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Sam Heughan: The Master of Subtle – “Eye Candy Moments” by Cynthia Gentit

“Often the best acting is that which is done without speaking.”  Brian Kelly (director of The Gathering?

Much like James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser aka Red Jamie aka Mac Dubh, people ascribe a lot of names to actor Sam Heughan, the man who has brought him to life since 2014 on Starz Outlander. Recently newbie Starz exec Jeffrey Hirsch caused a major kebbie lebbie in the Outlander fandom by referring to Sam as “eye candy”, saying his shirtless physique is one of the bonus’ us vapid “premium females” drool over and enjoy.  This is not to say we don’t enjoy the sight of a shirtless Sam, (I dare say most of us do), it’s just we know there is so much more to him than his pecs.

For years many of us (we must be the non-premium females??) have been giving push back to those adjectives that only revolved around Sam’s handsome face or manly physique, trying, and (I thought) succeeding, to gain recognition for his stellar performance as Jamie.  So thanks for setting us all back five years Jeffrey, we really appreciate it.  Really… (You know what else we need – a sarcasm font…)

But enough of that, let’s set Jeffrey aside (yes, please, let’s do) and talk about what, for several years now, has been my (non-premium female name) for Sam Heughan, and that is “The Master of Subtle.”

Why subtle?  Because so much of what Sam does as Jamie is exactly that; delicate, complex, understated but still speaking volumes and, deceptively quick.  In most cases, not lines but unspoken actions, taking place in five seconds or less – but packing a mighty big punch.

Today I want to focus on what I consider to be the “eye candy” Jamie moments, one of the many micro-actions that have earned “The Master of Subtle” title and I want to start with three from the very first episode, Season 1, episode 1 – Sassenach.

I don’t know about you, but when I watched Sassenach I had never heard of the books, Diana Gabaldon, or JAMMF, nobody had recommended the show, I watched it because it was set in Scotland, period.  Like Jon Snow, I knew nothing.

My first hint at Sam’s abilities? This eye candy moment:

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It’s the briefest of looks, blink once and you might miss it but wow, did it make an impression.  “WHO are you?” it said and I remember thinking, he’s a goner, completely smitten.  It came as no surprise to me when, two years later, I read this quote by Sam:

The moment he sees her, I think, is the moment he falls for her.  I tried to play it in that moment, and I think you can see it.” 

Yes, we certainly could, not only see it – but FEEL it.  And, sidebar Mr. Hirsch, this scene hooked me without any shirt removal or bare nipples.  Even if there had been bare nipples, I was too engrossed in the look on his face to focus on anything else.  I think they call that “good acting.”

Second eye candy moment – this one:

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Which I now fondly describe as the moment I fell in love with Jamie Fraser and the Outlander universe (note to Jeffrey, no exposed nipples in this one either…)

Take a good look at Sam’s face at the start of this scene.  His eyes are all about menace and intensity –

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But his lips? They’re telling a different story….

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…..and here, before he even delivers his famous “d’ye want me to throw you over my shoulder” line we already know that Jamie has a wicked good sense of humor (and I might add, we also knew that Sam Heughan had already mastered Jamie’s famous “half grin.”)  Same scene, same moment, all I did was crop the same photo.  I imagine it’s pretty hard for an actor to pull off two such diverse emotions at the same time.  For me it was eye candy perfection.

Third eye candy moment? This one:

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If moment one is “who are you?,” this eye candy moment said not only “what are you?” but more importantly –“WHEN are you?”  And I’m telling you Jeffrey, if I could walk into this show cold and get all that out of a few moments of non-verbal, nipple free close ups, well, that’s the very best kind of eye candy.

But that is just the beginning, there are so many more Jamie eye candy moments in season 1, SO.MANY.MOMENTS.

How about this one?

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Nobody does smolder like Sam, nobody….and look how he’s sneaking in that half grin.

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I will concede to Mr. Hirsch, the man oozes sex appeal but that’s not why we watch….most of the time.

In fact compare and contrast these two moments, they’re eye candy – but not the kind he was referring to:

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Who needs words?  The story is right here in Jamie’s eyes.

I could go on and on through the seasons but if I did this blog post would be of Biblical proportions so I will instead, leave you with these visuals:

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The Battle Joined, in my opinion, some of Sam’s finest work.  An episode spent lying completely still.  So much conveyed using so little – all the feels…..and no nipples either…

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If looks could kill, Charlie would be a dead man – and this look lasted about 2 seconds, that’s subtle.

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Good bye Rupert, who didn’t cry along with Jamie?  Here….,

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….or here?  The facial changes in this scene were amazing and heart wrenching.  Reading Voyager, I never fully understood how hard it was for Jamie to leave Willie until Sam made me see it.

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Ditto with A. Malcolm, those eyes….

And then season 4 – the happy and the sad moments:

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Losing a friend….

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….meeting a lost son,

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and finding a lost daughter:

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And we felt every one of those subtle shifts….

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The fury of a father…

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And the loss of one who has been like a son.

This Jeffrey, THIS.  These are the eye candy moments we watch Outlander for and if you truly think it’s for all of us to get a little titter whenever Sam takes his shirt off, well then, I feel sorry for you and for us, because you really don’t have a clue what you’re selling.

It’s the moments that touch our hearts, the enduring relationship between these two characters we love, it’s their story and they’re the reason we tune in.  This, Jeffrey THIS is why we watch.

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Blue Bonnets and White Cockades – Why They’re More Than Just Costumes…by Cynthia Gentit

I pose a trivia question on the Sassenach Sisterhood Facebook site weekly.  This weeks concerned the white cockade worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie on the Highland campaign aka the ’45 Jacobite rising.  But, as usual with Outlander, there’s so much more to Charlie’s attire than just a hat decoration that I wanted to explore it a bit in this blog post.

Cockades are rosettes or a knot of ribbons worn on a hat.  Originally they may have been decorative but developed into a badge of office, party, or as part of a uniform/livery.  This photo which was recently shared on Sam Heughans Instagram seems to show a black ribbon cockade which probably represents Jamie’s role as Militia leader in The Fiery Cross.

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This is not the first time we have seen a cockade on Outlander.  In season 2 we saw Bonnie Prince Charlie wearing this prominent white cockade on a blue bonnet.  This was based on a number of paintings of BPC from the time period.  The portrait above also shows the cockade on a blue bonnet and was painted by William Mossman in 1750, only 4 years after Culloden.

Several other paintings show him in the same outfit and it is well documented in musical history as well in this Jacobite song –The White Cockade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v3qM24EwVI

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As an aside, this picture, which was done by Henrietta Marshall and published in 1907, supposedly shows Charlie drawing his sword and telling his troops that he had “thrown away his scabbard” meaning he intended to fight until they had won or he was killed.

Notice that all the men are wearing blue bonnets and Charlie appears to have a white cockade in his as well.  So why the white cockade and why the blue bonnet?

The white cockade is thought to represent what is known as the Stuart white rose which was adopted by the Jacobite’s as a symbol of their cause and support.  The white rose was used throughout the Jacobite period (1680s – 1745) in many forms during this time period:

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The white rose is often depicted with one or two buds showing the offspring of the original “King over the water.”

So why the blue bonnets?  This may be later romanticism or it may be legend based on fact, I prefer the later because it makes sense to me.  Blue bonnets were made in Dundee, Scotland.  The bonnet makers there were famous for them.  In 1688 – 1689 John Graham, recently made Viscount Dundee (and known as Bonnie Dundee), led a Jacobite rising during which he lost his life.  As a result of their gallant fighting the blue bonnets of Bonnie Dundee became another Jacobite symbol in future risings and as well, when combined with the white cockade, represented the national colors of the Scottish Saltire.

Dundee’s actions were immortalized in song at the time of his death, one version of which is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av2-A-igOJk

The original song has many more verses.

Thus, Charlie wearing his blue bonnet and white cockade were strong symbols of the Jacobite movement, symbols the fighting clansmen would have known well.  So, as we so often see on Outlander, a costume is so much more than a costume!

 

CYNTHIA GENTIT – Cynthia is a guest Sassenach Sisterhood blogger whose love of Outlander began with the show and quickly spread to all things Outlander.  When she’s not an Obsassenach she’s tracing her own Highland roots, enjoying the beauty of north Georgia and finding/selling unique antique and vintage items.  Find her on FB @AToBVintage, on Etsy under A Thing of Beauty Vintage or at www.CherishTheOld.com

 

Season 4 a look back….what went wrong, what went right.

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by Theresa Williams

I love Outlander, the books, the show, all of it.  If you’re reading this then it’s likely you do too.   While we so enjoy these books brought to us in screen media form, this season has definitely had its highs and lows.

I cannot begin to imagine the work that goes into bringing this series to life.  All I know is what I know and what I know is that Diana Gabaldon (almost always) gets it right.

To be clear, and please hear me out, I have not written this compilation to bring forth negativity at all.  It’s not to point out the things the writers and the powers that be “got wrong.”  That has been sliced, diced, and hashed out ad nauseam and I have certainly not held back in my opinions.  Rather, I compiled this list in the hopes that non-book readers will pick up the books and travel this adventure that is Outlander to learn how the story is truly told.

Above is my copy of Drums of Autumn. It has been poured over this season, divided and marked as each episode progressed. Its poor spine is about to break!  My system was simple, the sticky notes mark what we DID get and the black clips mark what we DIDN’T.

From that I compiled the list below:

Chapter 12: The Return of John Quincy Myers
Omitted: Jamie in full Highlander regalia; JQM’s hernia operation on
River Run’s dining table.

(I think this was the chapter with the Claire/Jamie discussion of accepting RR, Jamie relates living as a slave/Jamie refusing his aunts offer of River Run?)

Chapter 13: An Examination of Conscience
Omitted: The murdered laundress/ Sgt. Murchison/Pollyanne the slave storyline.  This included Jamie’s confrontation with Murchison, backstory at Ardsmuir prison and their trip to the Tuscarora Village.
Chapter 17: Home for the Holidays
Omitted: Bree’s trip to Scotland – relationship establishing time with Brianna and Roger at the manse and at church, some of it quite funny.  Bree offers herself to Roger and he amicably refuses it.

 

Chapter 19: Hearth Blessing (I had a notation in my book that I loved this chapter.)
Omitted: Jocasta’s generosity/forgiveness of Jamie’s refusal to take RR.  Blessing the hearth (Highland tradition)  The beginning of life on Fraser’s Ridge. (Parts of this chapter were in episode 404)

 

Chapter 21: Night on a Snowy Mountain

Omitted:  Jamie gets lost/injured on a snowy night and Claire rescues him.  They spend the night discussing Brianna.  Memories of Frank. (We did get memories of Frank but not Claire’s memories.) This section contains Jamie questioning Claire about Brianna’s birthmark which we did get to see but in a different setting.  In the book this is a set up for Jem’s birth.

 

Chapter 25: Enter a Serpent
Omitted: The snake in the privy storyline which was hilarious and established a relationship between Ian and Willie.  I missed not seeing them together.

 

Chapter 30: Into Thin Air
Omitted: Roger receiving Brianna’s box of “history.”

