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’.
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.
Don’t forget we live-tweet while viewing W Networks airing at 7pm MT. Sunday nights using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
That was worth the wait, wasn’t it? Wedding, weeping and wtf’s. Outlander is back and it means business.
Even though many watched the opening scene over and over again in previews, it took on new meaning once we viewed the final moments of the show. (Yet another reason we fans should reserve judgement until we see all the things in context.)
We can appreciate the deeper meaning when the episode is complete. In the opening we see Murtagh, (beautifully played by Duncan Lacroix) upon his knee, giving his oath, taking the weight of the world from this young boy.
The episode ending with that boy, now a man, on his own knee, with the weight of the world back upon him.
Young Jamie said nothing to Murtagh as a child, yet, we knew the gratitude and the love he felt for this man. When Murtagh and Jamie finally parted, there were no “I love you’s, I will miss you’s, I shall never forget you’s and all you have done for me’s.” All of these, simply were. The silence between them was loud and busy with all of these things. With no end to the words needed said, best to say none. My poor heart came out of my chest and rolled around on the floor.
We can internalize the gravity of that particular parting. What makes me feel the greatest amount of empathy for Jamie is his loss of his protector. Of course, Jamie is a capable, responsible and grown-ass man but don’t we all hold onto a part of the child inside of us? Especially those who have trauma in our past? Young Jamie lost his mother and brother (not to mention the baby his mother lost during childbirth), this is when Murtagh stepped up and into that guardian role to Jamie. This is why the pain of having to release him of his oath was so painful. Jamie didn’t want to. The child in Jamie still needs Murtagh whereas the man Jamie has become, can’t have him. Once again, proving LIFE IS NOT FAIR.
No matter how old we get, the protectors of our youth are chained to a piece of our very being. I believe that child remains inside of us, never growing up or having the feelings/logic our adult mind possesses. As a consequence when faced with that loss, it is with our child’s heart, we grieve. It explains why it is so incredibly painful when we lose those we loved dearly when we were children.
Sam Heughan’s performance in this episode, as a whole was impressive. The last scene chewed me up and spit me out.
Murtagh and Jocasta – the fans lovingly call them #Murcosta. Didn’t we just get these two hot seniors? They’re perhaps an unlikely pair but I do love them together. They offered one another a soft place to land. Murtagh, after a lifetime of fighting, his guts/heart and mind are called to it again, this time he is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t have time to be banging boots with Ms. Jo. We know, they both get this.
Jocasta broke the news, rather deliberately, that Duncan Innes proposed marriage to her. Murtagh seemed to be thinking ‘Good time to let her go without too much pain involved’, told her straight up he wouldn’t stand in the way of her happiness. This is where we can give Maria Doyle-Kennedy all the awards. The look on Jocasta’s face only altered in the slightest of ways, the slip of her fingers from his, without a word we knew that Murtagh was her happiness. She would have held on to him had he asked or given any indication that was possible. He didn’t and we felt that because of Jocasta’s silent but instinctual reaction. Maria Doyle Kennedy is so. damn. good.
Lord Yumm Gorgeous. Ummm, John Grey. Excuse me. I get confused, my LAWD that man is beautiful! David Berry is my favourite produce.
We didn’t get to hear too much from him in the episode. That is the whole point of this blog though, isn’t it? Those silent moments that were captured throughout the wedding are what touched us. Unrequited love is something most humans can relate to. We know that LJG loves Jamie ergo whenever we see him alone and silently observing it can be painful. We know even if he did find love with someone, he would never be able to openly express it. Thanks, backwards 18th-century small-mindedness! 🙄 LJG is intelligent, pragmatic and above all, he knows where he stands with the Fraser’s. He is quite the extraordinary man who allows his own feelings to take a back seat to be the best BFF to them all. 😍
Our last moment had LJG next to John Quincy Myers, with the latter passing out cold beside him – which was hilarious. The juxtaposition was Lord John, sitting alone in the dark, drink in hand. This wasn’t funny or fun anymore. I felt the urge to cuddle him. Not just because he is a scrumptious yummy bite of sweetness. It was a sad silence that I think many of us want to fill for him.
