Can you believe we are down to the wire now? Two episodes left of Outlander and WTAF are we gonna do then? I have ideas for myself but I don’t know if I will follow through with any so I’m not saying. I don’t wanna look like a slacker.
Episode 10, Mercy Shall Follow Me, was another episode packed with subtext. This season has more layers than a fricken onion, which is largely positive. A bit of a pain in my ass since I decided pulling from those layers would be fun. On the most part, it has been. This episode, my focus was solid, possibly because my lens is in fishbowl mode right now.
Something we hear people saying in regards to going through dark times and coming out the other side is “I had no choice.” I want you to sit with that for a while.
The choices our characters made in this episode changed their fate, the fate of those they loved and in some cases, changed the fate of people they didn’t even know.
We open with the sunnuvaBonnet and his new bestie Gerald/Neil Forbes, (played with weasely brilliance by Billy Boyd) meeting in a brothel. Bonnet is acting like he is all posh ‘n shit. It doesn’t suit him but I’m not focusing on him because his choices, will always be the same, about him. Forbes on the other hand didn’t have such a horrible life. Being a lawyer, in those days, he was doing pretty good. You know, except having an uncanny resemblance to a weasel. That could have been overlooked if he were a decent human.
He allowed an act of pathetic revenge toward Brianna for having a mind of her own and not wanting to marry him, fuel him. That choice set Forbes on a path that ultimately lead to his death. He did not think that through.
Brianna did not deny Forbes because she didn’t want to marry him, personally. Bree was denying every one. She was waiting for Roger, who she was handfasted to. Standing back and taking a look at this situation can show us a few things. First, when we perceive things as personal slights – they may not always be. People, more often than not, do things for themselves rather than against us.
We have a tendency to add ourselves to circumstances that we feel we may have been a part of the decision making, when we were not even considered. Hurtful? Of course, it can be. It has to be up to us what we will do with that. Forbes took Brianna’s choice as a personal attack that required him to pay her back. He created a scenario of having had Brianna as a wife, owning River Run and having it all taken from him. This fairy tale was a creation of his own making and he felt he was owed.
We see others do this every day, we may even do it ourselves in bite size pieces. Assuming peoples motivation without having all the information we need. We have a tendency to place our own narrative, where needed, to fill in the blanks. It makes our point much easier or assists us with being justified in our opinions. When we look at it from the perspective of this being a choice we make, it boosts our objectivity. Naturally, a commitment to be objective has to be realized.
Forbe’s weakness of character and subsequent choices didn’t only affect him. They caused another man to make a choice that will follow him. Ulysses, being a slave, (I am going by the information we have in the show – I know book readers have other information but we are not sure where the show is going so – easy does it) when he puts his hands on a white person in violence (or for any reason, let’s be real) he will be killed because of it. I’m not going to make it flowery. No matter what Ulysses status was in Jocasta’s household in 1700s society, he was a black man and that means, he was seen as property. He knew this more than anyone.
We know how intelligent Ulysses is, he doesn’t do anything without thinking, a man in his position can not afford to. He knew he could just push Forbes off of Jocasta or he could kill him. Either of these actions would get him the same punishment. He chose to wrap his tree-trunk arms around Forbe’s pencil neck and snap it. He killed Forbes with calculation, that was a pointed choice, not one made out of desperation. The desperation we saw in Ulysses was certainly deep emotion but also hope Jocasta was alive. That would make his actions worth it in his eyes. Those choices, that have a payoff, they end up meaning something. Colin McFarlane really brought that scene home for us.
Claire makes subtle choices in this episode that lead to a breakthrough. Walking into Sylvie’s brothel, she addresses the women there as ‘ladies’. Others in the episode don’t treat them with the same respect. Claire, on the other hand, treats sex workers like any other professional. When she notices that Eppie is in pain and has a noticeable limp, she offers to help. Claire is aware that Eppie may have information regarding Bonnet but this is not the whole reason she reaches out. Claire understands that when she makes a choice to connect and humanize those who are rarely seen, they may respond in kind. Whether now or later. In this case, Eppie held all the cards, literally. Though Bonnet was a client, Claire showed kindness. A rare commodity for a woman of Eppie’s social status.
Eppie may never know how her decision to help Claire affected others. It would have been easy for her to take Claire’s advice and move on with her day. No matter the reason, that moment changed the trajectory of more than a few lives. She saved Brianna from being sold to that gnarly finger-in-mouth-puttin’ Captain whatshisface, which led to the capture and ultimate death of Bonnet. I like to think it may have fortified her faith in humanity. That little nugget being stored for Eppie as it gets stored in us. I appreciated Leah Shine’s performance as Eppie, it was unassuming and real. Enabling us to relate to her.
We can’t always be aware of how our actions affect others. Good or bad. Those ripples have the potential to be huge. What we can always be sure of is how those choices make us feel, this gives us a fair indication of how others take in what we have left behind. When we think of what we have done, do we have a feeling of peace, love, gratitude? Are we happy with our choice and have no feelings of regret? I would venture to say, the ripples we have left, there are others in our wake enjoying the sun and harmony we have given them. There will be new moments created from the foundation we built. On the flip side…do we feel ashamed or try to defend what we chose to do? Do we try to ignore or avoid talking about it? When those are our responses to our choices, we can be sure the kind of waves behind us are jagged and others may be drowning in them.
Obviously, the characters in Outlander do things to the extreme but we can put ourselves in their costumes fairly easily with a dash of critical thinking. In the days of physical distancing, we are all making choices that affect others that we will never meet. It is interesting to think of things in the abstract of ‘I’. Not just as one, a person, individual… but as connected to numerous networks, one making a difference to the next and on and on. Would we be more aware of our choices, knowing we had such a global impact?
My view is, we already do, and probably should.
Back to that initial statement I asked you to sit with. Every time someone who has made it through a dark time that says to me “I didn’t have a choice”, I always answer the same thing. “Yes, you did. You chose was best for you.”
We seem to point out our weaknesses easy enough, it’s about time we start giving ourselves credit for the choices we make. The choices we make when we fight through difficult circumstances. The ones we make to help others, even when it means we get hurt. We always have a choice.
I choose you!
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)
That got your attention huh? Just like the cold but hot open of this episode probably got you. I know my attention was captured, but a naked Roger will do that.
Now, this may be very obvious to everyone out there and you may say to me that this blog is the worst of the season because I haven’t dug deep enough and that’s fair. I don’t think I really did. This just stuck with me through the 3 times I watched. It became more and more obvious and the reality is, I wanted to talk about it, so I am.
In this episode, our characters were on full display. They might as well have been playing their parts how Roger started the show for us. In the raw. That would have made the dinner party a lot less appetizing mind you.
The levels of exposure we saw in If Not For Hope went deep. This may take me a while so you might want to pour yourself something hot or cold, grab a snack or two.
The obvious is Roger. His literal nakedness isn’t just there for our viewing pleasure. I believe it speaks to a few things. He is now stripped completely of who he was. The buttoned-up historian of many layers. Each one tore away until he was bare and now, being recreated. This Roger we will get to know was always beneath the layers but had no reason to be exposed. The layers have been ripped away and no longer protect him, this Roger steps forward to run the show. Well, at least keep one foot in front of the other. Which is all we can seem to hope for.
Granted, Roger himself wasn’t physically present in the episode but make no mistake, he was there. Through Brianna, Claire, Jamie, Ian and even Lord John, each bringing him to the surface. They repeatedly reminded us of how perilous Roger’s situation is. How he was relying on them to save him from this situation they had a hand in placing him in (except Lord John…he’s cool).
Roger is completely on the outside of all of this. He has no reason to believe anyone is looking for him. He has to trust that Brianna loves him as much as he loves her. That, my friends, is blind faith. Which is perhaps the most vulnerable anyone can make themselves emotionally. This is intricately tied to the horrific moment at the end of the episode. Roger makes himself just as vulnerable physically. He realizes what he needs to do. He stands to accept a substantial beating at the hands of his captors in a type of gauntlet, a blind faith, trusting he is strong enough to make it through.
Personally, I would have rathered another shower scene. Richard Rankin, for the lack of screen time, has most certainly given Roger a surprising amount of depth.
I will add, it would be fantastic to see either, in conversation or flashback, what happened at those damnable stones. Richard conveys so much of what Roger thinks in facial expression alone (something I think this cast is flippin’ remarkable at) I would love a peek at that moment.
Please know I do not view vulnerability as weakness. It is a state of being from which each one of us needs to be in, in order to trust or love.
In Brianna’s case, she was all over the vulnerability scale from frailty, threat, disquiet and even pliancy during this episode. She was open to her own pain, in fact, the first moment we saw her in this episode she was in the midst of drawing it. Lizzie saw this as demons. They were in a sense, Brianna’s own demons…of sadness, anger and worry.
Speaking of Brianna’s drawings, it seemed she was using them to expose her disquiet. The opening credits showed many pictures of the slaves at work. Phaedre came into her room, Brianna saw how the light caught her face, she asked Phaedre to sit so she could draw her. To me, this showed Brianna’s discomfort with the way this world was working around her. She was able to capture that and put it to paper. I do believe Phaedre was pleased with being seen by Brianna, yet, you could feel her unease. Even if she were safe with Brianna at that moment, she was only safe with Brianna at that moment. The second someone else came into that room that safety would disappear instantly.
Next is Brianna, exposed lamb to the slaughter, Tinder 1700’s version. This was painful to watch with a modern eye. I had to keep facepalming myself to reset.
Seeing Brianna have to shut down the fake compliments, the greasy ‘we should ride into town alone together after just meeting one another’ and ‘hey, my mom doesn’t know I’m gay, let’s pretend to be bff’s.’, was too much. Brianna made the right call with the fake ‘case of the vapours’ to get the hell out of there. I now know why so many women fainted back in those days and it wasn’t because of the tight corsets. Women are tougher than that. It was to get the hell out of the room and away from all the creeps. They literally had to pretend they were unconscious before people would let them leave the damn room.
After the delightful dinner party (she says with dripping sarcasm), Jocasta gets some alone time with Brianna and in that small amount of time Brianna pliancy grew. At first, she started this conversation out strong but Jocasta, always cunning, knows exactly which string to pull to unravel even the most complex of patterns and she does just that. She grabbed onto the Roger and baby strings and pulled, hard. Brianna went from bold to pliant, which is a completely different variant of vulnerability. Jocasta used the perfect words to cut Brianna down and weaken her ‘Roger’s gone…no matter dead or alive. GONE.’ ‘If your baby is born out of wedlock, their life is RUINED.’ Brianna is brought to the point of being forced to look at her situation as the condition it is being referred to.
Jumping ahead Brianna is armed with what she thinks is the blackmail of the century. Bree decided to hit LJG where it hurts, in the ‘being gay is punishable by death’ spot. She felt this was a pretty great plan, she could coerce him into marrying her because she knew this big secret and he would never want to sleep with her because he didn’t like women. Win Win. LJG is a great guy and all but he isn’t one to be trifled with. He clapped back, letting her know the Vaginawagon wasn’t in mint condition and she would do well to stand down.
That moment with LJG is where Bree is the most exposed. She allowed him to know all the details of her pregnancy and her desire to protect her child even over her own happiness. It proves it doesn’t matter if we are trying to show others how strong we are, if there are cracks in the armour, someone will get through it. Even if it ends up being us, no one can stay locked in there forever. It’s stifling.
Lord John Grey. That name deserves a moment. He isn’t one you would feel is in a state of vulnerability given his status. Lord John, however, is a man who happens to love men. In colonial America, this is a crime punishable by death. This instantly makes Lord John a person in jeopardy. The moment he is introduced to Brianna you can see him soften from Lord John Grey…to John, Jamie’s friend. Which in itself brings an openness to him. Since he is raising Willie, Jamie’s son, it makes sense that he would have a soft spot for Brianna, Jamie’s daughter. You would think when LJG is most vulnerable is when Bree exposes his throat and threatens to chow down on it by telling the world he is gay. The idea may be threatening but after the initial imagery passes, he knows this won’t happen. The moments he is truly most vulnerable is when he is speaking of his relationship with Jamie and Claire. When he speaks to her of Willie. Many of LJGs vulnerabilities lay in the secrets he must keep. The more people he opens himself up to, the more likely those secrets will be exposed.
Lord John chose to keep Brianna and the child safe by becoming engaged to her. It was LJG , after all, who told Bree to trust that Jamie and Claire would bring Roger back. By promising to marry her, he was giving her the hope she needed and saving her heart from breaking any more.
It certainly was beautiful to see Marsali and Fergus again. Their relationship is one I wish we could get more of. They are strong and fierce but when it comes to one another, so tender. Fergus is being attacked by a toxic mentality of not being ‘man’ enough and Marsali is requesting Murtagh fix it. She knows very well she could tell Fergus, a million times, he is more man than anyone, it won’t make a difference. Until Fergus feels that himself, it will tear at him.
When we love someone, even things we are not responsible for, weigh heavily on us. We want to fix them, which will sometimes cause us to be exposed to our own vulnerabilities. Marsali is not a fan of asking for help, but she does, for her husband. It works out perfectly in the end as Fergus feels needed but also knows his place is with his family.
Marsali knew she wasn’t responsible for Fergus’s pain but she worried about it. We see Jamie worrying about Brianna’s pain, and he did cause hers. Naturally, this is weighing very heavily on not only him but Claire. Both are in solitary and pensive states.
I believe as long as Brianna feels angry, Jamie will feel guilty. That is par for the course, isn’t it? As family dynamics go, when we hurt someone, intentionally or not, most will stew about it, worry, wonder what we can do (if we can do) anything to fix it. Jamie was in his own head, as he should be. A big part of forgiveness is beating ourselves up, I think we all know that.
Taking responsibility for our actions means owning them and feeling bad they happened. Wrapping it all together means having apologized and trying to make things better. Sadly, when we attempt to make things better we become vulnerable to not being forgiven. That is the scariest thing of all. When we have created pain for someone, it is never up to us if they can move past it. I think that is why Jamie is in this space he has created. Jamie’s future happiness as a father to Brianna is 100% out of his control. What an all together powerless feeling, but one he understands, from the things he said.
Claire knows some of this though, she is the healer. She does that for them both, physically and emotionally. She identifies the wound, assesses the treatment and then, she does the best she can. The same we do for those we love. In turn, we expect those who love us to accept it. This couple is best when they share their vulnerabilities and allow the other to be the strength where they lack. With each struggle, bump in the road, argument and disappointment – couples grow. We see Claire and Jamie settled into their life as a couple but still growing and that’s important.
Knowing we are watching Brianna and Roger in their infancy as a couple excites me because it means we still have so much more to look forward to. There is nowhere to go but up.
Now that I wasted a whole hour of your day, I will wrap it up. I could go on to mention every character and how they were vulnerable and exposed but even I get tired of myself…
When we get naked, let our vulnerabilities be exposed – do we do it knowing there is the possibility of getting hurt? Do we hide our nakedness all together so no one has the opportunity to hurt us but we are so lonely…it hurts? Maybe we only allow certain people to catch a glimpse here and there and still find ourselves harmed in some way.
Life is messy, isn’t it? It’s messy…but it’s beautiful. It’s chaotic…but it’s an adventure. What we focus on expands…what are we choosing to look at?
We only have 2 more episodes left before the next Droughtlander commences my friends, this had gone by so fast!
Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)
Please live tweet with us Canadians as we watch on W Network at 8pm MST using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN
There are many conversations that can and surely will be taking place about this powerful episode. I thought, and probably over thought the direction, I would go in my take away.
What I kept coming back to was the self-talk of the characters in our story. As in life, we tell ourselves lies in order to live with our actions, the situations we create and the circumstances we find ourselves in. Sometimes those lies are harmless small ones, intended to take the sting away and sometimes they are brutally large because facing the truth would be admitting how incredibly horrible we truly can be.
When people hear the word LIE, they think ‘bad’. They think ‘evil’. That isn’t quite what I mean here. Yes, a lie is an intended falsehood, however, when we are telling those lies to ourselves to help cope with something ~ that becomes the crux of the situation.
We start with that, Jamie and Claire. He is beating himself up over helping Bonnet escape. Claire turns to him and explains he shouldn’t take the blame for the robbery and Lesley’s death, it’s not his fault, they both trusted the bastard. Truth is, had they given him up to the authorities, they would have made it safely to River Run, gemstones in hand and their friend alive. This is a way to help them cope with their loss. Of course, we don’t want them to blame themselves. In fact, if someone we loved were in a similar position, we would tell them the same in order to make them feel better. I ask myself sometimes – Do I want the truth or a comforting lie? Lots of the time…a comforting lie hits the spot quite nicely, thanks.
Now, those fools at the dinner party! Believing if it wasn’t for them coming to America and making it a ‘civilized’ world it would be nothing but a wasteland. This a perfect example of lies we tell ourselves to justify our uninvited and or all around crappy behaviours. Not bothering to see there could be another way, ignoring the logic around us. Even when it is clearly pointed out. Ian took a moment to do that and was met with a condescending reply. Those reactions are often the biggest clue that we know we are full of rocks and bananas.
Jocasta shared with Jamie and Claire how she saw some of her slaves as friends. This is a deeply seeded version of the example I just gave. Though there may be hints of truth in her statement, the reality is, the slaves are not her friends, she will not truly treat them as such because it would harm her place in society. She spoke of her struggle as a woman, not being able to speak her mind or run her business with men as an equal. If she was to open her mind, just a little further, including others being treated even worse than that, by her…that is where change can start, no? Simply with the acknowledgment.
Then, you know, Jocasta outright lies. In the sense that she would rather ask forgiveness than permission. She knew damn well that she was going to make Jamie heir of River Run. It was the main purpose for her party, “introducing you to society” was a ruse created to foist this grand plan upon him. It sure makes it hard to say “HELL NO!” In front of people congratulating you eh?
Now keep in mind, lying to oneself is also a means of self-preservation in difficult circumstances. This is Claire’s running commentary throughout the episode. There is not one moment that she relaxes. She is in obvious perma-clench mode. For good reason. She is having a visceral reaction to slavery and not only being surrounded by it, but by it being forced upon her. It certainly is easy, from the relative comfort of our living rooms to tell her to smarten the hell up because ultimately she IS making shit WAY more difficult. However, Claire…part of what makes her Claire is she feels before she thinks. In this case, it’s not only her “do no harm” oath, but it is also her hate of a system that she KNOWS is wrong on every level of wrongness that was ever created, and being a part of that in any way, makes her wrong too. So, she lies to herself. Tells herself, because of her interference, she can help Rufus. There will be something she can do to make sure he lives. When the real truth is…there is nothing. Deep down, she knows it…and that only infuriates her further.
We now have Rufus (played impeccably by Jerome Holder). Imagine, putting one foot in front of another, day after day having been taken from the life he knew and loved, forced into this, of all lives? You would most certainly have to lie to yourself. He was telling himself, one day…one day I might see those I love again. There has been nothing to show him this might happen, to give him this hope. Yet, he tells himself so he may have the strength to see another day. We have the power to convince ourselves because we have no other choice…we need to hold onto something in order to survive.
If we sat and examined the stories we tell ourselves on the daily, we would see the lies, the half-truths for what they are. Coping mechanisms…both good and bad. Human and inhumane. They often define our character. If we find ourselves angry when someone points them out to us, that may be an indication we need to take a self-appointed time out and do some critical thinking. It is most definitely not a painless process. That is how change happens.
It’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it!
Thanks for stopping by and if you like what you read, or even thought it was kinda o.k., please give it a share, leave a comment or send me cuddles (pickles and cheese knows I can use ’em after THAT episode!) We livetweet with the W Networks airing of Outlander in Canada, every Sunday, using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We look forward to all of our Outlander friends joining us!
For a more in-depth conversation about Do No Harm and the way the show handled the aspects of slavery and the continued effects it has on today’s society, I suggest you hop on over to our friends at Blacklanderz. Their twitter feed has a great deal of the discussions we need to be having.
Until next time,
Sher Founder of the ABOotlanders