A Show Worth Caring About…A Reflection on Outlander 5.04 “The Company We Keep”

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by Beth Wesson

 

Back before Outlander on Starz was on the air, I wrote an article that I hoped would be prophetic.  It was my prediction that viewers would care about Claire because she was a character worth caring about. In fact, I felt Outlander had a chance to be different than anything on TV at the time.  We were about to see if a show with characters with redeeming character could hold an audience’s attention.  Starz must have been hoping I was prophetic too because they posted it and Caitriona read it and said, “I concur”! Pretty heady stuff for a fledgling writer.  At the time, folks were comparing Outlander to Game of Thrones.  I always felt it was a very short-sighted comparison. GOT was full of characters acting out of warped emotions, values, and needs, lots of titillating stuff to discuss around the water cooler. I have nothing against R.R. Martin or the show based on his works. They are what they are, but what they are is a far cry from what Outlander is or tries to be. And, I think I was prophetic, I believe that the potential for Outlander to be something more has come to fruition.

As I watched this week’s episode “The Company We Keep”, I thought about my hopes for Outlander back in the day. This whole season has a vibe that I’m liking and I’m happy to say that that it seems the show has returned to its roots; a focus on people who struggle to make the right decisions and the relationships they have with others. If you were to judge ME by the company I keep, you would have to include the people I spend my Sunday nights with, the folks of Fraser’s Ridge. They are indeed people worth watching because they are people worth caring about.

Roger Mac

I care about Roger because he is man worth caring about.  In this episode, we continue to see Roger struggle to be a man in the 18th century. When Roger makes a decision, I find myself saying a little prayer, “please, please, please let him be right”. He tries so hard, but he has no experience or skills to draw upon except his academic knowledge. Right now it is of little use to him. He may know the words to the songs, the history of battles, but he has not lived them. He is literally bringing a book to a gunfight.  And yet, he gets up every day and tries to be the man everyone needs him to be despite feeling like he is letting everyone down. Roger’s only motivation is to be there for Bree and his small family.  I find it heart warming that a man whose only real experience of family is being raised by an elderly uncle is so all in.  He is a father to Jem, a husband to Bree no matter what time they live in.  He is loyal, honorable, and peace-loving. I trust he will find a way to be of use and earn Jamie’s coveted faith in him.

Fergus

I care about Fergus because he is a man worth caring about. The thing I love most about Fergus is his undying loyalty to Jamie. Jamie may not have gotten to raise a child of his own blood, but it is obvious he is loved by the children of his heart.  I believe Fergus tries to emulate his father “milord” and you can see the evidence in his relationship with Marsali. As an extension of his loyalty and love for Jamie, he has Roger’s back.  He treats him as the family he is and with the respect bestowed upon him. I hope we get to see more of Fergus’ story and struggles.  There is much about life to be learned there.

Marsali

I care about Marsali because she is a woman worth caring about.  This character! How could you not love her! She is spunky, straight-forward, open, and full of life.  Her humor and good-natured wit serve her well. I’m pretty sure you have to earn her love because he isn’t a pushover, but it would so be worth the effort.  She reminds me a bit of Jenny. If you are loved by her you would know it. Her conversation with Brianna in this episode showed wisdom beyond her years. I’m sure Brianna could tell she truly cares about her and I loved seeing the blossoming of this relationship. I hope we see more of her story of perseverance and unconditional love it is worth watching.

Brianna

I care about Brianna because she is a woman worth caring about.  Right now, the Brianna we see is a woman struggling to find her sense of self again. She is fighting a demon too many woman battle, rape, and its aftermath.  Despite what has happened to her she too gets up every day and tries.  She knows she is damaged and combating feelings she cannot control. Her superhuman efforts to be a good mother and wife are admirable.  However, the show, true to form, lets us see her frailty too. We see her struggle and feel empathy. I need to see her share her burden and hope that will happen soon.

Jamie

I care about Jamie because he is a man worth caring about.  Last week, I read an article where Diana Gabaldon discussed the 5.03 episode.  One of the things she said that has stuck with me is Jamie’s identity as a warrior. It permeates everything he does. He is always ready to fight to protect the people he loves and has responsibility for. You can be sure if you are lucky enough to be loved by Jamie you have his protection. I keep saying this, but the man isn’t motivated by power.  He doesn’t seek attention or riches.  His motives are truly purer.  He is motivated by love, loyalty, and honor. In this episode alone, we see him give two young boys their freedom and then protect them from harm, negotiate the best possible situation with the Browns and the militia. give Claire a child should she wish, and help two young lovers escape to live and love together. He cares, so I care.

Claire

I STILL care about Claire because she is a woman worth caring about. I had a friend attend Wizard World in Cleveland this past weekend.  She said that Cait shared that some of the hardest times as an actor are when you are asked to play your character in ways that are counter to what you believe them to be.  I’m totally paraphrasing because I wasn’t there, but I believe that was the gist of the conversation.  I can totally understand and I feel encouraged that she has more say in how Claire is portrayed this season. Last season, I lamented the lost opportunity to see the Claire of the ridge.  As a book lover, I remembered thinking the Claire of the ridge was my favorite because it seemed the later books were when Claire became all she was truly meant to be.  I’m happy to say I see her this season. I see a Claire who is frustrated by what is available to her medically, but who knows her purpose. I see a Claire who “loves her life” together with her Jamie.  I see a kind Claire who treats everyone she meets with respect and compassion.  This Claire is a true partner of her beloved husband.  She is a mother and grandmother to many.  She is loved and loves and I love her for her unflagging principles in the face of adversity.

A Show Worth Watching

This show is more than titillation. This show is about the complexity of life and relationships.  This show never shies away from difficult topics and takes the time to portray the aftermath of trauma. This show lets us see both men AND women as fully realized people.  At its core is a long term loving and passionate relationship, a couple who works and strives to stay together.  It is beautiful, transportive, and moving.  So, I’ll be keeping company with Outlander on Starz because I care about its characters and want to watch every week and I can’t give it a better compliment than that.

 

We Are The Sum of Our Choices…a reflection on Outlander 5.03 “Free Will”

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by Beth Wesson

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This week’s episode is called “Free Will”.  I’m really happy about that because it has given me a chance to share my favorite Christian Theology story! Never saw that coming!  I was told the story came from a book called “Great Church Fights”.  I never challenged that, but I thought if I was going to blog about it I had better do a little fact-checking. Yep, in 1972, Leslie B. Flynn wrote a book about church controversy and how to solve it.  I’m totally paraphrasing, but here goes…

A church was divided on the issues of free will and predestination.  It had gotten so bad that they were on the verge of the church splintering into two groups.  They were meeting in the basement of the church and everyone had picked a side.  The freewill people were on one side of the room and the predestination folks were on the other, all that is, except for one lone soul who stood in the middle. He was still undecided which group he should join.

Finally, he went to the predestination side of the basement.

“What are you doing here?”, the predestination folks asked.

“I came of my own free will!” the man said.

He was not welcomed, and group members pointed him toward the other group.

“What are you doing here?”, the free will people asked.

“I was sent”, said the man.

I remembered this story while reflecting on this episode “Free Will”, and like the great church fight, I’m sure there will be a split in the fandom over this episode.  I might be that poor fellow in the middle.  The book purists will love it.  Others might question how spending an entire episode in Beardsley’s House of Horrors advances the story.  As a book lover, I am of two minds about the issue.  Maybe I should just “pick a side or up and away” (thanks Murtagh).  But, of my own free will,  I’ve decided to write about…free will and how it affects this storyline and let the fans decide which side of the basement they will stand on.

Free Will vs Fate

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This whole episode could have been used as a lesson in a theology or philosophy class. As I understand it, the Christian theologists believe that God gives free will to man because he desires our love.  He wants us to choose to live for him  He has the power to force us to do as he bids, but to do so would negate choice and therefore real love.  We must be free to choose if we are to truly love.  The irony is that he already knows what we will choose, hence the belief in predestination.  Philosophers have spent centuries trying to answer the same question of whether we have free will or are just the puppets of fate/determinism.  Are we free to make our own choices or is every choice the result of cause and effect making us the product of our past experiences.

Free will is defined as “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.” It is extremely hard, in my humble opinion, to know where free will begins and ends.  I am of the mind that we are inextricably connected to our experiences and circumstances and that they invariably inform our choices.  We may sometimes move beyond what is expected, of what is the norm, and as a result, we perceive we are acting at our own discretion.  It is comforting to believe we have free will, however more times than not, we make a choice that is clearly within the boundaries of the life path we are on, the constraints of necessity or fate are always there. Then again, personally, I believe in miracles and grace…so…yeah, you can see why folks have been discussing this one for centuries.

Breaking Free of  Fate

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Everyone in this story is held in some kind of bondage to their nature or to necessity. Claire starts off the episode with a voiceover about growing mold. She is tempting fate because she cannot live with having knowledge that would save lives and then doing nothing. It is an odd bird this time travel thing.  She affects history every time she saves someone’s life and yet every time she consciously tries to change history she fails. But, she tries again. She is trying to create penicillin 157 years before its time and daring the fates to stop her. This made me smile. It would appear Claire has exercised her free will by forging ahead, consequences be damned.  But, does she really have a choice, she is Claire after all. This seems consistent with everything we know about her nature, she has no choice but to choose as she does. She is destined to try to help and heal, and we love her for it.  The episode did a wonderful job of showing us a kind Claire who cares deeply about everyone who crosses her path, be it a bondservant, abused wife, or the man who abused them all.

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art credit to Sylvia

Jamie has been walking between two fires for as long as I can remember.  He has been an outlaw trying to stay alive, an outlander at Castle Leoch, an outcast Jacobite leader trying to care for fellow prisoners, a man without a heart trying to live without a heart, a changed man asking to be loved for the man he was, and a laird trying to protect loved ones on opposite sides of a revolution.  Better than anyone, Jamie knows what it is like to be the plaything of fate. It feels like very few choices have been his to make. So much has been out of his control.

I was so glad to see the return of the anchor that holds Jamie to his course in life, his faith .  For the most part, it has been sadly missing in this series.  The Jamie that stands by Claire’s bedside thanking the Lord for his blessings is the Jamie I know.  He has always been grateful for his blessings and thoughtfully prayed over the decisions in his life.  His choices are always colored by his Catholicism and his God.  He could of cursed God for all of his sufferings, but instead, he chooses to live his faith. Throughout the episode we see Jamie keeping his word and living his faith.  He is not perfect, he makes his share of mistakes, but he also chooses to live with honor and the kind of mercy that gave Beardsley a choice.

Jamie’s life would have been much easier if he had never met Claire.  He might have lived a more solitary and selfish life, join the watch and become a soldier for pay.  But, I want to exercise my free will and believe he was fated to love Claire and that that choice changed everything. I was tearful as I watched the reunion scene, they need each other, they are soulmates.

Fannie and the Beardsley twins are an uncomfortable example of how necessity affects free will.  Imagine living in servitude since you were a toddler and facing a future of completing a 30-year term of indenture to a man who beats and starves you.  Josiah took whatever opportunity there was to escape. His choice to leave gave them the possibility of a future, but what choice did Josiah really have? It was a matter of survival, necessity.

Fannie is a frighteningly accurate portrait of an abused woman.  She feels betrayed by her father, given to a man who beats and abuses her.  Imagine living with the knowledge that you are this man’s fifth wife and fearing that your grave will soon be under the Rowan tree with the others. It is no wonder that she finds herself capable of such cruelty.  Her free will had been beaten from her and her choice to give her rage permission to act its revenge, although horrifying, is at some level understandable. Her conversations with Claire revealed that she wasn’t always as she appears.  Her fears for her child’s future and her wish that the twins find some happiness showed us that despite the evidence, she is still a human who can feel pity and concern.  Her choice to leave her child was one of necessity and I felt her desperation as she left the trading post as the damaged goods Beardsley’s choices had created.

We Are the Sum of Our Choices

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The episode reminded us of some of life’s truths about choices.  Claire reminds us that we can’t be responsible for the choices others make, Bree and Roger that no matter how much we prepare, life can throw us curves, and Jamie that some choices require sacrifice. One other truth found in the episode is that in the end, whether governed by free will or necessity, we are the sum of our choices.  Mr. Beardsley is the visceral embodiment of that truth. The scenes in the trading post were beyond my expectations.  I knew what was coming and was still shocked. The slow reveal of what Fannie did to her husband built on the horror.  When the truth is clear, Claire states the obvious, “What you must have done to deserve this”.  The fact of the matter is Beardsley is reaping the repercussions of his selfish and evil choices.  When he most needs mercy there is no one in his world willing to dispense it.

