Spring is finally in the air for this Canadian and I figured, there is no better way for the LOVELANDER project to bloom into the season than with the couple who defied the dastardly Brown family. They rode off into the sunrise-ish together. (We will have to wait and see if we get anymore of their saga later on.)
I do these interviews to give you the people behind the characters. Their careers rarely start with Outlander and they most definitely will not end with it. This fandom of ours has a way of following the lives of cast members so it is my hope #TheLOVELANDERProject helps do that. I am going to start with Jon Tarcy, aka Isaiah Morton, as we were introduced to his character first.
The Isaiah Morton/Alicia Brown story was one I wasn’t sure we were going to get to see on screen but I was delighted, as were many other fans that these characters were introduced.
I admit ‘the Isaiah’ I had perceived from the books wasn’t quite as dashing or balsy as the Isaiah who showed up on screen but I am not complaining.I give all the credit to that discrepancy to the man playing him, Jon Tarcy.
Jon grew up along the River Thames in a borough of London called Kingston-Upon-Thames,. He has a close relationship with his younger sister, Emma and brought her into his world of make believe very early.
Many actors had a flare for performance at a young age, is the same true for you?Like a lot of kids, I was performing weekly shows in the living room for my family when I was about 4 or 5 – magic shows were a particular favourite, with my sister always being recruited to play the magician’s assistant. That led on to me getting involved in as much drama as I possibly could at school, but it wasn’t until I was in a teenager that I started to think this was something I could do as a career, and my family have been hugely supportive ever since.
It is apparent your talent and their support was a winning combination. As I was looking through your previous achievements, including the ones I already mentioned, you played Tony in West Side Story. You have an incredible singing voice. Hey guys, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself in this video of Jon and Christina Bennington.
That video shows how strong your sing voice is, was that something that has always been a passion? Thank you! Yes, Singing has always been something that I’ve loved to do. I was in a church choir when I was younger singing a lot of classical music, but then as I started to perform in school shows I fell in love with Musical Theatre (Playing Marius in Les Misérables and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd were real highlights!). When I was 15 I gained a place at the National Youth Music Theatre which really helped propel me towards singing professionally, and I’ve always looked for opportunities to combine my acting and singing ever since.
Theatre has such a rich history in the UK and you firmly embedded in it. What is it about theatre that you love? Theatre is a great passion of mine and I’ve loved all of the roles I’ve played thus far. I particularly enjoyed my time with the Royal Shakespeare Company – it’s such a fantastic training ground for a young actor and was a huge dream of mine to be part of that company. I’ve also really enjoyed working on the development of new projects, whether that be a new pop musical or adaptation of a novel, it’s always very exciting to be in the rehearsal room in those early stages.
When we are creative people, we tend to gravitate to certain performances or people, do any stand out for you? I think it can be anything or anyone. It can be just as inspiring to go and see an incredible performance in the theatre or on TV, as it can be to go to a gallery or listen to an album. Particular people who I’m currently inspired by are: John Owen Jones, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, & Mark Duplass.
I obsess over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Everything she has done, or will do. I seem to do that, obsess. You of course, seem much more laid back in your enjoyment of entertainment.
Fans following you on Instagram will be able to tell you have a love of travel, do you have a top three favourite locations you have visited? Oh that’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a top three, but my most recent adventure (pre-covid) was a trek to see the incredible Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Something I’ll certainly never forget!
That sounds so majestic and a little bit terrifying. Is there a destination still on your must see list? I’d love to go to Madagascar, but I’m also keen to go to South America….there’s just so many places, I can’t decide! The UK is also a brilliant place to travel, and there are so many places I’m still to tick off my bucket list here.
It’s my understanding the Outlander production was becoming fairly well known to the industry in the UK, had you heard of it before you auditioned? Yes I had, and I’d heard such lovely things about the show & the team so it was really exciting to audition for it.Had you auditioned for any other roles besides Isaiah?No I hadn’t. What was that process like? My agent had organised for me to send in a tape for the role of Isaiah, and I then had a recall in person with the brilliant casting director Suzanne Smith. A few weeks later when I heard I got the part I was absolutely over the moon and couldn’t wait to get started.
Did you read the book at all to get the back story of Isaiah? For a bigamist, he is a pretty decent guy. I mean, the Brown’s weren’t the best choice of ‘second family’ but you can’t win them all. I did, I really enjoyed reading ‘The Fiery Cross’ and it was important for me to read all of that extra detail about the character that Diana Gabaldon describes in her fantastic books.
I admitted your portrayal of Isaiah came off as much stronger than I gave him as a reader of the books. You gave him a certain dignity that I believe bolstered him. How did you prepare? I did quite a lot of work on the accent (I’m not originally from Scotland sadly), and read up on the history of the period that the show is set. How would you describe Isaiah? I would describe Isaiah as a someone who follows his heart, but doesn’t always think first with his head….
Seems to be a “I’m an Outlander character characteristic”. One of the scenes I cheered on your performance was when Isaiah, in essence told Jamie and Roger off. Was it tricky to play that scene when you have only spent brief moments together on screen with Alicia? It really wasn’t hard at all. Anna Burnett who plays Alicia was a joy to work with and we had a lot of fun shooting episode 4.
What were your favourite scenes to shoot? I loved all of the scenes I shot on the show. I guess highlights were, the scene you describe above with Jamie, Roger and Claire, and the night scene where Isaiah pulled a gun on Jamie. I learnt so much performing scenes with all of those actors, and Isaiah’s journey in those scenes was particularly fun to play.
They were equally enjoyable to watch. It’s always fun to see other characters to get one up on the shows lead characters. Were there any other experiences that you felt you learned something new on set? Horse riding was a big one. I hadn’t done that before so was a little nervous, but the brilliant horse team (including Olly, Matt and Leah) up in Scotland trained me up, and I was riding in no time.
When in good hands we are capable of great things! It is pretty sweet when we can learn not only a new skill but an recreational activity while we are getting paid.
What are 3 things you do to relax? Swimming, watching movies and, as of recently in lockdown, playing a lot of chess.
Given your character Isaiah penchant for love and that spring is in the air, would you consider yourself the romantic type? I absolutely am – put me in front of the movies ‘Before Sunrise’ or ‘Before Sunset’ and I’m a total mess.
What would you say the most romantic thing you have done or had done for you was?Now I’m not sure I’ve answered the previous question right, as I can’t think of many sweeping romantic gestures I’ve done. Perhaps I need to plan a few more surprises….
We could all probably do with a few more of those. I would say Isaiah played his cards right when it came to Alicia.
Speaking of Alicia Brown…Anna Burnett had the very tough job of bringing this young lady to life in such a short amount of time. It was her job to first, ingratiate her self to viewers so we would connect to her plight without judging her. As many know, Outlander fans are tough nuts to crack in that respect. Anna then had the task of making us root for Alicia. It was up to her to have us wanting Alicia to escape the misogynist patriarchal Brownsville thumb she was held byand run away with Isaiah. A man who we find out is for all intents and purposes, a bigamist.
Anna, take a bow. Well played.
Anna grew up London and like many young actors her love of the arts started in school. It was the drama department that sparked her interest. She began taking drama classes on the weekends and from there, the auditions came along. The rest is ‘herstory’.
Your first job listed on IMDB is the series Jonathan Creek , the next year you went on to star in The Falling, which is such a fantastic film. Two obviously distinct experiences for you, can you share what those were like?They were both brilliant, but very different. I filmed Jonathan Creek over a few days, but for The Falling a group of us all lived in a house together in the countryside for 4 weeks. The director Carol Morley is an incredible filmmaker, and the cast and crew on The Falling were almost all female, which was hugely inspiring for all of us as young actresses. We would film Sunday to Thursday, and on Fridays I would be back at school trying desperately to catch up with my schoolwork! It was my first experience of spending a long period of time on one job, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
You have worked with what I would guess are some inspiring actors (Maxine Peake, Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas – to name a few), have you taken advice or picked up something you feel has made you better at your craft?I think with every job I’ve done I’ve learnt something new. Just being able to watch these actors do their work has taught me a lot, and there’s so much I’ve picked up from working with such brilliant people. Being kind and keeping a good sense of humour definitely goes a long way, and that’s something that the cast of Outlander does so well!
Since you brought it up *wink*, let’s turn to your Outlander experience. What was that process was like for you? I was really lucky to meet both Suzanne Smith, the casting director, and Jamie Payne, the director, during the audition process for Outlander. Alicia is a character that really wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t hold back, so it was liberating to really throw myself into Alicia’s emotional side as well as her complete determination during the audition. That’s what I loved about playing her too, the fact that she’s so open and wild, completely guided by her heart. It was great to read the source material alongside the script to really build a picture for myself of who the Browns were and what Alicia’s place was in their world.
I must say, for the little time Alicia is given, you were able to portray her deep sadness convincingly. You gave Jon (Isaiah) the perfect amount of dedication to not make it overblown or dramatic. I was impressed by your ability to convey your emotions with limited dialogue. Is there a secret to this or are you just that good? *smile*Thank you! I think the secret is working with great actors! With such an intense storyline, it was amazing to work with actors who are so generous and skilled. It always felt like we were working together as a team, and the friendly atmosphere on set really put everyone at ease. I think that made our jobs ten times easier.
Speaking of that, many of the cast on Outlander speak about how easy going everyone is, how it feels like a family on set.That’s completely true! I always think that the lead actors on any project really set the tone for everyone on set, and Caitriona and Sam were constantly upbeat and welcoming to everyone throughout. All of the cast and crew were so easy to work with and I was definitely sad to say goodbye when my filming time was up!
You had intense scenes with Caitriona Balfe, which to your credit, you shone in. I cannot imagine what that would be like, a regular day on the job or super intimidating? Although it was such a big show to be a part of, Caitriona made me feel so welcome and at ease on set. She’s such a fantastic actor, I was really lucky to work alongside her and loved doing our scenes together.
Do you have a most memorable moment from your time on set? I think, apart from all the fun we had, one moment that sticks in my mind was from my last day on set. It was a sunny day (which was rare during filming!!) and we were shooting the scene towards the end of the episode where Alicia and Isaiah escape. All Jon (Isaiah) and I did all morning was sit on this beautiful horse in the sunshine – lush!
We are still living through this pandemic life. I am going to wrap up by asking some fun and fluffy questions that might ignite fans into reading or watching something new.
What was the last book you read?The last book I read is called ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ by Candice Brathwaite. It’s a non-fiction book about being a Black mother in Britain and it was so thought-provoking and moving, I would highly recommend it to everyone.Sounds like a must read. This goes on my reading line-up, for sure.
Many of us have been doing a lot of binge watching. What was the last show that trapped you?The last show I binge watched was a brilliant Australian show called Upright. It’s only short, and once you settle into it, it really takes you along and makes you care so much for the characters.
Tick! Added to my watchlist. Now, what are three shows you think everyone needs to put on their watchlist? And 3 shows everyone has to watch are Succession, Normal People and Euphoria!
AGREED! It’s nice to have the same taste as a young and talented woman. Makes me feel good about myself.
As Outlander fans, we should all continue to thank Suzanne Smith for always casting humans that dive into their roles with all that they are. They take the time to breathe life into them, give them a depth we can be grateful for. Without a strong, vibrant supporting cast building these stories Outlander’s main cast would be stretched too thin.
I want to thank both Jon and Anna for taking time out of their busy lives to join #TheLOVELANDERProject and make our days a little brighter. This fandom is a lucky bunch.We have so many things to keep our thirst quenched this Droughtlander, friends!
Many Outlander fans were introduced to Barry Waldo as the proud (yes, handsome) husband of Jon Gary Steele,(referred to as Gary) brilliant production designer of Outlander from seasons 1-5 (amongst many other productions). Barry is an accomplished producer and writer in his own right. Once I found him on social media, I was immediately attracted to his wit, compassion and talent.
Yes, he shared BTS photos and rarely seen JGS sightings in the wild but it was Barry himself and his warmth that kept me and others engaged.
I was quite beside myself that Barry was so receptive to The LOVELANDER Project. I am grateful people can’t see me doing the happy little dance wiggle when people reply positively to my queries. The fact that we he was also massively open and honest with all I asked was a thrill. It is time to grab a lil somethin’ somethin’ and settle in for the Barry -n- Sherry show.
Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The LOVELANDER Project.Your twitterand IG presence developed your own fan base in the Outlander world, did you expect that to happen😊?What a very nice thing to say—no, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s quite hilarious actually. Gary and Terry(Dresbach – Outlander’s former Costume Designer) gave me endless grief for being on social media years before Outlander began— “it’s an invasion of privacy” and “whatever you do, don’t post that photo!” (self-admittedly, I’m a bit of a shutterbug). It’s funny how it all evolved, and although neither of them would admit it, I think they eventually enjoyed it… eventually 😉 It was only in the last year Gary stopped calling it “Tweeter!”
I’ve always been curious about the world, discovering what people are up to, taking travels of the mind, learning about other cultures and traditions. Everything shifted a bit when we moved to Scotland. When you work in entertainment and live in Los Angeles, you feel like you’re in the heart of it all—you hear the gossip, you hear about projects being pitched about town and then one day, boom, you’re in faraway Scotland looking at gorgeous lochs and mountains, trying to figure out exactly what haggis is, trying to hide your LA wardrobe under a foreign object called a raincoat, and concentrating really hard to translate Scottish into English. At the same time, everyone back in the States was asking where we had disappeared to, so I figured why not share it?
I am sure your friends back home were happy you did, I know all of your new friend’s aka, me, were!You grew up in Arkansas, can you tell me a little about your childhood? Wow! This is better than therapy! How much time do you have?Others have accused me of deep diving into their brains before. so you aren’t far off base. I have allll day.
It’s a fish out of water story, really. It’s the complete opposite of my twenty years in Los Angeles. I grew up in the country, riding bikes then motorcycles on dirt roads, camping, hunting and fishing… I must have built a fort in the woods every single week. We ate Mom’s fried chicken and Dad hosted the neighborhood fish fry with hushpuppies and fried okra every weekend. Friday night high school football games, getting bullied in school, ‘goin’ Jeepin’—I mean it’s almost a cliché, right? My first real job was at Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck E. Cheese) during high school and afterwards I went to The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the exact same college that Gary attended although we never met or knew each other. To this day, I’m still a massive country music fan. I am forever grateful for the freedom of a small town, southern childhood, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I always knew, from the youngest age, I wanted to see more of the world.
It is very apparent that you are a storyteller and a damn good one. What do you think sparked that light in you?When you grow up in a small town in the southern US, it’s just built into you. My parents were big on the philosophy children are to be seen but not heard. If we wanted to hang out with the adults—which we always did— you had to be quiet. My dad is the best storyteller I know. Even when he re-tells a story, there is always a new twist, a detail he simply omitted from the first time. I would listen to all the stories and take it all in. Then we would get bored and go play. The mindset of kids is amazing! We were fearless in designing our own plays, dance routines and poems and couldn’t wait to perform them. How could anyone not love our creations! I think the first story I ever wrote was about a hot dog with a cape that wanted to save the world. As a maturing adult, I forgot that lesson—to be fearless. Things happen, life happens, and I had to focus on responsible things. It never occurred to me that people could make a living telling stories. It was only when I started working at Disney that I realized you could, well not anyone, but if you worked in a certain division, you could. Years later, I went to work for Mattel where there were fewer rules, and I had more freedom. One day a peer who oversaw research walked into my office, showed be a really rough sketch of monster dolls and asked me if I thought I could see, then create, a story from it. That became a world called Monster High. Once the book was released and the very first Nickelodeon special (New Ghoul at School) was aired, I wanted to do more and I haven’t been able to quit doing it since.
I’m not sure if you know but Diana Gabaldon, also had a turn at writing comics for Disney in the 70’s, so there is a connection that you and she share. I am an Eeyore lover, he and I connected in Disneyland 13 years ago 😉. I hear that you and Winnie the Pooh have a special relationship, can you share?Diana has my complete sympathy! Disney is a tough customer when it comes to working with outside creators. I really enjoyed my time there. Yes, I am unapologetically a major Winnie-the-Pooh fan. It was one of the brand portfolios I managed across the globe during my time there. I learned so much from studying A.A. Milne’s journey. I love the entire ensemble of characters—and used to travel and give presentations with my very own Happy Ears Eeyore and Tumble Time Tigger; I championed The Heffalump Movie—it was so exciting to bring the franchise back to the big screen. I own a Happy Ears Eeyore…LOVE him. I might love all 50 of my Eeyore’s.Oh to see one of those presentations!
Years later, it was quite a twist of fate to be back on the lot as a creator pitchingStar Darlings, a world that was created with my partners Shana and Ahmet Zappa. Disney eventually acquired it from us. I still love those characters and that world!
It was an incredible story culture, and I can’t say enough about the talented artist and illustrators that I’ve worked with there over the years. I think anyone who has worked for Disney would tell you not to over glamorize it; it is still hard work and has typical corporate politics—don’t expect blue birds to bring you lunch.
Your career was certainly on an uptick when your spouse had this job opportunity that happened to be in Scotland. As a former military spouse, I know that “Let’s do this and support them feeling.” What was like for you?Wow, this really is the best therapy session EVER! And you nailed the feeling which is hard to really understand unless you’ve been through it which you have. Fair to say, I underestimated it.
When Gary, Terry and Ron started working on the pitch lookbook for Outlander, I was working for Coca-Cola on a celebrity partnership and then became the Chief Marketing Officer for will.i.am’s (Black Eyed Peas) company. At first, we didn’t think too much about it—Terry and Gary had a history of crazy shenanigans that, well, over time, I had learned not to ask. One day, he said he was going out to T’s to start thinking about a conceptual lookbook for a possible new series, then poof! Next thing I know, he and Ron were in Scotland doing location scouts!
What most fans don’t realize is how developing a series is like walking on a frozen lake—at any minute it could crack and fall through, the pilot could get green lit or cancelled, or it could be one [season] and done.
So at first we didn’t overthink it—and chalked it up to a great adventure for Gary. He packed a suitcase and went off to Scotland while I continued to work and take care of things at home in Los Angeles. Because will.i.am spends a lot of time in the UK (he is one of the original judges on The Voice UK), I was able to visit the UK frequently. At some point, about midyear 2016, Sony greenlit two additional seasons at once (S3 and S4). At that point, I had been commuting from Los Angeles to Scotland for several years, and I had taken eleven international flights in twelve months so it just wasn’t good for my health—you’re always jet lagged, the weather was often terrible, flights delayed and so on. Don’t forget, the first season was a whopping 16 episodes—a massive number and very unusual‑ so Gary couldn’t really come home or take any time off so it was all up to me to get to him. Not to mention his intense workload, hours and pressure to get that first season perfect; it was all-consuming so we were barely able to fight, er, I mean talk, on the phone once a day 😉 When I would see him, I would be so jet lagged and he would be so exhausted, we would just sleep through the weekend and then I’d have to leave again. It took a heavy toll on us and we had to make a decision: his job or mine. I think I’m oversharing – am I oversharing now? Sorry. Perhaps I should just say “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” *laughs*
These things are never easy...what tipped you toward Scotland?It wasn’t a black or white decision—financially it made sense for us to do one thing, emotionally his passion for the project and his recognition with the Emmy nomination pointed a different direction. We were loving our time and friends in Scotland, and ultimately decided on adventure over practical matters. Now, all I had to do was reinvent myself.
That is something the ‘spouse that goes’ has to do, reorganize and resettle. It’s tough. marriage is hard work!
Which by the way, congratulations on celebrating 21 years together! The photos of you and JGS really are too much handsome in one place it’s pretty distracting.That is incredibly nice of you to say to two country boys from Arkansas so I will simply say “thank you” and please don’t look too close at those photos.
I’ve zoomed in, I have no idea what you are talking about. Now, you are handsome in 10X zoom but o.k. *smile*
As someone who has been with her partner a long time too, I am curiouswhat you believe are the most important qualities in a partner? This is such an individual thing, but there is one universal truth: saying “I’m sorry” (whether I am or not, and many times I am NOT, but yes, I am very, very sorry!) If you can’t ever admit you’re wrong, or very importantly for us, when you are supposed to be wrong – hint: I am always wrong after his 16 hour workday arm wrestling for every color or construction detail for a set, and he is always wrong after my fifteen hours and two layovers of flying. If you ever hear someone scream “I AM SORRY!” really, really loud at the airport or train station, it’s just us.
That visual, is hilarious.Thank you for sharing it.
Still, you are your husband’s biggest fan, it is not hard to see that the feeling is mutual, of course.I’m going to get nosey and ask how you met.
We met in Los Angeles through a mutual friend. It went something like this –Producer/Writer Friend: “Seen any movies lately?”Me: Yes, I just saw this really disturbing film called American History X *shiver*”Producer/Writer Friend: *screaming across the yard* GARY! Get over here! He just saw your movie!” Gary was the art director on the movie. I was working for Procter & Gamble and thought all Hollywood jobs were fluff!
See? You can teach an old dog new tricks!
I love it! And you were not so old then, not that you are old now…o.k., changing the subject…
I have learned not to ask for one favourite so if you could give me your top 5 Outlander sets -what would they be, and why?Maybe it’s because we’ve been apart for 6 weeks, or that I’m on an airplane back to the UK right now to rejoin him, but this question has me sobbing (sorry lady sitting next to me‑I’m really going to be OK; thankfully crying is not a symptom of COVID or people would be parachuting out the windows).
You know what? I am his biggest fan—yes as a professional designer but even more so as a human being.
OK! OK! Enough with all that! I’m not crying, you’re crying! On with the show: My Top 5 Outlander sets—wait, only five? I know! I’m horrible!
The Star Chamber:not only is it amazing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen JGS so excited as when he was building it. God help the man that got in the way of JGS and his Star Chamber!
The Great Hall: No one ever talks about this set but it was magical. The Great Hall was the set playing on one of my first few trips to Scotland. I was allowed to hide up in the rafters, out of the camera’s sight. John Dahl was directing the scene with Jamie agreeing to take the punishment for Laoghaire. The set was full of extras (don’t get me started about Terry and the costume team’s brilliant work. The sheer volume of it! I just wanted to touch everyone—the details were amazing, the volume of work unfathomable). I remember watching the crew lower and then light every candle on all those chandeliers and sconces (those were 100% real candles y’all). It took over 30 minutes to light them all, then raise them on their chains back to ceiling level. I was so scared that if I moved, I would get in trouble so I couldn’t wait for the Director to yell “cut” so I could frantically try to wave the smoke away, and cough!Picturing you doing this makes me giggle and look for you struggling to breathe in the background scenes. Which I know I could never find because this production isn’t going to let that happen but it’s still fun to imagine.
Claire’s Kitchen in the Boston Apartment: The appliances, the colors, the checkered floors—all the details instantly made me what to grab an ice cream soda, play Elvis on the Jukebox, watch I Love Lucy and smoke a cigarette like I didn’t know it caused cancer. It’s times like this when the writer in you just flies out, Barry!
The Parisian Apartment—I would never leave…ever. Comprenez vous? Totalement! Idem.
Master Raymond’s Apothecary — He had me at “hanging alligator.” Geillis’ attic was a close runner up.
Your work is so filled with cheeky humour, bright characters, and uplifting messages. This is also a large part of your presence on social media. It is a gift you bring to the world. How important is that to you? Life can be hard! On any given day, you can feel a moment of sadness or a tough time that someone in our social media fanmily is going through. I try to remember that lesson from childhood – listen before you talk. I read as many comments and DM’s as possible. Some days, I just want to brighten someone’s day. It means so much when someone actually messages me and says – your post made me smile or got me through a rough day. I try to keep that perspective—most of the time.
It is something more of us could practice. I love your way with words. Which is fantastic segue to mention your book, Anna and the Apocalypse, a great YA read, the concept was born on a train in the UK, is that something you can explain to me? When I first moved to the UK, I still had some work to finish that required me to live in London. I would commute every weekend to Glasgow via train. On one of those crowded train rides, I struck up a conversation with a young Scottish Producer and we chatted for the entire five hours. Toward the end, he mentioned he was producing an independent movie in Glasgow and asked if I would like to come by and meet some of the team. When I asked what it was about, he replied “it’s a high school zombie musical.” I thought this sounds like the worst idea I’d ever heard. He gave me his info and said please come by on Monday. I honestly thought I would never go, but on Monday, I input the address in google maps and, to my shock, their offices were literally twelve doors down from our flat. When I walked in, I saw Dave Frew, one of the post production editors on Outlander. It was an instant short-handed way to verify we were both legit; it reminded me of the benefits and familiarity of being in a smaller city. Then I met more of the team, listened to the rough tracks of the brilliant songs and just sort of fell in love with it, the team and their sincere passion for making the best story possible. It was an earnestness that you don’t see in the Hollywood community—the sheer joy absent all the politics—it was the way content creators were intended to create. Luckily, they invited me to join in.
Months later, we were on set shooting Hollywood Ending, a signature musical number for the film, and I kept thinking the song lyrics are absolutely brilliant story telling. I fell completely in love with the young cast and their characters—a testament to not only the talent but the creator, writers, producers and director. It was the kind of production that would have never happened in the US. It reminded me of being fearless. It was also the complete antithesis of Outlander. If Outlander was Champagne, Anna was that mysterious local homebrew created by the pub owner, and always on special for 99p—absolutely brilliant in its own right. I kept thinking how else can we tell this fun story? What other mediums can we tap into and share its current generational insights? Recall Monster High was introduced to the public by a YA book so I seem to be a magnet for this genre.
I’m attracted to the things that bring me to a place I want to go back to, but to relive them my way. I’m not sure if that is the same for you but you really have that genre, nailed. Any hints on the next book? *innocent eye flutters*Sure – there are four projects I’m juggling at the moment. A terrible way to do it but the imagination wants to go where the imagination wants to go! The first is an adult fiction novel with a rather large ensemble group of characters – not the easiest one to take on when you’re still learning. I’m just about to finish the development edits on it.
The second project is a Children’s Picture Book series. It’s about a young bear that beats to his own drum and wants to discover friendly faces in faraway places—I am completely obsessed with it. It is, by far, my most challenging project.
Then there are two more YA fiction books. The first is still in early draft stage. It is about a protagonist with Asperger Syndrome that discovers an alien species. The second one is a female-empowerment fantasy story along the lines of Monster High and Star Darlings. I am co-writing it with a good friend who is a talented British author.
These all sound intriguing and extremely exciting! I know everyone is going to be looking forward to these coming together. You are most assuredly doing some multitasking. Where do you find is the best place for you to write? What do you find are ideal surroundings for you? Anywhere where Gary is not!
Oh, I’m totally kidding… kind of *wink* I am more productive in the UK than the US, perhaps that is due to having more rainy days in the UK, fewer fires, earthquakes and hurricanes to dodge?
Honestly, I’m constantly on the move so it’s just about making it work. Those five-hour train rides between London and Glasgow were great for writing unless (1) there was a football match and the train was filled with inebriated kilts, or (2) you sit next to a pre-schooler who needs help with her Princess sticker book. Then they are great in an entirely different way. If you don’t make my heart melt with your pictures online, you go and make my heart melt with comments like that.
I love writing in the British Library when it’s not overly crowded. There’s something about sitting in the shadows of towers of books that makes me want to be a better writer. I like to write for a few hours, then relocate and write some more.
You are vocal about the world’s (and your own country’s) current state of affairs. Even when there is clap back that people believe celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves. I personally don’t think our professions in any way dictate our right to an opinion. I am however curious, how this affects you or those you know when you are faced with remarks like this.When you create stories, you think about who are the good women, and who are the bad guys all day long 😉 So is it really any surprise that, in the real world, the people we talk the most about are those that fit into those classifications? Do you really want to read posts about the most average person that did the most average thing?
Celebrities have a whole different thing with which to deal—people want to believe they are actually their characters in real life. When you live in California, you don’t really pay attention to the celebrity thing—they are friends, family, friends of friends and people entitled to opinions just like us. They put their underwear on one leg at a time, they have feelings, they are not the characters you see on screen. I’m not one so you’d have to ask them—but IMO that pressure is a privilege and I think most of the talent I know personally accept it and handle it with great respect. They are human after all.
That same expectation has trickled over into social media. People want to think you are only what you post, and in many ways that’s understandable because it is more like a reality show. It is a privilege to have people follow you— even if there are only five of them and one is my mother, another is Gary and three others are someone’s pets.
Seriously, the world is a big, beautiful diverse place! That’s what I love about it! We are all not the same. So I have to expect, and respect, that my followers are going to be equally diverse. Social media is an amazing place to learn about new things. Gary must send me ten DM’s a day with dreamy cabins, sculptures and fantastic art. As a kid in rural Arkansas, I yearned to know so much more about the bigger, broader world beyond my small town. I see it was a wonderful gift to be able to communicate with so many people around the world with a few simple clicks. Amazing, right? And what is also amazing is CHOICE. With a simple click, we all get to choose to follow or unfollow someone. That is a big truth, we do have the choice and Barry, you happen to be selling yourself short. You are pretty big deal in your own right. Though I sense that isn’t something you take seriously, which is also endearing. What do think is important when interacting with people in the social media age?Now let’s talk about respect. It is the linchpin of any relationship, be it social media or in person. If we can agree to disagree respectfully, we can still be friends. Deal? We don’t have to agree on everything to respect each other, even this poor country boy from rural Arkansas knows that! Even if I didn’t like a friend of my parents, a teacher or the neighbor next door, we still called them Ma’am, Sir, Mr. or Mrs. and we said please and thank you… it’s called respect and hiding behind a social media account doesn’t give you permission to throw it out the door, even if you happen to get elected as the leader of the free world. Which brings me to the ‘current state of affairs’ as you so gracefully called it.
Anyone who ever went to grade school knows a bully when they see one. It’s why the school or office bully in one of the most effective characters and archetypes to include in any movie, series or book. We know them, we see them clearly and we oppose them. Period. Some people are more like the bully’s parent(s)—they are the only ones that seem unaware that the bully is a bully; they are the only ones that chose to not believe the facts that are available to them; they are the ones to explain away terrible acts, give truth to lies and back their bully all the way until that bully raises bullies of his own. I prefer redeemable bullies, ones that eventually learn then evolve and rise to a better humanity. I have little time for the one’s that stay the course their whole lives and then impose it on others.
I like to share my POV, particularly after a pot of good coffee in the morning but I try not to tell other people what to do or what to think. I want people to vote. I don’t need anyone telling me who to vote for, and I don’t expect to tell others. Sharing information is important. Educated voters are SO important. I’ve voted conservative. I’ve voted liberal. When you boil it all down, people vote on the most important issues to them. I vote on the issues that are most important to me. You know who is a good person. You know who is a bad person. Now go vote and own your legacy. But always be open to evolving.
Let’s talk about something lighter now. The joy of…COOKING! (You aren’t the only cheeky one 😉) You and your husband seem to have not only a loving relationship but one that might be just a little competitive, in the kitchen. Has that always been a thing?Gary can cook?
It’s very polite of you to ask about our weight gain in such a nice manner.
Yep, it’s always been a thing. It is one of the main things I missed the most when we were apart in the first few seasons of Outlander. I would bake an entire batch of cookies and then just stare at them wondering how they use to disappear so much faster before he left. Then I would end up eating them all by myself. When I would arrive in Glasgow, he would slip in a comment like “oh, have you been baking cookies?” when what he wanted to tell me it was time to diet. “Oh, have you been drinking with the [fill in cast or crew name here] again?” I would reply. Then we would go home and see who could make the best bread! That’s where our hashtag#KitchenMesswithGaryandBarry started. We needed help judging who was better at what, and to showcase our holiday experiments and competitions and pretty soon everyone joined in.
What would you say your favourite dishes are to cook? I think it’s fair to say we love all food equally. Favorite recipes? Yes, all recipes that involve butter.
Here is a tricky one…who does it better?Gary is a better cook. I am a better baker. He likes to experiment with a smidge of this and “oh, what about some of that.” I like precision. Someone else made the recipe fifty times before publishing it and those measurements are in the recipe for a reason!
I have to admit defeat when his experiments turn out great, although some of the credit I have to give to Terry who told him to do it. I get to claim victory when he tries to experiment with baking as most bakers know, it often goes awry.
It all kind of went to hell when we started living in Europe since we soon exhausted of googling every measurement conversion and just decided to wing it together. I mean come on! What proper butter company does not put those little measurement markers on the wrapper! European butter companies, that’s who!
Oh, I could go on with your kitchen adventures all day but I want to talk about your time in Scotland. You went on many adventures, can you share some of the things that you loved the most about the UK?The great thing about being a newbie was our blissful ignorance to the local geographical politics. But now that I am wiser, I must caution everyone not to mix Scotland with the UK in the same sentence lol. It turns out that the Kingdom is about as “united” as the States these days. *Duly noted- all my friends across the pond please accept my apologies and poutine*
We were typical tourist at first—we preferred scenic Edinburgh, we loved the Fringe Festival and pretty much any castle regardless of its condition. Glasgow, where we lived, took a little longer to figure out, and it is true: the people make Glasgow… we love our Weegies! But the north country! I mean wow! The drive to Skye is so beautiful, the Loch’s so majestic, the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr! I mean if you have to be cold and wet, you better be looking at something spectacular! We did a Burn’s Night on the Isle of Lewis, hung out with native Islanders, and learned how to avoid stepping in sheep poop. Of course, we had to stop every few miles so I could talk to the Highland Coos. But most of all, when I think about all our years in Scotland, I think of being with our mini-melting pot of the most lovely and crazy friends—Irish, American, Scottish, Australian, English, South African—next to a fire, laughing, dancing and drinking.
It sounds like a remarkable time. All good things do come to an end, as we know. What are you looking forward to the most in the next chapter of your adventures?I can’t wait until we can travel again. I can’t wait until some of the most interesting places in the world are safe to visit—we have to get to Egypt.
I can’t wait to get these stories published; hearing from you all what you think about the books, talking about the things that aren’t on the page, doing some virtual book clubs while drinking a great vintage. It’s much harder, and much more work than I ever imagined and the idea that they might not make it out into the world, well, I just refuse to except that will happen so let’s leave it there!
I can’t wait to see Jon Gary Steele accept his Emmy and Oscar. That will be a very good day indeed. We are all with you on THAT one!
Going back to your stories, who would you say are your biggest influences when it came to inspiring you as a writer? Hands down, Jon Gary Steele. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the person you least expect it from, can give you the biggest gift of all. I had a long track record of always taking the safest route, the one that provided the most security, the most peer recognition, the one that I thought other people expected me to take. Gary is the absolutely best at manifesting what he wants and going after it. When he graduated from college, he packed his car and drove to LA to pursue his dream to design. When I graduated from college, I passed the CPA exam, took the best paying job and planned my eventual MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School. No regrets but along the way and later in life, I needed to unlearn in order to learn anew. I needed to give myself permission to be creative. I needed to not be afraid to succeed or, very importantly, fail.
Remember your earlier question about what it was like to give up my career to move to Scotland? Well that was an important moment. Gary knew this desire was brewing and renewing inside of me so when he sensed my hesitation about giving up a more traditional career path, he said, “It’ll be an adventure. You can finally write and develop, and I get to design a historical period drama. We both get to chase our dreams!” Wait… did I say he was the master of manifesting? I probably should have said master of negotiating.
Either way, it’s worked out beautifully for both of you. When we find the partner we want and they turn out to be the partner we needed too, it is a beautiful thing.
And now, more than ever I believe we need inspiration, who inspires you?
1. Brilliant Artist Fearless and pure of talent, it’s always inspiring to see how they transform their thoughts into a physical manifestation of something that we can all touch and see. Some favorite examples: Javier Marin, an amazing Mexican sculptor; Eugenio Zanetti, a brilliant Argentine painter; Neil Gaiman, a fantastic English storyteller and wordsmith.
2. Teachers! They opened my eyes to literature, art, stories, cultures, science, humanities and so much more from the very first days of preschool. I am in awe of the effort and knowledge they provide every single day. They taught this small-town boy how to travel in his mind, and pushed me to dream beyond my limited reality realm.
