More than meets the eye. My takeaway from Ep4 of Outlander, Common Ground.

Here I am again, trying to not just pick through the obvious or delve into the dramedy of the week for each episode of Outlander.

Truth be told,  I am doing it more to challenge myself, tear off a couple of layers and see something a bit different. It helps me stretch my brain basket out.

 

The plentiful nuggets of common ground between characters and the land are both unmistakable and subtlely scattered throughout the episode. It gives the title of the episode a lot of meaning.  I am going to nudge that aside so we can experience the remnants of all the things that aren’t and how they showed up numerous times in Common Ground.

We all do it.  Take one glance at someone or thing, get our first impression, assume we know the story and continue on with that notion in our head. We may tend to block all the other stuff out because it doesn’t suit what we have already convinced ourselves is real.

Starting instantly with the Governor Tryon scene. This guy. Him and his “I want the best people to settle the land” and “I’m noble and wonderful and everything good about the British.”

We know that there is a dash of dastardly tucked underneath that powdered wig and tighty whities (stockings) of his.  Certainly not all noble nor wonderful. In fact, here we have a couple of duplicitous characters.  Jamie has been a traitor before. That is where I was going with the “not everything is what it seems” with this particular scene. I believe Jamie eluded to this in his comments to Claire about making this a great country for Brianna earlier in the season.  It certainly isn’t just in building Fraser’s Ridge but the impact he might have in the coming revolution.

Oh, then we have Marsali.  Remember when we first met her? Our initial impression? Wow. What a snide wee thing she was.

But why? Outwardly, she most certainly hated Claire and wasn’t afraid to show it. In return, many instantly thought her a mean-spirited brat.  Marsali, let us not forget, is a teenager. Her only knowledge of this Claire woman is the image she had painted by her very bitter mother (whom she loves dearly, she should, she IS her mom).  Any daughter would take her mother’s side and react accordingly. Claire, being the adult, totally understood this and didn’t take it personally. She let it ride.

What we saw at the beginning of the episode is the growth of both of these characters. How many stepdaughter/mother relationships never heal?  You can have two fantastic human beings who will hate one another forever because of the completely separate relationship of two other people they both love. It is a real head-scratcher. ( Yes I know…some people ARE just horrible, I’m not talking about them😉) Marsali and Claire have chosen to look at one another as individuals. Apart from those relationships and are better for it. Imagine both of them taking their first impressions and holding onto them?  How ugly would that be to watch, week after week?

Leaving Marsali and Fergus, of course, reminds Claire of leaving Brianna. Jamie opens his mouth and the word version of cotton candy, unicorns, rainbows and butterflies escape his lips. It seems such a special moment, between Jamie and Claire.  If we were to step upon that moment we would see the love and the connection.

What we wouldn’t see is the pain. Claire being torn up on the inside. How many times has this happened to us? In public, surrounded by people and able to look to the person in front of us and manage a grin – all the while, inside, we’re screaming in pain?  Yet, there we were, fooling nearly every person in the room because they only see what we allow them to.

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My own socks tell us this story. 

It doesn’t always have to be people, it can be nature.  It was present throughout this episode.  Frasers Ridge itself, visually captivating, has a dream-like quality to it.  When that happens, the brain does funny things. When we think something is beautiful, we tend to feel better when we are around it, when we feel better, we feel safer, when we feel safer, we may let our guard down.  Letting our guard down isn’t always a horrible thing but when there is something else out there that is looking to harm us, it uses that vulnerability to its advantage.  Nature itself is like this, whether it be the creatures that make it their home or the weather itself.  Both of these can dispell the wonderful first impression of beauty such places give. It reminds us just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s kind.

Let’s get comfy and talk about Roger and Bree. After last weeks dumpster fire of miscommunication, what do we have to look forward to? By all appearances, not a fricken thing.  After Brianna left Roger at the festival to find a TapCar back to Boston we don’t have much hope.

Roger has returned to his various shades of brown existence at Oxford.  He seems to be going by exactly what Brianna has given him during his call to her and vice-versa.  There are no questioning things deeper on either part and yet, if one of them had, so much of the miscommunication could have been remedied at least a little bit.  Settling for what is on the surface can sometimes be our way of taking the easy way out. Let’s face it if we simply take the generic “I have to go grade papers”, it excuses us from taking a chance and asking “Do you miss me?” Sure, we avoid the possibility of them saying the very thing we fear but it also prevents them from saying the one thing we hope they would.

Fiona looks quiet and innocent but that girl has got all the people figured out and just so happens, she serves it with grace.  Everyone should have a girlfriend like her.  The kind that people sadly mistake for a piece of the furniture. She sees and hears everything. They are the ones that will be able to tell you what’s what and where you can find it.  We would be better humans if we paid more attention to what women like Fiona have to say instead of keeping them a silent witness to everything around us. I bet if we all thought about it, we could think of a few of those women throughout our lives and be surprised at how we allowed them to stay in the shadows. How we still utilized their gifts and input when they shared them but rarely asked them for it. Hell, you may be one of those people yourself.  So let me just say…you are valued…in case you haven’t heard it lately.

Now, to the glaringly obvious “it is not what it appears to be” is our bear.  First, the menace and destruction were thought to be the Cherokee neighbours. Then, the monster bear. There were pretty clear signs pointing toward that. It likes meat, pooped like nobodies business, left a pretty serious claw slashing down the shoulder of Findlay, Fraser’s trusty steed. Had the Fraser’s been aware of the Cherokee’s dealings with the cracked but not broken bear-man, they would have known what they were truly dealing with, rather than go by what their eyes were telling them.  This just proves the whole “working together” gets better results theory. Pretty simple stuff, this one.

I must mention the fact that Brianna went to Scotland WEEKS ago to visit her MOTHER! I don’t think this was a simple case of Brianna just missing her Momma.  Roger thinking Brianna would only know the information he was giving her, seems to have been a case of underestimation. This is something many of us do as well, which is why I love how these characters are written. They are relatable.  We often predict what others will do based on what we would do. We interpret others actions as a reflection of our own intent. Sometimes we are accurate but not always and it is the ‘not always’ that tends to cause us to stumble.  It pays to look deeper, or step back to see the big picture. It may be uncomfortable but the outcome will often be a positive one.

First impressions should be just that. An impression. They are developed in an instant but given time, they can be remoulded, reshaped and in some cases, shattered and recreated. The more we discuss, observe and listen, the better we get at understanding the whole picture.  The whole picture tells a story one word never could.

RTs would be cool if you feel others might enjoy a piece of this. Come live tweet with us Canadian folk, we watch Outlander on W Network  at 8 PM MST Sundays. We use the hashtag #OutlanderCAN to keep track of one another and help others gauge where the commercials are. Yeah…we have phones with cords AND commercials.  It’s ok though. We are a hearty people.

Until next time…and I already CAN. NOT. WAIT!

Sher (ABOotlander founder)

 

 

 

 

Ghosts are everywhere. My Take on “The False Bride”. Outlander S04E03.

There is no shortage of drama this season is there?  The cool thing about having a blog in this fandom is I get to decide what I talk about. I have decided to challenge myself to NOT write about the obvious this season.

I want to look past the topic du jour and move to the things that made me go hmmm and maybe they will make you go hey…meh…or OH! Either way, I will have said it and hopefully, feel good about it when I am done.  That’s the point of my watching Outlander in the first place. It makes me feel good. I like it. My Mom used to say “If it doesn’t feel good…don’t do it.” I live by that.

So…ghosts. I’m not talking about Casper, the bent neck lady or the very obvious Native gentleman caller from the episode we are talking about.  I am referring to the ghosts in our life that either guide our decisions or keep us from moving forward out of fear of facing them.  They were ever present in The False Bride, whether we noticed them or not.

Right at the very start, Roger sitting in the old empty manse and Fiona coming through the doors to take up residence reminded us of Reverend Wakefield and Mrs. Graham. Both now, just memories, shadows in the halls but very much a part of who Fiona and Roger are today.  As we see later with Roger when he has his meltdown with Brianna.  He was raised by a Reverand. It makes more than a little sense that ghost still sits in his mind and when that is the case, it affects his heart as well. Those are the ghosts that often speak the loudest.

Claire sees her fair share of ghosts in this episode. Both literally and figuratively. To start, there is no doubt she is thinking of the ghost of her friend, Joe Abernathy. Black, free, a doctor…her dear friend. Someone she may have been judged for being friends with but still “allowed” to be friends with.  She watches as the slaves walk by and you can see it pains her because she has seen the other side of this story.  She knows the truth of the people she sees being treated ‘less than’. The pure inhumanity of it bubbles to the surface.

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Going from this kind of friendship…to where she is – is not something any of us should reconcile.

As they ride away from River Run, they leave the ghost of Rufus behind them. Their troubled time there.  They also leave the people they couldn’t help.  This is something that I am sure will continue to haunt Claire.

