Do you feel yourself content… a reflection on Outlander 4.6 “Blood of My Blood”

Standard

 

outlander-s04e06-blood-of-my-blood-720p-mkv_003679467Sitting in front of a homey fire, laughing with his friend over bad whiskey and a good chess game, Jamie glances at the bed that holds the sleeping son he can never claim.  Lord John sees the direction of Jamie’s gaze and wonders at his thoughts. “Do you feel yourself content?”, he quietly asks.  Jamie responds that he is. He has a home, honorable work, his wife at his side, good friends and the knowledge that his child is well cared for…he wants nothing more and I ask what else is there? And yet, there is much yearning in this episode of Outlander.

John, Jamie, Claire, and even William are yearning for something missing from their lives, or regretting choices, and struggling with acceptance.

John Yearns

outlander-s04e06-blood-of-my-blood-720p-mkv_003639427

John is such a great character and David Berry plays him to perfection. I’m completely onboard with fan efforts to get him a spinoff.  As he approaches Jamie in the clearing, you can see John steeling himself to act appropriately.  He makes sure his face reflects nothing but friendship before he calls out. I really truly thought Jamie was going in for a hug, delighted to see his friend, but Lord John stops him with the news of Willie’s presence and I had to wonder if this wasn’t an act of self-preservation.  A hug might have crumbled the walls John had erected around his heart and revealed more than he could afford.

It is hard for us book readers to sometimes disassociate ourselves from what we know.  So, when I think of the relationship between these two men I think of what I know about each from the books and I can’t help but believe that Lord John’s friendship became the most important of Jamie’s life.  On some level, it is not surprising that they would become friends. Had they met under different circumstances, they would have found they had a lot in common. John and Jamie are both learned men who share a love of books and philosophy. They are both soldiers who have had the responsibility of leadership. They get each other’s sense of humor. They are both fiercely loyal and protective of those they love.  And, I think as men of integrity they recognize the honor in the other.  John challenged Jamie’s beliefs about love and friendship and helped him heal and Jamie gave John a purpose of sorts and someone worthy to love.  I marvel at this bond and friendship. Jamie has very real reasons for associating homosexuality with the abuse he suffered at the hands of BJR and despite this association, Jamie chose John to be Willie’s surrogate father.  The fact that he sees beyond John’s orientation and that John can love Jamie unconditionally speaks volumes about the character of both men.  However, John still yearns for what he cannot have.

The quiet conversations between Claire and John were marvelous character revealing moments.  I think John started off treating Claire like any other woman of his experience.  At first, he treats her with what I can only describe as the polite tolerance one gives to someone they see as an intellectual inferior and misinterprets her motivations.  She quickly sets him straight.  She truly is unlike any woman he has had experience with in the 1700’s and truthfully, he should have known better. Jamie is no ordinary man and it serves to reason that he would not love an ordinary woman.

Lord John Grey’s character arc of being a gay man in the 1700’s is thought-provoking.  What would life be like for this man in a time when knowledge of your sexual orientation could get you killed and ruin the lives of everyone you care about?  Some would say not so different from now.  I had cause to wonder if Claire’s directness, in reality, wasn’t a bit of a relief for John.  He was a man who had to hide who he was and what he felt practically every moment of his life. I wondered how often, if ever, he could talk openly as himself not guarding every word. To find a trusted confidante in the object of your great love’s affection had to be the irony of all ironies for John.  He finds himself openly confessing regrets over his feelings for and life with Isobel, but in truth he “just wasn’t born the right person” for… Jamie. He yearns for the satisfaction he sees on Claire’s face, her surety that she loves and is loved in return by the one person she was born to love.  I took a ragged  breath when he reminded us with a single tear that he too was born “this way”.  John has the tragic misfortune of loving someone who cannot love him in return and thus joins the Outlander ranks of unrequited love beside Frank, Isobel, Murtagh, and Loghaire.

Claire Yearns

Out2-1014x570

As far as I know, Jamie has not shared John’s preferences with her, but Claire is astute enough to have figured it out.  John has certainly given her enough information in his facial expressions, manner, and the wearing of the sapphire.  Despite her being sure of Jamie’s love, I think Claire, at least momentarily, did see John as a real competition for Jamie’s affection. Always playing with expectations and gender roles, leave it to Diana Gabaldon to make Claire’s only real competition a gay man.  Claire knew how to deal with her feelings about Loghaire, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish. She can see what Jamie sees in Lord John and is a bit threatened by their connection over William.  Fiercely protective of Jamie, I think she sees John as a threat to his happiness.  His connection to Govenor Tyron puts him at odds with history and Murtagh and his regulators, but most of all she is angry that John has risked Jamie and William’s happiness over his perceived need to see Jamie.

Not one to mince words or not face an issue directly, Claire of course confronts John with her knowledge and fears.  She knows too well what can happen to a child who has been kept in the dark about their true parentage and what can happen when they find out they have been lied to. However, as much as she wants to stay angry at John’s selfishness, she cannot “keep thinking of him as she wishes”.  His openness and vulnerability touches her.  She does know what it feels like to live a well-intentioned life with another person and not be able to truly give them happiness.  She does know what it is like to yearn.  She had twenty years of it. For me, the most telling moment in their conversations came when John confessed that seeing them together pained him. Claire looked as if she had been slapped and asked him why he tortured himself, surely he knew before he came he could never have Jamie. The slap turned into a punch to the gut when John said he could have had him.  I found myself chasing the emotions across Cait Balfe’s face, shock, maybe jealousy and finally, the realization of what it would have cost Jamie to make such an offer and what it meant in relation to his love for his son.  She hurt for the pain Jamie felt and his sacrifice.  She cannot begrudge Jamie time to know his son despite the danger to them all, but she yearns for her daughter and regrets the fact that she will never get to know her father and he her.

Jamie Yearns

JamWills-520x245

Jamie didn’t expect to see William ever again. Sam Heughan’s take on what this moment would have been like was everything, The look on his face when he’s sees Willie, the unshed tears, the look he gives John when he gives William his name were visceral.  He is overwhelmed and unsure.  But, it all fades when his son speaks to him.  The joy on his face was remarkable. Jamie yearns for his children.

I know that some fans have expressed their difficulty in understanding why Jamie just didn’t tell people he was Willie’s father and take him home to Scotland. The unsatisfactory truth is that it was a different time.  His son is an Earl and as a result has all the advantages that come with his station. Do you take that away from him?  Do you label him a bastard? Do you cause the Dunsanys to be shamed over something you did?  Jamie believes it is his fault their daughter died, so can he now take away their grandson? No. Complicated and heart-wrenching. With the assurance that Lord John Grey will make an appropriate and caring step-father, Jamie made the sacrifice to leave his son.

