That got your attention huh? Just like the cold but hot open of this episode probably got you. I know my attention was captured, but a naked Roger will do that.
Now, this may be very obvious to everyone out there and you may say to me that this blog is the worst of the season because I haven’t dug deep enough and that’s fair. I don’t think I really did. This just stuck with me through the 3 times I watched. It became more and more obvious and the reality is, I wanted to talk about it, so I am.
In this episode, our characters were on full display. They might as well have been playing their parts how Roger started the show for us. In the raw. That would have made the dinner party a lot less appetizing mind you.
The levels of exposure we saw in If Not For Hope went deep. This may take me a while so you might want to pour yourself something hot or cold, grab a snack or two.
The obvious is Roger. His literal nakedness isn’t just there for our viewing pleasure. I believe it speaks to a few things. He is now stripped completely of who he was. The buttoned-up historian of many layers. Each one tore away until he was bare and now, being recreated. This Roger we will get to know was always beneath the layers but had no reason to be exposed. The layers have been ripped away and no longer protect him, this Roger steps forward to run the show. Well, at least keep one foot in front of the other. Which is all we can seem to hope for.
Granted, Roger himself wasn’t physically present in the episode but make no mistake, he was there. Through Brianna, Claire, Jamie, Ian and even Lord John, each bringing him to the surface. They repeatedly reminded us of how perilous Roger’s situation is. How he was relying on them to save him from this situation they had a hand in placing him in (except Lord John…he’s cool).
Roger is completely on the outside of all of this. He has no reason to believe anyone is looking for him. He has to trust that Brianna loves him as much as he loves her. That, my friends, is blind faith. Which is perhaps the most vulnerable anyone can make themselves emotionally. This is intricately tied to the horrific moment at the end of the episode. Roger makes himself just as vulnerable physically. He realizes what he needs to do. He stands to accept a substantial beating at the hands of his captors in a type of gauntlet, a blind faith, trusting he is strong enough to make it through.
Personally, I would have rathered another shower scene. Richard Rankin, for the lack of screen time, has most certainly given Roger a surprising amount of depth.
I will add, it would be fantastic to see either, in conversation or flashback, what happened at those damnable stones. Richard conveys so much of what Roger thinks in facial expression alone (something I think this cast is flippin’ remarkable at) I would love a peek at that moment.
Please know I do not view vulnerability as weakness. It is a state of being from which each one of us needs to be in, in order to trust or love.
In Brianna’s case, she was all over the vulnerability scale from frailty, threat, disquiet and even pliancy during this episode. She was open to her own pain, in fact, the first moment we saw her in this episode she was in the midst of drawing it. Lizzie saw this as demons. They were in a sense, Brianna’s own demons…of sadness, anger and worry.
Speaking of Brianna’s drawings, it seemed she was using them to expose her disquiet. The opening credits showed many pictures of the slaves at work. Phaedre came into her room, Brianna saw how the light caught her face, she asked Phaedre to sit so she could draw her. To me, this showed Brianna’s discomfort with the way this world was working around her. She was able to capture that and put it to paper. I do believe Phaedre was pleased with being seen by Brianna, yet, you could feel her unease. Even if she were safe with Brianna at that moment, she was only safe with Brianna at that moment. The second someone else came into that room that safety would disappear instantly.
Next is Brianna, exposed lamb to the slaughter, Tinder 1700’s version. This was painful to watch with a modern eye. I had to keep facepalming myself to reset.
Seeing Brianna have to shut down the fake compliments, the greasy ‘we should ride into town alone together after just meeting one another’ and ‘hey, my mom doesn’t know I’m gay, let’s pretend to be bff’s.’, was too much. Brianna made the right call with the fake ‘case of the vapours’ to get the hell out of there. I now know why so many women fainted back in those days and it wasn’t because of the tight corsets. Women are tougher than that. It was to get the hell out of the room and away from all the creeps. They literally had to pretend they were unconscious before people would let them leave the damn room.
After the delightful dinner party (she says with dripping sarcasm), Jocasta gets some alone time with Brianna and in that small amount of time Brianna pliancy grew. At first, she started this conversation out strong but Jocasta, always cunning, knows exactly which string to pull to unravel even the most complex of patterns and she does just that. She grabbed onto the Roger and baby strings and pulled, hard. Brianna went from bold to pliant, which is a completely different variant of vulnerability. Jocasta used the perfect words to cut Brianna down and weaken her ‘Roger’s gone…no matter dead or alive. GONE.’ ‘If your baby is born out of wedlock, their life is RUINED.’ Brianna is brought to the point of being forced to look at her situation as the condition it is being referred to.
Jumping ahead Brianna is armed with what she thinks is the blackmail of the century. Bree decided to hit LJG where it hurts, in the ‘being gay is punishable by death’ spot. She felt this was a pretty great plan, she could coerce him into marrying her because she knew this big secret and he would never want to sleep with her because he didn’t like women. Win Win. LJG is a great guy and all but he isn’t one to be trifled with. He clapped back, letting her know the Vaginawagon wasn’t in mint condition and she would do well to stand down.
That moment with LJG is where Bree is the most exposed. She allowed him to know all the details of her pregnancy and her desire to protect her child even over her own happiness. It proves it doesn’t matter if we are trying to show others how strong we are, if there are cracks in the armour, someone will get through it. Even if it ends up being us, no one can stay locked in there forever. It’s stifling.
Lord John Grey. That name deserves a moment. He isn’t one you would feel is in a state of vulnerability given his status. Lord John, however, is a man who happens to love men. In colonial America, this is a crime punishable by death. This instantly makes Lord John a person in jeopardy. The moment he is introduced to Brianna you can see him soften from Lord John Grey…to John, Jamie’s friend. Which in itself brings an openness to him. Since he is raising Willie, Jamie’s son, it makes sense that he would have a soft spot for Brianna, Jamie’s daughter. You would think when LJG is most vulnerable is when Bree exposes his throat and threatens to chow down on it by telling the world he is gay. The idea may be threatening but after the initial imagery passes, he knows this won’t happen. The moments he is truly most vulnerable is when he is speaking of his relationship with Jamie and Claire. When he speaks to her of Willie. Many of LJGs vulnerabilities lay in the secrets he must keep. The more people he opens himself up to, the more likely those secrets will be exposed.
Lord John chose to keep Brianna and the child safe by becoming engaged to her. It was LJG , after all, who told Bree to trust that Jamie and Claire would bring Roger back. By promising to marry her, he was giving her the hope she needed and saving her heart from breaking any more.
It certainly was beautiful to see Marsali and Fergus again. Their relationship is one I wish we could get more of. They are strong and fierce but when it comes to one another, so tender. Fergus is being attacked by a toxic mentality of not being ‘man’ enough and Marsali is requesting Murtagh fix it. She knows very well she could tell Fergus, a million times, he is more man than anyone, it won’t make a difference. Until Fergus feels that himself, it will tear at him.
When we love someone, even things we are not responsible for, weigh heavily on us. We want to fix them, which will sometimes cause us to be exposed to our own vulnerabilities. Marsali is not a fan of asking for help, but she does, for her husband. It works out perfectly in the end as Fergus feels needed but also knows his place is with his family.
Marsali knew she wasn’t responsible for Fergus’s pain but she worried about it. We see Jamie worrying about Brianna’s pain, and he did cause hers. Naturally, this is weighing very heavily on not only him but Claire. Both are in solitary and pensive states.
I believe as long as Brianna feels angry, Jamie will feel guilty. That is par for the course, isn’t it? As family dynamics go, when we hurt someone, intentionally or not, most will stew about it, worry, wonder what we can do (if we can do) anything to fix it. Jamie was in his own head, as he should be. A big part of forgiveness is beating ourselves up, I think we all know that.
Taking responsibility for our actions means owning them and feeling bad they happened. Wrapping it all together means having apologized and trying to make things better. Sadly, when we attempt to make things better we become vulnerable to not being forgiven. That is the scariest thing of all. When we have created pain for someone, it is never up to us if they can move past it. I think that is why Jamie is in this space he has created. Jamie’s future happiness as a father to Brianna is 100% out of his control. What an all together powerless feeling, but one he understands, from the things he said.
Claire knows some of this though, she is the healer. She does that for them both, physically and emotionally. She identifies the wound, assesses the treatment and then, she does the best she can. The same we do for those we love. In turn, we expect those who love us to accept it. This couple is best when they share their vulnerabilities and allow the other to be the strength where they lack. With each struggle, bump in the road, argument and disappointment – couples grow. We see Claire and Jamie settled into their life as a couple but still growing and that’s important.
Knowing we are watching Brianna and Roger in their infancy as a couple excites me because it means we still have so much more to look forward to. There is nowhere to go but up.
Now that I wasted a whole hour of your day, I will wrap it up. I could go on to mention every character and how they were vulnerable and exposed but even I get tired of myself…
When we get naked, let our vulnerabilities be exposed – do we do it knowing there is the possibility of getting hurt? Do we hide our nakedness all together so no one has the opportunity to hurt us but we are so lonely…it hurts? Maybe we only allow certain people to catch a glimpse here and there and still find ourselves harmed in some way.
Life is messy, isn’t it? It’s messy…but it’s beautiful. It’s chaotic…but it’s an adventure. What we focus on expands…what are we choosing to look at?
We only have 2 more episodes left before the next Droughtlander commences my friends, this had gone by so fast!
Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)
Please live tweet with us Canadians as we watch on W Network at 8pm MST using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN