How to Predict the Future. What I picked up from #TheBalladOfRogerMac

I will say that I have started and stopped this particular ‘not a recap’ half a dozen times already.  I even wrote nearly a whole blog with another topic and trashed it. It’s not only because I was struggling with what to focus the blog on but because my thoughts were so all over the place, I had a difficult time wrangling them. I finally gave up and said, “What the hell, I’m just going to start…and keep going until I am done!” So, here we go.  Fingers crossed this shit makes sense at the end.

I don’t have to go into how emotionally draining this episode was because so many others have, I am pretty sure there is online debriefing amongst fans due to the mass breakdown. Which went in a couple directions. I usually pull on a thread that catches my attention in the episode and unravel the why.  This blog is a bit different than that.

The Ballad of Roger Mac came with loads to unpack, at first, I did struggle. I wanted to talk about control and how we truly have none except that over our own self.  I wrote about the breakdown of one’s spirit.  Nearly 1000 words in and I deleted the whole fucking thing because I was depressing myself. I did NOT need to feed to you – especially now. I closed my laptop and watched the episode, again.

Here I sit with thoughts of preparedness for the future. How that is more a concept than anything. We can prepare physically for what may happen but we are never truly prepared for how things make us feel. The wild, crazy ride of life that becomes intensely personal and all ours.

One way we can predict/prepare for our future is to assess our past.  We don’t have to be psychic or psychotic to think we can see what is in our future.  Our past behaviours in similar circumstances can lead us toward that vision.  Often, the lessons we may have learned from situations can be helpful to determine what actions would be logical (or not) next time around.

Roger is attempting to unload a wagonful of burden before leaving Jemmy and Brianna.  Thoughts of his father dying in WW2 enable him to picture himself in both his father’s shoes and Jemmy’s wee booties.  He is more concerned about Jemmy not remembering him than he is about dying.

Brianna knows Roger more than anyone.  She recognizes Roger’s pattern of behaviour. He puts his own safety in jeopardy to help others. “Act first, think later’ Roger. He has this horrible luck of not having a chance to think later because he’s been forced onto a ship, beaten silly, or tossed back into the idiot hut. You know, those things.giphy-3                                          We know, Rog, we know…

The worry Brianna feels as Roger heads out is not just because of the impending war but because she knows him to his core.  He is a pacifist, she knows he will protect those he perceives as vulnerable, putting his life on the line without a thought. Bree knows Roger’s future will be filled with the compulsion to intercede on behalf of those suffering. Which as we have seen, given the closing scene of The Ballad of Roger Mac, may cost him everything.

Caretakers, we see you.  Perhaps you aren’t as ‘idiot hutty’ as Roger manages but getting lost in moments where safety, whether physical, emotional or both are put aside in order to safeguard others, is commendable.

We are seeing this right now, all over the globe. Without proper PPE, tired and frustrated health care workers are going into work, missing their own families, to save the lives of others.  I promise you, the caretakers doing this, their families will tell you, it is no surprise. These caretakers have been reacting to situations their whole lives with little regard to themselves.  Their past predicted their reaction to this crisis, not the crisis itself.

Jamie has been on the wrong side of the law for as long as we’ve known him. In The Ballad of Roger Mac, we saw him move from the flimsy side of the crown to full-on rebel.  Given his history, this wasn’t hard to anticipate. In the past, he turned his body over to save his wife.  He plotted with his sister to give him over to the crown for the good of those at Lallybroch.  As an indentured servant, he extended his life as a stable hand to be around his illegitimate son. He lived under a pseudonym, as a respectable printer to distribute seditious material and smuggle contraband. Jamie created a life of playing the game in order to achieve what he needed or wanted.

Murtagh was a man who was always prepared to die for what he believed in. Yes, he hated the red coats and undoubtedly believed in the regulator’s cause. Above all, he loved Jamie.

It wasn’t the oath that made Murtagh save Jamie’s life or that made Jamie want to save Murtagh’s.  It was love.  Jamie had lost his father – he had killed his Uncle – Murtagh was the last man standing that could show him. Show him what, you might ask. The ‘what’ are those now unknowns that we can never predict. It is needing their guidance of having lived ‘the whats’ and their ability to share them with us.

Even at 50, such a loss isn’t easy.  It is like our foundation is shaken out from under us.  We believed we knew what the world was going to look like and then someone strikes it with a hammer to shatter it into dust.  How do we fix that?  Is it possible to reimagine it? Will looking back help us see the future here?

It is deep breath time. Acceptance that living through it is to know it.  This is the experience to learn from. This is the hurt from which we heal.  Healing does not mean getting over or moving on or any of the thousand clichés we use.  Healing means being present in our grief, giving it room to breathe while discovering our new normal.  Creating a space for a new relationship with those we have lost.

That is how we can predict our future after a loss. It’s never easy. It’s messy and it hurts. People on TV will go through it in hyper speed but us? We need to do it our way.  How we look at our loved ones in life can be what helps define that new every day we establish.

Claire, over and above, is reaching back into the past to straight-up create her future, hers is full of penicillin.  Technically she’s reaching into the future (but it’s her past – it can get crazy confusing – especially for me who is easily confused 😋).  Bringing her knowledge from becoming a surgeon further contributes to her life-saving abilities each day she spends in the 1700’s. There are lives she preserves simply by teaching folks basic hygiene.

How many of our ancestors do you think would still be alive if they didn’t have poop fingers? That’s a legit question, friends.

When Claire sees Jamie off to fight, their departure has a much different feel than Bree and Roger’s.  She is his wife, of course, she has concern for his wellbeing. Claire is also exceedingly pragmatic. She puts complete trust in his word to her.  In order to concentrate on what she needs to do, she puts her worry into his hands.

This tactic is one that many of us could learn from.  Especially chronic worriers. I know they are out there.

I am validating the incredibly difficult times we are in right now.  I am going to urge those struggling to go the way of Claire.  For those overwhelmed by worry about those they love.  Ask questions.  Do you trust their intelligence?  Are they capable human beings? If you answer yes to those. Trust them.

Tell them you are concerned and ask them to share their experiences with you.  We tend to get so carried away with random thoughts we disconnect from the reality.  Claire understands that Jamie has said, today isn’t the day we part for good. She trusts him and his words.  Claire focuses on the things she can control, which are medicine and healing. She can not control each outcome but she does her level best with what she has.  That is all any of us can do.

Imagine we could predict our futures to the letter. Having the information of when we would lose someone or we could foresee falling in love…we could never be truly prepared.  We might picture the physicalities of the situation however the feelings we experience will always be new. Emotion is the element that can not be nailed down.

Claire used her knowledge of how wounds are created, faced off with that skeezy Lyle Asshat Brown. She accused him of shooting Isaiah Morton in the back.  His manbaby ego is battered so badly he smashed her one and only syringe, like a toddler.  Keenly aware of the consequences of his actions, Claire is horrified into silence.

Jamie knew he would be battling against Murtagh in this fight.  He always knew there was a chance his Godfather could be killed, yet, when the moment came that he was. Grief took over.

Brianna wrestled with her fear that something terrible happened to Roger when he did not return to camp before the battle. She knew he was missing.  Her worry was colouring everything in front of her. When faced with her husband hanging from a tree. Shock overcame her.

Emotion. Emotion. Emotion.  It will often be the curve in the path to foreseeing what is ahead.  I believe the key is to feel whatever it is you are feeling.  Anger, fear, sadness or shock. Allow it to take its course, validate why it is there and know it’s all right. The less we suppress or deny our emotions, the sooner we move towards the future we envision.

I am sending you all love and hugs- virtual hugs because those I can give you, up close and personal.

Sher xo

ps. I try to livetweet every Sunday with W Network’s airing of Outlander at 7 PM Mt. using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

 

 

A Whisper In Our Ear. What I heard during Ep06 of #Outlander. My ‘not a recap’.

Better to Marry than Burn was another one of those episodes that had a whole lot going on – on top and under the surface.  There is much discussion and given the state of the world right now, I think people may be shaking out some frustration.  I get it.  This is a stressful time. We need stress balls, outlets of energy. SQUEEZE ME!

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That might work.

In reference to episode 6 of season 5, we witnessed some heartbreaking, inspiring, fury inducing and puzzling actions – all ignited by the whispers our characters were reacting to. You know the whispers I am talking about as you have heard them yourself.  The ones that influence our thoughts, the decisions we make and assist us in, hopefully, not repeating past mistakes.

Let’s look at Roger first, tough job, someone’s gotta do it.😘 He and Brianna, domesticity personified with a sick little one, when suddenly the heavens open up and BOOM – grasshoppers!  (I know, I know, locusts)  We see the concern along with the hesitation that takes over Roger. He struggles with what to do about the predicament that has flown straight over the ridge, quite literally.  Tiring of racking his brain for solutions, he quiets his mind, he hears the whispers of his childhood.