The most chilling part of this episode for me was when Jamie offered the paralyzed man a quicker death, an escape from his torture.  “Let it be his choice, his will”, he tells Claire. He gives the man the choice of being treated by Claire or an assisted death. His only request of the man was so true to Jamie form.  Knowing Beardsley was a wicked man, he does not want to take his life and risk sending him to hell.  He asks if the man will not pray for forgiveness.  I found myself breathlessly waiting for the second blink.  This for me was the most disturbing of the choices we were shown, whether made of his free will or of necessity, he chose hell.  Maybe he chose to be defiant even unto death or maybe he felt he deserved eternal damnation.  We will never know, but he will forever stand in my mind as a wretched cautionary tale.

 

 

I’m pretty sure I singed my eyebrows just watching…a reflection on Outlander 5.02 “Walking Between Two Fires”

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by Beth Wesson

Last week a fan blog wished the show would be more gritty…all I can say is be careful what you wish for!  It felt like the show went from quaint to queasy as quickly as you could say “tar and feathers”.  The storyline was so full of foreshadowing I was actually squirming.  Claire continues to be uncompromisingly principled …to a fault.  AND…Steven Bonnett “is a father now.”  The portent of these words was so ominous I actually gasped and cried out loud, “Jemmie!”  AND…no matter what Jamie does he is wrong.  I felt so much second-hand anxiety, I wasn’t sure I would be able to watch it again.  I did, but I wasn’t much more comfortable the second time! In preseason interviews, the actors said things were going to quickly turn to shite and they weren’t kidding.  Hold on to your tricorns we are in for a bumpy ride.

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Torn between loyalty and loyalty

“I didna think them capable of this”, says Colonel James Fraser. I found myself to be incredulous, as well, this seemed, unlike Murtagh.  The insurrection in Hillsborough seemed an overreaction to the provocation.  Then I thought again.  I kept wondering what emotions lie under the skin of a revolutionary.  How strong must it be to allow them to believe the actions we witnessed were justified?  I thought of all Murtagh and the others had been through and how tired they must be of not fighting back.  This New World Murtagh has spent years in prison and servitude, all at the hands of the English. His righteous anger at this treatment had been impotent, as he had no way to express it that would make any difference to himself or others.  This anger wouldn’t have just gone away, it had to have simmered under the surface.  Then just when he and some of his fellow countrymen have finally gained their freedom, here comes the English taxing away their hard-won lives.  Anger would have come to a boil.

The crown believes themselves to be the superior and sovereign rulers of this country.  Lieutenant Knox is aghast at what he perceives as ingratitude, from these backwoods people, “there is always a need to respect his majesty’s army”.  Murtagh and the regulators have lost all capability of caring what the crown thinks or wants.  The English’s arrogance and disdain toward the colonials is no longer to be born. The fatal flaw of Lieutenant Knox and the English is their underestimation of these people and their desire to be free and treated as the equals they are.  They are not living by the King’s leave and will not “take what is offered and be thankful”.  The English are failing to see they are reaping the mercy they showed at Culloden and in its aftermath.

I think Jamie Fraser is just beginning to fully understand what he is facing and how truly narrow is the path between the fires of loyalty to Murtagh and the settlers of Fraser’s Ridge.  He knew his balance was precarious, but I don’t think he expected Murtagh to be such a zealot and that he would not make himself hard to find.  He is shocked to find Murtagh so public in his defiance.  It has become obvious that he is not waiting to fight at Jamie’s side. It seems to me that Murtagh understands that without information about the part the regulators play and how they fare in this “coming war”, he must blindly go ahead with his plans. They may not make a difference, but then again they may.  In fact, none of us truly know how the actions of men like Murtagh shaped the revolution that led to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Jamie is left trying to navigate his way between loyalty to Murtagh and loyalty to his settlers, his empathy for the regulators and his need to protect his family.  Sam Heughan’s ability to emote that strain and its consequence is nothing short of staggering.

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Torn between truth and truth:

The “truth fires” that Claire walks between are the truth that she is fighting the knowledge that she could be saving lives and the truth that that same knowledge could place them all in danger of losing everything.  Right now, I’m worried they are all going to get burned because Claire cannot stop fanning the flames.

Life here is hard, dangerous, rife with ignorance and violence.  The scene in Hillsborough was a harsh reminder, but the scene in the surgery cemented the truth for me.  The Farrish’s wagon comes careening up to the Big House with an obviously ill Mister Farrish.  A distraught Mistress Farrish has no idea how she could have done anything more to help! She has given him laxatives! She has let his blood!  Claire confirms to her horror and ours that the man’s veins have been cut open and much needed blood drained.  Then the clincher…the man’s wife has given him “Blue Mass Pills”…mercury.  There is literally nothing Claire can do, but watch him die.  She is fighting both the “illness and its cure”.  She is a woman with knowledge, living in a world with none.

In an effort to get at the truth, Claire decides to do an autopsy.

I felt that that sentence needed to be given its own space.  The danger in which she has placed herself and those she loves cannot be overstated.  I kept thinking she has a body ripped open in her house! Literally, anyone could discover it just like Brianna.  Brianna is right, it intellectually and practically makes sense in 1969, but that is not the time in which they live.  What if someone does find out?  We all know what will happen.  But, Claire forges ahead consequences “be damned”.  I’m not a doctor, but at some level, I understand her need and her frustration.  If people would just listen to her, just come to her sooner, she wouldn’t have to watch helplessly while they die. But again, Brianna is right, Mistress Farris just helped her husband “die faster”.  The truth is that there really wasn’t anything Claire could have done either way.  Once again, we see Claire blinded by her need to help.  At this point, it is starting to feel pathological. Her need may appear selfless, but in truth, it feels selfish.  I want to shake some sense into her, has she learned nothing?

 

Torn between fear and fear:

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Last week we heard that Bonnett, Brianna’s rapist and potential biological father to her son, was spotted in the province.  This week we saw that he was more than a charcoal nightmare.  Stephen, the sociopath, is alive and well and proud to be a papa.  Excuse me while I shiver in fear.  Bonnet was an absolute creep and brute in the books, but Ed Speelers’ portrayal of him might just be worse than BJR, and that, my friends, is quite a feat.  Black Jack Randall was very much in control of his darkness.  That in itself was frightening, but he was at least predictable.  Bonnet’s duality of charm and savage brutality is frightening because of its capricious instability.  He can be smiling one minute and cutting your eyes out the next.

I’m sure it was deliberate, but why did they feel the need to make him look good?  Maybe, it’s just me? Did anyone else think they made him look gorgeous? It was disconcerting.  Villians should look like villains, right? Then it hit me.  Lucifer was an angel.  It makes it even more frightening that he doesn’t look the part.  There are no immediate warning signs, he seems affable.   When he feels insulted by another man, he comments that they should settle the affront to his honor like gentlemen.  He is only playing at the gentlemen.  He is in truth feral.  When he doesn’t kill the man outright instead of maiming him, it is because he “…wants to set a better example. I’m a father now”.  He walks out, straightens his clothes back to genteel form, a look of eagerness then crosses his face.  I was convinced that look and his attempts to be a gentleman were all about Jemmie.

Brianna is walking between the fires of fear and fear.  On one side is the very real fear that her rapist lives.  On the other side, she lives with the fear that her PTSD will destroy any chance she has at happiness.  She fights to not let Bonnet win.  She will not let what he did ruin her relationship with the man and child that she loves. She hides her fears.  Like so many others like her, she puts on a smile and tries to live.  This might be the narrowest path of all.  She has survived, but that doesn’t mean she is healed.  Healing from trauma comes with no guarantees about what life will be like after.  Brianna lives with fear on all sides and maybe …she is walking through fire.

 

 

 

 

The Jamie of the Ridge … a reflection on Outlander 5.01 “The Fiery Cross”

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First, let me say that 5.01 “The Fiery Cross” was a masterful mix of old and new.  It was recognizably based on the book but told with enough new and yet plausible surprises to keep me glued to my screen. It totally could have happened that way.  And, although I love Diana Gabaldon, and her gathering, I’m relieved they didn’t feel the need to replicate it in this episode. Instead, they gave us the wedding of Roger and Bree. It was a wonderful and joyous reunion filled with the people I have missed during this long drought.  As each face was shown on the screen, I found myself smiling somewhat tearfully.  I really do love this story and these characters.

As usual, when I sit down to write after an episode, a blow by blow recap of what happened isn’t on my mind.  There are lots of talented bloggers out there who do a great job looking at EVERTHING! I admire their ability to do so, but that just isn’t how my brain works.  I find myself thinking about one or two things that stood out for me or an overall mood or theme for each episode.  This week I couldn’t stop thinking about Jamie.  The Jamie I saw on my screen this week was the charming, complicated, yet simple man I have been longing to see.  As he stood before Claire wearing his plaid and his father’s coat, it felt like he had finally come into his own; laird, proud Scot, husband, father, grandfather.  He is a man and “that is no small thing”.  His tear-filled eyes throughout this episode revealed his soul and I found myself proud to “know” such a man.

Jamie and Bree

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Matt Roberts writes with such love for this story and its characters.  He holds all the previous episodes in mind when he creates and tends to the small and endearing details.  In this episode, he called us back to the three conditions Jamie made when he agrees to marry Claire; a dress, a priest, and a ring.   We are treated to Jamie trying his best to make sure his daughter’s wedding day is the best he can make it, just like he tried for her mother. I was charmed by Jamie making sure Bree had her “modern” wedding tradition of something old, something new (fairly raw whiskey, ouch), something borrowed and something blue and even a sixpence for her shoe. His obvious fatherly concern is compounded by the fact that their relationship is still so new.  He just got her back and now he has to give her away.

As he turns the corner and sees Bree in her wedding dress, you can chase the emotions across his face; awe, pride, gratefulness, and finally a need to hold it all in check for this beloved and found daughter.  He could never have dreamed of placing his mother’s pearls on his daughter’s neck. He is able to pass on a family heirloom to his own flesh and blood. She is his blessing.  She is the embodiment of the fact that his sacrifices were not in vain.  He is moved to tears by her confession that she needs him and will always be his wee girl and the gift of her knowing and repeating the Fraser clan motto, “Je Suis Prest”.

Jamie and Claire

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Throughout the episode, we are reminded of Jamie and Claire’s deep, passionate, and abiding love for one another.  The looks that pass between each, the unspoken language of couples who are so close they know what the other thinks and feels, added so much to this episode. Once again, the writers or actors took care to be consistent in how this couple interacts with each other like the “let’s do this” nod when Jamie goes off to do something dangerous.  But, Lord the looks between Jamie and Claire at the wedding.  He looks around at all he has wrought, the family he is surrounded by, and then back to Claire. Who knows.  He is overwhelmed by all he has that he thought he had lost forever.  He is a laird, a father, a…husband.  I am constantly reminded of all they had been denied and wonder if Jamie feels like Job who was blessed in his latter days and given twice as much as had been taken from him.

Jamie and the Governor

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I teach literature. When I help students analyze Shakespeare, we talk about foils.  Governor Tyron was perfectly menacing and a perfect foil for Jamie. You couldn’t help but compare the two.  Their motivations, their values, couldn’t be more opposite.  The Governor has the care of a land and its people.  Jamie has the care of a land and its people. The Governor is motivated by power and his own importance.  Murtaugh has made him look a fool and must be punished publicly to restore Tyron’s pride and preserve the perception of his power.  Jamie is motivated by love, honor, and duty.  The knowledge of the future lays heavy on him.  He knows who wins the war, but first, you must survive the battle.  Instinctively he knows the best way to protect his men and their families is to assure their loyalty to him.  He creates a clan from the remnants of their memories and Scottish pride.  When he called Roger “the son of my house” and Fergus “the son of his heart”, he gave them a public affirmation of his acceptance and his love. Pledging their loyalty to him on bended knee with holy iron was one of the most moving callbacks of the whole series.  I loved Roger’s initial confusion then Jamie’s surprise as the scholar moved from academic to real with alacrity.

Jamie and Murtagh

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We began and ended the episode with these two.  Murtagh pledges an oath to Jamie, a promise he gave his mother to always follow him and have his back.  He gently reaches out and takes wee Jamie’s hand in reassurance. Men in this time are definitely defined by their word and once given it is a serious and binding commitment. Murtagh pledged his life to Jamie.  We have seen him keep that oath.  We saw Jamie’s joy at being reunited with his godfather last season. However, the real depth of feeling Jamie has for Murtagh could only be guessed at… until this moment.  How much that oath meant to Jamie and his love for his godfather was revealed in this final scene. To save him, Jamie must release Murtagh from his oath and send him away.   In true Jamie and Murtagh fashion, no gushy words are spoken in their final goodbye. Jamie is tearful when he tells him to go and attempts to smile as he tells him to make himself scarce.  Murtagh’s response is to gently reach out and touch Jamie reassuringly, thinking first of Jamie’s feelings and needs always.  He leaves and Jamie then collapses in grief emitting gut-wrenching sobs. I think having loved and lost is painful, but to gain that love back and have to let it go again is unbearable.  Jamie is feeling fear as he never has before and that is saying a lot.  He has a lot to lose and will fight to the death to preserve all that he loves.

This episode and Jamie’s tears caused me to reflect on my own life. I thought of how much more easily my husband and I are moved to tears.  I believe, like Jamie, our age is a factor.  We have a lifetime of painful memories and struggles, things that we have overcome to get where we are now.  And, I often find I am now moved to tears by the simplest of things like watching our youngest granddaughters ride a pony or their obvious pride in catching a fish all by themselves, or watching the teens in all of their various sports and activities.or their inexplicable joy in a pair of gifted footed pajamas!  Sometimes watching the looks of pride on our own children’s faces as they look upon their children moves me to tears and I will look at my husband and find that he too is tearful. Like Jamie and Claire, understanding, gratitude, and love will wordlessly pass between us and end in a brief kiss and a tremulous smile.

 

 

 

My Outlander Stress Dream…Looking forward to Sunday?

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Hi!  Been an age!  I know I have been scarce on Outlander Social Platforms, but in my defense, I’ve been busy.  That is mostly because my life has been a train wreck. I’m seriously considering changing my name to Calamity Jane or Blighted Beth.  My normal every day for the last two years has included some level of elevated stress.  I’ve sort of gotten used to it, so imagine my surprise when my motivation to start writing again was, …stress.  OMG!  I had the worst stress nightmare last night!  Usually, I can tell when my life is out of control because I have the same stress nightmare, a leftover from my days as a high school drama director.  In those dreams it is opening night, no one knows their lines, the lead drops out, and NO ONE has a costume (where is Terry Dresbach when you need her?).  But, THIS stress nightmare was completely different AND Outlander related.

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In this dream, I’m on my way to a comic con in NYC.  I’ve never been to a comic con, so that might explain why NYC looked like a Pennsylvania coal town.  I’m on my own, figuring out things as I go, driving my own car.  I pull up to a country church where there is a meet and greet.  Low and behold as I walk into the vestibule there stand Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.  They are behind lecterns on either side of the vestibule and I can see the crowd sitting in the pews beyond them.  The two are looking down perusing some papers and I notice that sitting on each lectern is a clear shoebox full of yellow tickets like the kind they sell at high school sporting events for the 50/50.  I immediately deduce that there must be some kind of drawing, so I look around to see if I could find information.  There is a small line of folks filling out tickets behind me.  Feeling relieved that the info is “right there”, I decide it’s been a long drive to the comic con and I need to use the ladies’ room and I might want to take a peek in the mirror before I speak to Sam and Cait.  When I return to the vestibule I discover everyone is gone!  I spend the rest of my night driving my car around NYC coal town looking for the meet and greet, driving on the sidewalks, weaving in out of crowds and grieving that I was going to miss my chance to meet Sam and Cait!   Nightmarish to be sure.

I find dream interpretation to be fascinating and would welcome your interpretations, someone has to have a good explanation for my geography mash-up.  I’m guessing I had this dream now because Outlander is premiering this Sunday and I feel totally unprepared!  I’ve kinda put everything Outlander on the back burner and NOW I feel as knowledgeable about Outlander as most media outlets! (What is under that kilt?  JUST kidding! Trying to be snarky).  I even had to look up Sam and Cait’s names to make sure I spelled them correctly! One good thing about being relatively absent from the fandom is that I missed a lot of the drama.  I know there was some, but I’m thankful I didn’t get drawn into any of it.  So, I’m sort of watching without bias or preconceived notions! I know the previews I’ve watched look good and I am loving what I perceive as a focus on relationships.  I was thinking yesterday about the times they got Jamie really right and really wrong and how glad I am that Sam and Cait have some control and say in how their characters were portrayed this season.

I wasn’t really sure I was going to write about the season again, but evidently, my unconscious-self disagrees!  This morning, after recovering from driving all night, I find I’m getting excited to escape to Fraser’s Ridge with all of you and talk about the whole thing like Monday morning quarterbacks.  

 

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And if you see Sam and Cait at the comic con, tell them I’m sorry I missed them last night!

Sincerely,

Beth W.

 

Looking for the show I loved…a reflection on Outlander season 4

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I didn’t write a reflection after season 4’s finale.  It is true that I was sick and really couldn’t think clearly enough to write, but if I’m truthful with myself…a part of me really didn’t want to.  Then because so much time had gone by and so many had written exhaustively about this season, I really thought I would just pass. But, in the last few days, I’ve had readers asking me where my review is and I guess I owe them at least an explanation. I love this show and it hurts me to have to say negative things. I really am rooting for them.  I was holding out hope that my patience this season would be rewarded. It wasn’t.  My overall initial feeling after watching the Outlander season 4 finale was one of dissatisfaction. I wasn’t angry just sad. My thoughts wandered to previous finales and I particularly remembered how I felt after season 1. As I watched Jamie and Claire sail away on that ship to France I was tearfully smiling. I can remember thinking that I would miss this couple and overall pleased with the adaptation. I was proud to be a fan.  I’m still proud to be a fan, but with a few exceptions, I struggled to write about this season. I would find myself sitting with my thoughts for far too long.  I wasn’t inspired.  And, I think my writing this season reflects that.

It is telling that my most popular blog posts this season have been when I felt the need to negatively critique an episode. I hate that.  I’ve had some time to think and to read other fan’s reactions and I find myself agreeing with bloggers and fans that I usually don’t.  I hate that. But, I can’t write this blog if I’m not genuine.  My readers trust me to be honest and my conscience would bother me if I was wasn’t.  I really love Outlander and want it to succeed.  Let’s be clear, there is still a lot to love about this show.  It is beautiful and transportive and I have always believed it was made with obvious love for the story they were telling.  It is a remarkable tv experience. What it isn’t …is …the same show.

I’m still not buying into some fans’ intricate conspiracy theories and need to denigrate cast and crew for not giving “fans” what they want.  But, something HAS  changed.  None of us on the outside really know, but there are a lot of theories out there and at least a few make some sense.  There were a lot of changes to the TPTB and I have no idea if that resulted in different work relationships and expectations and maybe changes to budgets as well.  There were new writers, bad weather, and some really concerning comments from the cast about their characters and the amount of input they would like to have in the writers’ room. I THINK that might be a good idea, but what if their ideas about their characters aren’t what we think they think, lol. I still haven’t forgiven Sam for not letting Jamie “quietly fall to pieces”. Then this week some fans were sent questionnaires.  I guess that would indicate that they are trying to listen, but why not just say we hear you?  Why send surveys to select fans? What was the criteria? I’ve always felt that the majority of fans are happy with the show, but not as vocal as those who seem to be invested in finding fault.  Was this questionnaire sent to a true representative sample of fans?

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I’ve been here since the beginning and I don’t think PR has EVER really known who their audience is for this show or how to market it.  Can anyone say “the kilt drops”?  Are these surveys going to insure that PR and the TPTB will get an accurate picture of what fans want?  I think they might offer some insight, but shouldn’t be taken as gospel or as a definitive barometer of fan opinion. Quite frankly, if some fans actually get what they think they want they still wouldn’t be satisfied. I’m afraid it is the nature of the beast that is fandom. As much as fans like to think they know how to adapt Diana Gabaldon’s bible sized tomes, they don’t.  Nevertheless, there are some consistent and legitimate concerns played on many of the broken records. Sorting those out from the irritating scratches would not be an envivable job. This questionnaire thing feels like a mistake, one that is undermining the creators.  If I was them I’d be looking for another job. And, some folks NEED to stay.

I believe something happened this season that impacted what we saw on our screens. The show has taken a turn and is on a path that is far from the show I love to love.  It is a feeling, a change in attitude, and focus.  In my humble opinion, Outlander shines when it focuses on relationships.  And, that held true for this season as well.  Blood of my Blood and The Birds and the Bees were two of this season’s most well received episodes for that very reason.  I agree with fans who say that to in order to care about what happens to the characters we have to care about the characters.  As wonderful as the Cherokee village and Roger’s rescue were it was far less important than bridging differences and mending relationships in this story.  For example, just because you can write an episode of someone trekking wordlessly through a jungle doesn’t mean you should.

Character development just wasn’t up to par this season.  The Claire of the Ridge has always been my favorite Claire and after watching this season, I’ll have to reread Drums to remember why.  She seemed a faded version of the woman who finally becomes who she was meant to be.  She wasn’t the only character that was less than they should have been. Watching Fergus and Marsali I wondered why in the few minutes they were on screen their relationship was so much more dynamic and their persona so much clearer than Bree and Roger.  These two are so important to the rest of the story and they just don’t seem to be as clearly developed and/or portrayed in a way to make us care about them as major players.  I’ve written before about some choices that  I felt were a few “fatal” mistakes that have reverberated throughout the seasons: Loghaire at the witch trial and not allowing Claire to fight Jamie’s demons.  I read the explanations, but in truth Roger isn’t the beloved character he should be.  I’m hoping Roger’s leaving Bree and not choosing to come directly to River Run will not be one of those fatal mistakes that reverberate throughout the rest of the seasons. I think they dealt with those two previous mistakes as best they could and I’m hopeful that Roger and his relationship with Bree will be righted too.

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I’m completely aware that I am just one more fan voice and one more opinion in the ocean that has been written about this season.  It feels ironic to find myself saying, I’m criticizing, but I truly just want the show to be better, having criticized that type of critique previously, but I truly just want the show to do better. It isn’t too late to fix what was wrong this season.  I just want to write about a show that inspires me, I want the Outlander  I wrote this about:

CHARACTER COUNTS … A REFLECTION ON

OUTLANDER EPISODE 1. 11

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I was perusing Twitter on Saturday before watching Outlander episode 11 the Devil’s Mark when I came across a tweet from someone who had already watched the episode. Aside from being a little pissed that I hadn’t gotten to watch yet, I found the statement intriguing. The author said,
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Because the tweet intrigued me, I re-tweeted it.  I felt my excitement to watch the episode heighten.  Had they really done it? Had they really shown Claire in all her wonderful nerve-wracken-ly principled glory?  I sure hoped so.

The episode was exciting and full of all kinds of wonderful, but per usual there was a theme that stood out for me. Character. In a real-world and TV world full of characters with ambiguous moral character, Outlander has the potential to be something different. Saturday night, I saw some of that potential realized. Our main characters had moral and ethical dilemmas that they solved in ways that have sadly become a-typical. They made selfless decisions. They did the right thing despite knowing the price they would pay would be dear.

I enjoy watching Game of Thrones, a show Outlander has been compared to. In my opinion, this comparison by journalists is weak at best and most often used by writers too lazy to look any deeper.  There seems to be a tendency among these types to latch on to what is the most “pop culture” popular thing to repeat. I have nothing against R.R. Martin or the show based on his works.  They are what they are, but what they are is a far cry from what Outlander is or tries to be.

Last years’ GOT season was full of characters acting out of warped emotions, values and needs. I don’t expect anything different this year. Lots of titillating stuff to discuss around the water cooler, but I must admit the most shocking thing about this show is how hard it is to find a redeeming character. I wish I could say this trend toward pushing the moral and ethical envelope was the exception rather than the rule on TV, but I can’t.  It is all too common.

My reaction to the GOT characters and their actions is very different from what I feel when I watch Outlander.  Folks on social media said they used a box of tissues watching this episode. This is very understandable, there is some tear-jerking stuff!  I cried some tears myself, but I came to examine my feelings a bit closer and realized there was something deeper going on here. When I watched Claire and Jamie and Ned and even Gellis make their choices, I felt a real connection. My eyes filled with tears for the human compassion I was witnessing. Our characters made unselfish choices. They made me feel proud to be human.

My Twitter author Lady Jane commented that Claire was principled to a fault. I think I understand what she means, if she meant that Claire puts herself in danger by stubbornly remaining a person who cares about others ..then yes…I agree, she does. It’s the “to a fault” part that I find myself still thinking about today. The kind of choices Claire has to make come with risk to herself and others, to say the least.  But…I resist the idea that her ethical and moral center is somehow flawed because she chose to be unselfish. I’m pretty sure Lady Jane agrees with me because she loves Claire for it. These are the character traits of the everyday hero who saves a child from drowning, pulls people from a burning car or donates an organ to a stranger.  These are the kind of people we should be admiring and celebrating.

