About those Culottes….by Cynthia Gentit

About Those Culottes…by Cynthia Gentit

Costume choices on this show fascinate me.  Last season we saw Claire return to the 1700s in her (in)famous “Batsuit.”  Last episode (“own the Rabbit Hole) it was Bree and Rogers turn.

While Claire returned in a sturdy Batsuit, Bree seemed to think a flimsy open in the front “Batcape” would suffice.  Practical Roger, swathed in four layers, apparently was going with a “Hulksuit” for his return.

 

roger and fee

Poor Fee, she looks so cold.  Maybe she should have hulked up her outfit as well….but I digress.

Recently Sassenach Sister Crystal Fann wrote a blog post in which she described Rogers humorously altered pants as “culottes.”  Some readers took exception to that saying that they were period correct, and they were right…but they still looked like culottes, as did the 18th century pants (they’re called slops if you’re being proper btw.)

roger old people

Others have described his headgear as a “poop emoji hat” and I can’t say they’re wrong either but there’s also a lot to love in Rogers costume so let’s break it down, layer by hulky layer shall we?

Layer 4 – Rogers overcoat and poop emoji hat:

roger barrel

I’m not sure where the hat came from – other than the back of Rogers closet – but when last seen at Miss Bairds it had a jaunty pompom on top.  So glad Roger took that off for his trip back, otherwise all those dock workers would have beaten his wimpy butt before he ever laid eyes on bad boy Bonnet.

The coat appeared during Roger & Bree’s “first date” at Fort William all the way back in season 2.  Roger, our intrepid historian, has reworked his 1900s duds to fit a wee bit better in the 1700s.

First, he shortened the coat, for a couple of reasons.  You see, back in the day, a gentleman wore his coat long – like this luscious favorite of mine, Jamie’s French stag coat (le sigh…) but an ordinary workman wore his coat short to allow for movement while working.  Just take a look at the workmen behind Roger, they’re all in short coats.

roger jamie

Shortening the coat allowed Roger to use the extra material to add those fashionable sleeve cuffs.  He also removed the toggle buttons, loops and the hood.  Frankly, I would have left the hood on and ditched the hat if I were Roger but then Bree had a hood and never used it (insert eye roll here…) so maybe our boy was right.  By the way, did anyone see Baby from Dirty Dancing “I carried a watermelon” when Roger picked up that barrel?  No?, well maybe I’m just bent that way, cause I did….

 

roger shaven

This picture gives a good close up on the rough edges of the hood which our boy has hand stitched shut and this leads into…

Layer 3- the corduroy suit:

We saw the corduroy suit earlier this season when Roger called Bree to deliver the good news (and not deliver the bad news) about Jamie and Claire, apparently it’s one of his Oxford work suits.  Some people have criticized the costume designers for putting such a handsome biscuit in something so frumpy but this girl was around in 1970 and these corduroy suits were THE BOMB – and if they had leather elbow patches, well, that upped the cool factor exponentially.

To alter his jacket for the 1700s Roger removed the fold over collar and lapels, hemming them roughly by hand and adding some period looking wood (or leather?) buttons.  Apparently he also cuffed the sleeves but you cannot see that in the picture.

roger combo

On the bottom he took the matching corduroy pants from the suit and shortened them to make “slops” and accessorized his new look with a leather sporran, and the dress stockings and shoes from his Highland Festival outfit.  Which brings us to layer 2…

Layer 2 – The Highland Festival Jacket:

I have to say, of all the clothing adaptations we see in this costume, I think this one may be my favorite.  Festival jacket to waistcoat.  To see this beautiful jacket torn apart tears me apart too – it’s both horrifying and genius at the same time.

The sleeves are mercilessly ripped off and crudely sewn up, the lapels are either removed or narrowed significantly and (I think) the buttons are removed or changed out for plain ones – but the real genius is on the flip side.

 

roger bonnet

Waistcoats have a different fabric on the back than the front, usually a lighter weight satin or silk so Roger removed the entire back of the jacket to reveal the grey jacket lining, giving the illusion of a different fabric back.  You can tell this because the raw seam is on the wrong side for a waistcoat but the correct side for a jacket lining.  I’m sure Roger thought few if any would ever see the seam and no one would question it if they did.   Add a belt, buckle and sporran and bob’s your uncle, instant fake waistcoat.  And, if I had any doubts about how Roger will fare in the 1700s, his “make do with what you’ve got” ingenuity eliminates them.

We’ve now arrived at layer 1 – Rogers’s shirt and stock:

Here, Roger goes hippy with a lace up shirt which were very popular in the late 60s, early 70s, so no doubt it’s either weekend wear Roger already had in his closet or something he picked up in a local shop.  The stock is crudely fashioned from a check dress shirt we saw Roger wearing when he came to visit Bree for Christmas in season 2 and also whilst looking for Brianna in Inverness.

roger quad
If you look closely in the Miss Baird picture you can just see the pompom on the top of Rogers hat before he went through.  I have to say the stock was the only thing that struck me as odd in this ensemble, usually the stock matches the shirt and that plaid really stands out but I guess we’re supposed to see that this was a last minute adaptation and Roger worked with what he had with him at the time.  As if I needed another reason to love Roger….

And that brings us to layer zero – bet you didn’t think I was going there….well I am, because I have to mention the shocking loss of Rogers fuzzy little Ewok beard.   Some were shocked by this but that too is period appropriate.  Gentlemen and men in general did not wear beards at this time for practical reasons because well, there was a lot of livestock in this era – and I don’t mean the four legged kind.  Fleas and lice were a huge problem and men didn’t wash their hair any more often than they washed their bodies so (ewwww) you can imagine the smell.  Um, no, you probably can’t, but trust me, it had to be horrendous.  And that’s all I’m going to say about layer zero because this isn’t that kind of blog post, you’re all going to have to wait for the handfasting for the rest of that layer!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the breakdown of Rogers hulksuit and have a greater appreciation for the thought and work that went into Rogers costume as well as what it says about Roger as a character.  I know I do.

Cynthia

A rabbit hole or DID?

Normally, I don’t look at who wrote an episode, the truth is I just don’t care.  From the scriptwriter’s hand to the final product holds so many changes, ad libs and rewrites the final product is often unrecognizable from the original.   This time I looked though, simply to see if there were two writers; the one who read the book and wrote the Roger part and the one who either never read and or ignored the book and wrote the Brianna part.  It was just one writer though, perhaps with a touch of DID?

Roger…

I have to tell you; unshaven Roger was a bit of a shock as were those culottes he was wearing.   Normally I never have a negative word to say about Terry Dresbach’s genius, but even coming from the future, Roger is a historian, he would have picked a better outfit.  Still, I loved the Roger stuff.  I was slow to warm to Rik Rankin, but he has completely won me over!

I LOVE Fiona too!   I can’t help thinking of Batman and Robin every time I see those two cause Robin ain’t got nothing on loyalty when it comes to Fiona.  Roger looked a bit scared-who can blame him- but with Fiona’s unwavering support raises his hands to the rock to follow the woman he loves.

Apparently, unlike the woman he loves, Roger looked at a map of how to get from the stones to the docks.  I have a theory that Bonnet took one look at those culottes Roger was wearing and that’s why he refused to let him on the boat.   Roger is unwavering in his quest and proves his worth in throwing a barrel on his shoulder.  Bonnet realizes that despite the culottes Roger might be worth having on board.  The flip of a coin decides Roger’s fate; Roger thinks he’s won, little does he know.

Poor Roger, he waited until they were out in the depths of the ocean to realize Bonnet is a psychopath.  I held my breath the first time Bonnet held Morag’s child fearful he would toss the squalling babe overboard, but instead he just gave the baby a sip of whiskey.

The next baby in Bonnet’s wake didn’t fare too well.   Small Pox was a dreaded disease back then and the show is historically accurate in showing that anyone with the disease was sacrificed to Poseidon, doesn’t make it any easier to watch.  Roger knows Bonnet and his crew will mistake Morag’s baby’s fevered teething for sickness and he hides them.  Thankfully Bonnet isn’t that stupid where the baby’s concerned, but he is pissed at Roger and once again flips a coin to decide Roger’s fate.

I do have one small question about Roger though…Claire’s ring was visible several times resting snugly on Bonnet’s finger and we know Roger spent time with Claire when she wore that distinctive ring.  So…. why didn’t Roger notice, or at least question, that Bonnet wore a similar ring?

Briana…

The girl’s got guts I’ll give you that, unfortunately, what she apparently didn’t have was sense enough to look at a map before heading through the stones.  The Scottish wilderness is beautiful but cold and slippery.  Note to Outlander writers here, I don’t need ten minutes and three different scenes of Brianna traipsing through the frozen tundra.  We get it!   It’s an arduous journey and she’s got the courage and grit of her parents to attempt it, but one scene of her shivering and twisting her ankle before falling flat on her face would have been enough.

Thankfully Brianna is found, and we have a moment to bask in the warmth of relief before realizing Brianna’s savior is the true witch of Outlander Laoghaire or as I affectionally call her, Leghair.   Oh, Leghair’s nice enough when she gets to live in the delusion that the love of her life was stolen from her by a conniving Sassenach witch.  It’s when she’s slapped with the truth of the matter that Leghair gets a bit nasty, first with Ian whose money doesn’t have enough blood on it for Leghair to take and then when she realizes she’s been housing the living, breathing proof that Jamie loved Claire and not her.

Thankfully we have Joanie.   While not true sisters, it was nice to see her bond with Brianna with tales of a man, so kind and wonderful Joanie considers him her Da despite living with him for less than a year.   It was the love of Jamie that sent Joanie to rescue Brianna from her mother’s machinations and take her to the family seat of Lallybroch.

Trouble is…we spent far too much time with Laoghaire and not enough time at Lallybroch.  Ian going “Hey”, then giving her money to buy a ship’s passage and her mother’s old clothes like he couldn’t’ get her out the door fast enough just didn’t cut it. Ian thinks Brianna has her mother’s eyes instead of the books “look of her father”.  Have you looked at Claire’s eyes, Ian?    I know Laura Donnelly was unavailable to reprise the character of Jenny Murray, but seriously, even in the book, Brianna’s time with Ian is far more important to the understanding of her father.  Bad move Outlander writers.

And speaking of bad moves.  You cannot convince me that not in the whole of Europe could the casting director find a petite blonde to play Lizzie.  My God, that girl was a head taller than Brianna and probably an inch or two taller than Jamie.  No way is this gal going to be able to convincingly portray Lizzie’s frailness.  They’ll probably have this Lizzie wrestling the white sow before the end of the season.  That’s strike two for this seasons Outlander casting.  Whatever ya’ll are smoking…. STOP!