It has always grieved me that this wonderful man has been denied fatherhood so many times. He is a man who loves children and family. He would have been a wonderful father to Faith, Brianna, and Willie. Probably the most convincing evidence that Jamie would be a wonderful father is the relationship he has with children that are not of his blood.  Fergus, Ian, Joan and Marsali to name a few. Through the early years, we see saw Jamie’s interactions with wee William. he stays when he could have left and  becomes a role model to his son despite the difference in their stations.  He cares for, spends time with and teaches William.  In a very real way, Jamie is a “father-figure” to little Willie.  In my opinion, Jamie was as a good of a father to William as he could possibly be.  And, I am grateful that we got to see him spend time on the ridge teaching his son “how to be in the world”, to fish and to hunt, and to enfold him in his arms and offer him comfort and express his pride in William’s courage.

Personally, I loved the changes that resulted in William recognizing “Mac” and his blurting out to the indians that he was the boy’s father.  Did anyone else get the feeling the indians believed Willie was the son of Bear Killer? I have since been wondering and speculating how these changes could affect the story moving forward. William will have to doubt his parentage and that sets up all kinds of wonderful conflicts and tensions and …yearnings, “I ran to you, but you did not look back.  Why did you not look back?” asks William.  “I wanted to.” his father replies.  I tearfully smiled at the significance of Willie’s glance back at “Mac”.

Do You Feel Yourself Content?

DuEgnOFU0AAEGRa

In this episode, everyone comes face to face with the facts of their own lives.  Jamie cannot be a father to his own children. Claire chose to leave Brianna.  John is not free to love or be loved as he chooses. And yet, by the end of the episode there is a sense of peace and contentment and …hope.  Jamie sees that although Willie is blood of his blood, John is his father and the evidence was right there when Willie bravely took responsiblity for his actions to save another just as Papa John once did to save Claire. (It makes me excited to see how Jamie will handle another of his children that was raised by another man. A man he does not feel so generous towards). He is grateful. John is given the gift of acceptance from the most unlikely of sources and Claire… the facts she faces are much harder to reconcile. Unlike Jamie and John, she was not forced by circumstances beyond her control into the life she now finds herself.  She chose to leave her daughter and there is no doubt she regrets it. In my opinion, the writers chose wisely when they gave us that intimate moment between Jamie and Claire. The tenderness and gratitude and expression of their longing and love was needed. Their joy in being together was a balm to the doubts this episode raised for each of them. I love this tv show for its own story telling that allows me another lens through which to see life’s truths. None of our lives are perfect or without regret, but like Jamie and Claire we all can feel ourselves content through  acceptance, gratitude, and living in the moment. May we all have a home we love, honorable work, someone we love beside us, good friends and the knowledge that those we care about are cared for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Title Begs the Question… a reflection on Outlander 4.5 “Savages”

Standard

Unknown

The title of this episode of Outlander begs a question and as a result, I found myself trying to answer that question and thinking about my own small piece of America. I watched this wonderful episode and found myself asking, why? Why did the settlers believe that they had the right to this land? After watching, I spent the morning reading.  The simple answer to my question is centuries of systemic racism and the belief that Christians had a manifest destiny to redeem the Old World and prepare it for the Biblical new earth and new heaven.

300px-Gnadenhutten_monument

I found myself remembering childhood field trips to the Christian Indian settlements of Gnadenhutten and Schoenbrunn.  The two villages were home to bands of Delaware Indians who had converted to the Moravian faith.  Led by the missionary David Ziesberger, these Indians found themselves caught between the opposing forces of American colonists and the British both distrustful of these peaceful Christian Indians. They were of course starved, attacked, and eventually brutally massacred.  When the group realized they had lost their plea for mercy they asked to be allowed time to prepare themselves for death. They spent the night in prayer.  The next day every man, woman, and child was taken to a “killing house” where they were stunned by a mallet to the head, so that they could be more easily scalped.

Savage.

The irony that these were “converted indians” is not lost on me, they were the very thing the Christians said they wanted.

I found this quote contributed to a member of the Pennsylvania militia that massacred the Indians of Gnadenhutten:

“…one Nathan Rollins & brother [who] had had a father & uncle killed took the lead in murdering the Indians, …& Nathan Rollins had tomahawked nineteen of the poor Moravians, & after it was over he sat down & cried, & said it was no satisfaction for the loss of his father & uncle after all”.[8]

Outlander-Episode-405-Preview-_-STARZ-Google-Chrome-11_25_2018-7_49_07-PM-14.png

When I read this quote, I thought of Mueller who seemed genuinely surprised that God would allow his family, the ones who believed in God, to die and of his vengeance on an innocent.  He was the embodiment of the racism and belief in manifest destiny that paved the way to genocide.  It is to the show’s credit that I was able to feel horror and sympathy. I was as shocked as Claire and yet,… I couldn’t get the scene of gentleness and love he had for his family out of my mind.  I then remembered the Nuremberg trials and how they sent psychologists to interview those on trial.  They were expecting to find monsters.  What they found instead were people like Mueller who in all but this one area seemed to be normal people, loving family men and women capable of monstrosity because of a deeply held belief.

The question in the title asks us  …who were the savages.

When viewed in the abstract it’s easy to understand how it came about that the colonial English were without conscience in their mistreatment of the Amerindians, whom they labelled savages; most of the barbarities they used to crush them were first tested against Caucasians on their home turf: the British Isles. The Highland Scots and the Irish were the prime targets. They suffered unimaginable horrors while being subjugated. Torture, rapes, summary executions, property destruction and confiscation, etc. were the norm.  First Nations History: We Were Not The Savages by Daniel N. Paul

I continue to be impressed with the show’s commitment to show us the complexity of what happened and allow us to see all sides instead of simplifying the blame. I’m still further impressed by the series’ foreshadowing and call backs.  In contrast to Herr Mueller, who is quick to take up his gun and threaten violence, we see the Cherokee “savages” being reasonable and willing to change their ways to keep peace.   Jamie reminds us while speaking to Gov. Tyron that savages can be found everywhere and about the connection between the natives and the Highlanders.  They showed us that not all people of faith were the same in the person of Pastor Gottfried. They allowed us to see the Indians’ retaliation and the conflict between the colonists and the British.

 

Life on the Ridge brings Jamie and Claire Home

8baec7512e7b7eb9ac988c9a7322d76c

I live near an Amish community and through the years I have watched how they go about living “plain” in a very un-plain time. Everything they do seems to take time and effort. Nothing is as simple as hopping into a car for a trip to the store. I live on a lake and often see a group of Amish come fishing for the day. It is no small endeavor.  First of all, they have traveled miles and miles in a horse and buggy often with a boat strapped to the top. It isn’t a light commitment to participate in what to most of us would be a leisure activity.  They have to plan to be gone for hours and take care of their horses and fighting traffic takes on a whole new meaning when you are Amish.

