A Review in Three Acts: Outlander 3:06 “A. Malcolm”

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Exposition

Prior to the Print Shop episode “A. Malcolm”, Outlander executive producer/writer Matthew B. Roberts, commented on Twitter that he just might go into hiding after the episode aired.

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At the time, I laughed because I understood where he was coming from.  The Print Shop sits on hallowed ground inside the book fan’s hearts.  I laughed at his tweet, but a part of me shivered.  I’ve seen the cast, producers, directors, designers, and the writers eviscerated by fans on Social Media. I was actually concerned for him! And, I wondered, if in part, his decision to take on writing the Print Shop scenes was based on taking one for the team! On the other hand, he got to write the Print Shop.  What a wonderful challenge.  I’ve enjoyed Matt’s adaptations in the past and I know that he “gets” how important this story and its characters are to the fans.  I trust him.  However, as much I trust him, it is difficult for us book fans to objectively watch the show. There is no way to undo what you already know.  There is no way you can completely eliminate how you related to the material or circumvent what you placed importance on. We each read the words on the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, but how we each interpreted them is as varied as we are. I have my own personal version of the print shop, as does every other book fan.

Through the last two seasons, I have come to understand and accept what it means to adapt a book for the screen. Fortunately, for me, I have enough life experience and a mind open enough to recognize when my expectations are unreasonable or just plain unrealistic. After reflection, I usually understand that it is impossible for another person to be able to tell this story putting emphasis on just those things I find important because for them it is a slightly or vastly different story than mine.  Impossible, a part of me knows it is impossible, yet every week I tune in to see how well “they” told “my” story.  I watch with an eye looking for my favorite scenes and an ear waiting to hear the next line of my favorite dialogue. This week was no exception. I know this is a tough concept, but “They” aren’t rewriting Diana’s books, they are telling a visual episodic story based on her books. That is reality. It might be reality, but Matt understands that the reality that he is writing an adaptation won’t mean shite to some fans this week.  They will want to see their version of the print shop on that screen.

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Imagine my surprise when after viewing “A. Malcolm” for the first time, I was the fan looking for matches and straw.

This week it was difficult for me to deal with reality and let go of the strong expectations I had placed on this adaptation. The material in this episode was just too close to my heart and it felt personal. It took me several viewings to see what story I was actually being shown. So, this is the story of my watching episode 3.06 written mostly in real-time from my immediate reactions… if I sound bit beside myself…I was…DON’T JUDGE ME UNTIL THE END…pretty please with sugar on top?

Act I: With Bated Breath

I’m trying to get a grip because after watching A. MALCOLM, Outlander’s Print Shop scene for the first time, I’m in shock and not in a good way.  I have never been so disappointed in an episode in the entire time I have been watching the series. Where is the power, the need?  I’m struggling to understand why the focus went where it went especially when it should have been so clear!!!

Focus for the reunion

  1. A couple who have longed for each other for over 20 years are reunited.
  2. A couple are overcome with emotion, as they would be when someone is “RESURRECTED” from the dead!
  3. A couple spends time in awe, touching and staring at each other as they would because someone they love has been “RESURRECTED” from the dead!
  4. Overcome by seeing his daughter for whom all is sacrificed and having the lost love of your life “RESURRECTED” from the dead and sitting beside you, results in an emotional catharsis that only a great love and a great sacrifice could engender!

Instead…

  1. tender exchange with a madam
  2. Geordie
  3. eyeglasses
  4. business as usual
  5. background boobs
  6. lesser dialogue
  7. just less…

I have defended this show and these writers because I could always see a rationale for what and why they did what they did and if I didn’t understand, I was patient because I knew they had a long-range vision for the story and I would know the reason eventually.  But THIS moment will never come again and there isn’t enough time to rectify it because “that amount of time doesn’t exist”.

ACT II: Taking Off the Book Goggles

It has taken me hours to calm down.  I was nothing short of angry, disillusioned, and sad. I gave myself a little time to reflect and realized that I have felt this way before, maybe not to this degree, but I had felt this before. I forgot to take off my book goggles. So, I’m going in again and going to try to look at what is actually on the screen and not pay attention to the scenes in my head.

Easier said than done.

Alright, so the emotional staring, touching, and shaking was there. Just not in the amount that I expected.  I yearned for that “slobber knocker” scene where they cried and shook in each others arms with “longing of twenty years” streaming down their faces.  What I got was way too short and left me feeling as dissatisfied as finding out there would be no J and C carved into their flesh, a fight in the abbey with Jamie’s demons or my patiently waiting for that final night that was meant to tide them over for a lifetime and finding it had been turned into a quickie.  And, I still can’t even find the words to express my disappointment over the scene with Bree’s pictures. In my mind and heart, it is the most poignant scene in the entire book if not the series. He has just seen Bree…Claire is there….there is closure…his sacrifice wasn’t in vain…so, his reaction is to tell Claire he has another kid? …sigh…WTH?

Claire bothers me. Has her time with Frank beaten her down this much?  Has all her self-confidence been eroded?  I don’t recognize this mouse. What the hell is THIS Claire feeling?  I want the Claire who puts her chin up and goes after what she wants. Feeling scared and a bit insecure is one thing, but if she was that frightened and sure he had made a life without her, why did she make the decision to go? I want to see that she has “…the devil’s own courage.”

Okay, I felt the scene in the brothel was very well done. Walking through that parlor, hearing the noises through the walls increased the anxiety and doubts for both of them. They have had no time to really talk and it was a great way to show us Claire is worried that Jamie is too different and Jamie worried he is too changed. I felt a lot of key dialogue was kept here and like the idea that they spent time talking over dinner, filling in details about their lives apart and seducing each other with hands that break bread and mouthes that burst grapes. It was condensed and I realize that was needed, but I’m still grieving over the lost scenes in the print shop. Because, without them this beautiful sex scene just doesn’t have the same depth of meaning. Those folks who have been waiting for sex between these two will be satisfied, but I wanted no doubt left that these two have burned with a need for each other that went beyond lust. This sex should be the final piece in the puzzle that brings them all the way home to each other.

ACT III: When Living in the Boonies is a Boon

And, sometimes the universe intervenes.  I watched it a third time on my computer. My internet is so slow that it was buffering about every 30 seconds. It forced me to slow down and really look. What I saw in between the buffers was mesmerizing.

I teared up.

How could I have missed so much?  Was I so invested in MY story that I couldn’t see THE story being told?  I was transferring my expectations onto this episode and missed all the nuance. The power and need I longed for was there, but made all the more powerful for the carefully tender way it was presented. I thought there wasn’t any chemistry between these two actors? What a laugh. I’m not sure my husband of 41+ years and I are more in tune with each other than these two. I couldn’t have been more wrong about this episode, so let me revisit my first points again…

Focus for the reunion

  1. A couple who have longed for each other for over 20 years are reunited. 
  2. A couple are overcome with emotion, as they would be when someone is resurrected from the dead. What I saw this time was the wonder. Claire reaching out to touch him, but stopping herself, but then having to reassure herself that he is there in the flesh. The catch in her voice when she tells him she thought he was dead. Jamie staring and whispering her name reaching out for her. 
  3. A couple spends time in awe, touching and staring at each other as they would because someone they love has been resurrected from the dead.  Jamie’s words about seeing her smiling with her hair curling about her face were some of the most heartbreakingly intimate lines I’ve ever seen delivered. “But, you never touched me”, and she says, “I can touch you now”.  It seems as if the world should stop, but it still turns, life goes on despite what has just happened. Instead of angels tears, we got spilled ale and wet pants and a gentle bit of comic relief that reminds us that this whole situation is bizarre.  Jamie forgot she was still his wife until Claire poses the question with her heart and her hope in her eyes. They have been apart a lifetime. We see the conflicting emotions on his face and the audience knows something is wrong. We see Claire follow him to the back room and look around at his world, the life he has made without her and we feel her fear that she will see something that will dash all her hopes. She walks as if she is unsure of her footing, doesn’t know what to do with her hands or what to do next, but her smiles say it all.  She cannot hold them back, but they are tremulous. Their eyes are quick to tears and their voices thick with all their suppressed emotion. They are strangers with familiar faces. A beloved memory become flesh. 
  4. Overcome by seeing his daughter for whom all is sacrificed and having the lost love of your life resurrected from the dead and sitting beside you, results in an emotional catharsis that only a great love and a great sacrifice could engender.  He tries to hold it together, but is overwhelmed, closes his eyes and asks for her name.  When he hears it, he takes in a breath as if he is breathing her to life. She has a name. He has a child named Brianna. We see a tender moment when he remembers their first-born Faith and we know he has never forgotten. Claire is moved by their shared grief and we recognize with her the depth with which this man loves. I still miss him slowly falling apart in her arms allowing himself to finally express the weight of all that has happened, but what I saw instead was moving. What I once saw as an odd reaction to seeing Brianna’s pictures now makes more sense. He has another child he has lost. He shares Willie with Claire. He shares, his shame, guilt, sorrow, and joy with …Claire, the only person with whom he can share such a thing because she is his home, his sanctuary, the only place where he need not “guard his words or hide his feelings”. Claire will love Willie because he is Jamie’s. We start to see the unconditional love and trust that still exists between them. Moment by moment, word by word, we see them draw closer. 

What we got instead was the best thing I never knew I needed…

  1. We got to see a tender dance between two people trying to find each other again that felt believable.
  2. We got to see that despite his “unsavory” occupation and living in a “kittle hoosie”, Jamie has maintained his values and beliefs; he is concerned she left Frank to be with him and even though it hurts he wants to know if she was loved, shocked she would think him a customer of the Madam, guilty over Geneva, continues to take care of his responsibilities even when Claire is suddenly there because people depend on him, and he still fights for justice, this time with words. He is still the man she loved at his core.
  3. We saw a woman on the edge of no return. She really was afraid because she really had risked it all. She had no plan B. She was vulnerable, anxiously looking for proof, for evidence that she wasn’t wrong and …found it.  “What was once true is true again”. It has always been forever for him. He has loved no one but her.
  4. We saw two starving people make love and revel in the miracle of what it was between them that they could not name, but was still there. As predicted, Jamie “breaks through” the layers of deprivation and defense and then they delight in each other, slowly exploring and letting their bodies express what it means to each to be together again.
  5. We got to believe in love.

Denouement: Where the Author Ties It All Together

The show cannot win, it is literally impossible for them to please everyone. And, so they only have one choice, to do what they think best tells the story and hope that it plays well on the screen. If my personal investment in and reaction to this episode is any indication, “A. Malcolm” might generate some feelings and maybe Matthew B. Roberts, was right to believe he needs to go into hiding! Not because he didn’t do a good job, but because of the books in our heads. He might have wanted to show my “slobber knocker” and “gently fell to pieces” moments, but for whatever reason it didn’t work or maybe they just decided to go a different way.  Either way, I had to let go and just watch what story I was being told not the one I thought I should be told. At this point, it is hard for me to believe I could have ever been upset. It is a beautiful story, beautifully told. I tried to think of an image that would encapsulate this episode and what came to mind was Jamie and Claire, as a red rose bud with petals tightly layered, a thing of potential beauty.  Moment by moment, word by word, touch by touch, their souls are nourished and in the end…they bloom. The episode addressed important emotional beats and once again walked that fine line between honoring the source material and staying true to themselves and the story they are telling. Our beloved books will always be there and we can visit our print shops anytime we want, but I’m hoping that other fans who forgot to take off their book goggles like me will have the faith to take them off and watch this print shop twice or thrice. It is everything the Print Shop was meant to be and more.

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P.S. I know I haven’t said much, other’s have and done much better than I could have, but how wonderful were the costumes and sets?! They continue to add so much to my understanding of these characters and this story. The neckcloth is bringing sexy back! And, the thought Terry put into Claire making her own outfit!  I’m so grateful for what she shares with fans. The research Jon Gary must have done to give us the print shop! It all feels so real and has to impact these performances! What a quality production, so detailed and lovingly created.  And, the new characters?! I’m pretty sure Geordie is every sarcastic passive aggressive person I’ve ever worked with! LOL!  Young Ian and Fergus…how perfectly perfect they are …sigh…makes me excited for the future.

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The Thru The Stones Convention…part 2

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living in moments…

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My friend Jane Anne Davis had arrived from Atlanta hours before me and was on her lonesome.  I messaged her periodically to see how she was faring and to report my ETA. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and a half and in the meantime, Jane had kicked not one, but two types of cancers’ ass! This was going to be our little celebratory break from real-life and we were anticipating lots of laughter and downright silliness! She was a little concerned because she had tried to make friendly overtures, but was feeling like a wallflower at a jr. high dance.  I arrived at the hotel and promptly went to our room. I couldn’t figure out why Jane wasn’t answering my insistent knocks and so, I called her.  We both figured out pretty quickly why I wasn’t standing in front of the door she had just opened and I was thankful no one was home in room 7002 and then drug my travel disheveled self down the hall to the elevators, across the lobby, past the gift shop, desk, casino, buffet, snack shop, and onto the elevator that would take me to room 702.  This time when I knocked Jane answered and I dragged my huge suitcase that had lost a leg somewhere in the airport into the room, I let go of the suitcase that promptly fell over cuz…missing leg and gave Jane a big hug!

“We are going to push each other to talk to everyone!”, I pronounced. “We are going to make sure we have fun!”

And we did!  When folks walked by us the next morning, we tried to guess who was there for the convention. We decided plaid was a fairly predictable clue and if you were wearing plaid/tartan sorry about your luck, but we were talking to you!  Some folks weren’t too hard to figure out. Their Outlander and Through the Stones matching T-shirts were dead giveaways. We met a lovely couple who had never read the books, but were here because of the TV series and had the costumes to prove it!

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We joked that her husband looked enough like Ron Moore to be his brother!  We then talked with a lovely lady who was a retired jr. high science teacher.  She was sporting a fun vest chock full of Outlander pins and patches.  She told us she loved Outlander’s historical aspects and that she spent a lot of her time volunteering.  She shared with us that her team (the Hoosier Honeypots) had a plan to win the trivia contest and therefore, dinner with Terry Dresbach!  She showed us a copy of a book of questions she had created and had been studying.  I think she said there were 800 questions! I’m not sure if her group won, but she looked like she was going to have a blast anyway!  They had a rooting section with signs!

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Eventually, we made our way to lunch where I happened upon folks I talk to very frequently on Twitter, but had never met! Sitting with Cyndi Hayes was Carole Braun and her friend Sandy Dawar and Jill Shirley.  I just kept looking at these folks I felt I knew!  It was a bit surreal. I told Jill she looked awfully familiar to me and I kept feeling like we had met before. We talked for a little bit about attending the event and I happened to mention going to NYC Tartan Week.  Suddenly, Jill jumped up and hugged me as she realized we had stood beside each other at the Tartan Week parade!  Small world isn’t it when you are an Outlander fan? I had a lovely time getting to know Jill and listening to her stories about meeting Ron Moore at the ball park in California!  Meeting likeminded folks and my Twitter friends were some of the great moments that TTS afforded me.

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ME AND JILL LAUGHING JUST BECAUSE

We walked over to the convention center to register and peruse the goods for sale at Beardsley’s Trading Post. I found a sweet pair of thistle earrings to match the necklace my husband bought me last year!  There was a great mixture of items including a place to swap books!

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TRIVA!

The next big event of the day was the Trivia contest!  Jane Anne and I had decided that we were just playing for kicks and giggles (even though I AM pretty bad-ass at trivia because I seem to know a lot of worthless and obscure shite) so, when I saw Mother Hildegarde’s Novices was looking for four members that just wanted to have fun we asked to join!  What a great bunch of ladies!  They evidently knew what was up because they came with decorations and gift bags and some food! Buton was laid in the center of our table on a swathe of plaid and our gift bags included a Starbucks card, chocolates and some homemade cherry bounce!  I think I’ve made some new Outlander friends in Terri Somgynari, Sandra Hicks and Carla Jasinski!

 

I was just biting into a piece of gifted shortbread when I heard my name being called.  It was fellow blogger Connie Verzak and I stood up and braced myself for the hug she had warned me I was going to get!  And, the answer to your question is yes, she is just as funny in person along with being warm, kind, and wicked smart.  This was one of my favorite moments!  Just sitting and laughing with Connie and her friends was one of the highlights of my weekend.  She is truly a unique person and I loved meeting her!