Even though there are other moments, I want to focus the rest of my attention on Brianna. Her quiet demeanour, in the beginning, was beautiful and what so many brides go through on their wedding day. Her silent moments built her strength in this episode. Oh, I know, people may want to slap me for saying that.
Here is a woman, carrying her pain in silence. The question is why? Is she carrying it in silence because she doesn’t want to burden others with it? Is she carrying it in silence because she has already done a lot of the work and now, she is continuing to process? Is she learning how to function with these emotions? Is this yet another step in the healing of PTSD that comes from being a victim of sexual violence?
We or Brianna can feel safe in answering yes to all of those and would be 100% accurate. Some may argue, “That is what family is for”, “You need to share with your partner”. Those arguments can both be defended with “We do and we don’t”.
We try to do what is best for our own healing. Taking a moment to catch our breath when we have an instance of recall or a panic attack when we need to get back to things, that’s exactly what we should do. That is what Brianna did, she found something/someone that was going to center her. Jemmy. She picked him up and held him close. If his little hand patting her back didn’t clench your heart, I would double-check to make sure yours is workin’, just saying!
I was privy to conversations saying Brianna didn’t get to enjoy her wedding night but I would like to give another perspective on this.
Bree had a moment during her wedding evening when she was facing an instance of recall aka flashback, of her rape. It caused her panic, anxiety and fear. Like a tower of blocks, she was knocked down – just as quickly, she put herself back together. Hastily, maybe not completely steady. The rest of the evening, she might have been a bit unbalanced nevertheless she allowed those she was with, to hold her up. First, Jemmy. Next, Roger. There’s no denying the love in her eyes when Roger serenades her, the joy in her face when they dance and the passion when they make love. She wraps around him pulling him as close as she can get him. Brianna did take solace, comfort and love from her family. They held her together and she let them while they could.
When the silence became deafening, Bree lay there with only her thoughts. On the outside there wasn’t a sound but we know damn well, inside that woman’s head there was noise. A lot of it. We can only imagine how much.
There, in that noise, is where I believe she is gathering her strength, not losing it. Is she in pain? Yes. This kind of healing hurts. Scars like this don’t show on the outside so it makes sense we rarely speak of how they feel while they are healing. These moments are easier to open up and talk about after we have processed some of them ourselves. Giving these thoughts to others isn’t an easy task, mostly because it is difficult to express things you are only beginning to understand yourself.
To assume that Brianna wasn’t capable of feeling love and joy in the same evening as she experienced pain and healing is to accept Brianna is a one-dimensional person. This implies she is incapable of complex emotions and that theory goes against almost everything we know about this character.
We have to keep in mind, this isn’t the beginning of Brianna’s healing journey. We are walking through it with her.
I applaud Sophie Skelton and her attention to Brianna’s thoughts, subtleties and mannerisms during this process. Her character’s life is always moving forward while she is still healing and dealing. It is a balance and Sophie’s interpretation is en pointe!
What I am going to say now isn’t about Bree but about us humans overall. Many people keep their secrets locked inside because they are aware of how the people in their lives will react.
Common reactions when difficult news is shared;
- feel sorry for them and pop them on the “I’m worried about you” track
- this causes them more anxiety because they now worry about someone else worrying about them. The fear of becoming a burden comes true
- take what they have said personally, get upset or angry (with or for them)
- this causes more hurt because they will now feel they have to defuse this situation or make things better for others
- to get involved, try and fix it
- if they wanted someone to interfere that would have been their first request. Also takes the power away from the person with the problem, they may fear losing control and why they were hesitant to share
We should always let those we love know we are there. No judgements, no advice, just a hand to hold or lots of chocolate to give. “I know something is bothering you. I don’t need to know the details. I only need you to know I have chocolate and hugs. You can choose to tell me what is going on or you can tell me what you need me to say to you, I am here.”
And if they just want to be silent. Trust them but still listen. As we learned by watching The Fiery Cross, that silence still can speak to you.
I would love to hear how much you enjoyed the first episode of season 5! See our live tweet stream by following #OutlanderCAN on twitter.
**Watch this space for a very special blog with a lament worthy cast member. COMING SOON.**
I have been trying to find a graceful way to open up this blog. Should I be eloquent and flowery or hard-hitting and humorous? I settled on being a bit all over the place – it suits my mood and my nature.