However, despite all the extra time and energy they spend to wash clothes, heat their homes, grow and cook their food, there is a sense of simple well-being in their efforts that I find myself admiring. Their lives are about creating a place to call home that meets their basic needs. The Amish’s sense of community in my part of the world is strong. They care about and help each other. I’m sure their lives are not idyllic or without some of the social issues we all face, but their daily goals are simple and their days filled with concrete purpose.  Each day is greeted with plans that have nothing to do with obtaining  power or more and bigger possessions. Oh, they try to make money, no doubt, but the end goal is different.  I often find myself wondering if their life is not in some ways better than mine. I sometimes wonder what would life be like if what I worried about and stressed over really were matters of survival and my sense of accomplishment and identity closely tied to the work of my hands.  I suppose that the life we now live is a result of our trying to survive and our own genius, but I find myself nostalgic and fascinated by the ingenuity of those who lived without modern technology. There is something about that life that feels…real.

My focus on the Amish was my way of introducing how I felt about this episode of Outlander. One of the reasons I loved Diana Gabaldon’s books about Jamie and Claire in America was that look at life as a settler and the quiet purpose and sense of well-being they experienced in that life. They have finally found the sanctuary they have longed for, a place to be together being husband and wife. To me, this was when Jamie and Claire truly became the people they were meant to be.  I was delighted to see that reality on my screen this week. The Claire and Jamie I saw this week were very close to the Jamie and Claire in my head.  They are creating a life together, they are using their gifts, they are caring for others, they are living their lives and facing life’s struggles with integrity and intention.

All credit and admiration goes to Jon Gary Steele and Terry Dresbach and their departments for the world they created that allows us to be totally immersed. I delighted in seeing that cabin filled with the fruits of their labors and marveled at the world they had created for themselves. I recognized so many items Jon Gary Steele’s team placed there.  The wooden bowls! I have a few!

He is the face of the Revolution

What-Happens-Murtagh-Outlander-Season-4

As much as I adore the books, sometimes the show adds to my enjoyment and understanding of the story.  If Herr Mueller was the face of the savageness of colonialism, Murtaugh was the face of the revolution.  I love that they did not make him subjugated to Jocasta like many thought.  It would not fit who he was “a bold man who has been there before”.  As I watched him rile that back room of men to action, I understood why the settlers rebelled.  I understood who these people were.  They were people hardened by circumstance and no longer willing to take whatever the British mete out.  What more were they going to do to these people? Imprison them? Make them indentured servants? Chase them from their homeland?

In the tradition of ever complicated Outlander relationships, after a joyous reunion, Jamie and his god father Murtagh find themselves at odds. Jamie has given his word to quell any uprising by the regulators and Murtaugh is one.  The scenes involving Murtagh with Jamie and Claire were glorious.  Bravo to Sam Heughan, Caitrionia Balfe, and Duncan LaCroix they made me believe they were stunned and overjoyed. Jamie had so much to tell him and Murtagh wanted to hear every word. I loved that Jamie shared his joy of Claire’s return and pride in the child he has never met and Murtaugh being so happy for him.  I kept thinking how grateful Jamie’s mother Ellen would be. We see the lure of family and Murtagh’s commitment to Jamie when despite his commitments in town he whistles his way back into our hearts on the ridge. This just keeps getting better.

Outlander Season 4 2018

A Few Added Thoughts

I got a another look at how strange it must be for Claire to live in this world with knowledge of the future.  I remember when she figured out  the Highlanders she spent everyday with would probably all be dead in a few years and I wondered how she dealt with the same knowledge about her indian friends and neighbors. I’m not stressing the bawdy lady coming on to Jamie and Roger’s overall frumpiness (I have faith he will become a frontier butterfly of sexiness). I love the mystical bend they are taking Adawehi sensing Bree’s presence, Jamie kissing Bree on her birthmark, the intersection on Grandfather mountain, etc

Finding Common Ground… a Reflection on Outlander 4.4

Standard

maxresdefault.jpg

I’ve been away vacationing with my youngest granddaughters at the happiest place on Earth. So, I’m just getting around to this. Per usual, I haven’t seen or read anyone else’s response before hitting publish. I know I’m late to the party, but boy did I have a wonderful time.  Thanks for reading, Beth

46512302_2143105456005495_4573897315609214976_n

It was perfect.  After you begin to read this reflection you might not think that is quite how I feel, but please be patient and keep reading.

I remember, very early on in the series, discussing the topic of this adaptation with a fan who felt that the show was missing the mark with how they were portraying the characters.  I pointed out to her that the show had gotten the big things right.  However, the nuances, small character traits, and pages and pages of internal and external dialogue that helped readers “know” these characters would be very hard to reproduce on the screen.  I told her that the truth is we may never see “our” Jamie and Claire on our tvs.  My observations were pretty prophetic. Here’s the thing. These two people on the screen are not the Jamie and Claire of the book, as much as I might wish that they were. I still like the Jamie and Claire I see on the screen, they are still characters I care about and the story is still a “ripping good yarn”, but it has somehow morphed into its own thing that resembles my beloved story, but is telling its own and I’m not so sure that that is not a good thing. I’ve finally come to accept that the two aren’t who I was hoping for, but there is enough “common ground” between book J&C and tv J&C for the story to feel familiar and watching worthwhile.  It’s a good show.

images

I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare of writing and producing for this story. First, you have committed yourself to making a show for both book fans and folks who watch, but who don’t even know or care that there are books. Then you have to make decisions about what part to tell and what part not to tell, many times related to the reality of filming and each of those decisions will have long reaching consequences that will affect other decisions. No one can make me believe that these decisions are made lightly or without love for the fans and story.  There has been too much proof that they care throughout the seasons.  There are a lot of hands in this pie each with their own ideas how this all needs to go down. I get frustrated when fans want to play the blame game because they truly have no idea who wanted what or why, some of the hands in this pie have more power than others. It is a delicate and intricate balancing act that sometimes they get right and sometimes they get wrong. I can imagine if we were somehow as fans given the chance to write and produce this story other fans would have the same issues with us.  Everyone sees this story through their own lens of what is important.  That being said it doesn’t mean that the show should be free of critique.

The fish weren’t funny

8d8d2c53538eeebaa0b4480502917e4d.jpg

They fooled me with the cleaning of the fish.  I kept waiting for the comical attack in the books.  It didn’t happen and I missed it. And, I think the show missed an opportunity to add in something their version of Jamie and Claire’s story has always needed. In my opinion, the tv version of the story has always needed more of the humor found in the books.  It is part of the character development that endears Jamie, Claire and Ian to the fans and makes all that they endure bearable. I understood the scene change and how it moved the story forward. However, the lack of humor has made my experience with this couple less intimate and I feel less invested in their lives, as a result.

There goes the neighborhood

images

The writers decided to take a more adversarial stance between the Frasers and their neighbors.  It is perhaps a more accurate portrayal of what things might have been like.  Last week, I read some fans’ critique of Jamie and Claire staring out over the horizon having found a place to call their own…someone else’s place.  Here goes that balancing act again.  Yes, it was native land and Jamie certainly should understand what it feels like to have land taken from you, but the reality is that Fraser’s Ridge exists and the place and its inhabitants are the bulk of the story going forward.  Like slavery in America, settlers laying claim to Indian land happened and it is a reality written into the story and as such must be dealt with.  The writers cannot be blamed for wanting to deal with that reality with some consideration.

It really was pretty darn good

outlander-common-ground.png

So, I’m finding myself watching the show differently these days and quite frankly, it’s a relief. Whether or not the show is like the book is becoming less and less important.  What appears to becoming more important is the story that they ARE telling. This week, I thought they told a good story full of quiet character revealing conversations, heart-warming moments that actually made me tear up, and what’s going to happen next action (I really kind of like not really knowing). It was a quick hour of television and I found myself not wanting it to be over.

Claire worrying about Bree was such a relief.  I always wondered how that would not constantly be on her mind and to the show’s credit they keep showing us that she is and Claire really does struggle with her decision to go through the stones. They also show us that Bree isn’t the only young woman missing her mother. Marsali may not be 200 years from her mother, but she might as well be.  It really wasn’t uncommon for young adults during this time period to say good-bye to their parents knowing they may never see them again. Hopping on a ship for a voyage across the ocean was a dangerous and arduous journey and one probably not taken more than once or twice in a lifetime. Jamie’s reassurances about Brianna were well meant, but cold comfort to a grieveing mother who regrets leaving her child.

The scenes of the three Frasers clearing the land and the beginning of the first homestead on the Ridge were delightful as was our couple’s excitment and sense of pride.  But, the scene that tore me up was Roger’s discovery of Jamie and Claire in America and his telling Bree. It was wonderfully emotional, Sophie Skelton and Rik Rankin were fantastic in these scenes. I could feel Roger’s wonder and delight and Bree’s relief and gratitude and the yearning they both had for each other.  I love the change that puts all of their lives intersectioning on Grandfather Mountain.  I love the idea that Bree could have been walking where her father had walked. I’m so excited about this new story line and relationship.  Poor babies, I want to give them a hug!

Our introduction to the Cherokees was beautiful, a feast for the eyes and senses.  I have no idea how historically accurate the costumes and dances were, but I know the actors were First Nation and a lot of research was done.  I was fascinated. John Quincy Myers assures us that the local Cherokee tribe strives for balance and peace and that bodes well for the Frasers. The “Bear Man” was unexpeced and I wondered if he was based on a true story or legend.  The tribe banished him for taking a woman who didn’t want to be taken. The community could not of sent a clearer message to their warriors about how they value women. Hard not to make comparisons and wonder what defines a savage. I wondered if their treatment of this man didn’t foreshadow some things for our Ian. They could not kill something that was already dead to them.

By the end of the episode, I came to understand that the show has in fact moved beyond the books upon which they are based.  My beloved Outlander series of books will always be there and as always, I will enjoy immersing myself in that story and world.  However, I now find myself immersed in a new story and world called Outlander.  I love them both.

Here’s to Honest Men and Bonnie Lassies…a reflection on Outlander 4.3 “The False Bride”

Standard

outlander-s04e03-the-false-bride-720p-mkv_003471176

Okay, I’m tired of having to struggle to write about these episodes!  Last week, I struggled because there was too much to write about, too much to think about, and a need to write with the gravitas the topic deserved.  This week I struggled because I couldn’t find anything TO write about!  After viewing the episode, my reaction to what I watched was… that was nice…nice?  I’m not sure that was the reaction the writers were going for and it wasn’t the reaction my husband had when he watched Sunday night. He was FULL of questions. And, he wasn’t about to wait to get answers.  He mutes the sound to ask his questions and then misses everything that is being said while I’m quickly trying to answer! It’s a vicious circle and I’m thankful for DVR.  But, irritating as they are, sometimes his questions and observations lead me in the right direction. He said he was more intrigued by “the daughter’s story” than with Jamie and Claire and that got me to thinking and…to writing. (you can’t see me, but I’m sporting a really cheesy grin right now)

book

Why My Reaction Was…Nice

The Outlander fandom spends an exorbitant amount of time discussing the adaptation. The discussions range from fans lamenting the need for any changes from the source material because what Diana Gabaldon wrote was perfect, why change it, to true critique of what changes worked or didn’t work and why.  This week’s episode was a good one for book fans. The writer’s managed to successfully condense time and still give us iconic moments from the book, the minister’s cat, the lark at the Scottish festival, Roger and Bree on the floor on verge of …well you know, the ghostly time-traveling indian, and Jamie and Claire finding the strawberries and Fraser’s Ridge. I expect that overall most book fans will be very happy. As a book fan, I guess I should have been more enthusiastic and I wondered why I wasn’t.

A while ago, I wrote about adaptations. To prepare, I did some “lite research”, which means I read everything I could find in two days on the particular topic.  My “lite research” isn’t exhaustive or particularly scholarly, but I usually stumble upon some interesting stuff. The most interesting adaptation “stuff” I stumbled upon was an article written as a conversation between two TV/movie critics. Their focus was on the good and bad of being true to the source material.  One of the points they make is that sometimes an adaptation can be so true to the source as to be…unnecessary. The viewer can be left feeling like ” they’ve seen the book almost exactly, as if they didn’t need to see it at all.”  I think this is where I fell this week!  It is ironic I know, I started the blog because they were adapting my favorite book series and I was excited to see Jamie and Claire’s story come to life!  And, they made that happen and I thought it was…nice.  The writer’s and producers really can’t win, if they stray from the source or stay too close someone is going to criticize.  They really do need to stay true to their own vision because evidently, if I’m any indication, we fans can’t be satisfied, LOL!

FAMILY-TREE-LISTING-MANIAC

Why This Episode Was Important

After answering my husband’s questions and upon reflection, I came to realize this was actually a very important episode. “Why do they keep flashing back to the future?” my pesky husband asks. “Because they are trying to tell Roger and Bree’s story!”, I respond. Huh…they are trying to tell Roger and Bree’s story. This show is no longer just Jamie and Claire’s story. This week’s episode was evidence that we will have more than one couple’s story to contend with and agonize over. This season, like the book it is based on, marks the official beginning of the multiple character and story arcs that will eventually result in Diana’s last book, Written in My Heart’s Own Blood, almost having an Octopus as its cover art. If you are tuning in for all Jamie and Claire all the time, sorry about your luck! Cue protest song…”The times and the story they are a changing! ”  Jamie and Claire become the matriarch and patriarch of a large cast of characters.

d9496b98-26a0-4dd8-9a4a-8a3a3c2373fe

Ian Is A Man Ye Ken

One of the arcs I am most looking forward to is Ian’s story.  I think John Bell’s earnest and joyful Ian is perfect, especially for this part of the story.  We will need to remember him this way because his change from eager puppy to lethal wolf will happen.  He tells Jamie that the things he has experienced have changed the way he looks at life. He believes his survival qualifies him for manhood and as a result, he believes he has earned the right to choose where he will live and what path in life he will take.  Jamie recognizes an inevitable truth when he hears and sees one.  I like to think he always sees himself when he looks at Ian and empathises.  Ian wastes no time in taking responsibility for his choices and duties and runs off to write a letter to his parents letting them know their son is now a man.

 

Bree and Roger “Do All Frasers Have Issues?”

I was so glad to see Rick Rankin and Sophie Skelton get more time on-screen.  With the longer scenes, I was able to actually see Rick’s Roger and Sophie’s Bree. The chemistry was good. They are different from the book pair that resides in my head, but I could have said the same thing about Sam Heughan and Cait Balfe’s Jamie and Claire. It didn’t take long to accept their version of the characters they were playing and I’m sure the same will happen with screen Roger and Brianna.  After watching the great scene in the “highlanders” cabin and the calling of the clans, my husband asked, “Do all Frasers have issues?”  I chuckled and told him yes, but added don’t we all?

Getting these two characters right is a big deal!  They are more than important to the rest of the books and hopefully, to the rest of the series.

I’ve talked to very few book fans who weren’t half in love with Roger. He’s very likable and an interesting mixture of strength and vulnerability.  I think we started to see that in this episode, “I’ll love all of you or not at all”.  Then there’s Brianna… she tends to inspire a variety of fan responses.  Some fans love her and some hate her. I have to say my husband was a bit irritated by her in this episode, hence the Fraser “issues” comment. I’ve always felt that Claire and Jamie were pretty easy to figure out.  It isn’t hard to understand what motivates them.  Claire is a kind woman who cares about the people around her.  Jamie does the best he can with his gifts and for the people he believes God has entrusted him.  I’ve come to see their daughter as a bit harder to figure out.  Sophie certainly has her work cut out for her in playing this complex character. After this episode, I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes Bree.

733bc50a-f65a-447f-9784-4c238704b3e8

Jamie and Claire In A Place They Have Never Been

Watching the interactions this week between Jamie and Claire, I was struck by the thought that these characters are in a place they have never been. I’m not talking about North Carolina, although it certainly is rivaling Scotland for sheer beauty (I know it was filmed in Scotland, but you know what I’m saying).  The place they find themselves in is one where they are together making plans for a future.  I love that they are constantly touching each other’s faces as if to reassure themselves that it isn’t a dream.  The gratitude they feel is almost palpable.

Falling in love is exhilarating but, as we all know, this feeling must mature and ripen if it is to last.  Jamie and Claire falling in love was exhilarating, but the maturing of their love is intoxicating and inspiring.  Their love and attraction for one another is passionate, committed and mutual. Jamie wants what will make Claire happy and fulfilled and Claire wants what will make Jamie happy and fullfilled.  Their lives are never easy, but their love never fails. This mutual love is rare and few of us are ever lucky enough to find it and I’m proud to be a fan of a tv show that will present this kind mature love.  It is a rarity to be sure.

There are definitely things I didn’t like about the episode, River Run comes to mind, but I guess I feel better about this episode being so much like the book (I’m currently giving my silly self a hard eye roll). So, in conclusion, I’d like to borrow Fiona’s husband’s  toast. Here’s to all the honest men and bonnie lassies in Outlander. I’ll be watching all their stories.

Lighting the Fuse… a reflection on Outlander 4.2 “Do No Harm”

Standard

fire-1492098_1280-e1468339492588

There are somethings I know about because I have lived them.  I know about being a child growing up in poverty in Appalachia. I know what it means to survive a family where a parent is an alcoholic. I know what it is like to live daily with the pain and life altering issues of chronic illness and cancer.  Then there are some things I think I know about because I have attended school, learned about history, read books and watched movies.  This week’s episode of Outlander “Do No Harm” was so well done, it actually caused me to take another look at what I really know and how we all surmise truth.  The real truth is that the only things I know about slavery in America is what I have learned through school, books, and homogenized Hollywood versions of history.

The show and this episode in particular are based on a fascinating concept.  How would we react if we suddenly found ourselves actually living in the past? How would we, with our modern sensibilities and knowledge, navigate a world where slavery was the norm and our ideas about the wrongness of owning people was seen as incomprehensible, if not criminal? It is sad and horrifying to think that some of us would not even have had a chance to navigate this world because the color of our skin would have determined our path.  Caitriona Balfe did an admirable job of portraying the time traveling Claire’s reactions, her incredulous-ness, confusion, and shock.  Slavery is no longer an abstract concept for her as she looks out her bedroom window and sees slaves working the fields.  She must feel like she is in a nightmare from which she can’t awaken.

Welcome to River Run

AR-180929420

The filming and editing choices were so vital to telling this particular part of the story.  As the riverboat approaches the dock we are treated to the beauty of Jocasta’s plantation home. I literally said “wow” along with Wee Ian. The riverboat in the forefront being manned and steered against the backdrop of River Run was a “Gone with the Wind” moment. I’m sure I’ve seen a wood block print of a similar scene. Many of America’s homes mimic the style and aesthetic of this prototypical mansion.  It has come to represent graciousness and as Jamie’s aunt offers them what we have come to call “southern hospitality” the camera pans out and above. We get a panoramic view and as a result, see an ironic peek at what literally lies behind the beauty of River Run,… slave quarters.

The new characters we were introduced to were a welcome addition to an already stellar casting track record  Aunt Jocasta was an interesting mix of beloved Aunt, MacKenzie machinations, steely southern belle, and white privilege. Ulysses’ cultured voice, respectful and serious manner, and his ubiquitous presence at Jocasta’s side were just as I imagined.  It was at times hard to remember he wasn’t a butler paid for his services and devotion, but a slave.  The sets and costumes were as opulent as any we saw in Paris and in sharp contrast to rags the field hands wore and the shacks serving as slave quarters.  Everything about this episode was unsettling.

Lighting the Fuse that Caused an Explosion

outlander-season-4-episode-2-review-do-no-harm

Jamie’s Aunt, in true Mackenzie fashion, attempts to manipulate Jamie into staying at River Run by publicly naming him heir without discussing the situation with him first.  He could not decline publicly without embarrassing his Aunt in front of her neighbors and friends, but make no mistake Jamie knows what she is about.  The scene that follows between Jamie and Claire contains the words that I’m still thinking about today.  While discussing staying at River Run and his running the plantation, Claire is quick to say she cannot own slaves and Jamie is quick to agree, but he lacks her understanding gained through the lens of future knowledge.  He asks if it would be of benefit to the slaves and perhaps the country if they were there to take care of the slaves and work to set them free.  I believe this proposal to Claire was made with his idea of making this land better  for Brianna in mind.  He talks about changing River Run and perhaps lighting a fuse of change. Claire is skeptical and warns that lit fuses can lead to an explosion.