3. Dreamers The best thing about social media? Discovering other dreamers! It doesn’t matter if you have two followers or two million. A Geocaching Adventurer, a golden-paper-pastel-wielding-portraits sketch artist, an Alpaca wool scarf-maker, a willow sculptor, a cross-stitching master or a fellow tennis fanatic that likes to do a little dance… just to name a few within the Outlander community. Gary and I talk about this often—we often wonder if they know how much they inspire us.
I don’t think many of us realize how we affect others; we are too busy thinking of how others affect us. It only makes sense that our lives touch others in the same ways. Mutual lovefest aside *smile* reading is obviously a passion for most writers and storytellers. What was the last book you read and loved?I’m currently deep in The Sandman novels. Before that, I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book which I really loved.
What would you say your top 5 reads of all time were?I’m exempting Outlander books as everyone here already is aware of Diana’s brilliance. I also have to exempt the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and Harry Potter —they are series that I would never dare just picking one.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my absolute favourite growing up and as I was reading about In the Night Kitchen…I know I have read that, but I was very little. Wow…great list.
I wonder, with your affinity for the YA genre of writing, if you could go back and give advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Go! Don’t dream of going somewhere, don’t let money be the reason why you don’t see the world. Don’t have enough vacation time to travel abroad (hello my fellow Americans!)?—figure it out. Just go!
Be willing to unlearn to learn. You have to unlearn some preconceived notions, prejudices and stereotypes that somehow got embedded in your brain in the earliest of years, and be willing to replace them with real, personal true experiences. Meet as many people as you can and listen to their stories.
Companies are not people. Don’t expect them to be human. Respect the relationship, work hard but have outside interests that feed your soul. If you work for a company, expect to hear “our best asset is our people” over a hundred times but always remember you control your own destiny.
Not only good advice for a young Barry, but good advice for everyone. There has been such a shift in the world since Covid19, what things do you miss the most from our pre-covid days? I’m a hugger. I like to embrace people I care about. This elbow thing is for the birds! I miss hugging so much (and smiles)!
With that also comes a new normal, what have you embraced post covid?(as far as we have gotten, I mean)From what I see in the communities I’m in, I don’t think “post-covid” exists yet but I don’t see that mini-bottle of sanitizer in my pocket every going away for quite some time. It also causes you to have to think a bit deeper about your friends and family. I have to laugh when someone gets really vocal that we are all over-reacting to wearing a mask, and then a few months later wonder why no one is calling or seeing them. Hello! I love life! I like being healthy! You don’t value life as much as I do—no problem—I wish you all the best.
We appreciate that! And same. Now for some LOVELANDER Project fun– I am going to ask you to give yourself a 1) Tagline 2) Warning label 3) Theme Song.
Tagline: Breathe. Believe. Release. Receive. 👏🎬
Warning Label: Comes with opinions, free-of-charge.Perfect!
Now, Barry and I have come up for a little LOVELANDER Project treat for you!
I was so honoured to have Barry and Gary allow me/us into their home for a few questions. I know it took Barry some work to get JGS to participate as he isn’t one for the spotlight. I think what was obvious, Jon Gary Steele, loves his husband and will do anything for him, even if it is making that video for that thing he is doing.
I was right, you know. When I asked Barry to participate in the LOVELANDER Project, I did it because I related to him and thought he was such a delightful person. I didn’t tell him I had a crush on his husband (I even blogged about it in 2016) because that seemed weird. Still is but…I think he might be used to that bit of me now.
Do stay tuned to the ABOotlanders twitter feed for ‘Sherry queries with Barry ‘n Gary.! (Dare ya to say that 10 times fast!).
It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watchedJourneycakefor the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.
*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*
As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear. It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!
Do what ya can to get you through it!
I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back. All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly. The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us. I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.
I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.
This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode. The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. Thedying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.
That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?
‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented. Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.
Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper. No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.
We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.
We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.
With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.
We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.
Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.
Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.
Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).
Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep. With Bree, Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired. Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.
The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within. Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.
We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.
Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life. It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.
Imagine. Writing a whole blog, over 5 hours of thoughts, feelings and analysis only to say “Nope. Not good enough.” – I didn’t leave it to ponder about but hit delete. Done. Over. I did that last night. I spent most of the day Monday, off and on, putting my thoughts about Monsters and Heroes here, on this identical template I am staring at right now. It was complete. All except for those annoying GIFs that I add to drive ya all crazy but they add my boneheaded personality.
I deleted it because I struggled with it. It felt pushed, unnatural and well, obvious. I usually wouldn’t even tell you what I wrote about but I will. I wrote about friendship. See? 🧀 anyone? It felt overdone, it felt sappy and it felt so NOT me. Not because I don’t have friends (I know, SHOCKIN’, I can count at least 3! ) but friendship is a concept we all understand for the most part. I don’t need to write a whole farkin’ blog about it, and I did. 😨 LAME!
This topic though, bendability, I hope isn’t. I could have taken the path of publishing the blog that everyone would have easily identified with. That would be the easy way out. Choosing to be a little uncomfortable, to stretch myself in another direction, do something different…that makes more sense to what I try and accomplish with my blogs. Will it work?
Time to stop blathering and get on with it shall I?
The title of the episode “Monsters and Heroes” can be seen in direct connection to the title of the blog. These don’t have to be two separate entities, they can be the same person, to the same people at different times in their life. We opened with that situation. Claire and Marsali. Marsali, she first saw Claire as a monster. She only knew her from the perspective that she grew up with, shown via her mother and the life experience she had. Marsali is a strong-willed, determined and sass-laced woman. There was as much likelihood she would have dug her heels in and not accepted Claire or simply ignored her existence. Marsali used her ability to bend to see her own truth. If I were to venture a guess where this trait came from I would say it was the influence of Jamie through Fergus.
Her direct experiences with Jamie likely were clouded by her mother’s perceptions of the relationship. We heard as much from her early discussions with Claire. She and Fergus doubtlessly have had a long relationship. He grew up at Lallybroch, not far from where Marsali did. Fergus is the epitome of adaptable and that virtue, not only admirable, tends to rub off on those closest to them.
We’ve witnessed Marsali view Claire as a monster in her world. When she transforms into being her “Ma”, it’s special. She now sees her as someone she learns from and admires. A heroine. That, my friends, is bendability.
I wonder how many people we have had in our lives that we have written off because of the stories others have told from their perceptions of them, through their experiences, one-sided. We may have labelled as unworthy of our time or bad people simply because someone we knew/cared about, hated them. Our lack of bendability may have shut out someone that may not have been such a monster after all.
There will be times in our lives that we have no choice but to bend. The reason being if we don’t – we will break. There is no alternative. Roger and Jamie were placed in this position. Their relationship of tentative tiptoeing around one another with passive-aggressive taps-n-shots wasn’t going to get them through the crisis they found themselves in. Jamie, in need of rescuing and Roger in the position to save him. The pair were forced to bend to the other’s reality.
Jamie’s snakebite set in motion events that created a bromance we will enjoy for years. Seriously though, the dynamic that mess brought on was instrumental in the Roger/Jamie bond. Not many have seen Jamie so vulnerable. We KNOW no one has ever sucked on his leg like that.
Roger had every reason to resent this red-headed brute of a man. From the first moment Roger laid eyes on him, to that very morning being the cockblocker he was. Yet, there was this man doing everything he could to save his father-in-law and keep his spirits up. Without handing out spoilers, Roger may very well have found his purpose on this dreadful excursion.
We went from two men circling one another warily, wondering where they stood in each other’s life to two people who found a comfortable, mutual respect and even a playful place with one another. Where there was trepidation the day before…a father and son connection was born. It took devastating circumstances forcing them into an uncomfortable space to do it but I am not certain anything less would have forged that relationship these men would need for the future.
How about that not so Young Ian? He has shown us we have the ability to not just bend but sway and twist. In fact, he knowingly steps into situations that will force him to bend. Being a young lad in he left his small community and made way for adventure. Getting much more than he could have dreamt possible or wished to have. This young man chooses to evolve, with new people and lifestyles, knowing it is him that is going to have to do all the adapting.
In this episode, he set an example for someone who is supposed to be much wiser than he. What we saw here was Ian saying the hard stuff. That in itself is bendability. It’s not comfortable, for anyone. These conversations takes us out of our comfort zone of supporting and holding up those we care about. Knowing deep down that those are the words they need to hear takes an extra push, a lot won’t manage due to how difficult it is. The ones that do get the words out, almost always feel bad. That’s because they have a heart and they love. It isn’t supposed to feel good to say something severe to people we care for.
When the person is open enough to hear us, yes, bendable themselves, the message will strengthen the bond we have. When saying the tough things, as hard as they are to say, they are hard to hear. Jamie took the shaming well. Had he the energy to fight back, I am not sure he would have. The truth of Ian’s words hung in the air for some time after he left the room.
Not everyone is so receptive to the truth on occasions such as these. I admittedly am not always a fan. I have had the truth face me down and sometimes the first reflex is to defend. When that is my reaction, it’s often my clue I’m on the wrong side of things. I REALLY hate that. Being defensive indicates I am not confident in what I am arguing about. I use this as one of my life check-points to stop being rigid and look for the place to squeeze in that bendability. It isn’t comfortable, it isn’t easy but, it’s more often right than it’s not. That is where Jamie ended up. It took him time and pride but he got to where he needed to be. He didn’t end up losing his leg, thank goodness.