I have wanted to write about the women on Outlander for a while, I chose now because it is helping me pass the time until Season 5 airs. I figure like attracts like making this mutually beneficial.
Those who watch Outlander are exposed to women who are brave, strong, stubborn and determined. They grapple with heartbreak and persevere. They love fiercely and protect one another. Do they have flaws and imperfections? Ummmm, yeah! We all do. It’s another reason they are believable and relatable. That is what this blog is really about. How is it that we, as women in 2020 relate to these fictional women set so far in the past (mostly)?
I knew I wasn’t the only person that saw myself in these women on the screen. I was aware that this is how we stay involved and connected, or not. This made me ask those in my twitter bubble, what woman in Outlander did they relate to the most and why? The question wasn’t specifically for women to answer but no men jumped in to tell me which woman they related to, hopefully in the comments, some will. (Not who they like the most, who they relate to – just making it clear).
Gender stereotypes on television have been played to death and it’s intriguing that we have gone back to the 1700s to see them getting knocked around. Of course, we still see them in characters like Mrs. Fitz, from season 1. She was a dutiful head housekeeper to Colum. She warned Claire, if she did as told, she would gain favour with The MacKenzie. She caused no stir when her grand-daughter was about to be beaten in the great hall. Yet, she stood up to the likes of Father Bain. She ran that kitchen at Leoch like a boss and she smacked around the highlanders if they messed around in her domain. She was granted authority and demanded respect even still abiding by some of the patriarchal rules. I mean, historical accuracy is always a thing in a period drama.
That bit about Mrs. Fitz wasn’t mentioned as a part of who she was when people replied to my query on Twitter. I do love the hashtaggery.
All of these women are aware of Mrs. Fitz’s place in the Outlander universe. It is with their 21st-century lens they are able to pull her strength and fortitude forward. I don’t think they are ignoring Mrs. Fitz’s place in her 18th-century life, I believe they accept and see that Mrs. Fitz was bucking her place where and when she could without putting her life in danger. Something a great majority of women have done – for centuries. Those women hold shit together while making a difference behind the scenes, subtle changes that help push society forward. It may not be as loud and in your face as some but it still has an impact.
Jenny was a younger, stronger and higher ‘ranked’ version of Mrs. Fitz. For an 18th century woman, Jenny really did have and do it all. Career (Lady of Lallybroch for all intents and purposes), children and adoring husband. This maverick of woman could express milk and torture a dude all in the same day. Her strong personality and capabilities help today’s women feel empowered by their own image of “doing it all”.
As we read these tweets we see that these women not only relate to the character of Jenny, they can see themselves as her and she as them. Being Jenny is exhausting work. Besides taking care of everything and everyone – there were plenty of shite pots that needed stirring. 😜
Joking aside, this is why seeing representation on the screen is important. If it is powerful for someone like @ChaoticOctopus who has 6 children, imagine what it is like for women who understand what being abused and manipulated is like.
We might be surprised to know that there are women that feel a kinship with (the often slammed) Laoghaire. If we take a moment to open our hearts, minds and gather some empathy, it shouldn’t be surprised. My friends express it very well below.
Sure, some people are pure evil. I don’t think Laoghaire is one of them. She is a product of her environment and eventually, her bitterness clouds a lot of her story. This is not a Laoghaire trait. It is a human one. It isn’t a flaw that is singular to her, it is one that many of us live in. We tend to judge others for doing it instead of recognizing it in ourselves. I was humbled to see women confident enough in their own character to say they related to Laoghaire. I think many of us, whether we like to admit it or not have had the same feelings of jealousy and bitterness in our lives. Sure, we probably wouldn’t have sent someone to burn – but who knows, it’s not really an option these days either, so there is that.
There is also the fact that I don’t believe that someone truly evil would be able to raise a daughter like Marsali. She is quickly becoming one of the women on Outlander that we are falling in love with. Her character started out prickly against Claire, not shocking given the circumstances from her viewpoint. Marsali is no dummy, she feels deeply and goes by the information she has. Once she had more information, her disposition changed.
