Spring is finally in the air for this Canadian and I figured, there is no better way for the LOVELANDER project to bloom into the season than with the couple who defied the dastardly Brown family. They rode off into the sunrise-ish together. (We will have to wait and see if we get anymore of their saga later on.)
I do these interviews to give you the people behind the characters. Their careers rarely start with Outlander and they most definitely will not end with it. This fandom of ours has a way of following the lives of cast members so it is my hope #TheLOVELANDERProject helps do that. I am going to start with Jon Tarcy, aka Isaiah Morton, as we were introduced to his character first.
The Isaiah Morton/Alicia Brown story was one I wasn’t sure we were going to get to see on screen but I was delighted, as were many other fans that these characters were introduced.
I admit ‘the Isaiah’ I had perceived from the books wasn’t quite as dashing or balsy as the Isaiah who showed up on screen but I am not complaining.I give all the credit to that discrepancy to the man playing him, Jon Tarcy.
Jon grew up along the River Thames in a borough of London called Kingston-Upon-Thames,. He has a close relationship with his younger sister, Emma and brought her into his world of make believe very early.
Many actors had a flare for performance at a young age, is the same true for you?Like a lot of kids, I was performing weekly shows in the living room for my family when I was about 4 or 5 – magic shows were a particular favourite, with my sister always being recruited to play the magician’s assistant. That led on to me getting involved in as much drama as I possibly could at school, but it wasn’t until I was in a teenager that I started to think this was something I could do as a career, and my family have been hugely supportive ever since.
It is apparent your talent and their support was a winning combination. As I was looking through your previous achievements, including the ones I already mentioned, you played Tony in West Side Story. You have an incredible singing voice. Hey guys, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself in this video of Jon and Christina Bennington.
That video shows how strong your sing voice is, was that something that has always been a passion? Thank you! Yes, Singing has always been something that I’ve loved to do. I was in a church choir when I was younger singing a lot of classical music, but then as I started to perform in school shows I fell in love with Musical Theatre (Playing Marius in Les Misérables and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd were real highlights!). When I was 15 I gained a place at the National Youth Music Theatre which really helped propel me towards singing professionally, and I’ve always looked for opportunities to combine my acting and singing ever since.
Theatre has such a rich history in the UK and you firmly embedded in it. What is it about theatre that you love? Theatre is a great passion of mine and I’ve loved all of the roles I’ve played thus far. I particularly enjoyed my time with the Royal Shakespeare Company – it’s such a fantastic training ground for a young actor and was a huge dream of mine to be part of that company. I’ve also really enjoyed working on the development of new projects, whether that be a new pop musical or adaptation of a novel, it’s always very exciting to be in the rehearsal room in those early stages.
When we are creative people, we tend to gravitate to certain performances or people, do any stand out for you? I think it can be anything or anyone. It can be just as inspiring to go and see an incredible performance in the theatre or on TV, as it can be to go to a gallery or listen to an album. Particular people who I’m currently inspired by are: John Owen Jones, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, & Mark Duplass.
I obsess over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Everything she has done, or will do. I seem to do that, obsess. You of course, seem much more laid back in your enjoyment of entertainment.
Fans following you on Instagram will be able to tell you have a love of travel, do you have a top three favourite locations you have visited? Oh that’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a top three, but my most recent adventure (pre-covid) was a trek to see the incredible Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Something I’ll certainly never forget!
That sounds so majestic and a little bit terrifying. Is there a destination still on your must see list? I’d love to go to Madagascar, but I’m also keen to go to South America….there’s just so many places, I can’t decide! The UK is also a brilliant place to travel, and there are so many places I’m still to tick off my bucket list here.
It’s my understanding the Outlander production was becoming fairly well known to the industry in the UK, had you heard of it before you auditioned? Yes I had, and I’d heard such lovely things about the show & the team so it was really exciting to audition for it.Had you auditioned for any other roles besides Isaiah?No I hadn’t. What was that process like? My agent had organised for me to send in a tape for the role of Isaiah, and I then had a recall in person with the brilliant casting director Suzanne Smith. A few weeks later when I heard I got the part I was absolutely over the moon and couldn’t wait to get started.
Did you read the book at all to get the back story of Isaiah? For a bigamist, he is a pretty decent guy. I mean, the Brown’s weren’t the best choice of ‘second family’ but you can’t win them all. I did, I really enjoyed reading ‘The Fiery Cross’ and it was important for me to read all of that extra detail about the character that Diana Gabaldon describes in her fantastic books.
I admitted your portrayal of Isaiah came off as much stronger than I gave him as a reader of the books. You gave him a certain dignity that I believe bolstered him. How did you prepare? I did quite a lot of work on the accent (I’m not originally from Scotland sadly), and read up on the history of the period that the show is set. How would you describe Isaiah? I would describe Isaiah as a someone who follows his heart, but doesn’t always think first with his head….
Seems to be a “I’m an Outlander character characteristic”. One of the scenes I cheered on your performance was when Isaiah, in essence told Jamie and Roger off. Was it tricky to play that scene when you have only spent brief moments together on screen with Alicia? It really wasn’t hard at all. Anna Burnett who plays Alicia was a joy to work with and we had a lot of fun shooting episode 4.
What were your favourite scenes to shoot? I loved all of the scenes I shot on the show. I guess highlights were, the scene you describe above with Jamie, Roger and Claire, and the night scene where Isaiah pulled a gun on Jamie. I learnt so much performing scenes with all of those actors, and Isaiah’s journey in those scenes was particularly fun to play.
They were equally enjoyable to watch. It’s always fun to see other characters to get one up on the shows lead characters. Were there any other experiences that you felt you learned something new on set? Horse riding was a big one. I hadn’t done that before so was a little nervous, but the brilliant horse team (including Olly, Matt and Leah) up in Scotland trained me up, and I was riding in no time.
When in good hands we are capable of great things! It is pretty sweet when we can learn not only a new skill but an recreational activity while we are getting paid.
What are 3 things you do to relax? Swimming, watching movies and, as of recently in lockdown, playing a lot of chess.
Given your character Isaiah penchant for love and that spring is in the air, would you consider yourself the romantic type? I absolutely am – put me in front of the movies ‘Before Sunrise’ or ‘Before Sunset’ and I’m a total mess.
What would you say the most romantic thing you have done or had done for you was?Now I’m not sure I’ve answered the previous question right, as I can’t think of many sweeping romantic gestures I’ve done. Perhaps I need to plan a few more surprises….
We could all probably do with a few more of those. I would say Isaiah played his cards right when it came to Alicia.
Speaking of Alicia Brown…Anna Burnett had the very tough job of bringing this young lady to life in such a short amount of time. It was her job to first, ingratiate her self to viewers so we would connect to her plight without judging her. As many know, Outlander fans are tough nuts to crack in that respect. Anna then had the task of making us root for Alicia. It was up to her to have us wanting Alicia to escape the misogynist patriarchal Brownsville thumb she was held byand run away with Isaiah. A man who we find out is for all intents and purposes, a bigamist.
Anna, take a bow. Well played.
Anna grew up London and like many young actors her love of the arts started in school. It was the drama department that sparked her interest. She began taking drama classes on the weekends and from there, the auditions came along. The rest is ‘herstory’.
Your first job listed on IMDB is the series Jonathan Creek , the next year you went on to star in The Falling, which is such a fantastic film. Two obviously distinct experiences for you, can you share what those were like?They were both brilliant, but very different. I filmed Jonathan Creek over a few days, but for The Falling a group of us all lived in a house together in the countryside for 4 weeks. The director Carol Morley is an incredible filmmaker, and the cast and crew on The Falling were almost all female, which was hugely inspiring for all of us as young actresses. We would film Sunday to Thursday, and on Fridays I would be back at school trying desperately to catch up with my schoolwork! It was my first experience of spending a long period of time on one job, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
You have worked with what I would guess are some inspiring actors (Maxine Peake, Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas – to name a few), have you taken advice or picked up something you feel has made you better at your craft?I think with every job I’ve done I’ve learnt something new. Just being able to watch these actors do their work has taught me a lot, and there’s so much I’ve picked up from working with such brilliant people. Being kind and keeping a good sense of humour definitely goes a long way, and that’s something that the cast of Outlander does so well!
Since you brought it up *wink*, let’s turn to your Outlander experience. What was that process was like for you? I was really lucky to meet both Suzanne Smith, the casting director, and Jamie Payne, the director, during the audition process for Outlander. Alicia is a character that really wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t hold back, so it was liberating to really throw myself into Alicia’s emotional side as well as her complete determination during the audition. That’s what I loved about playing her too, the fact that she’s so open and wild, completely guided by her heart. It was great to read the source material alongside the script to really build a picture for myself of who the Browns were and what Alicia’s place was in their world.
I must say, for the little time Alicia is given, you were able to portray her deep sadness convincingly. You gave Jon (Isaiah) the perfect amount of dedication to not make it overblown or dramatic. I was impressed by your ability to convey your emotions with limited dialogue. Is there a secret to this or are you just that good? *smile*Thank you! I think the secret is working with great actors! With such an intense storyline, it was amazing to work with actors who are so generous and skilled. It always felt like we were working together as a team, and the friendly atmosphere on set really put everyone at ease. I think that made our jobs ten times easier.
Speaking of that, many of the cast on Outlander speak about how easy going everyone is, how it feels like a family on set.That’s completely true! I always think that the lead actors on any project really set the tone for everyone on set, and Caitriona and Sam were constantly upbeat and welcoming to everyone throughout. All of the cast and crew were so easy to work with and I was definitely sad to say goodbye when my filming time was up!
You had intense scenes with Caitriona Balfe, which to your credit, you shone in. I cannot imagine what that would be like, a regular day on the job or super intimidating? Although it was such a big show to be a part of, Caitriona made me feel so welcome and at ease on set. She’s such a fantastic actor, I was really lucky to work alongside her and loved doing our scenes together.
Do you have a most memorable moment from your time on set? I think, apart from all the fun we had, one moment that sticks in my mind was from my last day on set. It was a sunny day (which was rare during filming!!) and we were shooting the scene towards the end of the episode where Alicia and Isaiah escape. All Jon (Isaiah) and I did all morning was sit on this beautiful horse in the sunshine – lush!
We are still living through this pandemic life. I am going to wrap up by asking some fun and fluffy questions that might ignite fans into reading or watching something new.
What was the last book you read?The last book I read is called ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ by Candice Brathwaite. It’s a non-fiction book about being a Black mother in Britain and it was so thought-provoking and moving, I would highly recommend it to everyone.Sounds like a must read. This goes on my reading line-up, for sure.
Many of us have been doing a lot of binge watching. What was the last show that trapped you?The last show I binge watched was a brilliant Australian show called Upright. It’s only short, and once you settle into it, it really takes you along and makes you care so much for the characters.
Tick! Added to my watchlist. Now, what are three shows you think everyone needs to put on their watchlist? And 3 shows everyone has to watch are Succession, Normal People and Euphoria!
AGREED! It’s nice to have the same taste as a young and talented woman. Makes me feel good about myself.
As Outlander fans, we should all continue to thank Suzanne Smith for always casting humans that dive into their roles with all that they are. They take the time to breathe life into them, give them a depth we can be grateful for. Without a strong, vibrant supporting cast building these stories Outlander’s main cast would be stretched too thin.
I want to thank both Jon and Anna for taking time out of their busy lives to join #TheLOVELANDERProject and make our days a little brighter. This fandom is a lucky bunch.We have so many things to keep our thirst quenched this Droughtlander, friends!
Many Outlander fans were introduced to Barry Waldo as the proud (yes, handsome) husband of Jon Gary Steele,(referred to as Gary) brilliant production designer of Outlander from seasons 1-5 (amongst many other productions). Barry is an accomplished producer and writer in his own right. Once I found him on social media, I was immediately attracted to his wit, compassion and talent.
Yes, he shared BTS photos and rarely seen JGS sightings in the wild but it was Barry himself and his warmth that kept me and others engaged.
I was quite beside myself that Barry was so receptive to The LOVELANDER Project. I am grateful people can’t see me doing the happy little dance wiggle when people reply positively to my queries. The fact that we he was also massively open and honest with all I asked was a thrill. It is time to grab a lil somethin’ somethin’ and settle in for the Barry -n- Sherry show.
Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The LOVELANDER Project.Your twitterand IG presence developed your own fan base in the Outlander world, did you expect that to happen😊?What a very nice thing to say—no, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s quite hilarious actually. Gary and Terry(Dresbach – Outlander’s former Costume Designer) gave me endless grief for being on social media years before Outlander began— “it’s an invasion of privacy” and “whatever you do, don’t post that photo!” (self-admittedly, I’m a bit of a shutterbug). It’s funny how it all evolved, and although neither of them would admit it, I think they eventually enjoyed it… eventually 😉 It was only in the last year Gary stopped calling it “Tweeter!”
I’ve always been curious about the world, discovering what people are up to, taking travels of the mind, learning about other cultures and traditions. Everything shifted a bit when we moved to Scotland. When you work in entertainment and live in Los Angeles, you feel like you’re in the heart of it all—you hear the gossip, you hear about projects being pitched about town and then one day, boom, you’re in faraway Scotland looking at gorgeous lochs and mountains, trying to figure out exactly what haggis is, trying to hide your LA wardrobe under a foreign object called a raincoat, and concentrating really hard to translate Scottish into English. At the same time, everyone back in the States was asking where we had disappeared to, so I figured why not share it?
I am sure your friends back home were happy you did, I know all of your new friend’s aka, me, were!You grew up in Arkansas, can you tell me a little about your childhood? Wow! This is better than therapy! How much time do you have?Others have accused me of deep diving into their brains before. so you aren’t far off base. I have allll day.
It’s a fish out of water story, really. It’s the complete opposite of my twenty years in Los Angeles. I grew up in the country, riding bikes then motorcycles on dirt roads, camping, hunting and fishing… I must have built a fort in the woods every single week. We ate Mom’s fried chicken and Dad hosted the neighborhood fish fry with hushpuppies and fried okra every weekend. Friday night high school football games, getting bullied in school, ‘goin’ Jeepin’—I mean it’s almost a cliché, right? My first real job was at Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck E. Cheese) during high school and afterwards I went to The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the exact same college that Gary attended although we never met or knew each other. To this day, I’m still a massive country music fan. I am forever grateful for the freedom of a small town, southern childhood, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I always knew, from the youngest age, I wanted to see more of the world.
It is very apparent that you are a storyteller and a damn good one. What do you think sparked that light in you?When you grow up in a small town in the southern US, it’s just built into you. My parents were big on the philosophy children are to be seen but not heard. If we wanted to hang out with the adults—which we always did— you had to be quiet. My dad is the best storyteller I know. Even when he re-tells a story, there is always a new twist, a detail he simply omitted from the first time. I would listen to all the stories and take it all in. Then we would get bored and go play. The mindset of kids is amazing! We were fearless in designing our own plays, dance routines and poems and couldn’t wait to perform them. How could anyone not love our creations! I think the first story I ever wrote was about a hot dog with a cape that wanted to save the world. As a maturing adult, I forgot that lesson—to be fearless. Things happen, life happens, and I had to focus on responsible things. It never occurred to me that people could make a living telling stories. It was only when I started working at Disney that I realized you could, well not anyone, but if you worked in a certain division, you could. Years later, I went to work for Mattel where there were fewer rules, and I had more freedom. One day a peer who oversaw research walked into my office, showed be a really rough sketch of monster dolls and asked me if I thought I could see, then create, a story from it. That became a world called Monster High. Once the book was released and the very first Nickelodeon special (New Ghoul at School) was aired, I wanted to do more and I haven’t been able to quit doing it since.
I’m not sure if you know but Diana Gabaldon, also had a turn at writing comics for Disney in the 70’s, so there is a connection that you and she share. I am an Eeyore lover, he and I connected in Disneyland 13 years ago 😉. I hear that you and Winnie the Pooh have a special relationship, can you share?Diana has my complete sympathy! Disney is a tough customer when it comes to working with outside creators. I really enjoyed my time there. Yes, I am unapologetically a major Winnie-the-Pooh fan. It was one of the brand portfolios I managed across the globe during my time there. I learned so much from studying A.A. Milne’s journey. I love the entire ensemble of characters—and used to travel and give presentations with my very own Happy Ears Eeyore and Tumble Time Tigger; I championed The Heffalump Movie—it was so exciting to bring the franchise back to the big screen. I own a Happy Ears Eeyore…LOVE him. I might love all 50 of my Eeyore’s.Oh to see one of those presentations!
Years later, it was quite a twist of fate to be back on the lot as a creator pitchingStar Darlings, a world that was created with my partners Shana and Ahmet Zappa. Disney eventually acquired it from us. I still love those characters and that world!
It was an incredible story culture, and I can’t say enough about the talented artist and illustrators that I’ve worked with there over the years. I think anyone who has worked for Disney would tell you not to over glamorize it; it is still hard work and has typical corporate politics—don’t expect blue birds to bring you lunch.
Your career was certainly on an uptick when your spouse had this job opportunity that happened to be in Scotland. As a former military spouse, I know that “Let’s do this and support them feeling.” What was like for you?Wow, this really is the best therapy session EVER! And you nailed the feeling which is hard to really understand unless you’ve been through it which you have. Fair to say, I underestimated it.
When Gary, Terry and Ron started working on the pitch lookbook for Outlander, I was working for Coca-Cola on a celebrity partnership and then became the Chief Marketing Officer for will.i.am’s (Black Eyed Peas) company. At first, we didn’t think too much about it—Terry and Gary had a history of crazy shenanigans that, well, over time, I had learned not to ask. One day, he said he was going out to T’s to start thinking about a conceptual lookbook for a possible new series, then poof! Next thing I know, he and Ron were in Scotland doing location scouts!
What most fans don’t realize is how developing a series is like walking on a frozen lake—at any minute it could crack and fall through, the pilot could get green lit or cancelled, or it could be one [season] and done.
So at first we didn’t overthink it—and chalked it up to a great adventure for Gary. He packed a suitcase and went off to Scotland while I continued to work and take care of things at home in Los Angeles. Because will.i.am spends a lot of time in the UK (he is one of the original judges on The Voice UK), I was able to visit the UK frequently. At some point, about midyear 2016, Sony greenlit two additional seasons at once (S3 and S4). At that point, I had been commuting from Los Angeles to Scotland for several years, and I had taken eleven international flights in twelve months so it just wasn’t good for my health—you’re always jet lagged, the weather was often terrible, flights delayed and so on. Don’t forget, the first season was a whopping 16 episodes—a massive number and very unusual‑ so Gary couldn’t really come home or take any time off so it was all up to me to get to him. Not to mention his intense workload, hours and pressure to get that first season perfect; it was all-consuming so we were barely able to fight, er, I mean talk, on the phone once a day 😉 When I would see him, I would be so jet lagged and he would be so exhausted, we would just sleep through the weekend and then I’d have to leave again. It took a heavy toll on us and we had to make a decision: his job or mine. I think I’m oversharing – am I oversharing now? Sorry. Perhaps I should just say “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” *laughs*
These things are never easy...what tipped you toward Scotland?It wasn’t a black or white decision—financially it made sense for us to do one thing, emotionally his passion for the project and his recognition with the Emmy nomination pointed a different direction. We were loving our time and friends in Scotland, and ultimately decided on adventure over practical matters. Now, all I had to do was reinvent myself.
That is something the ‘spouse that goes’ has to do, reorganize and resettle. It’s tough. marriage is hard work!
Which by the way, congratulations on celebrating 21 years together! The photos of you and JGS really are too much handsome in one place it’s pretty distracting.That is incredibly nice of you to say to two country boys from Arkansas so I will simply say “thank you” and please don’t look too close at those photos.
I’ve zoomed in, I have no idea what you are talking about. Now, you are handsome in 10X zoom but o.k. *smile*
As someone who has been with her partner a long time too, I am curiouswhat you believe are the most important qualities in a partner? This is such an individual thing, but there is one universal truth: saying “I’m sorry” (whether I am or not, and many times I am NOT, but yes, I am very, very sorry!) If you can’t ever admit you’re wrong, or very importantly for us, when you are supposed to be wrong – hint: I am always wrong after his 16 hour workday arm wrestling for every color or construction detail for a set, and he is always wrong after my fifteen hours and two layovers of flying. If you ever hear someone scream “I AM SORRY!” really, really loud at the airport or train station, it’s just us.
That visual, is hilarious.Thank you for sharing it.
Still, you are your husband’s biggest fan, it is not hard to see that the feeling is mutual, of course.I’m going to get nosey and ask how you met.
We met in Los Angeles through a mutual friend. It went something like this –Producer/Writer Friend: “Seen any movies lately?”Me: Yes, I just saw this really disturbing film called American History X *shiver*”Producer/Writer Friend: *screaming across the yard* GARY! Get over here! He just saw your movie!” Gary was the art director on the movie. I was working for Procter & Gamble and thought all Hollywood jobs were fluff!
See? You can teach an old dog new tricks!
I love it! And you were not so old then, not that you are old now…o.k., changing the subject…
I have learned not to ask for one favourite so if you could give me your top 5 Outlander sets -what would they be, and why?Maybe it’s because we’ve been apart for 6 weeks, or that I’m on an airplane back to the UK right now to rejoin him, but this question has me sobbing (sorry lady sitting next to me‑I’m really going to be OK; thankfully crying is not a symptom of COVID or people would be parachuting out the windows).
You know what? I am his biggest fan—yes as a professional designer but even more so as a human being.
OK! OK! Enough with all that! I’m not crying, you’re crying! On with the show: My Top 5 Outlander sets—wait, only five? I know! I’m horrible!
The Star Chamber:not only is it amazing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen JGS so excited as when he was building it. God help the man that got in the way of JGS and his Star Chamber!
The Great Hall: No one ever talks about this set but it was magical. The Great Hall was the set playing on one of my first few trips to Scotland. I was allowed to hide up in the rafters, out of the camera’s sight. John Dahl was directing the scene with Jamie agreeing to take the punishment for Laoghaire. The set was full of extras (don’t get me started about Terry and the costume team’s brilliant work. The sheer volume of it! I just wanted to touch everyone—the details were amazing, the volume of work unfathomable). I remember watching the crew lower and then light every candle on all those chandeliers and sconces (those were 100% real candles y’all). It took over 30 minutes to light them all, then raise them on their chains back to ceiling level. I was so scared that if I moved, I would get in trouble so I couldn’t wait for the Director to yell “cut” so I could frantically try to wave the smoke away, and cough!Picturing you doing this makes me giggle and look for you struggling to breathe in the background scenes. Which I know I could never find because this production isn’t going to let that happen but it’s still fun to imagine.
Claire’s Kitchen in the Boston Apartment: The appliances, the colors, the checkered floors—all the details instantly made me what to grab an ice cream soda, play Elvis on the Jukebox, watch I Love Lucy and smoke a cigarette like I didn’t know it caused cancer. It’s times like this when the writer in you just flies out, Barry!
The Parisian Apartment—I would never leave…ever. Comprenez vous? Totalement! Idem.
Master Raymond’s Apothecary — He had me at “hanging alligator.” Geillis’ attic was a close runner up.
Your work is so filled with cheeky humour, bright characters, and uplifting messages. This is also a large part of your presence on social media. It is a gift you bring to the world. How important is that to you? Life can be hard! On any given day, you can feel a moment of sadness or a tough time that someone in our social media fanmily is going through. I try to remember that lesson from childhood – listen before you talk. I read as many comments and DM’s as possible. Some days, I just want to brighten someone’s day. It means so much when someone actually messages me and says – your post made me smile or got me through a rough day. I try to keep that perspective—most of the time.
It is something more of us could practice. I love your way with words. Which is fantastic segue to mention your book, Anna and the Apocalypse, a great YA read, the concept was born on a train in the UK, is that something you can explain to me? When I first moved to the UK, I still had some work to finish that required me to live in London. I would commute every weekend to Glasgow via train. On one of those crowded train rides, I struck up a conversation with a young Scottish Producer and we chatted for the entire five hours. Toward the end, he mentioned he was producing an independent movie in Glasgow and asked if I would like to come by and meet some of the team. When I asked what it was about, he replied “it’s a high school zombie musical.” I thought this sounds like the worst idea I’d ever heard. He gave me his info and said please come by on Monday. I honestly thought I would never go, but on Monday, I input the address in google maps and, to my shock, their offices were literally twelve doors down from our flat. When I walked in, I saw Dave Frew, one of the post production editors on Outlander. It was an instant short-handed way to verify we were both legit; it reminded me of the benefits and familiarity of being in a smaller city. Then I met more of the team, listened to the rough tracks of the brilliant songs and just sort of fell in love with it, the team and their sincere passion for making the best story possible. It was an earnestness that you don’t see in the Hollywood community—the sheer joy absent all the politics—it was the way content creators were intended to create. Luckily, they invited me to join in.
Months later, we were on set shooting Hollywood Ending, a signature musical number for the film, and I kept thinking the song lyrics are absolutely brilliant story telling. I fell completely in love with the young cast and their characters—a testament to not only the talent but the creator, writers, producers and director. It was the kind of production that would have never happened in the US. It reminded me of being fearless. It was also the complete antithesis of Outlander. If Outlander was Champagne, Anna was that mysterious local homebrew created by the pub owner, and always on special for 99p—absolutely brilliant in its own right. I kept thinking how else can we tell this fun story? What other mediums can we tap into and share its current generational insights? Recall Monster High was introduced to the public by a YA book so I seem to be a magnet for this genre.
I’m attracted to the things that bring me to a place I want to go back to, but to relive them my way. I’m not sure if that is the same for you but you really have that genre, nailed. Any hints on the next book? *innocent eye flutters*Sure – there are four projects I’m juggling at the moment. A terrible way to do it but the imagination wants to go where the imagination wants to go! The first is an adult fiction novel with a rather large ensemble group of characters – not the easiest one to take on when you’re still learning. I’m just about to finish the development edits on it.
The second project is a Children’s Picture Book series. It’s about a young bear that beats to his own drum and wants to discover friendly faces in faraway places—I am completely obsessed with it. It is, by far, my most challenging project.
Then there are two more YA fiction books. The first is still in early draft stage. It is about a protagonist with Asperger Syndrome that discovers an alien species. The second one is a female-empowerment fantasy story along the lines of Monster High and Star Darlings. I am co-writing it with a good friend who is a talented British author.
These all sound intriguing and extremely exciting! I know everyone is going to be looking forward to these coming together. You are most assuredly doing some multitasking. Where do you find is the best place for you to write? What do you find are ideal surroundings for you? Anywhere where Gary is not!
Oh, I’m totally kidding… kind of *wink* I am more productive in the UK than the US, perhaps that is due to having more rainy days in the UK, fewer fires, earthquakes and hurricanes to dodge?
Honestly, I’m constantly on the move so it’s just about making it work. Those five-hour train rides between London and Glasgow were great for writing unless (1) there was a football match and the train was filled with inebriated kilts, or (2) you sit next to a pre-schooler who needs help with her Princess sticker book. Then they are great in an entirely different way. If you don’t make my heart melt with your pictures online, you go and make my heart melt with comments like that.
I love writing in the British Library when it’s not overly crowded. There’s something about sitting in the shadows of towers of books that makes me want to be a better writer. I like to write for a few hours, then relocate and write some more.
You are vocal about the world’s (and your own country’s) current state of affairs. Even when there is clap back that people believe celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves. I personally don’t think our professions in any way dictate our right to an opinion. I am however curious, how this affects you or those you know when you are faced with remarks like this.When you create stories, you think about who are the good women, and who are the bad guys all day long 😉 So is it really any surprise that, in the real world, the people we talk the most about are those that fit into those classifications? Do you really want to read posts about the most average person that did the most average thing?
Celebrities have a whole different thing with which to deal—people want to believe they are actually their characters in real life. When you live in California, you don’t really pay attention to the celebrity thing—they are friends, family, friends of friends and people entitled to opinions just like us. They put their underwear on one leg at a time, they have feelings, they are not the characters you see on screen. I’m not one so you’d have to ask them—but IMO that pressure is a privilege and I think most of the talent I know personally accept it and handle it with great respect. They are human after all.
That same expectation has trickled over into social media. People want to think you are only what you post, and in many ways that’s understandable because it is more like a reality show. It is a privilege to have people follow you— even if there are only five of them and one is my mother, another is Gary and three others are someone’s pets.
Seriously, the world is a big, beautiful diverse place! That’s what I love about it! We are all not the same. So I have to expect, and respect, that my followers are going to be equally diverse. Social media is an amazing place to learn about new things. Gary must send me ten DM’s a day with dreamy cabins, sculptures and fantastic art. As a kid in rural Arkansas, I yearned to know so much more about the bigger, broader world beyond my small town. I see it was a wonderful gift to be able to communicate with so many people around the world with a few simple clicks. Amazing, right? And what is also amazing is CHOICE. With a simple click, we all get to choose to follow or unfollow someone. That is a big truth, we do have the choice and Barry, you happen to be selling yourself short. You are pretty big deal in your own right. Though I sense that isn’t something you take seriously, which is also endearing. What do think is important when interacting with people in the social media age?Now let’s talk about respect. It is the linchpin of any relationship, be it social media or in person. If we can agree to disagree respectfully, we can still be friends. Deal? We don’t have to agree on everything to respect each other, even this poor country boy from rural Arkansas knows that! Even if I didn’t like a friend of my parents, a teacher or the neighbor next door, we still called them Ma’am, Sir, Mr. or Mrs. and we said please and thank you… it’s called respect and hiding behind a social media account doesn’t give you permission to throw it out the door, even if you happen to get elected as the leader of the free world. Which brings me to the ‘current state of affairs’ as you so gracefully called it.
Anyone who ever went to grade school knows a bully when they see one. It’s why the school or office bully in one of the most effective characters and archetypes to include in any movie, series or book. We know them, we see them clearly and we oppose them. Period. Some people are more like the bully’s parent(s)—they are the only ones that seem unaware that the bully is a bully; they are the only ones that chose to not believe the facts that are available to them; they are the ones to explain away terrible acts, give truth to lies and back their bully all the way until that bully raises bullies of his own. I prefer redeemable bullies, ones that eventually learn then evolve and rise to a better humanity. I have little time for the one’s that stay the course their whole lives and then impose it on others.
I like to share my POV, particularly after a pot of good coffee in the morning but I try not to tell other people what to do or what to think. I want people to vote. I don’t need anyone telling me who to vote for, and I don’t expect to tell others. Sharing information is important. Educated voters are SO important. I’ve voted conservative. I’ve voted liberal. When you boil it all down, people vote on the most important issues to them. I vote on the issues that are most important to me. You know who is a good person. You know who is a bad person. Now go vote and own your legacy. But always be open to evolving.
Let’s talk about something lighter now. The joy of…COOKING! (You aren’t the only cheeky one 😉) You and your husband seem to have not only a loving relationship but one that might be just a little competitive, in the kitchen. Has that always been a thing?Gary can cook?
It’s very polite of you to ask about our weight gain in such a nice manner.
Yep, it’s always been a thing. It is one of the main things I missed the most when we were apart in the first few seasons of Outlander. I would bake an entire batch of cookies and then just stare at them wondering how they use to disappear so much faster before he left. Then I would end up eating them all by myself. When I would arrive in Glasgow, he would slip in a comment like “oh, have you been baking cookies?” when what he wanted to tell me it was time to diet. “Oh, have you been drinking with the [fill in cast or crew name here] again?” I would reply. Then we would go home and see who could make the best bread! That’s where our hashtag#KitchenMesswithGaryandBarry started. We needed help judging who was better at what, and to showcase our holiday experiments and competitions and pretty soon everyone joined in.
What would you say your favourite dishes are to cook? I think it’s fair to say we love all food equally. Favorite recipes? Yes, all recipes that involve butter.
Here is a tricky one…who does it better?Gary is a better cook. I am a better baker. He likes to experiment with a smidge of this and “oh, what about some of that.” I like precision. Someone else made the recipe fifty times before publishing it and those measurements are in the recipe for a reason!
I have to admit defeat when his experiments turn out great, although some of the credit I have to give to Terry who told him to do it. I get to claim victory when he tries to experiment with baking as most bakers know, it often goes awry.
It all kind of went to hell when we started living in Europe since we soon exhausted of googling every measurement conversion and just decided to wing it together. I mean come on! What proper butter company does not put those little measurement markers on the wrapper! European butter companies, that’s who!
Oh, I could go on with your kitchen adventures all day but I want to talk about your time in Scotland. You went on many adventures, can you share some of the things that you loved the most about the UK?The great thing about being a newbie was our blissful ignorance to the local geographical politics. But now that I am wiser, I must caution everyone not to mix Scotland with the UK in the same sentence lol. It turns out that the Kingdom is about as “united” as the States these days. *Duly noted- all my friends across the pond please accept my apologies and poutine*
We were typical tourist at first—we preferred scenic Edinburgh, we loved the Fringe Festival and pretty much any castle regardless of its condition. Glasgow, where we lived, took a little longer to figure out, and it is true: the people make Glasgow… we love our Weegies! But the north country! I mean wow! The drive to Skye is so beautiful, the Loch’s so majestic, the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr! I mean if you have to be cold and wet, you better be looking at something spectacular! We did a Burn’s Night on the Isle of Lewis, hung out with native Islanders, and learned how to avoid stepping in sheep poop. Of course, we had to stop every few miles so I could talk to the Highland Coos. But most of all, when I think about all our years in Scotland, I think of being with our mini-melting pot of the most lovely and crazy friends—Irish, American, Scottish, Australian, English, South African—next to a fire, laughing, dancing and drinking.
It sounds like a remarkable time. All good things do come to an end, as we know. What are you looking forward to the most in the next chapter of your adventures?I can’t wait until we can travel again. I can’t wait until some of the most interesting places in the world are safe to visit—we have to get to Egypt.
I can’t wait to get these stories published; hearing from you all what you think about the books, talking about the things that aren’t on the page, doing some virtual book clubs while drinking a great vintage. It’s much harder, and much more work than I ever imagined and the idea that they might not make it out into the world, well, I just refuse to except that will happen so let’s leave it there!
I can’t wait to see Jon Gary Steele accept his Emmy and Oscar. That will be a very good day indeed. We are all with you on THAT one!
Going back to your stories, who would you say are your biggest influences when it came to inspiring you as a writer? Hands down, Jon Gary Steele. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the person you least expect it from, can give you the biggest gift of all. I had a long track record of always taking the safest route, the one that provided the most security, the most peer recognition, the one that I thought other people expected me to take. Gary is the absolutely best at manifesting what he wants and going after it. When he graduated from college, he packed his car and drove to LA to pursue his dream to design. When I graduated from college, I passed the CPA exam, took the best paying job and planned my eventual MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School. No regrets but along the way and later in life, I needed to unlearn in order to learn anew. I needed to give myself permission to be creative. I needed to not be afraid to succeed or, very importantly, fail.
Remember your earlier question about what it was like to give up my career to move to Scotland? Well that was an important moment. Gary knew this desire was brewing and renewing inside of me so when he sensed my hesitation about giving up a more traditional career path, he said, “It’ll be an adventure. You can finally write and develop, and I get to design a historical period drama. We both get to chase our dreams!” Wait… did I say he was the master of manifesting? I probably should have said master of negotiating.
Either way, it’s worked out beautifully for both of you. When we find the partner we want and they turn out to be the partner we needed too, it is a beautiful thing.
And now, more than ever I believe we need inspiration, who inspires you?
1. Brilliant Artist Fearless and pure of talent, it’s always inspiring to see how they transform their thoughts into a physical manifestation of something that we can all touch and see. Some favorite examples: Javier Marin, an amazing Mexican sculptor; Eugenio Zanetti, a brilliant Argentine painter; Neil Gaiman, a fantastic English storyteller and wordsmith.
2. Teachers! They opened my eyes to literature, art, stories, cultures, science, humanities and so much more from the very first days of preschool. I am in awe of the effort and knowledge they provide every single day. They taught this small-town boy how to travel in his mind, and pushed me to dream beyond my limited reality realm.
3. Dreamers The best thing about social media? Discovering other dreamers! It doesn’t matter if you have two followers or two million. A Geocaching Adventurer, a golden-paper-pastel-wielding-portraits sketch artist, an Alpaca wool scarf-maker, a willow sculptor, a cross-stitching master or a fellow tennis fanatic that likes to do a little dance… just to name a few within the Outlander community. Gary and I talk about this often—we often wonder if they know how much they inspire us.
I don’t think many of us realize how we affect others; we are too busy thinking of how others affect us. It only makes sense that our lives touch others in the same ways. Mutual lovefest aside *smile* reading is obviously a passion for most writers and storytellers. What was the last book you read and loved?I’m currently deep in The Sandman novels. Before that, I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book which I really loved.
What would you say your top 5 reads of all time were?I’m exempting Outlander books as everyone here already is aware of Diana’s brilliance. I also have to exempt the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and Harry Potter —they are series that I would never dare just picking one.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my absolute favourite growing up and as I was reading about In the Night Kitchen…I know I have read that, but I was very little. Wow…great list.
I wonder, with your affinity for the YA genre of writing, if you could go back and give advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Go! Don’t dream of going somewhere, don’t let money be the reason why you don’t see the world. Don’t have enough vacation time to travel abroad (hello my fellow Americans!)?—figure it out. Just go!
Be willing to unlearn to learn. You have to unlearn some preconceived notions, prejudices and stereotypes that somehow got embedded in your brain in the earliest of years, and be willing to replace them with real, personal true experiences. Meet as many people as you can and listen to their stories.
Companies are not people. Don’t expect them to be human. Respect the relationship, work hard but have outside interests that feed your soul. If you work for a company, expect to hear “our best asset is our people” over a hundred times but always remember you control your own destiny.
Not only good advice for a young Barry, but good advice for everyone. There has been such a shift in the world since Covid19, what things do you miss the most from our pre-covid days? I’m a hugger. I like to embrace people I care about. This elbow thing is for the birds! I miss hugging so much (and smiles)!
With that also comes a new normal, what have you embraced post covid?(as far as we have gotten, I mean)From what I see in the communities I’m in, I don’t think “post-covid” exists yet but I don’t see that mini-bottle of sanitizer in my pocket every going away for quite some time. It also causes you to have to think a bit deeper about your friends and family. I have to laugh when someone gets really vocal that we are all over-reacting to wearing a mask, and then a few months later wonder why no one is calling or seeing them. Hello! I love life! I like being healthy! You don’t value life as much as I do—no problem—I wish you all the best.
We appreciate that! And same. Now for some LOVELANDER Project fun– I am going to ask you to give yourself a 1) Tagline 2) Warning label 3) Theme Song.
Tagline: Breathe. Believe. Release. Receive. 👏🎬
Warning Label: Comes with opinions, free-of-charge.Perfect!
Now, Barry and I have come up for a little LOVELANDER Project treat for you!
I was so honoured to have Barry and Gary allow me/us into their home for a few questions. I know it took Barry some work to get JGS to participate as he isn’t one for the spotlight. I think what was obvious, Jon Gary Steele, loves his husband and will do anything for him, even if it is making that video for that thing he is doing.
I was right, you know. When I asked Barry to participate in the LOVELANDER Project, I did it because I related to him and thought he was such a delightful person. I didn’t tell him I had a crush on his husband (I even blogged about it in 2016) because that seemed weird. Still is but…I think he might be used to that bit of me now.
Do stay tuned to the ABOotlanders twitter feed for ‘Sherry queries with Barry ‘n Gary.! (Dare ya to say that 10 times fast!).
Josiah and Kezzie have long held a special place in my heart from the books. I find their arcs, heartwarming and entertaining. I, like many other fans anxiously waited for the announcement of their casting. On November 13 2019 , that happened. Paul Gorman would be playing both roles. This young man’s photo shone from the Outlander Starz page, eyes blue and piercing, jaw set and strong. I did what most Outlander fans do when a new name pops up, hit up the google machine to see what I could see. The face looking back from his InstaGram was very different, smiles so big and bright they literally hit his eyes to make them shine. That expression “Their smile lights up a room” – that’s Paul.
I admit, I felt like I hit a double jackpot when Paul happily accepted my invitation to take part in this project of mine meant to help fans through a very long Droughtlander.
Watchers were introduced to Josiah in the first episode of Season 5 but it was episode 3, called Free Will that we first saw Josiah and Keziah together on screen. The performance and the technology allowed fans to see the depth of this young man’s talent and how Outlander was dedicated to showing how important the twins will be to the ridge. It was wonderful to see production weren’t going to be constantly showing them separated.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Paul as I have. He shows us Outlander casting doesn’t only pick the best actor for the job, they also choose those who fit into the family they have created on set.
Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs, Paul. I’m grateful that agreed to allow me to interview you.Hi Sherry, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of The Lovelander Project!
I want to congratulate you on your graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a huge accomplishment…thank you for the well wishes, RCS has had a massive impact on me as an actor and as an individual which I’m extremely grateful for and I still can’t believe I graduated around this time last year!
Can you tell us a little about where you grew up?I was born in Rutherglen, which is just 15 minutes outside of Glasgow in the south of the city, and between there and Cambuslang is where I went to school. I was raised by my Mum and Dad, and grew up alongside my younger sister Gabrielle who is currently training to be a primary teacher.
Sounds idyllic. Where do you believe those first interests and sparks of performance were lit?When I was younger I was mainly into music and football, it wasn’t until the final years of high school that I began to have a keen interest in acting, I primarily attribute that to my school and the amazing teachers I had there. In my 5th year, they had decided to put on a school show, the first one the school had done. The show was “We Will Rock You” based on the music by Queen. My interest in performing had been sparked by the band and taking Drama as a class in the earlier years of school so I gave the audition a go and got the part of ‘Britney Spears’, the leader of a gang of music rebels who had taken the name from what he thought was a rock legend lost to time. The whole experience of doing the show, from rehearsals to working on the character to that feeling of being part of an ‘ensemble’, being part of a team, working from nothing to creating something palpable and visceral that had an effect on those that watched it – I loved every minute of it. And of course, a high school production based on the music of an 80’s rock band might not change the world, but it offered a sense of escapism and euphoria for everyone in that room for a brief while. After I turned 17 that summer I attended an open day at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and realised I could make a career of doing what I loved, so from then on I decided to give it a shot. I attended college for two years where my passion and adoration for acting matured, and at the end of those two years I was lucky enough to be accepted to the RCS. But I completely owe it to my teachers at high school who organised and supported that first show, without them I would never have discovered what I loved so I’m incredibly grateful.
I found a little something online called “Imperial City” with a pretty sweet grind, with you at the head…I enjoy some punk/grunge…even if my terminology has to be grandfathered in.Oh my God, I can’t believe you managed to track down the remnants of Imperial City, I commend your research efforts!
I was around 14 when we first started the band, back then we were called “Post Paradise” but by the time I was 16 we changed it to “Imperial City” due to the fact that there was an Australian band called “Paradise Post” and we didn’t want our many fans (our mates from school) to get confused, so we stole the name from an Elder Scrolls game. I honestly had the time of my life playing in that band, and the band I played in after “Atlas”. As “Imperial City” went, we were most definitely NOT the best punk band in Glasgow but we just had a ton fun: playing covers we wanted to play (mainly Green Day and Foo Fighters), we gigged at our local UC Youth Centre and got to play some iconic venues around Glasgow like the Barrowlands and The Garage and we always had our friends from school turning up to support us. It was honestly just such a good laugh and being in the band was such an informative and thrilling experience, it was a real confidence-building journey for me that directly fed into my turn to acting.
It goes to show you had that drive and confidence much earlier than many, it seems to have served you very well… In terms of music, it was my first year at high school. My Dad plays guitar and he got me into it, then there was a “guitar club” ran by Mr. Miller who was one of the music teachers and along with a growing love of punk and rock music it inspired us to get the band together. The band was so influential in giving me confidence and helping me come out of my shell, I was quite a shy and timid kid, and by being in it helped me find my voice and gave me a positive and creative outlet during my teenage years. The love and passion for acting came a bit later, although I did have an early acting stint at 4 years old when I played a sheep in the nursery nativity so maybe the acting seeds were sown then? No idea haha!
😂 Aww a sheep…I don’t think it suits anymore. Had you heard of Outlander prior to your auditioning for the role? I had definitely heard about Outlander before auditioning for the show! Outlander, both the books and the tv series, has had a massive and profound effect for Scotland in terms of: bringing people to Scotland’s shores for the first time, encouraging discussion all over the world of Scotland’s history and introducing our culture (past and present) to those who don’t know much about us, and so much more! It has also been positive for Scotland’s film and television industry, employing hundreds of crew members and creatives, and has helped many Scottish-born actors break into the industry, so to be asked to join the cast of the show was such a privilege and I’m very grateful for it being my first job.