Claire would not give false witness, even against a woman who admitted to killing her husband and even if it would save her own life. I cried bittersweet tears for Claire. Under extreme distress and pressure, betrayed by those who should have represented innocence and mercy (Leery and Father Bain) , surrounded by a sea of faces that desired to see her burn, she stayed true to herself.

Sad, but wonderful too.

She is saved at the last-minute by the zealot murderess Gellis who sets aside her own desires to help another. I cried for Gellis’ courage, for her self-sacrifice and for her wasted life.  She will not be the last person to give over her thinking and decision-making to a cause nor the last to step over a moral and ethical line for that cause.  Once again, it’s all too common.

The evening’s monumental plot twists weren’t over and neither was Claire’s decision-making.  In fact, a much harder decision awaits her upon her escape from Cranes Muir in the arms of her 18th century husband Jamie.  I’m thankful that the decisions were made back to back.  It helped the viewer understand who Claire is and that is a person who will do the right thing despite the pressure to do otherwise.  It makes her decision at the stones that much more poignant and meaningful.  She did not take the decision to leave or stay lightly. In fact, given her moral center the agonizing choice would have left her shattered. She is married to Frank and finally has an opportunity to return to him and yet,….Jamie.

The other person in this triangle  made a few difficult choices of his own. First, he decides to suspend his disbelief for her sake. If I had any disappointment in this episode it was the fact that they chose to let the audience believe that Jamie never doubted her story.  He was human, of course he did and maybe part of the reason he took her to the stones was to shatter Claire’s delusions.  In the book, when  he grabs her back from the rock it’s because she starts to go right before his eyes.  I wish they would have kept that part.  Despite his extraordinary emotional intelligence this would have seemed the more reasonable reaction to me.

And… then, the audience learns that Jamie has chosen to let Claire go. What this choice reveals about him is nothing short of staggering. This is a man of integrity. Everything he feels tells him to beg her to stay, but he chooses to let her go…why?

He now knows the truth and it cannot be ignored. There is a man…a husband … with a prior claim. Claire is the wife of another man and as a man who honors the vows spoken between two people, he must acknowledge Frank’s claim on Claire. She isn’t his wife because she is still wed to another.
He must acknowledge that Claire doesn’t belong here. Her being here and with him is an unfortunate accident. She had no choice. She did what she needed to do to survive. And, after the witch trial, he knows she is a women out of her time and it will place her in danger again. She will be safer if she goes. He knows she has tried to get back to her husband and life over and over again. He will not add himself and his need of her to the equation. He loves her, so he will let her go.

I know I cried at every agonizing staggering step he took down that hill; my heart was breaking with his.

It’s a wonderful story full of redeeming characters who don’t always have to be right or have their own way.  My husband is a big fan of old TV Westerns and I think I know why. Even though I complain about their predictability the plots usually center around someone making a moral choice and often those character’s choose the self-sacrificing or ethical/moral high road. The characters learn lessons about doing the right thing for your fellow-man and having honor …like the characters in Outlander.

Somewhere, in TV and maybe our real-life culture, the idea of self-sacrifice as being a noble action has fallen away to the need for self-fulfillment at any cost.  Maybe it is because people don’t believe there is anything more to life. If that is so then I guess fulfilling your own desires at whatever the cost to others would make sense. But,  “I have to inform you, I am no of that opinion myself”.  I’m happy there is a production on TV that isn’t afraid to tell a story of people who wrestle with choices and choose kindness, honor, truth and self-sacrifice.

Roger and I are INFP, Bree is Brave, and We All Have Choices Before Us… A Reflection on Outlander 4.12 “Providence”

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As I watched Roger Mckenzie escape the “idiot” hut it became immediately obvious what was going to happen.  His body language, his desperate, but hollow attempts to put himself first…Oh Lord, I said out loud ….he’s just like me…he’s going back.

Roger and I are INFPs

If your are unaware of what INFP stands for simply put, it is one of 16 personality types as defined by Myers-Briggs research. I know I am an IFNP because every time I am asked to take a personality test and with my job history that has been more than a few times, I’m always identified as an INFP.  The letters INFP stand for: Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Perception (P). My introversion score usually falls very close to extraversion, but as I age it seems less so. I just took a test again because well…it is so INFP of me, and I wanted to be sure before I told the whole world I’m a Roger.

INFPs are quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities. Interested in understanding and helping people.  https://www.personalityperfect.com/test/free-personality-test/

I knew Roger was going back because we are deeply touched by pain in others and will run to defend them or offer help. I’m the person who makes a decision knowing it will cost me, but like Roger, I can’t help myself.  I have to tell the truth, take the risk, right the wrong.

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During one of the many “droughts”, I was engaged in some lively banter with Terry Dresbach and others about what it would take to survive a Zombie Apocalypse and whether we thought we could survive (be patient, I promise I have a point). They were convinced I would survive and I knew I wouldn’t, but not for the reason you might think. Health issues aside, my survival wouldn’t depend on whether I was tough enough, I can do without and I’m very adaptable. What would trip me up every single time is empathy. I was so convinced I wouldn’t survive, I wrote a slightly humorous (well, I thought it was funny) article about the topic.

In that article, I wrote about a particular time I rushed in to save the day:

I took a college religion and ethics class taught by a priest.  About the third day of class, a young man asked to speak to the padre.  As the two talked at his desk in the front of the room things began to get heated. The next thing I knew the young man was pushing the father and threatening him.  I jumped up and got between them and started to try to drag the young man from the room.  What I learned very quickly was that it had all been pretense, an experiment to show how people were afraid to get involved.  The father said he didn’t think anyone would help (his teaching methods are a topic for another day’s discussion).

I didn’t even think about it, I didn’t even hesitate, I just reacted, complete Roger move right down to saving a priest.

I have no idea if Diana Gabaldon or the writers on Outlander use personality typing when creating their characters, but I’m told writers often do look at psychology and social science when researching their writing, it would make sense to do so.  If you are writing about humans it would make sense to understand them and help to keep their actions consistent with their personalities. Roger’s attempts to save Moraig and her baby, his willingness to believe Claire, his chosen profession (and future vocation), his ability to find humor in difficult circumstances, and even his fights with Brianna are all consistent with his personality type. I haven’t attempted to type cast any of the other characters, but I recognize Roger’s personality because it so familiar. I feel a little weird saying that because quite frankly, I admire Roger and his convictions.