Claire confronts Franks ghost as well.  He will be ever present when she speaks of Brianna.  He was the only father her daughter had. He raised her and owns that space in her world.  As she speaks of Bree to Jamie, you can see both of them feel Franks ghost pass through the moment. Claire as a reserved embrace, and Jamie with a grateful chill.

Then, we have Claire’s literal ghost.  Good ole Claire takes off after Clarence the mule in a storm and ends up lost, alone and in the dark.

It’s ok though, she has company.  She finds a little head, ok, it’s a skull. One that has been cracked down the middle and removed from the rest of its body.  This particularly unlucky fellow decides to pay Claire a visit, in a jarring and pretty cool way.  He makes his way toward her during lightning strikes. Then what does he do? Dude steals her shoes.  He makes up for it by wearing them and leads her to Jamie and Jamie to her. Awwwwwwwwww.

This particular ghost is filled with more questions because his mouth is filled with silver fillings. Which clearly means he is a time traveller too.

Young Ian had a different group of ghosts he faced in this episode. The pirates not once, but twice. Geillis. The hurricane. That was a lot of trauma for a young kid.  He grew up PDQ (pretty damn quick). Those experiences formed who he’s now become, a young man who knows his mind.  Thankfully, the ghost of the child he was, will always be there for us. His smile and pure cheekiness each episode gives me hope anyway.

Jamie had his own ghosts, didn’t he?  When speaking to his aunt Jocasta, the ghost of the laird he would have been in Scotland lingered there. He knew what she didn’t though. River Run could never be that for him, some things cannot be recreated.

The ghost of Jamie’s mother was real and alive when his aunt gifted him Ellen’s silver candlesticks. Something tangible, he could touch and take with him to his new place, where ever that may be.

While visiting the ghosts of Scotland in his memories, he was able to see his future.  Looking out over the vista, Jamie fell in love with the land he saw before him because of the echoes of his past. The strawberries and the mountains all familiar to him yet, this new world made him feel hope.

I want to finish up with Brianna.  The Scottish festival was the first shiver of her ghosts coming to the forefront. Bree seemed to want to deny she was thinking about her mother but Roger knew it had to be there, raw and real.  The memory of her and the ramifications of her travelling through time to find Jamie. Those ghosts came to visit the festival that day, who could blame them? The music was bangin’.Screenshot (531)Bree is a young woman that knows what she doesn’t want.  That is very much because of her ghosts. One ghost is the father she grew up with. She now knows he lived in a marriage of convenience with her mother. Another is the ghost of a father that she never knew, he was the recipient of her mother’s love and devotion. Given the choice she was faced with in the episode tonight, those ghosts would have sat upon each shoulder like the good choice and bad choice. Each in her ear.

We all have our ghosts.  Whether we see them, hear them or feel them. They are there, influencing us and the choices we make. We should really trust our own voice rather than rely on the ghosts, but you know…to each their own.

Sometimes, those ghosts…they just make us run up the basement stairs really quick or check behind the shower curtain before peeing.  Either way…do you.

Remember to live tweet with us. Canadians watch along with W Network and use the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We look forward to having you play along! If you love to win stuff and love to fan please follow our friends at FANCITY. They have a great worldwide Outlander giveaway coming up soon!

Sher

Founder of the ABOotlanders

My take on Outlander’s E02, Do No Harm. The lies we tell ourselves.

There are many conversations that can and surely will be taking place about this powerful episode.  I thought, and probably over thought the direction, I would go in my take away.

What I kept coming back to was the self-talk of the characters in our story.  As in life, we tell ourselves lies in order to live with our actions, the situations we create and the circumstances we find ourselves in.  Sometimes those lies are harmless small ones, intended to take the sting away and sometimes they are brutally large because facing the truth would be admitting how incredibly horrible we truly can be.

When people hear the word LIE, they think ‘bad’. They think ‘evil’. That isn’t quite what I mean here. Yes, a lie is an intended falsehood, however, when we are telling those lies to ourselves to help cope with something ~ that becomes the crux of the situation.

We start with that, Jamie and Claire. He is beating himself up over helping Bonnet escape. Claire turns to him and explains he shouldn’t take the blame for the robbery and Lesley’s death, it’s not his fault, they both trusted the bastard.  Truth is, had they given him up to the authorities, they would have made it safely to River Run, gemstones in hand and their friend alive. This is a way to help them cope with their loss.  Of course, we don’t want them to blame themselves. In fact, if someone we loved were in a similar position, we would tell them the same in order to make them feel better.  I ask myself sometimes – Do I want the truth or a comforting lie? Lots of the time…a comforting lie hits the spot quite nicely, thanks.