Brianna is our used car lot balloon lady bendable, physically and emotionally. You know, she’s having some ale on the porch and in a split second facing a charging 2000 pound buffalo to save her son and BFF. She is questioning if she can use her intelligence in a world where raising babies, making candles and dying day is considered the “life”. The need for Bree is to bend reality. The reality of the world she lives in. She had to stop seeing herself as fitting into the 1700s and just be Bree. Where an opportunity arises to use her engineering background, she will be taking it, as she did with creating the syringe for her mother out of the snake’s fang. I am sure this is only the start of Brianna putting her creative mind to work to make life easier on the ridge.
A big “Monsters and Heroes” take away for me was to loosen the hell up. Come on, I literally deleted a whole blog because it wasn’t ‘good enough’. True, it showed some bendability but it also showed I’m kinda an ass. We are all under extra stress right now, some more than others but that never takes away from what each individual goes through. It is times like this when we should do our best to let some of our austerity go. When we are feeling anxious, stressed and we add our own rigidity to it, we get so wound up it makes us feel all the more confined. If we bend it, allow it some slack, we allow ourselves some room to breathe.
Don’t forget we live tweet with the Canadian airing of Outlander on W Network Sunday nights at 7 pm MT. using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We would love it if you would join us. Only 3 more episodes left!
Better to Marry than Burn was another one of those episodes that had a whole lot going on – on top and under the surface. There is much discussion and given the state of the world right now, I think people may be shaking out some frustration. I get it. This is a stressful time. We need stress balls, outlets of energy. SQUEEZE ME!
In reference to episode 6 of season 5, we witnessed some heartbreaking, inspiring, fury inducing and puzzling actions – all ignited by the whispers our characters were reacting to. You know the whispers I am talking about as you have heard them yourself. The ones that influence our thoughts, the decisions we make and assist us in, hopefully, not repeating past mistakes.
Let’s look at Roger first, tough job, someone’s gotta do it.😘 He and Brianna, domesticity personified with a sick little one, when suddenly the heavens open up and BOOM – grasshoppers! (I know, I know, locusts) We see the concern along with the hesitation that takes over Roger. He struggles with what to do about the predicament that has flown straight over the ridge, quite literally. Tiring of racking his brain for solutions, he quiets his mind, he hears the whispers of his childhood.
The stories his father used to tell him. Smoke and locusts, this not only stirs a theory of how to battle this beast they face but it connects him to the world he once lived in. This place of warmth. Where he was once being cared for, read to and loved. Those moments, when we reach back to them can fortify us. They give us knowledge that we have carried into our lives and we are able to use it to help those we love. For those who lived lives with parents who may not have given the love and nurturing they needed, those whispers maybe the daily nudges of ‘my family will be different’.
Show’em you love ’em
For Roger’s story, it is a beautiful moment of fulfillment. The folks of the ridge seemed to lack the ability to organize themselves, looking to him to come up with a plan. When he does, the satisfaction he feels isn’t just for himself or his family. These actions he has taken have made a true difference in the history of what happens on Fraser’s Ridge. This wasn’t a day’s work of fixing a fence as he mentioned but the diversion of a disaster.
With that being said, do we thank the Reverend Wakefield for telling Roger the story of the smoke and locusts or give credit where credit is due? With Roger, for remembering the story, for carrying it with him and for using it to formulate a plan of action when it mattered the most.
There was another character who had the past whispering to her and many (by the chatter online) were annoyed by it. Claire still wears the wedding band that she wore while married to Frank. It is always a good thing to recall, Claire was a person before Jamie came into her world. She had a life whether or not other people approve, isn’t the point. She was married to Frank when she got flung back 200 years. Last week I wrote about guilt and how it weighs us down.
It makes sense to me that Claire has a piece of her that is holding onto that last tangible vestige of her previous life with Frank. She did love him, once. The second portion of their marriage wasn’t easy being built around Brianna. Claire spent a great deal of her time focusing on her career and we saw that as much as she tried to put Frank back into the husband role, it wasn’t and couldn’t be the same as it was. Those whispers of ‘you owe him this much, at least’ must be loud.
Imagine being her for a moment. Claire found deep happiness with Jamie, yet she spent 20 additional yrs married to Frank – fantasizing about Jamie. That is a lot to come to terms with and Frank’s ring isn’t just a wedding ring. It’s an homage to two decades of shared sacrifice. It’s a reminder of his dedication to Brianna and in turn, to Claire, as shaky as that may have been sometimes. Claire isn’t attached to Frank, she is attached to all that he gave her. Peace of mind while she achieved the career she aspired to, a loving father for her daughter and eventually, a husband that didn’t ask more of her than she was willing to give.
There are things we hold onto in our life that represent people or moments that we feel if we let them go, we would be doing a disservice to them. Those small tokens bring us comfort and possibly silences those whispers of “Remember me???” Without them, we fear the whispers will turn into thundering bellows we would never be able to silence.
Jocasta was the character in our story who took her whispers as life lessons. She has heard hers for decades, they have kept her heart safe from shattering again. So far. Murtagh and his sly silver fox ways managed to sneak past her guard and we can see she fell in love with him but knew that his love would not be something she could allow herself in the long run.
Jocasta hears the voices of her daughters, now long gone. Those words, only she hears and she uses them to keep her path clear for the times ahead. Nothing will ever fill the space they left, she knows that. The fleeting moments of happiness she felt in the arms of a man she fell in love with, they happened, yet she knew the limits of her future because of the past she survived.
Some say love is worth it, though I believe Jocasta knows peace has greater value to her. That is as a result of her listening to those voices reminding her of all of the pain she experienced due to another’s choices. Being in control of that is precious, especially at a time in her life when she feels she is not in the prime of it.
The older we get, we tend to run out energy to please others. These days people say they have no fucks left to give. It’s true. Coming to see that they’ve spent a good portion of their lives giving up parts of themselves to make others happier, richer or making someone else’s lives easier while theirs were being sacrificed in some way. This leaves them in their, so-called, golden years wanting to achieve the thing they crave the most.
We see very clearly that yes, Jocasta does love Murtagh, she would find some happiness with him. She is intelligent enough to know that happiness would be mixed with uncertainty and head butting – they are from two contrasting worlds and the relationship involves more heartache than she could take. She also promised herself something. The promise of not giving her heart to another man like Hector (who is willing to lose everything for something he believes in). It is that constant whisper, reminding her of the pain she has endured throughout her life and continues to suffer due to those men and their choices. She has the power to not go through that again. Does it hurt her? Yes. It also gives her the strength to say “I will stop it now before I fall deeper and lose who I am to this.”
Her whispers guide her, they come with trauma, they come with the memory of her daughters. They come with the pain of seeing her youngest killed at the hands of her husband in the protection of something material. These emotions are mixed up with Jocasta’s whispers of if she even deserves happiness. Perhaps peace is the most she feels worthy of. I believe Jocasta is capable of receiving love, happiness and peace. I do, sadly, agree with her. As much as I am team #Murcasta, with her history and knowledge of the kind of man she can be happy with, it won’t be Murtagh. It probably won’t be Duncan either. I mean #Duncasta? It sounds like a super lame carnival game and #Jocan…ya gotta be.
We can only hope Jocasta finds the peace she craves.
There may be times in our lives when things like plagues, past relationships and current loves unsettle us. We will take the time to listen, contemplate our actions and do our best to move in a direction that makes sense to us.
I hope that those reading this know, there are many with you if you are alone with your whispers. I am sending you all love, peace and strength during these uncertain times. Lean on those you love and if you are struggling, reach out. I’m here.
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.
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!
I will open this blog with a warning – first- my somewhat warped humour is attached to some sensitive subjects. If you feel you MAY be offended – go now or forever hold your tongue (and your tappity tap fingers in rage mode afterward) because I warned you and will not entertain you with debate or take your interweb spankings later.
The next warning is a trigger warning. I will be discussing childhood trauma and rape in this blog.
Let’s rewind. Around 23 years ago – while reading Drums of Autumn, one Stephen Bonnet was introduced. This villain struck me as particularly abhorrent. He had this devious charm, disarming good looks that seemed to allow him to lure and get away with preying on his victims. This type of person has always set my teeth on edge and ignited a rage inside me that I had difficulty expressing precisely why.
Fast forward to Outlander the TV show, season 4. Ed Speleers comes to inhabit the body of the villain that lives in my guts. I wondered if I would feel the same about this character visually as I did about the book character. I did. Steven Bonnet, in both forms, were devastatingly like, what I now call, my internal ghost. Every time his character appeared on the page, every time his face showed on the screen- there was this physical reaction my brain fired against.
Wait, I probably can. I have. Never mind. (Source)
I knew Ed Speleers, was going to be at the Outlandish Vancouver event. I know damned well Ed is not Stephen Bonnet, I happen to pride myself on not being a complete fricken idiot. I know this man is not the character he plays. Let’s also say it out loud for the people in the back, I know Stephen Bonnet is a fictional character. I KNOW THIS.
There is this thing about trauma though. There is a brain/gut/heart connection that sometimes happens without our consciousness being on board for the ride.
As the cast was introduced into the Meet and Greet on Friday night, the excitement in the room was palpable. People clapping, laughing and cheering as each cast member entered the room. Everything stopped for me when I saw Ed. Not out of awe, excitement or fear. It was reality. It slapped me in the face like 35 yrs of silence might. Seeing him no more than 25 feet away unlocked something and I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle was one of those hideous 3D ones and at that moment, I only wanted to dump it back into the box to deal with it later. You see, it was that moment, as I stood in the same room with the embodiment of this “villain” that reached deep inside me and caused such a visceral reaction was because that type of guy, was MY villain.
This is where I get real honest with you. I was an 11 ½-year-old girl, when the 18 yr old, hot dance troop guy, who all the girls wanted to “get with” took me behind the curtain backstage. I let him because he said nice things to me. I must be 13, right? I was so pretty, wasn’t I? It was exciting – until it was terrifying. I wanted him to stop- but he didn’t. I wasn’t his only victim and he got away with it time and time again because look at him. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky? Thinking back, finally, clearly, it was all of those things a predator and a broken child say to themselves to make sense of the insane things going on. Brain/gut/heart connection doing what it can to cope. Shove. It. Down.
I know now, the part of me that refused to be a victim as an adult was always afraid for and protecting that little girl that was violated so many years ago. Literally, the ONLY person that could hurt her was a man like HIM. Reading about that buried reality was one thing – seeing the character come to life was another. Obviously, my eyes were wide open to the why of it all now. It really wasn’t comfortable. Let’s call it an emotional wedgie.
Just can’t fix it in public no matter how subtle you are. (Source)
So, how does this go down at this lovely Outlandish Vancouver Meet and Greet? I’m having this brain/gut/heart arrhythmia that I’m not about to dial 911 for because that’s no one’s business and I am trying to process it. I’m not 100% confident about being face to face with Ed Speleers bc look wtf happened with him across the damn room from me!
On the inside – tornado – On the outside – try and move me (Source)
Eventually, Mr. Speleers wanders over to our table. Am I going to be a total tool? Yup. Tool alert.🤦♀️ The hairs on the back of my neck go up. I think to myself, “You are being a complete boob! This guy is a few glasses in and having a great time…pull your head outta your ass.” If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a shit listener. I decided to step back and take a seat, figuring avoiding him altogether might be best. Nope. That didn’t work! He made eye contact with me and I quickly glanced away. Not something I think is normal in these situations. Generally, if their eye is caught by someone, they are drawn into conversation pretty quickly. I didn’t want to be a jackass but I honestly didn’t know what to say and not be like “Your appearance triggered me and now I’m trippin’ balls.” That’s hardly fair.
I can be an arsehole but I’m not horrible. (Source)
I take some deep breaths. Center my thoughts on the energy of the room and away from my own. I focus and then, Ed and I made eye contact again. This time Ed’s eyes dropped down to look at my t-shirt…where our ABOotlander mascot Toger, was proudly displayed. (Thanks Lee for doing that!)
Here is TOGER! Our fierce Canadian beaver.
There was my opening, it was time for me to break the ice. The only way I know how – SherryStyle.
Me- *throw a look of disgust at Mr. Speleers and gasp* “Did you just look at my BEAVER?”
Ed- *sputter – eyes bulge* “Huh? What..No! I didn’t look at your beaver.”
Me- “Yes…you did! You just did it again.”
Ed- “NO! You made me look at your beaver by talking about your beaver”
Me- “Mmmmmmhmmmm, there you go again.”
Laughter ensues and more “yes you did, no I didn’t”, winks and smiles (as much as my palsied face CAN smile anyway).
As strange as it sounds…my beaver…TOGER became a running joke over the weekend. The fact that we named our beaver Toger in the first place – everyone knew we were playing with a filthy deck. The next morning, I brought Toger for my photo op. I suggested John and Kikki help protect Toger and me from Ed. Well, as you can see, Kikki was having too much fun fondling Toger to protect him. As for Ed, he was poking away at Toger.
The commentary got VERRA BLUE between the 4 of us. John Bell took his role very seriously but had quite enough and nearly fired all of us. My poor palsied face almost froze in a fit of laughter. I tell ya, that ain’t pretty.
Regressing a bit – Get this. I purchased a little token of Canadian goodness to give to the UK actors before ANY of the Toger/beaver jokes even started. A tiny little beaver with a Canadian flag painted on it, to remember their trip to #OV2019. Little did I know what this gift from me to them, would come to symbolize.
How cute! Oh – look…the beaver has a pole…or its chewing on some wood…either way, it adds another layer of dirt.
So, I attended a suite party. Things that happen at the suite parties are supposed to stay at the suite parties but this is something I am going to share because it’s a me thing. Ed and I were chatting and naturally, there were jokes. That damned beaver, always getting into trouble. Laughing and carrying on, we had a moment where he looked at me in the eye, hand on mine and completely jokingly said: “You’ve violated me! I feel so violated” I am laughing with him, yet I feel this shudder inside my chest. I’m not sure exactly what it is. We are laughing harder…and then two more times…”You’ve violated me” his hand firm on mine. I took a huge deep breath and felt something let go. “You do NOT know what you just did for me,” I said to him. Puzzled, he made sure I knew he was kidding around, “I was jokin’, you know that.” Of course! Of course, I knew. This weird twisted humour became the perfect vehicle. He didn’t know what he had just done and until I sat with it, I didn’t know the full extent either.
Ok, it was wrinkled before but you get my meaning. (Source)
I am telling this to you because with all the laughter and silliness floating around us there was something in those words that became a balm to me. Something in those words that I never once had the chance to say to the person that violated me. As they were being said to me, by the person who held that brain/gut/heart connection to my villain – it healed a broken part of me. That shudder – was energy, that deep breath was to a space in me that hadn’t breathed in 37 yrs.
I felt it at that moment and as I laid in bed that night. I replayed that moment over in my head, as I did, something changed inside me. I was having trouble describing it but I could feel it.
Did you know I was raped when I was just a kid? Did you know it wasn’t my fault? Did you know I locked that up inside me for so fuckin long that it burned a hole inside of me that became a part of who I was? That hole made me rage about men who are handsome, charming and devious? I know you know because I finally said it out loud and I feel zero shame, humiliation or apprehension in doing so.
On the last night of Outlandish Vancouver, we were on the final voyage and I was hoping for a moment with Ed, so I could thank him. Imagine, thanking a man that plays a rapist on TV for giving me back that last grain of power I allowed my rapist to have. Koko sent Ed my way and trying not to sound insane or wishy-washy AF with my palsied face on the verge of tears, I shared with him, much of what I have shared with you. I can’t say exactly what the exchange was because our words during that last interaction were more than kindness, I hold them close to my heart, in confidence. Ed Speleers, as funny as he is, he also is incredibly gracious.
I believe it more now than I did before. No matter where we are in this universe – people are put in our path for a reason. Many things happen the way they do because they are meant to. Had someone said that making an inappropriate beaver joke at Ed Speleers would lead to my healing a piece of my soul I forgot was broken…well, that just sounds full-on bat shit crazy, doesn’t it?
As others converged on our one on one, Ed gave me a huge hug, reached into his pocket and with a smile, pulled out the l’il wooden Canadian beaver I had given to him.
Hard to believe we are over halfway through season 4. There have been so many heated, well thought out and random discussions in the fandom and then here I am…picking something out of the blue to yammer on about.
I believe, like the characters in this episode showed us, the bonds created in our life help form who we become. They are huge contributors to developing our personalities and how we relate to others. Genetics is one thing but the influence of those we surround ourselves with and the interactions we end up having with those people is a large part of who we become.
We see a great deal of Brianna’s past in this episode. Not just in the literal past, but her past. The relationship she had with her father, Frank. Which I think most daughters can say, good or bad, help form who they become as women. That relationship will establish how deeply we trust, our loyalties and most important of all be a major contributor to the confidence we have (or don’t have). The father figure etches parts of us that we can’t recarve. It’s there. We can sand it back down but it takes work and it whittles away at the way it was. Brianna was blessed to have a beautiful experience and positive relationship with the father who raised her.
This episode showed us, it doesn’t matter what we may think about Frank. Our opinion, our view of him, won’t ever be a reflection of Brianna’s experience. She was ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ and even though that comes with its own set of challenges, Brianna has a deep love for her Daddy. She, of course, wants to be independent and strong, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want his validation. Naturally, Claire’s determination and willfulness comes out in Bree and Frank handles it with a gentle hand, more so than he did with Claire. That in itself shows the care he had for Brianna and why she saw him the way she did.
Brianna continued to seek Franks approval. Even after he died. Apologizing for arguing with him, not telling him she loved him, wishing she agreed to go with him to England and finally by promising him to “Soldier On”. Taking his final words to her and using them to fuel her journey to her mother. Seeing him on the dock at the end of the episode wasn’t simply a farewell. It was a moment of this is your time and bless and release. I saw this as the moment that Brianna finally understood what her father meant when he told her one day she would understand. She got it and knew it was time to go, head held high, with purpose, determination and her father with her.
Frank will never leave Brianna because he lives in her. He helped shape who she is, what she will accept in life, how she will trust, who she will be loyal to and how she will process and form new relationships. He is a part of her every day without being a physical part of her journey. It’s something people should get used to.
