, I’m a survivor and a fighter.  I can usually figure out what is worth worrying about and what needs to be let go of.  I do what I can to help change my little part of the world and hope that if we all decide to do the same we can make changes that matter.

Outlander has been my little bit of escape from a world that is just too full of scary, monumentally important things.  For a little bit, I can escape into a fantasy and share the fun of watching my favorite books put on the screen and talk about it with fellow fans.  For the most part, Outlander has been a good healthy escape from the pressures in real life. There was a point mid drought that I considered not writing the blog anymore.  It just seemed too trivial a concern.  There were so many other things I could be spending my time on besides writing about a book/tv show.  But, when push came to shove, I realized I enjoyed it and that was okay.  We are allowed to participate in things we enjoy even if they seem trivial.

My blog has always been a place where people are welcome to discuss the show and books.  I have never had much of a problem with my readers saying disparaging things about the author, cast or creators of the show.  I have always been proud of the intelligent and articulate way they are able to disagree and still be respectful.  But, in the last few weeks, I have seen some folks find their way to my blog who somehow believe I will give them an open forum to spew their disrespect, conspiracy theories, and vitriol.  I will not.  So, if you notice that your posts have been taken down or not approved, please understand you are not welcome.  I TRULY don’t need more stress in my life and I am weary of opening my feeds and reading the fan drama du jour. I’m tired of looking the other way when “fans” use the cast, crew and creators as their personal punching bags and I certainly won’t tolerate it on my own blog page. I’m tired of the entitlement that makes it okay to forget there are real people working to bring a story to the screen they hope we will like. The whole thing is making me sad.  I can understand critiquing the show, truly.  I have done my share. But, it is starting to morph into something much less reasonable and sane.

I don’t really “know” any of these people who work the show other than through interactions on social media, but I do know they are real people who work hard and try to create the best product they can just like the rest of us do at our own jobs.  No one deserves some of the disrespect sent these folks’ way.  They can’t win.  Even, when they try to engage fans and answer questions it all goes awry.  On Twitter a fan responded to some of the latest disrespect by saying , “Here we go again actors can’t have political opinions and writers aren’t allowed to get insulted.”  I found myself shaking my head in agreement, here we go again. There truly is a difference between critique and criticism.  People making this show are prepared for one, but don’t deserve the other.  They have done nothing to deliberately “ruin” anything for anyone, they have made creative choices. If you like them fine and if you don’t fine, but good lord…get some perspective and maybe some courtesy?

I’m starting to understand there are a lot of people who have a say in how this “product” gets delivered to us. Writers write things that don’t make the cut, actors act out their interpretation of the character, directors try to fiddle with a scene and the acting until it feels right, editors cut and rearrange and decide which scenes work with feedback from producers and the studio, and finally it gets put in the “can”.  As fans, we truly don’t know what went down or what influenced what.  My husband was a football coach for a lot of years and I had to sit in the stands and listen to people pass judgement on him.  It was frustrating and I had to fight down the need to defend him.  He reminded me often that he was capable of standing up for himself and that he had a tougher skin than I might think.  I know these people are tougher than I think too, but damn …I keep thinking they shouldn’t have to be. I’m so friggin tired of living in a world where it is now the norm to be rude, offensive and judgmental of others.  And today, I’m sad that one of my few escapes is starting to feel like one more pile of shit I have to deal with.

 

A wee bit of chaos…Outlander 3.7 “Creme De Menthe”

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I loved Jamie’s assertion to Claire, in this week’s episode of Outlander “Creme De Menthe”, that what they were experiencing was not “but a wee bit of chaos”.  It kind of summed up this last week in the fandom, too.  Jamie assures Claire that they had dealt with this kind of thing before and survived. As a fandom, so have we. It has been an interesting week, to say the least.  Lots of discussion about adaptations. I’ve got to say that I was anxious for a new episode to be shown, so that we might be able to move on a bit.  That this episode was an all-out adaptation was irony at its finest!  Story-lines were condensed, characters changed, action moved, etc.  Everything we book fans hate.  But, unlike last week, I was expecting no “kerfuffle” because I saw this as one of those episodes that happen every season, full of foreshadowing and intros to new storylines. Then I was told this morning that even Diana Gabaldon had a few things to say about this episode on CompuServe.