It’s an impressive accomplishment, you should be very proud.What was the audition process like for you? Tell us all the deets.The auditions I had during Outlander were a part of an incredibly supportive process and were so informative and enlightening for me as a young actor and this is solely down to the devoted casting teams of Suzanne Smith and Simone Pereira Hind. It was my first audition just after my drama school showcase and it involved reading some extracts from Josiah and Kezzie’s story arc. Both casting directors encouraged to explore and play with the text, while also being extremely sensitive and supportive to the work we were doing and it was honestly just such a fun and creative experience. Later on in the recall stages I had to travel down to London and I remember turning up waaaay too early for the audition so I remember kicking about North London listening to David Bowie while running lines for both characters to pass the time, some onlookers were definitely intrigued by the raving, dancing Scotsman playing two characters in the middle of the street. The London recall involved a ‘chemistry test’ with Caitlin, who plays Lizzie, who was amazing to audition with. She was so encouraging and all my pre-audition nerves left me when we started the scene as she is so giving as an actor, completely selfless and full of spontaneity, an acting partner’s dream! We did three scenes in total, continually working on both Josiah and Kezzie with our director Stephen Woolfenden, and that was us done!
We love us some Caitlin around here too, it’s a not so secret wish of mine to have her take part in The LOVELANDER Project, not gonna lie. It quite thrills me to hear you were brought together to test. **And sidenote for all of you reading, of course I asked what scenes they they did in the audition, and of course Paul wouldn’t say.He isn’t going to give up ALL the goods in one interview – he is a sweetheart but no pushover.**
What was that experience of finding out you had earned the role…ummm…roles like? I had just finished a radio class at RCS, I remember checking my phone and seeing I had a couple of missed calls from my agent, so I walked up to the top floor of the building which is usually quite empty, gave him a ring back and that’s when he told me I got the job! I recall just feeling completely overwhelmed, yet so excited to start my first job and also just extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. I also remember feeling a slight hesitation about accepting as well due to the nature of playing Kezzie. At RCS, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and work alongside many deaf actors as the school offers a BA Performance course in BSL and English, and my hesitancy came from accepting the role of a deaf/hard of hearing character knowing the experiences of my friends struggling to find roles themselves. I met up and discussed with a couple of the actors on the course, along with lecturers who taught on it, about the nature of the role and if it was acceptable for me to agree to it. All that I spoke to gave incredibly insightful advice and noted how it was a unique situation due to the duality of playing both Kezzie and Josiah, who can hear. Because of this they supported taking on the role, and continued to offer help and advice while we were in pre-production and during filming. One of the pieces of advice was to have a deaf adviser on set and that’s how we got Bea involved!That says so much about your character as a human, Paul. Many, I imagine would be so over the moon with their first job, on this huge hit TV show, yet, here you are concerned about others and going to them to confer.Your generation is wise and compassionate, it’s heartwarming to hear.
When your casting announcement was made public by Starz, you had already begun filming, what was that “HERE COMES PAUL TO THE MASSES” experience like for you?It was bewildering! I don’t think anyone can get used to the fact that people you’ve never met in countries you’ve never been to suddenly know who you are! When the announcement came I was welcomed with such warmth and love from the Outlander community, it felt like joining a big family.
The rest of cast all have experience with the fandom so, they must be helpful with navigating those waters? The cast were extremely helpful in offering advice about this new world I was about to step into. Caitlin in particular was someone I’d constantly go to seeking guidance, as we both have had similar journeys in terms of Outlander being our first jobs. She had gone through this herself and knew exactly what to advise me on. She’s been incredible and I owe her a great deal.
Fan engagement can be tricky sometimes…Like I said before, I have been incredibly fortunate that the vast majority of the fans I’ve been contacted by have all been supportive and welcoming and seemed to have really enjoyed the work we made on the fifth season. I try not to engage too much on social media as you don’t want too many opinions trying to shape your performance, but the backing we’ve had in the past year really spurs us on as actors to give the most honest and sensitive performances possible.
I imagine there are ways that are easier to digest the opinions or critiques of fans, as well. Of course, as actors and artists we welcome criticism, as it helps us to improve our craft and the work that we do, but if viewers did take issue with how a storyline or scene was filmed or executed, the way to do so would to be constructive and in a helpful and supportive manner. This will usually be listened to and taken in positively by those that see it and will be welcomed as affirmative motivation for when they next go to work.
In my, oh so, humble opinion, my job as a fan is to support and enjoy the work you do. You are the professionals after all. There is so much preparation that goes into the whole production. As you mentioned earlier, Bea helped with yours. I’m interested to hear about the groundwork you laid out while forming both Josiah and Kezzie as individualsand how Bea and others helped you with that. Knowing that the show’s storylines are based heavily on the books I thought by reading Josiah and Kezzie’s storyline in “The Fiery Cross” and “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” would be a key source to draw on for the performances. What is so good about the Outlander books, as an actor, is that Diana Gabaldon writes such detailed background stories, so you don’t have to join the dots as much, all the information is there! When it came to the actual performances, I wanted to focus on the features that distinguish the two boys while also finding similarities between them, as they continue to get mistaken for each other by other characters.
Key areas to focus on were differences in attitudes, body language, speech and the skills that each of the boys possess. Josiah is a skilled hunter it was important to think about his posture, while his keenness to prove his worth to the Ridge would show in his focus and his conscientiousness towards certain tasks. As I’m most definitely no hunter myself, it was useful to research hunting methods of the time and tools that Josiah might use, they would then have a lasting effect on Josiah’s body language and were good focus points.
For Kezzie, I focused on his more compassionate nature (looking after the barn cats), so he would have a softer touch to his posture, a willingness to smile more and because he relies much more heavily on his other senses to survive he may run his eyes over objects and people more frequently than others would, in order to gain the information required to assess a situation. To work on Kezzie’s deafness we wanted to approach it with sensitivity and accuracy in order to give the most honest representation of the character as possible. To do so, I interviewed some of my friends on the BA Performance BSL & English course at RCS to hear their own personal accounts and how they might intertwine with Kezzie’s, along with contacting local deaf support groups within Glasgow. What was also important was to try and have someone on set who could advise and monitor my behaviour as Kezzie during filming, so we managed to get Bea Webster, who is an actor herself and graduated from the BSL course at RCS, to be our deaf advisor on set. Bea and Carol-Ann Crawford, our dialect coach on Outlander, worked with me to shape Kezzie’s speech and also helped develop “home signs”, (as ASL/BSL were in its infancy stages during the late 17th century), in order to help the boys communicate with each other. The Outlander team and our directors were again very supportive of this and were happy to assist in helping us be as authentic as possible.
I am always impressed at how Outlander seems to take those extra steps to assist the actors in their process. It something we can easily take for granted because it makes your performance so flawless.
We have fans that know the (book) story arc of Josiah and Keziah, yet there are TV viewers that willhave no idea.You mentioned you’ve read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” (the next book, and what Season 6 will eventually be based on) We all know not every storyline makes it into the show but on a scale of 1-10, how much would you like to see some version of the Josiah/Kezzie story arc in season 6? Oh most definitely a 9 or 10! Such a key aspect of the boys’ personalities is their relationship with Lizzie as it sparks a growth in their maturity as characters, she helps ground them in their new reality and also, they find a sense of peace at the conclusion of their storyline that almost feels needed after the years of servitude and pain they have lived through. So to see the boys storyline realized from the books would be an incredible way to add to their journeys.
I couldn’t agree more. I think it would be epic to see that come to life on screen, you and Caitlin would absolutely slay!I am one of those fans that see the way you and your costars interact on SM and BTS. You seem to have this true camaraderie. What do you attribute that to? I think it’s down to the fact that everyone on set, from crew to actors to directors, are just so incredibly sound and also committed to making everyone feel at home and welcome. It’s a perfect duality between everyone being dedicated to the work at hand and also completely up for a laugh and a joke, which is so important on those late-night shoots. Everyone is also totally respectful of each other’s work and will put in the time and effort to support each other which brought us closer as an ensemble.
Speaking of that ensemble, let’s play a game. Give me the first thing that comes to mind when I say the names of these castmates –
Caitlin O’Ryan (Lizzie) An absolute hero, I learn from her every day whether it be about acting or something new I never knew about the world. Also, she’s extremely and undeniably cool.
Lauren Lyle (Marsali) Incredibly supportive of everyone on set, so kind and approachable and has excellent banter.
César Domboy (Fergus) So charming and courteous and also effortlessly cool, even when we’ve wrapped after a long day of shooting he still looks like he’s stepped off a fashion show it’s incredible.
Kyle Rees (JQM)An utter legend, such a grounded and down-to-earth guy, so easy to talk to, always up for a laugh, and always brings a smile to everyone’s face. Never met a man so passionate about rugby.
John Bell (Young Ian)Such a compassionate and considerate actor and person, intelligent and witty, and made me and others feel welcome on set.
Richard Rankin (Roger) King of the wind-up and the odd banter, but also very considerate to those around him, he’s a cracking actor and I think his work this season particularly is exemplary and excellent.
Sophie Skelton (Brianna) Such a genial and thoughtful person, super bright and a pleasure to be around! Also incredibly sophisticated and cool like many in the cast.
SamHeughan (Jamie) A true leader, constantly boosts the morale of everyone on set and makes everyone feel valued and seen, he’s both selfless and giving as an actor. Also always up for a laugh and loves his rugby.
Caitriona Balfe (Claire)As intelligent, perceptive and intuitive as an actor as she is a person, it’s really inspiring to see her work and command a space with such presence, learnt a great deal from her.
Speaking of Caitriona, the last episode of season 5, Never My Love, was a very heavy episode. You were involved in what has gone down as an epic scene, the rescue of Claire, the killing of her captors and those who raped her. I am really interested in what it took to hold up those scenes…from your perspective. As an actor entering those scenes, what was vital was supporting our fellow cast members. Like our own characters main objectives in protecting Claire, it was our duty as ensemble members to support Caitriona and treating the setting and nature of the scenes with the sensitivity and care that is necessary. The energy, focus and emotional toll required for Caitriona to engage with the experiences that Claire goes through would be extensive and imposing, and it was our job as cast and crew to make the environment and atmosphere as comfortable and safe as possible in order to help Caitriona. And to see Caitriona at work, like that?I thought her performance throughout this season was stunning, but especially in those final episodes her attention to detail and vulnerability she showed as an actor was both heart-wrenching and exemplary, and to see the way she conducted herself professionally and considerately on set should be commended, it was inspiring to see as a young actor.
I appreciate you giving us such a wonderful visual. I am sure you have many but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you what your most memorable time on set was…thus far anyway.Honestly got so many! I think probably the Fiery Cross scene from the first episode, it was amazing seeing all the cast assembled for one scene, and there were so many people involved in the process of making and shooting it, I’d never seen anything like it in my life! Also, the fact it was a night shoot and we were going until 6 in the morning, there was a great sense of camaraderie and also delirium from the tiredness so we had a laugh and amazing time with the cast and crew.
It was enjoyable to watch as well! Outlander is your first TV role, but not your first role. You star in a short film called ‘Tooth’ that will be releasing, hopefully soon. You worked on that film while still in school.How do you feel you have grown as an actor from then until now? So much! Especially in that 3rd year at drama school, you mature and grow rapidly as an actor and a person as you are introduced to the industry. Outlander has been a great catalyst in helping me develop further as an actor. It has allowed me the opportunity to hone my screen acting skills, taught me the process (and my place in that process) of being a part of a television show and also bestowed on me stamina and durability to survive those long shoots (napping is key). It has introduced me to a world I had only known of on my screen, and to see how it works I now have a deeper and more insightful understanding of my industry.
All you have to do is look at this Instagram post. First, this smile – I mean…and then his words. The gratitude he expresses for those he works with and the credit he bestows upon them for assisting him with his brilliant performances is a credit to his character.
