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



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.


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.


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]


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


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


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



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


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.


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


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


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


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”



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)


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!


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.


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.


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”



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


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


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


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





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


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.


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


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


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


“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”






“…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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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.



And, the layers come off… Outlander 3.11 “Uncharted”



Outlander on Starz  took us on a voyage across the seas and into uncharted territory this week.  The show has also provided my maiden voyage into fandom and it has been a trip filled with treasure troves of unique opportunities to learn about film-making. Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the show, has been very accessible to fans who are genuinely interested in what she does and how she does it.  She has been open to questions and very generous in sharing the thoughts and the work that goes into creating for the show.  Because of Terry’s generosity, I’ve learned that costume designing is about supporting the story and helping to develop the characters.  I’ve learned that costume designing isn’t about parading pretty clothes across the screen, unless that is what the story warrants.   I have learned that costuming is storytelling.  And, this week, Terry once again proved she is a great storyteller.


I’m constantly amazed at fans who aren’t willing to give the story time to develop or wait to see the costumes in context.  Terry often takes a lot of flack for PR pictures or magazine photo shoots that show the characters in costumes ahead of airing or styled for the shoot.  If you hung around social media this season, you couldn’t have helped but notice that there was a kerfuffle over Claire’s non-period blouse and a scandal over what shall forever be know in Outlander lore as “Beltgate”.  The now infamous “Batsuit” has had its share of critics.  Terry’s choice to have Claire make her own dress was a departure from the books and one given much consideration and deliberation.  She thought about the story and Claire’s place in it.  Terry asked herself what she would she do if she was traveling back in time for a second time.  What would Claire do to prepare herself for circumstances, difficulties, and needs that she could anticipate having.  The result of that thought process was a suit made of raincoats with secret pockets.  The suit was a wonderful mixture of available modern materials made to look as period appropriate as Claire could manage.  Her period inappropriate blouse was deliberate.  It was a nod to the story and Claire’s character.  She wore a blouse she borrowed from the daughter she was leaving behind.  She was wearing a reminder of her daughter on her skin.  I can imagine that for awhile the clothing even smelled like Brianna.  I am called back to Jamie sniffing Claire’s arasaid at the stones in the Culloden flashback.  Brilliant, but the thought that went into that garment doesn’t stop at utility and sentimentality, it becomes a metaphor for Claire’s personal journey.

Terry’s design told us Claire’s story layer by layer.


The Claire at the beginning of the season is a Claire who has repressed feelings and a Claire who has deliberately disconnected parts of herself, especially those parts that she closely associates with Jamie like her sexuality.  She has wrapped herself in her work and her identity has been shaped by her identity as a healer.  She has closed herself off to protect herself.  The Claire we see travel back through the stones is buttoned up and covered in tailored layers and fitted stays.  As the story progresses and we see Claire forced to come to terms with her reality, we see her lose her layers metaphorically and physically until finally, we see her completely herself unencumbered.  We finally see Claire, her hair loose and dressed only in her shift, at ease with herself, confident and rejoicing in her sexuality with her Jamie.  The suit has served her and the story well as we watched it become an integral part of Claire’s survival and her shedding of her layers.  The choices Terry made in context of the story are pure genius.  The thought that she put into that costume more than enhanced the story it was an essential part of helping us understand Claire and her journey back to her authentic self.  As Claire sheds her layers of protection she reveals the strong unique and beautiful woman we hoped was still there underneath.

I would love to say that the rest of this episode was as wonderful as Terry’s costuming, but…I can’t.


Why did Claire jump off that ship…oh yeah…

I can see why Diana Gabaldon said Outlander episode 3.11 “Uncharted” was one of her favorites this season.  It was full of scenes right from the book.  It pains me to say this because I know how hard these folks work and how much love goes into this production, but I wasn’t quite as impressed.  It wasn’t because there weren’t some delightful scenes because there were delightful scenes.  It would be hard not to love Jamie giving Fergus his name, the wedding, a pot smoking priest, and turtle time. Hang on to your rafts made out of barrels, but I think they needed to throw away the book this week.  I love this show, but this week, I loved it less.  Having said that let me explain where I think things went wrong.  They ran up against some uncharted territory.   They tried to adapt Voyager.  We all knew it was going to be hard and wondered how the hell they were they going to be able to do it.  The answer is not easily.  If you have to have your “Laurel and Hardy” comment on the ludicrousness of the improbability of your plot then…maybe you need a different plot! LOL!  I know it is story about time travel and the whole thing is crazy, I know that they want to honor fan expectations and wishes, but I want them to tell the best story they can and I’m not sure the source material helped them do that this week.  I think they struggled to wrestle this monster of a story arc into some kind of logical shape…sigh…they can’t win, LOL.

Please understand this is just my own personal opinion, but I think in the pressure to fit it all in they lost what held it all together.  They struggled to advance the relationship at the core of our story, Jamie and Claire. I get why Claire felt the need to get off that ship and the show did a better job of showing that her plan had a chance of success when we could actually see civilization on the shore.  She lets the current take her to town, she is able to get on the next ship outta there and somehow intercepts Jamie before the Artemis gets him and then we have time for the Jamaica story line.  But, instead of that we have Claire wandering an island.  My husband, a non book reader, asked “How is she going to get to Jamie if it takes her days to wander this island?”  Good question.  By the time she makes it to the Father’s hacienda, she is in no shape to continue her journey.  I think the time Claire spends struggling to get to Jamie was meant to show us her devotion and help her shed those final layers, and there were some moments between Claire and the father that remind us of Claire’s sacrifice with Brianna and the truth of her need of Jamie, but it still fell short of the epiphany I was hoping for.  I’m still waiting for the “Jamie is the key” voice over!

After learning the father’s story, getting called a “hoor” one more time and talking to the coconut, Claire believes she is back in pursuit of her goal, to get to a ship and find Jamie, but instead she thinks Jamie may have been shipwrecked just down the hill… to the right, to the right! In the show’s defense, it didn’t seem so improbable when I was reading the story.  The words “delightfully coincidental ” come to mind instead.  I think it is the flow that feels off.  It felt like the scenes book fans wanted to see were plugged in. Instead of a plot that advances the characters’ growth and the story’s goal we got a series of events all loosely held together by Claire’s desperate need to get to Jamie.  It felt formulaic. Claire pockets a mirror because she is so vain? She has a premonition she might need a mirror? The scene of Jamie running off the boat and to Claire made me wince and laugh out loud.  I’d have been waiting at the shore when the boat came in and probably sunk to my knees in relief. It felt horribly melodramatic and then…nothing.  We don’t hear any of the convo that needed to happen between the two. “I still can’t believe you jumped off that ship” was delivered with such casualness that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been accompanied by a knee slap.  I thought a scene like the one by the river in “The Reckoning” was warranted.  They needed a private moment. Everything is delivered like an exposition and very anticlimactic.

Why are they on that ship in the first place…oh yeah…

gotta get to Ian and all the stuff that happens in Jamaica …keep your hands and feet inside the ride and hold on to your remote this is gonna go all rollercoaster on us.

What has been left unresolved…oh yeah…

their relationship.  Maybe I am completely wrong here, but when is the convo going to happen?  When is Claire going to tell us or Jamie that she made the right choice?  I know the writers have said that actions speak louder than words, and Claire is notoriously bad at expressing her feelings (which makes when she does that more powerful), and Claire’s efforts to save the man she loves are heroic.  The tender snuggly moments at the wedding boded well and I loved the father’s blessing, but I think at some point Jamie and the viewers deserve to be reassured that she “just can’t live without you James Fraser”.   And then again, maybe, I need to wait until they are done telling the story!