Now, those fools at the dinner party! Believing if it wasn’t for them coming to America and making it a ‘civilized’ world it would be nothing but a wasteland. This a perfect example of lies we tell ourselves to justify our uninvited and or all around crappy behaviours. Not bothering to see there could be another way, ignoring the logic around us. Even when it is clearly pointed out.  Ian took a moment to do that and was met with a condescending reply. Those reactions are often the biggest clue that we know we are full of rocks and bananas.

Jocasta shared with Jamie and Claire how she saw some of her slaves as friends.  This is a deeply seeded version of the example I just gave. Though there may be hints of truth in her statement, the reality is, the slaves are not her friends, she will not truly treat them as such because it would harm her place in society.  She spoke of her struggle as a woman, not being able to speak her mind or run her business with men as an equal. If she was to open her mind, just a little further, including others being treated even worse than that, by her…that is where change can start, no? Simply with the acknowledgment.

Then, you know, Jocasta outright lies. In the sense that she would rather ask forgiveness than permission.  She knew damn well that she was going to make Jamie heir of River Run. It was the main purpose for her party, “introducing you to society” was a ruse created to foist this grand plan upon him.  It sure makes it hard to say “HELL NO!” In front of people congratulating you eh?

Now keep in mind, lying to oneself is also a means of self-preservation in difficult circumstances. This is Claire’s running commentary throughout the episode.  There is not one moment that she relaxes. She is in obvious perma-clench mode. For good reason.  She is having a visceral reaction to slavery and not only being surrounded by it, but by it being forced upon her. It certainly is easy, from the relative comfort of our living rooms to tell her to smarten the hell up because ultimately she IS making shit WAY more difficult. However, Claire…part of what makes her Claire is she feels before she thinks. In this case, it’s not only her “do no harm” oath, but it is also her hate of a system that she KNOWS is wrong on every level of wrongness that was ever created, and being a part of that in any way, makes her wrong too. So, she lies to herself.  Tells herself, because of her interference, she can help Rufus. There will be something she can do to make sure he lives. When the real truth is…there is nothing.  Deep down, she knows it…and that only infuriates her further.

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We now have Rufus (played impeccably by Jerome Holder). Imagine, putting one foot in front of another, day after day having been taken from the life he knew and loved, forced into this, of all lives?  You would most certainly have to lie to yourself. He was telling himself, one day…one day I might see those I love again.  There has been nothing to show him this might happen, to give him this hope. Yet, he tells himself so he may have the strength to see another day.  We have the power to convince ourselves because we have no other choice…we need to hold onto something in order to survive.

If we sat and examined the stories we tell ourselves on the daily, we would see the lies, the half-truths for what they are.  Coping mechanisms…both good and bad. Human and inhumane. They often define our character.  If we find ourselves angry when someone points them out to us, that may be an indication we need to take a self-appointed time out and do some critical thinking.  It is most definitely not a painless process. That is how change happens.

It’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it!

Thanks for stopping by and if you like what you read, or even thought it was kinda o.k., please give it a share, leave a comment or send me cuddles (pickles and cheese knows I can use ’em after THAT episode!)  We livetweet with the W Networks airing of Outlander in Canada, every Sunday, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We look forward to all of our Outlander friends joining us!

For a more in-depth conversation about Do No Harm and the way the show handled the aspects of slavery and the continued effects it has on today’s society, I suggest you hop on over to our friends at Blacklanderz. Their twitter feed has a great deal of the discussions we need to be having.

Until next time,

Sher                                                                                                                                                          Founder of the ABOotlanders 

Outlander. Season Four. Episode 1. So many things being talked about – but not this…

Friendship. The power it holds in our lives. Trust within those friendships and the consequences we might suffer if we put our trust in the hands of the wrong ones.

America the Beautiful was our opening episode of the season and wow…as per Outlander style it was something! Now, because I know all of the drama and debates happening out there in this fabulously fickle fandom – I will let that keep playing out – out there – and in my bubble, here, I am going to ask you to gather around as I talk about the NUMEROUS ways America the Beautiful gave us friendship – in its entirety. From all angles. Even the one-sided angle. We have ALL experienced THOSE friendships.

The first brush with the good ship, friend, was Jamie paying a visit to a condemned Hayes.  He had a plan to help him escape – yet Hayes, wouldn’t let his friends take the chance of also being in his position, so he accepted his fate. In turn, Jamie makes a promise to him that is kind of like a punch in the gut.  Offering to be the smiling face of the friend he looks upon as he dies.  Only the best of us can do something like that. Put our own feelings of anger, grief and despair aside to bring loving comfort to someone else.  Jamie did it for Hayes – his smile – forced and not easy to look at, yet you could see Hayes used it as an anchor.

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There are teeth showing…and compared to everyone else, that is as close to a smile as anyone could manage. That’s a good friend.

When we lose a friend, especially a friend who has been there to support us through really trying times, the grief can be overwhelming. We saw that with Lesley as he rushed the gallows after Hayes was hung.  We also felt the breadth of his mourning when he started singing in the pub.  Those with him, also feeling the pain of the loss, chose to join in both for their own solace and to show him he wasn’t alone. It is what we do, isn’t it? Or at least, it is what we should do.

How about those who use our friendships to manipulate us? Yeah, that happens. That rotten sunnuvabitch Stephen Bonnet does just that.  He used the pseudo-friendship he had with Hayes to manipulate the mans truly grieving friends. Having listened to their conversations, knowing their soft spots and understanding that Jamie was a man of honour- he knew damn well what he could get away with. He knew that this fresh wound of a friendship lost would get him exactly what he wanted. That’s what sociopaths do though, isn’t it?

As we know, their choice in trusting this man, in the name of friendship, turned out to have very dire consequences indeed.

Sometimes we forget that familial relationships need friendship to thrive.  Sharing blood isn’t enough to form a friendship. Finally, when we are very lucky, a meaningful friendship can create a familial bond.

Young Ian and Jamie share a moment while digging Hayes’ grave.  It’s intense, it’s heartbreaking yet, it solidifies a friendship. Sharing a secret will do that.  We can share a bloodline all our life and never truly be a friend to one another.  When we are vulnerable and dig into the deepest recess of our soul to help, validate and support someone we care about – that is when friendship is formed.

Lesley, Fergus and Marsali (and sure, Rollo too) are all examples of friends that became family.  These bonds were created in trust. Lesley with Jamie at Ardsmuir and continued to grow through the years, shown clearly at the pub where he didn’t want to venture on his own but to stay with the family of his heart.  Fergus, in every sense but blood, is Jamie and Claire’s son. Marsali…yes is Jamie’s stepdaughter but you can see the bond forming between her and Claire. What started out as a troubled and even vicious relationship, has softened. This friendship becomes a tender, loving and it’s not a stretch to say maternal influence on Marsali’s life.

I would be amiss to not mention Claire and Jamie in all this talk about friendship.  There is no way to have the trust, passion, deep respect and love that this couple has…without the bond of friendship.  We must like one another in order to love one another.  This episode had that friendship shine through and yet, we may have missed it.  Subtle support.  They reach for one another’s hand numerous times throughout the episode, those glances of “I’m right here. Supporting you.”  Jamie knowing, without words, that Claire is bothered or thinking something that she is struggling to put into words.

We also had those attempting new friendships. Governor Tryon, his friendship, of course, comes with a price. As many do.  The dinner party scene was full of those “facade friendships”. Really not friendships at all, I know, but you get my meaning.

How about the unexpected friendship?  Riverboat Captain Freeman and waterman, Eutroclus. A very unlikely friendship. One born from gratitude.  Eutroclus could have let Captain Freeman die in a fire, he saved his life. Captain Freeman, freed Eutroclus from slavery and then, hired him. I am sure knowing, freeing a man wouldn’t be enough. Many freed slaves were then recaptured and put back into servitude. This friendship certainly isn’t without its faults, however, it does have it’s merits. I would be damned remiss if I didn’t include the fact that Leon Herbert has the deepest, richest and sexiest voice I have EVER heard and I would feel honoured to hear him read all the things for all the days. That is what I imagine heaven would sound like.

In the end, friendship also can mean sacrifice. Hopefully not the sacrifice that Lesley ultimately made to protect his friend, Claire. That was devastating.  Though we do this in small doses on the regular.  Defend our friends from bullies, defend our friends from those who have hurt them. Step in and step up to show them the solidarity we feel with them.  That, my friends, is powerful.

That is what we need to do.  See something, say something, do something. Your friends need you. Be a superhero.

Join us as we LiveTweet with W Networks airing of Outlander in Canada, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN.  If you like what you have read, please share, RT or leave a comment, engaging with like-minded fans is my jam.

Much Love,

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)