I don’t think it is possible to be “OUTlandered” but I have asked LOTS of Outlander stuff and of course there is so much more to you.I know the fans will love getting to know you more as I have, let’s talk about some other things that interest you…
Some actors describe themselves as introverts, finding acting helps bring out certain parts of their personality they want to tune into more. Would you fall into the introvert or extrovert corner?I’d probably describe myself as a bit of both or neither haha. I love to be around others but also equally enjoy spending time on my own.How do you think your personality influences your work? I think personality has a direct effect on your job, whatever your profession may be. In acting it can come across in the parts that you play but more than anything else it can show in the way you work. I strive to be a supportive and empathetic person and I hope that is apparent in my approach to acting through ensemble work and being there for others. It sounds so simple and basic to say, but being approachable, attentive and respectful are so key in this industry and encourages others to want to work with you, like any job! If I am these things I do not know, but I always strive to be.
With you starting your career with this mindset, I have this not so crazy feeling your career will be fulfilling. Who would you say has inspired you the most in your life? I have been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many people to look up to and continuously motivate me; my Mum, Dad and sister especially have been a constant inspiring force that have shaped me into the person I am today. The way they approach their work, the way they conduct their relationships with other people and how they always put others before themselves is a continuous motivator for how I lead my life, I’m incredibly grateful to have them.
I am sure they are proud of you.It is a blessing when you have a foundation of love and support.You have many of years ahead of you, what kind of projects would you like to work on in the future? Oh anything and everything! I’m at the stage in my career where I’d love to do a variety of different projects of an array of subject matters; hopefully those that are bold, thought-provoking and inspire change, but I’m grateful to just be working and doing what I love. I have a massive yearning to go back to theatre, especially as I haven’t been involved in a project on stage since late 2018, so to be part of a theatre production again would be incredible.
There are so many talented people in the industry, do you have any that are on a ‘dream’ list to work with?Honestly the list is so long, I have so many artists I admire. If I had to choose a director, it would be Danny Boyle(Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Yesterday, to name a few). He’s an exceptionally unique filmmaker who makes such visceral, layered and entertaining pieces and the narratives within his films always have such a great collection of characters, also the soundtracks as well for each of his movies are always stunning.
With your background in theatre and your love of all things creative, that would be a great fit. I would love to see you in something Danny Boyle creates.SinceI’ve shared the informations that you can sing, if you could do a biopic of a musician – who would you choose? Ahhh that is very kind of you to say but I assure you I’m no singer! However, if I were lucky enough to be in a biopic about a musician, I would love to be involved in a film about Frank Sinatra. He’s had such a prolific career but also steeped in controversy in terms of his political ties and his alleged dealings with organised crime, it would make for a great character study.
I was thinking something in the punk world and he goes and throws Frank Sinatra out for the win.
Like many Scottish actors, Paul has a versatile CV, 13 theatre productions under his belt, radio, film and of course, now television, he is becoming the total package.
If you follow Paul on twitter or Instagram, you will see quickly that he is passionate about social justice and also has a very creative eye.
It is easy to see you are drawn to things that move you. What would say your favourite creative outlet is?(Movies, theatre, music, TV)Oh, if I’m honest I don’t think I could pick a favourite! They all seem to affect me in different ways and can suit any mood or feeling I’m having. I can find myself listening to a song or album on repeat, diving into the world of a tv series or film or be in awe of some theatre magic I see on stage. I’m gonna be so boring and say all of them cause I can’t pick one.
That isn’t boring at all, I like when people are honest and don’t make up something. To be honest, I am the same way. I can’t pick favourites for the life of me, I have no idea why I put people on the spot like that. Note taken 😂 The world has changed a lot since filming stopped on Outlander, what have you been doing to keep it together? Any ideas to help me out…It has been a difficult time for everyone, and I’m not sure if I would have any new advice, but I would suggest focus on doing things that make you happy, and especially those things you always put off! I’ve been reading books I’ve always meant to read, learning songs on guitar I’ve always wanted to learn, simple and easy things that are manageable and doable but I’ve always put off as I’ve pushed other tasks to the forefront. I also recommend downloading the app “Duolingo”, it’s free and makes learning a language super-easy, I’m currently making my way up the Norwegian course and about to begin my Gaelic one (a must for any Outlander fan). Simple, easy and manageable goals to get you through the day and also encourages you to learn and try something new!
I know thatsome reading are going to be thinking “Paul is too good to be true!” So let’s give them a kick rocks moment *smile*. Give me three things you miss most from our pre-covid life.
The cinema. I would try and go as much as I can to see everything and anything. Though saying that, they have started opening up again and I managed to catch our Colonel Fraser be the bad-guy in ‘Bloodshot’, he was terrifyingly good (as always).
Greggs. It’s like a bakery chain in the UK, but has a special place in Scotland’s heart. They do everything from sausage rolls to baguettes to pancakes, literally everything. But again they’re starting to open up, so I’m able to pick-up my empire biscuits nae problem.
The pub. I’m not even a massive drinker, but the experience and ease of meeting up with a few mates in town and going to the pub and having a laugh was missed a lot during these last few months. Will never take it for granted again.
That is exactly it, isn’t it? Not taking things for granted, you are right. I am sure you could give me a list a mile long, I know I have one,but how about you give me three. Three things you have come to be more grateful for during this difficult time?
Family and Friends. They’ve kept me sane and smiling throughout this entire time, I’m extremely lucky to have them in my life.
My cats. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll mention how his cats basically make up his whole personality. Cats in general are just the funniest, most entertaining and beautiful creatures on the planet. Sorry dog lovers.
The NHS. I’ve fortunately been lucky not to need their services recently, but the work they have been doing this year, the years before and the years to come is exemplary and beyond inspiring. We are incredibly lucky to have them.
The cats answer may gain you a whole new following within this fandom and there may be many questions about them in the future. Consider yourself warned. *laugh*.
I know theatre has a special place in your heart and it has been hit particularly hard…The pandemic has brought a wide range of difficulties to the way we all live our lives, and industries around the world have been devastated by it. The entertainment industry has been severely affected by it, as it mainly survives on revenue generated by ticket sales for its performances and the way in which the virus spreads, is of course, halting theatres re-opening.
What can we do to support the theatre industry right now? While theatres remain shut, a way in which you can help them out is if you have a penny to spare, donate to the variety of funds that have been set up by theatres and local charity organisations supporting local arts funding. It is key to support the regional/local theatres across the country, as they have been the hardest hit throughout this pandemic. Understandably, if money is an issue, continue to engage with theatres online on social media and various campaigns they are running and advocating for. Knowing they have your support and your voice can go a long way in shifting governments attention to helping them out!
And one final thing, once theatres do begin opening up and you’re not shielding or suffering from any health issues, I implore you to get out there and see some theatre! Treat yourself to a musical you always fancied seeing, or a Shakespeare or a new up and coming playwright or theatre company! You’ll be giving yourself a well-deserved night-out and also committing to keeping this wonderful industry afloat and inspiring the artists of tomorrow.
Theatre companies are struggling all over the world and the arts are so important to our young people, all you have suggested is worth our attention.
I know I have been spending some time binging shows, Outlander just got the season 1-5 treatment, again. I don’t have a problem. What is the last show you binged? I’m currently watching and binging the show “I May Destroy You” on BBC iPlayer. It is incredible, bold, informative, unsettling yet still manages to be hilarious and superbly acted by all involved! I think it might be on HBO across the pond? Whatever you can get it on, get it watched!
Consider it watched! Now that we are going down the endorsement road, let’s play “Paultimate Recommendations”:
Puzzle is the only one I hadn’t heard of. I popped it on and it has a great mix of heady lyrics and grittiness. I’m not too old for that. I do find much of who we are is developed in our teens, I often think of the advice I would give my teenself if I could. If you could go back and give ‘teen Paul’ advice or words of encouragement, what would you say?Don’t hold back, try everything and anything. Even ABBA.
I’m just going to put that in my pocket and use it now, cuz I might be running out of time.
It is obvious you are intune with the inner workings of ‘Paul’, so I am going to ask you to give yourself a tagline, a warning label and a theme song.
Paul’s Theme Song is Feeder, imagine it playing whenever you see him.
Your kind heart and authenticity shine through in your words and in your performance as Josiah and Kezzie – I want you to know, even if my opinion might not matter in the big scheme of things – I believe you have found your calling – not only for you but those that are blessed enough to find themselves in your circle. Thank you for being exactly who you are. Thank you so so much and once again thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project, it was an absolute pleasure answering your thoughtful questions. It is such a lovely service you are doing for the fans and you and your work are greatly appreciated!!!
It is kind of fantastic when you can say “What you see…it what you get”. This has been my experience with each member of the cast I‘ve had the pleasure to interview or meet. It’s my opinion the casting department has a great deal to do with that. Like attracts like and all that smart stuff.
It was such a nice escape from my Droughtlander to get to know Paul and I hope you can say the time you spent with us today, did the same for you.From this video – I can say underneath the wig and gnarly looking collar, that’s Paul.Gracious, courteous, humble and kind.
I know you have a successful career ahead of you, as for Outlander fans, once you are loved by us, you are on the radar and will be supported by us, always.Thank you so much once again Sherry it was an absolute privilege!
If you are not familiar with the recap/review/ponderings of Outcandour – I suggest you check them out. Tracy has been taking us through the episodes since Season 3. She always identifies the core of what the episode is shouting at us and in her very unique way gives us the recap we wanted all along.
Tracy doesn’t give away much about herself in her writing except you quickly see she is highly intelligent, compassionate and damn, the woman is a deep thinker. It becomes obvious she researches what she speaks of, whether it is theological, Greek/Latin based or social issues. You can find these things in her writing and all are clearly composed for her readers.
I found ‘Outcandour’ in season 4 but didn’t nudge my way into Tracy’s life until the middle of the season. One, to support her by linking our blogs and two, to reach out. It is what we should do when we find people out there that we feel “Hey, I would like to have that person in my bubble.” I knew I could learn from her. She was gentle where I was rough. Her prose, eloquent where mine was, let’s just say unladylike *snort*, see? I enjoy the way I write. It’s only, different. I was drawn to her style. That is the reason I asked her to be featured in #TheLOVELANDERProject.
I know Tracy has many dedicated readers, I thought they would like to know about this incredible woman behind her words. I must say, she is just as lovely as I thought she would be. Actually, she is even better and I’m not even mad.
Classical music loving, Tracy, a self described awkward child, she grew up in southern California.Frizzy haired, thick eye browed and a step behind her peers in regards to the latest trends, she thought herself a late bloomer.Like many introverts, Tracy was quiet around people she wasn’t familiar with but goofy around her closest friends and her family. Being a good student, a rule follower, her love of books and athletics helped her build her confidence in senior high school. Thus developing into this woman we have grown to admire so much.
Tracy now lives in northern California with her husband and two young sons (ages 4 and 7). She is a small animal veterinarian. Hearing this was no surprise, even with only online interactions her compassionate nature shines through.
