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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

giphy12

 

source

 

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Sher                                                                                                                                                          Founder of the ABOotlanders 

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

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

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

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

smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)