Marsali is seen as someone who is clever and uses her observations shrewdly. She doesn’t strike anyone as a wallflower. Many fans note her loyalty as one of her most relatable qualities. I believe that the way she was introduced to us showed her loyalty first and foremost but because of the way so many feel about Laoghaire, I suppose some felt it was misplaced. When we step out of our own perceptions and step into Marsali’s I think we can have empathy for her. She loves her mother. She sees her hurting and the source of her pain is caused by this woman who dropped out of the clear blue sky. Any of us thinking we would react calmly and love Claire, probably doesn’t remember being a teenage girl.
Thank goodness Marsali’s loyalties didn’t disappear, they only grew.
Season 4 brought us Marsali’s fierce loyalty to a fever pitch, do anything for family and not just along for the ride but literally in the driver’s seat on the excitement side of things. Her courage was not only entertaining to watch it was plainly setting the tone for what we have to look forward to. There is no doubt that we will have many relating to her character in season 5.
My friend Cat of @CatsandKilts was the one person who mentioned relating to Lizzie. You know the one, Lizzie, who went by exactly the information she had seen, processed what made sense and drew conclusions based on said information. Like every single person does every single day. In the Outlander universe, this always has crazy consequences. Cat is a brave fan by admitting she feels a kinship to her since Lizzie took a lot of heat last season. Which was kind of a bummer because Lizzie is so many of us, fallible and doing the best she can.
“Tries to do right tho she often fails.” I mean, how vulnerable and human is that statement? We all know how this feels but we rarely say it out loud. We all make assumptions about someone or a situation just by catching a glimpse yet we don’t always admit if we were wrong. Though if someone does this to us or someone we care about – the hell to pay – hot AF.
Another woman who made her Outlander debut was Aunt Jocasta Cameron. She was mentioned in season 1, during the Wedding when Jamie was weaving his family tree together for Claire. We finally met this formidable woman for ourselves. She made quite the impression. Some say she was a mix of Colum and Dougal, I prefer to say Colum/Dougal and Brian all borrowed pieces of HER. Cunning, determined and affectionate is the perfect Jocasta blend. There is definitely more to her than what she shows us. She is the blind one but that seems to be a subtle nod to “You can’t see me either”.
The two studies of Jo above, show us how detailed our personal lens can be when viewing characters on screen. They both relate to her for very different reasons, yet both are powerful and full of meaning. Both are also 100% accurate.
I am endlessly fascinated by women. How we relate to one another, how we lift each other up or tear one another down, the mechanics of our pasts and the trajectories of our futures. The layers/levels/shades and intricacies can’t be explained easily. Though we can see some of these dynamics when we pay attention to how we relate to one another, how we respond to one another’s personalities and the things that make us…well…us.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many identified with Brianna. I have seen some interesting assessments of Bree on social media over the years. It is my belief, the wonderful people in the tweets below…get her. They see her for who she is, why she is that way and how that makes her special. They know those traits aren’t always perfect. In truth, none of us are and nor should we be.
Perhaps some of Brianna’s qualities go unnoticed so people downplay her. I hope with these women pointing out why they relate to her, others may start to see some things they may have missed before. For instance, her creativity (not everyone can draw the way she can draw) and intelligence (engineering, need I say more?).
Bree, like her mother, chose a career that was male-dominated. Even by today’s standards, women are still underrepresented in the Engineering field. Have things gotten better since the 1960s? Of course. Are they where they should be? No. That is why we have women like Claire and Brianna to represent these themes. Hopefully, it inspires other shows to focus on POC and LGBTQ+ in these types of storylines in shows with target markets like Outlander has.
The matriarch of Outlander, as we all know is Claire. She can’t be described in a few words for the reason that she is notably complex. We have seen her as a nurse from WW2 to a stranger who was dropped into Jacobite era Scotland. She bounced through time, lovers, became a mother and eventually a grandmother. There is a dizzying amount of person there as you will see when we head to this twitter breakdown.
I don’t think I was surprised when it was she who had the largest number of people feeling they related to her. I mean, many of us really take a shine to some of those classic Claire lines.