I wanted to know more about how Tracy found her way to her profession as a vet – “Like most people, I’ve always loved animals but I wasn’t someone who had wanted to be a veterinarian since a very young age. My uncle is a veterinarian so I saw a bit of the profession growing up. But I actually started college at the University of California, Irvine as an International Studies major. I thought I might want to work for the UN someday. I had to take a few basic science classes as part of my general undergrad education, and I actually ended up doing really well in them. I had never considered myself a science-y person until college, so I was happy to find that I not only really enjoyed biology but I actually understood it! So I took a few more science classes to explore that, then began considering veterinary medicine as something I might pursue. I began working as a veterinary assistant near the university (one of my friend’s fathers was a veterinarian), and then before my junior year I decided to transfer to UC Davis to study Animal Biology. After college I worked for three years as a veterinary technician in my hometown (huge shout-out to Dr. Edward Jezbera of Riverside) so I could get even more experience, and then I applied to veterinary school. I just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of my vet school graduation this week!“
Such a wonderful achievement. Congratulations on that. I could easily see you working with the UN as well *smile*
Having a young family is enough to keep any mom busy. Tracy is one of those women that I look at with a touch of awe and a side of ‘good on ‘er’- She is an avid runner, having completed four marathons. She and her family (pre-covid) are very active in sports, basketball, little league and soccer. This little family is a whirl wind of activity and laughter.
Tell us how Outcandour came to be. “I’ve always loved reading in-depth takes on television shows or movies. I’m that person watching movies with the director’s commentary turned on. Tom and Lorenzo are some of my favorite bloggers, and they used to write great recaps for Mad Men and Outlander. They stopped recapping Outlander during Season 2, and I found myself missing the sort of commentary I was used to. When Season 3 started I figured, why not attempt to write something myself? And thus Outcandour came into creation.“
When did your interest in Outlander start, Tracy? ” I discovered the show first during Season 1, after reading a number of articles praising its female gaze. I was hooked from the moment I saw those opening shots of Glen Coe with Caitriona’s voice narrating the mystery of what was about to unfold. I read all the novels in the Droughtlander between Seasons 2 and 3, and I’ve since read them all multiple times.“
Someone else in your family was a long time fan –My grandmother, who is 95, was amused when I discovered Outlander and started my blog. She read all the novels back in the 90s…like all Outlander fans, she wondered what had taken me so long!
I want to take a moment to remember Tracy’s grandmother, who since we did this initial interview has passed away. “Her name was Sherry, too! She was born Shirley but she always hated the association with Shirley Temple, so she went by Sherry her whole life. Her death wasn’t totally unexpected and she was suffering quite a bit at the end, so although it’s so painful I find some solace knowing that she’s finally at peace. Like all conversations that we wish we could remember, I can’t remember specifics as it relates to Outlander. I know she read the novels and I think perhaps Dragonfly in Amber might have been her favorite. She was rereadingit just a few years before she passed away. She was very proud of her English heritage and her outspoken nature, so I think she really identified with Claire.” Sherry, sounds like a woman we all would have been honoured to meet. I’m very sorry for your loss.
It seems there may be something hereditary going on there. 😘 That, and the compassion that comes out in your writing. Who or what would say were some of the bigger influences in your life? “Well, thank you for that! I’m not sure I can name only one thing or one person. Certainly, my parents are most responsible for instilling a sense of compassion and empathy in my life. My husband and sister are my best friends and I’d say they probably keep me the most honest. I was fortunate to have some truly great English teachers in middle and high school who really fostered my love of reading and critical thinking.“
Critical thinking, yes, that and a depth of knowledge of the subject matter. You introduce those aspects so clearly to the themes in your recaps – why do you think that is important to do – delve so deeply? “I could never presume to know what the Outlander writers ever intend, but I think it’s important to remember that they are writing intentionally and with their own artistic perspective in creating an adaptation. Sussing out an episode’s theme makes me appreciate the writing; I find I enjoy the episodes more if I try to look deeper. Hopefully my readers feel the same way.“
It is one of the comments I see often. Your readers thanking you for giving them a new perspective. It’s refreshing to have an unbiased view dig into the middle and work their way out. It is akin to reading comprehension but via a different medium. When did you realize you had this gift with words? “I’ve always really enjoyed writing. As I mentioned before, I had some really wonderful teachers growing up who gave me invaluable feedback and encouragement. And so much of my love for writing comes from my love of reading…I’m so jealous of beautiful prose that I’m anxious to create it myself.“
I’m curious, many writers have a certain process, where they feel comfortable gathering ideas, do you have a time or place you do your writing? “Usually while I’m running. I’ll start thinking about something, then pull out my phone to jot it down before I forget. Running really is mind-clearing for me. Otherwise I do most of my writing at the dining table after my kids are asleep.“
I find that fascinating…while you are running.It makes sense as your writing has such a flow and beauty to it. I am going to wonder aloud, if you were to write a book…I think you should…what genre do you think you would lean towards? “Hmmm, well, that might not be a totally theoretical question! *wink* So I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say it is an adaptation of a well-known story with a modern political and feminist slant.“
I completely agree, I seemed to have read them over and over until I knew the characters so well that I was “O.K. NOW, I can leave you all for a bit. *laugh* It was ridiculous. I now can read other genres, fluff and stuff but I do always return to them and they feel like home. Sort of like the show. I know you have a love of it, like I do. If you could put the five seasons in order of favourite…What order would you put them in? “Hmmm…well Season 1 will likely always be my favorite as it was the one to capture me with its magic and beauty. Then I suppose I would rank them as follows: 3, 5, 2, and 4. But, honestly, it’s only a hair’s difference that separates them in my mind…I have truly enjoyed them all.“
Same, same. Though I am a bit of a weirdo *shocking I know* I always seem to put the latest season as a favourite. I love them all. I hope it goes on til Diana is done with it. Is that likely? No one knows. What do you expect the future looks like for the show?*HUGE shrug* “I do get the impression that Season Six may be the last one…it is so rare for a premium television show to last longer than six seasons. I really hope I’m wrong, of course. I can definitely see a Lord John spinoff coming down the line, as well as a feature length film, similar to what Downton Abbey did.“
Anything is possible, I am happy we got anything at all. Now what’s your take on the books? Any thoughts or ideas? “As for the books…only Diana knows! I’m personally hoping to have all my conspiracy theories about Frank either confirmed or denied.” *wink*
Oooooh, I got some of those myself! So many things I am hoping are wrapped up all nice and neat – however, Diana has a lot more writing in her devious/delicious mind, I am sure.
It is due to that deliciously devious Diana mind that we have this huge community, this fandom. Which of course is the reason why we have come into each others lives. The fandom continues to grow every day, what do you find are the greatest joys and the biggest challenges of being a part of it? “I’d say the joy comes from the expansion of my world this fandom has given me. There are so many smart and thoughtful people I would have never known otherwise…present company included, of course! Of course! *snort* And I really love reading all the different opinions and takes on the episodes and characters. It’s fascinating to me that we can all watch the same thing and experience it so differently. Such is art! I think the challenges do come from that subjectivity, though. We all feel such a personal connection to Outlander that it’s hard not to be possessive of the characters and stories.“
Sometimes it does get to be a lot.It is lovely to see that much of the interaction you have online is positive and really respectful. “I find the engagement I get through the fandom, especially on Twitter and through my blog is very rewarding.“
It’s Droughtlander time and we are all going through some fandom pains, what is your advice for us to get through this? “It’s going to be a long one, isn’t it? I don’t have the most original advice…lots of reading, catching up on all the movies I’ve missed, discovering new shows, etc. I recently watched Normal People on Hulu and found it to be one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen.“
Oh, Marianne and Connell absolutely broke my heart! I was bereft when I was done the last episode. Genuinely had a good sob. I was 15 again, watching that. *sigh*. It seems we have something else in common, any other shows you love? “Well, like most parents of young kids, I find that most of the shows watched in our house are children-oriented. Shows I’ve loved watching or catching up on recently include Call the Midwife, The Spanish Princess, Downton Abbey, and Mad Men. They’re all essentially period dramas that provide good social commentary on their times.“
That is one of the things I liked most about getting to know Tracy better. It solidified why I was drawn to her. This is a woman I personally don’t have a lot in common with, however, I admire her. We see things differently and we live contrasting existences yet we find ourselves seeking the others outlook. It really is how we grow as people, isn’t it? I want to thank Tracy for accepting the invite to be a featured guest with #TheLOVELANDERProject. If you want to follow her on twitter CLICK HERE . Fill up on some of her archived blog posts, by going back to the beginning, they age well, CLICK HERE.
Finally, our close out ABOotlanders silly Albertan question (which I am going to have to switch up soon because ya all are starting to figure them out- derp)
The ABOotlanders have invited Tracy to a fancy get together and we areletting her choose the main course.
What do you choose, Tracy? Moose Droppings, Beaver Tails, Prairie Oysters or Taber Corn? “Okay, well I know what Moose Droppings are from reading your previous installments of this series. So, I won’t pick that. I have no idea what any of these are! Are Prairie Oysters the same as Rocky Mountain Oysters (testicles?). I guess I’ll be brave and pick that!” See? Tracy is a smart one! That is exactly it. Prairie Oysters are bull testicles – they say they taste a lot like calamari or seasoned rubber, depending on your taste buds. This is Alberta so naturally, we have a Testicle Festival. That is not MY fault, Tracy picked this one.
Now with that wonderful thought in your head and taste in your mouth, I leave you with this. I do hope the fandom sees how truly lucky we are to have people such as Tracy in our orbit. She ‘overthinks Outlander for themasses’ so we can take a look through another window. When we take the time to see the different shades in a painting it creates a depth we may have missed.
Thank you so much for joining me for another edition of #TheLOVELANERProject. I have a great line-up that includes other fan accounts, cast members et al. in order to keep our gullets quenched during this Droughlander.
I debated whether I would write about this episode, I also had an inner dialogue if I’d go my regular route of running further afield. Should I break my streak and face real talk? I have a rather, let’s say, intimate relationship with sexual assault and rape. I have spoken of it pretty openly. In my 30’s, I spent time working as a victim services coordinator which gave me an opportunity to sit with, walk beside and rage alongside women in impossible circumstances. Rape should never be brushed away. It happens often in our society now, we know damn well it happened in the past. In fact, it happened so often that it wasn’t even considered rape. It was considered a right by the aggressor and a duty by the victim. I decided not to take a deep dive there, this time. Droughtlander is going to be long, I do have some things I want to say and I will because I have plenty of time.
The finale was steeped in fear. I know we all have different ideas of what fear is. Motivational speakers like to say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and hey, I’m not knocking that mindset, hell, I have said it myself BUT when you have a boot being swung at your head that’s fucking scary and real, there is a legitimate reason to fear that.
Fear, like many things in this life – isn’t simple.
The series of events we witnessed were spurned by the deep-seated fears that Lionel Brownhad. Before someone thinks I am defending that piece of flaming garbage, I am not. People act with violence ‘because of’ and Lionel was acting through his hate for Claire and everything she was/represented. That hate constructed a fear he felt powerless with. In order to gain some dominance he recruited and included other men. This gave him the impression of strength and control. All the while, his fear and hate continued to build because Claire refused to cower to him.
Sadly, we can see this in ourselves. Naturally, the degree that Brown hits isn’t the norm for most of us🤞🏻 . When we ‘hate’ someone, that is mostly predicated by a perceived threat (or because someone we trust has told us we should). We may feel inadequate, powerless or somehow ashamed when we are exposed to them. Those feelings can cause us to lash out.
In Lionel’s case, they are exhibited in violent acts and rage. We aren’t complete misogynist slime balls so we react in a less vicious manner. We may be passive-aggressive, withhold kindness, gossip or spread rumours. It is a usual tactic to try and turn others against those who we have had felt threatened by, Lionel did exactly that with his men.