I understand why this episode is called “Providence”, but a part of me believes that “The Deep Heart’s Core” would have been a more apt title for this episode.  INFPs and Roger are all about authenticity and make decisions based on what their gut tells them supports their deep heart core values. Researchers suggest they can’t be motivated until they believe something supports that deep heart core and then they are unstoppable, like “a dog with a bone” , “crossing oceans, time and space for love”, etc.  Once they have been triggered they will move heaven and earth to accomplish their goal. Roger’s love for Bree and what he is willing to do for that love certainly fits that description.

Previous to this episode, Maril Davis, Outlander Executive Producer, commented on Roger’s journey in an article for the Hollywood Reporter. In that article, she talks about the emotional spiral Roger is experiencing in the Mohawk camp.

“He gave up his chance to go through the stones because he loves Brianna,” Davis says. “He’s now questioning that love because for all he knows, who he assumes is her father beat him senseless and sold him off to the Mohawk so he’s having doubts. We explore those doubts further and that for even a nice guy like Roger, a dark night of the soul, what’s he going to do? Is he going to choose to try to get back to Brianna?”

I thought I understood, but wanted to make sure I knew what the article meant by “spiral”. The Urban Dictionary defines “spiraling” as a bout of thoughts fixated on a person or state of affairs.  The scenes between Father Ferigault and Roger were so revealing. They showcased Roger’s struggles with his situation and his deep heart’s core. He was indeed in a spiral.  How could he not be after all he has experienced? There has been some concern that Roger’s character has not been well-developed or defined this season.  I would say that this episode gave us a deep look into Roger’s soul, who he is, and why he makes the decisions he does and why Brianna might love him.

Roger believes it is his own foolish actions that have led him to this place and he is feeling cynical about himself and his belief in true love.  He calls himself an idiot.  He is angry at himself and his inability to look out for his own best interests. His experience has been beyond painful and the thought that despite what happened the night they were hand fast and what Jamie’s beating him and selling him to the Mohawk insinuates, he still couldn’t end his suffering by touching the stones. Because despite everything he still hopes. He still loves Bree.  It is easy to laugh at someone who is fiercely and persistently optimistic, someone who hopes, and gives themselves up to trust in the universe in the foolish belief that they will get what they need in the end. It seems so naive and …idiotic. Roger is scoffing at himself and the absolute mess that his hope in love has made of his life.

But, he swears he has learned from his pain.  He has changed. He is going to turn his back on love and take his freedom. The advice he gives the Father is good advice . As Roger tells the father to look out for number one because “no one else will” he is also convincing himself it is true.  Roger is right, the Mohawk don’t care about the rituals of the church or the reasons the priest holds his vows sacred.  He is right when he says they would be satisfied with a few sprinkles of water, the father doesn’t have to truly perform a sacrament, he could escape to live, be forgiven and continue to love and be loved. For awhile, Roger’s impassioned plea for sanity seems to have found a home in Father Ferigault’s mind and heart.  But, I don’t think Roger knew who he was speaking to.  If he was speaking to another INFP, another soul who is motivated by and lives his life as his deep heart’s core and beliefs dictate, then there is no way to win. The Father goes to face his fate because he cannot do otherwise.

When my husband and I watched Roger’s escape and I saw the first signs of his struggle to be “smart for the first time in his idiotic life”, I began to tear up. I knew there was no way he could listen to the father’s cries and walk away. My husband yelled out his incredulity when Roger turned back to Shadow Lake, “What is he doing? He can’t do anything to help!”. I heard Roger’s cursing resignation with relief. I completely understood. He couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t really know what he was going to do either.  The obstacles seemed insurmountable and Roger is completely aware how impossible this situation is. It isn’t that INFPs are blind to obstacles it is that they don’t care whether it is 200 years or a tribe of Mohawk. They are reluctant heroes, but if they feel strongly, are convicted, then they will grab their sword and shield and go to battle. Roger could no more change himself and his beliefs than the father could. He knows that nothing good can come from his running back, but he must. In the end, Roger asks to be taken back to “the idiot hut” believing he has acted stupidly once again and sealed his fate. If he only knew that what he has actually done is prove himself a mercifully brave man whose integrity and motives are pure and unselfish. He has proven himself to be worthy of the very name of love.

Meanwhile in Wilmington….

Jamie is right a man like Stephen Bonnet bears the seeds of his own destruction and freedom cannot be found in vengeance. As Lord John gently places his hands on Bree’s burgeoning womb we are reminded that her child is real and deserves to have a mother who can live whole.  So, she takes her father’s advice and decides she must at least try to make that happen by saying her “piece” and forgiving Stephen Bonnet. But, Lord the reality. I would have been quaking in my boots and yet angry because I was quaking in my boots and I think like Bree even more determined as a result.

If Roger is an example of a man who struggles to put himself first, Stephen is an example of a man who doesn’t care for anyone but himself. He always puts himself and his needs above all others and as a result, leaves a wake of destruction and pain. I was struck by his puzzlement at Bree’s appearance in his cell, his complete lack of understanding. He is remorseless, has no empathy. He seems to mock Bree and enjoys watching her flinch at his crude comments, ever the perpetrator. After he taunts Bree with “I will soon be gone, but not forgotten”, she gets the opportunity to do what I wish every victim of sexual violence would be able to do.  She tells him she will have a good life despite what he did to her that he will be forgotten and in essence evil will not win.

The Role of Providence

Free will is an important concept in the Christian faith. God could force us to obey him, to love him, but without the freewill to choose, a relationship with him would not be genuine. Because free will has been granted humanity then finds itself living within a paradox, if men are free to choose they will not always choose good over evil, selflessness over selfishness, mercy over cruelty. Providence is that belief that all things work for the good, that God does not cause the evil acts of men, but that he can use whatever comes into your life whether positive or negative. Believing in God’s providence is to believe that all things work together for the good of those who trust in the Lord. It seems cliche, but it is a truth that in life lessons are most often learned when we do something wrong or have to face a great obstacle.  Providence gives us the ability to let go and trust that there is something bigger than ourselves at work, a God who knows you and what you need.  When the Mohawk healer touches Kaheroton’s head she reminds us that we have the power to live in peace or war with ourselves and others. We have the free will to choose love, mercy, and forgiveness, and to hold tight to providence.