The stories his father used to tell him.  Smoke and locusts, this not only stirs a theory of how to battle this beast they face but it connects him to the world he once lived in.  This place of warmth. Where he was once being cared for, read to and loved.  Those moments, when we reach back to them can fortify us.  They give us knowledge that we have carried into our lives and we are able to use it to help those we love. For those who lived lives with parents who may not have given the love and nurturing they needed, those whispers maybe the daily nudges of ‘my family will be different’.

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Show’em you love ’em

For Roger’s story, it is a beautiful moment of fulfillment. The folks of the ridge seemed to lack the ability to organize themselves, looking to him to come up with a plan.  When he does, the satisfaction he feels isn’t just for himself or his family. These actions he has taken have made a true difference in the history of what happens on Fraser’s Ridge. This wasn’t a day’s work of fixing a fence as he mentioned but the diversion of a disaster.

With that being said, do we thank the Reverend Wakefield for telling Roger the story of the smoke and locusts or give credit where credit is due?  With Roger, for remembering the story, for carrying it with him and for using it to formulate a plan of action when it mattered the most.

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Yes…YOU!

There was another character who had the past whispering to her and many  (by the chatter online) were annoyed by it. Claire still wears the wedding band that she wore while married to Frank. It is always a good thing to recall, Claire was a person before Jamie came into her world. She had a life whether or not other people approve, isn’t the point. She was married to Frank when she got flung back 200 years.  Last week I wrote about guilt and how it weighs us down. 

It makes sense to me that Claire has a piece of her that is holding onto that last tangible vestige of her previous life with Frank. She did love him, once. The second portion of their marriage wasn’t easy being built around Brianna. Claire spent a great deal of her time focusing on her career and we saw that as much as she tried to put Frank back into the husband role, it wasn’t and couldn’t be the same as it was. Those whispers of ‘you owe him this much, at least’ must be loud.

Imagine being her for a moment. Claire found deep happiness with Jamie, yet she spent 20 additional yrs married to Frank – fantasizing about Jamie. That is a lot to come to terms with and Frank’s ring isn’t just a wedding ring. It’s an homage to two decades of shared sacrifice. It’s a reminder of his dedication to Brianna and in turn, to Claire, as shaky as that may have been sometimes.  Claire isn’t attached to Frank, she is attached to all that he gave her. Peace of mind while she achieved the career she aspired to, a loving father for her daughter and eventually, a husband that didn’t ask more of her than she was willing to give.

There are things we hold onto in our life that represent people or moments that we feel if we let them go, we would be doing a disservice to them. Those small tokens bring us comfort and possibly silences those whispers of “Remember me???” Without them, we fear the whispers will turn into thundering bellows we would never be able to silence.

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Just. Shut. Up!

Jocasta was the character in our story who took her whispers as life lessons. She has heard hers for decades, they have kept her heart safe from shattering again. So far. Murtagh and his sly silver fox ways managed to sneak past her guard and we can see she fell in love with him but knew that his love would not be something she could allow herself in the long run.

Jocasta hears the voices of her daughters, now long gone. Those words, only she hears and she uses them to keep her path clear for the times ahead. Nothing will ever fill the space they left, she knows that. The fleeting moments of happiness she felt in the arms of a man she fell in love with, they happened, yet she knew the limits of her future because of the past she survived.

Some say love is worth it, though I believe Jocasta knows peace has greater value to her. That is as a result of her listening to those voices reminding her of all of the pain she experienced due to another’s choices. Being in control of that is precious, especially at a time in her life when she feels she is not in the prime of it.

The older we get, we tend to run out energy to please others. These days people say they have no fucks left to give. It’s true. Coming to see that they’ve spent a good portion of their lives giving up parts of themselves to make others happier, richer or making someone else’s lives easier while theirs were being sacrificed in some way.  This leaves them in their, so-called, golden years wanting to achieve the thing they crave the most.

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Nailed It!

We see very clearly that yes, Jocasta does love Murtagh, she would find some happiness with him. She is intelligent enough to know that happiness would be mixed with uncertainty and head butting – they are from two contrasting worlds and the relationship involves more heartache than she could take.  She also promised herself something. The promise of not giving her heart to another man like Hector (who is willing to lose everything for something he believes in). It is that constant whisper, reminding her of the pain she has endured throughout her life and continues to suffer due to those men and their choices.  She has the power to not go through that again. Does it hurt her? Yes. It also gives her the strength to say “I will stop it now before I fall deeper and lose who I am to this.”

Her whispers guide her, they come with trauma, they come with the memory of her daughters. They come with the pain of seeing her youngest killed at the hands of her husband in the protection of something material.  These emotions are mixed up with Jocasta’s whispers of if she even deserves happiness. Perhaps peace is the most she feels worthy of. I believe Jocasta is capable of receiving love, happiness and peace.  I do, sadly, agree with her. As much as I am team #Murcasta, with her history and knowledge of the kind of man she can be happy with, it won’t be Murtagh.  It probably won’t be Duncan either. I mean #Duncasta? It sounds like a super lame carnival game and #Jocan…ya gotta be. 

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Super lame…no passion for the game.

We can only hope Jocasta finds the peace she craves.

There may be times in our lives when things like plagues, past relationships and current loves unsettle us. We will take the time to listen, contemplate our actions and do our best to move in a direction that makes sense to us.

I hope that those reading this know, there are many with you if you are alone with your whispers.  I am sending you all love, peace and strength during these uncertain times. Lean on those you love and if you are struggling, reach out. I’m here.

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Get in here…

Sher xo

Don’t forget we live-tweet while viewing W Networks airing at 7pm MT. Sunday nights using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

The Weight of Guilt. My ‘not a recap’ look into Ep05 of #Outlander. Perpetual Adoration.

Outlander continues the story with another fast-paced and visually interesting episode and the whole thing is POPPIN’ for me.  The combination of Perpetual Adoration’s softness and grit was something I found all together satisfying.

This episode was alive with undertones I could have chosen for this blog.  Normally I gravitate to what sits beneath the surface and give it a tug. This time guilt pulled at me from every corner.

Every human (who is not 100% psychopath) is familiar with that feeling. No matter how righteous, how good or well-intentioned we may be, we’ve all felt guilty about something.  Guilt is shown in different ways, as we saw in our characters and we know by looking at ourselves, honestly.

The story of one man’s death encapsulated the episode for Claire. There was a heaviness she carried when Graham Menzie’s died, which spurned her actions to head to the UK and interestingly enough, into the past.

She, of course, couldn’t have predicted his death as all precautions had been taken.  We can’t count on logic to keep guilty feelings at bay, the gut/brain connection just doesn’t work that way.

Plenty of us sit with those feelings. What could we have done? If we had only…the should’ves, could’ves and would’ves that we think may have changed the trajectory of what might have happened.  We hold them over our heads with guilt because we didn’t take the actions that we have had all the time in the world to contemplate after the fact.

It’s really unfair, this game we play. No one ever wins. We can replay as many scenarios as we want, that particular moment has passed. We humans need to learn how to forgive ourselves as fast as we have taught ourselves to take on unnecessary guilt.

When Claire was speaking to Joe, it was apparent. She blames herself for getting attached to her patient and like a good friend, he smacks her with a reality check.  Our lives would be much less complicated if we cut ourselves a break, especially with those things that we can’t control. Particularly after the fact.

Pain is to the body as stress is to the mind, and guilt is to the spirit.

One of the characters I have come to truly love is Brianna. In her, I see the combination of the above quote so clearly, especially in this episode.

She literally feels her guilt, whether it is something we believe she should be feeling, she does. When something is said to her that strikes her deep, she folds in on herself. It’s as if something knocks her in the belly. Next time you watch, you will see Bree react physically to the words that connect to those feelings if you hadn’t picked up on it before. (Kudos again to Sophie Skelton for making those subtle yet strong notes for the character)

Ofttimes when we feel guilt it isn’t because we have done something against someone intentionally.  We end up in a space where we see our choices, as innocent as they may have been, caused pain to someone when we didn’t intend them to.

Bree’s guilt comes from not telling Roger the truth about the visit with Bonnet and all that came with it because it was a lot. Did she have good reason to not tell him?  Yes. Did the guilt gnaw at her? I think that was apparent.  Unburdening ourselves of the things we feel guilty about doesn’t always make us feel better though.  That, my friends, is life. Guilt causes internal pain because it’s messy and complicated. As with all other hurts, it takes time to heal.

Bree’s regret was evident. Telling Bonnet he was Jemmy’s father was something she now wished she could take back. She thought he was going to die and take her words with him.  Since he didn’t, she now must live with him knowing this information she doesn’t want to be true. More often than not, with regret comes guilt. It’s painful seeing her go through this as Brianna deserves to be free. SunnuvaBonnet has done nothing to deserve all the space he takes up in her world. 