Moral Outrage Perverted

DrxEHp8U4AAYpvV.png-large.png

After watching this episode, I came to believe that nothing short of an explosion, a war, could have changed the situation. And, I wondered about the courage of those people who did light that fuse that resulted in change.  The devil Jamie and Claire were fighting was an insidious one, laws of the land designed to keep a culture and an economic system preserved by keeping everyone suppressed or oppressed both black and white.  Everyone was placed in a “no win” situation.  Jamie and Claire were forced to make a decision based on the perceived lesser of two evils. No matter where they turned or what decision they made someone was going to be hurt or killed. In Jamie’s defense, it was not a fear of consequences to himself that swayed him to ask Claire to do the unthinkable, he was unmoved by Mr. Campbell’s warning that others who thought like Jamie had disappeared or by the morally outraged Mr. Wolfe’s threats to have the Frasers arrested for their role in protecting the “criminal negro”.  I don”t even think it was the threat to River Run and his Aunt that finally moved him to ask Claire to “do no harm” to Rufus by giving him poison.  I think it was the idea that innocents, the slaves, would pay the ultimate price.

May I say thank you to the writers for Jamie’s beautiful prayer.  I have long-held the belief that Jamie’s relationship with his God was a close and sustaining one and that prayers were woven throughout the everyday of his life.  Jamie prays..a lot.  This moment, this terrible awful moment, was well served by Jamie reaching out to something bigger than himself, his God. I found myself asking for forgiveness  and patience right along side him for all we have done to others in the name of the law, or patriotism, or …religion.

I’m bending my knee in the eye of the Father who created me.

Pour down from heaven the rich blessing of thy forgiveness.

Be thou patient wi’ us.

Grant to us, thou savior of glory, the love of God…

And the will to do on earth, at all times, as angels and saints do in heaven.

         Give us thy peace.

The Faces of Humanity

 

d373d194-9516-4533-b719-ca09fe48de6e.pngOutlander Season 4 2018

There is so much I could have written about this episode. I could have focused on the politics of colonialism discussed at Jocasta’s party or the delight that is young Ian and his run in with a striped badger that shot foul odors from its arse and his insight into the similarities between the natives and highlanders, my delight in meeting John Quincy Meyers and his overall hairiness.  I could have written about the testing of Jamie and Claire’s relationship and the commitment they have to caring about and for each other.  I was frightened by and yet moved by Claire’s dedication to heal all who hurt and her noble naivety that she could save Rufus and the empathy and courage it took to give him a gentler death than the one the mob had planned.  I could have written about  how it was difficult to watch our “history” and not fear that our country is once again at a similar crossroad caused by deep political, ethical and moral division and know that it may only be solved by that aforementioned metaphorical explosion. Or, how it is that you can still love people who are diametrically opposed to you politically or ethically. It was thought-provoking.  I know it is only a tv show,  I know that it is only someone’s interpretation of what it might have been like, I know that I will never truly know what it was like because I did not live it, but I cannot help but believe this was a good attempt to present the complicated nature of the issue of slavery and colonialism.

The final shot of the episode showed all of the faces on the porch as they watched a boy drug by the neck and hung from a tree in the name of justice. Each face represented a player in this hideous tableau, slave, slave owner, faces struggling with fear, anger, and dispair fueled by helplessness.  May we all do as the saints and angels do, may we all fight to change our corner of the world for the betterment of all, may we all find the courage to light the fuse of change.  Well done Outlander.

Outlander Episode 4.1 America the Beautiful…the beginning of the real story

Standard

 

 

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_002070318

There is a scene in Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon where Jamie and Claire go for a boat ride to get time alone.  It is plain that Jamie has been thinking about their future. It is after Stephen Bonnet has robbed them and they have arrived at River Run destitute.  Jamie is feeling the sting of being the poor relative come a begging.  He is a proud man and his pride has been hurt.  He wants to give Claire the world, but as he pounds his fists in frustration he acknowledges that he doesn’t even own the clothes he stands up in. He knows that should he give in to his Aunt Jocasta’s machinations he will be able to give Claire a great deal of what he hopes to give her, but he knows that life at River Run no matter how prettily packaged or presented would mean putting his ability to live his own life and make his own decisions in jeopardy.  The taste of being his own man and making his own way is too new and too sweet to be given away lightly or so soon.  However, the alternative is to take Gov. Tryon’s offer of land and literally hack a new life out of the wilderness of North Carolina where he once again might place himself on the wrong side of history.  Jamie is frustrated, disheartened and a bit ashamed.  He wants to give her the world and yet all he can offer Claire is a life living under someone else’s leave or more hardship.  He feels like a failure.

Claire let’s him know it has never been nor will it ever be about what he can give her.

“At last I took one big, callused hand and slid forward so I knelt on the boards between his knees. I laid my head against his chest, and felt his breath stir my hair. I had no words, but I had made my choice.
“‘Whither thou goest,'” I said. “‘I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.’ Be it Scottish hill or southern forest. You do what you have to; I’ll be there.”
Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn

She marvels that he really thought giving her “things” mattered.

It is one of those moments between this couple that defined for me who they both were as individuals and who they were together. There are many such moments in the later books and the look they give us into what it means to be married and what it means to love.  As thrilling as it was to watch Jamie and Claire fall in love and reunite, the real love story can be found in the everyday.  It is not the big moments that keep love alive for years, but the small moments and gestures and sacrifices that are made in the mundane.  Diana Gabaldon knows this fact and wrote us a wonderful adventure of people who do the work it takes to keep a marriage healthy and how they reap the joy and comfort of knowing they are two who are now forever one.  I was happy to see that the show seems to be picking up on this change in Jamie and Claire’s relationship and as Sam Heughan said in a recent interview, I think we will see “the beginning of the real story” this season.

Despite absolutely amazing and realistic sets by Jon Gary Steele and the once again brilliant story telling and character development in the costume designs of Terry Dresbach, the episode wasn’t perfect.  It wasn’t the acting or the writing or the changes.  For the first time, I was bothered by wigs and green screens and that song took me totally out of the story, I was checking my computer to see if I had accidentally left on YouTube or something, LOL! But, the song and the episode did what they were meant to do …set the stage.  And, what a stage, Colonial America in all its flaws and glory…”a dream for some …a nightmare for others”.

America the Beautiful

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_003217464

It was hard not to watch a show about America and not think about well, America.  I could not help but see parallels between the America of the past and the America of today. In simply watching this story, as an American, I can see all of our stories. Claire tells Jamie about the American dream. It is true that people did come from all over the world for the chance of obtaining that dream, a place where the only limitations were a person’s own abilities and commitment to work.  It would be lovely to think that we all had and have an equal chance at that dream, but the show reminded us that there are two sides to every story.  The slave trade and the genocide of the native people were definitely the other side.  It was not and is not a level playing field.  Race, religion and ethnic background did and still do make a difference in accessing the American dream. And, yet when I looked at Claire’s glowing face as she looked at the horizon of never-ending trees, I got what she was feeling…wonder.  America welcomed the huddled masses, the weary, and many can trace their roots to Ellis Island and to the feet of the Statue of Liberty.  We were reminded that backwoods men lead resistances, a movement against unfair treatment by the government that led to a revolution and the birth of a nation whose stated guiding principle was the belief that all men are created equal. And yet, we owned slaves, the repercussions of which we still feel today, we still struggle with equality.  Our history is complicated and our country is not perfect and yet, I saw the hope of that perfection in the story of the riverboat captain and his navigator, a slave that saved the man who enslaved him, a slave owner who freed his slave, both working side by side.  I appreciate that the show is honest in its portrayal of our shared and complex past.