 

Chapter 32: Grimoire

Omitted: Entire chapter – Fiona gives Roger Geillis’ grimoire with background information on time travel.

 

Chapter 33: Midsummer’s Eve
Omitted: Roger goes with Fiona to the stones.  He attempts to go through the stones and fails the first time. He sees his father. (This was filmed but edited out.)

 

Chapter 34: Lallybroch (This omission was my biggest disappointment of the
season.)

Omitted:  Almost entire chapter.  Bree meets her Scottish relations and is “introduced” to Jamie through them.   Ellen’s portrait – which establishes that Brianna looks just like her and where she gets her artistic ability.  Ian takes Bree to see Jamie’s cave.   Brianna’s confrontation with Laoghaire, the rest of the family learns what Leery did to Claire, the pearl slam. Hogwash!

 

Chapter 36: You Can’t Go Home Again
Omitted: Roger in Inverness in 1769.  The indentured family at the port which tore at the heartstrings.

 

Chapters 63-64: These chapters were hit and miss in the
finale.

Omitted: Claire delivers baby Jem while Jamie is forced to be the most uncomfortable birthing coach ever.  Roger at the stones for the second time.  Ian and Emily’s entire relationship.  Roger’s blood vow accepting Jem as his son.  (Is this the chapter the blood vow is in?)

 

Chapters 65-71 were omitted completely – perhaps these will be covered in season 5.

As stated above this is not to complain but to encourage non readers to discover the riches of the story as it is presented in the books.

 

As for my book, the sticky notes and clips have been removed, the book jacket has been placed back on the book, and it is now placed securely back on the shelf right beside The Fiery Cross which will get the same treatment in season 5.  See you then!

 

A Man of Worth – Yes, It Was Worthy…

A Man of Worth – Yes, It Was Worthy…

by Michelle Miller, a Seasoned Sassenach (get it?)

I have seen many negative comments about the Outlander season 4 finale. Most of them are from book readers that are upset with what was not included from the book or for storylines that were added – I’m looking at you, Murtagh and Jocasta! I really think that we, book readers, have become hyper-critical on these points. And our negativity spreads like wildfire, so much so that Executive Producer Matthew B Roberts shut down his Twitter account. Now, I’m not saying that the viewpoints are wrong – who am I to tell someone how they can feel or react to things? But I think that we should be a bit more agreeable in our disagreement of storylines. I know that the old “the book is the book, and the show is the show” rubs some people the wrong way, but it really is true. The show is an adaptation of the wonderful series of books by Diana Gabaldon. It is not a blow by blow re-interpretation of those books. There is no way that everything that is in the books can be recreated on-screen, no matter how much certain scenes were fan favorites – et tu, Persephone, et tu.

As we come to the season’s end and Droughtlander’s beginning (“And so our Watch begins…” for any of you GoT fans), let’s look at the season finale not as a book reader would look at it, but like a person who has no background knowledge into the story. I know that there probably are not many who fit that description in the readership of this blog, but let’s pretend…

As we begin the episode, Jamie, Claire and Ian are approaching the Mohawk village. It appears to be some time after last week’s pyre ending, so my initial guess that the whisky Roger threw belonged to Jamie was not accurate. Oh well…

Anyway, our ragtag group of rescuers approach the village and are closely followed by villagers. They talk to the chief about wanting to trade for the man that they had mistakenly sold to them a few months back. Ian offers to return the necklace that he got. Did he really think that was going to be that easy ? Anyway, they bring Roger “Dogface” MacKenzie out and there is a reunion of sorts with Claire. But while the negotiations are taking place, the villagers see that Claire is wearing an odd looking opal necklace. We know that she discovered this back when she discovered the skull during the storm, but we really didn’t know its significance. Now, we see all; the Mohawks react, and the chief wants nothing to do with our group. He will NOT trade, but we have no idea why. Jamie, Claire and Ian are forcibly taken away from the village, and #PoorRoger has to go back to “the idiot hut”.

Now if I’m a non-book reader, I’m thinking what the heck? What is this stone Claire is wearing and why do the fierce Mohawks appear to be afraid of being around it? Will #PoorRoger ever be freed ? I don’t know about you, but this is compelling storytelling. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Jamie, Claire and Ian try to make camp, but here come a small group of armed Mohawks, including that woman who was so mean to #PoorRoger. Oh my, what will happen to our heroes? Turns out they want Claire’s stone and will do anything to get it, even help these whitemen rescue #PoorRoger. Claire, being Claire, wants to know whythey want the stone, so the story of Ottertooth is told. Now, the story is the same as in the books, but the telling of it and when it is told is different. I actually liked this better. I liked this whole sequence better, actually. I think because in this telling, you get that the Mohawks are human and can be afraid of things just like other people. Without this humanization, what happens later would be completely unpalatable.

So Mohawk lady, her braves, and our heroes row back to the village under cover of darkness to try to sneak out #PoorRoger. Who actually came up with this plan ? There’s just no way this would work unless the village was distracted by something huge…like maybe a pyre? But there’s nothing going on. And even if they had gotten back to the river, did they think the villagers would be like “Oh well, they made it to the river. I guess we give up.” Uh…no. So, there are major tense moments here after they get caught. The chief excommunicates Mohawk woman for what she did, but is willing to let Jamie, Claire and Ian go.

Meanwhile back at the ranch (River Run), Murtagh arrives and immediately tucks in to what looks like Thanksgiving dinner for most of us, but for River Run, it’s just a Tuesday. He and Jocasta have normal dinner conversation like how Murtagh will continue to be a treasonous regulator, Bree’s engagement to “a redcoat” (horrors!) and still flirt with Jocasta at the same time. Boy, that man can multi-task. Jocasta “gets mad” and throws her drink in his face. Next thing you know, we see her in her robe with Murtagh in the bed. Say what ???? This is not in the books because as we know Murtagh died at Culloden in the books, so he isn’t around to get all brown chicken, brown cow with Jocasta. A lot of people hate this. And to be perfectly honest, I was one of them. I felt like Murtagh’s presence would change Jamie’s relationships with the other men on the show – that it would prevent him from becoming the Laird that he becomes. I was wrong. I’ll say it again for good measure: I. Was. Wrong. Murtagh was always somewhat of a minor character in the books – I really di not feel the depth of the relationship with Jamie in the books. Duncan LaCroix has made him come alive, and although I may not completely like the regulator storyline (I didn’t like it in the books either), anything that keeps him on screen is a good thing.

Bree has a conversation with Murtagh and admits that she has already forgiven Jamie and that the engagement to Lord John will never become an actual marriage. I love this conversation, and I’m sure that non-book readers liked a bit more of an explanation of the fake engagement. Things happen so fast in Outlanderland!

Back in the Mohawk village, Jamie tells Ian to tell the chief that he would take #PoorRoger’s place. I find this interesting because the chief has up to this point spoken to the group in English. There wasn’t any translation needed. I’m guessing they pulled this from the books where that was not the case. Anyway, next thing you know, Ian is proclaiming that he will stay and that Jamie and Claire can take #PoorRoger away. Tearful, heartfelt goodbyes are said. I was crying like a baby at this point. When Jamie says that Ian does not realize just how worthy he is and that lone tear – Outlander Napalm as Crystal calls it – rolls down his face, I lose it. Give these people all the awards!!!

Our group, sans Ian (sniff!), leaves the Mohawk village. They don’t get too far before #PoorRoger decides it’s time to not be #PoorRoger anymore and starts beating Jamie to a pulp. Claire doesn’t get it, but Jamie does – he owes this to Roger. Men! Anyway, after the thrashing, Claire tells Roger that Bree was attacked and that she is pregnant and wait for it the baby may or may not be his. Then she tells of Stephen Bonnet, and Roger goes nuts. Bonnet is the reason why he couldn’t get back to Bree and he makes it known that this was his intention. This is another place where the show gets it right. In the books, Roger sneaks back to the Gloriana to steal gemstones for he and Bree. And Bree is attacked when she visits the Gloriana to negotiate for her mother’s ring. How they missed each other, no one knows. And Roger sneaking and stealing from a pirate like Bonnet without getting caught? Let’s just say that whoever thought that was plausible also thought midnight raids on Mohawk villages would work like a charm.

Jamie gets all up in Roger’s face and tells him that his daughter doesna want a coward. And that he better be sure of what he wants to do. I love the rage in Jamie’s face in this scene, but this is another example of different time. different place in th books. And I like it! Jamie would totally be giving Roger an ultimatum as soon a Roger hears the news. He did not hesitate to beat him up and trade him to the Mohawk, so why would he be different here ?

We leave that conversation and see a brief scene with music showing Bree give birth to a healthy son. Jocasta counted all his fingers and toes herself. (I hope someone else did, too. Just sayin’) Next thing you know, little unnamed baby is two months old, but looks like he’s ready to play basketball with some friends down the street. I’ve never seen a two month old that big! But I digress. In runs a young slave to let her know that riders are coming and that her mother is among them. Bree runs out the door and sees her mother and father, but no Roger or Ian. Wait, what? Did they leave Roger in the wilderness hundreds of miles from home ? It surely appears so. Again, wait, what ? A non-book reader is likely to get confused here. There is no explanation given onscreen as to why Roger is not there.

So, Claire plays bouncy bouncy with the baby and then hands him off to Jocasta. I’ve heard that lots of people hate this – that she passes off to Jocasta instead of Jamie. They also hate that Jamie and Claire were not there at the birth. I get both of these feelings, but I’ll admit it – I like it. Firstly, Diana’s timeline – and she herself has said that she doesn’t always remember or card about such things – never made sense to me. Bree gets pregnant in September. Jamie, Claire and Ian don’t go on their quest to save #PoorRoger (have to hashtag him before his rescue :P) until months later. It takes them months to get there and presumably months to get back. And then The Ridge is at least 2 weeks from River Run – and that’s without a about to burst mom on board. I never thought it made sense for them to have had the time to make it in time. Secondly, the last time Claire and Jocasta were in the same room together, they about scratched each other up like two cats. Jocasta knows that Claire does not approve of Jocasta’s lifestyle, and she herself thinks its Claire’s fault that Jamie refuses to be her heir. So, by handing off to Jocasta, I see this as a peace offering. It’s a “I might not like how you live your life, but I’m sure grateful that you were there for my daughter and grandchild.” I don’t see anything wrong with that. I also think that all the things that Jamie said in the book will get said later. I would like to hear them once they are on The Ridge as a family unit or at The Gathering as a blood oath. From my mind to Matthew B. Robert’s ear… Lastly, there was quite a rumor going around that the babies on set did not like Sam. They never had Jamie hold Germaine either.

Back to our story…
In the Mohawk village, Young Ian successfully completes running the gauntlet, thereby ensuring that he will become a member of the tribe instead of a slave. Can I say it? I LOVE John Bell! And I bet he loved every single minute of filming this sequence – except for maybe the bumps and bruises. He looks like such a bad ass, jumping and ducking and diving and wheeling to and fro. And then his impossibly wide grin and whoops that echo back the Mohawks’ whoops are just great. We feel like Ian has found his place. This hearkens back to my earlier statement about the humanization of the Mohawks. Had they not shown their humanness earlier, we might be saying #PoorIan right about now.

Nothing is ever really mentioned about why Roger is not there, but Claire is wanting to pack up and head to The Ridge. And it seems like this is right after they have been reunited. And there is no mention of Young Ian’s fate. Why not? Does Claire seriously think that Roger would abandon Bree? Interesting… Just as they are packing up , Bree looks up and sees a man on horseback. Then we have the great scene of Bree running quite a long distance to crash into our hero Roger, finally here! By the way – I’ve always wondered about people in movies and shows being able to discern who someone was from far away. Do they all have bionic vision like Steve Majors? It’d be my luck that I would exhaust my self running and it would be the local peddler coming with his wares. But then again, I do like to shop.

The episode could have ended here, but it didn’t! Here come the Redcoats! Murtagh runs off to the slave quarters but not before Jamie and Claire witness a tender moment between him and Jocasta. I’m sure there will be hot discussion at the dinner table that night! The Redcoats deliver a directive from Governor Tryon that tells Jamie he must raise a militia and go after the outlaw Murtagh Fitzgibbons. Tense looks by all and fade to black…. (Although…why the heck did they need that many Redcoats to deliver a message ? One person wasn’t enough ? And wouldn’t you think that Lieutenant Wolfe would have been involved since he was local and friend to Jocasta ?)

All in all, this was a really good episode. The only plot points I saw that I had issue with was the non-explanation of why Roger was not with Jamie and Claire when they got to River Run, and the ending Dun dun DUN moment. Not as suspenseful as the writers might have thought it would be. Even non-book readers know that Jamie would EVER hurt, much less kill, his godfather.

End of Season – Droughtlander begins…I guess we can all just watch them again. 🙂

Was it worth it…

by Crystal Fann

I had a really hard time with the blog this week and it took me some time to finally understood why.  I was in mourning.   Not that “Man of Worth” wasn’t a good show, it was, but there were things missing, not just from the book but from the show in general that are lost forever.   But before we get into talking about what was missing – let’s talk about what was there, specifically our “men of worth”.

 

Ian…

As a book reader, I knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier when Ian clued his Uncle Jamie in on the decision that he would be the one to stay behind so Roger could go free.  In the book, Ian has found love with a Mohawk maiden named Emily.  Not so in the show and it made his sacrifice all the more heartbreaking.  Ian is a romantic at heart and his decision was made to save the heartbreak of separation for Jamie and Claire who he has come to love like parents and for Brianna and Roger, a cousin he has come to cherish and a man whose trials were in no small part to Ian machinations. The moment of goodbye between Ian and Jamie brought tears to my eyes, but that was the ONLY good part about the scene.  After spending countless minutes on the made-up Mohawk dissenters, Ian’s decision to change his life forever was done in less time than a Tom Brady Superbowl huddle.  In fact, that’s what it reminded me of when Ian laid out the plan amidst a huddle of Mohawk and break, so quarterback Ian laid out his plan to the rest of the players, namely Jamie, Claire, and Roger. Still, the moment of goodbye was emotional and one of the best parts of the episode.  I also loved that the showed Ian’s travel through the gauntlet, earning himself a place with the Mohawk.  The boy made it through not with strength or brawn, but by well by just being Ian and it was perfect.  We’ll miss you young Ian, hurry back soon!

 

Roger…

I’m going to be honest with you …. even in the book, I never bought that Roger had to “think about” returning to Bree.  Personally, in my opinion, if a man loved a woman enough to chase her to the past, he’d love her enough to stay there with her without having to think about it.  The writers tried valiantly to explain it to the audience with the Priest scenes from last week and the way that made Bonnet overtly distasteful to Roger, but it still fell flat and I’m at least glad they had both Claire and Jamie confront his wishy-washiness with anger.   “This is our daughter,” Claire says echoing Jamie’s harsh words that Brianna doesn’t need a coward.  Jamie and Claire have known heartbreak and even though Jamie knows his daughter will hate him forever, he’d rather risk that than have Roger break her heart.

Roger comes meandering to River Run and shows himself a man of worth and after a “Little House on the Prairie” run (the cheesiest moment ever on Outlander) to each other that had about as much chemistry as Little House’s Mr. and Mrs. Oleson, the separated lovers reunite, and Roger asks to see his son.

 Image result for laura ingalls running down the hill

My problem with declaring Roger a man of worth in this episode was the lack of emotion when he finally got what he went through hell for…Brianna in his arms again.  I don’t know what happened…. maybe Sophie ate Rik’s snacks and he was mad at her, but their reunion had me missing the Brianna and Lord John scenes from last week that just oozed with chemistry.   Like her parents, Brianna is supposed to have a love not bound by the hands of time-but when Roger exhibits more emotion throwing a barrel on whiskey on a burning priest than finally reuniting with Brianna, well it’s not a good thing.

 

Murtaugh…

Yes, I’m adding Murtaugh into the list of “men of worth” because, at the very least from the look on Jocasta’s face, she absolutely thought the silver fox qualifies.   I’ve heard a lot of feedback from this hook-up and while some hated it, I for one absolutely loved it (and have been predicting it would happen since way before the season even began).  Please allow me to add just a small note of wisdom to the many comments that took the tone of “yuck, they’re old” and “they’re too old to be doing that”.  Yes, people over fifty have sex and believe it or not, it’s rather good sex, mainly because you’re finally old enough to know what works and what doesn’t.  So, in the sage advice of an old idiom…don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!   I can’t wait to see what happens next for this pair and I hope the perennial bachelor as found love at last.

 

Finally…. Jamie.

The man who has shown us time and time again that he is a man of worth.  There was a lot to love about Jamie in this episode.  His determination to keep his word to his daughter conjuring a decision that would take him from the side of the one he loves the most.

“He’s alive, Lass,” words were spoken hastily so that Brianna would know that her father had kept his word, even though he came back empty-handed.

The problem is…there was so much missing that affected Jamie’s story.  Yes, I’m one of the ones heartbroken…and more than a little pissed…at the fact that we didn’t get the birth scene from the book.   That scene is far more than bringing a child into the world, it’s about forgiveness and the forming of an unbreakable bond between father and daughter.  Like a death, that moment is gone and can never return.   A friend suggested a Bobby Ewing type scenario to fix the situation that I liked.   At the beginning of season 5, Jamie takes out his sword and runs Murtaugh through following the governor’s order, and Brianna walks in with Roger only to have the latter state “I’m outta here!”.  Brianna can then wake up screaming, only to realize that the last bit of episode 413 was only a nightmare and Brianna goes into labor just as her parents arrive home. (Note:  Outlander writers please feel free to use this scenario free of charge).

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If only the show would have had Jamie and Brianna hug or Jamie touch his new grandson, perhaps it wouldn’t’ have been quite as upsetting.  But at seasons end there is still a distance between father and daughter that will take who knows how long to heal.   In the books, after the reunion in season four, Jamie and his daughter never have a cross word again…something I feel won’t be the case on the show.

And another thing….  can I just say how utterly stupid that cliffhanger was?   Anybody in their right mind knows Jamie isn’t going to arrest or hurt Murtaugh!  Ridiculous!   If that wanted us on the edge of our seats, they should have had the British arrest Murtaugh, leaving us wondering to the man’s fate.

Part of the reason I waited so long to do the blog was that I wanted to see the feedback and to my surprise, most people, while maybe not agreeing on specifics, agreed that the finale was lacking as was the whole of season four.  It’s sad, but while Drums of Autumn ranks as my favorite Outlander book, the season ranks as my least favorite show-wise.  There were fabulous moments to be sure, and if you’ll notice those near perfect moments came straight from the pages of the book and not some “what if” scenario tossed out the head writer.

I’ve never understood the mindset of TV writers adapting a book or TV or movie.  “We have to write for the TV viewers as well as the book readers.”  Um no you don’t.  You write and adapt for the book readers who know the material and find joy in favorite scenes come to life – we don’t need no surprises.  TV readers don’t know the difference in something from the book or something created for their benefit alone.

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Toni Graphia is starting to worry me and with the plethora of #firetonigraphia and #whatifwefiretonigraphia on social media, I don’t think I’m the only one. Not only was season four the less well adapted and written under her charge, but Ms. Graphia had her hand in another show that I loved, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and was rumored to be dismissed due to the actors not liking their character direction.   I couldn’t help but think of this with Sam  and Caits recent comments on wanting more character control.  Now don’t get me wrong, Toni has had a hand in some of my favorite Outlander episodes, but I wish she’d realize that her “what-if’s” aren’t needed.    Her comments on how she sees the family relationships still strained going into season five don’t bode well for the harmony of Fraser’s Ridge.

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I do have hope though, Outlander is a show that listens to its fans.  The beautiful moment of Jamie meeting his daughter didn’t have a breath that strayed from the book, in no small part due to fans outcry of disappointment over the portrayal of Jamie learning he had a daughter in last year’s print shop episode.  Hopefully, with season five still not in production, the producers and writers will take heed again and finally realize that it’s not the setting or the action that bring us back again and again to Outlander, it’s the relationships between the characters, something that should never be rewritten.

 

**Special note:  Thanks to Outlander Online for the fabulous screenshots used in the blog!

The Amalgamation of Ian

by Cynthia Gentit

“Costumes tell a story,” lead Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach has said it over and over, costumes tell a story – or at least they should.  We’ve already discussed Roger’s costume story in a previous blog and now it’s Ian’s turn and let me tell you, Ian’s season 4 costume story is a mighty complex one – Cultural Amalgamation.

Ian’s story is not the typical European meets American Indian tale.  That’s usually Acculturation – one culture eliminating the culture of another but Amalgamation is the blending that comes when two cultures contact and connect with one another.

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Think of it as a cultural fender bender, it’s contact that doesn’t permanently damage either car – but there’s going to be some paint transfer….on both sides.

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So let’s take a good look at wee Ian, shall we?  If you do you’ll see several differences between where we began in episode 401 and where we will end in ep. 413 (which as of this writing hasn’t aired yet.)

What you’re seeing, visually, is Cultural Amalgamation, paint transfer if you will and it’s been going on all season – and not just with Ian.

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Our introduction to the “story” is in ep 402 we meet John Quincy Meyers, frontier man, and we get our first taste of amalgamation, “paint transfer” from Cherokee culture to European.  Here we see him wearing a neck knife in a sheath decorated in dyed porcupine quills, possibly also beaded and obviously American Indian.   We also see the necklace above the sheath made of animal teeth, bone and probably hand bored beads made out of shell.   It makes for quite the funky lanyard.

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After meeting the Cherokee in episode 405, Ian is awol from several episodes, supposedly out hunting and visiting with the local Cherokee.  It’s not until ep. 409 that Ian returns to the screen and we see this emerging amalgamation.   So, let’s break it down, shall we?

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Ian now has a neck knife, it’s a plain leather sheath, holding a short knife with a wooden handle.  (This is not a new sheath for Ian’s pre-existing knife, this is a second, shorter knife worn Cherokee fashion.)  It’s also Cherokee → European Amalgamation.

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Here’s a little background on neck knives.  Shortly after the Europeans arrived in the early 1600s they realized that there was money to be made trading cheap goods for valuable furs.  One of the standard trade items were metal knives of assorted sizes.  Most of these were sold with a cheap wood handle (like Ian’s.)   The Cherokee and other tribes quickly adopted neck sheaths to keep these short all-purpose knives handy.  These became objects of art as well as function as the tribes decorated them with quill art or beading personalized to the owner, tribe or clan.  You can so some of the patterns and symbols in the examples above.

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Here’s a close up of the quillwork from another Cherokee costume piece.  This is an American Indian art form, the patterns are made from dyed porcupine quills. All the intricate quillwork you see on the show was handmade by the Outlander embroidery team – now that’s dedication!

The sheath Ian wears is an example of Cherokee → European transfer but the knife itself is amalgamation in a different direction, European → Cherokee.  In fact many of the items we see the Cherokee wearing are also examples of this cultural amalgamation.  Look again at the two Cherokee costumes above, the red fabric in both also came from the English, this is “stroud cloth,” a cheap trade fabric that was exchanged for Cherokee goods.

Another example of European → Cherokee Amalgamation is this blue rifle that showed up in ep. 406, Blood of My Blood.

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They are blue to indicate that they are trade goods.  The First Nations actors were impressed that this detail was included in the show.

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And let’s not forget this scene, as Claire and Adawehi share their respective cultural information about medicines and healing, it’s more paint transfer of the best kind – helpful, healing knowledge that will benefit both cultures.  It’s also two-way amalgamation.   I don’t know about you but I loved this scene.

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Back with Ian, we see these decorative rings on almost every costume.  When they first appeared I wondered what they were.  Did they signify a brave act?  A person killed? A life saved?  And then they showed up on Ian – what were these things?  The short answer is that they are “trade rings,” another type of cheap British trinket used for decoration (although I still prefer to think they mean something more sinister :D)  But the long answer is that they’re an example of circular amalgamation – the Cherokee took English goods and adapted them into their costume/culture, but when Ian adds them to his costume he sees it as adopting Cherokee custom and culture so the British goods becomes Cherokee decoration which is adopted by the British man, so cool.   It’s a complex concept contained in a simple thing and the Outlander costume department captured that flawlessly.

These little rings were valuable to the Cherokee because before the arrival of the Europeans copper was the only metal available in their territory.  The novelty of silver made them a desired item.  And all of that leads us to….Ian’s silver armband.

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Again we see European → Cherokee → European cultural transfer.  The Cherokee take the silver and adapt it as jewelry, adding symbols of their tribe or clan to make it their own and Ian takes the finished product as a symbol of the Cherokee culture he was adopting.

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Here’s another shot of that armband as well as the two bags Ian uses.  One appears to be woven fabric with quill decoration and one is leather, possibly with beading.  Cherokee → European amalgamation.  It also seems to me that Ian is rocking a tan in these later episodes, a visible reminder of his new outdoor lifestyle?

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Lastly, we see that Ian has also changed his footwear – boots exchanged for buckskin leggings, decorated knee ties/garters, and leather moccasins.

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We know by pictures from episode 413 that the transformation is not yet complete.  Ian will continue his amalgamation until it is complete (and with a very significant change still to come.)

The visual story these costumes tell is a rich one, and one that I feel Terry D and her crew need to be recognized for.  Any designer can create a costume but it takes a very special one to tell a story while doing so.  Kudos to her and her team.

 

CYNTHIA GENTIT – Cynthia is a guest Sassenach Sisterhood blogger whose love of Outlander began with the show and quickly spread to all things Outlander.  When she’s not an Obsassenach she’s tracing her own Highland roots, enjoying the beauty of north Georgia and finding/selling unique antique and vintage items.  Find her on FB @AToBVintage, on Etsy under A Thing of Beauty Vintage or at www.CherishTheOld.com

 

The romance is dead….but love remains.

by Crystal Fann

I loved last night’s show.  Barring a bit of shuffling it was line for line from the book.  Yet along with all the good comments,  I’ve seen a lot of comments online griping about the fact that Jamie and Claire haven’t been front and center on the show for the last several episodes.   I hate to tell ya’ll this, but you probably need to get used to it…the romance is over.

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Now let me codify that statement by saying that while the romance is over…the love isn’t.   Instead that love has grown from just two people to encompass many more in their warm embrace.  We were lucky, we had three wonderful years of romance.  We saw the romance of Jamie and Claire Fraser from their first meeting to the heartbreaking goodbye and the joyous, reunion with those awkward tentative steps as the people they used to be found their way through to the people they have become.  We’ve seen the romance, and while the story is still rotating around the core that is Jamie and Claire Fraser’s love, its not about romance anymore, its about a marriage-a life shared together and all the souls that are brought into the heart of the family that Jamie and Claire’s love created.

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Just like the books, the show moves on from the central love affair and expands to show us the lives of that family.     We see a daughter trying to honor  two men as father and this week we see Bree’s struggle in honoring her father’s – her REAL father’s- words in how to move past her rape.   We see Lord John acting out of honor and devotion to Jamie and yet in those fragile beginnings blooms a true admiration, respect and friendship with the child of a man he is doomed to love from afar.  You’re right Brianna – it’s impossible not to like him.

Roger is another matter.  Here is a man that was the epitome of the 20th century.  Roger was that new breed of man that prized brain over brawn and yet for love of a woman, he put himself in a world where strength is the only asset worthwhile.   Brianna was out of place, but had a family to guide her, Roger was alone in this wilderness, never more so than when he thought Brianna lost to him forever.

Marching through the wilderness, Roger had been pretty stoic.  However, in this episode, faced with a man who would rather die than concede his convictions and did, wrapped in flames and the arms of the one he loved, Roger had to wonder-was it worth it.  Those of us who have read the books know what’s to come and its understandable based on what Roger has had to endure for doing the right thing.  Rik Rankin gave a tour-de-force performance and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he doesn’t get a nomination for this year.

Yet even though Roger hasn’t been completely welcomed into the family fold, he is cut from the same cloth and does the right thing, knowing he would pay dearly for it.  I found myself wondering if that woman walked into the flames because her heart was breaking or because it was the only way to save the man who had shown her beloved mercy.   It’s not an idiot hut Roger…it’s a hero’s hut.

Jamie and Claire would understand Roger’s actions, after all doing the right thing is what they have impressed in those they love-even when doing the right thing is at your own peril.  Fergus and Marsali know the right thing is to overlook personal danger to themselves to save Murtaugh, something I could easily see Jamie and Claire doing.  Marsali wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her husband and I can’t help but remember her words at wanting to have a marriage like Jamie & Claire.  With them as guidance, I think she got her wish.  Sweet Fergus, the lost hand isn’t needed for a leader as he steps up to save a man who is like a grandfather to him.

One person that has come into Jamie and Claire’s circle that hasn’t been touched by their goodness is Stephen Bonnet.  It took Brianna, acting on faith that Jamie’s suggestion would give her peace and finding the courage to face her attacker that finally sobered the pirate.  Her courage touched him as did her generously in trying to give him peace in death.   Unfortunately, nobody realized how long Stephen Bonnet’s legs were.  Now his destiny is intertwined with the Frasers’ – all of them.

It started with a wonderful romance that made us fall in love with the characters as they fell in love with each other.  But now the romance is over and the marriage has begun, with all the ups and downs and intrusions of other souls drawn to that love just as we were.   Sure, some of the family members don’t get along, like Murtaugh and Lord John squabbling like two cousins, but that’s simply because Murtaugh hasn’t realized that while Lord John may be loyal to the British crown…he’s even more loyal to Jamie Fraser.

Jamie and Claire created a family and through the show and the books, we become part of that family as well.  Just like with any family, you don’t always get to spend time with the people you want, but through those you do get to spend time with, you partake in the love and family they created.  Even though Jamie and Claire might not grace the screen from time to time, their presence is heavy in the faces of the family that we do see.

One more episode and I see more worry than excitement.   I’ve pretty much figured how the episode will go but instead of laying that out, let me point something out that might ease the fretting.   Two minutes and ninety-seven seconds.  That’s how long Jamie and Brianna’s reunion played out onscreen.  The single most important scene in season four and it took only two minutes and ninety-seven seconds to play out on our screens.  Kind of eases the worry a bit over them having enough time to get everything in during that final episode don’t it?

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And for those of you that still fret…well SPOILERS AHEAD, but here’s how I think the episode will play out.

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The episode will most likely start out with a shot of Jamie and Ian scoping out the Mohawk camp.  Then they will return to Claire and we’ll get that scene from the promo where Jamie indicates his intention of going back later that night.  Jamie promises to return to Claire but as we’ve seen from the promo, he and Ian get into a bit of a stramash and probably get thrown into the hut with Roger.

Claire of course who NEVER stays put like she’s supposed to goes to the Mohawk village to check on her missing men and it’s the very thing that saves all their lives.  You see Claire is wearing the Opal she found that once belonged to Otter Tooth, and if you haven’t read the books, let’s just suffice it to say that the Mohawk were a little scared of the dude.

That first scene that plays out in the promo of them sitting on a blanket hearing the tale of Otter Tooth will come then, followed by a scene where the Mohawk demand a replacement for the warrior that was killed during Ian and Jamie’s midnight assault.  Ian of course falls on his sword, and we see Jamie look over his shoulder at his beloved nephew as the Mohawk take Jamie, Claire & Roger (if you look closely you can see all three in the canoes) back to civilization, or at least close to it.

Just like in the book, after the events of this week’s episode, Roger will not be so inclined to just throw caution to the wind and take Brianna and what probably is another man’s son.   So, Jamie and Claire will leave him at the stones and high-tail it back to River Run and their daughter.

I look for a heartfelt conversation between Jamie and John over the latter’s care of Jamie’s children, while Claire is giving Brianna the news.  Brianna upset, wants to go home, giving us the promo scene of Claire promising to take her daughter away.  Plus let’s face it, Claire acts like everyone at River Run is a leper.

Brianna will take that moment to go into labor and we’ll get the second most important scene of season four and the moment foretold in Jamie’s prophetic scene.   And just as everyone is standing around gooing and gushing over the baby, a raggedly looking man wanders toward the house.   Ya’ll did notice Brianna wasn’t pregnant in her mad dash across the lawn, didn’t you?

Roger will step up and claim the baby as his own, blood or no, because he has decided that love is worth it, (the first man of worth from the title) and I expect he final scene to be on Fraser’s Ridge with Jamie, Claire and all their family about.  Jamie will realize that he’s done what he’s always wanted and built a home for his family (the second man of worth from the title) and we will be left wondering what awaits this family next season.

Oh and one more thing….who all thinks that Murtaugh will grab Jocasta and kiss her after she throws the drink in his face….raise your hand!

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Crystal Fann – While possessing a writer’s soul, Crystal is a mild-mannered paralegal by day and a wordsmith by night.  Her novel “Tweet Romance” is available at amazon.com