“No but weak words”…Outlander Episode 16…To Ransom a Man’s Soul

Standard

images (11)

I am a woman in love with words.  I believe they have power. Well chosen words can bring you to tears of joy and sorrow. A turn of phrase can change a mind or kindle action. Words can bring solace and peace to wounded hearts and stir anger in others. So, it is ironic that in this episode, I was shown how powerful are words left unsaid.

As I predicted, viewers of Outlander on Starz learned that Claire was a woman worth caring about http://wp.me/p4mtBT-ah and Outlander has fulfilled its potential to be something different. It has told a story full characters who possess redeeming qualities who grapple with choices, moral and ethical dilemmas and often choose to put their own interests aside for the sake of another.  A rarity on TV for sure. These two final episodes meant something to viewers because of the time and care that was given to character and plot development. We care about what happens to these ” people”.

The acting was once again stellar. I’m happy to say that although Tobias’ portrayal of Black Jack was perfectly perverse the scenes were truly and rightfully about Jamie. Sam let us see Jamie thinking and feeling. His ability to emote continues to astound. I felt the tension in his body, the pain and the shame. Although there were wonderful lines spoken, they were “no but weak words” when compared to the story we SAW. There were images on my TV tonight that will not likely be forgotten. Jamie’s absent face as he lay on the pallet reminding BJR of his promise to kill him and his devastation following his orgasm at the hands of his rapist. The prison scenes truly exceeded my expectations and I cannot say enough about the dedication to their craft exhibited by everyone involved. Emmy worthy. Ground-breaking. It was a brutally honest portrayal of rape and its aftermath.

images (9)

For the most part, being a fan of the books has not seriously interfered with my enjoyment of the show. I have learned to relax and trust that Ron and crew were doing justice to my beloved source material and characters. However, despite Diana’s warning to “put the book down”, tonight I found there were scenes where I couldn’t. Tonight, I felt the adaptation missed the mark and a particular scene lost its magic and meaning. Diana is an amazing wordsmith. Her mystical version of what happened in that Abby, truly showed me that Claire was willing to go into hell to get Jamie back. She was willing to take the risk of dying at his hands because if she failed she would lose him and she couldn’t live without him. It was powerful.

I’ve read what critics and other’s who had seen the finale said about their reaction to this particular scene. They were sobbing with a gut wrenching connection to characters on a TV show, something they had never experienced before. I believe them. It was a beautifully filmed and acted episode. I probably would have felt the same, had I not read the books. I wanted that experience! I wanted to be so moved I couldn’t breathe!  It isn’t what I got and quite frankly, I’m jealous. Words in a book robbed me of having that meaningful experience with this scene. I’m afraid lavender oil and a couple of slaps on the face were not enough to bring Jamie back from the hell he inhabited in the books. I wanted to see them wrestle the demons and win. I wanted Jamie to build that lean-to for his soul to take shelter in. The show previews for the last episode showed Murtaugh asserting that SOMEONE needed to go into the darkness with Jamie and get him out. The Episode’s name To Ransom a Man’s Soul helped to fuel my belief that we would indeed see Claire go there. But, what I got instead were “no but weak words”. I wanted to scream that’s it? It was too easy.

ol003721

To be fair, despite my disappointment over this scene, most scenes were wonderful and meaningful.  Like showing me exactly why living was the worst thing that could have happened to Jamie. Sam’s portrayal of a broken man was painful to watch and yet,…so moving I couldn’t look away.  Once again, words were not important. I didn’t need to understand Gaelic to understand what was happening between Murtaugh and Jamie.  I could read the fear for Jamie on Murtagh and Claire’s faces and felt their desperation to help him. What words are strong enough to convince a man longing for death to live? So much was communicated without using “no but weak words” .

Overall, It was a fitting ending to a well told story. Love of Claire was still the only thing powerful enough to move Jamie to make an unthinkable choice, to choose to live.

As Ron once said Outlander was, “a ripping good yarn”.

With my own weak words, I’d like to try to express how I feel as this season comes to a close. This has been a singular experience for me. My favorite book series was made into a TV series and I have gotten to be there from the beginning. From the beginning, we have had unprecedented access to the people creating our “dream come true” of seeing our favorite story and characters come to life. They interacted with us lowly fans.  I can’t help but feel that if we didn’t have this particular collection of people we wouldn’t have had the same experience. Because of this unprecedented interaction with the author, the folks creating the show and the fans, my life has been enriched.