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_002020268

A new phase in the union of Jamie and Claire

After watching the show, I’m always left with images and words that linger.  This week the image that kept coming back to me was the medicine chest and the word that rattled round my brain was “gift”.

What gifts really matter to Claire

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_003383004

One of the things I love about the Claire of the books is her seemingly total disregard for possessions.  If they have clothing, food, and each other she seems happy.  You never hear of Claire pining for more of anything material. The Claire of the show seems like-minded.  I would be hard pressed to name any physical possessions that Claire valued save for four items.  She valued the pearls Jamie gave her.  She does not value them for the pearls value, but rather the value they have to Jamie and the meaning behind his giving this prize to her.  The pearls represented his commitment to her as his wife at a time when they barely knew each other.  She was moved by this gesture as were we all. The next gift Jamie gave her was the ring.  Both book ring and show ring were laden with significance, Jamie goes out of his way to make the ring special and Claire treasures it for the thought Jamie put behind it.

My husband has brought me gifts over the years some unnecessarily  extravagant ( a particular ring comes to mind), but I like to remind him of my favorite gifts and why they are my favorites.  He showed up after work one day with a large bouquet of wild flowers.  I recognized the purple blooms because they grew by the side of the road near our home. The mental picture of my big burly husband seeing these flowers, thinking of me, stopping his car at the side of the road, getting out in his shirt and tie to pick me posies while the traffic watched made them priceless to me.  He thought about me and what I would like. Every woman wants to know her man thinks about her and wants to please her without having to ask or give hints!  Jamie’s gift of the medicine chest was a gift more costly than rubies.  He saw the chest and thought of Claire.  In this single gift, he validated his belief in Claire’s gifts and her desire to heal and help.  He wants to support her, she is his other half, his equal.  This gift above all others tells Claire that he gets her and accepts all that she is.

The fourth item she has yet to receive, but I find it wonderful and telling that the “things”  Claire values are all gifts.  Jamie may want to dress her in frills and lace, but Claire doesn’t really care.  It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy fine things, it’s that she doesn’t need them.  Claire truly does know what is valuable in this life, to help others, to love and to be loved.  I think the show is getting this part of Claire right and I love that we get to watch a show with redeeming characters worth emulating.

What gifts really Matter to Jamie

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_000453703

The best gift anyone could give Jamie is family and purpose.  How my heart has ached for him over the last three seasons. A man constantly denied the things he treasures, the people he loves.  He is a man who has been living “with half his heart” and filling in the space “with whatever mortar is handy”.  What I saw in this episode is the hope that Jamie will finally get to be who he was always meant to be.  The first image we have of Jamie is one of determination as he tries to find a way to save Hayes who has been with him since Ardsmuir. In the end, he comforts Hayes and respects his last wishes. He is MacDubh. This scene with Hayes reinforces that Jamie has always seen people to care for as a gift and a responsibility, as does his fatherly guidance and love of Ian in the graveyard. We are also reminded that Brianna and I’m sure Willie are never far from his mind when he talks of making this land a good place.  The scene of them all sitting around the table at the tavern making plans reminded me how rare it was for Jamie to be surrounded by folks he loves and cares for.  The look of pure joy on his face when he finds that Marsali is pregnant was gift for all of us.  He knows the emptiness of a life without people to care for and he wants the gift of a place to call his own, to be a husband, a father, protector and friend, the things that will make his life full and give it purpose.

The greatest gift of all

outlander-s04e02-america-the-beautiful-720p-mkv_001890138

“And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours, Claire? I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you.”
The wind stirred the leaves of the chestnut trees nearby, and the scents of late summer rose up rich around us; pine and grass and strawberries, sun-warmed stone and cool water, and the sharp, musky smell of his body next to mine.
“Nothing is lost, Sassenach; only changed.”
“That’s the first law of thermodynamics,” I said, wiping my nose.
“No,” he said. “That’s faith.”
Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn

They are together, no matter what befalls them.  They know that not even death can seperate them.  Yeah, I think I saw the beginning of the real story.

 

Ghosts of All Our Pasts… a Reflection on Outlander 3.12 “The Bakra”

Standard

 

 

 

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_000750375

“…fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crown’d.” —William Shakespeare MacBeth

This week’s installment of the adventures of Jamie and Claire Fraser was a fantastical story told in lush colors, exotic climes, and preternatural coincidence.  As much as I lamented the improbable story told in “Uncharted”, I rejoiced in this week’s improbable events and coincidences because there was a substantial metaphysical theme, a thread of supernatural commonality that held the whole thing together and kept me wondering what new surprise fate had in store. Outlander does not often focus on its fantasy aspects.  The standing stones and Claire’s ability to time travel have almost always been in the background.  This week in “The Bakra”, the show wisely decides it is time to deal with its fantasy roots. Claire told us in “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” that the only way she could make sense of all that had happened to her was to believe that it was all for them, she and Jamie belonged together.  The universe has conspired to make it happen and this week we saw more evidence that there are powers at work here that surpass our understanding.  This episode finally allowed the story to deal with its sci-fi elements and the fact that Jamie and Claire’s story transcends the rules of time and physics.  When Jamie wonders out loud, “Maybe it’s because you came back through the stones”, he is leading us all down a path that leads to an intersection of the lives in this story.   They are all attracted to each other, pulled together like magnets for a purpose.  The story effectively reminded us, at every turn, of its own past and the feelings and meanings associated with those “ghosts”.  In “The Bakra” episode 3.12, the ghosts of the past, present, and future all had a role to play in the fate of our couple.

 

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_000257883

Gellis a ghost from the past and the future

Currently, we know of only two time-travelers in this story and I was struck by the difference between the two.  Claire is an accidental traveler. She had no idea she could travel and therefore no plans.  She comes back a second time to be with Jamie and for no other reason.  She does not purposely try to affect history.  We all know how that went when she did try to, I’m fairly sure at this point, she believes that it cannot be done. However, she obviously does make a difference to those around her.  She heals and is a woman out of her time with knowledge of the future, but the big events are just too convoluted, too many variables.

I don’t think Claire dwells on thoughts about the “why” of her ability to travel, she has “compartmentalized” it.  She has put it away, so that she can live her life.  She accepts it as part of her reality and like the practical person she is, she moves on.  It is part of her, but certainly not her identity.

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_000315941.jpg

The episode starts with letting us know what happened to young Ian.  We find out he is being taken to the Bakra because she likes young boys.  What followed was worthy of every Grimm’s fairytale ever told.  We meet our first ghost, our second time-traveler Gellis, the Bakra, who was not burned at the stake. Ian is no dummy, but he is no match for the witch Gellis who has been practicing her seductive powers for decades and across centuries. I hope we will get to see how this unwanted and forced sexual experience will change Young Ian.

Gellis is a deliberate time-traveller who has completely identified herself with her magical ability.  I’m not sure how Gellis discovered she could time-travel or if the knowledge was something passed down to her.  I wonder at her back story.  Is she the child or grandchild of a traveler from the past?  Was she groomed to save Scotland?  So many questions.  The Gellis we see in this episode is one who has taken on the mantle of “The Bakra” and is using it to her advantage.  She believes herself to be different, special, and has cultivated her image, embraced the mystery and expanded her knowledge of and belief in the magic she is so obviously part of.  Unlike Claire, Gellis believes she can change the future.  It is why she is in the past.  She is here to save Scotland.

I once wrote an article about how evil is represented in Outlander.  In that article, I talked about the differences between the villainy of Black Jack Randall and Gellis.  My conclusion was that Gellis was the more insidious and therefore, the more evil.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that both BJR and Gellis are perceived as villains. But, personally, I find Gellis to be the more insidious. I doubt there are very few people who meet BJR who do not recognize the need to be careful in his presence. The man practically drips malevolence. Gellis on the other hand keeps her nature very well hidden under a quirky wit and charm. Claire is fooled by her and as a result so are we, at least for a while…

… In many respects, she appeared to be “normal” even being a friend to Claire. But, on further “interviewing” (when they were kept together before the witch trial) we see the “matter of fact” way she describes killing her husband and her zeal for the Jacobite cause. Not unlike the Nazis, she has bought into an ideal, a belief  and given over her thinking to bringing about a free Scotland. What ever she needs to do to make that happen she does. She sees her actions as justifiable and the damage she inflicts collateral. To me, it is this lack of remorse that labels her as evil and…maybe she is mentally ill. She represents the idea that evil can come in many guises including a person who believes their actions are going to right an injustice and make the world a better place.

She is the proverbial snake in the grass biding her time and waiting to take victims unawares.

The show has taken a slight departure from the book and it is a brilliant one, the Brahan Seer prophecy that predicts a free Scotland.  It is obvious that the show is centering everything around this prophecy and it is connected to Jamie and Claire and a two hundred year old child that must die for a Scottish king to rise.  Is this the reason for all that has come before? Fate has brought them all to Jamaica, a place ripe for magic, and Jamie and Claire and …Bree are in real danger from a zealot Gellis.

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_001553177

Ghosts of Paris and Culloden

Once again, the costumes told us a story.  We see Jamie and Claire dressed in remnants of their past and it calls back memories of their time in Paris.  We are reminded that their time at Versailles was about espionage and that these clothes had been part of a disguise and a lie that cost them both dearly.  Seeing them dressed in this finery made me uncomfortable.  They seem ghosts of themselves and it contributed to the sense of foreboding, everything is familiar and yet, slightly altered.  Although the clothes are beautiful and they beautiful in them, they have come to represent an ugly time full of loss and pain.  They tried to change history and failed and lost each other.

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_001969593.jpg

Ghosts of Jamie’s past

I still miss the conversation between Lord John Grey and Claire on the Porpoise, but felt this adaptation worked.  John becomes part of the story and fated to be here in Jamaica with the third sapphire.  His reaction to seeing Jamie was perfect, his acceptance that Claire was Jamie’s every heartbeat was quite frankly, heartbreaking. Claire has to be wondering what happened between these two men that Jamie hasn’t shared.  I don’t think John’s role is done here and I predict he is fated to free Jamie.

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_002790413

Ghosts of the present

I’m not sure if I’m talking about ghosts now, but rather old souls.  I loved the connection between Yi Tien Cho and Margaret.  It makes sense to me that he would recognize her rare soul and she his.  Fate has once again brought two outsiders together and I’m sure that together they will play their part in stopping Gellis.

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_001695319.jpg

The thing between them that they cannot name

In an interview, Caitriona Balfe commented on Claire’s experience of Jamie.  She said it was so powerful as to be almost metaphysical, a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses.  They recognize it and feel it, but they cannot name it.  I felt the moment between the two in the reception line spoke to that reality.  It is always there between them no matter what is going on around them and in that moment they felt it and its strength.  What it is between them feels magical and mysterious.  Plus, it was sexy as hell.  

outlander-s03e12-the-bakra-720p-mkv_000980605.jpg

The ghosts of all our pasts

A few weeks ago, I wrote a reflection on season 3.  I did some lite research into what criteria is used to measure quality TV.  I discovered that Outlander fit all of the criteria established by TV expert Robert Thompson. I thought about that criteria this week when I watched episode 3.12 “The Bakra”.  I found myself mentally checking off the boxes of criteria once again.  However, one particular area stood out for me, “It contains sharp social and cultural criticisms with cultural references and allusions to popular culture. It tends toward the controversial. It aspires toward realism. ”  I’m amazed how timely these episodes are despite having been filmed for the most part over a year ago.  I’m sure I’m not the only fan who is struggling with the political situation in America and both dismayed and grateful that the bigoted, racist underbelly in our country has been brought into the light.  When my shivers over the goat blood scene reminiscent of “True Blood” settled, I was impressed by the timeliness of the social commentary in this story and its own timelessness.

We have all seen scenes of slave trade in modern film.  I have found it no less disturbing for having seen these types of scenes before. The show did not shy away from showing us the reality of the times, but I did not envy them the difficult task of deciding what they wanted to say about this reality.  We see Claire, a modern woman whose best friend was a black man, walking through a slave market.  I am not surprised that despite her need to remain under the radar, she could not contain her sense of outrage or her need to do something.  We are upset by seeing people of color caged, branded, and treated less than human on our TV, but forget this isn’t just our past, things really haven’t changed, our country remains one of white privilege.  People of color are still caged, branded, abused, and treated less than others. Claire becomes the metaphor for what it will take to change this reality. White people need to rush into the fray and confront other whites.  I appreciated that Jamie and Claire treated Temeraire with respect and concern. The irony that Claire became a part of history as a slave owner was not lost on me.

Gellis zealotry feels timely to me as well.  She would not be the first person to give over her thinking and ability to make rational choices to an idea and a belief.  I currently see a lot of people with power unconcerned for anyone standing in the way of their goals.  The poor, marginalized, and sick are blamed for their circumstances and become collateral damage in the name of “the greater good”.   This episode focused on Jamie and Claire’s ghosts, but I couldn’t help but feel the episode spoke to ghosts of all our pasts that continue to haunt us today, racism, sexism, bigotry, and abuse of privilege and power.