How much guilt should we feel when we do something we know is wrong?  Is there a scale? Should others tell us the appropriate amount of guilt we should exhibit by the level of our misdeed?  Also, should we project that guilt for everyone to see?  If your neighbour knows you did a baaad baaad thing – do you make sure you look really guilty or do you walk around like you haven’t done a damn thing? 

We are now talking about Jamie.  He obviously did a pretty bad thing by killing Knox. Did he have a good reason? He thinks so (I agree). He was going to be handed over as a traitor to the Crown, likely hanged and his family/those on the ridge removed to frig knows where. It was kill or have everyone you love scattered three sheets to the wind AND be killed. 

Jamie is no stranger to the murder game. He started his career as a ‘bloody man’ pretty young in life. He killed his own uncle when Dougal caught him being a ‘traitor’.  Traitor might be Jamie’s trigger word. Call him that, he is going to turn off your lights for you.

He has killed his fair share of men in the service of protecting his family and his beliefs.  Does he feel guilt for it?  I don’t think he feels great about it however, I think Jamie compartmentalizes it. Guilt does exist for him but it’s the guilt he uses as penance. He knows what he needs to feel in order to pay for what he has done.  It is a logical pain that he carries with him. Will he show it the same way that Brianna/Claire/Roger does? No, because he married this particular kind of guilt early in his life. If he allowed it to affect him with great waves of emotion it would stop him from doing the things he needs to do. We don’t always need to see someone’s guilt to know they carry it. We only need to know they are a decent human being. 

There are plenty of us out here that have done things, admittedly on a smaller scale than, you know, murder, that we keep close to the vest. We know that our guilt may be the price we pay for the action, the secret or the lie.  That is ultimately our choice and it isn’t always a bad thing. 

People may like to believe the only way to be a good human is to be 100% honest with everyone and share exactly how we feel at all times.

That isn’t the most fitting method for everyone. Once and a while, the best people keep their mouths shut and what they are feeling to themselves. It’s almost a superpower.  

Ultimately, we determine the weight of the guilt we carry. We can also bring in someone to help us lug it around just by talking about it.  It doesn’t have to be someone involved. It can be anyone to help us take a load off for a while.   

That is why Claire had Joe, Brianna had Roger and Jamie had Adso. I mean, that kitten was pretty conveniently placed, wasn’t he?

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Adso, Jamie’s immediate emotional support animal.

And you…me…we have each other. Many of us are spending much more time at home these days so I encourage you to check out other points of view about Outlander. I find other’s views of the show fascinating, especially when put together in a way that is respectful to others and spoken from a place of sharing. These are some of my favourite people who do this in the land of the interwebs, check out their websites/blogs/vlogs/chats.

Outcandour gives a brilliant, deep dive into the episodes. There is always something about the way she dissects the episode that resonates with me. I don’t tap into the same spaces she does, I end up reading them twice. I ALWAYS end up watching the episode after reading her blog, I then read it again after watching. It’s like a loop! So if I seem dizzy, blame it on T. 😘

Beth’s recaps/reflections are very different from my ‘not recaps and I love them because of that. So well written and I adore how she explains her views, helpful for those who see things from other perspectives. To me, that is the point of sharing our thoughts, not to be an echo chamber for people who agree with us but to help one another stretch a little.  Not necessarily to change people’s opinions but to have them see things from another person’s lens. I get to do that a lot with Beth and I admire her.

Erin from Three if by Space covers so many great shows so Three if by Space will keep you busy if you want busy. It’s her reviews of Outlander that I read most of course. I don’t read many reviews bc as you all know, I’m a happy finder. I want happy happy happy, even though Erin doesn’t pull any punches in her reviews, she writes with integrity. I don’t always see eye to eye with her (not just cuz she’s tiny…she IS tiny) but that isn’t the point. She expresses herself with honesty and isn’t a dick about it. I really enjoy smart people. So…I enjoy Erin, very much. 

Blacklanderz ~Vida puts together some wicked conversations, in print, between members of the Blacklanderz community. I find them fascinating. Not only do I see things from more than one perspective but I often learn things. I don’t claim to be anything other than who I am. I am a middle class, privileged, white woman. That is the lens I see through. Do I try my damned best to listen and be an ally to POC? Yes. Do I always get it right? Nope! Sitting with the community that Vida has created here, is pretty damned impressive.

Courtney and Company, from Outlander BTS. Oh, they make me smile.  They are another group of really friggen smart women that get together to talk about the episodes. I don’t always agree with them but holy shit, do I respect them. The beauty of their video discussion is they don’t always agree with each other and like the adults they are they keep the discussion going. I’m not relegating anyone here…Courtney has the most adorable dimples to go with her delightful brain, you just get the best of all the goodness.

I know there are many others, if you have a favourite, please add them to the comments. I think it would be nice to support one another in our Outlander adventures rather than get all wrapped up in things that might not bring us joy. The world is going all kinds of everything out there – we know it, we are doing what we can to stay healthy- maybe this will help us stay sane(ish).

Be well – virtual hugs…6 ft apart eh?

Sher xo

Don’t forget to live tweet with us Canadians while watching W Network at 7pm MST, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

 

 

Before and After. Episode 4 of #Outlander and the thoughts that kept me company.

There is so much happening in season 5 of Outlander, it seems each episode flies by so quickly.

Last week hit a whole lot of nerves, as you might have been able to tell.  I spent many years working with victims of violence. I was only a footnote in their worlds yet they all have impacted me beyond words.  My ‘life lens’ focused it’s energy there.

While watching ‘The Company We Keep’ I was able to take a large step back to see it from the stands.  There were so many moving parts in this episode, I found all of them interesting, entertaining and I believe we can appreciate them as story building.

My mental thread was weaving through the characters and their stories.

We are seeing clear lines of their before and after pictures. I suspect we can define our own.

For some, it is a before and after

  • college

  • marriage

  • children

  • the death of a loved one

  • a traumatic event

  • a joyful event

  • physical transformation

You get what I am saying. We have those moments in our lives that define ‘breaks’ in who we once were and who we now are.  We were reminded of those moments numerous times with our Outlander family, both on the ridge and on the road.

I have this feeling that we will be looking at season 5 through the B.B and A.B eye. Before Brownsville and After Brownsville.  There is a very heavy feeling around that town, owned and occupied by the Brown family.  Dank murkiness doesn’t only describe the landscape but the patriarchy taking place there.

Roger became a Captain of the militia at the ridge, however, it was this trip to Brownsville where he discovered what being a Captain truly was. Its Outlander, nothing goes as planned. Roger was put in a position to test his improvisation skills. He didn’t botch the job, he went with what he knew. Whisky and song. 2 thumbs up from me.

As Brownsville is a tipping point for viewers, it is for Roger as well. Apart from the fact he was sent to escort Claire and the twins back to the ridge, it was in Brownsville that Roger became Captain MacKenzie of the Fraser militia. He was shot at, negotiated terms and announced to everyone within earshot HE was Captain MacKenzie. This was it. Remember that time in your life? When you had ‘that moment’. When you stepped up and into a position, you weren’t entirely sure about but once you said it out loud, it was finally real?

Josiah and Kezzie, those boys have obvious before and after pictures.  The before was dark and filled with the pain of neglect and abuse while the after is yet to be seen. We know though, not because of the books, because any life after what they have been through will be better. Especially in the hands of those on Fraser’s Ridge.  Picture having a ‘Family lottery’ and the Fraser’s are the grand prize – yup – Josiah and Kezzie won, big time.  This is most assuredly a case of they deserve this win.

 I will wonder out loud for you. Where do you believe Jamie and Claire’s collective ‘before and after’ is? They do have important ones in their lives, individually and together that have shaped the humans they are now.  I am curious about what YOU think.

In my view, one of Claire and Jamie’s largest before/after pictures is ‘before Bree showed up in the 1700s and after Bree showed up in the 1700’s’.  Their relationship shifted to a new level.  They started seeing one another differently and the dynamics in their relationship varied more than we had seen previously.

I’m interested in your take. I hope you share it in the comments.

We have seen Brianna through some darkness and each week, the looming knowledge of that SunnuvaBonnet is out there. Inching closer. This version of before and after of Bree will not last forever, however, the foreseeable future we have Bree before Bonnet and after. Bree was always determined and filled with a fire that wasn’t easily put out. Those things haven’t changed.  Her ‘after Bonnet’ self is turned up for lack of a better term.  She is hyper-aware of her surroundings, it seems as if she wears part of her inside on the outside. Feel things sharper, sees things in higher contrast and hears in higher pitches.  To those living on the outside of Bree, they seldom seem noticeable, as she is undoubtedly doing her best to keep on the inside. This task of hers is particularly painful. Essentially, the nerves are on the outside while being covered by a sheet of thin muslin that is only protected by her ability to keep it from slipping off.