 

And here’s Frank’s again…

You know, I didn’t mind Frank all that much this time, and I normally am NOT a Frank fan.

First Frank…A sweet memory, I hope we all have one like that.  A memory of being in our father’s arms with a feeling no one can touch us and all is right in the world.

Second Frank…This is a memory for which I hope most of us were spared.   That moment in childhood where we realize that the cocoon of comfort that surrounds us is nothing more than an illusion.

Third Frank – The rabbit hole is opened.  Frank has found the death notice and with it irrefutable proof that all this time Claire hadn’t lied.  She goes back to Jamie-the questions for Frank is, does Brianna go with her.  He’s upset and drinking, so much so that Brianna takes notice, but what she thinks is a problem with her parents’ marriage is so much more.  The memory is so much deeper than a father-daughter moment.  For Brianna, it’s the realization that her father knew all along that her mother returned to Jamie- and that it was a secret he kept.

Fourth Frank – The rabbit hole is getting deeper and Frank’s reeling.   He knows Claire goes back to Jamie, its there in black and white.  Yet there is the young girl who has always been HIS daughter, and she’s trying to understand his mood, trying to help unknowing that for Frank her sweetness is only adding to his despair.

Fifth Frank – The bottom of the rabbit hole is looming and he’s desperate.  To keep his daughter from a fate in the past, he must control her future.  Taking her away from Claire is the only option he can see to keep her in his life.   Brianna reacts like any young adult when confronting change-not well.   Plus, the memory brings on the added guilt of not responding to Frank’s “I love you”, for the last time.

We all know what happens.  Alone in that car, knowing Claire would have never stopped loving Jamie and returns o him, fearful that Brianna would seek out the father of her blood, did Frank try to save himself when the car started to slide, or did he let go, seeking the oblivion only the bottom of the rabbit hole could provide.

Final Frank – Just a moment, the proud nod of a head toward a daughter following her true destiny, but in that nod all that Brianna needed; I love you, I’m proud of you, I was so grateful to be able to raise you, and the most important.  It’s okay to go find Jamie, I understand.  For Brianna, it’s a moment of forgiveness and the permission she needs to embrace her true parentage.  Goodbye Frank.

…’ats not balls…’ats sa Willie!

Those of you who have read the entirety of the Outlander series might recognize that my title is plagiarized from the dialogue of a very adorable young man getting an anatomy lesson from his father and grandfather.  Those of you who haven’t read the books don’t know what you’re missing.

Life’s pretty good on the ridge it seems and nowhere as hectic as my life has been of late.

Claire is enjoying the company of Murtaugh who’s treating her like a queen.  The two of them are so content in each other’s company and neither seems surprised to see a child squawking about leeches on his legs, despite the fact that they’re in the wilderness three miles from the nearest town.  She goes immediately into doctor mode and attends the boy.  Myself I would have least have asked how he got there before I gave him a lesson in the medical attributes of slugs.

Jamie, it seems, has developed a tolerance to the cold mountain air as he saws wood in an ensemble that in modern times would amount to nothing more than a pair of shorts and a wife-beater.   The chest hair and muscles aren’t lost on a very appreciative Lord John, who stammers around excuses for travelling hundreds of miles out of the way before blaming it on Willie.

Lord John looks at Jamie like he wants to eat him with a spoon, something that isn’t lost on Claire and Murtaugh.   Claire handles being slapped in the face with the sight of Jamie’s son rather well, but Murtaugh is another matter.   The old Highlander has a whole other reason to dislike John-Culloden and Ardsmuir forgotten, its all about the taxes now.  (Poor Murtaugh, he’d likely keel over dead if he got a look at my last tax return).   Dinner is tense despite the forced pleasantries and Willie’s abhorrence of an outside toilet.  You know how a lot of people have their best ideas sitting on the toilet.  Well it seems Willie has his while in route.  A Gaelic comment to the horses and Willie remembers the MacKenzie from his youth, but that was a long time ago and he’s a big boy now who doesn’t play with wooden snakes and pees outside.

Claire & Lord John’s first tête-à-tête is tense as well, still Claire does better than I probably would, at least she doesn’t scream at John to keep his grubby hands off her husband.  She’s sweet and supportive listening to Jamie gush over memories of his son.  Murtaugh is a different matter.  The godfather can’t fathom Jamie’s friendship with Lord John and Jamie’s seeming unconcern over the plight of his Scottish brethren until the canny grey fox figures it out.   Murtaugh’s demeanor when he asks about Willie’s mother makes me think he wouldn’t be surprised to find out she lived in a molly house.  Maybe he’s just pissed off that Jamie & Claire are sleeping in a lean-to while Lord John and the young Earl take the house.  That part bothered me too, simply because the Lord John of the book would have never have stood to “discommode” Jamie and Claire so.

Lord John gets the measles…which gives Jamie the opportunity for some time alone with his son.  The kids definitely got the Fraser stubbornness and I have to say, he’s a far more convincing spawn of our Laird than the young man in season 2.   Willie is impressed with the grandeur of America, Jamie is impressed with his son.  In the course of vignettes through the gorgeous countryside, Jamie reminds Willie of their time together ….and Willie begins to remember.  The two begin to bond and Willie kills his first tear while at his true father’s side, a rite of passage even by today’s standards.  Like every other boy, Willie flouts the rules and crosses into Indian territory causing a ruckus.  Like any good father, Jamie takes the blame and offers himself with a truth that won’t matter any longer.  Willie however proves just exactly how much of Jamie Fraser’s blood courses through is veins.   Does Willie believe Jamie’s words about his paternity.  Not in the least, but Willie does remember Mack, his Mack and the love and devotion Jamie showed him all those long days ago.   Even in heartbreak Jamie finds peace in this because through Willie’s actions, we see what a wonderful father John has been to him.  This time at farewell, it’s Jamie that takes a tentative step after his son, only to be rewarded with a look of hope for the future.

Despite Willie being a child of what was tantamount to Jamie’s rape, Jamie’s unabashed delight at his son was sweet and sad at the same time.  This is the only child Jamie believes he will ever know even though he may never call Willie his own.  I wish the writers would have shown up some of the heartbreak Claire must have been feeling over the knowledge that Jamie would never meet his daughter.

Now let me get to my favorite part of the episode – the scenes between Claire and Lord John.  I will say, the Outlander writers had a far more eloquent way of Claire asking John how he kept a wife happy without bedding her and John’s even more eloquent way of saying “I did bed her and she never had any complaints!”.  John calls Claire on her crap.  Claire counters that she too raised Jamie’s child and reminds John that he British robbed her and Jamie of raising Brianna together.  Claire turns right around and calls John on his crap as well.  She doesn’t buy for one second John’s excuse of bringing Willie so Jamie can see him.

John’s sicker in round 2 and therefore not as guarded.  John still loves Jamie and admits they came for himself.  When Claire touts him of the physical love she and Jamie have that John cannot, John’s right quick to tell Claire that he could have had it

if he wanted it, but that it was HIS character and not Jamie’s that won out in that situation.  Claire doesn’t handle this revelation well, but it does make stop looking John like he’s got a rainbow spouting out of his forehead.   They finally find common ground through their love for the same man and this time they part as friends with Claire’s fond wish that one day, John will get his world rocked like Jamie rocks hers. (I couldn’t help but think about Echo in the Bone book readers!)

With the house finally empty, perfect time to take a bath isn’t it?  Does anyone know here I can buy a Jamie shaped sponge??  No seriously, what a perfectly romantic way to reaffirm their love and commitment to each other after the result Jamie’s romp with another woman was shoved in their faces.   Though not exactly like the book, the ring, quote and following nookie had only one flaw…it was too damn short, they should have at least let us watch them count to at least 200!  It looks like its Roger and Bree flying solo next week, so I’ll assuage missing Jamie & Claire by imaging all the ways they counted to 1000!

SPOILER WARNING FOR NON-BOOK READERS….DON’T VENTURE PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED!!

I know some people didn’t like Jamie’s joy in his son.  It didn’t bother me much because like I said, as far as Jamie knows, this is the only child of his blood he will ever know.  I like to think Willie gets a double dose since Brianna isn’t around for Jamie to lavish love on.   Now with that said, let me add that I hope someone had the good sense to learn from their mistakes in last years print shop scene and made sure we see some good old-fashioned blubbering, snot crying from Jamie Fraser when he meets his daughter!  If Jamie can love a product of rape that much…can you imagine how he will feel meeting the physical manifestation of his and Claire’s love.   I tear up every time I think about it and I just hope the show does it justice.   If anyone that reads this knows Sam Heughan…you might warn him, I’m going to be PISSED if I don’t see some snot-crying when he meets his daughter…and I’m not the only one.

Image result for man crying with snot cartoon

One last note:  Cynthia Gentit, my heart breaks you didn’t get to hear your favorite line…. “What news from the underworld Persephone!”   I could try and console you with a mention that at least the episode title card alluded to that scene, but since they used a snake that I’m fairly certain didn’t exist in North America at that time…I’ll just say I’m sorry.

 

Old Friends and New Adventures…that and Lord Johns is on my sh*t-list.

I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m a little pissed at Lord John Gray.   He claims to love Jamie, so much that he’ll deny his true nature and be a faithful husband for the sake of Jamie’s son but he let Jamie’s godfather be indentured….to a meanie for all that.   Still he does get the measles next week and Murtaugh looked awfully good this week, so while I’m miffed Lord John didn’t make sure this important person in Jamie’s life didn’t get a cushy indenture, I’ll get over it.

It was a good show.

I loved the scenery at the start (I have a creek by my house that could be that one’s twin), Claire learning at the shaman’s feet despite the awkwardness of  language.  I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I come from a long line of “white women”.  My father’s family springs from an Irish/Scottish indentured lass finding love with a Cherokee Indian medicine man in the years after the Revolutionary War.  I’ve seen the line of my grandmother’s mentioned more than once in tales of the Appalachia mountains.  My granny carried on the tradition.  I was fifteen before I knew cough medicine wasn’t made from moonshine, honey, lemon ginger and willow bark and that you could buy it.  While my granny never told me someone from the future was back to visit me…there was more than a few times when the soundtrack to the Twilight Zone played in my head while in her presence.  The old Indian woman’s the real deal, from her knowledge that Claire is different and powerful to her words that Bree exists in the 18th century and not just in her mother’s heart.

The Fraser’s cabin is done…and a damn sight better looking that what I imagined based on the book.  It looks like Jamie & Claire have settled in to housekeeping with Claire having to keep up with everything like most wives do cause just like pretty much every husband, Jamie can’t find sh*t.  I’m not ashamed to admit, I squealed with excitement at the mention and sight of the white sow.  Dream on Ian, that bacon will be a long time coming!  Claire is content and happy, a life with Jamie with an outlet to practice her healing is all she’s ever wanted.  Jamie though, he wants more and he and Ian set off to find settlers to build the Fraser’s Ridge of Jamie’s imagination, but not before Jamie tells Claire of a another dream-that of their daughter that makes us wonder if he’s not got a little shaman magic of his own.

Back in Inverness Roger has arrived trying to find his lady love but it seems more and more likely than Brianna might have headed to the stones (I’m sorry, but if I was Roger, it would have been the first thing I would have thought of).  Roger’s beside himself, possibly because he feels that if Brianna has traveled to the past, she’s lost to him forever.  Little does he know!

The sound of a baby crying should bring joy, but this time it’s a siren of doom.   The Mueller’s are a close-knit, loving family who have already known heartache.   Representative of so many poor souls that came to doom while only trying to find a better life, made all the sadder by the fact that it was Gerhart himself who brought the disease that caused his families downfall in the guileless form of a toy for the new baby.  How many times has violence erupted simply because of fear and ignorance?   Mueller believes the Cherokee are savages who cursed his water and killed his kin so he is honor bound to seek revenge, even on innocent souls too old to defend themselves.  I don’t know who my heart ached more for the Mueller’s or the Cherokee.

Claire’s empathy and independence slowly erodes and the fears of her situation slowly sink in through long nights alone in the cabin.  Her joy and contentment morph into nervousness and heartache so much so that she breaks into what awful stuff passes for whiskey to settle her nerves.  It’s true the Cherokee afford her some measure of respect and protection as the wife of the “bear-killer”, but those who appear savage to most are not the ones she needs to fear.  Mueller isn’t a bad man- he’s a good man who loves his family and comes to Claire not in revenge but out of affection and his desire to protect her.  Mueller’s gift of gratitude is one of horror for Claire as she recognizes what Mueller has done in his mis-guided righteousness and that true savagery knows no color.

Woolam’s Creek was a lot busier than I imagined it would be, full of men women and horny floozies (ya’ll know who I’m talking about!).   Jamie and Ian are dumbfounded that men would turn down the offer of free land and our would-be laird gets his first inkling that perhaps the Governor isn’t as generous as he pretends.

When the horses’ bit breaks (I swear my first thought was that the floozie silversmith’s wife did it so Jamie would have to hang around.   Outlander writers are setting something up here, I just can’t figure what yet.)  Ian’s dealings with the blacksmith brings Jamie’s ire and a confrontation with a voice that sends cold chills up my spine.  Murtaugh.   He’s fleeced Ian to the point that I laughed out loud… laughter that turned to tears at the moment when Jamie and his godfather get their first sight of each other after twenty years.  Murtaugh’s joy at hearing of Claire and Brianna garnered another tear, as did Jamie playing the proud father.    It wasn’t what I speculated the writers would do with this resurrected character, but I loved every minute of it, right down to Ian calling him an “old coot”.     Murtaugh might have come to America as a slave, but he’s his own man, a successful one who has once again taken a stand against British tyranny…I can’t wait till he finds out he’s on the winning side this time.  Murtaugh’s desire for freedom is a cross-purpose with Jamie’s promise to the Governor, but I have a feeling the two men won’t be on opposite sides for long.

That brings me to the candlestick…as close to a handed down mother’s ring as Jamie could get as a friend said.  To me the ring being make by Murtaugh’ makes it all the more special and I can’t wait for the scene when Jamie places it on Claire’s finger.  For that final reunion, having Murtaugh whistle the song he and Claire performed while searching for Jamie was the perfect callback to the time they bonded and the reunion was bittersweet, pulling forth another tear or two.

Finally, we have Roger reading a letter received one year too soon.   Brianna meant to come back to him, but knew there was a possibility she could not.  Finally, we see what most of us suspected all along, Brianna in a store-bought costume raising her hands in a supplication to the stones that merge her past and future.  Brianna is afraid, but spurred onward with courage borne of the desire to save her parents from an awful fate.  It’s amazing what love can conjure sometimes to inspire and create, but often to destroy.  In this week’s Outlander, we got a taste of both.

Lions and tigers but no bears, oh my!

Late blog this week, but with the holiday, decorating for Christmas and starting my new job, time just got away from me.  It’s short but sweet, just a few thoughts from this week’s episode.

It started out good…Jamie signing the acceptance of the governor’s land grant which is something I always thought was left- out in the books.   Fergus is going to hunt of Scottish settlers for Jamie while Jamie and Ian build Fergus and Marsali their new home.   Then we get that sweet scene with Marsali and Claire.   It does worry me that that scene might be setting something up in the near future.  Note to the Outlander show runners…if Laoghaire shows in America, that screaming you hear is me!

After that off we go to the ridge.   I loved the scenes of Jamie building a home for his family with young Ian right at his side.  Claire does her part too, but there is something our 18th century wonder woman can’t do.   The knitting scene is far different than in the book, but it was well done and a rare moment of brevity.