Dear Vicki–
    You know I said there was one “Laoghaire-redemption-like” thing this season?   Mm.  Hm.
     Jamie lie to Ian’s face?   The one person in the world (other than Claire, who was there) that he ever told about Wentworth?  His blood-brother from the age of eight, his brother-in-arms, his brother-in-law, his best friend, for whom he’d lay down his life?
     Oh, sure.  Why wouldn’t he?
     As for Claire…you should have seen her _before_ I said Intemperate Things…

–Diana
www.dianagabaldon.com

I’m assuming they heard her and tempered Claire.  Diana has always maintained that she is mostly happy with the adaptation.  Of course there will be things she is less happy with, but I have to say I admire her ability to be so objective about the whole process.  I’m pretty sure if I were in her place I’d be as protective as a mother tiger.  Last week, Jodi Picoult, a very popular writer who has had her books adapted to screen and might know a thing or two about the subject, tweeted that the Outlander folks are doing a great job and Diana agreed.

A Rare Love…A reflection on Outlander 3.5 ” Freedom and Whisky”

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I was prepared to hate that shop bell.  I had convinced myself that the episode would end with Claire opening that door and ringing that bell.  I was anticipating an exasperating cliff hanger.  We got a cliffhanger alright, but to my delight it wasn’t the one I was expecting.  Instead of groaning out loud my frustration as the credits rolled by, I found myself sharing Claire’s intake of breath at the sound of a voice recognizably Jamie’s.  I walked with her across that shop speechless, unable to answer his inquiry.  I held my breath as she came closer to the opening between the shop and the press room and saw Jamie’s back bent over the machine.  I could feel her tearful joy as she struggled to find words to speak and let him know she was there.  I watched his reaction as his body stiffened at the sound of her voice and as he turned with an almost comical look of suspicion.  His narrowed eyes suddenly flew wide and as she tearfully smiled down on him, the reality overwhelmed and he fell, “rather gracefully for a large man”.  Claire’s concerned face was the most satisfying cliffhanger moment I’ve ever experienced.  I was tearfully smiling. Bravo. Well done.

It’s the well done part that I want to reflect on.  I told a fellow fan after last week’s episode that I feel like I’m saying the same things over and over.  Everything has been so well done, so lovingly created, that I have found very little to “discuss”!  My critique hasn’t been very critical and I’m starting to see what those early reviewers saw in these first six episodes.

..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…. NPR

…not just as a filler of the Game of Thrones void, but as an emotionally rich, powerful piece of storytelling in its own right…Vulture

.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… Deadline

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…Salon

……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…Variety

It has been well acted, beautifully produced, and intelligently…written.

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They do know what they’re doing

I see pictures of the fans with the cast from one “con” or another and even though it would be nice to meet them, the folks I really want to meet are the writers!  I’m fascinated.  I’m intrigued by how they are able to walk that fine line of honoring the source material and creating the show’s own independent personality and identity.  This week they fleshed out a story arc from the book about Claire’s decision to leave Brianna and go back through the stones. In my opinion, this time in Boston was a needed bridge between Claire’s future and her past.  Starz hashtag for the episode #impossiblechoices couldn’t have been more apt.  I had always wondered how Claire could possibly have come to terms with leaving her daughter.  I couldn’t imagine how she could do it!.  They had to make this okay for us.  They had to find a way to communicate why this woman would risk everything to go back. I needed to see how she arrived at that decision. What I didn’t expect to see was a bigger truth about the nature of love.

True love is rare. 

 

The Voyage to the Print Shop

I am fascinated with how the writers were able to get us to that print shop scene.  They have been drawing us a map to a true love’s reunion for the last three seasons.

Season 1

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Claire spends the first half of the season fighting her attraction to Jamie.  We are able to see that she is in danger of loving him.  Jamie asks her if what he feels when he lies with her is normal between a man and a woman.  Claire shakes her head and admits that, “No”, what there is between them is different.  We watched them grow closer and then there is the aftermath of Wentworth. In the Abbey, Jamie tries to send her away, but Claire won’t let him.  She tells him and us that the only way she can make sense of all that has happened to her is to believe it is because they are meant to be together and that she will take him anyway she can get him.

 

Season 2

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In season 2, we see them trying to find a way back to each other.  We see them fighting for their relationship.  They always do find a way back to each other despite all that happens and stands in their way.  When he takes her to the stones the second time, there is no doubt that their love is rare, mutual and passionate, “You are my home” insists Claire.  “And you mine, but this home is lost”, Jamie promises that not even death will separate them, “I will find you”. Claire’s anguished cries when she knows herself to be back in the future are heart-breaking.

 

Season 3

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This season they have led us to the print shop door by showing us how empty Jamie and Claire’s lives are without each other, but they have also shown us how rare their love really is.  Jamie is constantly reminded of Claire.  Her memories color everything for him.  He is a shell of himself without her.  We see both Jamie and Claire live with the knowledge that they have lost a love they will never experience again.  Everyone around them, Bree, Joe, Roger, Jenny, Ian, John. know that they have lived a “half-life” without their hearts.  When Frank asks if Claire could have forgotten Jamie with time she tells him, “That amount of time doesn’t exists”.  Jamie lights a candle for Claire because he remembers her …always.  Their love is mutual and rare.  Claire loved Frank, but whatever she felt for him paled in comparison to what she feels for Jamie.When Geneva asks Jamie what is the difference between love and what she feels, Jamie tells her that love is when you give your heart and soul to someone and they give theirs in return.  It is the “in return” part that this episode highlights.

The scene that brought this all in to focus for me was the scene with Sandy the mistress and Claire.  At first, I was incensed for Claire. This woman had no real idea what things were like between Frank and Claire and why they stay together.  Claire wasn’t trying to have it all!  Claire wasn’t being selfish.  But, then I rewound the scene.

“You should have let him go. … All those years you never wanted him, but you wouldn’t give him up. He told me he stayed with you for Brianna, but I knew a part of him was still in love with you and always would be no matter how much you broke his heart. I had to live with that because he was the love of my life and I wanted him even if it meant I had to share him with you.  I could have made him happy, but you were selfish you wanted it all.  So, you lived a lie and made Frank and Brianna live it too. You threw away 20 years with him and I would give anything just to have one more day.

Sandy just encapsulated the desperate state of most relationships.  She was talking about her relationship with Frank, but ironically, she could have been talking about Frank’s relationship with Claire. “… but I knew a part of him was still in love with you and always would be no matter how much you broke his heart. I had to live with that because he was the love of my life and I wanted him even if it meant I had to share him with you.”  Frank knew Claire still loved Jamie, but he lived with it because she was the love of his life.  He too believed he could make her happy.  They lived a lie alright, but it wasn’t because Claire wouldn’t let Frank go. The lie they lived was because Frank loved Claire more than she loved him and he couldn’t let go. Sandy lived in discreet shadows because she loved Frank more than he loved her and she couldn’t let go.  I wonder how many people hang on to relationships where the love isn’t mutual. How many settle for less.  I believe to love and be loved equally is the exception not the rule.

Frank and Claire’s marriage didn’t work because there wasn’t enough time for her to ever forget her love of Jamie and his love of her. Sandy also reminded me that it has been twenty years.  Twenty sad and lonely years, pining for the person with whom Claire can be her true self.  What wouldn’t any of us give for just one more day with the love of our lives?  What would Claire be willing to give or risk for the chance of one more day with Jamie?

Brianna reminds her mother that if what she felt for Jamie was that powerful, she must trust that he feels the same.  She wants her mother to be happy and she knows without Jamie that will never happen.  She reassured Claire that she is her mother’s daughter and that she will be fine.  “He gave me to you. Now, I must give you back to him”. The decision to leave is made because the chance to love and be loved equally and passionately is the greatest reward any of us could hope to obtain and the only thing worth the risk.

The answer to Claire’s question is “no” to have gone once is not enough because to experience true love is worth the voyage again.  Claire decides she will once again travel beyond the moon to find and live in a rare and mutual love.

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“My marriage to Jamie had been for me like the turning of a great key, each small turn setting in the intricate fall of tumblers within me. Bree had been able to turn that key as well, edging closer to the unlocking of the door of myself. But the final turn of the lock was frozen–until I had walked into the print shop in Edinburgh, and the mechanism had sprung free with a final, decisive click.”
― Diana GabaldonVoyager

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you go home?… a look ahead to Outlander 3.5 “Freedom and Whiskey”

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I’m continually amazed that I haven’t run out of things to write about Outlander.  Every time I think I’ve gone to the well one time too many times something will happen…in real life that reminds me of something that happened in the books.  And, once again, I am inspired to write.  I marvel at the depth of the characters and story Diana Gabaldon has written.  I wonder what she thinks of those of us who ponder and mine her stories and find,…well, what do we find?  I find inspiration and truth, truth about life and relationships. The TV adaptation of Diana’s story has turned out to be no less engaging and just as full of inspiration and truths.  Last week, we saw truths about life moving on after loss, how life doesn’t always go as planned, “…you will hear no in this world…’, how life can hand us unexpected blessings, the miracle of mercy, and self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

This week our characters are all heading “home”.  As a reader of the books, I know what is awaiting Jamie at Lalleybroch, but what the show has done so wonderfully is help me flesh out some of the things the book only touches on.  In many instances, they have deepened and enriched my understanding of this story and its characters.  This next episode appears to be attempting to do just that.  The clip I saw of Claire and Bree looks to fill in one of those gaps in the book and more deeply develop my understanding of some of the main characters, specifically Claire and Bree.

In the clip, Bree has decided to quit Harvard.  She says she needs a break.  She said her mother isn’t listening, a daughter’s lament worldwide.  She says she has tried to be her old self.  It isn’t working.  I hope that there is more to this story arc because right now Claire is looking pretty self-absorbed. Really?  She didn’t know this news might affect her daughter long-term? Think about what has happened to Bree.  She recently discovered that she has been lied to her entire life about who she is.  The father she loved isn’t her “real” father.  He lied to her too.  And, who her real father is is too unbelievable to be true and yet,… she saw Gellis go through the stones.  Of course her life would feel foreign to her, she isn’t who she thought she was, no one is who she thought they were.  She might understand her mother better, but that doesn’t take away the years that came before. The home she had and the person she was no longer exist.  Brianna can’t go home.

Jamie is finally going home to Scotland to the place that has always been his dream.  The place where he had hoped to live a quiet life.  He is happy to be going home to the bosom of his family, but it has been a long while and life there has gone on without him.  He is not the same man who left, so many years ago.  In some ways, he is better.  He has moved on and made peace with the loss of Claire, but he also comes home with more loss. Most importantly, he is coming home to a place where he has no real purpose.  The estate is no longer his and has been run for years without him.  Claire isn’t there.  William isn’t there.  I’m sure they will be over joyed to have him home a free man for the first time in decades.  But, I suspect the novelty of freedom will soon fade and he will soon face a predicament similar to Brianna’s …who is he…where is his place?  Will he feel at home or will he feel himself to be an Outlander.  Can Jamie go home?

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We know that Claire will soon be given information that will change the course of her life and I am so glad that it appears the show will let us see her grapple with that decision.  It isn’t a small one.  I’ve said several times since this season started that her choice to go through the stones was monumental.  She truly doesn’t know what is on the other side.

…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…

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The decision to go will have to be made very quickly, there will a small moment of time in which they believe they know where Jamie will be.  I’m so glad the show has decided to let us see Claire and Bree make that decision together.  I want to hear what a conversation like that could possibly sound like.  The regrets and grief she would have about leaving her daughter would be real and her doubts and fears about what she’ll find in that print shop would be real.  I have no doubt that Caitriona will play them all to perfection.  Have I said how amazing the performances have been this season? Yes? Well, it bears worth repeating.  They have moved me.

Going to post my poem again because I can and because I’m feeling Claire’s insecurity and fear, but lord I’m excited to see it all play out…..

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by Beth Wesson