I’m right there with Julia. The first second someone wants to control my decision making – the hackles engage. Oppositional defiance. Whatever you want to call it, I feel it in my bones. That is one of those things that will connect some of us to Claire. I mean, someone tells her “Stay here.” She hears “Runaway at the first opportunity”.
See what I mean? She does what she damn well pleases when she damn well pleases. The housework thing is mostly from the book but same – same. It wasn’t heavy-handed while reading. It was subtle and if it was something you personally identified with you would pick up on it. Which obviously, a few of us did. Imagine it was laundry day on the ridge, everyone is heaving heavy yards of linen and scrubbing in washbasins, Claire would run out of a herb and have to go traipsing through the woods. “OH NO! I ran out of cameltoes guys! George from the pond down the road needs some for his glaucoma! Biiyeeeee!”
Yes, depending on how we live our lives and the focus of our lens – we will get 2 reactions “OMG, ME TOO!” or “UGH! So selfish!” Both can be right. It comes down to empathy, understanding and kindness. It is never that black and white. We can pretend it is, so our point can be simplified and easily argued however, life and relationships rarely are that simple. That is why when those simple things are explained by a point of view, it helps us ‘get it’.
Now, we might think “I’m not the meek and obedient type” is what makes us relate to Claire. When Karen explains the WHY, she peeled back the layers and showed us. It reveals it’s not only surface ‘stuff’. The connections we have to these characters are strong and often personal. We, as fans, could be kinder to one another sometimes if we took a mental note of this.
Relating to them also brings out a desire to develop characteristics we admire. Sorcha mentions this in her tweet about Claire. It makes me grateful that we are exposed to these personalities and qualities on screen. We may see aspects of their spirit we would like to emulate, this supports our purpose to grow as individuals as we move forward and upward in our lives.
It is obvious to me that even though the men on Outlander get a lot of attention, the WOMEN OF OUTLANDER have developed profound connections with those watching. We may draw comfort from them or they may infuriate us but one thing is certain, these women are like us. They love passionately, struggle with heartbreak, lash out and experience joy.
Here is to seeing our favourites still with us (and a few more new ones) #RockTheRidge in season 5!
PS- if you didn’t get to weigh in on what women you relate to in the Outlander universe and why, please leave a comment. I would love to hear more.
PSS-Don’t forget we will be live-tweeting while watching on W Network here in Canada, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN!
That got your attention huh? Just like the cold but hot open of this episode probably got you. I know my attention was captured, but a naked Roger will do that.
Now, this may be very obvious to everyone out there and you may say to me that this blog is the worst of the season because I haven’t dug deep enough and that’s fair. I don’t think I really did. This just stuck with me through the 3 times I watched. It became more and more obvious and the reality is, I wanted to talk about it, so I am.
In this episode, our characters were on full display. They might as well have been playing their parts how Roger started the show for us. In the raw. That would have made the dinner party a lot less appetizing mind you.
The levels of exposure we saw in If Not For Hope went deep. This may take me a while so you might want to pour yourself something hot or cold, grab a snack or two.
The obvious is Roger. His literal nakedness isn’t just there for our viewing pleasure. I believe it speaks to a few things. He is now stripped completely of who he was. The buttoned-up historian of many layers. Each one tore away until he was bare and now, being recreated. This Roger we will get to know was always beneath the layers but had no reason to be exposed. The layers have been ripped away and no longer protect him, this Roger steps forward to run the show. Well, at least keep one foot in front of the other. Which is all we can seem to hope for.
Granted, Roger himself wasn’t physically present in the episode but make no mistake, he was there. Through Brianna, Claire, Jamie, Ian and even Lord John, each bringing him to the surface. They repeatedly reminded us of how perilous Roger’s situation is. How he was relying on them to save him from this situation they had a hand in placing him in (except Lord John…he’s cool).
Roger is completely on the outside of all of this. He has no reason to believe anyone is looking for him. He has to trust that Brianna loves him as much as he loves her. That, my friends, is blind faith. Which is perhaps the most vulnerable anyone can make themselves emotionally. This is intricately tied to the horrific moment at the end of the episode. Roger makes himself just as vulnerable physically. He realizes what he needs to do. He stands to accept a substantial beating at the hands of his captors in a type of gauntlet, a blind faith, trusting he is strong enough to make it through.
Personally, I would have rathered another shower scene. Richard Rankin, for the lack of screen time, has most certainly given Roger a surprising amount of depth.
I will add, it would be fantastic to see either, in conversation or flashback, what happened at those damnable stones. Richard conveys so much of what Roger thinks in facial expression alone (something I think this cast is flippin’ remarkable at) I would love a peek at that moment.
Please know I do not view vulnerability as weakness. It is a state of being from which each one of us needs to be in, in order to trust or love.
In Brianna’s case, she was all over the vulnerability scale from frailty, threat, disquiet and even pliancy during this episode. She was open to her own pain, in fact, the first moment we saw her in this episode she was in the midst of drawing it. Lizzie saw this as demons. They were in a sense, Brianna’s own demons…of sadness, anger and worry.
Speaking of Brianna’s drawings, it seemed she was using them to expose her disquiet. The opening credits showed many pictures of the slaves at work. Phaedre came into her room, Brianna saw how the light caught her face, she asked Phaedre to sit so she could draw her. To me, this showed Brianna’s discomfort with the way this world was working around her. She was able to capture that and put it to paper. I do believe Phaedre was pleased with being seen by Brianna, yet, you could feel her unease. Even if she were safe with Brianna at that moment, she was only safe with Brianna at that moment. The second someone else came into that room that safety would disappear instantly.
Next is Brianna, exposed lamb to the slaughter, Tinder 1700’s version. This was painful to watch with a modern eye. I had to keep facepalming myself to reset.
Seeing Brianna have to shut down the fake compliments, the greasy ‘we should ride into town alone together after just meeting one another’ and ‘hey, my mom doesn’t know I’m gay, let’s pretend to be bff’s.’, was too much. Brianna made the right call with the fake ‘case of the vapours’ to get the hell out of there. I now know why so many women fainted back in those days and it wasn’t because of the tight corsets. Women are tougher than that. It was to get the hell out of the room and away from all the creeps. They literally had to pretend they were unconscious before people would let them leave the damn room.
After the delightful dinner party (she says with dripping sarcasm), Jocasta gets some alone time with Brianna and in that small amount of time Brianna pliancy grew. At first, she started this conversation out strong but Jocasta, always cunning, knows exactly which string to pull to unravel even the most complex of patterns and she does just that. She grabbed onto the Roger and baby strings and pulled, hard. Brianna went from bold to pliant, which is a completely different variant of vulnerability. Jocasta used the perfect words to cut Brianna down and weaken her ‘Roger’s gone…no matter dead or alive. GONE.’ ‘If your baby is born out of wedlock, their life is RUINED.’ Brianna is brought to the point of being forced to look at her situation as the condition it is being referred to.
Jumping ahead Brianna is armed with what she thinks is the blackmail of the century. Bree decided to hit LJG where it hurts, in the ‘being gay is punishable by death’ spot. She felt this was a pretty great plan, she could coerce him into marrying her because she knew this big secret and he would never want to sleep with her because he didn’t like women. Win Win. LJG is a great guy and all but he isn’t one to be trifled with. He clapped back, letting her know the Vaginawagon wasn’t in mint condition and she would do well to stand down.
That moment with LJG is where Bree is the most exposed. She allowed him to know all the details of her pregnancy and her desire to protect her child even over her own happiness. It proves it doesn’t matter if we are trying to show others how strong we are, if there are cracks in the armour, someone will get through it. Even if it ends up being us, no one can stay locked in there forever. It’s stifling.
Lord John Grey. That name deserves a moment. He isn’t one you would feel is in a state of vulnerability given his status. Lord John, however, is a man who happens to love men. In colonial America, this is a crime punishable by death. This instantly makes Lord John a person in jeopardy. The moment he is introduced to Brianna you can see him soften from Lord John Grey…to John, Jamie’s friend. Which in itself brings an openness to him. Since he is raising Willie, Jamie’s son, it makes sense that he would have a soft spot for Brianna, Jamie’s daughter. You would think when LJG is most vulnerable is when Bree exposes his throat and threatens to chow down on it by telling the world he is gay. The idea may be threatening but after the initial imagery passes, he knows this won’t happen. The moments he is truly most vulnerable is when he is speaking of his relationship with Jamie and Claire. When he speaks to her of Willie. Many of LJGs vulnerabilities lay in the secrets he must keep. The more people he opens himself up to, the more likely those secrets will be exposed.
Lord John chose to keep Brianna and the child safe by becoming engaged to her. It was LJG , after all, who told Bree to trust that Jamie and Claire would bring Roger back. By promising to marry her, he was giving her the hope she needed and saving her heart from breaking any more.
It certainly was beautiful to see Marsali and Fergus again. Their relationship is one I wish we could get more of. They are strong and fierce but when it comes to one another, so tender. Fergus is being attacked by a toxic mentality of not being ‘man’ enough and Marsali is requesting Murtagh fix it. She knows very well she could tell Fergus, a million times, he is more man than anyone, it won’t make a difference. Until Fergus feels that himself, it will tear at him.
When we love someone, even things we are not responsible for, weigh heavily on us. We want to fix them, which will sometimes cause us to be exposed to our own vulnerabilities. Marsali is not a fan of asking for help, but she does, for her husband. It works out perfectly in the end as Fergus feels needed but also knows his place is with his family.
Marsali knew she wasn’t responsible for Fergus’s pain but she worried about it. We see Jamie worrying about Brianna’s pain, and he did cause hers. Naturally, this is weighing very heavily on not only him but Claire. Both are in solitary and pensive states.
I believe as long as Brianna feels angry, Jamie will feel guilty. That is par for the course, isn’t it? As family dynamics go, when we hurt someone, intentionally or not, most will stew about it, worry, wonder what we can do (if we can do) anything to fix it. Jamie was in his own head, as he should be. A big part of forgiveness is beating ourselves up, I think we all know that.
Taking responsibility for our actions means owning them and feeling bad they happened. Wrapping it all together means having apologized and trying to make things better. Sadly, when we attempt to make things better we become vulnerable to not being forgiven. That is the scariest thing of all. When we have created pain for someone, it is never up to us if they can move past it. I think that is why Jamie is in this space he has created. Jamie’s future happiness as a father to Brianna is 100% out of his control. What an all together powerless feeling, but one he understands, from the things he said.
Claire knows some of this though, she is the healer. She does that for them both, physically and emotionally. She identifies the wound, assesses the treatment and then, she does the best she can. The same we do for those we love. In turn, we expect those who love us to accept it. This couple is best when they share their vulnerabilities and allow the other to be the strength where they lack. With each struggle, bump in the road, argument and disappointment – couples grow. We see Claire and Jamie settled into their life as a couple but still growing and that’s important.
Knowing we are watching Brianna and Roger in their infancy as a couple excites me because it means we still have so much more to look forward to. There is nowhere to go but up.
Now that I wasted a whole hour of your day, I will wrap it up. I could go on to mention every character and how they were vulnerable and exposed but even I get tired of myself…
When we get naked, let our vulnerabilities be exposed – do we do it knowing there is the possibility of getting hurt? Do we hide our nakedness all together so no one has the opportunity to hurt us but we are so lonely…it hurts? Maybe we only allow certain people to catch a glimpse here and there and still find ourselves harmed in some way.
Life is messy, isn’t it? It’s messy…but it’s beautiful. It’s chaotic…but it’s an adventure. What we focus on expands…what are we choosing to look at?
We only have 2 more episodes left before the next Droughtlander commences my friends, this had gone by so fast!
Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)
Please live tweet with us Canadians as we watch on W Network at 8pm MST using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
There is no shortage of drama this season is there? The cool thing about having a blog in this fandom is I get to decide what I talk about. I have decided to challenge myself to NOT write about the obvious this season.
I want to look past the topic du jour and move to the things that made me go hmmm and maybe they will make you go hey…meh…or OH! Either way, I will have said it and hopefully, feel good about it when I am done. That’s the point of my watching Outlander in the first place. It makes me feel good. I like it. My Mom used to say “If it doesn’t feel good…don’t do it.” I live by that.
So…ghosts. I’m not talking about Casper, the bent neck lady or the very obvious Native gentleman caller from the episode we are talking about. I am referring to the ghosts in our life that either guide our decisions or keep us from moving forward out of fear of facing them. They were ever present in The False Bride, whether we noticed them or not.
Right at the very start, Roger sitting in the old empty manse and Fiona coming through the doors to take up residence reminded us of Reverend Wakefield and Mrs. Graham. Both now, just memories, shadows in the halls but very much a part of who Fiona and Roger are today. As we see later with Roger when he has his meltdown with Brianna. He was raised by a Reverand. It makes more than a little sense that ghost still sits in his mind and when that is the case, it affects his heart as well. Those are the ghosts that often speak the loudest.
Claire sees her fair share of ghosts in this episode. Both literally and figuratively. To start, there is no doubt she is thinking of the ghost of her friend, Joe Abernathy. Black, free, a doctor…her dear friend. Someone she may have been judged for being friends with but still “allowed” to be friends with. She watches as the slaves walk by and you can see it pains her because she has seen the other side of this story. She knows the truth of the people she sees being treated ‘less than’. The pure inhumanity of it bubbles to the surface.
As they ride away from River Run, they leave the ghost of Rufus behind them. Their troubled time there. They also leave the people they couldn’t help. This is something that I am sure will continue to haunt Claire.
Claire confronts Franks ghost as well. He will be ever present when she speaks of Brianna. He was the only father her daughter had. He raised her and owns that space in her world. As she speaks of Bree to Jamie, you can see both of them feel Franks ghost pass through the moment. Claire as a reserved embrace, and Jamie with a grateful chill.
Then, we have Claire’s literal ghost. Good ole Claire takes off after Clarence the mule in a storm and ends up lost, alone and in the dark.
It’s ok though, she has company. She finds a little head, ok, it’s a skull. One that has been cracked down the middle and removed from the rest of its body. This particularly unlucky fellow decides to pay Claire a visit, in a jarring and pretty cool way. He makes his way toward her during lightning strikes. Then what does he do? Dude steals her shoes. He makes up for it by wearing them and leads her to Jamie and Jamie to her. Awwwwwwwwww.
This particular ghost is filled with more questions because his mouth is filled with silver fillings. Which clearly means he is a time traveller too.
Young Ian had a different group of ghosts he faced in this episode. The pirates not once, but twice. Geillis. The hurricane. That was a lot of trauma for a young kid. He grew up PDQ (pretty damn quick). Those experiences formed who he’s now become, a young man who knows his mind. Thankfully, the ghost of the child he was, will always be there for us. His smile and pure cheekiness each episode gives me hope anyway.
Jamie had his own ghosts, didn’t he? When speaking to his aunt Jocasta, the ghost of the laird he would have been in Scotland lingered there. He knew what she didn’t though. River Run could never be that for him, some things cannot be recreated.
The ghost of Jamie’s mother was real and alive when his aunt gifted him Ellen’s silver candlesticks. Something tangible, he could touch and take with him to his new place, where ever that may be.
While visiting the ghosts of Scotland in his memories, he was able to see his future. Looking out over the vista, Jamie fell in love with the land he saw before him because of the echoes of his past. The strawberries and the mountains all familiar to him yet, this new world made him feel hope.
I want to finish up with Brianna. The Scottish festival was the first shiver of her ghosts coming to the forefront. Bree seemed to want to deny she was thinking about her mother but Roger knew it had to be there, raw and real. The memory of her and the ramifications of her travelling through time to find Jamie. Those ghosts came to visit the festival that day, who could blame them? The music was bangin’.Bree is a young woman that knows what she doesn’t want. That is very much because of her ghosts. One ghost is the father she grew up with. She now knows he lived in a marriage of convenience with her mother. Another is the ghost of a father that she never knew, he was the recipient of her mother’s love and devotion. Given the choice she was faced with in the episode tonight, those ghosts would have sat upon each shoulder like the good choice and bad choice. Each in her ear.
We all have our ghosts. Whether we see them, hear them or feel them. They are there, influencing us and the choices we make. We should really trust our own voice rather than rely on the ghosts, but you know…to each their own.
Sometimes, those ghosts…they just make us run up the basement stairs really quick or check behind the shower curtain before peeing. Either way…do you.
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Founder of the ABOotlanders
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.
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