It’s a long way down to where they started… a reflection on Outlander 3.10 “Heaven and Earth”




In my review of Outlander 3.06 “A. Malcolm”, I wrote about having expectations of the print shop reunion.  I jokingly said I missed the “slobber knocker” scene where they cried and shook with the longing of twenty years streaming down their faces. I got over my missing scene because after I calmed my book-loving self down, I realized what the show had given me was practically perfect in every way. After watching 3.10 “Heaven and Earth”, written by newcomer Luke Schelhaus and directed by David Moore, I thought of my missing “slobber knocker” scene again.  I thought about why it had been important to me and decided it was because it was a visceral reminder of the need Jamie and Claire have of each other.  True to form, the show gave me what I was missing, they just didn’t give it to me as I expected.  This week they gave me that need and the somewhat frightening reality of what that kind of need can do to people.

I have written about why we needed to see the 20 years apart between these two in order to understand the reunion.  I also wrote about the period of transition I thought we were going to see after the reunion.  The show has taken pains to let us see that though our couple’s memories of each other remained frozen in time, they were not.  They both had lives and they are both changed by the time they were apart.  Claire’s fear that she would find the man she left changed came true and she is certainly not the same woman who left Jamie 20 years before.  It has been more difficult than any of us could possibly have imagined.  I believe they are at the core the same people they each fell in love with, but 20 years of wearing masks, suppressing feelings, and doing what you need to do to survive have covered those cores in layers of protection.  It is a long way down to where they started and I’m not sure how long or what it will take to get them both back there, but I think we saw part of that journey in this episode.


Confined and Compartmentalized

I’ll admit that I watched and re watched and re re watched the initial hold scene between Jamie and Fergus. I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing. It seemed out of character for Jamie to be so callous and manipulative (and, I saw today that Diana agrees).  It wasn’t a very flattering look for a “king of men”.  I kept watching trying to figure out what exactly the writers were trying to show us.  Then it hit me.  I’d been there.  I’d been Jamie stuck in a cell and powerless to protect someone I desperately loved.  Without going in to too much detail, last December I found myself sitting in an ER with a loved one, powerless to protect them or effect change and angry, very angry.  I would have moved Heaven and Earth to make it different, but there was absolutely nothing I could do and my anger grew to rage.  I understood Jamie attacking Fergus unfairly.  I recognized his displaced anger because I had displaced my own.  I took my frustration out on someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I truly think I lost my mind for a bit or a least control of my emotions.  I was being irrational and unfair, but I couldn’t stop myself. With my personal experience on my mind, I watched the scene one more time.

Jamie Confined

I think we are seeing Jamie’s past pain resurface.  Claire being taken from him has brought him to a dark place, I think we see Jamie as close to madness as we have ever seen him.  When he realizes his wife has been kidnapped and the captain is complicit, he reacts violently and as a result is thrown into the hold. Just before he is pushed down into the cell, we see him desperately look to the Porpoise, as it puts distance between him and Claire.  He is once again confined, “I’m well acquainted with the inside of a cell.”  I couldn’t help, but give this statement more meaning than the literal.  Jamie has spent the better part of 20 years without personal agency.  He has been confined in more ways than one.  His being once again behind bars has to be bringing it all back, the loss of Claire and the desolate life he lived without her.  The thought of losing her again is now made more cruel by her miraculous return and their tenuous bond.  He truly can’t lose her again.  He is desperate.

It isn’t just the plague that concerns him, “There is more than disease on that ship there are 300… men.”  A very timely statement given the current atmosphere and the idea that women are never safe from molestation.  As we see what transpires on the Porpoise, we know that Jamie’s fears are not unfounded.  Claire is in danger from men.  He needs to get to her. He needs to protect her.  He needs her. But, he is locked up and powerless to reach her… once again.

In the books, Jamie confesses to Claire that he had not been afraid for a very long time and that with her return he began to feel fear again because he had something to lose once more. I think the show has shown us that reality, in Ardsmuir Jamie tells John Grey to do what he will, there is nothing they can do to him that hasn’t been done.  He had lost everything that truly mattered to him.  And, even though he cares for his men, his family, Willie, Murtaugh, and Fergus, it is his loss of Claire that changed him forever. He is not complete without her and having found her once more he, “…would do more than lie to keep her.” He would in fact move Heaven and Earth and risk Hell, as easily as the prick of a pin.  I can remember sitting in that emergency room my thoughts spinning from one possibility to another, looking for a way out, looking for a way to fix things, looking for a way out of my fear.  Jamie is doing the same. His fear and desperation have made him irrational, he is grasping at straws and ignoring the facts of their situation as described by Fergus.  When Fergus doesn’t buy into Jamie’s irrational and desperate plans, Jamie’s impotent fear and anger become displaced and Fergus becomes the unfortunate target.  In the mist of his despair and displaced anger, Jamie says he was right to deny his blessing on the marriage to Marsali because Fergus doesn’t know what love is.  Saying this out loud brings a last desperate idea to mind.  He will do more than lie to keep Claire, he will in fact, use Fergus’ love for Marsali.  The darkness he has inhabited to survive without Claire has made this possible, but we all cringe at the cruelty and manipulation and we know it will not come without a cost to his relationship with Fergus.

Luckily for Jamie, he has good will on account.  He has lived a life of honor, been there for those God has given him charge of, and sacrificed his own interest for others over and over. “You can trust me to keep my word” says Jamie,”I have always trusted you Milord” says a newly maimed Fergus.  Fergus is in the unique position of knowing what Claire means to Jamie and what he was like after losing her.  And, after hearing the sailors discussing Jamie, himself and Marsali, he realizes what it is Jamie is feeling.  He tells Jamie he will not bring him the keys and place them all at risk.  He tells Jamie he is willing to move Heaven and Earth to keep the woman he loves safe even if that means he cannot marry her.  Marsali understands that it is not only love of her, but love of Jamie that makes Fergus tell him, no.  He will move Heaven and Earth to keep Jamie safe, as well as Marsali.  And, God, I love Marsali for telling him if he doesn’t understand that then he “doesn’t deserve” to be set loose.  They love him and so, they do what is best for him and risk his anger and…forgive him because sometimes we forgive those we love even when they do not deserve it.  Fergus is indeed like Jamie and proves himself to be his son by his noble actions.  To Jamie’s credit, he gets it right in the end and gives them his blessing.

Claire Compartmentalized

Despite my need to see Jamie forgiven and he and Claire together forever and all well between them, Claire stubbornly refuses to reassure Jamie that all is well and that she is there forever.  The specter of those 20 years apart continues to haunt them. There have been moments where she seems to come close and she has never denied her love of him, but just when it seems they are finding a way back to each other something conspires to keep them apart.  I loved the moment in the “Doldrums” when Jamie realizes that he must let Claire be who she has become and lets her go despite his need to keep her by his side. He takes her into the hall, but when he sees her standing there with her arms crossed, a look of challenge on her face, he resigns himself to the reality that she will go whether he says no or not. He touches their wedding ring as he says he has taken an oath or two himself and taken them all seriously.  He is devoted to her and trying hard to be the man she needs him to be. Through out this episode we are reminded that a word given is a bond, Claire, Jamie, Fergus, the Captain all are bound by their oath.

On the English ship, we see Claire slip into her familiar role as surgeon.  She knows exactly who she is when she is healing the sick and it serves to emphasis how unsure she is when she is not.  Watching her deal with the plague was a glorious celebration of the woman who is Claire and I have to wonder if anyone could have done this job besides her.  Her sense of self and her authority in the face of so many men was honed in another time when women in medicine were just as rare and looked upon with suspicion.  Having her abilities, knowledge, authority questioned by men is nothing new.  She handles what ever they throw her way with the aplomb of a woman who has been there and done that.  There is no doubt who is in charge. I loved the irony of authority being given to the youth of the captain and Mr. Pound.  I believe the unusual circumstances that led a third lieutenant to become captain and a 14 year.old to be addressed as sir were actually in her favor.  The band of unlikely save the day.

Claire has never been as open with her feelings as Jamie nor as eloquent in expressing them, but we can judge how she feels through her actions.  She does share with us that she is feeling the impact of being separated from Jamie.  It has been less than a day and fifty miles only that separates her from him, but she tells us it feels like 200 years.  Talking about leaving Jamie and actually leaving him seem to be two totally different things. Despite her misgivings and confusion there is no doubt that she loves him and that the only comfort she finds in him not being with her is that he is safe from the typhoid.  However, she seems to be able to function without him in a way he cannot without her and Elias discovers her secret for us.  She tells him there is a word for what she does, compartmentalizing.  She has learned how to put different parts of her life away into compartments and keep her feelings separate, so that she can do her work.  We know that she has been doing this with her feelings for Jamie for 20 years and we wonder when and what it will take to make her take those feelings out of the boxes she has stored them in and incorporate them into who she is now.  How long will it be before Claire can become whole once more?

We may have seen Claire come close to understanding her need of Jamie when she reads the captain’s log and discovers that Jamie has been found out and is in danger.  We see what she is willing to do to keep him safe.  We see Claire lie to those who trust her, threaten to cry rape, and even commit murder.  I had no doubt that if Claire had believed cutting Thompkins’ throat would have kept Jamie safe, she would have done it, despite her oath to do no harm.  As she listened in horror to the story of the body being found in the cask of Creme de Menthe, the charges against her husband, and the unlikelihood that the captain could be convinced to not write a report once they reach Jamaica, she understands that she may lose him again.  Her eyes filling with tears were powerful evidence that she cannot lose him again and so, she jumps into the bottomless sea for Jamie’s sake. Nice metaphor that.


No matter what happens around us

The fact that these two were meant to be together is never in doubt for us, but we have to be patient while they peel back the layers and find the way down to where they began.  They need to know that whatever it is between them that they cannot name is powerful enough to keep them together despite anything that goes on around them.  Maybe the very real possibility that they may lose each other again will be enough to make them both accept they are mated for life and fated to be together through time and past all understanding.

Some final thoughts


Elias: How impressive was Albie Marber as Elias Pound ? ! The character was a delight and I loved his chemistry with Claire.  In the time he was on-screen, Albie managed to make us care about his Elias and as result, mourn his loss. I felt his concern and love for his shipmates and his respect for Claire. His delight in her telling him he was an impressive young man was heartwarming and his cheeky smile at her cursing adorable. His concern for his men touched me, “Feel better Mr. Owens”.  May we all have children of such strength and integrity.  I couldn’t help, but think of the difference between the young men in this episode and the extended period of adolescence in our culture.  It spoke to the fact that children will rise to what is expected of them and that we do our children no favors by taking the opportunity for self-sufficiency away from them.  We need to allow our kids to make choices and mistakes.  Mr. Pound was an impressive young man and if I was his mother, I too would be proud.

Typhoid Fever: Claire’s process in dealing with the plague was fascinating and gruesomely realistic.  The effort that goes into this production continues to stagger.  When Claire looked around the deck, I felt as overwhelmed as she must have been.  I’ve of course never been around something like this, but it felt pretty real.  I was pleased to see there was more to the story than just dealing with the disease.  They did a wonderful job of letting us see the human side of such an event and I couldn’t help, but be reminded of all of the natural and unnatural disasters we have had this year and the stories of humanity that came out of those.  We saw the frailness and preciousness of life, and the real grief over the loss of fellow human beings.  The burials and Lord’s prayer were moving, in the end, we are all the same.  We all want to be loved, cared for and respected.


Swabbing: On a lighter note, my husband’s favorite uncle retired from the Navy and had a little dachshund he named Swabbie.  I thought Swabbie was the name given to most lower ranked sailors because they “swabbed” the decks.  I got puppy fever one day and came home with two little dachshunds, I promptly named the little brown one Swabbie in an effort to endear my husband to my suprise purchase.  After this episode, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look at my dog in the same way again.  Swabbie doesn’t sound so cute anymore!






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


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.


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. 

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.


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



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.