Before the season began, even before I put out my guesses as to what each episode would hold, I predicted two things-that Claire would be far more abhorrent to slavery than in the books and that he Indians would be more dangerous.  Called those two!!  I guess the writers need to ramp up the drama somehow.   Speaking of the Native Americans…weren’t they gorgeous!!!   Kudos to Terry Dresbach once again, her genius will be missed in future seasons.   I just wish casting had some of her brain when it came to the Ridge’s neighbor John Quincy Meyers (yes, I am going to bitch about him all season!)

Raise your hand if you thought news of the Fraser’s would be found in that book Brianna gave Roger!   I’m really starting to like Roger and Bree, the silliness of their early relationship that didn’t set too well with me has segue waded into a more mature relationship.  Roger wears his heart on his sleeve and I know while something Brianna didn’t have much of a reaction when finding out about her parents, I thought Sophie opted to play the shock of the moment instead of excitement.  I think my single favorite moment of the show was Roger’s voice as he read about the Ridge overlaid with scenes of Jamie and Claire working to build a home.

Back to the Ridge and on my gosh…there’s a bear out there somewhere!  The build-up to the epic-much loved bear fight was great…then it kind of went to hell in a hand-basket. The bear fight reinvented?   How about the bear fight being done the stupidest, laziest way possibly?  I don’t buy for one freaking minute that the production team couldn’t have gotten a trained bear…. HUNDREDS of Scottish/British produced shows have done it before.  I’m sorry, but as my friend Denise so eloquently put it, they used to have Ellie Mae Clampett wrestle bears all the time.   With some creative editing, costuming, green screen and movie magic we could have too, but the writers took the easy way out trying to sell it as a “surprise” for the book readers.   I guess we can take heart that Clare “mentioned” the trout.  I will say one thing about this weeks “bear” battle, at least we had Jamie owning the camera throughout the scene and his fight didn’t take second place to Claire saving Meyers.

Finally, we find that it was Fiona who found the notice of the fire.  Another rather bad twist writers and to prove it here’s a question for you.   We know Fiona’s was somebody who believed Claire’s story, knew of her love for Jamie and that she carried his child, so don’t you think if Mrs. Graham had found any evidence that Claire traveled once again  to the past, she would have sent Claire a copy, or at least told her about it??  Continuity writers…. continuity.  And speaking of continuity, would it have killed you to have Jamie look at Claire’s butt at least once when she had on those pants??

You know what I don’t get about TV adaptions.  They always think they have to change the book to “keep the readers on their toes”.  When are writers going to get it through their heads that we readers don’t need things changed up?   We don’t need to be surprised (certainly we don’t need to be surprised by some half-rate story or character change, sorry, I’m still on my John Quincy Meyers rant).  Just like with Harry Potter and every Jane Austen movie ever made, we readers get our joy from seeing the faces and scenes from books we love played out on screen.  Do I have hope the Outlander writers will get a clue?  Well with a supposed to be dead Murtaugh showing up in the next couple of episodes, I’m not going to hold my breath.

 

The Minister’s cat is a….

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’d never really bought Rik Rankin as Roger…until tonight, but more on that later.

First up, Fiona!!!!  Isn’t she a cutie.  Is it just me or despite egging Roger on about Brianna and her finance being upstairs toting salt and champagne to bless their new home, Fiona would climb Roger like a tree if she thought she had a chance at more than friendship with him.

Segue waying from adorable girls we move on to women two hundred years back in time.   The scenes between Jocasta and Jamie were poignant.   An aging woman all alone with her only hope of family leaving because of a way of life she cannot fathom is wrong.  The Outlander napalm is back in good form, it didn’t have to fall to do damage, only sit and shimmer in the eyes of a man who once again has to tell family, a mother figure at that, good-bye.

Speaking of men, I’m so in love with young Ian I can hardly stand it.  Still too young to realize just how much he doesn’t know, he leaps into manhood with the most terrifying of tasks…writing a letter to his mother telling her he’s not coming home.  Does Jamie think Ian’s a man?   I think it’s more likely Jamie thinks it would be easier to wrestle an alligator than make young Ian go home.

That brings us to Claire.  I loved it when Jocasta called Claire out on how she holds Jamie back.  I think Claire’s temper rises because she knows the mistress of River Run is correct.   Yet Claire still pushes forth with the plan to sequester Jamie behind a printer and sets off for Woolam’s Creek with the awfully cast John Quincy Meyers and the wonderfully cast Clarence while a forlorn Jocasta looks on.

We skip 200 years to the future to travel of another kind – a road trip with American chips and chocolate malts and a rousing rendition of “The Minister’s Cat” that had me pulling out the dictionary more than once.    Roger and Brianna are following the same path trying to find themselves as a couple as her parents traveled trying to find their home.  Brianna thinks Roger’s pretty, even with ketchup on his cheek and Claire’s daughter is every bit as forward as her mother when it comes to matters of the heart.

Another foray to the past and instead of Dairy Queen, Jamie, Claire and Young Ian are being fed tales of the native Tuscarora and Cherokee.   I couldn’t enjoy this segment thinking how much more entertaining it would have been if Meyers had been cast correctly and didn’t sound like my college Art History professor.  Ian is impressed at Meyers prowess with Indian women, excited about the fact that Cherokee women decide who they bed and marry.  Foreshadowing perhaps?

I loved watching Jamie as they traveled along.  Last week, we saw him defer to Claire’s upset over slavery, but as he traveled along, his head was held just a little higher, his shoulders squared and determined.  Despite Claire’s misgivings, Jamie is falling in love the majesty that is America.  His mention of Woolam’s Creek as they sit around the campfire holds the slightest dread and he ponders whether Claire wouldn’t be happier somewhere she knew better.  Claire wants them to make a home together and the two set out while miscast John Quincy takes Ian on to introduce him to the ways of Cherokee gals.  They talk of their daughter and the man that raised her, which raises a storm and a playful mention of the reunion night Jamie and Claire spend in a brothel.  As they stop to tend to the horses, for the first time this season Claire asks Jamie what he wants.  Does he love printing?  No, but he’d do it to make her happy.  This leads to one of the most favored lines in all of Outlander.  No wonder Jamie’s shoulders are so broad and strong, he carries a lot on them.   Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to think of Jamie laid to rest under a tree with the raccoons gnawing off his toes.   As so often with our erstwhile couple, a precious moment ends with Claire heading off to do something stupid.

Back in the future, Brianna is starting to understand what her mother saw in a Highland warrior.  We see the young couple having a day of fun and dancing with numerous off-handed mentions as fate tries to clue Brianna in on the fact that Roger’s a catch.   When Roger serenades Brianna, Sophie Skelton does the best acting I’ve seen to date as you watch as she falls more under the Mackenzie’s spell.  After the goodnight kiss, who can blame Brianna for wanting to hold on to the moment?  Anybody else think Jamie and Claire will show up in that book she gave Roger instead of a newspaper?

Roger is shocked but elated when the blouse hits the deer’s antlers and their rather clumsy drop to the rug reminded me of Brianna’s parent’s wedding night, or the reunion night 20 years later when passion and smooth moves don’t always go together.  Roger puts the breaks on because he’s in love and wants marriage or nothing at all.  Brianna is a modern woman and of a different mind.  She grew up feeling the effects of a loveless marriage and is skittish of the home and wee Mackenzie’s of which Roger waxes rhapsodic.

Then the fight begins and this is the moment that Rik Rankin became Roger Mackenzie for me.  The pain that brought me to tears while reading the books was so eloquently portrayed by him that I found myself reaching for the tissues.  The moment during the calling of the clans, when Roger hoped to be announcing his dreams for the future was sad and poignant as he realized he was alone.  I hope Brianna didn’t strand him at the gathering, although I’m sure neither of them looked forward to that long silent drive back to Boston.

Back in the past Clarence shows up sans Claire…seriously why was Jamie surprised?  Soon the deluge begins and Jamie’s riding around in the rain and dark, finding spooked horses and trying to make his screams for Claire rise above the thunder.  Claire meanwhile has found a skull and being the doctor that she is, all thoughts of survival and howling wolves are forgotten while examining the bones.  A light in the darkness isn’t Jamie…is it an Indian or a ghost?  With the same hatchet mark in the back of his head as the skull, I’m going with ghost.

Claire’ finding the skull and ghost Indian comes a lot sooner and in a far different scenario than the book, but I liked it.  I will say though that if I heard wolves howling in the distance, I’d be dumping the skull and hightailing my butt up a tree.   Did the Indian wear Claire’s shoes and stomp around the forest in order to lead her to safety?   Pretty lucky the ghost and Claire wore the same size shoe huh?  Jamie doesn’t seem surprised to her tales of ghosts, neither does he seem surprised that the skull belongs to someone like Claire, he’s just happy to have her back.  On a slightly more supernatural note, did anyone else feel like the ghost Indian set Jamie and Claire on the path to the ridge?

Then comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the discovery of strawberries and all that it means.  Jamie is besotted with the beauty of the land (despite that awful composite of three very distinct and very separate landscapes.  Really what’s going on with the green screens this year?) and Claire, perhaps listening to the echo of Jocasta’s words decides to push aside her fears of the future and stands beside Jamie as he embraces something more than begin sequestered behind a printing press.   We’ll call it Fraser’s Ridge.   Welcome home Jamie & Claire.

 

 

 

Do no harm…just better casting!

We’re back……………..

I didn’t do a blog for the first episode, thanks to those of you who missed me.  Honestly, I was one of the lucky ones who attended the premiere in Savannah and when it got to the point where I could do a blog and not spoil the heck out of things, I’d moved on creatively.   Us writers can be and odd bunch sometimes.   But I can’t let the first episode go by without saying two words:

Steven Bonnet!

I wasn’t sure how Ed Speelers would do as this season’s baddie.  The only experience I had with him was Downton Abbey and while he played an absolute douche on Abbey, it takes a lot of subtleties to pull off a psychopath like Bonnet.   Ed Speelers owned it.   He was the perfect amounts of charm and smarm.  As a book reader I knew he was a bad guy, yet I couldn’t help the catch in my breath and the shiver that went down my spine every time he hit the screen.   I do love the bad boys!

Image result for stephen bonnet

Now on to episode two….

In the aftermath of Bonnet’s attack, I found it odd that while Jamie lamented not being able to give his friend a proper burial, neither he nor Claire mentioned her missing ring.   In fact, the stolen trinket wasn’t alluded to at all in the episode.   Perhaps it was a scene left on the cutting room floor or the writers decided not to dwell on it, but to this viewer it was a very noticeable faux pas, especially after Claire’s words last episode.  Jamie’s really taking the blame for all this Bonnet stuff, my guess is that the writers are laying in the groundwork for him to be beside himself when he finds out about one of Bonnet’s later deeds.

I know a lot of people ooh and aah over Terry Dresbach’s costumes, but my favorite behind the scenes artist is Jon Gary Steele.   From the boat meandering up the river to the long approach shot as they arrived at River Run, the sets are perfection, with not a detail out of place. Hell, even the birds chirping sound like early morning at my house.

 

Meeting Jocasta was a wonderful moment and kudos to Sam for the expression of delight that played on his face recognizing his aunt’s resemblance to his mother, so startling that it stands in for Claire meeting his mother.

Our introduction to Jocasta was great, but I thought the show’s use of the “skunk incident” for brevity was poorly done.  John Bell is precious and I LOVE Rollo, but the scene would have played much better had the incident been played out and not recanted.

Now…and this is something I swear I thought I’d never say about Outlander, but the casting of John Quincy Myers is God-awful.  Instead of an American born and bred hillbilly, we get a dude that looks like he’s on sabbatical from his professorship at Oxford.  We’re supposed to believe that Ulysses speaks perfect non-accented English, but instead of “growing an extry” we’ll have to hear John Quincy lament about “having an odd addition to his undercarriage”.  Note to Outlander writers…by this period of time, there were 3rd and 4th generations of America’s original colonists and not all of them spoke with an accent.   John Quincy was one of my favorite secondary characters in the book, not so for the show, not at all.

Again, with casting, Farquad was a much older man, a contemporary of Jocasta’s and a life-long friend.   The show’s Farquad, gave me the inkling that he would end up being in league with Lieutenant Wolf.  It seemed Jocasta wanted Jamie to act as buffer for both  men.   Perhaps they cast a younger Farquad to make him more of an equal to Jamie.  It was an odd change in the character I thought and I’m curious where it might go.

I made two predictions regarding season four.  I suspected that to ramp up the drama, the writers would make slavery more of an issue and make the Indians more dangerous.   Based on this episode looks like I was right.   In the book, Claire was against slavery of course, but she didn’t act like being at River Run made her skin crawl.  In fact, she would have stayed had Jamie wanted to bend to Jocasta’s wishes.   Also, in the book, Claire held affection for Jocasta, despite the use of slaves at the plantation.  In the show, Claire was polite, but she mostly acted like she thought Jocasta was the devil himself.  I understand that in every slave’s face Claire sees her friend Joe Abernathy, but she was far more adaptable to the times in which she lived in the books.  I did love Jocasta’s little dig when she said Clair seemed “fair”-the 18th century’s version of calling her a dumb blonde.

It was a good move when Jocasta announced at the party that Jamie would be her heir.  In the book, when Jamie got wind of her intentions thanks to machinations from Ulysses, he and Claire went on a midnight boat ride to prevent the announcement.  I understand the writer’s motives, by having Jocasta make the announcement, it makes Jocasta and everyone else at River Run at risk of suffering from Jamie and Claire’s bad decisions.

Speaking of Claire’s bad decisions, did anyone doubt she’d tried to save the slave’s life.  She’s a doctor, its her calling after all.  In the story, having her work so hard to save his life only makes the latter decision to euthanize more poignant and heart-wrenching.  It was a heart-breaking scene, Jamie and Claire are trapped, trying to make the best of a horrible situation that despite their wishes, neither had the power to change.  I’ll admit I shed a tear or two, especially when Jamie hit his knees, praying not only for Rufus’s soul but that of his wife as well, whose hands hastened the slave’s soul onward.

This was a rough episode tacking a heinous subject.  All in all, I thought it was a pretty good episode, even though the moment when trying to save Rufus’s life had Claire screaming at the slaves as good as any overseer.  Her over the top hatred of slavery made Claire seem a tad hypocritical when she was ordering about the slaves, even if she was trying to save a life.

There’s a thing that happens to students in their fourth year both in high school and college, it’s called the “senior slump”.   It happens in TV shows too.  Like being a senior can make a young man or woman complacent, thinking they know everything, success can breed complacency and a mind-set that show-runners know best making them overlook the fan’s feedback and wishes.  Such a scenario nearly killed the Walking Dead and I can see hints that Outlander might be stricken with the same problem.   I read somewhere that most of the new scriptwriters haven’t read the book series.  I’m sorry, but if I was Ron Moore, it was be a contingency of employment.   The innate humor that draws us to Jamie and Claire was on full display in season one, not so much any longer.  Granted I know they’re older, but you don’t forget to laugh when you’re over forty!  Older Jamie and Claire’s ease and comfort with each other should yield more playful moments, hopefully we’ll see more as the season goes on.

Image result for jamie claire laughing season 1

One last thing…I see a lot of people upset at the show for saying it makes “America” look bad.  Little news flash for you folks.  At the time Jamie and Claire have come to America, the colonies are STILL under British rule and subject to British law.  After the Revolution, several laws passed abolishing English slavery laws, but we’ll have to wait till seasons 9 or 10 to see how it the show handles that.   The British are still the big baddies for now and from the looks of things, that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.