Those who have suffered a trauma, such as rape, know that the assault itself is different than the post-trauma.  That it goes beyond the physical and the initial emotional damage that was done. Brianna may have worked through some of hers in the time between believing SunnuvaBonnet was dead and finding out he was not.  The latter would be what we call a triggering moment. Triggers are very real and can bring us immediately back to our traumatic event, sometimes causing the process to start all over again. Brianna overhearing Bonnet was still alive builds the real fear is that he will attempt to find her in order to get to Jemmy. We can only hope that Bree shares her anxiety with those who care about her.  I have said it before, just because we can do it alone, doesn’t mean we should. 

I can see many Outlander viewers relating to our ‘after Bree’. Living with the agony of sexual assault in any form can be overwhelming.  We may be comforted while watching, being reminded we aren’t alone. There is also the possibility of being triggered, seeing our own traumas reflected back at us. The only true advice I have is, take care of that piece of who you are. Nurture them. Remind them they deserve kindness, compassion and love.  And then…give it to them.

We all have our ‘before and after’ stories. For some, there are many, lives being in a state of constant change.  Others have that moment that created such a shock it sent them spinning and there is no denying it changed everything. Either way, we become who we are not only as a result of what happens to us but how we process/see/react to it.

It is my hope that we all take the time to cherish who we have become. We are worth it.

Sher x

I still do try to LiveTweet with the W Network 7 pm MST airing of Outlander using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN (missed The Company We Keep) but have high hopes for next weeks, Perpetual Adoration!

 

Misery craves company. The thoughts that held me down after watching Ep03 #FreeWill

Here I was hoping after last week I would get to write something fun.  Who the hell was I kidding? I knew this week’s main story was about the Beardsley’s. There was no way that was going to ring the pleasant bell.

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A girl can dream!

Free Will had a very obvious theme and I don’t presume to usurp it with my own. I will do as I have with my previous blogs and take the thing that hit me in the gut, and go with it.

There was a very small moment in the first half of the episode that struck me funny. Brianna said she felt like Scarlett O’Hara. The first time, I thought “That was one weird tone-deaf statement.”  The second time, I heard something very different in her voice. I caught a passive-aggressive sarcasm.  She is likely one of the best marks’persons’ on the ridge, she can run full speed in her 20 layers of wool and is incredibly intelligent. Knowing all of these things, here she is being left behind and not happy about it. Making such a comment to Roger pulls him into her annoyance.  He tells her there is no one better to protect the ridge than she.  At the same time, he is letting her know he hears her and validates her frustration.

I am not claiming that is what they were going for in this scene, what I am suggesting is Brianna needed her partner to sit with her on this. She craved his understanding and he responded.

There are many of us that would willingly sit next to Bree on this one.  When we are feeling as if we are being treated less than, as if our value is being dismissed and we are being left behind as others less qualified are forging ahead, we lash out.  Especially when we know, there is nothing we can do about it.

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You always understand, Rog.

There are those who scream “You can ALWAYS do something.”  Sure, we can, when prepared or able to face the consequences. In real life, there will be consequences.  Whether it be financial, emotional, mental and/or physical. It doesn’t mean a person isn’t strong or worthy if they choose not to suffer those consequences. It means they are human. Here we see the life and marriage of one Mrs. Frances Beardsley. I will call her Fanny. Serious props to Bronwyn James  for her portrayal of this complex character.

Here is a woman, essentially sold to a man to produce a child for him. He has had 4 wives before her, who didn’t. All are dead and buried on the property she is being held captive on. The math says the women aren’t the weak link here. The wives marked out and counted the days subsisting with this man like we might see on prison walls. Fanny speaks of the other wives as her companions. They, after all, know her pain first hand.  She accepted her lot in life, arduous as it was.

Clearly abused, raped repeatedly, held against her will and having lost any concept of what free will might have been, Fanny held onto these women who no longer existed as her thread to humanity.  Whether we believe Mary-Anne was a ghost or a figment of Fanny’s imagination, when we feel so desperately alone knowing someone else can relate to our pain is comforting.  This is why support groups and therapy can be so effective in our world.  Being heard, seen, understood and guided with love are powerful healers.

We saw this with Fanny, didn’t we?  We started with her scaring the shit out of Jamie at the window.  We ended with her finding the indenture papers for the twins, the deed to the property for her daughter and leaving her with the Fraser’s.  The last moment we saw Fanny, it was in a tender moment with Claire.  She was being heard, seen, understood and guided.  Claire doesn’t only have the ability to heal bodies.

When Mr. Beardsly was struck down by a stroke, Fanny’s circumstances changed.  She could have taken this opportunity to leave. He obviously was unable to stop her.

Through Fanny’s eyes, I saw a reflection of self. He was now defenceless like she was for 2 years 3 months and 5 days.  As helpless as all of his previous wives.  Completely captive not unlike Josiah and Kezzie.  There is no doubt Fanny felt the time she spent in that house comparable to a slow death. Leaving him there to die wouldn’t be a punishment. Fanny’s heart, soul and mind had been broken to a point walking away was not an option.  As much as her imaginary friends gave her solace while she was being beaten and raped, the act of torturing the man who made her a victim became a way of taking back the power he had stolen from them all. You know what they say about payback.

I believe the full circle moment came when she gave birth to the child.  Obviously not Beardsley’s. The fact he knew she was pregnant and she was able to rub “This baby isn’t yours.” in his immobile face.  That was the final hammer swing to plant that nail in the coffin, so to speak.

Fanny overplayed in technicolour what many victims wish they could do. Hers, of course, an ‘as seen on TV’ experience.  Those who have suffered traumas ofttimes have dark thoughts about their abuser.  Those images come from a deep-seated place. Those thoughts, with the appropriate guidance, have the ability to turn victims into survivors. These gut/emotional reactions enable us to process our rage from actions we ‘want’ to see happen into behaviours we ‘can’ accomplish in order to move forward.

Josiah and Keziah.  These two took my heart and smooched it into a big ole ball of goo. Kudos to Paul Gorman, who plays both roles. I knew what to expect with the Keziah character because of the books. It was the way Paul played him, made the leaving his pants behind for the kittens, believable. The way he curled around that bowl of food, heart-wrenching. His gentle lean toward his brother (who wasn’t even really there!), so tender. He went from Keziah to Kezzie in a hot minute.

These two boys have not had enviable lives. They’ve been filled with tragedy and misery.  In that, they have had one another. A connection so close and powerful, even with all their misfortune, they could count on one another to be there. Though Josiah may seem like the more capable of the two, I feel we will see in the future how they need one another to be whole.

Misery isn’t a solitary creature.  It craves companionship, clinging to it. When we are isolated without an outlet or someone to lean upon – our misery becomes amplified seeking escape. It’s a human instinct, to seek others when feeling alone or afraid.  Looking for someone to share our fears with, to have our back in situations that may cause us stress or be painful is natural. 

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It was apparent this happened the moment when Jamie arrived home and woke Claire. His mind filled with worry, his need to share with her, his person.  It was as if we were being lifted gently into this mindset. We were softly eased into it, shown how beautiful it is when you share the darkness you have inside.

And then things got seriously twisted!

If you are stuck in your healing or in an abusive situation. There are people who can be your person. Feel free to DM me, I will listen, help find you supports or start here.  For any violent situation in Canada. Click here. 

Sher xo

Are we the villain in someone’s story? A self-examination after ‘Between Two Fires’ S05E02

Between Two Fires, has brought us a very different look than the first of the season. Basically, shit is getting real.  Once the final scene cut to black I said out loud “What? That was an hour?”  You know by now, I don’t do recaps but I do take something I noticed in the episode and dissect it.

Speaking of dissection – yes, I will be talking about Claire and her being elbows deep in Mr. F but I really think we need to start with Murtagh.

There were a lot of people talking about how they hated seeing Murtagh involved in the tar and feathering of political figures in Hillsborough. I was one, then I thought about it. Murtagh is the same man he always was. He decapitated Sandringham, ffs (we cheered), he cracked the skulls of MANY (also, cue us, cheering) and he has killed all manner of men.  We as viewers always saw the other people as the ‘bad guy’.  The villains.  We justified Murtagh’s actions and that was the difference.

This time, we didn’t know these men being tortured. The townspeople and the Regulators did. They know them as the political figureheads that took away their homes and overtaxed them. They are the elitists that live in luxury while they struggle to feed their families.  We sat back horrified that these men were maimed. The reason being, we had empathy for them. Whereas the Regulators, with Murtagh at the lead, were exacting revenge for themselves and those families. To them, completely justifiable.

This can open our eyes to our own worlds. How many times have we gotten into situations where people have thought of us as the ‘bad guy’ when we were only doing what we thought was right and/or the best for our family? We weren’t doing it against anyone but we were doing it for ourselves.  Some have a very hard time separating themselves from other people’s lives and understanding other’s decisions aren’t about them.

Jamie, for instance. The Regulator’s that were imprisoned, he freed them, they still questioned his motives.  They did so because they couldn’t wrap their brains around the fact he let them go because of his own conscience. His need to do something for what in his heart he knew was right.  Ultimately, he doesn’t care what these men think of him. What he thinks of himself is his paramount concern. He is mindful that he is a villain to these men. His willingness to be seen as less than, in their eyes, is what he is ready to do. For Jamie, the end justifies the means. I believe that particular phrase will play very heavily in Jamie’s story this season.

It has been my experience, “There are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle, lays the truth.”  This isn’t because everyone is a liar, it is because people naturally put their lens on and tell their story through it. It is what makes us…us. The story is our truth.

It does give me a chuckle when it is said, “They only told you their side of things”  Well, of course, they did, whose side are they going tell?  There will be instances in everyone’s life where relationships were ended because of horrible circumstances where someone was CLEARLY at fault. The interesting bit, I assure you, is both sides will claim the other to be the bad guy and the clincher will be convincing arguments from both sides. Will one be very skewed?  Unquestionably.

When we think of these instances, we would like to think we would be unbiased when it comes to seeing who is culpable.  Being completely truthful, we often side with the person we care about the most. This will be the one we feel the most empathy for. No matter what the argument is, the story they tell, how convincing the tale told, we will choose to trust the person we want to, not always the person that is right. That is one of those horse-pills to swallow.

A very small moment in ‘Between Two Fires’ gave us a situation in which we can see this clearly.

A man, with his family, taking a break from travelling and stretching their legs. On the road comes a huge group of mostly red-coated soldiers. Not a word is exchanged but the soldier near the head of the pack throws coins at a child’s feet. Insulted by this action, the man spat in the direction of the soldier.

From the man’s perspective. This soldier does not know him or his family’s circumstances,  the assumption he needs or wants the soldier’s coin is insulting. To throw it at his child’s feet takes it a step further to be degrading. This is why the man spits in his direction. It tells the soldier what he thinks of his ‘charity’.

  • Others in this man’s shoes (even Jamie) would feel this insult and understand why this man would be upset by Lt. Knox’s actions. Some may even say they would have done worse than spit at him.  We know the bravado society puts after the fact.

From Lt. Knox’s perspective, a poor helpless family is needing assistance so he tossed them some coin he had on hand. It obviously wasn’t enough for them and the father spat at him. It was ungracious and disrespectful.  His obvious generosity was a caring act to be commended, the man and his family should have thanked him for this good deed.

  • The soldier’s and elitists in Lt. Knox’s company would see the situation exactly as he does. The reason? a) the soldiers because going against what their commanding officer says can pose a problem, so follow and agree. b) seeing themselves doing the same thing Knox has done, would feel exactly the same privilege.

The truth…

Lt. Knox is as thick as a brick so he is offended that this man couldn’t see his generosity. He was literally so high on his horse, he missed the fact this family was asking for nothing. He saw himself as superior to them and he chose to give them money.  Not just ‘give’ it to them but throw it at their feet. This was not an act of kindness but more an act of power.  Expecting thanks and accolades for such a deed is pure arrogance.

There are small instances such as theses in our everyday. Telling someone to smile, not saying excuse me when we bump into somebody, moralizing and proclaiming to others “I don’t see colour”. Sure, using the word “villain” does seem extreme, however, things like those mentioned can really mess up ours, or someone else’s day. The examples were more along the lines of being the type of person that makes others feel better when we aren’t around. Micro-villains, I prefer that.

My mother used to say “If it quacks…it’s a DUCK!” She didn’t waste her didn’t time with “if it walks like a …” stuff.  We know on Outlander, the whole “People show you who they are,” adage can be tricky.

Take Claire, she is working very hard to bring her knowledge of modern medicine into the past. Whipping up concoctions of this weird sounding ‘peniwhosiwhatsit’ that is supposed to cure all sorts of sickness. (I know what it is, I’m pretending to be from the 1700s and hearing the word…work with me)  You can imagine what prying ears might hear. Or, lawd-have-mercy, what they might see. Like the body of a man that apparently was buried, now with his chest cracked open and his giblets laying all over the place.

Claire’s acutely aware that what she is doing would be seen as sacrilegious, macabre and downright inconceivable. Which means, Claire, our heroine, the matriarch of Outlander if standing in the middle of her community being 100% herself would be 100% a villain in the eyes of those around her.  Given the people, the times, their education and knowledge of things that are – their perception would be altogether accurate.

Mrs. Bug thinks the woman is mad, hoarding all this bread to make some magic medicine! Imagine if she saw this poor chopped up man in Claire’s surgery.  What we have to admit, unless you truly love Claire, understand what she does, how legitimately intelligent and medically knowledgable she is, the things she does in the world she lives in would never be perceived as anything BUT evil.

Hard to wrap your mind around it isn’t it? Thinking of Claire as a villain.  While you are giving a go at those mental gymnastics, I want you to think of this – Stephen Bonnet as the hero.

WHAT THE ACTUAL F??? Yeah, me…I said that. I know…I know.  We all know how deplorable the man is and of course, he is a villain. The worst kind. THE villain.

The truth of the matter is, Bonnet doesn’t think so.  Get what I am saying?  Most people who we see as villains have no problem at all seeing themselves as heroes. They have zero qualms with excusing their behaviour as justified and often blame others for forcing their hand.

This describes Bonnet. Seeing him in Between Two Fires sent shivers down my spine. Yup, he has still got IT. That thing that makes your skin want to crawl off of your bones and run away from home. Every nasty thing that SunnuvaBonnet does, he justifies.

Rationalizing behaviour like this gives us permission to a) repeat it b) excuse it.  My point is, frequently those who so many of us see as the villain – will never see it themselves.  That is why they exist in the first place.  Those that have a measure of empathy and compassion – have the capacity to change.

As I sat with my own thoughts on this whole villain concept, I’m conscious of being the villain in other people’s stories. For some, I have made peace with that. It isn’t possible to alter their perceptions of me and for another, I don’t want that responsibility. I would rather be the perceived villain in our story than open the door to the chaos that created the situation.  For others, it makes me sad and embarrassed that I know I could have behaved in a different way. As a consequence, the story may have had a happier ending.

How many times have we justified our actions? Whether they were out of anger, self-preservation or ego?  I don’t know about you but my honest self says more times than I like to admit. Justifying something doesn’t mean we were right to do it, it only means we excused our actions at the time and painted ourselves on the “right” side.

The most interesting things cause us to sit back and look at the world, others and our own actions. This week it was this nugget of how we are seen through other’s eyes.  We can say we don’t care, some don’t. Some, care too much. Maybe if we were all just a little more aware, it would make us a little kinder to one another.

Boy, I hope I find something FUN to talk about in next week’s episode.  I am sure you do too.

Sher XO

PS – Don’t forget to join us as we livetweet to the W Network airing in Canada at 7 pm MST, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

Call him Kikki. #Outlander’s Lesley, gone but not forgotten.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the Keith Fleming, who prefers to be called Kikki by those around him, at the Outlandish Vancouver event this past October. I told you all about it here. Each interaction with Kikki left me knowing that I had met someone who a) had a very similar sense of humour (that can be scary) b) could be one of the most genuine people I had ever met.

We throw around that word, genuine, quite a bit and use all sorts of bright and shiny adjectives. Kikki is genuine in all regards. He gives you the bright and shiny and he makes no excuses for the humour, his belief systems or his sharper edges. That adage, what you see is what you get. Is Kikki Fleming. It is my hope that you get to know this man that brought us the loyal and jovial character of Lesley on Outlander a bit better through this interview. Grab a cuppa something hot, cold or wet or dry just make it last, this isn’t going to be quick.

Why the moniker, Kikki?

Kikki came from one of my stage heroes, and most wonderful actors, Jimmy Chisholm. He was basically repeating and elongating Keith, to Keithy, then to Kikki Dee lives in Dundee, as I was about to work there and Kikki stuck. Most people, certainly in the acting world, seem to know me first as Kikki. My mum…not so much. Cait, with her Irish lilt, and David Ganly, a wonderful actor, have the most becoming delivery of my name.

How about that handle of yours, @dundlejuice? These are the things that keep me up at night…

Dundlejuice…well that’s a tale. Basically what I can tell you…dundle – go for an aimless, explorative ramble or walk. I used to go for such adventures with one of my best friends, Dave, when I lived in London..we would seek out secrets of the Rye, hug trees, satsuma spotting, get trapped in Mexican Cantinas, commentate on elderly people bowling whilst discussing the merits of custard creams. There was even a cowgirl dancing on top of a mobile phone, one particular dundle…you never quite know what to expect on a dundle!

This was entertaining enough for me, I don’t think I will ask for clarification of the juice add on because my imagination is nailing it … so Keith?

Keith, is used to berate, when someone is annoyed, or whenever someone meets me for the first time usually….and my mum!

Now, just because I met you, I won’t claim to know you. One thing that I could not help but notice is how at ease your co-stars were with you, and how they looked to you for support.

You talked about your mates as if they were your family, about your partner with an abundance of love. It seems to me when you form bonds with people, they aren’t surface level.

I think when I invest in something or someone I go all in. If I trust you, like you and open to you then I’m vulnerable. I will take the same care of your heart as I expect you to do with mine. I don’t have a big family at all so my friends are my family really. They are special people and they stick around for the long term. We meet so many people in the business, fleetingly, I think when you have that certain spark, shared sense of humour or experience, it is important to make an effort to let that person know they have made an impression on your life. What are we here for at the end of the day…not to sit in isolation with our own thoughts and loneliness tormenting us! When I was at school, most of my best pals were girls…we are still in touch today!! Likewise, my best mate Kev, we make an effort by not making it an effort to just know we are only a phone/mail away. My partner is the same…she is open, trusting and so giving in the most loving way. But we started out as friends and I think that is where our strength comes from.

How have you continued to become this kind of man in a world that doesn’t naturally emulate that?

I can be quite blokey. I like football, music, comedy and having a drink, that doesn’t make me a bad person. I also love tea, biscuits, nights in, wildlife – mad about primates, conservation. I am surprisingly sensitive.  I am very caring, empathetic and open to other people. I am impatient with a lot of the offended culture that is appearing today, but I am also aware why it is there and needs to be addressed. I know that yes, there are people – men, out there who are arseholes and who spoil it for whatever reason by their behaviour. But I do believe we are not all the same person as those, and most people are decent and desire to achieve the same respect, love and compassion as the next. To those who ruin for us, I say, go fuck yourself…also don’t tar me with the same brush as those who do.

And there you have why I slid into your DMs! (Not in an icky way) Like attracts like and I think there are more people who think that way than don’t. It is why I wanted those in the Outlander world to know this part of who you are. Mostly because it’s enjoyable to get to know someone that you have admired on screen.

It’s the truth and passion you have shared that leads to my being able to ask and handle the answers to the next question. What are three things you are most passionate about right now and what do you think we are responsible to do about them?

  1. Nature. We share this planet…we do not have some divine right over anything, be it animal, plant or mineral, to impose ourselves on its development and existence. We need to respect the natural world and resources around us, look outward and inward and see what we are going to lose. Things have evolved over millions and billions of years…we are destroying all of it in a matter of what …150 years? It makes me sick.

  2. Greed…power…government and their lack of transparency and accountability. There’s a lot of fear, lies, bullshit, propagated by the media and the Government both here and the US, and increasingly more countries around the world. All of it for self-gain. Power-hungry leaders and corporations with no care for anyone else. It’s a time to stand up and demand that they govern for the good of the people, the country, the environment and for stronger bonds between other countries. The world is a smaller place with technology advancing rapidly, but we are in danger of losing it all by destroying ourselves with hatred and greed.

  3. People getting offended on behalf of other people, even though they weren’t there at the event or gig or saw something in a newspaper and start getting offended. Just FUCK RIGHT OFF. You’re offended…doesn’t make you right! Go be offended, but understand that is the worst it will get…that’s all!

Obviously, I don’t mean those that stand up for the voiceless, powerless or marginalized…you know the types I mean. They see something about something a comedian said in their act and suddenly from 1 tweet, 47,000 people were ‘at the gig’!

Social media mourners too…those that need to be seen to mourn after a tragic event, as if they ‘feel’ more because they put it out there…jeez, give me strength.

I hear this loud. I feel this deeply.  One thing I have learned in my many years is those with the biggest hearts and the heartiest humour is they are the truth-tellers.

Speaking of truth-telling, the humour behind it is bound to get you in ‘situations’…

Yeah for sure, there’s been times aplenty when the urge to say something in an awkward moment has been too much…I could get in a lot of trouble for repeating them.

One that springs to mind though was upon hearing news about a friend suffering the death of a parent. The phrase used was “I lost my dad at the weekend” to which I replied “Careless”. It’s a wee play on words, and in such heightened emotions we are in danger of hurting feelings but comedy can be used as a comfort to lighten the mood. I try never to offend anyone, but that is impossible. If I do go out my way to offend you then you must have done something real shit towards me or my closest.

Oh man, that is going to be stuck in my head. I’m going to blame that one, when it happens (because it will) on you.

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It’s good for me to be honest with myself.

There will always be misconceptions about people, especially actors, what are some you want to clear up right now?

That it is a hobby, that it is easy, that anyone can do it, that because a relationship is working onscreen it must be true in real life, that we will just do a performance of anything there on the spot for your entertainment, that we are super confident.

A teacher once mentioned you would make a good actor, it does seem you’re a born entertainer, what do you think they saw in you?

I’m not sure exactly. I think there was a clownish, jokey part to me that liked to entertain. I was always quite expressive when telling stories, and loved making people laugh, so I guess there was that. I’d like to think passion, you need to be passionate about acting to stick with it. The whole setup can be so rewarding, but devastatingly cruel the next day. I used to mimic a lot of teachers at school. Perhaps there is an interest in being in someone else’s shoes, and not having to live with the consequences of their actions that draws me. At the end of the day, we are telling stories. It’s a beautiful thing.

I think from an early age I was fascinated with film/acting…wanted to be Han Solo, then a vet, then an artist. I went to art school for 1 year in London, but I still had the passion for drama school, and when the prospect of staring at a blank canvas in a studio didn’t dampen that fire, I decided it was something to pursue. Both of them are really reliable safe occupations!

Speaking of occupations, what others have you had?

I have been bartender…bloody good one; worked in a deli; a labourer; waiter; worked as an instructor/race director for a motor racing team who ran corporate go-karting events in London and Europe-loved it!      I also do some work just now for a sash window restoration company, which is great fun learning a new skill and getting paid to do so.

Theatre has been a big part of your career, can you share with us those experiences and how they compare to film and TV work?

It has been circumstance rather than choice. Jobs, when they came, were taken. I was fortunate to get offered a lot of theatre and accepted it. The acting profession is filled with uncertainty, not knowing the next job etc…so I would often take it rather than delving into the abyss by choice. In saying that, I was lucky to get offered such fascinating parts.

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Kikki in the role of Cyrano De Bergerac.

I adore theatre, the collaboration, creation, sharing of ideas, being part of something from the beginning and immersing yourself in a world. It is immediate, and you enter a contract with an audience every night, things can happen by brilliant accident along the way…but my experience of TV and film has certainly left me wanting more. Financially it is beneficial, a lot less work for a lot more money or perhaps a lot more sitting around waiting! I would love to do more TV/Film. It’s another part of the profession to embrace, refine and explore. Direct, write, produce. Bring it on! Why did you kill Lesley off?! Gggrrrrrrrrr!!

With film and TV, unless you are a lead, supporting lead role, or involved in something that involves a lot of choreography ie fight scene, horse chase, you can feel kinda left to your own initiative. You are perhaps not always party to creative discussions and input. Know your lines, hit your mark and Go! It can feel a lot more technical in TV, as there are eyelines, cameras etc to consider…you are mic’d, so no need to project to the back row daaaahhhling! But it is essentially the same craft…it starts with knowing what you’re saying, why you’re saying it and saying it from a place of truth. TV and Film require more stillness. I pace a lot when I’m acting. I have to internalise that panther for the screen!

What are some of your fondest memories of your theatre roles?

I would say Peer Gynt has to be up there, along with Macbeth. Two parts I was so proud of and excited every night I went out to perform.

Also, I did a play called Squash, which was directed by Finn Den Hertog from S1 Outlander…I loved doing that show. Everything about it was just that wee bit warped, like the Coen Brothers. All of the above are extremely dark pieces, and I seem to thrive in that kind of world, maybe another side of Lesley could have been explored!

Explore a little, what would you like to play down the road?

Parts I’d love to play; Lesley’s twin fucked up mental brother, Richard III.  I’ve always wanted to do a version of the King of Comedy onstage.

If the work is interesting and challenging, then I’m up for it. It’s often about the people you get to work with that is enticing, the ambition of a project, the fun. I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant and inspiring actors and directors, writers…long may it continue.

What performances or actors do you enjoy?

I’d love to have been Phil Dunphy from Modern Family, one of the greatest comedy creations, along with Alan Partridge and David Brent!

In that same vein, are there film actors (no gender preference) you would love to work with?

I’m a big De Niro fan, some of the greatest performances ever on our screens. Philip Seymour Hoffman was and will be one of the industries greatest ever actors. Joaquin Phoenix is the greatest actor today…so him, just anything. Paddy Considine, Jeff Bridges Bryan Cranston, Paul Giamatti, Jack Lowden- a fellow Scot and an actor who I have worked with- unbelievable talent and beautiful human, likewise David Ganly, and my mucker Jamie Sives. Jennifer Lawrence – she sparks in most scenes she enters; Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Kathy Burke, Margot Robbie! I would love to have worked with Madeline Khan and Gene Wilder!  I’d work with my missus of course…she’s great to work with. Sometimes it’s hard to work with a partner, things can get a bit sensitive with criticism but, not her. Plus, I just noticed Margot, J-Law and Scarlett on my list so, she is up there with them, obviously!

How about actors that have taught you something personally about the craft?

Jimmy Chisholm has an unbelievable talent to entertain, hold an audience in the palm of his hand, and ‘play’ with them. A sense of devilment and mischief is good to hold onto, as long as it’s not to the detriment of the work. David Ganly and Jimmy possess that in abundance. Trusting your instinct also, be brave to make mistakes.

I love that, making mistakes can be the best way to learn, what guidance did you received early on in your career that you still use?

Know what you’re saying, know why you’re saying it, and get on with it. Stop acting!!!

There are always people cutting their teeth in the industry, what is your best advice?

Get used to rejection…doesn’t mean you were wrong, you just weren’t their ‘right’! Once an audition is done, leave it, it’s out of your hands now, you cannot influence things any further unless asked.  The audition is your chance to ACT…not just an interview for the job…be bold, commit, don’t second guess, make choices and stick by them. They’ll direct you differently in time…they want to see what you bring to the table.

Keeping with the acting part of this interrogation, what is your process of getting to know the characters you play, Kikki?

I like to ‘feel them out’, explore, see what works, what doesn’t. What do they do, say, what are we told about them, how do they react, how are they similar to me and how are they different? What can I change about me, how do they move, speak? Trial and error, putting those things together and seeing what works, with the help of your director. And bloody hell, do not bore the audience!

…and Lesley in particular?

Lesley – well, I had no reference other than the script. I knew from the audition/casting sides that there was a slightly comic element, but also keeping in mind that he had been in prison and was devoted to Jamie’s safety and well-being. Clearly, Lesley and Jamie were identical twins separated at birth. Lesley abandoned on a rocky shore, raised by seals, on a diet of mackerel, gulls, and seaweed. So I slept rough and stayed out the gym for 6 weeks before filming started and let my imagination go to work!

What kind of traits do you find admirable about people in the industry?

Anyone that is still doing it, that has decency, manners and compassion for fellow actors and human beings. Folk that don’t forget where they come from. Too many self-important up-their-own-arse stars around…we don’t need any more. Folk who have overcome great diversity and hardship and still believe in this. There are a lot of privileged people in the industry who have managed to sustain being in it by family money etc. I’m not saying they are shit actors, but they had a better chance by not having to work 3 different jobs a week to pay bills then try to cram those lines at 3am for that 9am audition. I admire actors who challenge themselves and don’t just pick parts because they get to look good and pout so that they get another modelling endorsement perhaps…get mucky, get ugly and get in there. Mums who are busting their humps to manage an acting career and family, dads also. It’s tough.

I can see that. With the good comes the frustrating…

That we are still having to highlight female success- or lack of it- in the industry. Surely we have evolved as the human race to be better than where we are at! Likewise, artists of colour. It’s shameful that we are still having these conversations. The majority of people that I meet day to day in the industry are all like-minded, inclusive, diverse and talented individuals who share a commonality of ambition and love for our work. There is much more to be done and that needs to come from the source. Those who commission, green light and fund projects. Who back training, scholarships and education. There need to be more examples to inspire those who don’t think it might be for them. Or that there are not enough roles for someone like them. A lot of the damage has been done by entitled powerful – hate to say it – MEN, obsessed only about enhancing their own reputation. But times are changing, not as rapidly astray should be, but awareness has certainly been heightened.

It should also be said that not all men in the business are potential Harvey Weinstein-like predators…but are caring, respectful, professional artists.

There’s never enough work and it’s a lot of the same faces that get the work. I get it though, if I were making stuff and had seen or worked with someone before, I’d approach them and suggest this great new project. It’s not a fair industry. It’s competitive, but that’s not news to anyone. Why would a director take a chance on an unknown when you know you’re going to get quality with say, Joaquin? That’s not saying the other person would not be better, but it’s a business, and more often it is the producers who have the final say – they fund the projects.

The obsession with looks…you’re born with the face you have. I would love to look like Brad, or Johnny, Leo, but I don’t.  These guys have talent to back it up however and they work hard to look good and keep in shape, just look at our Sam! A bloody machine…where does he find the time? But that’s it…people do moan about how easy it is for the better-looking people to be successful, but getting fat is a lot fucking easier. You get up at 4:30 am and do a gym session then a 13-hour shoot in pissing rain, then yoga in the evening, knowing you’ve got a sex scene in 3 days!

But the business has always had an aesthetic obsession but these people are stars because they don’t look like the everyday guy you pass in the street. Just wish I was one of them! It’s annoying when they don’t have the substance or talent to back it up that irks.

Oh, and whiners. Whine about everything all the time. Can you not do that, can you be more careful there, why are we working late, this coat is heavy, my character wouldn’t say that!

But each to their own. It’s all about being diplomatic and discussion. But let’s not waste time every 5 minutes because your coffee is cold, or water is going in your ear, or you think you should be playing the lead!

I tend to be someone who throws themselves in…get dirty, attack it full on… then rewind and learn what worked and what didn’t. Everyone has their own approach, and you have to respect theirs, but likewise so must they mine.

I am sure a lot of readers are thinking about what I am. Acting as a profession isn’t much different than a lot of workplaces. It takes all kinds, everywhere to make or break the experiences we end up having. Those top 2%, in any industry, job, corporation is what we compare ourselves to yet, the 98% are all of us. Reality.   I love that you are speaking about the changes that need to be made in the industry. Whether they be on behalf of women or people of colour, it takes all of the voices to make a difference. I applaud you calling out arseholes for being arseholes because that is the proof that there are allies that care about what is happening more than some random guy’s ego.  So, thank you. 

Sorry, I left you there for a moment, have you had  “Nope!” not gonna do that, moments?

  • Hmmm…good question…Lie on the floor covered in tarantulas like Indiana Jones? That is a no-no!

  • Throw one of the famous hissy fits and berate crew or fellow cast members. No-no, team effort. Never forget where you came from!

  • Or deem yourself above the project, job, or others involved – those folk can go gettaefu!

  • Or go on an interview/chat show and come across like Tom Hiddleston. What a bellend!

    *catching my breath from laughing…bellend…new favourite way to say dickhead*

For us, who are clueless, please take us through the “audition to getting the role” scenario.

Get the appointment, wait for script or sides/scenes to read/learn. Work on them, make choices about what you are doing, how you are going to attack the scene, accents, look, basically be prepared. If you have the whole script, read it all…you might get asked what your thoughts are on it. Then you go, meet director, writer, producer, casting director…audition well hopefully. You wait, you may get a callback or if you were sooooo good, then a straight offer – that is a great feeling. The waiting is the hard part, frustrating but when you leave the room, it’s over to them – you are powerless and cannot influence them anymore – you try to forget about it.

Then you see that Sam Heughan or Johnny Depp is now playing Bond. “They went another way” –  stock industry phrase to let you down!

If you’re lucky, you get it, and are delighted. Then starts the anxiety of being good enough, who else is in it…etc.

We know one role that was earned- Lesley.

kikki blog

Let’s talk about your time on Outlander. You were one of the cast members that went to South Africa to film, what was the difference in filming from between Scotland and South Africa? 

The general layout of the day was the same. Pick up, arrive on set, breakfast, make-up and wardrobe, head to set for rehearsal/ line run, back for checks than on set to shoot. The main difference was obviously the weather, the scenery, and also the dressing rooms. They are major movie studios in SA. Dressing rooms were luxurious, bigger than my apartment! I think we hung out a lot more in SA as we’re in a new place, and on days off myself, Lauren (Marsali), Cesar (Fergus), would go explore new places to eat for Breakfast, brunch etc. James(Hayes), Gary (Mr.Willoghby) and Nigel Betts (Murphy) would hook up later. Myself and Nigel Betts would often go sample the region’s wines with a spot of lunch!! Always wine o’clock with Sir Betts! Ideal touring partner.

The scene with Lesley’s death was pretty traumatic, more so for you, I am sure. The “America the Beautiful” track played over the scene in the final edit but what I am curious about is what filming a scene like that involves?

Obviously, I’m not aware of that track at the time…odd choice, some loved it, some not so much. When filming the scene, it is all very technical. You’ve got stunt guys and camera, sound crew all in that small space. It’s all choreographed to find angles, impact, effective storytelling and safety. It’s not comfortable for many reasons, but the crew are there always looking out for you. Basically, I get my heroic moment after a calamitous start. We are ambushed. I get knocked out after a pirate kicks door open as I try to lead Claire to safety, that door was inches away from my nose-sometimes you gotta go over the edge to find out where the edge is! I come round, see Claire being threatened, jump up and kill the pirate, grab her to see she is ok – distracted by her safety- Cue Bonnet! With knife! Great…where was her intervention at that point?! Throat cut then die on floor, towards camera. Me in foreground bleeding, Claire shocked and crying, Jamie enters, clearly she’s traumatized because Lesley, protector of Fraser mob for over 20 years is gone…but…no….her ring, her fucking ring! I did make a few funny quips whilst dying, about the next line, and Cait did point out the ridiculousness of such cold behaviour, but the director and creatives are like, “he’s gone, you move on”- as I lay in position on floor for next shot -“I am still here ye know”!