I have made real-life friends with  fans I have met on Twitter!  I have engaged in wonderful discussions about the book and show that have challenged my thinking. Outlander fans are smart. If you want to get into a philosophical or intellectual discussion with them you better be prepared! I might not always agree with everyone, but I always walk away from these discussions with new perspective.

I have, thanks to the Outlander phenomenon, discovered I love to write. I’m a writer. Who knew? Certainly not me.  For that discovery, I will be eternally grateful.

Watching that ship sail away left me with the same feelings I had when I finished the book. I felt a lump in my throat and an ache in heart because my friends were going away and I will miss them. But, I know I will see them again and I smile when I realize the story of their lives together has only begun.

images (12)

Thank you all for reading my ramblings ….Beth

Advertisements

He Thought He Was Going to Die… now… how does he live… Outlander Episode 15 & 16

Link

image

I WAS prepared.  The scenes at Wentworth unfolded much as they had in the book.  The menace was there.  The eerie certainty that Black Jack Randall would have his way was there from the moment he rode in to ” save” Jamie from the noose.  He could barely contain his relief and excitement.  His masterpiece lives and is his.  Tobias’ portrayal of Jack’s sick fascination with Jamie was perfectly executed in shades of reverent respect and barely contained sadistic lust. He would have his surrender. I was horrified and moved.

I’ve tried to boil down what exactly it is that moves me so much about the scenes between Claire, Jamie and Black Jack in that dungeon in Wentworth Prison. I think it has to do with this piece of dialogue from the book;

You can’t,” I whispered. “You can’t. I won’t let you.” His mouth was warm against my ear. “Claire, I’m to hang in the morning,. What happens to me between now and then doesna matter to anyone.” I drew back and stared at him. “It matters to me !” The strained lips quivered in what was almost a smile, and he raised his free hand and laid it against my wet cheek. “I know it does, mo moduinne . And that’s why you’ll go now. So I’ll know there is someone still who minds for me.”

The gut-wrenching knowledge that this could truly be the last time she saw him, knowing she had to leave him battered and in pain and in the fiendish hands of Black Jack Randall was painful to watch.  Her only chance to save him was to leave him …but… she knew she was leaving him to face his last few hours on Earth in a nightmare. Jamie was sacrificing his life to save hers… his compliance was being assured with a threat to his wife’s life.  He is keeping his word to give Claire time to get away,  He thought he was going to die, so what did it matter… her decision… his decision… both rooted in their love for the other. This is what moves me so much.

Cait’s tears of pain and grief gutted me. But, Sam’s silent tears and eyes wide with pain shook me …beyond words. It took me a moment’s reflection to understand what I was feeling and to understand those tears silently falling down his cheek. I saw the agony visited on his heart.  He was doing what he never thought he’d do…he was giving in …and suddenly he could still feel his father’s kiss, but now it was forever linked with the revolting kisses on his back and the taste of his wife’s salty tears of anguish on his lips. Yeah…I was moved and horrified.

The sacrifice was bigger than either of them could imagine.  The deliberate infliction of pain and humiliation by the rapist and sadist named Black Jack Randall, a man who finds his pleasure in the total domination of another, could not have been imagined despite the evidence before them both. Jamie naively believed that he would be able to remain unaffected by Black Jack Randall’s advances.  He knew there would be pain involved and he would feel repulsed, but he believed he could remain emotionally distant.  His illusions will be shattered within minutes.

What will we see in Episode 16 and the Aftermath of Wentworth

Later, In the book, Jamie feels the need to tell Claire what he experienced. He tells her that anyone can be broken if you work hard enough at it and Black Jack worked hard at it.  He wanted Jamie’s surrender, he wanted him broken and begging. His dark appetites for control and power over this seemingly unbreakable man were satisfied.

BJR will rape Jamie. The damage done physically would heal. What is more difficult to heal, of course, are the wounds that cannot be seen. Like many who suffer such trauma, once the shock fades and he has had time to process what has happened, Jamie feels distraught to the point of wanting to die. It is his own belief that suicide is a “mortal sin” that prevents him from taking his own life to end his despair. That and a desire not to give Black Jack Randall one more moment of his life, “…he has damned me in life. He willna damn me in death”.  .

What we haven’t talked about is the part a lot of rape victims don’t talk about, physical arousal during a rape.  This seems to be the aspect of the rape that  causes Jamie the greatest mental conflict. This is the part that causes him to cry out in anguish,

“… he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!”  The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.”

The guilt, rage and shame that Jamie expresses over his physical arousal and orgasms at the hands of his rapist causes Jamie to question his identity.  I’m not saying that he questions his sexuality; he is hetero.  However, I do believe for the first time, Jamie isn’t sure he can trust himself.  He feels betrayed by his own body and mind.  Adding to the confusion is  BJR’s use of pain and mental gamesmanship.  We know that Jamie does recover enough to be with Claire and they go on to live their lives.  But, the fact that he was able to have a functioning relationship with Claire?  A miracle

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there was some sound scientific theory behind Claire’s rescue attempt.  She used his own weakened and traumatized  mind to set him free.  It was sort of like a version of aversion therapy.   She exposed him to what he feared, but this time…he got to fight back. His Highland Warrior spirit fought its way home.  It makes sense, but the fact that it worked?  A miracle.

Like so many of us who journey through this world with the baggage of our past, Jamie must find a way to carry his knowledge and pain. He was going to die…so, now how does he live? The aftermath of Wentworth is living a life with a self-image, a core, that has been torn apart and patched back together. The scars are always there. Jamie is not the same man he once was. And… he discovered things about himself in that dungeon he didn’t know and now regrets knowing.

Jamie came to his wedding bed a virgin. His experience of sex up until Wentworth was found in the arms of his loving wife. Like many men, I believe Jamie closely relates sex to love. In fact, in one of the later books, Claire makes a comment to Jamie that love and sex are actually two different things. Jamie’s reply is that for him …they are very close. He associates sex with love. How confused must he be by his own body and its traitorous response to Black Jack’s “acts of love” .

In Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie has returned home from a night observing and resisting debauchery. He and Claire fight and he admits it was a near thing;

Too close,” he repeated, moving back a bit. “It was too damn close, Sassenach, and it scared me.” …”…it was … well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not …” … “But the … the lusting, I suppose ye’d call it … that was … too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it … well, it doesna seem right to me.” …“I always thought it would be a simple matter to lie wi’ a woman,” he said softly. “And yet … I want to fall on my face at your feet and worship you”— he dropped the towel and reached out, taking me by the shoulders— “and still I want to force ye to your knees before me, and hold ye there wi’ my hands tangled in your hair, and your mouth at my service … and I want both things at the same time , Sassenach.” He ran his hands up under my hair and gripped my face between them, hard. “I dinna understand myself at all, Sassenach! Or maybe I do.” …“Such things— the knowledge of them, I mean— it came to me soon after … after Wentworth.”… “I thought at the first that Jack Randall had stolen a bit of my soul, and then I knew it was worse than that. All of it was my own, and had been all along; it was only he’d shown it to me, and made me know it for myself. That’s what he did that I canna forgive, and may his own soul rot forever in hell”…“You’ll lie wi’ me now,” he said quietly. “And I shall use ye as I must. And if you’ll have your revenge for it, then take it and welcome, for my soul is yours, in all the black corners of it.”

This story of a woman and the man that she loves is so much more than a romance or an adventure. To me, the books and show are a monument to what it means to be human and … to the power of true love.

“Blessed is the influence of one true loving soul on another” Unknown

 

 

 

It’s taking on a life of its own….Wentworth and the Outlander fandom

Standard

image

*Photo credit to Britta Fahl

If it’s being talked about this much now, what will the talk be after?!?! Wow, the response to this week’s upcoming episode of Outlander’s “Wentworth” seems to have taken on a life of its own!  If I was writing a plot for what is happening on social media it might look like the cover of “Moby”,  intersecting twists and turns. I fully expected people to feel nervous about watching, after all it is about torture. However, I didn’t expect the variety of and depth of reaction in the fandom.

Folks in the media who have seen the episode have seen fit to “warn” us that it IS horrifying. I believe their warnings were well-intentioned, but the words they have chosen to describe the episode have moved me from feeling nervous to almost feeling fearful.  THEY, the people who watch TV and movies for a living, have been taken aback by what they’ve seen. After reading some of these warnings, I find myself wondering what in the heck did they do? I was prepared for uncomfortable and maybe even difficult, but I expected to be moved not traumatized!  And, I am evidently not the only one. Fans are starting to buzz about how bad this really is!  And, the reactions are all over the place!

The I can’t watch folk

There is a certain population of fans who do have PTSD who knew they would need to skip this episode. I respect their decision for self-care. It is just a TV show and not worth the pain. But, there are others who have joined the ranks of the I can’t watch folks because they are too fearful that the scenes WILL be too close to the book and the media warnings.  There are some things I know I can’t watch like slasher films because I …well…I just can’t.  There seems to be a growing number of folks who have decided they can’t and WON’T be watching what happens to Jamie.

The “creative” watchers

These folks should be sitting in “think tanks” solving bigger issues! They have come up with all kinds of ways to help them through Wentworth. Seriously, I think they could have figured out how to get Jamie out of the prison cell last Monday! They have created  survival packs that consist of chocolate, whisky, tissue boxes and various assorted cuddly objects that can double as a shield. Some fans will be watching together and live tweeting each other for support.  The most ingenious folks, in my opinion, have an idea that probably won’t make Starz happy, but they are planning on waiting and then watching episodes 15 and 16 back to back! They feel they could handle 15 if they know some light will be coming in the next hour rather than two (you heard me right) weeks!

Those folks who are getting feelings and need someone to blame

I’m seeing some grumbling, as well. Some fans are wondering why all this “sex” and violence is necessary. They can’t see “why” this has to happen to tell the story. In fact, they see it as distracting and detrimental to the story line.  They are blaming Starz and are leaning toward creating conspiracy theories that  claim it’s all a plot to earn awards and money for the studios. To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that”.

Folks who are having a tough time not blurring the lines between art and real-life

This afternoon, Diana posted a lovely letter on her Facebook page from a lady who was an actress.  She had acted in difficult scenes of a violent and sexual nature and wanted to share how taxing these were for actors. She shared that it took a great deal of vulnerability and trust to truly do these scenes right. The emotional toll appears to be great.  She felt the need to write because of some the crude and unkind things she was seeing written on social media. After her letter appeared, I saw a flurry of memes and posts reminding folks that these actors were playing a part. Tobias isn’t Black Jack. I’m sorry to say there are folks who need and will need reminding. What truly makes me shudder about the Wentworth episode is that after it airs there is chance these brave actors might actually read some of this insensitive thoughtlessness.

The I’m scared, but I’m excited too folks who are going to watch

Count me in this group.  I just know that no matter how uncomfortable this episode will be to watch, I WILL watch because I just know they are going to do the material justice! They have so far and I couldn’t be prouder of the whole bunch. This story is complex and full of real emotions and truths about what it means to suffer, persevere and love.  The sex and violence in this story is not gratuitous and is an integral part of the plot and the characters’ development. Wentworth and what happens there affects Jamie and Claire for the rest of their lives.

We are getting to see our beloved story come to life and I’ll be in front of my TV (probably with one of those survival packs) feeling anxious, excited and proud.

p.s. I’ve heard from some folks who have said Hey! You forgot about us! The just “show the damn episode” group ! (STDEs, 😂😂😂)   These folks are fearless and ready!

The aftermath of Wentworth….A theory.

Standard

SPOILERS: DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO LORD JOHN GREY IS!

********

********

I’ve been having some interesting conversations  on Twitter.   Some are light-hearted, some educational and some downright naughty (you know who you are innuendo slingers). One day, I  attempted to have a serious discussion about Lord John and Jamie and discovered very quickly that Twitter is not the ideal format for such discussion.  Threads get confused and it is easy to be misunderstood, not to mention that only having 140  characters stinks!

This particular thread was discussing  Lord John Gray and his inherent sexiness.  I stupidly asked if anyone thought that Jamie was tempted by Lord John?  The resounding and emphatic answer was NO!  Upon reflection, I believe that “tempted” was not  exactly the right word for the thought I was trying to express.  Hey, it happens.  I didn’t mean tempted as in Jamie wanting to…I…well…I have a theory.  Let me explain.

A lot of things that happen in Outlander are mysterious to the characters.  They didn’t have the benefit of  21st century science.  They didn’t have environmental studies (begging the pardon of our natural philosopher Mr. Stern ) or doctors trained in advanced medical knowledge and procedures (if they had Claire’s abilities wouldn’t have seemed so unusual),  nor do they have a working  knowledge of psychology.   Even Claire’s knowledge is colored in shades of 1940.  A lot has happened since WWII.

In Outlander, Jamie is raped by another man.  What this act does to the male psyche  could not have been understood by the people of Scotland in 1743.  This lack of understanding and the social and moral atmosphere of the time would have made this event even more horrific for Jamie.  Adding  to the horror is the man doing the raping, a sadist named Black Jack Randall, a man who finds his pleasure in the total domination of another.  Jamie naively believes that he will be able to remain unaffected by Black Jack Randall’s actions.  He knows there will be pain involved and he will feel repulsed, but he believes he can remain emotionally distant.  His illusions are shattered within minutes.

Obviously, Ms. Gabaldon  is knowledgable of the damage done to the male psyche by rape because Jamie exhibits the symptoms.   The damage done to Jamie physically would  heal.  What is more difficult to heal, of course,  are the wounds that cannot be seen.  The aftermath of Wentworth has left Jamie with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The reader can identify several scenes in the book where Jamie exhibits PTSD symptoms.  We witness Jamie’s reactions to re experiencing the rape.  He has nightmares,  he has flashbacks, intrusive and upsetting memories,  and intense distress when something triggers  a memory of the event. All of these things are expected reactions to experiencing an unpredictable event where a person’s safety is threatened and they feel helpless. Jamie’s experience is even more complicated because his compliance is  being assured with a threat to his wife’s life.  He is keeping his word to give Claire time to get away, “He thinks you are weak, I know that you are not…” Even the events immediately after his rescue and his illness at the abbey follow the progression of  PTSD.

We notice that when Claire is treating him by the fire, although physically beaten up, Jamie doesn’t appear to be that different emotionally.  His personality including the ability to joke when things are serious seems to be intact.   After a traumatic event, the body and mind go into shock.  This is why we don’t really see a change in Jamie right away.  But, then comes the abbey and Jamie’s deterioration.  This is also typical behavior for PTSD suffers.  With time the shock fades.  He begins to process what has happened to him and day by day  Jamie gets worse not better.  Without help and understanding the prognosis for returning to “normal” and being able to function in a relationship with a spouse is practically nil. The fact that he was able to have a functioning  relationship with Claire?  A miracle.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there was some sound scientific theory behind Claire’s rescue attempt.  She used his own weakened and traumatized  mind to set him free.  It was sort of like a version of aversion therapy.   She exposed him to what he feared, but this time…he got to fight back.  His Highland Warrior spirit fought its way home.  It makes sense, but the fact that it worked.  Adoration.  A still quiet voice.  A miracle.

So, what you might be asking,  has this got to do with Lord John? Well, this is where my theory part comes into play.  What we haven’t talked about is the part a lot of rape victims don’t talk about, physical arousal during a rape.   This seems to be the aspect of the rape that  causes Jamie the greatest mental conflict. This is the part that causes him to cry out in anguish, “… he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!”  The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.” The guilt, rage and shame that Jamie expresses over his physical arousal and ( if we can believe Black Jack)  orgasms at the hands of his rapist causes Jamie to question his identity.  I’m not saying that he questions his sexuality; he is hetero.  However, I do believe for the first time,  Jamie isn’t sure he can trust himself.  He feels betrayed by his own body and mind.  Adding to the confusion is  BJR’s  use of pain and his constantly talking about Claire.   Jamie needs Claire desperately, but because of the clever sadist’s techniques he cannot even stand for her to touch him.  We know that Jamie recovers enough to be with  Claire and they go on to live their lives.  But….I propose this idea.  Jamie never fully trusts himself again.

Hiding in a cave for years, then locked away in prison with his hands shackled, Jamie is starved for human touch.  In one of the later books, he even admits to Claire that he wanted the men at Ardsmuir to touch him, in fact, he longed for it.  There isn’t anything to suggest that he meant that sexually, but later it gives Claire pause to wonder.  So….given his touch deprivation and his mistrust of his own mind and body….Lord John Grey makes Jamie more than angry when he touches his  hand…he scares him.  I think this was what the plaid/flaying scene was about.  Jamie was putting a wall between himself and Lord John.  Later, on the way to Helwater,  Jamie barely acknowledges  LJG, but there is a scene at the inn that I think speaks volumes. Jamie is lying on the floor wrapped in his plaid as far away from Lord John as he can get.  Like every other night of this trip,  he is hyper-vigilante.  He hears every move, every rustle, every noise Lord John makes.   Jamie is deeply resentful that Lord John makes him feel this way.  Makes him feel anxiety.  Makes him remember that he cannot trust himself.  By dawn,  his resentment has become full-blown rage and he wants  LJG  to make a “disgraceful” move, so that he will have an excuse to vent his frustrated rage…at himself.   The fact that Lord John is an intelligent, articulate, honorable man, I’m sure only makes Jamie seethe.   Lord John pushes Jamie’s self-image, self-trust  buttons.  So, I guess I’m not saying that Jamie IS tempted by Lord John, but he’s afraid he might be.  Whew!