Lionel thought he had power over Claire when all along, she had power over him. Did it matter that Lionel’s wife refused his bed? No. He would beat her and raped her anyway. Did it matter that Claire made eye contact with him and called him out on shooting a man in the back? Not really, her accusations held no water legally. None of these things truly changed Lionel’slife BUT he invented Claire being a personal threat to him. He created that narrative and brought his friends along for the ride because when we get others to join in our treachery it validates it.
The big bad girl scared all of them with her big brain.
Let’s face it, spreading hate is especially easy when the one person fighting against it, is bound, gagged, beaten and raped into submission. When this kind of fear/hate finds it target, it becomes emboldened and so do those who follow it. When their target falls they use this as fuel for their hate.
This is something that we see regularly. Those who are oppressed, have to fight harder, be louder and they are still consistently beaten into silence – yet – they don’t give up. Those who are bullied, beaten, shot, denied work, incarcerated and forced to sit at tables alone…think about it. We see it onOutlanderon a dramatic scale, when we travel to the other points on the spectrum, there you will find us. It’s the human condition and not all of it is pleasant to look at.
No matter what side we are on, it’s embarrassing to be ‘in’ this society sometimes.
The show writers made it easy to despise Lionel. We don’t really give a shit if he was afraid of Claire, do we? That’s his own shrivelled up masculinity, too bad he couldn’t keep it to himself. All we wanted to see was that he and his buddies were punished.
The reality of that punishment, in this story, is that would also come from fear. I wanted to look at 2 of the characters that truly used their fear as fuel. This is why being aware of the scope of emotion is so important, why looking at life in black and white can be dangerous.
Marsali and Roger both used their fear as fuel. Marsali, has become aware of her worth as a women in a world that doesn’t especially find worth in her. This man not only threatened her and the child she carried by assaulting her, he tormented and raped her Ma. Brown was laying in the room with her, threatening to kill everyone on the ridge. Her experience with him tells her that he is not lying. These are not threats, these are promises. Marsali is not willing to live with this fear, she ends it the only way she can. I could hear the cheers across the Outlander fandom.
We have the ability to do the same in our lives. No, I am not advocating jabbing a big ole needle full of poison into someones neck, that’s pushin’ it.
Imagine for a moment, we have that person who is in our life that is constantly forcing toxicity into our life. We listen, take it in, allow it to seep into our days because we fear the fall out if we stop engaging. I know many of us can relate to this, afraid to hurt feeling. Confrontation is hard. Yet, here we allow ourselves to go through the stress for a harmful relationship out of fear of hurting the feelings of someone we don’t respect or even like. We need to love ourselves more than that.
Roger. Deep down is a pacifist but his fear was clearly build from love. His fear was for Claire and her safety. He used this to push through his natural instinct to be a man of peace, to fight for his family. We will find this with mothers and fathers regarding their children. It is why I was so happy to see Outlander utilize Roger in this way. His nature is not one of violence, yet, for his family, for the woman who is very much a mother to him, he will do whatever it takes. Even if it means stepping over a line that he will never forget crossing. We have those moments too, we are so terrified, we don’t know if we can do something, yet we do. Getting married, having kids, getting on that roller coaster, taking that promotion, buying that house, moving across the country, getting a divorce, getting help for that thing we don’t want anyone to know about. No matter what it is, if we think it is worth going for, we will push through that fear and do it.
This fear thing, we all live with it. It’s an emotion that we can learn to manage, understand and even embrace.
Now gimme a HUG! We all need it after this season. Let’s try and get through Droughtlander without too many injuries, eh?
I am becoming a broken record this season with these ‘not a recaps’. Each episode is completely different from the last but in my view, each has a punch in the gut effect that stays with you long after. And with that, as the credits rolled on #FamousLastWords, that duet with Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton – COME ON! I found it breathtaking. Each time I watched the episode (4 times, so far) I let it play and sat back to listen. I have never done that before this episode.
Once again, faced with so many topics to write about. All of them struck cords that I could go on about forEVA but I don’t want to do that. We seem to have nothing but time these days but I’m not going to take advantage of you. Not like that anyway. #winkawinka
There were questions of worth, grief bursts, traumatic flashbacks and worry all wrapped up in the characters we love so dearly. We were with all of our favourites, in all of the moments we needed to be with them. Whether we were hearing them or observing. The voyeurs in us were on high alert.
We saw once more, words aren’t needed to convey emotion. This time, it was Richard Rankins’s turn. Without a word or a whisper, we felt, deeply, what Roger was experiencing. His eyes, shoulders, neck muscles, brows and the set of his mouth gave us everything we needed to know about what was happening inside his head, heart and rooted within his soul. The people who love him, Brianna in particular, could see it too. She was especially in tune with what he was going through because she saw herself in him.
While trying to get through to Roger, Brianna brought up how she too, faced darkness and ugliness. I believe this moment was a catharsis for Brianna even though she was attempting to shake something loose in Roger. He still wasn’t in a place to hear her words. The wall he had built around himself was as impenetrable as his voice was stifled. Brianna though, for all of the times she sat in silence, fighting her demons, keeping them silent and masking the trauma she went through for the sake of others, she let it out. She put it in front of Roger that she is fighting. Every day. For her family and those words were what she needed to hear. Without realizing it, she was giving herself the advice she craved. The words Bree had been waiting for were within her, she only needed to say them out loud. She was directing them towards Roger however when we say things out loud, that is when we finally, truly, catch on. We, more often than not, won’t notice how we self-heal through our love of others.
There is one common thread each person on this earth shares. We all will lose someone we love. Sooner or later, it happens. In tandem, others will reach out to comfort us. When our grief is deep, there are no words, actions, cliches or casseroles that help. Making things better is contrary to reason.
Jamie asked Claire if there was a medicine in her time for grief. Time was as close as she could get, and even that isn’t a cure. We only get adept at integrating the grief into our everyday. We also must be honest, as shown in this episode. Grief is not reserved for the dead. We grieve people we lose that have not died but are no longer in our life, whether that is by our choice or theirs. We grieve parts of ourselves that we have lost, due to trauma or illness. Grief changes who we are and that is o.k.
Even though grief is something nearly everyone in this world has in common, it is as unique as each person and the relationship they have with the person/piece of them who/that has died. There may be ‘stages’ of grief but none of us walk them the same or follow the path the way it may be expected. We may think we know how someone feels but we can’t, not genuinely. We can empathize with their pain but knowing it would mean we know every corner of their heart/mind and that is impossible. Allowing someone their personal grief journey is a gift. Grief heals. Roger was grieving pieces of himself. Ian was grieving his tribe and more, Jamie grieving Murtagh. In the end, Claire was honest with Jamie. Letting him know there was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do. Being a healer, she used the expression that brings her comfort. Time heals all wounds. To a degree of course. Scars are always left behind.
This is something we will all find ourselves doing. The words that bring us the most comfort, we share with others, hoping they have the same effect.
I want to touch on a brief and beautiful moment between Marsali and Young Ian. Marsali came to sit with Ian, speaking to him of their youth in Scotland. She reached out, reminiscing of family, siblings. It appeared that Marsali sensed Ian was moving about, untethered. Like a balloon about to fly away unless someone grabbed hold. She connected with him by chatting about her jealousy of his bustling Murray family. Mentioning how he must miss them, grasping at that string to pull him back. We saw the flicker of light appear in Ian’s eyes as he spoke of his sister Janet and when he admitted he did indeed missed his family. As Marsali’s pregnancy became more the focus in the conversation, Ian’s heaviness returned. Marsali knows family, her center is love and comfort. She did the best with what she had and I believe the seed she planted did help, a little.
That is why, no matter what we believe someone is going through. It is always good to find a step to sit on with them. We have moments we wonder “Should I bother?”, “They don’t seem receptive.” If you think a loved one might be hurting but you have a feeling you may be overstepping, say it – “I may be overstepping, and if I am, I will apologize. Today, I want you to know that I love you, that I am thinking of you and I’d like to hear how you are doing.” Is it always that easy? No, it isn’t. Many things in life aren’t but for those we love, we can take the chance. Marsassy did it.
Seeing Roger andIan amid dual struggles was both heartbreaking and became heartwarming. Both men, in very dark places, grappling with their pain to the point of not wanting to face it another day. Neither able to grasp how to move it out of the way. Roger was at what could have been his final moment. Facing the memory of being hanged, blacking out, almost strangled to death and Brianna’s face appeared to him. It wasn’t only Brianna, being his wife, that pulled him from the edge. It was his realization that on his previous brink of death, it was her, his love for her that he was bound to. In living colour with a powerful brightness, he envisioned this woman, whose love never wavered. A familiar saying comes to mind “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
We often learn lessons at the perfect time and it seems to me this is what happened for Roger and Ian. They were moving in parallel through much of the episode. Once it was obvious what Ian’s intentions were, collective hearts were breaking for him and then, Roger comes in for the rescue. An unlikely hero, given the circumstances. Ian angrily says so when Roger interrupts his plans to end his life.
Roger doesn’t know what Ian’s story is but he knows what matters is that Ian lives. The reason being, he sees Ian in himself and HE wants to live. When Ian is unsure that he has the strength to carry on, Roger fortifies them both. He pleads with Ian to pick up his weapon, it doesn’t mean he has to use it, just pick it up to go home with him. One day he will be strong enough to fight again and together it will happen.
This was Roger’s way of gaining strength from his own words, just as Brianna did with him. We may get turned around and twisted in agony over the things we feel we should do, or have difficulty coping with. We feel lost and wonder how in the world we’ll make it through another tragedy or manage another day. Yet, someone we care for will be in that same head-space and we will have this astonishing amount of compassion for them. We will share uplifting stories of times we have pulled ourselves from the depths of despair or regale them with tales to lighten their heart. What a beautiful thing it would be if we would take that same time and compassion for ourselves when we felt ourselves getting turned around.
It is easier to give advice than it is to take it. It is especially easier to give it when you see yourself so clearly in the person you are sharing the advice with. Ian twice had moments of “you are one to talk” in this episode, first with Jamie – when he was trying to get Ian to open up to him. Ian clapped back with a ‘Hey pal, you and Claire have secrets – back off and let me have my own.’ Point made. Then again with Roger for stopping him from doing exactly what Ian figured he was about to do himself. The reason I bring this up is I think it’s a great life lesson moment.
When we are giving those bits of advice out to those we care about, it’s often because we see ourselves in them. It’s a good idea to be sure we have followed our own advice. Being truthful to ourselves is being honest in our actions. I assure you, if we haven’t, the one we are sharing with, may call our ass out on the carpet.
We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen to the advice we share. Our actions speak loudly about our character. I think we can see that with the characters I spoke of in #FamousLastWords. You and I, we identify with these characters on this TV show owing to their stories aren’t so different from our own. Sure, their arc is more dramatic on the whole yet, at the heart of it all, the feelings at the core. We get it.
That’s why we keep coming back.
PS – I need to add a note about John Bell coming back. I squealed, jumped out of my chair and was just THRILLED to bits. I slapped my husband’s leg so many times he was forced to finally say “OK, that is starting to hurt now.” to make me stop. Where John used to bring us smiles and much-needed levity on screen – we now are seeing the true depth of this young man’s talent. I am not sure I am ready for it but I am really feckin excited.
Join us Canadians for Live Tweeting with W Network on Sundays at 7 pm MT using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
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. 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.
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!
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Outcandourgives 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 Spacecovers 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?
Don’t forget to live tweet with us Canadians while watching W Network at 7pm MST, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
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
the death of a loved one
a traumatic event
a joyful event
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.
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!