Fear. My last ‘not a recap’ for Outlander Season 5. Never My Love.

Whether we were captivated or horrified by Outlander’s season finale, Never My Love, I believe we can agree that it had an impact.

I debated whether I would write about this episode, I also had an inner dialogue if I’d go my regular route of running further afield. Should I break my streak and face real talk? I have a rather, let’s say, intimate relationship with sexual assault and rape. I have spoken of it pretty openly.  In my 30’s, I spent time working as a victim services coordinator which gave me an opportunity to sit with, walk beside and rage alongside women in impossible circumstances. Rape should never be brushed away. It happens often in our society now, we know damn well it happened in the past. In fact, it happened so often that it wasn’t even considered rape. It was considered a right by the aggressor and a duty by the victim. I decided not to take a deep dive there, this time. Droughtlander is going to be long, I  do have some things I want to say and I will because I have plenty of time.

The finale was steeped in fear. I know we all have different ideas of what fear is. Motivational speakers like to say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and hey, I’m not knocking that mindset, hell, I have said it myself BUT when you have a boot being swung at your head that’s fucking scary and real, there is a legitimate reason to fear that.

Fear, like many things in this life – isn’t simple.

The series of events we witnessed were spurned by the deep-seated fears that Lionel Brown had. Before someone thinks I am defending that piece of flaming garbage, I am not. People act with violence ‘because of’ and Lionel was acting through his hate for Claire and everything she was/represented. That hate constructed a fear he felt powerless with. In order to gain some dominance he recruited and included other men. This gave him the impression of strength and control. All the while, his fear and hate continued to build because Claire refused to cower to him.

Sadly, we can see this in ourselves. Naturally, the degree that Brown hits isn’t the norm for most of us🤞🏻 . When we ‘hate’ someone, that is mostly predicated by a perceived threat (or because someone we trust has told us we should).  We may feel inadequate, powerless or somehow ashamed when we are exposed to them. Those feelings can cause us to lash out.

In Lionel’s case, they are exhibited in violent acts and rage. We aren’t complete misogynist slime balls so we react in a less vicious manner. We may be passive-aggressive, withhold kindness, gossip or spread rumours. It is a usual tactic to try and turn others against those who we have had felt threatened by, Lionel did exactly that with his men.

Lionel thought he had power over Claire when all along, she had power over him. Did it matter that Lionel’s wife refused his bed? No. He would beat her and raped her anyway.  Did it matter that Claire made eye contact with him and called him out on shooting a man in the back? Not really, her accusations held no water legally. None of these things truly changed Lionel’s life BUT he invented Claire being a personal threat to him. He created that narrative and brought his friends along for the ride because when we get others to join in our treachery it validates it.

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The big bad girl scared all of them with her big brain.

Let’s face it, spreading hate is especially easy when the one person fighting against it, is bound, gagged, beaten and raped into submission. When this kind of fear/hate finds it target, it becomes emboldened and so do those who follow it. When their target falls they use this as fuel for their hate.

This is something that we see regularly. Those who are oppressed, have to fight harder, be louder and they are still consistently beaten into silence – yet – they don’t give up.  Those who are bullied, beaten, shot, denied work, incarcerated and forced to sit at tables alone…think about it. We see it on Outlander on a dramatic scale, when we travel to the other points on the spectrum, there you will find us. It’s the human condition and not all of it is pleasant to look at.

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No matter what side we are on, it’s embarrassing to be ‘in’ this society sometimes.

The show writers made it easy to despise Lionel. We don’t really give a shit if he was afraid of Claire, do we? That’s his own shrivelled up masculinity, too bad he couldn’t keep it to himself.  All we wanted to see was that he and his buddies were punished.

The reality of that punishment, in this story, is that would also come from fear. I wanted to look at 2 of the characters that truly used their fear as fuel.  This is why being aware of the scope of emotion is so important, why looking at life in black and white can be dangerous.

Marsali and Roger both used their fear as fuel.  Marsali, has become aware of her worth as a women in a world that doesn’t especially find worth in her. This man not only threatened her and the child she carried by assaulting her, he tormented and raped her Ma. Brown was laying in the room with her, threatening to kill everyone on the ridge. Her experience with him tells her that he is not lying. These are not threats, these are promises. Marsali is not willing to live with this fear, she ends it the only way she can. I could hear the cheers across the Outlander fandom.

We have the ability to do the same in our lives. No, I am not advocating jabbing a big ole needle full of poison into someones neck, that’s pushin’ it.

Imagine for a moment, we have that person who is in our life that is constantly forcing toxicity into our life. We listen, take it in, allow it to seep into our days because we fear the fall out if we stop engaging.  I know many of us can relate to this, afraid to hurt feeling. Confrontation is hard. Yet, here we allow ourselves to go through the stress for a harmful relationship out of fear of hurting the feelings of someone we don’t respect or even like. We need to love ourselves more than that.

Roger. Deep down is a pacifist but his fear was clearly build from love. His fear was for Claire and her safety. He used this to push through his natural instinct to be a man of peace, to fight for his family.  We will find this with mothers and fathers regarding their children. It is why I was so happy to see Outlander utilize Roger in this way. His nature is not one of violence, yet, for his family, for the woman who is very much a mother to him, he will do whatever it takes. Even if it means stepping over a line that he will never forget crossing.  We have those moments too, we are so terrified, we don’t know if we can do something, yet we do.  Getting married, having kids, getting on that roller coaster, taking that promotion, buying that house, moving across the country, getting a divorce, getting help for that thing we don’t want anyone to know about.  No matter what it is, if we think it is worth going for, we will push through that fear and do it.

This fear thing, we all live with it. It’s an emotion that we can learn to manage, understand and even embrace.

Now gimme a HUG! We all need it after this season. Let’s try and get through Droughtlander without too many injuries, eh?

Sher xo

I’m not going anywhere during Droughtlander. I have some fun things up my sleeve so staytuned my Twitter account and this blog!

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The Answer Within. I heard a few during S5E08 . #Outlander #FamousLastWords

I am becoming a broken record this season with these ‘not a recaps’.  Each episode is completely different from the last but in my view, each has a punch in the gut effect that stays with you long after.  And with that, as the credits rolled on #FamousLastWords, that duet with Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton – COME ON! I found it breathtaking. Each time I watched the episode (4 times, so far) I let it play and sat back to listen.  I have never done that before this episode.

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Nope. Never. Not one time. Zero.

Once again, faced with so many topics to write about. All of them struck cords that I could go on about forEVA but I don’t want to do that. We seem to have nothing but time these days but I’m not going to take advantage of you. Not like that anyway. #winkawinka

There were questions of worth, grief bursts, traumatic flashbacks and worry all wrapped up in the characters we love so dearly.  We were with all of our favourites, in all of the moments we needed to be with them. Whether we were hearing them or observing. The voyeurs in us were on high alert.

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Watching is such sweet sorrow but I…can’t…stop.

We saw once more, words aren’t needed to convey emotion. This time, it was Richard Rankins’s turn. Without a word or a whisper, we felt, deeply, what Roger was experiencing. His eyes, shoulders, neck muscles, brows and the set of his mouth gave us everything we needed to know about what was happening inside his head, heart and rooted within his soul.  The people who love him, Brianna in particular, could see it too. She was especially in tune with what he was going through because she saw herself in him.

While trying to get through to Roger, Brianna brought up how she too, faced darkness and ugliness. I believe this moment was a catharsis for Brianna even though she was attempting to shake something loose in Roger. He still wasn’t in a place to hear her words. The wall he had built around himself was as impenetrable as his voice was stifled.  Brianna though, for all of the times she sat in silence, fighting her demons, keeping them silent and masking the trauma she went through for the sake of others, she let it out. She put it in front of Roger that she is fighting. Every day. For her family and those words were what she needed to hear.  Without realizing it, she was giving herself the advice she craved.  The words Bree had been waiting for were within her, she only needed to say them out loud.  She was directing them towards Roger however when we say things out loud, that is when we finally, truly, catch on. We, more often than not, won’t notice how we self-heal through our love of others.

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Give it…and eat it back up. 

There is one common thread each person on this earth shares. We all will lose someone we love. Sooner or later, it happens. In tandem, others will reach out to comfort us. When our grief is deep, there are no words, actions, cliches or casseroles that help. Making things better is contrary to reason.

Jamie asked Claire if there was a medicine in her time for grief.  Time was as close as she could get, and even that isn’t a cure.  We only get adept at integrating the grief into our everyday.  We also must be honest, as shown in this episode. Grief is not reserved for the dead. We grieve people we lose that have not died but are no longer in our life, whether that is by our choice or theirs. We grieve parts of ourselves that we have lost, due to trauma or illness. Grief changes who we are and that is o.k.

Even though grief is something nearly everyone in this world has in common, it is as unique as each person and the relationship they have with the person/piece of them who/that has died. There may be ‘stages’ of grief but none of us walk them the same or follow the path the way it may be expected.  We may think we know how someone feels but we can’t, not genuinely. We can empathize with their pain but knowing it would mean we know every corner of their heart/mind and that is impossible. Allowing someone their personal grief journey is a gift. Grief heals. Roger was grieving pieces of himself. Ian was grieving his tribe and more, Jamie grieving Murtagh. In the end, Claire was honest with Jamie. Letting him know there was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do. Being a healer, she used the expression that brings her comfort. Time heals all wounds. To a degree of course. Scars are always left behind.

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Literal and figurative, both

This is something we will all find ourselves doing.  The words that bring us the most comfort, we share with others, hoping they have the same effect.

I want to touch on a brief and beautiful moment between Marsali and Young Ian. Marsali came to sit with Ian, speaking to him of their youth in Scotland. She reached out, reminiscing of family, siblings. It appeared that Marsali sensed Ian was moving about, untethered. Like a balloon about to fly away unless someone grabbed hold.  She connected with him by chatting about her jealousy of his bustling Murray family.  Mentioning how he must miss them, grasping at that string to pull him back.  We saw the flicker of light appear in Ian’s eyes as he spoke of his sister Janet and when he admitted he did indeed missed his family.  As Marsali’s pregnancy became more the focus in the conversation, Ian’s heaviness returned. Marsali knows family, her center is love and comfort. She did the best with what she had and I believe the seed she planted did help, a little.

That is why, no matter what we believe someone is going through. It is always good to find a step to sit on with them.  We have moments we wonder “Should I bother?”, “They don’t seem receptive.”  If you think a loved one might be hurting but you have a feeling you may be overstepping, say it – “I may be overstepping, and if I am, I will apologize. Today, I want you to know that I love you, that I am thinking of you and I’d like to hear how you are doing.” Is it always that easy? No, it isn’t. Many things in life aren’t but for those we love, we can take the chance. Marsassy did it.

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And so can we…

Seeing Roger and Ian amid dual struggles was both heartbreaking and became heartwarming. Both men, in very dark places, grappling with their pain to the point of not wanting to face it another day. Neither able to grasp how to move it out of the way. Roger was at what could have been his final moment. Facing the memory of being hanged, blacking out, almost strangled to death and Brianna’s face appeared to him. It wasn’t only Brianna, being his wife, that pulled him from the edge. It was his realization that on his previous brink of death, it was her, his love for her that he was bound to. In living colour with a powerful brightness, he envisioned this woman, whose love never wavered.  A familiar saying comes to mind “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

We often learn lessons at the perfect time and it seems to me this is what happened for Roger and Ian.  They were moving in parallel through much of the episode.  Once it was obvious what Ian’s intentions were, collective hearts were breaking for him and then, Roger comes in for the rescue.  An unlikely hero, given the circumstances. Ian angrily says so when Roger interrupts his plans to end his life.

Roger doesn’t know what Ian’s story is but he knows what matters is that Ian lives. The reason being, he sees Ian in himself and HE wants to live.  When Ian is unsure that he has the strength to carry on, Roger fortifies them both.  He pleads with Ian to pick up his weapon, it doesn’t mean he has to use it, just pick it up to go home with him. One day he will be strong enough to fight again and together it will happen.

This was Roger’s way of gaining strength from his own words, just as Brianna did with him.  We may get turned around and twisted in agony over the things we feel we should do, or have difficulty coping with.  We feel lost and wonder how in the world we’ll make it through another tragedy or manage another day.  Yet, someone we care for will be in that same head-space and we will have this astonishing amount of compassion for them. We will share uplifting stories of times we have pulled ourselves from the depths of despair or regale them with tales to lighten their heart.  What a beautiful thing it would be if we would take that same time and compassion for ourselves when we felt ourselves getting turned around.

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Today is every day. 

It is easier to give advice than it is to take it.  It is especially easier to give it when you see yourself so clearly in the person you are sharing the advice with.  Ian twice had moments of “you are one to talk” in this episode, first with Jamie – when he was trying to get Ian to open up to him.  Ian clapped back with a ‘Hey pal, you and Claire have secrets – back off and let me have my own.’ Point made. Then again with Roger for stopping him from doing exactly what Ian figured he was about to do himself.  The reason I bring this up is I think it’s a great life lesson moment.

When we are giving those bits of advice out to those we care about, it’s often because we see ourselves in them. It’s a good idea to be sure we have followed our own advice.  Being truthful to ourselves is being honest in our actions.  I assure you, if we haven’t, the one we are sharing with, may call our ass out on the carpet.

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Gotta cut the crap, sometimes.

We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen to the advice we share.  Our actions speak loudly about our character. I think we can see that with the characters I spoke of in #FamousLastWords.  You and I, we identify with these characters on this TV show owing to their stories aren’t so different from our own. Sure, their arc is more dramatic on the whole yet, at the heart of it all, the feelings at the core. We get it.

That’s why we keep coming back.

Sher xo

PS – I need to add a note about John Bell coming back. I squealed, jumped out of my chair and was just THRILLED to bits.  I slapped my husband’s leg so many times he was forced to finally say “OK, that is starting to hurt now.” to make me stop.  Where John used to bring us smiles and much-needed levity on screen – we now are seeing the true depth of this young man’s talent.  I am not sure I am ready for it but I am really feckin excited.

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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