I’m SPELEERS’ING the Beans about Outlandish Vancouver and why it changed my life.

I will open this blog with a warning – first- my somewhat warped humour is attached to some sensitive subjects. If you feel you MAY be offended – go now or forever hold your tongue (and your tappity tap fingers in rage mode afterward) because I warned you and will not entertain you with debate or take your interweb spankings later.

The next warning is a trigger warning. I will be discussing childhood trauma and rape in this blog.
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I’m saying this as nice as I can. (Source)

You might remember my sunnuvaBonnot blog, if not, feel free to refresh your memory by clicking here. there I spoke about my deep angst re: Stephen Bonnet. You don’t have to read it but it’s there for clarity.

I also wrote about my experiences at the Outlander Vancouver weekend and how much I enjoyed all the things. In said blog, I eluded to my moments with Ed Speleers. I’m not being dramatic when I say they were transformative.

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Just like that (source)

Let’s rewind. Around 23 years ago – while reading Drums of Autumn, one Stephen Bonnet was introduced. This villain struck me as particularly abhorrent.  He had this devious charm, disarming good looks that seemed to allow him to lure and get away with preying on his victims.  This type of person has always set my teeth on edge and ignited a rage inside me that I had difficulty expressing precisely why.

Fast forward to Outlander the TV show, season 4. Ed Speleers comes to inhabit the body of the villain that lives in my guts. I wondered if I would feel the same about this character visually as I did about the book character. I did. Steven Bonnet, in both forms, were devastatingly like, what I now call, my internal ghost. Every time his character appeared on the page, every time his face showed on the screen- there was this physical reaction my brain fired against.

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Wait, I probably can. I have. Never mind. (Source)

I knew Ed Speleers, was going to be at the Outlandish Vancouver event. I know damned well Ed is not Stephen Bonnet, I happen to pride myself on not being a complete fricken idiot. I know this man is not the character he plays. Let’s also say it out loud for the people in the back, I know Stephen Bonnet is a fictional character. I KNOW THIS.

There is this thing about trauma though. There is a brain/gut/heart connection that sometimes happens without our consciousness being on board for the ride.

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No idea where it is, what it’s doing. (Source)

As the cast was introduced into the Meet and Greet on Friday night, the excitement in the room was palpable. People clapping, laughing and cheering as each cast member entered the room. Everything stopped for me when I saw Ed. Not out of awe, excitement or fear. It was reality. It slapped me in the face like 35 yrs of silence might. Seeing him no more than 25 feet away unlocked something and I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle was one of those hideous 3D ones and at that moment, I only wanted to dump it back into the box to deal with it later.  You see, it was that moment, as I stood in the same room with the embodiment of this “villain” that reached deep inside me and caused such a visceral reaction was because that type of guy, was MY villain.

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This is big. Too big. (Source)

This is where I get real honest with you. I was an 11 ½-year-old girl, when the 18 yr old, hot dance troop guy, who all the girls wanted to “get with” took me behind the curtain backstage. I let him because he said nice things to me. I must be 13, right? I was so pretty, wasn’t I? It was exciting – until it was terrifying. I wanted him to stop- but he didn’t. I wasn’t his only victim and he got away with it time and time again because look at him. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky?  Thinking back, finally, clearly, it was all of those things a predator and a broken child say to themselves to make sense of the insane things going on.  Brain/gut/heart connection doing what it can to cope. Shove. It. Down.

I know now, the part of me that refused to be a victim as an adult was always afraid for and protecting that little girl that was violated so many years ago. Literally, the ONLY person that could hurt her was a man like HIM.  Reading about that buried reality was one thing – seeing the character come to life was another. Obviously, my eyes were wide open to the why of it all now.  It really wasn’t comfortable. Let’s call it an emotional wedgie.

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Just can’t fix it in public no matter how subtle you are. (Source)

So, how does this go down at this lovely Outlandish Vancouver Meet and Greet? I’m having this brain/gut/heart arrhythmia that I’m not about to dial 911 for because that’s no one’s business and I am trying to process it. I’m not 100% confident about being face to face with Ed Speleers bc look wtf happened with him across the damn room from me!

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On the inside – tornado – On the outside – try and move me (Source)

Eventually, Mr. Speleers wanders over to our table.  Am I going to be a total tool?  Yup. Tool alert.🤦‍♀️  The hairs on the back of my neck go up. I think to myself, “You are being a complete boob! This guy is a few glasses in and having a great time…pull your head outta your ass.”  If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a shit listener. I decided to step back and take a seat, figuring avoiding him altogether might be best. Nope. That didn’t work! He made eye contact with me and I quickly glanced away. Not something I think is normal in these situations. Generally, if their eye is caught by someone, they are drawn into conversation pretty quickly. I didn’t want to be a jackass but I honestly didn’t know what to say and not be like “Your appearance triggered me and now I’m trippin’ balls.” That’s hardly fair.

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I can be an arsehole but I’m not horrible. (Source)

I take some deep breaths. Center my thoughts on the energy of the room and away from my own. I focus and then, Ed and I  made eye contact again. This time Ed’s eyes dropped down to look at my t-shirt…where our ABOotlander mascot Toger, was proudly displayed. (Thanks Lee for doing that!)

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Here is TOGER! Our fierce Canadian beaver.

There was my opening, it was time for me to break the ice. The only way I know how –  SherryStyle.

Me- *throw a look of disgust at Mr. Speleers and gasp* “Did you just look at my BEAVER?”

Ed- *sputter – eyes bulge* “Huh? What..No! I didn’t look at your beaver.

Me- “Yes…you did! You just did it again.”

Ed- “NO! You made me look at your beaver by talking about your beaver”

Me- “Mmmmmmhmmmm, there you go again.”

Laughter ensues and more “yes you did, no I didn’t”, winks and smiles (as much as my palsied face CAN smile anyway).

As strange as it sounds…my beaver…TOGER became a running joke over the weekend. The fact that we named our beaver Toger in the first place – everyone knew we were playing with a filthy deck.  The next morning, I brought Toger for my photo op. I suggested John and Kikki help protect Toger and me from Ed. Well, as you can see, Kikki was having too much fun fondling Toger to protect him. As for Ed, he was poking away at Toger.

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The commentary got VERRA BLUE between the 4 of us. John Bell took his role very seriously but had quite enough and nearly fired all of us. My poor palsied face almost froze in a fit of laughter. I tell ya, that ain’t pretty.

Regressing a bit – Get this. I purchased a little token of Canadian goodness to give to the UK actors before ANY of the Toger/beaver jokes even started. A tiny little beaver with a Canadian flag painted on it, to remember their trip to #OV2019. Little did I know what this gift from me to them, would come to symbolize.

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How cute! Oh – look…the beaver has a pole…or its chewing on some wood…either way, it adds another layer of dirt.

So, I attended a suite party. Things that happen at the suite parties are supposed to stay at the suite parties but this is something I am going to share because it’s a me thing. Ed and I were chatting and naturally, there were jokes. That damned beaver, always getting into trouble. Laughing and carrying on, we had a moment where he looked at me in the eye, hand on mine and completely jokingly said: “You’ve violated me! I feel so violated”  I am laughing with him, yet I feel this shudder inside my chest.  I’m not sure exactly what it is. We are laughing harder…and then two more times…”You’ve violated me” his hand firm on mine.  I took a huge deep breath and felt something let go. “You do NOT know what you just did for me,” I said to him.  Puzzled, he made sure I knew he was kidding around, “I was jokin’, you know that.” Of course! Of course, I knew. This weird twisted humour became the perfect vehicle. He didn’t know what he had just done and until I sat with it, I didn’t know the full extent either.

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Ok, it was wrinkled before but you get my meaning. (Source)

I am telling this to you because with all the laughter and silliness floating around us there was something in those words that became a balm to me. Something in those words that I never once had the chance to say to the person that violated me. As they were being said to me, by the person who held that brain/gut/heart connection to my villain – it healed a broken part of me. That shudder – was energy, that deep breath was to a space in me that hadn’t breathed in 37 yrs.

I felt it at that moment and as I laid in bed that night. I replayed that moment over in my head, as I did, something changed inside me. I was having trouble describing it but I could feel it.

Did you know I was raped when I was just a kid? Did you know it wasn’t my fault? Did you know I locked that up inside me for so fuckin long that it burned a hole inside of me that became a part of who I was? That hole made me rage about men who are handsome, charming and devious? I know you know because I finally said it out loud and I feel zero shame, humiliation or apprehension in doing so.

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Deep breath. Moving forward. (source)

On the last night of Outlandish Vancouver, we were on the final voyage and I was hoping for a moment with Ed, so I could thank him. Imagine, thanking a man that plays a rapist on TV for giving me back that last grain of power I allowed my rapist to have. Koko sent Ed my way and trying not to sound insane or wishy-washy AF with my palsied face on the verge of tears, I shared with him, much of what I have shared with you.  I can’t say exactly what the exchange was because our words during that last interaction were more than kindness, I hold them close to my heart, in confidence. Ed Speleers, as funny as he is, he also is incredibly gracious.

I believe it more now than I did before. No matter where we are in this universe – people are put in our path for a reason. Many things happen the way they do because they are meant to. Had someone said that making an inappropriate beaver joke at Ed Speleers would lead to my healing a piece of my soul I forgot was broken…well, that just sounds full-on bat shit crazy, doesn’t it?

As others converged on our one on one, Ed gave me a huge hug, reached into his pocket and with a smile, pulled out the l’il wooden Canadian beaver I had given to him.

We will always have that.

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All the shiggles.

ABOotlander rebuilt, Sherry

My chat with Carmen “Wonderfender” Moore! #Outlander AKA Wahkatiiosta

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.

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It really is. Props. (source)

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.

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I know you will (source)

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.call

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.

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It’s called balance (source)

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?

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More Carmen? Yes, Please. (source)

Until next time,

Sherry (ABOotlander founder)

 

It’s Not About You. My take away from the #OutlanderFinale #ManofWorth.

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.

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Really, not. (source)

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.

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Daactualfuq?

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking to Sera-Lys McArthur about Johiehon, Outlander and MUCH more…

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.

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It probably shouldn’t, but this is me. (source)

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!

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Sera-Lys on the Outlander set with her costars

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.screenshot (2083) (1)

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.

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Sera-Lys McArthur with director Mairzee Almas and costars BTS

 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.

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Sera-Lys  with costars and friends Carmen Moore and Tom Jackson Fonab Castle Hotel

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.

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If there was a mic- I’d get her to drop it (source)

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

Thank you so much for sharing that hilarity with us. It is the perfect way to lead into my the typical ABOotlander closing question for our guests – since you are Canadian, you have an advantage.  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

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!

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Sera-Lys ROCKS (source)

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders) 

Be sure to live tweet the Finale of Outlander with us while watching on W Network on Jan 27th.

 

 

 

Get naked. Stripping down #Outlander Ep11

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

#Outlander- How invested are we?

My son is in the financial industry and this Christmas, he put together a portfolio for his dear ole Mom n Dad’s retirement, with short-term and long-term goals.

It was a sweet thing to do and it got me thinking about the fandom. I know…I have a problem. Everything in my peabrain circles back around to Outlander somehow – I am pretty sure there is a pill for that some doctor will recommend. I will google it later.

Going back to the first season and right up till now, we can categorize the fandom pretty accurately, in no particular order and without judgement.

Long-term planners-  These are the fans that are safe players, they accept things as they come and don’t really have a lot of expectations. Of course, they have opinions. However, they often come to the conclusion that their opinions are better off sitting in their account collecting interest as opposed to risking sharing it with others.

Our planners do this so they can enjoy without worry.  They go down this road so they don’t have to sweat the small things.  They are personally invested in the show as a whole, long-term.

What I am really saying is…watch out.  The last day Outlander airs…

You may have heard our planners misidentified in the wild as suck-ups or sheeple because they tend to rise up in defence of the show, cast, crew and/or production when they perceive an attack taking place.  Since they choose not to air grievances, this is a great way for them to express themselves.

This is not to say some long termers will not hop into a personal investment along the way when they’ve connected with a particular character. It has been known to happen.  Exhibit A:  Long time fan Cathy AKA @CatsandKilts – a decades-long Outlander fan who slipped into a personal investment with Roger. 

cat

Who could blame her? I mean…LOOK AT HIM

Personal Investments– I think the fandom has far more of these fans than any of us had originally thought.  These fans are invested in certain characters or storylines more than the show as a whole.  This, I find fascinating.  In seasons 1 and 2, I thought it was a story thing but it turns out it was completely a character thing. Jamie, Claire or them as a couple have legit groups of personally invested fans. They want to see their vision of the characters alive and in colour all of the time.  Which of course, is difficult, given there are hundreds of thousands with different visions of what that is.

As we move along through seasons, other characters appear in and people become connected. See Exhibit A. Lord John, Young Ian, Roger and Brianna also have dedicated and passionate fanbases. Where many were sitting in the long-term role in the first few seasons, some jumped into the personal investment because they now have that connection to the story and all the moving pieces.

It becomes easy to see how those personal investments start playing against one another. If one person is invested in something, of course, they want to see it do well. They expect that investment to double, they want profits. That is how success is rated. When the other person’s investment gets a windfall, they know theirs isn’t doing as well. It is all very ‘in the moment’ and ‘instant gratification’ when we are in the personal investment. It can be exhausting.

When we really think about it, it makes so much sense to see that passion.  When we put our own money into something- we are going to pay a helluva lot more attention to it than someone that has zero pennies in the coffers.

Those with a personal investment help those with long-term plans see the stories within the stories. ONLY if they are willing to see. They may get shut down because some long-termers are happy in their bubble of safety and don’t want to take the chance of anything popping it. I identify as a long-termer, however, I like to hear the excitement of those who are personally invested. It gives the story an added depth.  I don’t believe it means those who are invested are dramatic or expecting too much. IMO it means they have invested something and they enjoy discussing their desired return on that investment.

Those who are personally invested do know that sometimes, the market doesn’t always work out for them.  They won’t end up with a winner every time.  Their investment is a gamble because they aren’t in control of it. There are a lot of fingers in those pots but the positive is, they are in good company.  They are surrounded by an equal amount of investors just like them. They aren’t alone and that is definitely worth something.

High-Risk Doubling down– These are our high-risk players. They bet on every episode, hot outta the gate. Each episode stands alone. Against the one before it. Against the books. Against what they wanted. Against what they expected. They put all their money on it and they will rage or praise as they see fit. They don’t care who they take down in order to pay for the next bet and they don’t care whose mother they bet against. It is their right to bet and it will be their right to bet again.  It’s a ‘me me me’ game and anyone else be damned.  They usually despise everything the show does and also, in turn, don’t have great things to say about the fans either.

The truth in this kind of fan is, they are still a fan. They watch, they engage and they speak their mind. I don’t personally get it, but is it my job to get it? Probably not.  There are risk takers that are funny, there are some that are toxic. Ultimately, we choose who we engage with. That’s the beauty of the interwebs and all fandoms.

It is so simple really. It comes down to us being a group of people, the way we fan is like anything else, it is about personality, perception and processing.  All are very individual – and none of them are wrong.  As long as the intentions are unicorns n rainbows- it’s all good. Mostly.

Maybe we need to pay closer attention to how we express ourselves.  On the most part, if it is done with open dialogue, in a fun and you know, respectfulish way – that will make it better for everyone.

We know once Droughtlander’19 hits it is gonna be a doozy – let’s prepare ourselves and not get too tangled into knots before it hits.

Sher (ABOotlander Founder)

Be right…or make things right? That’s my question RE: S04Ep08 #Outlander

I have watched Wilmington 4 times now. The term “emotional whiplash” was being used and I am hard pressed to find another term that is as effective as that one. Unlike a roller coaster of feelings, this is different.

As always the focus of my after the show blog isn’t about the topic of the day or the feelings that rise to the top the quickest but the stuff that bubbles under the surface. Things that I end up thinking about later.  This doesn’t mean I am ignoring the big stuff.  It also doesn’t mean I am avoiding the hard conversations. I am leaving those for my friends who will discuss them with dignity and introspect. Like Connie here, I don’t always share the same views but I love her writing and deductions.  Being open to how others see things is important. It helps expand our own perceptions. I encourage you to read hers.

I started on the path “Life is a Stage” as it was so prevalent through the episode. Upon waking this morning, I read a beautiful blog from Outcandour who shared much of what I was thinking but, of course, said it much more eloquently with no goofy or distracting gif’s.

There was something else I thought about during this episode and it may seem like a stretch, and for me this time, I am o.k. with that. The reason?  This episode was a lot. I truly could go off in a million little pieces.

I find myself in the world of self-examination. As we are most definitely fallible and perfectly imperfect humans we often care more about “being right’ than “making things right”.  Those little arguments that have the potential to become big ugly things.

The most obvious in the episode, Wilmington, is our beautifully cracked set of numpties Roger and Bree.  Instead of admitting fault, taking responsibility for the events that sparked the argument or even swallowing one’s pride in order to make amends, both parties chose to escalate the confrontation. Even pushing one another further into the fray.

These are 100% human reactions.  We may prefer to think we are better than that but mostly, we aren’t. When our feelings are hurt, we can lash out in an attempt to cause equal amounts of pain.  If we succeed in this, we feel validated. Our feelings of vindication can be short-lived if we start thinking of the situation with a calmness later on.

There is this weird mind game we play with ourselves. We are convinced there must be right and wrong in every argument. When very often, arguments take place because both parties are right. They simply are having a difficult time expressing their points or they are choosing not to listen to one another. Naturally, there are the times when each person is completely out to lunch and there is absolutely no point in engaging them at all.  During those times, it’s entirely logical to hit the “bless and release” button.

Feelings of betrayal, anger, embarrassment and shame all overshadowed the other emotions that brought Roger and Bree together.  Those of us watching from the outside, the ones not feeling the pain from the inside are able to think through this situation with clarity and assign blame in which we believe are the appropriate places.  I think if we are to recall a time when our emotions were at a fever pitch, we could empathize more with both of them.

Claire, Claire, Claire.  At first, in regards to Mr. Fanning’s ummmm…issue. She knows she is right about what is going on with him but she doesn’t push the issue too far. Instead of being right, she just plays nice, takes a step back and blends in, as is expected. She isn’t particularly happy doing it but Claire isn’t always reckless. Until of course, being right means saving a man’s life. Then, there is no stopping the woman. Screenshot (1373).png

Even though Governor Tryon and Murtagh never share the screen together, the conflict between the two is ever present. We have two very clear sides. Tryon, collecting his taxes (heavily and wastefully by all appearances) and Murtagh with his Regulators. They are a fed up tax paying band of brothers willing to set the Governor and his men straight by stealing those taxes back. Tryon is right, dammit! There is no wiggle room. There will be no voice given to the Regulators in the Governor’s presence. Whereas the Regulators have said time and time again, they are willing to pay taxes. Fair taxes. Taxes meant for the things taxes are meant for, not to line the pockets of aristocrats and certainly not to build palaces and pay for the Governor and his friends to live in luxury. Which to anyone, with any sense in their head, is indeed fair and just.

Jamie has the opportunity to do right by his friend/godfather. Yes, Murtagh was breaking the law, however, the lines of rightness are blurred here.  He knows Murtagh is going to get a stretched neck if he continues on with his plan of robbing the redcoats. Jamie is aware the excessive tax money is being used in an unjust way and also doesn’t blame Murtagh for the things he is doing either.  In the grand scheme of things, what happens to Murtagh will affect Jamie, emotionally.  This is something he isn’t willing to deal with later. He loves the man and wants to do right by him. This is the choice he has made.

We move to the last scene where the opposite has taken place. There is no right here.  There is no world where any of this right. Bree’s rape where an inn/tavern is full of people, men and women alike. Sitting. Listening. A young woman being brutalized. There is no movement to make this right.  No one dares.  It speaks to much deeper dialogue.  On a smaller scale, in our every day many of us do this.  We see situations, moments in time that give us pause. We know there is little we can do to change the outcome…so we do nothing. The outcome doesn’t affect us directly, so we do nothing.

How often have we seen things in society which we rail against those who stood by without offering assistance? Who held up a video camera to record the events but didn’t intervene? These are moments we wish we would be different, we like to think we would be the ones to stand up and say something, we hope we are the person that would do the right thing.

There are times and circumstances when being right and making things right are the same thing but it takes some serious food for thought and self-examination to see when we simply want to be right, feelings and outcome be damned.

Until next time,

Sher (ABOotlander founder)

Please join us as we live tweet each episode as it airs on W Network in Canada at 8 pm MST using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN