Before I take the somewhat risky journey back into the often volatile world of Outlander, I just want to share a few other thoughts and update you on my absence. As many of you know, I have taken a break from posting in order to focus on my family history research. Because of my work schedule, family commitments and events, I currently have little time to devote to my personal passions such as the family history, history in general, and this blog.
Many of you are also aware that this spring, I took a much needed vacation to Britain in order to explore some of that history I am so passionate about. The journey was not without it’s moments of frustration and even panic. It was a journey of self discovery and soul searching. During the trip, there was a point when in the middle of that soul searching and panic, I reached out to who ever might be listening above or beyond this plane and asked for some guidance. It was in those moments of silent conversation with myself and those I could feel around me that I was reminded of my ties, my connections to all of those ancestors who came before me. It was an odd moment of reflection or revelation that I should take some time to refocus on what was truly important to me, take time to pause and change my direction or my path. It’s been a few months since that trip and I have found myself more driven and determined to work on my family history. That research has pretty much taken over what little free time I have. The direction of the research also changed in that I am no longer quite so interested in the far distant and ancient past- though I am still intrigued by it. Now the focus of that research is more one of a slightly more recent past in which my ancestors all made the choices and decisions to make the journey to a new land and a new beginning in America. They came from England, Wales, the Netherlands and Germany in search of that freedom that this new country would offer them. Some came for religious freedom but others came because there was little left for them in their homeland. I find myself now interested even more in those individual stories of survival in this new land. I have come to a point in the research where I feel like I can rest a bit from it and now sort through their stories and their journies to eventually share them here.
Some of you are probably wondering what on earth this all has to do with Outlander? Well, quite simply, it has everything to do with Outlander because in reality, Outlander is just such a story- an ongoing story of how and why a family came to be in this new America. It is an epic saga of one family’s journey, of their life, of the choices they make along the way and the reasons for those choices, of the people who become a part of their world and influence the paths they each take in life. It is in some ways a reflection of our own family histories. We each have stories of the past locked away within our family histories… granted, hopefully ours do not include time travel, standing stones and other such intriguing fantasies, but if we search through our family histories, we will all most likely find some of those well kept, well guarded secret skeletons in our closets that me may or may not be comfortable in the discovery of.
My recent research has inspired more of an interest in the Colonial history of America, from the earliest times when my Puritan ancestors made the difficult decision to immigrate, the later years of industrial upheaval in England when other ancestors lost their economic livelihoods and made the journey out of economic necessity, through the period of the Revolution for independence here when those ancestors had to choose sides- you might think or assume that should have been an obvious no question about it decision but if you look deeper into those lives you will find that it was truly a difficult decision for many of them. As I learned more about my own ancestors and their lives, I was drawn back to the stories that Diana Gabaldon tells of that time period through the lives of Jamie and Claire Fraser and their family legacy.
For the most part, I have tried to remain outside of the realm of Outlanderia after the first season’s debut. I did this for a few reasons. First of all, while I did enjoy the first book of the series, I would not say that I was all that much of die hard obsessed fan in the beginning. In fact, in retrospect, had I read it when it originally came out and had to wait years for the next installment, I probably would not have bothered picking up the next book. Because I read it more recently and the next book was available on sale, I went ahead and read the second one just to find out what happened… I was not overly impressed or enthused with that one either but by then I was intrigued and getting a bit sucked into the overall story and people in it. So, of course since the third book was readily available, I thought I might as well just read it. I can honestly say that while I was not all that enthused with the Pirate aspect of Voyager, the rest of that book totally sucked me into the world of Outlander. From then on I admit I became somewhat of an obsessed fan of the books. I will say that my obsession in tame compared to that of many other fans.
When Starz took on the challenge of presenting this saga to us, I was as excited as anyone at the prospect of seeing the story come to life. I did enjoy that initial introduction to the story but as it progressed, I found myself struggling with some aspects of it. One of those aspects I struggled with was the overwhelming tide of Outlander fandom and storms of aggressive heated and sometimes confrontational debate over show versus books, readers versus non-readers. Then there is the continuous ongoing flood of debate, controversy and intrusion into actors’ personal lives- which in my personal opinion takes away from being immersed in the character they are portraying. Another issue for me was of course the fact that I was not as interested or invested in the first story or even the second story other than in how they lead up to the rest of the stories.
One added issue for me with the first season was that I can honestly say that I am probably one of the minority of fans who does not look at this series as a romance/love story of Claire and Jamie. For me, that is really almost secondary compared to the rest of what is involved in this saga. As I watched season one, I had the feeling that it was becoming or would become more of a romance story and I really was just not interested in seeing it go that route. As a result, I stepped back out of the raging storms of Outlander and chose to remain for the most part, a silent observer.
I did not impatiently await or endure any typical droughtlander in anticipation of season 2 because well, because as I’ve already mentioned, it was not one of my favorite books anyway so I had no real emotional investment in how it would be presented other than in how it would be presented in relation to future seasons. I was happy to see that it did not go the route of being the “breathtaking” romance of Jamie and Claire. It was a fairly realistic representation of what they went through during that time and I for one appreciate that! I am not going to go into all of my thoughts on the entire season here but I do have to say that I think I enjoyed it more than season one. I am also not going to address the changes and deviations made from the book to the show. They have already been hashed over and debated to no end by everyone. I understand why the changes were made and personally I am looking forward to seeing what differences the future brings between the two stories. I’ve tried hard to separate the show from the books but find that having read the books, it is almost impossible not to make comparisons between the two. I am enjoying the differences that the show is presenting and I look forward to seeing how it takes the story along possible alternative paths. I am looking forward to seeing how the story plays out with some changes.
****Spoilers, Yes there are spoilers! This is your warning!”
For now, I am just going to give my personal thoughts on the finale and the introduction of my two favorite people- Roger and Bree! I will readily admit that I was and am emotionally invested in the story from this point on and I was concerned about how these two characters would be represented. I also admit that I do have some initial reservations about Sophie Skelton and whether she can fully portray Bree as I know her in my head… Then again, I have to remind myself that I had these same reservations about Catriona Balfe in the beginning and she has completely won me over! So, with that in mind, I am giving Sophie benefit of doubt and going with a feeling that she will eventually find her footing and capture that essence of Bree that Ron D Moore and others must believe she’s capable of doing. I did find that I was more comfortable with her performance and portrayal after watching the episode a second time with a more open mind and a thought towards that overall awkward situation that she finds herself in.
I did see some glimmers of that inner Bree so I am going to assume that Sophie has actually managed to give us a fairly accurate portrayal of that younger Bree caught in the difficult and awkward situation that she was placed in at the time… As I’ve said, I’ve liked Bree from the beginning. I never saw her a spoiled brat who treated her Mother so awful. She was a young woman who as Claire mentioned, was just like her Father- stubborn to no end with a fiery temper. She is also a young woman who suddenly discovers one of those skeletons in the closet, discovers that her parents have lied to her for her entire life. Put yourself in Bree’s shoes for a few moments and imagine that your own Mother told you such a story? Would your reaction really be so much different than hers was? Would you have immediately just have accepted such a story and said, “Ohhh this is all so exciting and wonderful for all of us!” My one thought while watching this all play out on screen was actually that I wished Bree had shown more of that temper! I was waiting for her to completely explode and destroy the room in that fit of uncontrolled rage and frustration over the entire situation.
While so many others are venting and bashing on spoiled Bree, I’m sitting here enjoying her outbursts and her evolving sarcastic humor. I watched it all play out and had the same thought as I did with the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the way they managed to merge the book events with the limits of the show with Bree’s thought and suspicion that something was not exactly right with her parents’ relationship and that there was something, some incident that they had kept secret. When people stay in a bad relationship “for the children” and assume that their children do not know something is wrong, they are not giving their children enough credit…Children sense things and usually know far more than we are willing to admit. Bree loves both her parents but she knew instinctively that there was something not quite right with their relationship.
As to the character of my dear Roger Mac… I initially had a few doubts about Richard Rankin portraying him but that is due to the image I have stuck in my mind of him from the books. After the first few moments of watching Richard’s performance, I was already seeing that other image merge with the new image of Roger- so well done Richard Rankin! You’ve managed in one episode to assure me of your ability to transform yourself into my Roger Mac. I need to add here that I put off watching the finale because I was in the middle of re-reading the Fiery Cross which involves some very serious life struggles for Roger. I knew I was going to have a difficult time regrouping from those events that have such a profound life altering affect on Roger so I waited until I was finished with the book before watching. I have to say that seeing Roger in the show helped ease my left over sadness. To see him awkwardly trying to impress Bree, to watch the beginnings of his and Bree’s story made me smile! An added reminder here for others who had some difficulty with this portrayal of Roger… I’m not really sure what you may have been expecting but Richard Rankin presented us with just exactly what Roger is at this point in his life, a university history professor, a rather reserved and quiet young man who was raised by a minister. Roger is a work in progress and Richard Rankin shows us that. He stumbles, he falls, he fails, he is not some perfect Highland Warrior type and he knows this. Richard Rankin gives us that somewhat imperfect guy who is immediately infatuated with Bree and can not hide it very well. He has also captured that quirky sense of humor and dry wit that he and Bree will share as time goes on.
One other performance I want to give my highest praise and appreciation of is that of Catriona Balfe in her transition to a much older, wearier and somewhat wiser Claire. My only comment to this older and wiser Claire would be to those watching the situation with her daughter play out… Really, what did you think Bree’s reaction would be to such a story? Did any of you honestly think or assume that on being told such a story, anyone would react any differently than Bree… or for that matter Roger. Of course their immediate reaction is that the woman is insane. Bree is horrified that her Mother has apparently went off the deep end while Roger is a bit more restrained in his reaction but is trying to hold it together for benefit of Bree.
Yes, Claire’s visit to Lallybroch left me in tears
But, I did have one other thought when I saw the condition of Lallybroch… please not the very small for sale sign by the steps.
I was moved to tears by Claire’s haunted memories of the past, and the other thing I was personally moved by was the narration of the events at Culloden… that was Tobias Menzies/Frank’s voice was it not?
The remaining events of the past played out as I expected- Claire was not at the battle, she could only recall events leading up to that point- we should see the actual event unfold in bits and pieces in future seasons. I did cry as she remembered sending Fergus off to Lallybroch with the deed and for his own safety. And in my mind, I was saying my own goodbye to Murtaugh with much sadness. I was even moved to some tears over the demise of Dougal and his gut wrenching feeling of ultimate betrayal from Jamie. Yes, Jamie was acting in self defense and protecting Claire, and yes Dougal made more than his own share of bad decisions that led to this action, but his loyalty to the cause was indisputable and Jamie knew that.
Now, having this book and season finished, I have to admit that I am suffering a bit of droughtlander if only for the fact that I am so looking forward to Voyager and, to Drums of Autumn. I am thrilled that we’re assured of seeing at least these next two seasons because for me this where the adventure of their life truly begins to unfold. I even look forward to that nasty encounter with a much changed Geillie Duncan. Speaking of Geillie…
A few last thoughts to keep in the back of your mind while waiting for the future… I’ve always believed that Frank knows far more than we think, and hopefully the show will give us some that- at least in flashback form.
Frank knows more than we think and some of it has to do with Roger’s story…