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CONNIE AND I

Mother Hildegarde’s Novices laughed our way through the first round of trivia and then we heard some clapping.  On stage stood Terry Dresbach wishing everyone a good time. I have to say meeting Terry was “THE” moment for me.  Like a lot of other fans, I’ve been interacting with Terry on Twitter for quite a while now. She is just who I thought she was kind, gracious, beautiful, funny, wise, and talented.  The woman has confidence and personality to spare! Terry went from table to table greeting everyone. I’m sure she could feel the love and wanted to make sure everyone knew it was reciprocated.

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JANE ANNE, TERRY AND ME

Trivia was fun and challenging! We headed back to our rooms at the end of the night feeling like we had been part of a moment of love for Diana Gabaldon’s story.  A lot of people knew a lot about those books.  Me thinks perhaps we have all read them a few times!

SATURDAY

The next day started early, I think I was too excited to sleep for long! We headed out to get breakfast and then find our first workshop class.  We found a seat around the big fireplace in the north tower lobby and wondered how this was going to work.  A large group of us were here to “talk” about Outlander.  The lady who was leading the class was a neighbor of Debbie Ford’s. She said she was taking credit for introducing Debbie to the books and therefore planting the seed that lead to TTS!  I noticed that she had what appeared to be a list of discussion topics in her hand.  It was a fairly large list and I once again admired the attention to detail and thought that went into preparing for this conference.  I had to laugh because she only got to ask one maybe two questions because if you give an Outlander fan an inch to talk about Outlander we’ll take a mile!   It was fascinating learning about how folks found the books and what the story and series had contributed to their lives.  As per usual, we agreed on our love for the series, but EVERYONE had different ideas about how successfully those books had been transferred to the screen. I think we all agreed to disagree and despite our different opinions, I left feeling part of a very large, diverse group of folks who were passionate about this story!

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The next class for us was the improv group.  There were other classes available that included everything from whiskey tasting (at 8:30 in the morning) to sword fighting! I was starting to feel a bit nervous as it was getting closer to time for my very first press conference.  I asked Jane for a few minutes to gather my nerves and she went ahead.  I sat in the lobby going over my questions and testing my tape recorder.  I heard a group of people behind me discussing the show and books and looked over to see several men in ties talking to a lady who was gushing about how if they loved the show they needed to read the books!  I checked the name of the room I was supposed to be in for the press conference for about the fifth time and decided I was as prepared as I was ever going to be and headed in for the comedy show.  As I was speaking to Jane, the troupe came into the room.  It was the men in ties from the lobby who called themselves “Guys In Ties”.  They were great and made sure to let everyone know they had watched the show and were addicted.  They asked the audience for help with the improv topics and we are a sick bunch, LOL!  They seemed a bit taken back and I loved it!  This comedic moment was just what I needed.  After it was over, Jane headed for the Scottish themed lunch and I to the press conference.  If you missed it here is my blog on that conference (link).

Loved the quilt presented to Terry by the Bonnie Beasties fan club after the press conference.  Deann Roberts shared that they have previously created quilts for Sam Heughan and Cait Balfe and their group wanted to create one in appreciation of Ron and Terry.  Squares with Outlander themes and messages to Terry and Ron were sent from all over the world  and then stitched together and quilted.  I overheard one of their group members say they wanted to “cover them in kindness” and I thought that was so sweet.

Soon everyone filed into the ballroom and found a seat for Terry’s talk on Saturday afternoon. It was perfect. She just sat down and shared. In this moment, people felt like they had gotten to know her a bit better and found her be funny, genuine, and approachable.  She said she understood that the fans were coming from a place of love.  That all that she had seen was about love. And, I have to say, everyone I talked to loved her.  In fact, I asked some attendees to share their perceptions and I’d like to share a few of their responses!

Kristen Leigh Stiner:  I thought her talk was amazing!! The way she lit up speaking about her husband and children warmed my soul!! If I had a do-over I would want to thank her for being such a strong and powerful woman!! She is truly a champion for us all yet is so very humble!! I loved her before but now she is one of my favorite people!!

Terri Somgynari : I absolutely loved how she got all emotional and teary-eyed when she talked about Ron and her children!
It was the best part..knowing how much she loves them!

Gina Kutter: Terry allows us to see the real person and real life of our favorite costume designer! She draws us in to the Outlander family with her insights and tidbits! She embodies that Outlander truly is all about love!

Mary Alberg Faber: She is so funny and warm. The thing that struck me is how much she seemed to enjoy being there, and with us. Her attitute is inspiritional. Just watching the joy in her face when talking about Ron, the show, the stars, etc. gives me joy, in return. It was like talking to your best friend. (Oh yeah, she’s a fan – maybe a bit of a closet fan; not quite at the totally obsessed stage.)

Janice Schurr:  I, too, am not a “fangirl”. I don’t order t-hirts, or jewelry, or any of that stuff, although I’ve made donations to charities. I’ve never attended a fan gathering. But, this was more than that – it truly felt like a gathering of friends. Like a giant bookclub, where we all could express our opinions and share our love of the show and the guests. Plus, Debbie Belshause Ford and her crew made it seem personal – not just something put on by an organization or PR force, but something done by true fans. I think Terry’s chat fit the group so well. It was like sitting around your living room chatting with a friend, not a “canned speech”. And Grant, with his lovely sense of humor, was so personable and seemed to so like being there, despite his adventures in travel!

Thrynn Kirby: Was incredibly flattered to see her put as much energy and attention into sharing herself and our wonderful gathering as she does with everything . This was no fly by visit. This was one HUGE HUG from a fabulous lady. I am a fan ( read as one who loves) Ron is right. She does make the sun come out!

Tina Schröder Eakins:  I loved that Terry SAW us. Not just as a group of fans, but as individuals. I really felt she was there for a chat, sitting on a chair, rather than a speaker.

Tammy Petree Proux:  I was unsure what my opinion of her was before the convention. I just know that I loved the previous convention and the fun we had. I trusted in Debbie Belshause Ford to bring great people to everyone (along with great times). I was impressed with how normal, like all of us Terry seems to be. She was extremely approachable. I loved that she came and mingled with all of us during trivia competition; I know we were all caught by surprise. She has a normal relationship with her husband. I enjoyed her relating of stories of her family; the stories of Ron and his Disney love. There are so many things. I imagine she has some interesting views on politics, but it was good that it was left out of this arena. (Though I would have loved to discuss with her as I’m sure we’re on the same page lol.)

Susan Hundt:  I really appreciated her candor and her insights on fandom, especially coming to the conclusion that it is all about love.

Helen Kratzer Lyness:  The instant connection we find with others at this event is amazing! Meet a stranger walking along with you in the hallway or in the elevator and they are immediate friends as you begin to talk about all the things you have in common. “Where are you from?” “Are you a book reader, or a show watcher?” When did YOU discover the books?” “Who turned you on to the books, or the show?” “Do you love Dougal or hate him?” What is your favorite part of Book One?” and so on . . . we have a new friend, connected in one moment, now friends forever! Thru the Stones does that for us!

I think that Terry has been adopted into the fandom.

SAT NIGHT WAS ALRIGHT!

Saturday night was the culminating event and we were treated to a Parisian dinner!

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photo credit Becky Wiley

Each item on the menu had a connection to the books.  I really liked the Chicken Dargentan that perhaps the Countess St. Germain liked!  People wandered the room in costumes from the various time periods in the books.  This was so great!  There was such a huge variety of costume choices!  Some folks were all out Parisian!

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Others chose Scotland and a salute to the Jacobites…

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Others were rocking 1700’s Scotland, the 1940’s, and 1968.  I was impressed and I think Terry was too!

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photo credits to Becky Wiley (aren’t they terrific!)

The creativity Terry’s designs inspired felt like a love letter to her art and talent!  It was hard to pick, but I have to say I had my favorites. Cyndi Hayes WWII nurse Claire walked around the banquet swilling champagne and making us all smile in delight!

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Carole Braun’s version of Frank was a hoot and I loved how he kept trying to keep “drinking” Claire in line.

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photo credits Becky Wiley

Yvonne Cloonan as Wee Roger with his biscuits in hand made us all clap in happy recognition.

There were a couple of renditions of the bar suit

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and I loved the “deed” lady and 1968 Claire in trench coat and head scarf!

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Missy Hermes as the deed of sasine lady and Julie Chenoweth Tierstriep as Claire

Terry shared on Twitter a delightful pair of sneakers done up by Karen Boilard as a homage to the red shoes and an 88 year old fan dressed as Claire who had captured her heart!

Every time you turned around, someone’s ingenuity and attention to detail caused you to drop your jaw, laugh and smile.  I’m so grateful for this bunch!  They really added to the spirit of the convention and the fun.

THIS MAN WAS SERIOUSLY ENTERTAINING

Grant O’Rourke was the keynote speaker and I have to say I haven’t been that entertained by a “speech” in a long time.   I can’t think of a moment that lagged.  I found myself mesmerized and leaning forward to hear what funny, self-deprecating, and delightful thing he would say next.  I think we were all moved by his definition of what it was like to be a Dad to his “wee man”.  “It’s like falling in love everyday”, he explained.  His description of his talking Star Trek with Ron Moore was priceless.  His failed joke had me laughing so hard I was crying.  The silence, he added, in response to his comment was so deafening that even crickets backed out of the room. I would chortle about this at random moments throughout the rest of my trip.

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photo credit Becky Wiley

There were some charming moments in the Q&A with Grant and Terry and the evening was rounded out with a meet and greet and dessert.

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photo credit Heather Frey

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

I had some difficulty getting home (many of us did).  It snowed!  I said goodbye to Jane and thanked her for a lovely weekend and headed for the airport at 8:30 am.

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At about one, I saw Jane again…at the airport where I got a very spicy Bloody Mary and we “punch drunk” tweeted other people who were “stuck in Iowa”.

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Even Grant got delayed and ended up going home with Debbie Ford.  I loved the idea of him spending time with a Midwest family and giggled at the image of him riding in a big four-wheel drive truck (they had to talk him out of climbing into the back!). After several cancelled flights and sitting on the tarmac until they cleaned up the birds Jane’s plane had hit, I finally made it home.  I pulled into my driveway in Ohio around 2:10 am tired, but full of the joy of living some great moments.

Thanks TTS.

P.S. Please, I’d love to hear about your favorite moments in the comments!

“It’s all just moments. We’re all just living in moments…” a reflection on my press conference at Thru the Stones weekend

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TTS Press Conference Dec. 3, 2016

Debbie Ford, Grant O’Rourke, Terry Dresbach

Sitting by the fireplace at the Isle in Bettendorf, Iowa, I was discussing inspiration for this blog with my friend Jane.  I had been lucky enough to be asked to be part of a press conference at the Thru The Stones Fan event with Grant O’Rourke and Terry Dresbach.

“Grant had a very interesting response to my asking about the difficulty of filming out of sequence.” I said.

We were interrupted by folks on the look out for coffee before they caught a taxi to the airport.  We offered to watch their luggage while they snuck into the casino for the only coffee available at that early hour of the morning.  Settling back in my chair, I continued to explain what I had heard Grant say.

“He didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal.  He said you get a good sense of who your character is and how he serves the story and then act that moment.”

Jane nodded her head listening to me intently like she always does. It is one of the biggest reasons I love her.  She is genuinely interested in how and what I think.

“I told him I thought it would be difficult and that I had the idea it would be easier to build a character chronologically, but he made a very good point.  He said, “It’s all just moments. We’re all just living in moments anyway”.  I’m thinking that might be a good title for the article and a good metaphor for the weekend.”

We were interrupted again by a group of ladies we had met who needed hugs good bye before they left for each corner of the country they came from.  Lots of “so nice to meet you” and “follow me on Twitter” and “what a great time” were heard.  I gave a final hug to one of my readers I was privileged to meet and as she moved away she looked around and said “so many great moments”.   Well, that was just too much of a coincidence and it cemented my focus for this reflection.  This weekend was full of moments both great and small to be treasured and remembered.

First, let me thank the folks that worked so hard to give Outlander fans a great experience.  Thank you very much to Debbie Ford, Gin Wray, and Sandy Belshause, their families and friends like the neighbor who convinced Deb to read Outlander and the gentleman who was the voice of the convention.

Back in July, I received an invitation from Debbie to be part of a press conference at the convention.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to interview Terry Dresbach,  Outlander on Starz’, costume designer.  Like many of you, I have been interacting with Terry on Twitter and learning a lot about the business of costume designing and film making in general. I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet her and Iowa isn’t all that far from Ohio and so, I started making plans to attend.

Previously, I had plans to attend a talk given by the show’s writers in LA that totally fell through and so, I was very cautious about telling anyone this was happening until it actually did!  I got confirmation just a couple of days before the convention that Grant would be at the press conference.  I happened to be at my granddaughters’ basketball game when I opened the email and I thought out loud, “I’ve prepared some things to ask Terry, but I have no idea what to ask an actor! ”  My fourteen year-old granddaughter was sitting beside me with her boyfriend. “I’ve no idea,”she said.  However, her boyfriend seemed to have a clue, “Ask him what his favorite color is.  You can learn a lot about someone by asking them their favorite color.”  I thanked him with a straight face, but  thinking about it on the way home, I broke into a smile and thought that he might actually have come up with a great ice-breaker!  I thought I would tell Grant the story and then ask him what his favorite color was with the added warning to be careful with his choice because I would be psychoanalyzing his response later!

I never got the chance to ask the question or break the ice because I didn’t need to! Grant and Terry hadn’t seen each other in awhile and they just started talking to each other and reminiscing about life on the Outlander set and about one of Terry’s parties. It was a blast to watch them interact.  They were definitely at ease in each other’s prescence and there was a lot of teasing, smiles and laughter.  It was obvious that they both felt good about the working relationship between all those involved in the production. Grant shared that he had been convinced that he was going to lose his job and that he didn’t relax until two weeks had passed and he was filming the stable scene with Cait because Steven Walters, Angus, had told him that after two weeks it was too expensive for them to replace him! LOL!  They both shared bits and pieces of life behind the scenes that made what we see as a glamorous job a bit less so.  There appears to be a lot of standing around in the cold and mud and rain waiting.  Terry shared that Cecil B DeMille said ,”the most fascinating day on set is your first and the most boring is your second”.

Terry said that on Outlander everything has its own rewards and challenges.  And, in response to my question she added that filming out of sequence is the norm and that she thought it would be easier to film chronologically, so that, for instance, you wouldn’t have to film a Boston May in a Scotland November!  But, that it doesn’t happen that way. This led her to tell a funny story about her not realizing things were filmed out of sequence on her first job as a costume designer.  She said she loaded up a car with costumes and took them to the set and then didn’t bring them back the next day because she thought they were done!  They both discussed the importance of costumes in creating a character. She designs the costumes with the character and their place in the story in mind and shares the “why” of her costume choices with the actors.  She then went on to share how she loves it when the actors start to make the costumes their own.  Grant shared that he was very big on being able to dress himself.  It sounds as if their were discussions about whether or not Rupert would have worn this or styled his hair thus, etc.  and some changes were made.  He said he had started to make the costume his own by always carrying his tam in the same place inside his plaid whether he would be wearing it in the scene or not because Rupert would have always carried it.  There were a few more laughs over the fact that he said he hated to wear that bonnet. “NO!  Not the bonnet!  I don’t want to wear the bonnet”, he jokingly whined.  Terry talked about how Stephen Walters wrapped his plaid around a special rock he had been given which is an old Highlander way of holding the plaid in place called a pauper’s brooch.  The two shared a story about the time Stephen lost his rock and everyone was scouring the set for it!   “Looking for a particular pebble amongst other pebbles”, Terry laughed.

I learned that Grant thought the best episode in season 2 was Prestonpans and he was grateful to hear that we were moved by his performance.  In fact, he said he used to listen to pod casts, but stopped when he was listening to one on Prestonpans and they never mentioned Rupert!  (I made a mental note to check my blog on Prestonpans)  I learned that this was his first time in America which really shocked Terry and I overheard him ask Debbie how much time he had after the press conference because he really wanted to get some ribs.  She assured him that they knew a guy who would take care of that!  He is so quick and seems a very down to Earth guy with his priorities in place ( hope the wee man enjoys his cup).  Terry was funny, charming, and generous with her answers.

There weren’t any great revelations about season 3 shared, as expected and as it should be.  However, what was very obviously revealed was the care, dedication and love that each puts into their craft.  My overall impression of my time spent with them was that they were two people who work hard at their jobs and try to do the best they can just like the rest of us.  Terry strives to do her best job as a designer and Grant wants to serve the story with his acting.  The fact that we all find it so fascinating and that the show is so popular is just a bonus.  I’m convinced they would be giving the same effort, care and concern to whatever project they were involved in. They seem to have a sense that what they do will be farther reaching than they can imagine and are humbled to be part of something bigger than themselves.  They know that they are here because Diana Gabaldon wrote these wonderful books and they want to serve the story and the fans well and with love.