Yeah, it was gutting being killed off before you really have the chance to develop the character, but that’s the business, not in the books, so they don’t need to stay loyal to anything there.

Bonnet did drop his pistol the first take when he came up behind me. I picked it up and thought, “Here is my chance to rewrite the story!”

You know what? Go ahead, Kikki… re-write it. It’s your turn, Bonnet’s aim sucked, he missed your throat, Claire used her doctoring and saves his life. Give it to us. Give us Lesley’s next chapter.

Well, I love the idea! First, can I ask why she didn’t actually run and get her surgical box in the first place, instead of weeping about her ring!

I think myself, Jamie and Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke) form an elite fighting force. Hell-bent on revenge. I’m determined to get that ring back, to thank her for saving me, but also for most likely creating one of the first-ever DC villains, before it’s time.

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You dream it, I make it happen.

I take some mushrooms in the forest, and whilst everyone is sleeping I slip off the boat. I stalk and find Bonnet, it’s like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now, I get captured, tortured, but when he drops his guard or pistol – I seize the moment, I cut off his head. I invent football or soccer, using his head as the first-ever ball, and introduce it to the First Nations and it goes on to be their national sport. Then I return to Frasers Ridge, marry Wahkatiiosta. Jamie, Kaheroton and I then head off to fight the Red Coats. They underestimate our small number. They get what they deserve, they are slaughtered through the night and by morning there are none left. The invaders flee this new land they have landed in, and it remains in harmony and populated by the rightful original inhabitants. The First Nations flourish, and the white man is eventually welcomed in, but only on the local’s terms.

I explain to Claire that although I cut Bonnets head off, I found no ring but I had honoured her by carving her sculpted face alongside mine, Jamie and Kaherotons on a sheer face of rock that would later be named Mount Rushmore.

It’s a harmonious life from there on. Babies, babysitting, days on the lake in the kayaks. Me and Young Ian invent Irn Bru, whilst myself and Kaheroton produce a malt whisky that has hallucinogenic mushrooms at the bottom, like the grub in mescal, and it’s a real earner. Business is good. It’s all sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Oh, girlfriend needs some of that ‘shroomwhisky, jussayin’. It sounds like it would be great for my old bones.

I’m digging that alternate ending. I’m sure it would have been much more rewarding than in the actual final scene…it probably was pretty heavy?

Everybody has their own process. Ed has his own way of preparing and getting in the zone, as does Cait. Some people go internal, have few minutes to psyche themselves up, focus, some will listen to music. When it’s heightened emotionally, then you have to be aware and respect each other’s process, and space. My main thought from that last day was, yeah emotional for you, how about me, I’m dead, meaning I no longer get paid!  Hahaha!

There seems to be some overlap with many actors in the UK and on Outlander, did you know many onset before you started?

I knew Sam from around the Scottish theatre scene. We have a lot of mutual friends. James Allenby- Kirk (Hayes) and I had met several times, and we share a love for the same football team. There’s not actually a huge amount of genuine Scots in it, to be honest, so a lot of people are new to me. I know some of the other folk from the previous series, Grant, Gary, and many of the guest actors.

There is a benefit of knowing and working with people again and again. You develop a shorthand, you get into things much quicker and don’t have that awkward is it ok if I do this, do you mind if I try this, I’m not sure I understand you etc. All of which is part of the process, and is wonderful, but when time is against you!

Will you watch Outlander now that you are no longer on the show?

I’ll get round to it. I’m a fan of the show for reasons different to the fans. I loved working on it. I don’t actually like seeing myself, perhaps why I love theatre, but I’m getting better.

I know you are a music lover so I thought it would be interesting if you were to match your cast members with a song that you think represents them as people. For some reason, I think coming from you this will say much more than word association or asking straight up your impression of them. 

Lauren Lyle (Marsali)- Sunrise by Pulp 

César Domboy (Fergus) – Blue Monday by New Order or Sound and Vision by Bowie

James Kirk (Hayes) – Everything is Going Green by New Order    

Sam Heughan (Jamie) – Male Stripper by Man 2 Man

Ed Speleers (Stephen Bonnet) – Dance Little Sister by Rolling Stones

Leon Herbert (Eutroclus) – Dedicated Follower of Fashion The Kinks

John Bell (Young Ian)  – Rinse and Repeat by Riton

Caitriona Balfe ( Claire) – Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin

Grant Stott (Captain Freeman)- Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers

Listening to these songs and thinking about the people that you associate to them makes me smile pretty big and the Sam Heughan one, made me snort so thank you for that. 

A song that you believe represents you?

Kikki Fleming – Walk on the Wildside by Lou Reed

Nicely played. Peering into the things that hold your attention, what tv shows do you watch?

The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Killing (Scandi version), The Bridge, Fargo series, The Office – these are some of the best things ever to appear on TV. Love them all. Recently saw a series called Guilt, which was set in Scotland but had a Scandi noir drama type feel to it, fabulous. The Victim, also a stunning performance from James Harkness.  The Virtues with Stephen Graham. I love wildlife documentaries and good comedy. Cheers, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Mighty Boosh, Modern Family, Alan Partridge, The League of Gentlemen!

Must check out Guilt, sounds right up my alley. Seen any good movies lately?

The Joker. That performance – how brilliant, unbelievable. The Irishman, I loved Pacino and Pesci. Uncut Gems, angst filled viewing. I was holding my breath throughout. Sandler was superb.

You have done a lot of travelling, care to share some of your experiences with us…

Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Lisbon have all been fantastic in past years. I’ve been to Amsterdam 6 or 7 times and it has never let me down.

New York, what can you say,love it, but Chicago was a special place. I was working there, and had lovely apartment and time to explore, but I really got great vibe from that city.

Italy, particularly Tuscany has always been I place I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to…fell in love with Florence when I first went at 17, and have been back 3 times.

Borneo was emotional for me, as I saw at firsthand the deforestation that is going on, and worked with orphaned orangutans who were being prepared for reintroduction to the wild. The rainforest was just incredible. We have to save it or we all suffer.

Thailand, I want to go to. My partner loves it. Budapest likewise – Sam recommended it highly to me. And I’d love to go see the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda.

And in Scotland? Where would you recommend I go when I FINALLY get there?

I love Glencoe. I’d go with you, just to visit it. It’s surprisingly easy to get to from Glasgow. The West Highland Way, beautiful dramatic scenery. Take in an Island, Skye or Arran or Lewis. Inverness and the Highlands are joyous. I’m from Edinburgh but live in Glasgow so, see both of them for how different they are. Edinburgh is more beautiful architecturally and historically around the castle/old town. The New Town is rather splendid too. Glasgow is more gritty…sort of Gotham-esque! People make Glasgow, is the city motto that’s not always a good thing I often think, but folk from either city have digs at each other where is better. Both have their pluses and downsides. Bars/pubs are often a good gauge of a city. I could list my faves someday.

I am sure fans would love that. It is one thing most have in common, love of the drink. I may have to do a blog and come to you as a reference. It could be a tough job…

Our closing question for all ABOotlander guests is this, we have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course (all of these are Alberta yums), tell us which one catches your fancy?

         Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn

Moose Droppings. I’m doing a play later this year that has a huge connection to the Elk, so I’ll take that.

Brilliant! Moose droppings are DELISH! 

Make sure to keep up with Kikki on twitter and IG. Since you stuck around to the very end, I have a special treat for you.

I know fans were sad they didn’t get a taste of Lesley’s lament to his friend, Gavin Hayes on the season 4 soundtrack.

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Enjoy, from Kikki – to all of you.

And because I can’t help myself and I love digging in Kikki’s imagination station, here is a bonus question.

Since your imagination delights me, I invite you to create a panel/game show. 

Politically speaking, I think I’d love to do a show along the lines of the Hunger Games…members of Government, parliament and congress are selected and thrown into a gladiator arena, armed only with the paper documents of the Bills and legislation they were responsible for passing through into Law. Those people who suffered the worst as a result of such legislation are then released into the arena…once they work out who the suits are, it’s fair game. Let’s hunt n kill the corporate leeches…as the credits roll, Spanish Fly plays as the closing tune, we see fat entitled white corporate men screaming for mercy at the camera, but it doesn’t come!

My dream panel for the show would Frankie Boyle, Bill Hicks, Bill Burr, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kathy Burke, Billy Connolly, Greta Thunberg.

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BAM! 

Thank you so much, Kikki. I am grateful for your honesty and openness. Once again, it’s been a blast.

 

Sher xo