I think Brianna’s grief over the loss of her parental bonds speaks very loudly in the person we see now. She is not broken…but there are cracks in the armour. Cracks she has to build walls around in order to feel safe. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love or feel. It means she protects herself from pain. She puts the feelings aside, in order to meet the task ahead, it seems to me that is what is keeping her upright. For now. Kudos to Sophie Skelton this episode. She did a fantastic job spanning all those years.
There is another bond here that I found immensely interesting. It involves Laoghaire. Brilliantly portrayed by Nell Hudson. I know this because I really really do not like this woman, seeing her makes me make that face you make when you bite into something when you think its something else. Go ahead…take a moment to boo and hiss!
I don’t think we were shown “another side” of Laoghaire as much as we were shown her normal every day as a mother. She picked up a stranger off the road that was in distress, she fed, kept her comfortable, shared stories of her daughter and her life with her. All very motherly stuff. However, the ultimate defect in her character was compounded by the severed bond she had with Jamie. Just as solid and tender bonds help form who we become, so do the broken ones. Very often, the broken ones are the ones that create the traits we are less proud of and likely show less often.
We ALL know people that are lovely, wonderful people. They treat most others with kindness, they love their children and would do absolutely anything for them. But. They have “that person”. That person they despise. If that person’s name is mentioned…that lovely wonderful human turns into someone you never would have expected. The car keying, punch throwing, gossip spreading devil! Horns, spit, fire…they go off the deep end to get an ounce of satisfaction in hurting the person that has done them wrong.
Am I sticking up for Laoghaire? Oh hell no! Am I saying Laoghaire reminds me of Karen down the street whose ex-husband married Rita? You betcha! Karen can be a real piece of work. Laoghaire takes shit to level 98, mostly because it’s TV and going to a level 5 just isn’t worthy of our visceral hate of her.
Roger, a man who chose to leave his own time for a woman he loves. Roger, who lost his own mother as a young boy. Roger who so innocently told a child there was no such a thing as a sea monster and later on – the young girl was thrown overboard by one.
For a man like Roger, the horror of seeing suffering doesn’t break him, it does, embolden him. Roger, quickly formed a connection with a young mother aboard a ship full of strangers. Putting him in the position of protector, Roger takes risks he knows he shouldn’t but follows his morals above all else. He was determined to keep Morag and her child safe from certain death. The child’s teething rash was likely to be mistaken for smallpox and they would face the same fate as the others, tossed overboard. Roger actions were selfless and swift. Some may question his motives but I think it was simply Roger’s need to feel like he was doing something with all the chaos going on around him. This relationship with Morag and her son grounds him to the goodness he has inside. That goodness nearly cost him his life.
You could see when he thought Bonnet meant to gamble Morag and the child’s life with a coin toss that he was horrified. Yet when it was his own life, he was scared, but he seemed resigned to it. As if, this was more acceptable to him.
Rogers word is his bond. He does not give it lightly but when he does, he will stake his life on it. Which means for the next 6 episodes, we are in for a damn interesting ride.
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The plentiful nuggets of common ground between characters and the land are both unmistakable and subtlely scattered throughout the episode. It gives the title of the episode a lot of meaning. I am going to nudge that aside so we can experience the remnants of all the things that aren’t and how they showed up numerous times in Common Ground.
We all do it. Take one glance at someone or thing, get our first impression, assume we know the story and continue on with that notion in our head. We may tend to block all the other stuff out because it doesn’t suit what we have already convinced ourselves is real.
Starting instantly with the Governor Tryon scene. This guy. Him and his “I want the best people to settle the land” and “I’m noble and wonderful and everything good about the British.”
We know that there is a dash of dastardly tucked underneath that powdered wig and tighty whities (stockings) of his. Certainly not all noble nor wonderful. In fact, here we have a couple of duplicitous characters. Jamie has been a traitor before. That is where I was going with the “not everything is what it seems” with this particular scene. I believe Jamie eluded to this in his comments to Claire about making this a great country for Brianna earlier in the season. It certainly isn’t just in building Fraser’s Ridge but the impact he might have in the coming revolution.
But why? Outwardly, she most certainly hated Claire and wasn’t afraid to show it. In return, many instantly thought her a mean-spirited brat. Marsali, let us not forget, is a teenager. Her only knowledge of this Claire woman is the image she had painted by her very bitter mother (whom she loves dearly, she should, she IS her mom). Any daughter would take her mother’s side and react accordingly. Claire, being the adult, totally understood this and didn’t take it personally. She let it ride.
What we saw at the beginning of the episode is the growth of both of these characters. How many stepdaughter/mother relationships never heal? You can have two fantastic human beings who will hate one another forever because of the completely separate relationship of two other people they both love. It is a real head-scratcher. ( Yes I know…some people ARE just horrible, I’m not talking about them😉) Marsali and Claire have chosen to look at one another as individuals. Apart from those relationships and are better for it. Imagine both of them taking their first impressions and holding onto them? How ugly would that be to watch, week after week?
Leaving Marsali and Fergus, of course, reminds Claire of leaving Brianna. Jamie opens his mouth and the word version of cotton candy, unicorns, rainbows and butterflies escape his lips. It seems such a special moment, between Jamie and Claire. If we were to step upon that moment we would see the love and the connection.
What we wouldn’t see is the pain. Claire being torn up on the inside. How many times has this happened to us? In public, surrounded by people and able to look to the person in front of us and manage a grin – all the while, inside, we’re screaming in pain? Yet, there we were, fooling nearly every person in the room because they only see what we allow them to.
My own socks tell us this story.
It doesn’t always have to be people, it can be nature. It was present throughout this episode. Frasers Ridge itself, visually captivating, has a dream-like quality to it. When that happens, the brain does funny things. When we think something is beautiful, we tend to feel better when we are around it, when we feel better, we feel safer, when we feel safer, we may let our guard down. Letting our guard down isn’t always a horrible thing but when there is something else out there that is looking to harm us, it uses that vulnerability to its advantage. Nature itself is like this, whether it be the creatures that make it their home or the weather itself. Both of these can dispell the wonderful first impression of beauty such places give. It reminds us just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s kind.
Let’s get comfy and talk about Roger and Bree. After last weeks dumpster fire of miscommunication, what do we have to look forward to? By all appearances, not a fricken thing. After Brianna left Roger at the festival to find a TapCar back to Boston we don’t have much hope.
Roger has returned to his various shades of brown existence at Oxford. He seems to be going by exactly what Brianna has given him during his call to her and vice-versa. There are no questioning things deeper on either part and yet, if one of them had, so much of the miscommunication could have been remedied at least a little bit. Settling for what is on the surface can sometimes be our way of taking the easy way out. Let’s face it if we simply take the generic “I have to go grade papers”, it excuses us from taking a chance and asking “Do you miss me?” Sure, we avoid the possibility of them saying the very thing we fear but it also prevents them from saying the one thing we hope they would.
Fiona looks quiet and innocent but that girl has got all the people figured out and just so happens, she serves it with grace. Everyone should have a girlfriend like her. The kind that people sadly mistake for a piece of the furniture. She sees and hears everything. They are the ones that will be able to tell you what’s what and where you can find it. We would be better humans if we paid more attention to what women like Fiona have to say instead of keeping them a silent witness to everything around us. I bet if we all thought about it, we could think of a few of those women throughout our lives and be surprised at how we allowed them to stay in the shadows. How we still utilized their gifts and input when they shared them but rarely asked them for it. Hell, you may be one of those people yourself. So let me just say…you are valued…in case you haven’t heard it lately.
Now, to the glaringly obvious “it is not what it appears to be” is our bear. First, the menace and destruction were thought to be the Cherokee neighbours. Then, the monster bear. There were pretty clear signs pointing toward that. It likes meat, pooped like nobodies business, left a pretty serious claw slashing down the shoulder of Findlay, Fraser’s trusty steed. Had the Fraser’s been aware of the Cherokee’s dealings with the cracked but not broken bear-man, they would have known what they were truly dealing with, rather than go by what their eyes were telling them. This just proves the whole “working together” gets better results theory. Pretty simple stuff, this one.
I must mention the fact that Brianna went to Scotland WEEKS ago to visit her MOTHER! I don’t think this was a simple case of Brianna just missing her Momma. Roger thinking Brianna would only know the information he was giving her, seems to have been a case of underestimation. This is something many of us do as well, which is why I love how these characters are written. They are relatable. We often predict what others will do based on what we would do. We interpret others actions as a reflection of our own intent. Sometimes we are accurate but not always and it is the ‘not always’ that tends to cause us to stumble. It pays to look deeper, or step back to see the big picture. It may be uncomfortable but the outcome will often be a positive one.
First impressions should be just that. An impression. They are developed in an instant but given time, they can be remoulded, reshaped and in some cases, shattered and recreated. The more we discuss, observe and listen, the better we get at understanding the whole picture. The whole picture tells a story one word never could.
RTs would be cool if you feel others might enjoy a piece of this. Come live tweet with us Canadian folk, we watch Outlander on W Network at 8 PM MST Sundays. We use the hashtag #OutlanderCAN to keep track of one another and help others gauge where the commercials are. Yeah…we have phones with cords AND commercials. It’s ok though. We are a hearty people.