As moments go, I was grateful to be living this one.  We are very lucky fans.

Stay tuned part 2 coming soon!

Fans and Creators…drawing a line of decency in the sand

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Sunday, I was made aware there was trouble brewing in the Outlander fandom over some edited footage from the final scenes of the episode “Faith”.   It’s been a couple of days and I’ve had a chance to see some interactions between fans, creators, author, and cast.  I’ve let my thoughts sit for awhile and I think I’m ready to put those thoughts to words today.  

I just watched the entire clip

http://outlanderbts.com/deleted-scene-season-2-episode-207-faith-beautiful-work-sam-h/

and what came to mind was how ironic and sad it is that love of such a wonderful story has engendered so much ugliness.

When “Faith” first aired I posted my reflection on the blog and was overwhelmed by the response and moved by my reader’s stories of tragedy and grief.  http://wp.me/p4mtBT-3zD  That episode dealt with a part of life spoken of mostly in whispers if spoken about at all.  The real and honest portrayal of the loss of a child generated thoughtful discussion and for some it created a desire to tell their own story maybe for the first time.  It was and remains an amazing episode of TV.

I am not nor have I ever been an expert on the creation of a TV show.  Despite my voicing from time to time my likes and dislikes about certain episodes, the truth is I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to adapt the books to screen.  Oh, the show has piqued my interest and I’ve done some reading , but I have no experience in the creation of a TV show.  Like most people, I just know what I like and don’t like and then watch or don’t watch a show accordingly.  I felt the need to place my qualification to be a bonafide tv critic right upfront because this whole thing is bothering the heck out of me and I need to talk about it, but I want to make sure everybody knows who I am…a fan.

I’ve heard Diana say before that she fought for a scene to be left in or left out of the production.  Sometimes she wins and sometimes she doesn’t.  She always makes sure to add that no one has to listen to or include her in the decision making, but she is glad that they do.  Overall, she seems very pleased with the adaptation.  I always try to remember this wasn’t the first time someone had an idea to make Outlander’s story into film and I then remember that only she really knows how wrong this could have all gone.  What is really confusing me with these edits is that nobody seems to know why the scenes were cut and they aren’t being shy about saying so.  It isn’t only fans expressing their displeasure or surprise, it’s Metyin, a director,  tweeting he thinks the scene was better in the edited footage, and Diana and Sam Heughan, lead actor, adding their two cents.  They aren’t blaming anyone, but they seem as puzzled as I am.

I agree with Metyin when he said the edited scenes tied together all that happened in the previous episodes. The last time edited scenes were released, I found myself able to see why each scene (except the one with Murtaugh on the beach with Claire) was cut.  I could easily see how each would affect the overall storyline, pacing and character development if left in. I remember thinking that having more time doesn’t necessarily mean the story will be better told.  Sometimes less is more.   But, this time…more looked and felt pretty good. I’d love to hear the reasoning behind the edit because…that scene was amazing.

I’m not sure I know exactly where the buck stops in this production, there appears to be a lot of thumbs in the pie and a new merger had to have some impact.  I do, however, know where the blame for fan displeasure has landed and that is squarely on the shoulders of Ron D. Moore, executive producer.  Here’s the thing, even if he did make the decision to cut this scene totally on his own, he doesn’t deserve the nastiness fans are spewing.  NO ONE DESERVES THE SHIT I’M SEEING .  He hasn’t destroyed or sabotaged the show, he isn’t disrespecting book fans, he doesn’t hate Jamie or Sam, he isn’t making decisions based on what his wife wants or overreacting to what fans say NEEDS to be in the show (thank God), there is no conspiracy or agenda (other than making the best show he knows how to make) …sigh…did I cover it all?  Oh, and, it isn’t personal.  But, the attacks sure are.  Some are thinly disguised as “concern” from fans who LOVE the show, but just want RDM to get with the program and deliver what they want which is more of “the core” of the story.  The truth is we may never see book Jamie and Claire, but I’m not buying the line that Jamie has been emasculated to make Claire look stronger, or that the relationship between the two main character’s has been altered beyond recognition.  This fandom seems to have as many shouting points and conspiracy theories as the presidential election and they get repeated about as often. 

Here is another thing I’m puzzled about. How do the same shit stirrers get access to and notice of the cast and creators?  I swear it’s the same dirty dozen that lie in wait for something negative to be said about the show and then pounce.  They sit in judgment of the show and its fans.  They feel it is their right to degrade the show, its stars and makers in the name of “critique”.  Translation… you didn’t make the show the way I wanted so you are wrong.  The meaner they are the funnier they think they are and the gloat-fest goes on for days and their infamy celebrated.  The dissatisfied jump on the bandwagon with “I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels that way”.

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Critique

Critique is one thing and being judgmental another, but some fans tend to use the two interchangeably.

Judgmental usually refers to people who have a fixed, negative attitude about something.  It carries a meaning of “passing judgment”, black or white, thumbs down or up, like a judge ruling whether someone is guilty or innocent.  It focuses on the negative result in that process. It also has a moral component.


Critical, at least by  tradition, carries the idea of a well-reasoned, expert, articulate, and in-depth examination of the ideas or quality of a thing, not the thing itself: something that a literary or movie critic might do.  Though it tends toward negative, it’s not necessarily so – a movie could receive critical approval.  Critical comes from critique.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-being-critical-and-being-judgmental

  • Criticism finds fault. Critique looks at structure.
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking. Critique finds what’s working.
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand. Critique asks for clarification.
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue. Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective.
  • Criticism is negative. Critique is positive.
  • Criticism is vague and general. Critique is concrete and specific.
  • Criticism has no sense of humor. Critique uses humor to soften the “blow” of the critique.
  • Criticism often looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing. Critique addresses only what is on the page (screen my addition to the list) .https://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/03/06/a-critic-critiques-criticism-critically/

 

Loved what this article had to say about the “vocal”fans.

It isn’t just Outlander dealing with fans who have crossed some sort of line of decency in the sand. Social media has given us access to creators and it has been a learning curve for them and frustrating to fans who aren’t the vocal minority.

This unfortunate behavior mostly comes from vocal minorities. But it’s an unfortunate truth that those who yell the loudest are usually the first to be heard, which is how you get TV writers blinking in panic at the idea of having to cater to fan whims. I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite saying otherwise, fan backlash results in far less communication between creators and fans, rather than more.

Creators and fans need to find middle ground before creators shut fans out completely   http://www.vox.com/2016/6/8/11885562/tv-fans-the-100-fandom

Make no mistake, this is what will happen…it already has…

 

But, …the fans lament, I can’t believe fans concerns aren’t LISTENED to (translation: why aren’t you doing what I want)

…And the amazing news, as far as creators are concerned, is that the explosion of social media might have opened up communication between the artists and their fans, but it’s by no means equalized it. Major studios and publishers, and the creators they’ve chosen to invest in, still have a bigger megaphone than any of their fans on Twitter. They just have less privilege, less complete protection from a dialogue with their audience, than before. Some still find ways to choose not to have that dialogue. That’s fine; it’s their right.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/are-fans-getting-too-entitled_us_5750ab2ce4b0ed593f13e893

 

Loved this too…lack of empathy…let’s insult the people the creators and cast care about and then act surprised when they get upset…smh…

Fan entitlement, or something like it, can be hurtful—especially for creators who work on beloved franchises like Doctor Who or Star Wars, where fans feel a strong sense of ownership of long-running characters. But fan entitlement is an attitude problem, brought on by a lack of thoughtfulness and empathy. It’s not an umbrella term for every fandom reaction, from death threats to hashtag activism.  http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/fandom-harassment-captain-america-ghostbusters-devin-faraci/

Critique (I just did. I told you I thought the scene was better before the edit and why without taking it personally or damning anyone to hell) can be productive when it is truly critique.

 

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I would not be surprised if Outlander’s folks are setting new boundaries as we speak….

With social media increasing consumers’ access to producers, fans and creators are still negotiating their boundaries online. Sometimes, a handful of fans will wildly overreact to a creative decision (the emphasis is mine) and behave like immature dicks. Sometimes, a creator will misinterpret a piece of constructive criticism as a personal attack and freak out. Occasionally, a hashtag campaign like #OscarsSoWhite or The 100‘s lesbian death backlash will start a productive conversation that might inspire real, positive change.

http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/fandom-harassment-captain-america-ghostbusters-devin-faraci/

 

 

Here is my point, we have NO idea what happened.  Maybe they made a poor choice maybe they didn’t have a choice.  Is the show ruined?  Are folks going to continue to beat the “Ron doesn’t get it” dead horse?  You don’t have to like every decision, but for God’s sake it’s a TV show and these are real people who work hard and take pride in their art.  I understand folks have been waiting a long time to see “their” story on the screen and are disappointed it wasn’t delivered exactly the way they hoped, but you might want to consider cutting the creators and cast a break …it isn’t personal.  And,  if I was a creator?  I’d be building a fence, an electric one…

 

Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler

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LOVED THE THOUGHTS EXPRESSED HERE AND WANTED TO SHARE!

I have no idea what a Magmar is, other than the word kinda looks like Ragnar. Which makes me think of Ragnar Lothbrok…which makes me wonder when the new season of Viking starts. I don’t know because it isn’t my fandom. And I’m okay with that. Some people, however…aren’t. My kids like Pokemon Go. They […]

via Fandom Shaming Needs to GO #RespectTheFandoms — The Word Peddler

“Find your way back to us” …a reflection on the Outlander fandom today

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I’m hoping the dust has settled enough for me to write this.  Be patient please it is longer than I normally write and I need you to read to the end! It has been an -interesting -year in the fandom to say the least.  Those folks who have been around since the beginning will testify that things have changed. I’m not sure if this is a natural progression in all fandom, growing pains if you will, or something unique to this fandom. This is my first.  I started the blog about two and a half years ago and in that time I’ve had a lot of contact with fans and had time to observe changes…

IN THE BEGINNING

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I tiptoed into the fandom.  It started with being fascinated by the books and wanting to know more about the author.  I discovered Herself’s Facebook page and CompuServe.  I was at the time, but didn’t know it, a lurker.  I watched and read others interactions, but didn’t feel confident enough to wade in myself.  One day, news came that the books were finally being made into film and my interest was piqued.  I found myself showing up on social media at least once a day to see what was happening.  Eventually, our “cast watch” paid off with the news that the last person we expected to be cast was cast first.  Sam Heughan was to play Jamie.  To say his reception was lukewarm might be an understatement.  Now that I’m reflecting, I realize this was probably my first exposure to the negative side of our fandom.  Sam just didn’t fit the image of Jamie folks had in their heads and he didn’t fit Diana’s description in “the Book”. I just genuflected. Fidelity to the “book” is a major issue in the fandom.  Despite Diana’s assurances that she had her doubts until she saw the audition tape and explaining what it is that actors do…the debate and complaints continued.  At first, the passion was amusing to me. I found myself more times than not reading these raging debates about hair color and height while chuckling and eye-rolling.  It just couldn’t be taken seriously and I assumed most people could see it for what it was…silly, but harmless.

I would love to say things stayed that way, silly and harmless, but they didn’t.  Oh, for awhile things were great!  I ventured on to Twitter because I heard Sam tweeted and I wanted to say congratulations.  No, I still haven’t heard from him…grumble…grumble. But, in his defense I haven’t tweeted him very often and he has just a few fans now. I also began interacting with other fans.  Some folks were playing around with writing Outlander Haiku. I was amused and took a risk of posting one!

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Low and behold, people responded and I began to tweet back.  It was fun!  I was talking to people from all over the world! People were nice, polite, and funny!  We all marveled at how we had come together over a book and the phrase “because she wrote a book” was born.

Then, I had my next run in with the negative side of the fandom.  I’m not sure why it surprised me, people online are likely to be pretty much the same as people offline, but I was taken aback and saddened.  You see, I have an alarming lack of a suspicious nature.  I want to believe that everyone is genuine and has good intentions and I tend to overlook what most people would see as red flags.  I was warned.  My husband who is a good bit more cynical than myself was a bit worried about my interactions with people I only knew online, “People can pretend to be whomever they want to be on there.  You have no idea who you are talking to.”  He was right.  I struck up a friendship with someone I thought I had a lot in common with and ignored what were certainly red flags.  This person was not who she presented herself to be.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I have my suspicions that it had to do with jealousy.  I found myself ostracized for something I did not do and would never do.  I was hurt and angry for awhile, but remembered the advice I gave my daughter when she came home devastated by a rumor.

“Consider the source”, I told her.  “How important is this person’s opinion really?  Just because someone says something it doesn’t mean you have to take it in and give it power.  The people who know you best won’t believe it and they are the folks that matter. The best revenge is living well (or in my case writing well). You know who you are.  Find those people who know who you are too and keep being yourself.”  Pretty good advice and so, I decided to follow it and I wish others would too.  Not everyone you meet in the fandom is who they present themselves to be (hence multiple handles and sock accounts) it’s okay to be cautious and please understand not everyone plays by the same rules.

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING

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I’ve done a lot of different things in my life.  My husband was a college football coach and we moved quite a bit.  Every time we moved I got a chance to reinvent myself and try on something new. My Gemini side liked it!  One of the things I had a chance to become was a mental health/drug and alcohol counselor.  I know this seems strange given my lack of a suspicious nature, but I think that same nature made me more empathetic.  I remember several of my clients because of their struggles with addiction and disease, but I also remember how much they taught me about what is important in life.  One client in particular helped me be a better mother.  Despite her own struggles, she was a good parent and I believe her daughter would most probably survive being the child of an addict because of life lessons taught by her mother.  It’s a paradox, I know, but life is rarely simple and easy to understand and addiction doesn’t care who you are or how you were raised.  One of funniest and most moving things my client ever told me was how she responded to her daughter when she came home from school upset by a bully who had called her names.

“Jimmy said I was a poop head!” her daughter tearfully exclaimed.

“Well, are you?” said her mother.

She told me her daughter looked shocked and puzzled.

“Go look in the mirror”, she suggested. “Is your head made of poop?”

Her daughter took a serious look into the mirror and responded, “No.”

“Then I guess you aren’t a poop head”, my client confirmed.

People say mean things, but that doesn’t make them true. When someone in the fandom calls you a name take a serious look in the mirror.  If you aren’t a poop head let it go and if you are? Acceptance is the first step to recovery.  You give it power when you take in the meanness and give it free rent in your head. Believe me when I say your being upset isn’t bothering the name caller at all.  They are most probably on their merry way spreading more shite…the poop heads.

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I used to believe that it was wrong to tell folks that complained about the show or fandom to stop watching or to get out.  I believed that they had every right to talk about what they liked and didn’t like and feel how they wanted to feel .  But, I think I might be changing my mind.  I get comments on the blog sometimes that give me pause to reconsider my stance on issues including this one. I hear from folks who find themselves so caught up in this fandom and show that it is affecting their well-being.

…there are certain iconic moments and iconic lines that readers have spent years investing themselves in that are ignored or given to the wrong characters, and we’re supposed to be grateful when it happens.

Too many iconic moments were “adapted” into oblivion or – an even worse sin – they were kept, but handed over to other characters. Hearing Claire deliver some of the lines that I have waited years to hear from Jamie’s lips was worse than omission-through-adaptation. At times, it felt like a betrayal of the book fandom, as though the book fandom got it all wrong and RDM was going to show us what we *should* have wanted instead (like shoving Frank down our throats when we’ve been waiting 20 years to see Jamie, and so on, and so on). The Harry Potter films were proper adaptations; if RDM and co. had “adapted” those series, he would have given Harry’s lines away to Snape and Ron, and Hermione would have defeated Voldemort herself, because letting Harry be Harry would have been ‘too predictable’ for book fans and women must be ‘liberated’…

I’m tired of feeling like a “Disgruntled” (as my once-favorite author labeled me on her very own Twitter feed… ) How silly of me to love something for over 10 years and be disappointed when it isn’t delivered, eh? I have been told so many times this season to love it or leave it that I have made the decision to leave it – all of it. It was fun while it lasted, but I give up, I’m shelving the books and leaving Outlander groups and blogs because I’m tired of being vilified for wanting more of what the books were actually about (hint: they are not about Frank; Jamie and Claire are partners and equals and Jamie doesn’t have to be emasculated for his wife to be strong; the love story is a character unto itself, not a side-plot to the Jacobite cause). I’m tired of walking around in an awful mood because of silly TV show and because internet strangers have made me feel bad about feeling bad.

Beth Wesson, your research is thorough and your blog well-written, and I am sad to disagree with such great efforts and writing. Good luck with S3, I’m sad I won’t be with you.

 

I replied.

I’m really sad that you feel this way, but I support your need for self care. If you find your self walking around upset and vilified it truly isn’t worth it. Thank you for reading.

If being in this fandom is causing you to feel angry and bad about yourself and affects your real-life … get out.  It truly isn’t worth it.

IF YOU LIE DOWN WITH DOGS YOU CAN GET FLEAS

A friend and I were discussing all the drama in the fandom.  She had gotten caught up in all the shipper/anti wars.  She wasn’t participating, but found herself fascinated.  It was like a car wreck that she couldn’t look away from. She found it was interesting to see how people interacted and thought…from a scientific psychological standpoint..ahem.

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She urged me to go to Tumblr and check it out.  She was right.  The rationalization and need to be right I saw was fascinating and …staggering.  I found myself reading what can only be termed as manifestos!  People were invested in this drama and it was getting uglier by the minute. It made me want to jump in and fix things and yet, I felt hopeless because I knew that there was nothing I could say or do that would make a difference or not make things worse! I found it was very easy to get caught up in the drama and I soon began to feel uncomfortable.

I will say that I think who you hang out with in this fandom might have a lot to do with how you feel about the fandom. What you spend your time on and who you spend it with matters. I found myself becoming anxious and upset when I read all the complaining and truly awful things said about other fans, the cast, crew, writers, producers, and Starz.   Then I realized that I needed to take my own advice and ask myself how much these people’s opinions mattered and how much power was I going to give them?  I took a look and realized that most were people I didn’t interact with and in the scheme of the millions of people who watch the show they were vocal, but certainly not a majority.

Spending time reading their stuff made me feel bad about myself and the fandom and so, I stopped going to certain blogs and pages and reading certain people’s tweets. Distancing myself was a positive choice. I felt much better and my friend and I, who had also decided to stop going to certain blogs, laughingly  wondered if something is said, but we didn’t read it did it actually happen?  Truly, in some instances, what you don’t know cant’t hurt you.

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I know there is a popular idea that turning a blind eye to this stuff is wrong.  On some level,  I agree. There are times to stand up, but I also think that there are folks out there who crave the attention and drama and when we respond we feed the behavior. We have all been witness to bullies bullying in the name of stopping bullies.  I truly have yet to see any attempts, no matter how well intention-ed, to discuss and build bridges between fans that have actually worked. I applaud and admire the peacemakers’ courage and hearts. But, I’ve come to understand that there are more factions in this fandom than you can shake a stick at! Try to build a bridge with one group and you’ll just piss off another.  I don’t think it is a battle that can be won.

So, what’s to do?  I’m sorry to say, but I think our only option is to block, mute, ignore, skim on by, report it if it is truly heinous, and find your own tribe.  If bitching about the adaptation is your thing then go for it!  Find your own group of like-minded folks and bitch away, but if you don’t like being told what to think, what makes you think you have the right to tell someone else what to think? We don’t have to make the choice to get involved or put in our two cents. Some of the most effective ways I’ve seen folks deal with this stuff is to agree to disagree and …let it go!  It’s a big fandom and there is room to let folks just be themselves whether we like it or not.

I’ll admit that I still get mad at folks.  Just yesterday, I saw some fans discussing the fandom on Twitter. They are the “this fandom drives me crazy” and “I hate this fandom” folks who believe they are the only sane fans out there. The drift of the conversation was that they couldn’t believe that some of these fans were grown women because they acted like teenagers and they were tired of making excuses for them.  They knew fans had waited a long time to see the “books” on the screen, but the show isn’t perfect and neither are the books.  They then proceeded to explain why they didn’t like the show…because it wasn’t like the “books”.  It’s hypocrisy like this that makes me the most angry.  It is much easier for me to forgive a fan who gets carried away in passion than those who like to pretend they are above it all while they fawn on the stars and expound on their on cleverness and insight.  There is more than one way to be a fan.

Every-time I get angry at some hypocrisy or deliberate attempts to bait cast and creators, I try to remember that there is a multitude of fans who just want to enjoy the show and some for whom it has meant…something more important…and I often hear from them…

Stories make us feel and think. Stories have power. Stories move us, shape us, and do the same to the world.” What a powerful statement….and for me so true!!! This has been an extremely emotional morning for me, after watching the finale early Saturday morning alone, I came to the realization just how important DG’s books and finding this show has been for me. When I discovered the Outlander series I was in a very difficult place emotionally. I first heard about Outlander through a Starz commercial prior to the first season and had every intention of watching. But, as the saying goes, make plans and God laughs….In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with kidney failure, which launched a year long search for a kidney donor and his name being placed on a donor list. After a year, my son, who is not my husbands biological son, made a decision without discussion, to donate his kidney to my husband. He saved my husband’s life. It was a courageous and unselfish thing to do, and for me overwhelming, since both of my men would be on the operating table together, and would suffer the same risks. While this was a very successful transplant, it was nonetheless extremely traumatic for me. In order to be a care-giver and advocate, initially to both and eventually to only my husband, meant that my life had to be placed on hold. I built a wall that protected me emotionally… that wall went up….and never came down…. until…. I read Outlander & watched the show. I wonder if Diana Gabaldon knew when she wrote the Outlander series that she would have the power to change a persons life…but her story had power, and the actors who portrayed those characters and the writers who gave them a voice only enhanced that power. I found her spiritual references, poems, and the love she created between her characters absolutely moving, life-changing and refreshing. Which is why some of us wanted so badly for the adaptation to follow the books, absolutely. But, because RonDMoore had the courage and power to adapt for TV many scenes from the book, one in particular for me, the violation of Fergus, I was forever changed. He gave me power and courage to write on this blog, my experience as a victim. Thank you Beth for providing the safe place to have these discussions! And lets not forget DG’s historical references, which also lead me to trace two of my family lines..Cameron and Fraser….right to Scotland on the battlefields…incredible! I know there are many people who have had their life enhanced or changed by reading the books and viewing the show; just read all the various tweets & this blog. People sometimes laugh at us when we talk Outlander and about the greatness of this show; my husband is one of them, but he doesn’t realize that it saved me emotionally, brought me back to him, and really left an impression on my life. I hope the actors, Diana, Ron, Terry, and all the writers realize how many people have been touched by their creativity….it is absolutely incredible how a series of fictional books and a television show could have that much power, for so many people! It is also a reminder that true love conquers all things, and that love & communication are so important in a relationship. Thank you to all the Outlander cast & crew and especially to DG for writing such wonderful books that have touched me in so many ways. Finally, thank you Beth for utilizing your God given talent to touch us with your insight. You are the best at being able to put into words that prompt us to think and respond……. I am forever grateful……

GETTING OFF MY SOAPBOX

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Being a part of this fandom has brought a lot of wonderful things into my life including real-life friends! #cgng #bawdybabes  This fandom used to be a fun place.  And, I think it still can be. Mining is wrong.  Name calling is wrong. Vilifying people for not agreeing with you is wrong.  I once wrote a whole researched piece on this topic and realized I’d just be preaching to the choir and so, I put it in the trash.  Those who are perpetrators of the drama in this fandom won’t see themselves as such and so, weren’t likely to change their behavior just because I wrote about it.  But, there are a lot of folks out there who get caught up in the drama like my friend and I did and it’s you I’m speaking to.  Be slow to anger and find joy in this fandom again.  It’s there.  There are a lot of wonderful, interesting, talented, and generous people from all over the world in this fandom, “Find your way back to us”.

 

 

 

Me, Tom and Lorenzo and Outlander Episode 4

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I’m starting to see a pattern.  I go to bed Friday night and then wake up around two with the knowledge that I could be lying in bed watching the current episode of Outlander.  The temptation is too great and I put in my headphones and turn the screen to an angle that won’t wake my husband and then adjust my pillow for my first viewing.  After the episode, I fall asleep dreaming of what I saw. I wake early Saturday morning and watch again, this is when the ideas begin to percolate and I start making notes. All day long, I’m thinking about what I saw. I don’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s thoughts so, I don’t read any reviews, recaps, etc. until after I’ve had my third viewing on Saturday night with my husband and written my reflection. After I hit the publish button on Sunday morning, I begin reading what other folks thought.  There is a lot more out there to read than last season, but I still find myself gravitating to the same authors; Angelica Jade Bastien of the NY Times

A year ago, I wrote an article about Tom and Lorenzo’s reviews of Outlander. https://wordpress.com/post/bethwesson.com/2581

I read their first review at http://tomandlorenzo.com/2015/03/how-outlander-finally-won-us-over/ and found it to be one of the most insightful and honest reviews I had read. Now please understand, I am particularly fond of the books by Diana Gabaldon and therefore, pretty invested in the success of the series. It doesn’t make me the most objective of readers, however, I’ve read enough ( there is an understatement) reviews to know when someone is piggybacking off of the latest gossip about the show or relying on the latest pop culture cliché to meet a deadline or sound particularly “critic-like”. I came to their article with some Outlander review reading under my belt and I found their writings to be refreshing.

I felt like they got the show.  They were able to make accurate predictions and seemed to understand the characters.  They saw beyond the bodice-ripping-time travel labels given to the series.  I have found that I mostly agree with them and can usually be seen nodding my head “yes” the whole time I’m reading their reviews.  So, I was totally surprised when their response to Outlander episode 4 “La Dame Blanche” was so different from my own.  In fact, I was troubled by our difference in opinion and have given it some point by point thought.

Point one:  the difference between us

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My view of the show isn’t rose colored, but it certainly is colored by my knowledge of the books. Tom and Lorenzo afford me the novelty of watching the show vicariously  without “book goggles”.  However, I really didn’t have to wait until Sunday to read Tom and Lorenzo’s experienced TV critique to understand the response of the non-booking reading viewer, because my own barometer of the episode’s success was sitting in a lazy-boy across the room peppering me with questions.  I had to stop the show and let the DVR take over, so that I could explain what was happening.  That has never happened before.  I was so taken with what I saw as an effective adaptation of the story that I failed to see that he didn’t see what was going on.  His defensive comment, “Well, it’s a lot to take in if you haven’t read the books!” should have been my first clue that something was amiss. As much as I loved this adaptation, upon reflection I am able to see how my husband would be confused.

I blame the number 13.

The show-runner was given 13 episodes to tell this story.  As a result, the writers have had to do the near impossible and fit the complicated story told in Diana Gabaldon’s huge book (it is 39 hours on audio) into 13 fifty-five minute segments. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is worried that the number thirteen is an unlucky one for those charged with bringing this couple’s relationship to the soul deep level it needs to go!

As a book reader, I am thrilled with what they have done, but this might be the first episode that the non-book reader was truly at a disadvantage.  It just might be possible that my “book goggles” were beneficial watching “La Dame Blanche”.  I believe that I probably unconsciously filled in the storytelling gaps because things that were obvious to me weren’t obvious to my husband and Tom and Lorenzo.

Point 2:  Claire

 

We’re not sure how much sympathy we should expect from a woman of Claire’s time on the issue of male rape and its after-effects, but she’s been depicted as supernaturally empathetic and patient with Jamie’s issues up until now, and she just spent weeks obsessing over how to tell him what she thought was going to be the worst news of his life; news so devastating that she rightly feared for his emotional well-being, not to mention his life. She absolutely has a right to be upset with him over this, but it’s like all the previous episodes’ worth of character interactions were forgotten when this scene was written.    http://tomandlorenzo.com/2016/05/outlander-la-dame-blanche/

Episode 16 is back to haunt the series again.  Claire going into Jamie’s darkness continues to be a very important missing piece in this puzzle.  Because they chose not to let Claire trick Jamie into fighting his demons at the end of the last season, they were left trying to fit his recovery into a season already packed with plot points.  Personally, I feel they have successfully shown and given respect to the fact that Jamie would not have just bounced back from his trauma and shown how it would have affected his intimacy with Claire.  Jamie was still going to recover because he got to fight back and his wanting to have sex with his wife again would have followed just like it did in the book.

The scene were Jamie comes home “marked’ was definitely more lengthy in the book and Claire’s patience was tested repeatedly which might have made her reaction more understandable to viewers.  She would accept his story only to be faced with more “evidence” at every turn. Because they were already having sex, this scene as presented in the book was more about the jealousy of a woman who felt neglected and  a bit afraid her husband had crossed a line in the “game” they were playing.

To me, “Up until now” are the key words in Tom and Lorenzo’s paragraph. The woman has had a lot to deal with and this had to feel like a betrayal of all of her efforts, patience and trust. Yes, Claire has been shown to have a great deal of empathy, but quite frankly, what would any woman have done faced with this kind of evidence, let alone a woman who is pregnant and lonely and scared she has lost the husband she knew and loved. We might want to give her bit of lee way for overreacting.  I didn’t see this as out of character at all. In fact, it felt pretty natural to me!  She overreacts, but true to Claire form she owns her feelings and takes action.

The TV series use of this almost comical moment, (a typically Jamie moment as it never occurs to him that Claire might not be as happy as he is that he felt lust for a prostitute! ) to set up a serious conversation about the aftermath of Jamie’s trauma was inspired adaptation. It worked in the book and I thought it worked in the episode.

Point 3: Claire, reckless or stupid

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I felt Tom and Lorenzo had some valid points:

…Don’t even get us started on why she brought Mary with her or why she thought two finely dressed and clearly wealthy women could simply stroll through the streets of 18th Century Paris after dark…

Upon reflection, this was one of those times my book knowledge filled in the gaps.  I knew that Mary had been volunteering with Claire for quite awhile, but to be fair that was never explained or if it was I missed it! And, they couldn’t get a carriage because they were all being used to transport victims…once again, not explained.  However, I thought it was totally in keeping with Claire’s personality to believe they would be safe walking.  After all, they weren’t alone … Murtagh.

…how much of this, we’re sorry to say, can be laid at Claire’s feet. We literally muttered “What the hell?” when Claire announced she was going to the hospital to work on the very day she was hosting a formal 18th Century French dinner party (an ENORMOUS undertaking that she has never done before nor has she any familiarity with). One can argue how admirable it is that Claire felt the call of duty when she heard that people were hurt. And that’s true, for the most part. But it also speaks to how ridiculously reckless Claire can be.

This was definitely an issue with the time compressing.  This wasn’t their only party and Claire did have experience planning dinner parties at Jared’s.  She knew she wasn’t needed and was going somewhere where she was. It wasn’t just another day at the hospital, it was a crisis.  She did explain, but … giving this one to T&L her reasons for leaving weren’t made clear.

Point 4:  royalty literally dropping from the sky

Prince Charles is on the roof!

…Yeah, we could’ve done without that bit of silliness ourselves. Especially since his convenient drop-in also had the result of inadvertently revealing his affair with Louise. Let’s unpack this: The one man who is most important to the Frasers’ plans drops down from the roof of their house complaining about his lover and sporting a monkey bite, which so happens to be the pet of one of the few friends Claire has in Paris; a friend who just told her about how she’s pregnant by her mysterious lover’s child while mentioning that her monkey bites everyone in the same conversation. It’s a bit much on the coincidence scale.

I can see what they are saying, too neat, too convenient, okay, but…too silly?  I thought there were several moments in this episode that showed us how humanly frail we all are whether we are dressed in silk and bewigged or not. The sophisticated worldly Louise suddenly seemed very young when talking to Claire about her pregnancy and likewise a disheveled Charles scrambling around on a roof ; very young, very human. He is climbing out windows like a teenager one minute and expecting to be treated like royalty the next.  His “God is always testing me line” was very revealing of his character and motivation.  I felt a bit of sympathy for this slightly delusional young man when he reaches out and touches his “friend James” face.  How does one deal with being told you are the outstretched hand of God all your life? The scene wasn’t as silly as it seemed on the surface.  (however,loved Jamie’s response to Claire’s comment about a bite epidemic.  It was classic Jamie humor!)

Here’s the thing,… each episode should be able to stand on its own. It really shouldn’t matter whether you have read the book, I shouldn’t have had to stop to explain what was happening (still not convinced my hubby doesn’t need to pay more attention). Here’s the other thing, …reading a book, watching a movie or TV show is really very personal.  We each bring our own experiences, values, and beliefs to the situation and that makes critiquing a pretty subjective process overall.  I would have left to go with Claire to help at the hospital, but maybe Tom and Lorenzo would have stayed to plan the dinner party ( and maybe get a chance to wear one of Terry Dresbach’s costumes) .

Here’s the final thing,  T&L gave the episode a B.  A “B” is far from a failing grade.   One “B” episode in an “A” show?

This teacher is rounding up!