Outlander continues the story with another fast-paced and visually interesting episode and the whole thing is POPPIN’ for me. The combination of Perpetual Adoration’s softness and grit was something I found all together satisfying.
This episode was alive with undertones I could have chosen for this blog. Normally I gravitate to what sits beneath the surface and give it a tug. This time guilt pulled at me from every corner.
Every human (who is not 100% psychopath) is familiar with that feeling. No matter how righteous, how good or well-intentioned we may be, we’ve all felt guilty about something. Guilt is shown in different ways, as we saw in our characters and we know by looking at ourselves, honestly.
The story of one man’s death encapsulated the episode for Claire. There was a heaviness she carried when Graham Menzie’s died, which spurned her actions to head to the UK and interestingly enough, into the past.
She, of course, couldn’t have predicted his death as all precautions had been taken. We can’t count on logic to keep guilty feelings at bay, the gut/brain connection just doesn’t work that way.
Plenty of us sit with those feelings. What could we have done? If we had only…the should’ves, could’ves and would’ves that we think may have changed the trajectory of what might have happened. We hold them over our heads with guilt because we didn’t take the actions that we have had all the time in the world to contemplate after the fact.
It’s really unfair, this game we play. No one ever wins. We can replay as many scenarios as we want, that particular moment has passed. We humans need to learn how to forgive ourselves as fast as we have taught ourselves to take on unnecessary guilt.
When Claire was speaking to Joe, it was apparent. She blames herself for getting attached to her patient and like a good friend, he smacks her with a reality check. Our lives would be much less complicated if we cut ourselves a break, especially with those things that we can’t control. Particularly after the fact.
One of the characters I have come to truly love is Brianna. In her, I see the combination of the above quote so clearly, especially in this episode.
She literally feels her guilt, whether it is something we believe she should be feeling, she does. When something is said to her that strikes her deep, she folds in on herself. It’s as if something knocks her in the belly. Next time you watch, you will see Bree react physically to the words that connect to those feelings if you hadn’t picked up on it before. (Kudos again to Sophie Skelton for making those subtle yet strong notes for the character)
Ofttimes when we feel guilt it isn’t because we have done something against someone intentionally. We end up in a space where we see our choices, as innocent as they may have been, caused pain to someone when we didn’t intend them to.
Bree’s guilt comes from not telling Roger the truth about the visit with Bonnet and all that came with it because it was a lot. Did she have good reason to not tell him? Yes. Did the guilt gnaw at her? I think that was apparent. Unburdening ourselves of the things we feel guilty about doesn’t always make us feel better though. That, my friends, is life. Guilt causes internal pain because it’s messy and complicated. As with all other hurts, it takes time to heal.
Bree’s regret was evident. Telling Bonnet he was Jemmy’s father was something she now wished she could take back. She thought he was going to die and take her words with him. Since he didn’t, she now must live with him knowing this information she doesn’t want to be true. More often than not, with regret comes guilt. It’s painful seeing her go through this as Brianna deserves to be free. SunnuvaBonnet has done nothing to deserve all the space he takes up in her world.
How much guilt should we feel when we do something we know is wrong? Is there a scale? Should others tell us the appropriate amount of guilt we should exhibit by the level of our misdeed? Also, should we project that guilt for everyone to see? If your neighbour knows you did a baaad baaad thing – do you make sure you look really guilty or do you walk around like you haven’t done a damn thing?
We are now talking about Jamie. He obviously did a pretty bad thing by killing Knox. Did he have a good reason? He thinks so (I agree). He was going to be handed over as a traitor to the Crown, likely hanged and his family/those on the ridge removed to frig knows where. It was kill or have everyone you love scattered three sheets to the wind AND be killed.
Jamie is no stranger to the murder game. He started his career as a ‘bloody man’ pretty young in life. He killed his own uncle when Dougal caught him being a ‘traitor’. Traitor might be Jamie’s trigger word. Call him that, he is going to turn off your lights for you.
He has killed his fair share of men in the service of protecting his family and his beliefs. Does he feel guilt for it? I don’t think he feels great about it however, I think Jamie compartmentalizes it. Guilt does exist for him but it’s the guilt he uses as penance. He knows what he needs to feel in order to pay for what he has done. It is a logical pain that he carries with him. Will he show it the same way that Brianna/Claire/Roger does? No, because he married this particular kind of guilt early in his life. If he allowed it to affect him with great waves of emotion it would stop him from doing the things he needs to do. We don’t always need to see someone’s guilt to know they carry it. We only need to know they are a decent human being.
There are plenty of us out here that have done things, admittedly on a smaller scale than, you know, murder, that we keep close to the vest. We know that our guilt may be the price we pay for the action, the secret or the lie. That is ultimately our choice and it isn’t always a bad thing.
People may like to believe the only way to be a good human is to be 100% honest with everyone and share exactly how we feel at all times.
That isn’t the most fitting method for everyone. Once and a while, the best people keep their mouths shut and what they are feeling to themselves. It’s almost a superpower.
Ultimately, we determine the weight of the guilt we carry. We can also bring in someone to help us lug it around just by talking about it. It doesn’t have to be someone involved. It can be anyone to help us take a load off for a while.
That is why Claire had Joe, Brianna had Roger and Jamie had Adso. I mean, that kitten was pretty conveniently placed, wasn’t he?
And you…me…we have each other. Many of us are spending much more time at home these days so I encourage you to check out other points of view about Outlander. I find other’s views of the show fascinating, especially when put together in a way that is respectful to others and spoken from a place of sharing. These are some of my favourite people who do this in the land of the interwebs, check out their websites/blogs/vlogs/chats.
Outcandour gives a brilliant, deep dive into the episodes. There is always something about the way she dissects the episode that resonates with me. I don’t tap into the same spaces she does, I end up reading them twice. I ALWAYS end up watching the episode after reading her blog, I then read it again after watching. It’s like a loop! So if I seem dizzy, blame it on T. 😘
Beth’s recaps/reflections are very different from my ‘not recaps and I love them because of that. So well written and I adore how she explains her views, helpful for those who see things from other perspectives. To me, that is the point of sharing our thoughts, not to be an echo chamber for people who agree with us but to help one another stretch a little. Not necessarily to change people’s opinions but to have them see things from another person’s lens. I get to do that a lot with Beth and I admire her.
Erin from Three if by Space covers so many great shows so Three if by Space will keep you busy if you want busy. It’s her reviews of Outlander that I read most of course. I don’t read many reviews bc as you all know, I’m a happy finder. I want happy happy happy, even though Erin doesn’t pull any punches in her reviews, she writes with integrity. I don’t always see eye to eye with her (not just cuz she’s tiny…she IS tiny) but that isn’t the point. She expresses herself with honesty and isn’t a dick about it. I really enjoy smart people. So…I enjoy Erin, very much.
Blacklanderz ~Vida puts together some wicked conversations, in print, between members of the Blacklanderz community. I find them fascinating. Not only do I see things from more than one perspective but I often learn things. I don’t claim to be anything other than who I am. I am a middle class, privileged, white woman. That is the lens I see through. Do I try my damned best to listen and be an ally to POC? Yes. Do I always get it right? Nope! Sitting with the community that Vida has created here, is pretty damned impressive.
Courtney and Company, from Outlander BTS. Oh, they make me smile. They are another group of really friggen smart women that get together to talk about the episodes. I don’t always agree with them but holy shit, do I respect them. The beauty of their video discussion is they don’t always agree with each other and like the adults they are they keep the discussion going. I’m not relegating anyone here…Courtney has the most adorable dimples to go with her delightful brain, you just get the best of all the goodness.
I know there are many others, if you have a favourite, please add them to the comments. I think it would be nice to support one another in our Outlander adventures rather than get all wrapped up in things that might not bring us joy. The world is going all kinds of everything out there – we know it, we are doing what we can to stay healthy- maybe this will help us stay sane(ish).
Be well – virtual hugs…6 ft apart eh?
Don’t forget to live tweet with us Canadians while watching W Network at 7pm MST, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
There is so much happening in season 5 of Outlander, it seems each episode flies by so quickly.
Last week hit a whole lot of nerves, as you might have been able to tell. I spent many years working with victims of violence. I was only a footnote in their worlds yet they all have impacted me beyond words. My ‘life lens’ focused it’s energy there.
While watching ‘The Company We Keep’ I was able to take a large step back to see it from the stands. There were so many moving parts in this episode, I found all of them interesting, entertaining and I believe we can appreciate them as story building.
My mental thread was weaving through the characters and their stories.
We are seeing clear lines of their before and after pictures. I suspect we can define our own.
For some, it is a before and after
the death of a loved one
a traumatic event
a joyful event
You get what I am saying. We have those moments in our lives that define ‘breaks’ in who we once were and who we now are. We were reminded of those moments numerous times with our Outlander family, both on the ridge and on the road.
I have this feeling that we will be looking at season 5 through the B.B and A.B eye. Before Brownsville and After Brownsville. There is a very heavy feeling around that town, owned and occupied by the Brown family. Dank murkiness doesn’t only describe the landscape but the patriarchy taking place there.
Roger became a Captain of the militia at the ridge, however, it was this trip to Brownsville where he discovered what being a Captain truly was. Its Outlander, nothing goes as planned. Roger was put in a position to test his improvisation skills. He didn’t botch the job, he went with what he knew. Whisky and song. 2 thumbs up from me.
As Brownsville is a tipping point for viewers, it is for Roger as well. Apart from the fact he was sent to escort Claire and the twins back to the ridge, it was in Brownsville that Roger became Captain MacKenzie of the Fraser militia. He was shot at, negotiated terms and announced to everyone within earshot HE was Captain MacKenzie. This was it. Remember that time in your life? When you had ‘that moment’. When you stepped up and into a position, you weren’t entirely sure about but once you said it out loud, it was finally real?
Josiah and Kezzie, those boys have obvious before and after pictures. The before was dark and filled with the pain of neglect and abuse while the after is yet to be seen. We know though, not because of the books, because any life after what they have been through will be better. Especially in the hands of those on Fraser’s Ridge. Picture having a ‘Family lottery’ and the Fraser’s are the grand prize – yup – Josiah and Kezzie won, big time. This is most assuredly a case of they deserve this win.
I will wonder out loud for you. Where do you believe Jamie and Claire’s collective ‘before and after’ is? They do have important ones in their lives, individually and together that have shaped the humans they are now. I am curious about what YOU think.
In my view, one of Claire and Jamie’s largest before/after pictures is ‘before Bree showed up in the 1700s and after Bree showed up in the 1700’s’. Their relationship shifted to a new level. They started seeing one another differently and the dynamics in their relationship varied more than we had seen previously.
I’m interested in your take. I hope you share it in the comments.
We have seen Brianna through some darkness and each week, the looming knowledge of that SunnuvaBonnet is out there. Inching closer. This version of before and after of Bree will not last forever, however, the foreseeable future we have Bree before Bonnet and after. Bree was always determined and filled with a fire that wasn’t easily put out. Those things haven’t changed. Her ‘after Bonnet’ self is turned up for lack of a better term. She is hyper-aware of her surroundings, it seems as if she wears part of her inside on the outside. Feel things sharper, sees things in higher contrast and hears in higher pitches. To those living on the outside of Bree, they seldom seem noticeable, as she is undoubtedly doing her best to keep on the inside. This task of hers is particularly painful. Essentially, the nerves are on the outside while being covered by a sheet of thin muslin that is only protected by her ability to keep it from slipping off.
Those who have suffered a trauma, such as rape, know that the assault itself is different than the post-trauma. That it goes beyond the physical and the initial emotional damage that was done. Brianna may have worked through some of hers in the time between believing SunnuvaBonnet was dead and finding out he was not. The latter would be what we call a triggering moment. Triggers are very real and can bring us immediately back to our traumatic event, sometimes causing the process to start all over again. Brianna overhearing Bonnet was still alive builds the real fear is that he will attempt to find her in order to get to Jemmy. We can only hope that Bree shares her anxiety with those who care about her. I have said it before, just because we can do it alone, doesn’t mean we should.
I can see many Outlander viewers relating to our ‘after Bree’. Living with the agony of sexual assault in any form can be overwhelming. We may be comforted while watching, being reminded we aren’t alone. There is also the possibility of being triggered, seeing our own traumas reflected back at us. The only true advice I have is, take care of that piece of who you are. Nurture them. Remind them they deserve kindness, compassion and love. And then…give it to them.
We all have our ‘before and after’ stories. For some, there are many, lives being in a state of constant change. Others have that moment that created such a shock it sent them spinning and there is no denying it changed everything. Either way, we become who we are not only as a result of what happens to us but how we process/see/react to it.
It is my hope that we all take the time to cherish who we have become. We are worth it.
and to be perfectly honest, we’d have gone willingly. Many of us were sitting here, waiting for someone to come along and make this happen.
I recently watched a marketing clip of how to sell in today’s ‘go go go’ society and it was how all entertainment works these days. I wanted to sit down and put an Outlander spin on it.
Look, we have a little over a month left of #Droughtlander. I would like to spend it in a bubble because the real shit out there is making me tired. I need to turn it off every now and then if I want to stay relatively sane-ish.
Here were the marketing rules:
TURN CUSTOMERS INTO FANATICS – The viewers are the customers and CHECK! We are fans aka…fan addicts…fanatics.
PRODUCTS INTO OBSESSIONS – The product is the show and all the goodies that come with it. CHECK! We never miss an episode, in fact, we watch them over and over. We buy all the copies, we buy all the merch, we donate to all the charities, we attend all the events. Yep. Obsessed is a good word.
EMPLOYEES INTO AMBASSADORS – Conventions, Interviews, Social Media presence… the cast and crew that take part in these things. Those who engage. TADA! We have our ambassadors. We are tiny lil ambassadors ourselves when we RT/Share/Engage/Like.
AND BRANDS INTO RELIGIONS. Don’t scoff. Don’t laugh. People take their Outlander seriously. (If you are deeply religious – may I suggest you read the rest of this blog with your funny pants on because it is all just shits n giggles from this point on)
I have come up with 10 Outlandish commandments because I thought it would be fun and tie in, kinda…weirdly.
- I am Outlander, thy epic show, thou shalt not favour any strange shows before me.
- Thou shalt not take the name of Outlander in anger or derision.
- Keep thy home quiet during thee Outlander hour.
- Honour thy Fraser’s and thy MacKenzie’s.
- Thou shall not be a twitter assholeeo.
- Thou shalt not commit snackicide during the Outlander hour. It means what you think it means. Sicko.
- Thou shalt not verbally assault others during Outlander. Like not even a little.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. That means don’t be a gossipy Gertie, ok? Two ears, one mouth.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours Outlander stuff. Be happy for them. That shade of green doesn’t look good on anyone.
- Outlander is really just a TV show, here for thou entertainment. Enjoy the shit out of it.
ANYWAY, on the whole, the Outlander fandom does exactly what it is supposed to do according to the world of promotion and marketing.
Sony, Starz, W Network here in Canada, the cast and many of the crew all play their parts. Some don’t like how they do it, that’s rather a matter of taste, personalities or whatever. They will continue to do what they do for their own reasons. We don’t need to know those reasons, we should assume they do it for the success of Outlander.
The same can be said for us, the fans. We play our part. Some might not like the way we do it BUT…thats what happens in this thing called life. We feed the Outlander machine in our own way. It doesn’t matter in the big picture as long as we have fun with it. No matter if you are a twitter maven with thousands of followers, a controversial blogger that likes to debate or a fan that sits back and lurks wondering how the hell everyone keeps all of this stuff straight (I have no idea btw, I rarely remember who runs what account), we all maintain a piece of this crazy Outlander fandom.
YES. This fandom is crazy. Good crazy for the most part. Like any massive collective of people, there will be drama, infighting, cliques and subgroups. Those, however, are generally on the outlying rings.
The words ‘silent majority’ are a thing because – the majority of people who watch Outlander are silently enjoying it in their bubbles at home. Outlander has a global audience that is growing every day because of streaming services, most will never bother with social media beyond a few likes or searches.
Those who are out here with our voices should try our best to use them for good. Whatever that looks like to you, go for it! Have fun with it. There are groups out there that support the actors. All the main cast members have fan groups on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not just one but multiples. The reason being, different personalities gravitate to one another. That’s cool because you will then find people like you that love the same cast members you love.
Richard Rankin is a great example. I am sure he has a twitter handle for nearly every body part and one in every region on the planet. Example: Rankins Dimple. PLEASE do not see this as a personal challenge to create ALL of Rankin’s parts. (Roger’s pit hair, Roger’s thigh bristle,Roger’s man pelt…) Shit, that might have just given peepsmore ideas. 🤣
There are great content creators that share their love of the show. Videos that blend songs with scenes, that help us relive beautiful moments. Check out Julia on YouTube if you haven’t already. She has the instinct of bringing the music and the heart of scenes together to recreate the story in another setting.
There are also edits by King Fireman on YouTube, his videos are masterful creations of scenes brought together to weave you through a retelling of the story. You need to see them in order to truly know the appeal of them.
We also have a number of fantastic bloggers. So many I couldn’t possibly name them all. I assure you there is something for everyone out there. You can easily go to your favourite blogs, check out their suggested blogs since like attracts like.
Get lost for hours on end by hitting up Pinterest. Search for Outlander fan art, quotes, memes and whatever else your wee Outlander heart desires. You will find the most amazing things along with a few that make you snort whisky out of your nose. Either way, a great way to waste an afternoon.
Ultimately, it isn’t our drama, negative nellies and infighting that get the attention of others. That kind of shit just eats and thrives on itself. It’s possible to not be a part of it if you don’t want to.
What ends up being a lightning rod is the laughter, the good time fans that run around with their t-shirts over their heads screaming about LJG and Jamie and Roger and Murtagh and and and… that get the attention. The discussions about Claire together with her fortitude. The conversations about Brianna, her rape, as a consequence the way women in the fandom connected, healed and supported one another that was truly heartwarming. Those are the things that people outside the fandom see and gravitate to.
I admit the way fans jump all over someone that merely mentions on twitter that they have watched Outlander and love it, it’s friggen adorable. It might be surprising to the person initially but think about how welcoming it is. Walking into what you think is an empty room and saying “Wow, that Outlander show was so good” then BOOM 200 people are welcoming you and telling you how wonderful it is to meet you and how you are their people.
I for one…am happy to be a cog in this Outlander wheel. As long as it is on the air, I will be out here, promoting it. You never know what will happen after.
COME ON Feb 16th, us Canadians, watching on W Network have some #OutlanderCAN tweeting to do!
but I will try for the sake of this blog. If you have spent any time following me on Twitter, or talk to me in real life, you will know I have a pretty visceral reaction to Stephen Bonnet. I HATE him. Like HATE HATE HATE him.
Yeah, I know. He is a fictional character. When he existed only on the pages of Diana Gabaldon‘s books. I hated him there too BUT I had more control over him. Diana could describe him as handsome as she wanted. For me…in my brain…in order to accept this man as the evil he was…that physical attraction couldn’t exist. That would be WRONG. So…good old Stevie BonBon had one eye on scan and one eye on lock, big ole skin tags plaguing his face and I gave him lips like a fish. For me, that was enough to set him off the hot scale and into icksville.
Then, Ed Speleers was cast. Ed beautiful Speleers. Gorgeous, delightful, handsome in every way. Like many others, I knew him from Downton Abbey. I saw how good he was at playing dickish but delightful…I felt this just wasn’t gonna be good for me.
I was right. He WAS delicious and it tore me up. In my opinion, the worst kind of evil is the kind that seduces and charms you in one moment and destroys you in the next. It causes you to trust, makes you feel sorry for it, which makes you drop your guard. Evil like that does it solely and completely to take advantage to get what it wants. The end result is for their gain. Any loss someone else may have suffered means nothing to them, in fact, they barely notice the damage they have done. They only care they’ve won.
What I found difficult about watching Season 4 unfold the way it did, was the way Stephen Bonnet just sailed through being scum. Everyone was looking to blame someone for the miscommunication, the lies and the secrets yet…the person, smack dab in the center of ALL of it…was the silver-tongued devil that committed theft, murder and rape. He sat in the corner flipping coins betwixt his scungy fingers with that slimy grin on his face while the world burned around him.
He was the piece of shit that threw the match and everyone watched him do it. Yet, they all screamed at the person that built the house, they blamed the one who made the matches and they got mad at the hay that became the kindling. They even had the audacity to shame the person that was trapped in the fire, burned and scarred the worst. Those in the story got mad at themselves for lending him the matchbox and some pretended the fire wasn’t even burning around them. The whole thing made my head want to explode and knowing I sound like a drama llama, made my heart hurt a little too.
There was ONE person who deserved the blame, anger and hostility. The one that manipulated, murdered and raped. Full stop.
This is why I burn with the hate of a thousand suns for the likes of that sunnuvaBonnet. It is the Halo Effect. These types are everywhere. Disarming people with their smiles, leading people with fear and getting away with being the worst kind of human because they don’t look like a bad guy. Think of the Brock Turners of society, the Ted Bundys…how many “Oh, he’s too good looking, he couldn’t possibly be bad?” people in the world that keep getting free passes because they don’t fit what society thinks a bad guy looks like.
I have written a story here 3 times. Deleted it 3 times and it will stay deleted. I don’t need to share it for us to know that these people don’t just exist between the pages of books or in front of cameras on TV shows. To different extents, of course, but they are real and exist in our lives. They walk around believing they can say and do whatever they choose with no consequences simply because they want to. They see it as their right to get what they want no matter who or what gets in their way. This is why I believe this character ticks all the boxes of horrible, evil, no good sunnuvabitch for me. Watch this space for a blog comparing ‘Outlander Villians’. My brain kept going there while writing this so I figured I might as well do one.
Every time that sunnuvaBonnet appeared on screen, my husband would side-eye me, waiting. He knew it was coming and every time I TRIED…I tried so hard not to do it but I couldn’t, I would snap and spill “Oh My GAWD! I hate THAT guy! I hate him SO SO SO SO MUCH!!!” I had to say it, I had to let it out. Every. Damn. Time. Hubby would chuckle at me and shake his head but I found I couldn’t focus on what was happening on screen until I verbalized my hostility. I know. I know. I have issues. At least I admit it.
At first, like I said, I was concerned with the casting of Ed Speleers because he is so incredibly beautiful and that really messed with my head. I figured I would never be able to enjoy him in any other production as I would always see him as Bonnet or I would always see Bonnet as this attractive guy and it would cause me even more animosity towards him. That would be very very dark and not at all healthy.
I am happy to report that somehow Ed morphed his sweet dimpled face into a darker version of itself. I believe I will be able to watch him in other things and see him in the real world without connecting him with Bonnet’s pure evil.
By the time the episode rolled around that Brianna confronted him, that transition was completed in my mind. His appearance wasn’t beautiful. I realized that he looked more like I felt about him – if that makes sense. I wasn’t seeing the striking eyes or chiselled features. I was seeing the ugliness that was inside of him and again, I thank Ed Speleers for that. Unlike my imagination having to create these traits for book Bonnet, Ed’s powerful performance with sunnuvaBonnet created that hideousness that seeped from the inside to manifest itself on the outside. Of course, it didn’t make the character anymore tolerable for me but, it did help me. It helped me because I didn’t have to feel that battle of being attracted to a person that was a complete piece of human garbage.
Ed, on the other hand. RAWR.
Until next time,
Sher (ABOotlander founder)
Carmen Moore is one of those actresses that you see a dozen times and think she is a dozen different people. She is like a chameleon, morphing for her roles, not only in appearance but her voice, those small mannerisms that most of us don’t even notice we have. When I first saw her in Outlander’s Providence, giving Roger a hard time, I was drawn to her. I took note of her name and looked her up on IMDB. My jaw hit my laptop. I have seen Carmen in many productions and not once did I put it together that she was the same person. (And it’s not just because I’m thick…it’s because she’s magical.)
Magical…talented…for those of you reading this who have only experienced Carmen’s work on Outlander – let me share something with you. She has been nominated and has won numerous awards in Canadian television and film. I’m not just blowing smoke. This isn’t small potato stuff – 9 Nominations and 6 Wins so far! You know, to be exact about it.
I would have been walking around the Outlander set saying “Hey everybody! I’ve won 4 Leo’s and I am a Woman OF Distinction, dontcha know?… Imma big damn deal in Canada eh?” but something I learned about Carmen is she is incredibly down to earth – with a touch of sass. The girl loves herself some emoji’s and even her signature warns you that she might be up to something – “sent with love and mischief”. I’m excited to help you get to know her a little better, I think you are going to like her a lot.
It is an interesting coincidence that Carmen Moore landed a role in this Ronald D. Moore production. She has starred in 2 other shows that Ron created. The Battlestar Galactic web series: The Resistance and Battlestar Galactica Caprica. She also appeared in the Battlestar Galactica TV Movie: Blood and Chrome. Worth noting, she has never met Ron Moore and nope, not related either. There, that was our fun fact.
Everyone asks that generic “How did you get started in acting” question, there is a reason for that, it usually is an interesting story. I wanted to know Carmen’s. I’ve been “performing” for most of my life, although not professionally. 😂 Mom says I used to stand on the living room footstool at two years old and pretend I was on stage. “Carmen-wonderfender!” was how I introduced myself…to no one in particular! I discovered drama in grade 9 and fell in love with it. I did local theatre in Vancouver for a few years before an agent sitting in the audience of one of my shows approached me and offered to represent me. She started sending me out for tv and film auditions, which hadn’t occurred to me because I was so in love with theatre. I started booking right away and was just in the right place at the right time. It was just after Dances with Wolves was released, and I was basically the only “Native” actress in the city at that time that looked like Disney’s Pocahontas (although, I’ve never considered myself a “Native” actor…I’m just an actor).
Carmen says “right place at the right time”. I think it has a helluva lot to do with talent, those nominations and awards do a lot to back me up.
I found it very interesting that you seemed to break out of that typecasting many Native actor/esses speak about being put into. Was there something that you did or a conscious effort on your part to make that happen? YES!! Like I said, I was booking mostly Native roles in the beginning, and I really didn’t want to get stuck in that box. It’s easy for casting directors, especially in Vancouver, to become limited in how they see you, so we need to be responsible to open their minds to us. At one point I thought I wasn’t going to get out of the “buckskin” period pieces so I did the dramatic thing and chopped off all my hair. I went with this cute little bob and started booking cop/detective, lawyer, professional roles. It was risky, but it worked. And, I think I had a bit of an advantage as well because I don’t just look “Native”…I can play just about anything, including Caucasian…just a little more tanned than some! 😁
Do you recall what your reaction was when you heard you landed the role and would be headed to Scotland? Oh my gosh, I think my heart skipped a beat. 😁 I was sitting in a food court having a terrible meal when I got the call from my agent, so I couldn’t really let out the “whoop” that I was feeling. And I think it took a few days for it to sink in…and even then, it wasn’t really REAL until I landed in Glasgow! It was my first time working outside of Canada…I’ve worked on many American shows, but they were all shot within Canada, so this was a special experience. There is something magical about Scotland. It’s indescribable. It’s a very spiritual place. Best experience of my career thus far.
From the moment your character of Wahkatiiosta came on screen you gave her this essence that spoke ‘strong warrior’. Tell me about that. I fell in love with Wahkatiiosta right from the start…when I auditioned, they were looking for a woman in her 50’s that could tell the Otter Tooth story, and someone to lead the Warriors in to accost Jamie and Claire for the stone. When I booked it I thought, “well this is the oldest I’ve ever portrayed!” 😂
Then I got the scripts and she had been rewritten as “30’s”…and that helped a lot, especially once I saw what they were planning to dress me in….I embraced a more youthful energy and she just got more and more tomboy as I contemplated who this woman is…because she’s not in the books. She was created for the series, so I got to create her in my mind! She is two-spirited, she has very masculine tendencies, but she’s still a woman so much of her strength lies in her emotion. She loves deeply, LOVES her people and would do anything for them, but she wears this invisible armour. It’s all over her.
When I heard Carmen’s take on Wahkatiiosta, I watched both Providence and Man of Worth again, I urge you to do the same. Come back and let me know in the comments if it impacted how you saw her. I ask you to do this because I am curious if your thoughts match mine. I appreciated Carmen’s portrayal the first few times I watched but after hearing her speak of her creation of the character – I ‘saw’ her and there was a depth I had missed. It makes me wish we could have the artists who connect with their characters tell us what they feel is at the heart of their performances because I believe it brings us closer to them.
Can you tell me more about Wahkatiiosta? Your speaking voice for her was gravelly and set- it gave me chills- what was your influence for that? I had just spent a couple of days in Montreal before flying to Scotland meeting the director (Sonia Bonspille Boileau) and my co-stars for the Indy feature I shot last summer (Rustic Oracle). They are all Mohawk, and oddly enough I played a Mohawk woman in that film as well. I tried to listen to their accents out on Kanesatake and Kahnawake (First Nations reserves in Quebec) and mimic them as best I could, and Sonia explained how it’s similar to French in some aspects…the “ongh” sounds, like when you say no in French “non”…it’s somewhat nasal and they speak from the back of the throat. That helped tremendously. My friend Kim from Tyendinaga had translated all my English dialogue for my audition into Mohawk for me. After spending weeks studying our Mohawk lines with our translators and cultural advisors, Wahkatiiosta’s voice just sort of came out that way. Sometimes the characters I portray surprise me as they emerge. It’s like they have a life of their own and Carmen is just the vessel.
And what a badass fighter! The scenes where you were fighting your Mohawk family to get Roger and his family out of the village may have been visually dark but the fighting scenes were awesome. It really looked like it would be fun to do. Can you tell us about those sequences? I was super excited to do my own stunts for that! I did have a stunt double just in case (Cherie Shot Both Sides was on stand by), but we are quite different body types, so if I had felt uncomfortable doing stunts it would have been obvious it wasn’t me! But, I was game! Our first take running from the “idiothut” as I’m leading the group was interesting. Our director Stephen (Woolfenden) said during rehearsal “make sure you’re looking back to make sure they’re behind you”…so, first take I did. I looked behind me as I was running, hit a tree stump, or root, or something and down I went! I bailed. I think Sam almost tripped over me! 😂🤣 I wish I had that moment actually…maybe they have it in a blooper reel somewhere…
Watch Carmen get some direction for her badassery with this exclusive BTS video.
The last we saw Wahkatiiosta, she was banished from the Mohawk. To me, this could be an open door for her return to the series. Since she is a character created for the show with no storyline laid out for her that we are aware of. Would you be open to reprising the role at a later date? OF COURSE, I WOULD!!! I would absolutely LOVE to go back…yes, Scotland is amazing, and it’s always great to be working, blah, blah…but, I really miss everyone I worked with. And Wahkatiiosta is such a joy to portray…I’ve already mentioned she’s my favourite character I’ve ever taken on. So, yeah…I would jump at the chance…
Livin’ the dream. You were able to work with many of Outlanders main cast. Break it down in about a sentence for us what your thoughts were on them.
I understand many of the actors/esses that joined you on set have worked together before or at least have knowledge of one another, what was it like to be all together across the ocean in this new place, doing what you love with people that you know? Yes…I had a number of friends there. Some I’d known for years, and some that I’d met briefly here and there. That was surreal. To be overseas on this incredible set with familiar faces. And, of course, we all became a little family…I still stay in touch on Facebook with a number of the background and stunt performers because we spent 4 weeks together…some of them had been there for much longer. Gregory Odjig (who played Satehoronies) said at one point as we’re looking around our incredible Mohawk village, “We’re at work right now…in Scotland…that’s awesome!” 🤣
I have spoken to others that have said good things about Outlanders portrayal of the Native culture but I am interested in your take as you have appeared in many productions. How do you feel Outlander stacked up? I was uber impressed when I went for my wardrobe fitting and the costumers explained how long they had been researching the culture. Most everything was made by hand, and they showed me pictures of the stuff they tried to recreate. They went back as far as they could with what’s been documented, but of course, had to take some artistic liberties here and there for things that are too old to have any records of. They tried to be and were as respectful and accurate as they could be. Our translators/cultural advisors were from Akwesasne and were there to answer any questions we had. Of course, it IS television, it IS make-believe…it is a science-fiction show about TIME-TRAVEL! 😁 So, I had to let my guard down a little here and there and make some concessions. For example, I don’t believe a Mohawk woman would EVER abandon her child for a man 😉Also, Native people don’t speak that fast! I was constantly being told to speed up my dialogue (because they only have 42 minutes for each episode! 🤣) and I really struggled with that because Mohawk words (and, any Native language for that matter) take time to get out properly. So, I felt as though I was speaking in warp speed. I actually have a line that I speak to Tom and I feel like they sped up the tape! 🤣
All in all, they did a VERY good job 💖
Until I can create my own memories in Scotland *insert feel bad for Sherry here*, I live through other peoples adventures. What are some of your fondest memories from your time there? Hahaha…the fondest memory was throwing pillows out our hotel window to the boys below so we could have the most epic pillow fight in George Square! Running through the streets of Glasgow at night, pillows in hand, strange looks from everyone, cast versus background/stunts…there must have been about 40 of us. 🤣😂 It was beautiful. I did a live Facebook video of it all. That, and putting the cones on The Duke of Wellington statue.😉
OK, that looked like a crazy amount of fun. Those are some 3rd level pillow fights! Click on those links so you can see for yourselves. If you ask me…when Carmen is left to entertain herself, it seems she gathers up the boys and tells them what’s happening and how they are getting there. I need to mention, I really like her! You can also watch a lovely video she took while on an excursion to Loch Lomond with her friend and co-star Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon) by clicking HERE!
Carmen has an upcoming project, Rustic Oracle. MMIWG (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls) has been a plague in our country that has largely gone ignored because of the systematic racism our First Nation population faces. I asked Carmen to share a little about her involvement in this movie. Rustic Oracle was filmed last summer in Oka and Kanesatake. It’s finished and is being submitted to film festivals at the moment, with a theatrical release scheduled for later this year. I haven’t seen it yet but spoke to Sonia recently and she’s very excited to share it. 💕
It’s set in the mid-‘90’s, 6 years after the Oka crisis so there’s still a LOT of tension between Mohawk and non-native. Written and directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau, it’s the story of a single mother (me) searching for her missing teenage daughter, but told through the eyes of the 8-year-old sister (the amazing Lake Delisle). I jumped at the chance to shed a little more light on this epidemic in Canada and the US, that not enough has been done about. It’s not going to be an easy one to watch, that’s for sure…but, so SO important.
I think saying I am looking forward to seeing it would sound flippant. I certainly am intrigued. Facing these truths is uncomfortable, especially for us not living in the communities affected. We stand on the outside, looking in. Very often, judging something or someone we know very little about. What do you feel, we as a society can do to improve our relationship with our first nations cousins? We assign ourselves proud when they perform in productions we love, yet we pay little attention to the troubles here on our doorstep. I believe listening to those who know is the first step. What can we do? That is a BIG, BIG question…that I don’t think anyone has an easy answer to. There is so much to be done in regards to reconciliation with the First Peoples of Turtle Island. It doesn’t help that this country’s racism is still so hidden and dismissed as non-existent…and further to that, we have a Prime Minister who used the mask of solidarity with First Nations to get elected but its now spitting in our faces.
They love the celebrities, but shoot the troubled Native youths in the head and call it “defending my property”, they claim that the culture is so beautiful, but let our dead sisters murderer go free…they steal our babies because Native children are worth more in the foster care system…they talk about sustainable energy, and let’s get rid of plastic straws because that will make such a difference, but they judge our people for blocking the pipelines trying to go through Native land, because…you know…economy…why is it always NATIVE land the pipelines are crossing? Because they wouldn’t DARE put non-natives at risk like that…
Wow…I just went on a rant…what’s the answer to all of this? Maybe acknowledgment is the first step.
When we read a message like the one Carmen shared with us here and feel shame, sadness, anger or yes, maybe even offence, that should be a sign to us. A sign that says we need to get on the right side of this. I am grateful that she spoke the hard truth. This isn’t a simple political issue, it is a human one.
That is why I will continue to listen as long as those like Carmen, continue to talk. We need to learn because it is the only way we will grow. Be an ally.
That got pretty deep so – from one extreme to another. I end my interviews with pure silliness. Why? Because I’m a bit of a goober and after heavy stuff, I think levity is a good thing.
Carmen, as a Canadian you get the upper hand because you probably know what these Alberta goodies are but here we go anyway.
We, the ABOotlanders, have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course, tell us which one catches your fancy?
A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn
What the heck???! 🤣😂 I’m going to McDonald’s… I LOVE THIS, the first time anyone has ever demanded an early checkout. This woman is my kinda people. Definitely not prairie oysters…I’m not a big beaver tail fan…moose droppings I could probably indulge in…I’ve never had Taber corn, and I love corn…so, I’d probably go with that 😉
It was so great getting to know Carmen. She is one of those people you want to sit down, have a great meal with but know your food is going to get cold because you are too busy talking and laughing.
I am very much looking forward to seeing her upcoming projects and am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that we see her again on Outlander. #BringBackWahkatiiosta, that could be a thing right?
Until next time,
Sherry (ABOotlander founder)
Funny, the way things happen. All season I have been happily live-tweeting our #OutlanderCAN hashtag each episode as they air on W Network, here in Canada. I then ponder over each episode to try and pull something not so obvious from it. I have gotten decent feedback most of the time and am pretty proud of what I have done in both departments.
It so happens that during the airing of season 4’s finale, I ended up in the emergency department of my local health center and then whisked to the hospital for testing. What was I thinking about? Well…my imminent death or loss of a limb was first in my mind but I was also thinking about not being there to live tweet. I’m not even shitting you. I was thinking about that. So I tweeted to apologize and explain why I wouldn’t be there. Like people cared like I did. I mean, come on.
There is where the “not so obvious” for the season finale popped up for me. It’s not about you. The season finale wasn’t about me being there to live tweet or not, how important do I think I am anyway? 🙄 There were many instances I could easily say that to a character during the episode. I also find it amazing how often this happens in our every day. We tend to personalize other peoples behaviour, internalize it and make it about ourselves. We will get it in our heads that other people get up in the morning just to make ‘our‘ day more difficult. A little FYI, that usually isn’t a thing. Most peoples objective is to do things “for” themselves, not “against” someone else. This is not to say there is not collateral damage, there always is. That usually isn’t their intent.
The opening title card scene we see two young boys running around playing what they are taught to believe is an innocent child’s game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Watching is a proud Native American man that we later realize is Otter-Tooth because of the gemstone around his neck. This is not about the children, this is not about the ignorance of the systematic racism that caused us to believe this game wasn’t hurting anyone. This is about the man on the bench, the history of his people being changed and being replaced by society.
Claire, Ian and Jamie make their way into the Mohawk village looking for Roger. They know he is there. All three are trying to wheel and deal to get him back. Claire ends up with her scarf off and Otter-tooths gemstone exposed. This causes many in the tribe to gasp in fright and move away. Claire and Jamie’s first reaction is to calm them down, say they mean no harm, they want to help, to trade. Their immediate first thoughts are about what they can do for them. This isn’t about you Claire. This isn’t even about the tribe. This is about the gemstone. It is about the fear the tribe has for what that gemstone represents.
Murtagh has more than a few “this ain’t about you” buddy moments. What I found very interesting was it was Ulysses that silently gave him a lesson. Murtagh and Jocasta are discussing Brianna’s impending marriage to LJG. Which, Murtagh is taking very personally. There was one point when the discussion between Jocasta and Murtagh went from curt to argumentative. We could only see Ulysses’s hands- he went from gently holding them in front of him to loose fists at his side. Signalling protection. When Jocasta decides to leave Murtagh to his food, Ulysses takes her arm and offers Murtagh his assistance but with a very curt manner, the extra eyebrow added all we needed to know in this scene. Jocasta and Ulysses were letting Murtagh know Brianna’s future…not about you dude. Little did they know…it wasn’t about them either.
Going back to Otter-tooth for a little bit. I know people get upset about the story here, about his message of killing all the white people, of the war he wanted to lead in order to save his people. It upsets me too but maybe for different reasons. It upsets me because it would seem like the logical thing to do if I were in his place. If I were to be 100% honest with myself, which is not an easy task in any event, what he was saying would be the most effective way to save his people. It’s brutal and it is ugly, so is what the Native Americans and First Nations people of North America went through because of colonization. So, for this one. It’s not about you. Or me. Or any of the people Otter-tooth wanted to save his people and his history from. It was about the Mohawk and what they ultimately went through.
We finally get to Roger. Finally. Naturally, there is this crazy “no take-backsies” going on but since trading seems to be the currency in all things, even peopley things, Jamie offers himself up. Young Ian goes to work something out, in this, he thinks he is a better deal than the old gingersnap. Jamie is caught off guard, assumes he will rescue Ian away or Young Ian will escape when Ian shuts him down. This isn’t about you Uncle Jamie. Young Ian swore to the Mohawk, he gave them his word. He would stay with them, in return, Roger could go with Jamie and Claire, back to Brianna. Sweet Young Ian was taking responsibility for his actions as well as making a choice for his future. One that didn’t have anything to do with anyone else. Sometimes the choices others make can hurt us but they aren’t making them ‘to‘ hurt us. We have to be aware of that.
So, off goes Roger with Claire and Jamie. The first opportunity he gets to put a beating on Jamie, he takes it. I don’t blame him in the least. Apparently, neither does Jamie. Claire tries to stop him but Jamie knows, this is what Roger needs right now. I believe Jamie also wants Roger to let loose on him. His form of penance so to speak. In a way, Jamie is making Roger’s rage about him in order to rid himself of some of the guilt he feels over what he has done. Error in judgement or not, he owns it, as he should.
When Roger doesn’t go back with them to River Run right away, I don’t think it about the news that Brianna’s baby is possibly Bonnet’s. I think it is more about staying in the past. This has never been the plan. This is a new thing. It not just about Roger and Bree and their future anymore. It is about being a family in a completely different time. It is about living in a family with a man that damn near beat you to death and sold you to the Mohawk. It’s about living in a time when your wife was raped. This is a dangerous world and making the choice to live there. Making a choice like that without taking a moment to think would be doing a disservice to yourself and to the one you love. Not to mention all the people that will end up in your life as you move forward. This is a case of it’s not just about you.
Brianna was the one that was the victim of so much “It’s not about you” that it was painful to watch. Only because she did personalize so much of it. I was thankful that the birthing scene was Bree focused. It showed her strength, tenacity, ability and her dedication to doing this thing on her own when everything came down to it. Yes, she had her aunt there, her friends but ultimately, giving birth is about a mother and her child. There is no need a secondary narrative to focus on there. When Bree held her son for the first time, this story became about him now. That was her choice. Her love for him shone through.
When Claire and Jamie arrived back at River Run without Roger, the look that came over Bree’s face when she realized he wasn’t with them was pure heartache. It wasn’t about her but we all do what Bree did. She was personalizing Roger not coming back. Very likely creating a story in her head to match the pain she was feeling. It is such a common mechanism for us humans and so often our imaginations don’t match the reality. We replay other peoples choices like we have control over them. It is this weird dance we do. If I had done a, b or c. Only, it doesn’t work like that because they will always make the choices they want to no matter what we do. Roger does return to her though, as I knew he would. He returns to claim her as his wife and the baby as his son. It isn’t about any one person, it becomes about them as a family.
As Red Coats come riding up to River Run everyone assumes they are after Murtagh because he is, after all, the local fugitive in hiding. Jocasta and Murtagh share a little tête-à-tête that both Claire and Jamie witness and share their WTF faces. It’s ok guys, THIS little love affair…isn’t about you, so step off. Aunty Jo is getting herself some Silver Foxtail on the side and won’t be listening to any of your nonsense about it.
Last and certainly not least is the not so love letter from Governor Tryon. Jamie is expected to follow his beck and call. In this case, that means whippin’ up a militia and hunting down and killing Murtagh.
Well, Tryon, I know he likes to think everyone is just clamouring to serve him and his brilliant red coat wearing English army but here is the thing, they aren’t. No matter what Jamie’s obligation is to him we know that Jamie’s first obligation is to his family. It always has been and will be. Gov. Tryon happens to think this whole Regulator thing is me against them. That is where he is wrong. The Regulators have said from the start, they are more than willing to pay taxes, they are not willing to pay for the elites shitty castles and corruption. Plain as day, Gov. Tryon. Not. About. You. It’s about the people he is supposed to be helping. If he were to take the same amount of time he takes to fight them and listen to them instead, he might learn from them. Even this shows us we often make up our minds because we feel attacked when someone disagrees with us. Instead of listening we react. So much can be lost when all of that noise is happening.
Imagine. 13 weeks of Outlander is already gone. POOF! I absolutely loved this season. Every episode I enjoyed for different reasons and I was able to learn a little something in the hidden corners that helped me realize the writers, directors, cast and crew give so much to it. Still, Outlander isn’t about me.
It’s about so many people. Too many people to ever keep track of or make happy and that’s o.k. too. Want to know why? That is what makes life interesting. We can have animated conversations. We can discuss what we love, what we don’t and the things we missed and maybe why we think things were done the way they were. What I think the secret might be is respecting one another’s views and opinions as just that. Personal opinions based on personal experiences. They don’t have to assume someone else’s intent or be presented as facts. We can have fun with it because when it comes down to it, this thing called Outlander is a TV show that is created for our entertainment. It is supposed to bring up emotions. All of them. That is what makes great TV.
I’m not going to stop blogging over #Droughtlander, granted, I probably won’t do one once a week. I hope that we can keep each other company, stay engaged and not lose focus of what brought us together in the first place. A great story.
Sher (Founder of the #ABOotlanders)
Providence, episode 12 of #Outlander is receiving praise across the fandom. Sera-Lys is the extraordinarily talented and beautiful First Nations actress who played Johiehon, the Mohawk woman who fell in love with and had a child with the priest, Father Alexandre Ferigault. I spoke to many people about Sera-Lys‘s performance and each one was impacted in some way by her portrayal. It made me want to know more.
We all know I’m a Canadian, I talk about that on the regular. The actor’s Outlander auditioned for the Mohawk and Cherokee this season were chosen from First Nation actors in Canada. I found many have familiar faces from our television landscape. When Sera-Lys popped up on the screen I had a “Hey! I know her moment!” Only because I had watched her on a show called Arctic Air. Not because I actually ‘know’ her. Since we are both Canadian, I felt confident enough to reach out to her.
It is with no surprise that I can share with you, she is 100% delightful, 110% smarter than I am and yes, I think we are best friends (don’t tell her, she may not answer any more of my DM’s)
So without further Sherry babbling, please enjoy my “Interview with Sera-Lys”
I understand you grew up in Saskatchewan and were fairly young when you started acting. Now, many reading this might not understand my asking but how did that happen for you? (Saskatchewan isn’t really known as Canada’s Hollywood) Haha, oh thank-you! Arctic Air was a big breakout role for me in terms of my Canadian career, it’s nice that people still remember that show. And you’re right, getting a start in acting from Saskatchewan is uncommon. I didn’t ever think that a person could even pursue acting as a career. My neighbour signed up for modelling classes when we were 11, and I wanted to join her. I really enjoyed it, so my mom supported me in signing up with a local agency in Regina. A couple of years later, when I was 13, there was a CBC miniseries coming to town called “Revenge of the Land,” directed by John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent). They were casting the role of a young Metis girl (a word that describes a mixed-blood Indigenous person) and had already cast actress Carmen Moore (She is in Outlander also, her role was introduced this week and continues in next week’s finale) to play the character’s mom. I went to the audition and the director and casting director were instantly impressed at our resemblance. Then they said, “But wait, can she act?” and I did my audition. It was my second audition in my life. I guess I didn’t suck, and they asked me if I had ever acted before. I said I was signed up for a workshop ‘next week.’ They smiled and told me to take the workshop. When I was at the workshop, they called my acting teacher and I was informed that I had got the role. It was very surreal! Needless to say, I loved the experience and was “bitten,” as they say. I continued to study Musical Theatre and Acting and audition throughout high school and later, in post-secondary education.
Where is home for you now? As a First Nations person and actor, I have the ability to “live, work and cross the border freely as [I] choose” thanks to the “J Treaty.” I really see Acting as my home, and wherever it leads me. I will always have roots in Saskatchewan and that is still where my family lives. Lately, I split my time between New York City and Toronto.
As a young Canadian woman, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career thus far? Historically, there are not a lot of substantial roles for women in general, less for women of Colour, even less for Indigenous women, and even then, we often lose these roles to non-Indigenous actors. This is because it’s a catch 22 in the industry: An actor has to have proven their ability to green light an X-million dollar production, but no Indigenous actors have ever done this, so investors find us to be too risky to cast. Sometimes they rewrite Indigenous roles and change their ethnicity to suit an A-lister that will attract more investors. It can be very frustrating. But I am happy to confirm reports that this is finally changing in our industry. The amount of opportunities for everyone seems to be growing, and so those of us who have been waiting and working on our skills all these years are finally getting a chance to show what we can do. Outlander 412 “Providence” was definitely one of those opportunities!
I see you have worked on a few projects with women at the helm, as we are in a (much needed) time of change in the industry, how do you find this is impacting you? For one thing, it has been the status quo for so long, that it was an important dynamic for me to learn how to negotiate. I get along with most men, I have many platonic male friends. I choose to connect with human beings, not genders. Now, of course, I have noticed an inequity and it does bother me. But it is important to create allies, not otherness. I have had excellent experiences working with male directors, and equally as wonderful experiences with female directors. I feel blessed to be able to collaborate with all of them and I am hopeful that more and more women and minorities will be given a chance to helm large-scale projects.
Did you audition for the role of Johiehon specifically and what was the process like for you? Yes, I did audition for her specifically. I knew the character was supposed to speak Mohawk and French, but the sides were given in English. Like most Canadians, I studied French in school growing up, so that was the easier part. Mohawk is another story! There’s no google translate option for Mohawk! While the casting director said that it wasn’t necessary to translate for the audition, I know from experience that producers almost never cast Indigenous actors for period-dramas from a tape where they speak English. They want to cast someone they know can handle the language challenges that the role demands. So I reached out to my friend Devery Jacobs (Sam in STARZ’s American Gods) who is Mohawk and also was auditioning for the role. She passed along recordings, translations & phonetic transcriptions of the Mohawk lines. I went in for my audition a few days later, and I guess I kinda “nailed it:” one take and done. Then I was “On hold” for over a month. During this time I auditioned for another role on Outlander, the Cherokee translator played by Crystle Lightning. When I got the call from my agent that I had booked Outlander, I had to ask, “which one?”
I am very grateful to belong to a community of supportive First Nations actors. It’s a rarity in this industry and even this day and age that someone would aid their “competitor.” But I would have done the same. We really want each other to succeed, and we know the best way for us all to experience success is to support one another.
I know I shouldn’t feel personal pride in the fact the First Nations actors from my home country behave in this manner as the only real thing we have in common is we are from the same country, but damn, this makes me proud. To know there is such a cohesive unit of actors, working with one another to assure each other’s success knowing it will make the whole stronger in the end. That’s probably the most empowering thing I have heard in a long time. It makes this screenshot mean a lot more to me.
How did you find out you earned the role of Johiehon? My agent Rich Caplan called me while I was on a lunch break from a theatre workshop I was doing with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (in Manhattan). He had called me earlier that day to say that I had booked a role in a Canadian independent feature called Robbery, which is currently doing the festival circuit. It was a pretty awesome day!!
When you read the script for Johiehon’s introduction and demise, what were your thoughts? The introduction I knew from the audition, but the demise was a big surprise! They kept it under wraps from even me until about 2 weeks before my contract in Scotland began. She had a different name than in the books. It definitely explained why it was only a one-episode contract! I was shocked and excited. The second-to-last episode is often the climax of the season in today’s television market. A big fiery, epic ending in this episode was very exciting! I actually portrayed a young Nakota woman who died by fire in another CBC miniseries called The Englishman’s Boy about 11 years ago. So I knew I could perform it well. Still, I had never seen anything quite like the fire and stunt work that I witnessed on Outlander. It was truly amazing!
Truthfully, you had such a little amount of time to endear yourself to the audience, allowing us to feel you had this deep love with Father Alexandre and that Kaheroton was deeply in love with you, and…you did it. More than did it. I was sobbing when you (well, your stunt double) walked into the flames. What was your reaction when you saw it all put together for the first time? Honestly, I cried too! It was so beautiful. It was so sad and visually stunning. Mairzee Almas, the director, did an amazing job with this scene and episode. It was her idea to put the Adagio For Strings music over the silent slow-motion sequence. In my mind, I compared the epic, emotional moment to The Last of the Mohicans, and it definitely delivered. In today’s industry, an actor rarely gets the opportunity to act in something this grandiose! I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it. I am proud of my work and of the entire team. It’s tremendous.
I have to admit, Providence stands in my top 3 episodes of the whole Series thus far. From start to finish, every extra and every effect, every performance held my attention.
Richard Rankin is the regular cast member you had scenes with. He is known as being a very light-hearted guy. How was working with him? It was great! He is very friendly and easy to be around and work with. Poor guy had to be in constant “pain” during our scenes. It also was a very demanding season for him, so I am very impressed with his stamina and commitment. His scenes with Father Alexandre in the “Idiot hut” are truly remarkable and were rewritten right up until filming. He brings an amazing sense of humour to his portrayal. A true professional and a warm-hearted person. I feel lucky to have worked with him.
I often worry about the portrayal of first nations and indigenous peoples in television and movies. We want the portrayal to be true, respectful and not a caricature. I understand you are a modern woman, not a historian but am interested in knowing, how do you feel Outlander did, as a whole, in regards to portraying the Mohawk/Native culture? They really did a very good job. They went all out in their research. The costumes, hair, make-up and wardrobe were all very specific. And that set! It really transported us there in our minds. They worked with two Mohawk elders from Akwesasne and had them answer questions and do translations and coachings with us. They also gave us a document about Mohawk customs and culture, especially pertaining to what was happening in the scene. For me, the biggest departure from reality is that a Mohawk woman would ever abandon her child and commit suicide to be with her loved one. But it is a fantasy after all. It’s a beautiful story.
It was most certainly a part of the story I always struggled with, but yes, fantasy, love stories, tragedy. They tend to go hand in hand. Speaking of fantasy – I am envious you travelled to Scotland. How long were you there? Tell us a bit about your experiences if you could. I was there for 3 weeks. I was happily able to explore quite a bit. I went to Edinburgh, stayed in Glasgow and near Pitlochry. I went with fellow actress and friend Carmen Moore to Loch Lomond. That was a special experience. After my role was completed, I went on a horse ride in the countryside or a “hack,” as they say in Scotland, with Tannoch Stables. We stayed in a beautiful castle hotel during filming. It was breathtaking. Scottish people, on the whole, are lovely, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I highly recommend going and I hope to return someday soon!
You were surrounded by many other Canadian actors/esses while on set, which must have been interesting. Being in another country but still with people from home. What was that like? It was a surreal and pride-filled experience. There were other people from the Prairies and even an elder who spoke Nakota (my Native ancestral dialect). There were multiple other actors that I had worked with before who reunited there for this production. One of them, Gregory Odjig, looked at me at one moment and said, “We’re at work right now. Halfway around the world, in Scotland. That’s friggin awesome!” And I couldn’t have agreed with the sentiment more. Very special and unique.
What was your biggest take away from your time with the Outlander production?That all the years of struggling and career ups-and-downs were worth it so that I could experience something this amazing.
I see you have some projects that include writing and producing. Besides acting, what field do you see yourself pursuing more in the future? Acting is my true love. But acting leads me to producing and writing. I want to do them all, but most of the behind-the-scenes work I do is so that I can act in the production myself. I am sure this will continue to evolve. Acting and storytelling are my “Buffalo,” they provide my soul with sustenance, similar to the traditional life of my ancestors when they followed the herds of bison. I will follow them wherever they lead me.
That is so beautiful. Our First Nation culture carries with it such a powerful spirit. We have so much we can learn.
The issue of MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) in our country is one that was long ignored. The more the loudest voices speak, the more the silenced can be heard. Can you please tell me more about the project ‘In Spirit’?In Spirit is a very special project. It was written and directed by Tara Beagan and designed by Andy Moro. While we changed the character to a fictitious girl, the original play was based on the murder of Monica Jack. You can look up all of the details available on CBC’s website. 40 years later, they have finally arrested, tried and found a man guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and violently killing this young girl who was days away from celebrating her 13th birthday. It is very emotional and speaks to the core of our community. It illuminates the bigger problem with our society today. I hope we remount it and many more will get to see it. It’s truly riveting. I hope that the conversation continues and we work together to stop this senseless violence. Native women have been too easy to prey upon. Native people are victim to systemic violence, racism and erasure by historical and modern society. This has to change. We have to talk about it more and more. And if we could please stop objectifying our women in so-called “sexy Indian” costumes, that would be a great place to start.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you are excited about that we can watch for? You can currently catch me in Season 2 episode 3 of Friends From College, I have a really fun soccer scene about 8 minutes in. I will be doing a play at Portland Center Stage in Oregon called Crossing Mnisose by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle. That opens in April. Other than that, stay tuned to my social media @seralysmcarthur for announcements.
Once again, your performance in Providence was captivating. You managed to create a heartbreaking love story within an episode of television that left a fandom bereft. If there is anything else about your experience with this role you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Well, while Yan Tual and I were busy working and dying on pyres and crying for literally days, the other actors and supporting artists were often on break, if it was only filming our close-ups. As I mentioned, the set was impeccable and while much of it was natural, we would randomly find “set dec” hidden amongst the natural world: fake rocks, sticks, mounds, grass, etc.
Richard Rankin, Carmen Moore, Greg Odjig and some of the Mohawk warriors/ stunt actors made hilarious behind-the-scenes videos of knocking Greg over the head and body with these set pieces. The resulting videos were HILARIOUS!! What a fun group of people to work with!
Outlander BTS video Credit goes to Gregory Odjig
Prairie Oysters. I def gotta try one someday to be truly Canadian! (I do know what they are, lol!)
It truly was a pleasure to have Sera-Lys take the time to invite us into a few corners of her world. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you because I enjoyed it A LOT!
Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)
Be sure to live tweet the Finale of Outlander with us while watching on W Network on Jan 27th.
We experienced yet another powerful episode with The Deep Heart’s Core. Season 4 just keeps my brain in gear which I am not sure is such a great thing cuz I think it might be getting warped from overuse. It certainly has refreshed all those years of human behaviour seminars I took back in the day.
I don’t exactly do recaps with my blog this season, I kind of pick something that stands out to me. You might be on the same wavelength I am (if that is the case, you may want to seek help because I am not sure that’s altogether healthy) and you will think to yourself…well OBVIOUSLY…in that case, I suppose I’m not as unique as my mother told me I was.
This episode was not a comfortable one. I don’t think it was written to be. In fact, I think it was meant to give you that feeling of discomfort. Of being unsettled and not feeling right in your own skin, like things were ready to fall apart at any time.
Let’s open with the conversation Bree had with her bio-Da about her rape. That in itself shows us that Brianna feels a certain level of trust with Jamie now. She is asking for his help in processing the trauma she has experienced. She doesn’t need to give him names, dates or details to share her pain. Most victims can tell you that isn’t how it works. The things they need to let go of first are the could haves, would haves, should haves. Shedding the blame, guilt and shame are critical to recovery. Survivors do this with people they feel safe with.
Jamie experienced these things himself. He knows the process she has to go through. Claire took him through it. He put himself in front of his daughter, angered her and brought forth her rage (as Claire had) in order to show her that no matter how hard she fought that sunnuvabitch Bonnet, he would have taken from her what he did and likely, she would have gotten herself killed in the process. In the end, Bree wasn’t angry with Jamie for overpowering her, saying cruel and hurtful things to her – once she realized why he had done it. In fact, she felt safer with him. So safe that she reached further inside his heart and questioned him about his own experience with rape.
Jamie was raped by Jack Randall. He didn’t fight either. He didn’t fight because he gave his word in return for Claire’s life – which means at its core it was out of fear. Fear for her. That Jamie was able to share the truth of this with his daughter opened up a door to their relationship – in which Bree stormed through later on in the episode.
Let’s talk about that door now, why wait? Bree found out Roger made his way to the ridge and subsequently, what happened to him. The Fraser Fury was unleashed like…well…a Fraser unleashes their fury. There were a lot of words, a lot of confusion and amoung that, Jamie misunderstood what Bree was saying and heard her say that she had sex with Roger then fought with him- he mistook those words and thought Brianna claimed she was raped by him in anger. Jamie’s Fraser Fury mixed with Brianna’s – as you can imagine, that went up like a bomb.
Bree lashed out, slapping him. Hard. He let her. Why do I believe he let her? Jamie showed us earlier in the episode that he could stop her from hitting him if he chose to. Do Bree’s words hurt Jamie? Of course they do but does he know they help her more by her saying them? Yes. Jamie opened that door to his daughter earlier in the episode. That she would feel safe enough to say or do anything to him and know that he would be there to love and care for her no matter what. It is also why he said nothing when she yelled at him that he wasn’t allowed to be angrier than she was. Jamie heard her words and accepted them. It is something many of us don’t do when we are angry because we are too busy giving that anger to others in the form of hurting them back. Jamie had helped create that safe space for Brianna earlier in the episode, even though he screwed up when he lashed out with his words, he backed up and gave that safety net back to her instead of closing it off again.
Bree knows that Jamie loves her. She does love Jamie, otherwise, she wouldn’t even care enough to try to hurt him. She wouldn’t pull out the Frank card to make him hurt like she is hurting. That is what many of us are guilty of, isn’t it? When we are in so much pain that we want that person to feel it too? We try and cut them that deep. We go for the one thing we know will get them? She points out Frank would never have said the things Jamie just said to her. Her statement is not baseless, Jamie did just accuse her of lying about being raped, it was ugly and it was hurtful. She lashed out in her own ugly and hurtful way. I am not saying this is the right way to fight with family, however, I see that it is the way a lot of families fight. Good, bad or ugly we can say and do things within those walls and know forgiveness is available to us.
Jamie is being a father more than ever at this moment by letting his daughter feel, process and allowing her to use him to do it. He knows what he did and what he said was hurtful. He is attempting to move forward and doing what he can to make it right. Like at the beginning of the episode, he knows it isn’t about his words, but his actions. He isn’t begging her to forgive him because he knows forgiveness needs to be earned and she must go through the steps to get there. All he can do is what he has promised and allow Brianna the time to meet him in the middle.
Plus, Brianna is pregnant. Here I am remembering what a shit show of emotions that was like WITHOUT adding in all of this craziness and confusion to it. My heart ached for her this episode. Stepping back and seeing it all from where she stands. Taking away all of the confusion and miscommunication and blame we can lay down. Purely the circumstance of what can be lost – Brianna – that she is still upright, is impressive.
I think the previous commentary answers the why of Brianna not telling Lizzie about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet and the rape. Why Brianna didn’t subsequently hold Lizzie responsible for Roger’s current circumstances. Brianna feels like she is the one protecting Lizzie so it doesn’t occur to her to share that kind of pain with her. Brianna wouldn’t feel confident Lizzie could handle that level of anger from her without it completely damaging the relationship they have. Brianna doesn’t have the kind of relationship with Lizzie that screams: “I feel safe with you, I can be vulnerable with you.” We won’t expose our innermost thoughts to those people in our lives, we don’t see that it serves a purpose. Of course…hindsight…
The relationship between Jamie and Claire right now is something so quiet and reserved that I know I see it differently than many. I see it sitting in the “safe zone”. Claire is being fiercely protective of Brianna in this episode which I completely understand. She made the choice to come back to Jamie and in that, leaving her daughter. We have seen her struggle with that choice repeatedly over the last 2 seasons. With Bree now in the past with them, Claire has been so intuned with her daughter, grief-stricken by her pain and riddled with guilt over Bree’s rape.
She and Jamie are becoming parents together for the first time. They are parenting an adult daughter that is dealing with some pretty heavy shit. This is not a rainbows and unicorn little house on the prairie universe. When the Fraser fury is released Claire goes to the Fraser that needs her comfort the most. Their daughter. Jamie knows it, Claire knows it.
Claire has a whole lot going on in the episode, yet she is pretty quiet. She is angry with the whole situation, you can see she is upset with herself for not telling Jamie about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet. The resignation when she places the ring on the table becomes a quiet communication between them. Jamie and Claire have been through many storms, arguments and this is yet another bump in their road. Like most committed couples, they will learn from one another and whatever circumstance they have created for themselves. I was relieved to see Claire being fiercely protective of Brianna. This wasn’t against anyone, it was for her child. I think we can forget that sometimes, that we can be in someone’s corner and stand up for them but that doesn’t mean we are fighting or belittling others in order to do it. The relationship Jamie and Claire have is one of mutual respect and love. That is security, it means they have the ability to get angry, disagree and fight. All the while knowing they will come back to one another because their love and respect for one another are bigger than all the other stuff happening around them.
Roger Roger Roger. I can’t let this one go without talking about Roger. Of course he doesn’t feel safe! Who the hell are we kidding? The #PoorRoger hashtag is getting out of control. This guy is becoming the energizer bunny of Outlander, the punishment gets handed over to him…he takes it…puts it in his pocket…gives it a tap and says “All safe with me” and then extends his hand and says “Got anymore where that came from?”
#PoorRoger. See? He is getting dragged around like a goat on a rope from the top of the episode. He has company though and shares a kinship with this fella, safety in companionship I suppose. He chats with him along the way, is his motivational coach and one morning, his companion – dead. That’s uplifting. Sure to bring Roger the glimmer of hope and keep him looking forward?
Not really but Roger brings us to the end of the episode facing the one thing that is absolutely certain to bring him back to safety. He can have a warm bath, a sane Scottish lass (I will hop on the #FIOGER ship) and you know, not getting recaptured by the Mohawk…all with one touch.
The question is will Roger feel safer in the future or in the arms of Brianna? I know what I want him to do! I guess his safety isn’t my first thought, does that make me a horrible person?
Thanks for reading, if you made it this far.
Sher ( founder of the ABOotlanders)
I am going to open this #TheBirdsandTheBees blog with a huge SIGH.
There. I feel better now I suggest all of you do the same. Deep breath in…let that sucker out. Feels better, doesn’t it? Episode 409 was one that made us hold our breath more than once. I want to talk about all the things that made me tear up…the things that made me rage and the things that made me just sigh with pure joy and happiness. That isn’t what my blog has been about this season though and I shouldn’t change that now.
This time for me, the loudest thing was the silence. Bree’s silence, in particular, was deafening.
Like most of us, Brianna learned from those around her. To protect those we care about, we deny them the truth and shoulder the burden of our secrets. Her mother and father both did this for her. It is her natural go-to whether or not she understands it, almost like a reflex.
This young woman is so protective of those around her that she carries each worry on her own. She is taking such great care of Lizzie, that she holds onto the joy and heartbreak of her time with Roger. She keeps the subsequent violent rape at the hands of that sunnuva bastard piece of Bonnet to herself. Lizzie all but begs her to share her burdens but instead, Brianna holds them even tighter. Bree shows she is strong enough to weather any storm alone and as impressive as that might be, there is no reason for her to do it alone.
Ian retells the horrid story to Brianna, of how Bonnet attacked the family on the river and stole Claire’s ring. She takes note of this and puts this in her own personal file as “Reason 132 why I should heap more onto my breaking heart to protect my mother and Jamie and not think of how it will eventually affect me”. Yes. Brianna, you are strong, you are mighty, you can handle all of the things, but should you?
We can see the toll that the secrets are taking on Brianna as the episode goes on (I would mention the meeting with her bio-da and reunion with her mama but I would just cry again and I have Bells-Palsy and my ugly cry is a butt-ugly cry so…no). Bree is distracted, uninterested in things that would usually thrill her, flustered and easy to anger. All normal reactions that happen when we are holding onto something toxic, they poison us from the inside and start showing on the outside. Claire notices, not just because she is in tune with her child but because it is like looking at a mirror. Claire does exactly the same thing when she is hiding something, the behaviour is familiar to her.
How often do we walk through life saying “I can do it on my own.” “I don’t need help.” Or “I’m fine by myself, I’m good.”? You know what? We probably are. It’s also probably hard and would be easier with help, it likely would feel better if we said “Sure, here…thank you.”, and simply allowed the person who offered to help, to do that, help. We struggle and we carry the heavy stuff all for…what? Who does it help? Who does it end up protecting? If we answer this question honestly we will often find out the answer is – no one. In fact, sometimes, it ends up hurting someone in one way or another. We become so busy protecting people we lose focus on the important things. We become so involved in hiding our hurt that we fail to see the other things going on around us.
Brianna keeping the truth from Lizzie allowed her to create a story from the information she had. Something all of us do. We take visual cues and fill in the blanks, it is how the brain works. Brianna not telling anyone about the ring ensured no one knew who raped her. Leaving those doors open for further misunderstandings. Yes, Bree, you can do it alone – you definitely should not have. We all make mistakes, some repercussions cost more than others.
Jamie rounded out this picture for us at the end of the episode. He chose to go it alone. Demanding Lizzie not tell Claire or Brianna what was happening. Storming off to take care of who he thought was Brianna’s rapist. Just because you CAN do it alone…doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
The proof is in the pudding with this one…the pudding being poor Rogers beautiful face.
We may be strong. We may be capable. We may be all of the things we think we should be. We also are allowed to be tired. We are allowed to lean on people. We are allowed to accept help without shame or regret. We never would tell a loved one they are weak for letting us help them, we would never tell a friend they couldn’t rely on us for a hug or an ear when they needed one – so someone please tell me why do we feel we are any different? Why should we be the exception?
I wish you the happiest of New Years.
Sher (founder of the ABOotlanders)
Join us for Live tweeting while us Canadians watch on W Network Sunday nights at 8 pm MST. Use the hashtag #OutlanderCAN so we can find you!