Between Two Fires, has brought us a very different look than the first of the season. Basically, shit is getting real. Once the final scene cut to black I said out loud “What? That was an hour?” You know by now, I don’t do recaps but I do take something I noticed in the episode and dissect it.
Speaking of dissection – yes, I will be talking about Claire and her being elbows deep in Mr. F but I really think we need to start with Murtagh.
There were a lot of people talking about how they hated seeing Murtagh involved in the tar and feathering of political figures in Hillsborough. I was one, then I thought about it. Murtagh is the same man he always was. He decapitated Sandringham, ffs (we cheered), he cracked the skulls of MANY (also, cue us, cheering) and he has killed all manner of men. We as viewers always saw the other people as the ‘bad guy’. The villains. We justified Murtagh’s actions and that was the difference.
This time, we didn’t know these men being tortured. The townspeople and the Regulators did. They know them as the political figureheads that took away their homes and overtaxed them. They are the elitists that live in luxury while they struggle to feed their families. We sat back horrified that these men were maimed. The reason being, we had empathy for them. Whereas the Regulators, with Murtagh at the lead, were exacting revenge for themselves and those families. To them, completely justifiable.
This can open our eyes to our own worlds. How many times have we gotten into situations where people have thought of us as the ‘bad guy’ when we were only doing what we thought was right and/or the best for our family? We weren’t doing it against anyone but we were doing it for ourselves. Some have a very hard time separating themselves from other people’s lives and understanding other’s decisions aren’t about them.
Jamie, for instance. The Regulator’s that were imprisoned, he freed them, they still questioned his motives. They did so because they couldn’t wrap their brains around the fact he let them go because of his own conscience. His need to do something for what in his heart he knew was right. Ultimately, he doesn’t care what these men think of him. What he thinks of himself is his paramount concern. He is mindful that he is a villain to these men. His willingness to be seen as less than, in their eyes, is what he is ready to do. For Jamie, the end justifies the means. I believe that particular phrase will play very heavily in Jamie’s story this season.
It has been my experience, “There are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle, lays the truth.” This isn’t because everyone is a liar, it is because people naturally put their lens on and tell their story through it. It is what makes us…us. The story is our truth.
It does give me a chuckle when it is said, “They only told you their side of things” Well, of course, they did, whose side are they going tell? There will be instances in everyone’s life where relationships were ended because of horrible circumstances where someone was CLEARLY at fault. The interesting bit, I assure you, is both sides will claim the other to be the bad guy and the clincher will be convincing arguments from both sides. Will one be very skewed? Unquestionably.
When we think of these instances, we would like to think we would be unbiased when it comes to seeing who is culpable. Being completely truthful, we often side with the person we care about the most. This will be the one we feel the most empathy for. No matter what the argument is, the story they tell, how convincing the tale told, we will choose to trust the person we want to, not always the person that is right. That is one of those horse-pills to swallow.
A very small moment in ‘Between Two Fires’ gave us a situation in which we can see this clearly.
A man, with his family, taking a break from travelling and stretching their legs. On the road comes a huge group of mostly red-coated soldiers. Not a word is exchanged but the soldier near the head of the pack throws coins at a child’s feet. Insulted by this action, the man spat in the direction of the soldier.
From the man’s perspective. This soldier does not know him or his family’s circumstances, the assumption he needs or wants the soldier’s coin is insulting. To throw it at his child’s feet takes it a step further to be degrading. This is why the man spits in his direction. It tells the soldier what he thinks of his ‘charity’.
- Others in this man’s shoes (even Jamie) would feel this insult and understand why this man would be upset by Lt. Knox’s actions. Some may even say they would have done worse than spit at him. We know the bravado society puts after the fact.
From Lt. Knox’s perspective, a poor helpless family is needing assistance so he tossed them some coin he had on hand. It obviously wasn’t enough for them and the father spat at him. It was ungracious and disrespectful. His obvious generosity was a caring act to be commended, the man and his family should have thanked him for this good deed.
- The soldier’s and elitists in Lt. Knox’s company would see the situation exactly as he does. The reason? a) the soldiers because going against what their commanding officer says can pose a problem, so follow and agree. b) seeing themselves doing the same thing Knox has done, would feel exactly the same privilege.
Lt. Knox is as thick as a brick so he is offended that this man couldn’t see his generosity. He was literally so high on his horse, he missed the fact this family was asking for nothing. He saw himself as superior to them and he chose to give them money. Not just ‘give’ it to them but throw it at their feet. This was not an act of kindness but more an act of power. Expecting thanks and accolades for such a deed is pure arrogance.
There are small instances such as theses in our everyday. Telling someone to smile, not saying excuse me when we bump into somebody, moralizing and proclaiming to others “I don’t see colour”. Sure, using the word “villain” does seem extreme, however, things like those mentioned can really mess up ours, or someone else’s day. The examples were more along the lines of being the type of person that makes others feel better when we aren’t around. Micro-villains, I prefer that.
My mother used to say “If it quacks…it’s a DUCK!” She didn’t waste her didn’t time with “if it walks like a …” stuff. We know on Outlander, the whole “People show you who they are,” adage can be tricky.
Take Claire, she is working very hard to bring her knowledge of modern medicine into the past. Whipping up concoctions of this weird sounding ‘peniwhosiwhatsit’ that is supposed to cure all sorts of sickness. (I know what it is, I’m pretending to be from the 1700s and hearing the word…work with me) You can imagine what prying ears might hear. Or, lawd-have-mercy, what they might see. Like the body of a man that apparently was buried, now with his chest cracked open and his giblets laying all over the place.
Claire’s acutely aware that what she is doing would be seen as sacrilegious, macabre and downright inconceivable. Which means, Claire, our heroine, the matriarch of Outlander if standing in the middle of her community being 100% herself would be 100% a villain in the eyes of those around her. Given the people, the times, their education and knowledge of things that are – their perception would be altogether accurate.
Mrs. Bug thinks the woman is mad, hoarding all this bread to make some magic medicine! Imagine if she saw this poor chopped up man in Claire’s surgery. What we have to admit, unless you truly love Claire, understand what she does, how legitimately intelligent and medically knowledgable she is, the things she does in the world she lives in would never be perceived as anything BUT evil.
Hard to wrap your mind around it isn’t it? Thinking of Claire as a villain. While you are giving a go at those mental gymnastics, I want you to think of this – Stephen Bonnet as the hero.
WHAT THE ACTUAL F??? Yeah, me…I said that. I know…I know. We all know how deplorable the man is and of course, he is a villain. The worst kind. THE villain.
The truth of the matter is, Bonnet doesn’t think so. Get what I am saying? Most people who we see as villains have no problem at all seeing themselves as heroes. They have zero qualms with excusing their behaviour as justified and often blame others for forcing their hand.
This describes Bonnet. Seeing him in Between Two Fires sent shivers down my spine. Yup, he has still got IT. That thing that makes your skin want to crawl off of your bones and run away from home. Every nasty thing that SunnuvaBonnet does, he justifies.
Rationalizing behaviour like this gives us permission to a) repeat it b) excuse it. My point is, frequently those who so many of us see as the villain – will never see it themselves. That is why they exist in the first place. Those that have a measure of empathy and compassion – have the capacity to change.
As I sat with my own thoughts on this whole villain concept, I’m conscious of being the villain in other people’s stories. For some, I have made peace with that. It isn’t possible to alter their perceptions of me and for another, I don’t want that responsibility. I would rather be the perceived villain in our story than open the door to the chaos that created the situation. For others, it makes me sad and embarrassed that I know I could have behaved in a different way. As a consequence, the story may have had a happier ending.
How many times have we justified our actions? Whether they were out of anger, self-preservation or ego? I don’t know about you but my honest self says more times than I like to admit. Justifying something doesn’t mean we were right to do it, it only means we excused our actions at the time and painted ourselves on the “right” side.
The most interesting things cause us to sit back and look at the world, others and our own actions. This week it was this nugget of how we are seen through other’s eyes. We can say we don’t care, some don’t. Some, care too much. Maybe if we were all just a little more aware, it would make us a little kinder to one another.
Boy, I hope I find something FUN to talk about in next week’s episode. I am sure you do too.
PS – Don’t forget to join us as we livetweet to the W Network airing in Canada at 7 pm MST, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
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.**
Funny, the way things happen. All season I have been happily live-tweeting our #OutlanderCAN hashtag each episode as they air on W Network, here in Canada. I then ponder over each episode to try and pull something not so obvious from it. I have gotten decent feedback most of the time and am pretty proud of what I have done in both departments.
It so happens that during the airing of season 4’s finale, I ended up in the emergency department of my local health center and then whisked to the hospital for testing. What was I thinking about? Well…my imminent death or loss of a limb was first in my mind but I was also thinking about not being there to live tweet. I’m not even shitting you. I was thinking about that. So I tweeted to apologize and explain why I wouldn’t be there. Like people cared like I did. I mean, come on.
There is where the “not so obvious” for the season finale popped up for me. It’s not about you. The season finale wasn’t about me being there to live tweet or not, how important do I think I am anyway? 🙄 There were many instances I could easily say that to a character during the episode. I also find it amazing how often this happens in our every day. We tend to personalize other peoples behaviour, internalize it and make it about ourselves. We will get it in our heads that other people get up in the morning just to make ‘our‘ day more difficult. A little FYI, that usually isn’t a thing. Most peoples objective is to do things “for” themselves, not “against” someone else. This is not to say there is not collateral damage, there always is. That usually isn’t their intent.
The opening title card scene we see two young boys running around playing what they are taught to believe is an innocent child’s game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Watching is a proud Native American man that we later realize is Otter-Tooth because of the gemstone around his neck. This is not about the children, this is not about the ignorance of the systematic racism that caused us to believe this game wasn’t hurting anyone. This is about the man on the bench, the history of his people being changed and being replaced by society.
Claire, Ian and Jamie make their way into the Mohawk village looking for Roger. They know he is there. All three are trying to wheel and deal to get him back. Claire ends up with her scarf off and Otter-tooths gemstone exposed. This causes many in the tribe to gasp in fright and move away. Claire and Jamie’s first reaction is to calm them down, say they mean no harm, they want to help, to trade. Their immediate first thoughts are about what they can do for them. This isn’t about you Claire. This isn’t even about the tribe. This is about the gemstone. It is about the fear the tribe has for what that gemstone represents.
Murtagh has more than a few “this ain’t about you” buddy moments. What I found very interesting was it was Ulysses that silently gave him a lesson. Murtagh and Jocasta are discussing Brianna’s impending marriage to LJG. Which, Murtagh is taking very personally. There was one point when the discussion between Jocasta and Murtagh went from curt to argumentative. We could only see Ulysses’s hands- he went from gently holding them in front of him to loose fists at his side. Signalling protection. When Jocasta decides to leave Murtagh to his food, Ulysses takes her arm and offers Murtagh his assistance but with a very curt manner, the extra eyebrow added all we needed to know in this scene. Jocasta and Ulysses were letting Murtagh know Brianna’s future…not about you dude. Little did they know…it wasn’t about them either.
Going back to Otter-tooth for a little bit. I know people get upset about the story here, about his message of killing all the white people, of the war he wanted to lead in order to save his people. It upsets me too but maybe for different reasons. It upsets me because it would seem like the logical thing to do if I were in his place. If I were to be 100% honest with myself, which is not an easy task in any event, what he was saying would be the most effective way to save his people. It’s brutal and it is ugly, so is what the Native Americans and First Nations people of North America went through because of colonization. So, for this one. It’s not about you. Or me. Or any of the people Otter-tooth wanted to save his people and his history from. It was about the Mohawk and what they ultimately went through.
We finally get to Roger. Finally. Naturally, there is this crazy “no take-backsies” going on but since trading seems to be the currency in all things, even peopley things, Jamie offers himself up. Young Ian goes to work something out, in this, he thinks he is a better deal than the old gingersnap. Jamie is caught off guard, assumes he will rescue Ian away or Young Ian will escape when Ian shuts him down. This isn’t about you Uncle Jamie. Young Ian swore to the Mohawk, he gave them his word. He would stay with them, in return, Roger could go with Jamie and Claire, back to Brianna. Sweet Young Ian was taking responsibility for his actions as well as making a choice for his future. One that didn’t have anything to do with anyone else. Sometimes the choices others make can hurt us but they aren’t making them ‘to‘ hurt us. We have to be aware of that.
So, off goes Roger with Claire and Jamie. The first opportunity he gets to put a beating on Jamie, he takes it. I don’t blame him in the least. Apparently, neither does Jamie. Claire tries to stop him but Jamie knows, this is what Roger needs right now. I believe Jamie also wants Roger to let loose on him. His form of penance so to speak. In a way, Jamie is making Roger’s rage about him in order to rid himself of some of the guilt he feels over what he has done. Error in judgement or not, he owns it, as he should.
When Roger doesn’t go back with them to River Run right away, I don’t think it about the news that Brianna’s baby is possibly Bonnet’s. I think it is more about staying in the past. This has never been the plan. This is a new thing. It not just about Roger and Bree and their future anymore. It is about being a family in a completely different time. It is about living in a family with a man that damn near beat you to death and sold you to the Mohawk. It’s about living in a time when your wife was raped. This is a dangerous world and making the choice to live there. Making a choice like that without taking a moment to think would be doing a disservice to yourself and to the one you love. Not to mention all the people that will end up in your life as you move forward. This is a case of it’s not just about you.
Brianna was the one that was the victim of so much “It’s not about you” that it was painful to watch. Only because she did personalize so much of it. I was thankful that the birthing scene was Bree focused. It showed her strength, tenacity, ability and her dedication to doing this thing on her own when everything came down to it. Yes, she had her aunt there, her friends but ultimately, giving birth is about a mother and her child. There is no need a secondary narrative to focus on there. When Bree held her son for the first time, this story became about him now. That was her choice. Her love for him shone through.
When Claire and Jamie arrived back at River Run without Roger, the look that came over Bree’s face when she realized he wasn’t with them was pure heartache. It wasn’t about her but we all do what Bree did. She was personalizing Roger not coming back. Very likely creating a story in her head to match the pain she was feeling. It is such a common mechanism for us humans and so often our imaginations don’t match the reality. We replay other peoples choices like we have control over them. It is this weird dance we do. If I had done a, b or c. Only, it doesn’t work like that because they will always make the choices they want to no matter what we do. Roger does return to her though, as I knew he would. He returns to claim her as his wife and the baby as his son. It isn’t about any one person, it becomes about them as a family.
As Red Coats come riding up to River Run everyone assumes they are after Murtagh because he is, after all, the local fugitive in hiding. Jocasta and Murtagh share a little tête-à-tête that both Claire and Jamie witness and share their WTF faces. It’s ok guys, THIS little love affair…isn’t about you, so step off. Aunty Jo is getting herself some Silver Foxtail on the side and won’t be listening to any of your nonsense about it.
Last and certainly not least is the not so love letter from Governor Tryon. Jamie is expected to follow his beck and call. In this case, that means whippin’ up a militia and hunting down and killing Murtagh.
Well, Tryon, I know he likes to think everyone is just clamouring to serve him and his brilliant red coat wearing English army but here is the thing, they aren’t. No matter what Jamie’s obligation is to him we know that Jamie’s first obligation is to his family. It always has been and will be. Gov. Tryon happens to think this whole Regulator thing is me against them. That is where he is wrong. The Regulators have said from the start, they are more than willing to pay taxes, they are not willing to pay for the elites shitty castles and corruption. Plain as day, Gov. Tryon. Not. About. You. It’s about the people he is supposed to be helping. If he were to take the same amount of time he takes to fight them and listen to them instead, he might learn from them. Even this shows us we often make up our minds because we feel attacked when someone disagrees with us. Instead of listening we react. So much can be lost when all of that noise is happening.
Imagine. 13 weeks of Outlander is already gone. POOF! I absolutely loved this season. Every episode I enjoyed for different reasons and I was able to learn a little something in the hidden corners that helped me realize the writers, directors, cast and crew give so much to it. Still, Outlander isn’t about me.
It’s about so many people. Too many people to ever keep track of or make happy and that’s o.k. too. Want to know why? That is what makes life interesting. We can have animated conversations. We can discuss what we love, what we don’t and the things we missed and maybe why we think things were done the way they were. What I think the secret might be is respecting one another’s views and opinions as just that. Personal opinions based on personal experiences. They don’t have to assume someone else’s intent or be presented as facts. We can have fun with it because when it comes down to it, this thing called Outlander is a TV show that is created for our entertainment. It is supposed to bring up emotions. All of them. That is what makes great TV.
I’m not going to stop blogging over #Droughtlander, granted, I probably won’t do one once a week. I hope that we can keep each other company, stay engaged and not lose focus of what brought us together in the first place. A great story.
Sher (Founder of the #ABOotlanders)
Though the episode itself was the most religiously symbolic of any we have seen, this blog won’t be going in that direction. Unless of course, you are like me and your spiritual belief is based on being a decent human. If that is the case, then, you might make some comparisons.
As I have attempted to do from the start of the season, I take this blog to another place. This time it isn’t hidden, it isn’t a secret and it most assuredly is not masked. It nearly hits us over the head with many of our beloved cast members and even some we just meet.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller “
We are introduced to a wonderful new cast in this episode, Father Alexandre (played intensely by French actor Yan Tual), Johiehon (played by talented and stunning Canadian actress Sera-Lys McArthur), the woman he is in love with, Kaheroton (wonderfully portrayed by Canadian actor Braeden Clarke) who is also in love with Johiehon but her heart belongs to Alexandre, the father of her child.
This trio gave us not only performances that will stick with us, well, forever but they gave us a love story that is rooted in each one’s truth and character. Father Alexandre made a commitment to God, yet he broke that vow for this woman. Knowing he was damned for that, he accepted it. Yet he refused to damn his child for his perceived sins. He went to his death unaware his love would die with him, though I don’t believe this would have changed his mind. In my eyes, as Johiehon watched Father Alexandre, you could see not only the pain in her eyes but the desolation. Once Roger ensured his pain had ceased, it was not only an agony but a relief that came over her. Johiehon knew Kaheroton loved her, she knew he would care for her child out of that love. My heart damn near broke in half as she gently placed her child on the ground and walked into the flames. Knowing, she could not live in a world in which the man she loved was taken in such a way.
Depending on our perspective we can see Johiehon’s strength of character in many ways. I choose to see it in a way of grace. There are choices we feel we can live with and those we feel we can’t. Who are we to judge what others believe to be their limits?
Kaheroton gave Alexandre many chances to redeem himself to the Mohawk and not face death, yet I believe he always knew what choice the priest would make. I do think there was a part of him that thought once the priest was gone, he would be able to step in and care for Johiehon and her child. When she made the choice to join Alexandre in death rather than live without him, Kaheroton saw the mistake he had made. Instead of Johiehon only being brokenhearted as he had intended, she no longer existed. These are the lessons we are made to learn with when we bend our character. I am sure Kaheroton never expected it was one he would face. Now, he will see it up close, each day when he looks into the eyes of the child she left behind. This is sure to be a defining moment in Kaheroton’s life, a fork in the road of his character.
Brianna. We certainly saw the content of her character shine in the dark dank cell facing off against the sunnuvabitch Bonnet. Understanding completely what her BioDa was saying to her about forgiveness. It wasn’t for anyone but herself, freeing her of the hold this man had on her. Forgiving him would allow her to live her life without the fear and anger that came with the hold he had on her. Not only did she forgive him, but she also had the grace to give what she thought to be a dying man knowledge of his life (possibly) going on in the form of another. All I know is Brianna has about a bonnets full more character than I do. She’s just a better person than I am, and she is pretend.
Lord John, Murtagh, Fergus and Marsali. All of them are high on the truly good people scale. They all have the best of intentions in their choice making. They knew the consequences of living with the disappointment in themselves simply wasn’t worth it.
We watched Lord John decide his loyalty to Brianna and the Fraser family in general outweighed all other loyalties. Love, family and promises made really do mean more than business and duty. It most certainly laid out his character for us.
Murtagh, though a leader of the Regulation, he knew leaving a guard to die wasn’t the right thing to do. His pride in being Brianna’s protector was just that, pride. He set those things aside, showing his true self, his character.
Marsali and Fergus, those two are a true joy to watch. I believe in these two, I believe no matter what, if one wavers, the other will not nudge but push them in the direction they know they need to go. It isn’t a push of defiance, its a push of “LET’S DO THIS!” It’s the kind of push that we know we need. We are afraid to it alone. Like something is missing and when that other person says it’s right and validates our thoughts, we feel stronger. That is what Fergus and Marsali are. Each others Jiminy Cricket. Their character feeds one another, much like Johiehon and Father Alexandre but yes, to a much different end.
I don’t want to but I am going to. I am going to talk a little about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet. Here, I discuss lack of character. Psychopaths tend to be without it and he is no different. Some might be swayed to think that when he hands Brianna the gemstone, that is a glimpse of something deep within him. To that, I say, bullshit. When we show character, it isn’t for ourselves. It is because we can not possibly live with the other decision. Sunnuvabitch Bonnet is all but positive he is going to die. He doesn’t know where this gem will end up so why not have control over that too, right? This man’s lack of character is as obvious as his lack of shampoo.
I think the following quote fits both the man I just finished speaking about and the one I am about to…
“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” –Abigail Van Buren
One person this season whose has been back and forth quite literally has been Roger. We have seen him grapple repeatedly with the desire to keep Brianna safe and to be honest with her because sometimes telling people the truth ultimately hurts them. We have seen him risk his own life to try and save hers. We have seen him risk his life for the chance she might accept him. We have seen him beaten, sold, beaten, escape, tortured with the thought of going home to safety, not going home to safety because there was a chance to be with the woman he loved again, to being beaten and captured AGAIN. In all of this, Roger changes. Or does he? I think Roger, in this episode, tries to convince himself and his new companion, Father Alexandre, that he has changed into someone that needs to care only about himself. Believing caring about others has only has gotten him into this mess in the first place.
Where the truth lies is, Roger has always been this man. The man that cares, loves and wants to be loved. His character is goodness. Does it hurt him? Yes. In every way it does. Would it hurt him more to defy that goodness? Absolutely. It would hurt his soul. When you hurt your soul, you break something that can’t be mended until it is made right.
We saw this struggle for Roger numerous times but none so obvious as when he was at the stones, the physical pain on his face when he thought about going home and leaving Brianna. He knew he would never be able to live with that agony. It wasn’t simply about loving her. It was about his character. His right from wrong. Who he truly is. We saw it and heard it again, in technicolour, as he was running away from his captors and the tortured cry of Father Alexandre. He was verbally trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing by leaving Father Alexandre to the fate he had chosen for himself. The priest knew what he was doing, was a grown man, making an adult choice. Still, Roger being Roger, could not live with the knowledge that this man would possibly live for days in agony. Not knowing if or what he could do to help him, only that he must try. He turned around and went back. Roger was aware he would likely face the same fate. To Roger, this was more bearable than living with the knowledge that he turned his back and did nothing.
The truth is an inherently good person makes these choices every day, or they live with the pain of making the wrong choice. That voice in our ear, that pit in our stomach, that feeling we get that we should have made another choice – that is the pain I’m talking about.
The bigger the choice the louder the voice, the deeper the pit, the stronger the feeling. We always have the power to reverse the effects of those bad feelings but of course, it is always wise to try and make the right decision in the first place, but you know, life.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”- Kahlil Gibran
There is no doubt in my mind that if we really wanted to use this season as a barometer for our behaviours, the way we treat others and ourselves, we could truly learn a lot. What it takes is being open and to think critically. It certainly isn’t easy, especially in real life but it is worth it. Even when it hurts. Hmmm, maybe especially when it hurts.
Sher (founder of the @ABOotlanders)
Please join us as we livetweet the FINALE while we watch on W Network Sunday, Jan 27th, use the hshtag #OutlanderCAN so we can find you! Man, I can’t believe it’s over already.
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
I have watched Wilmington 4 times now. The term “emotional whiplash” was being used and I am hard pressed to find another term that is as effective as that one. Unlike a roller coaster of feelings, this is different.
As always the focus of my after the show blog isn’t about the topic of the day or the feelings that rise to the top the quickest but the stuff that bubbles under the surface. Things that I end up thinking about later. This doesn’t mean I am ignoring the big stuff. It also doesn’t mean I am avoiding the hard conversations. I am leaving those for my friends who will discuss them with dignity and introspect. Like Connie here, I don’t always share the same views but I love her writing and deductions. Being open to how others see things is important. It helps expand our own perceptions. I encourage you to read hers.
I started on the path “Life is a Stage” as it was so prevalent through the episode. Upon waking this morning, I read a beautiful blog from Outcandour who shared much of what I was thinking but, of course, said it much more eloquently with no goofy or distracting gif’s.
There was something else I thought about during this episode and it may seem like a stretch, and for me this time, I am o.k. with that. The reason? This episode was a lot. I truly could go off in a million little pieces.
I find myself in the world of self-examination. As we are most definitely fallible and perfectly imperfect humans we often care more about “being right’ than “making things right”. Those little arguments that have the potential to become big ugly things.
The most obvious in the episode, Wilmington, is our beautifully cracked set of numpties Roger and Bree. Instead of admitting fault, taking responsibility for the events that sparked the argument or even swallowing one’s pride in order to make amends, both parties chose to escalate the confrontation. Even pushing one another further into the fray.
These are 100% human reactions. We may prefer to think we are better than that but mostly, we aren’t. When our feelings are hurt, we can lash out in an attempt to cause equal amounts of pain. If we succeed in this, we feel validated. Our feelings of vindication can be short-lived if we start thinking of the situation with a calmness later on.
There is this weird mind game we play with ourselves. We are convinced there must be right and wrong in every argument. When very often, arguments take place because both parties are right. They simply are having a difficult time expressing their points or they are choosing not to listen to one another. Naturally, there are the times when each person is completely out to lunch and there is absolutely no point in engaging them at all. During those times, it’s entirely logical to hit the “bless and release” button.
Feelings of betrayal, anger, embarrassment and shame all overshadowed the other emotions that brought Roger and Bree together. Those of us watching from the outside, the ones not feeling the pain from the inside are able to think through this situation with clarity and assign blame in which we believe are the appropriate places. I think if we are to recall a time when our emotions were at a fever pitch, we could empathize more with both of them.
Claire, Claire, Claire. At first, in regards to Mr. Fanning’s ummmm…issue. She knows she is right about what is going on with him but she doesn’t push the issue too far. Instead of being right, she just plays nice, takes a step back and blends in, as is expected. She isn’t particularly happy doing it but Claire isn’t always reckless. Until of course, being right means saving a man’s life. Then, there is no stopping the woman.
Even though Governor Tryon and Murtagh never share the screen together, the conflict between the two is ever present. We have two very clear sides. Tryon, collecting his taxes (heavily and wastefully by all appearances) and Murtagh with his Regulators. They are a fed up tax paying band of brothers willing to set the Governor and his men straight by stealing those taxes back. Tryon is right, dammit! There is no wiggle room. There will be no voice given to the Regulators in the Governor’s presence. Whereas the Regulators have said time and time again, they are willing to pay taxes. Fair taxes. Taxes meant for the things taxes are meant for, not to line the pockets of aristocrats and certainly not to build palaces and pay for the Governor and his friends to live in luxury. Which to anyone, with any sense in their head, is indeed fair and just.
Jamie has the opportunity to do right by his friend/godfather. Yes, Murtagh was breaking the law, however, the lines of rightness are blurred here. He knows Murtagh is going to get a stretched neck if he continues on with his plan of robbing the redcoats. Jamie is aware the excessive tax money is being used in an unjust way and also doesn’t blame Murtagh for the things he is doing either. In the grand scheme of things, what happens to Murtagh will affect Jamie, emotionally. This is something he isn’t willing to deal with later. He loves the man and wants to do right by him. This is the choice he has made.
We move to the last scene where the opposite has taken place. There is no right here. There is no world where any of this right. Bree’s rape where an inn/tavern is full of people, men and women alike. Sitting. Listening. A young woman being brutalized. There is no movement to make this right. No one dares. It speaks to much deeper dialogue. On a smaller scale, in our every day many of us do this. We see situations, moments in time that give us pause. We know there is little we can do to change the outcome…so we do nothing. The outcome doesn’t affect us directly, so we do nothing.
How often have we seen things in society which we rail against those who stood by without offering assistance? Who held up a video camera to record the events but didn’t intervene? These are moments we wish we would be different, we like to think we would be the ones to stand up and say something, we hope we are the person that would do the right thing.
There are times and circumstances when being right and making things right are the same thing but it takes some serious food for thought and self-examination to see when we simply want to be right, feelings and outcome be damned.
Until next time,
Sher (ABOotlander founder)