Outlander S4 Finale

I don’t tend to do recaps of episodes because the fandom has several stellar writers that do this much better than I can. My niche seems to be discussing observations about the fandom itself.

This particular post is going to be a combination of the two. I saw some really strong comments about the finale across Twitter and Facebook and thought I’d give my own thoughts on those particular points. Besides, I need to cool off a bit before writing the other thing bouncing around in my head.

book vs movie 2

One of the big topics of discussion was Murtagh. Early in the season, many were excited that he was alive and well rather than having died at Culloden. I wasn’t one of them. Love the character, think Duncan plays him perfectly (although nothing like the description in the book LOL) but this just isn’t his time/place in the story for me. That said….I like how the character is being incorporated into the new material. It’s funny how there is often much wailing and gnashing of teeth over changes to the canon – unless the fans like it – then it’s OK. Now, when the character is ‘stealing’ precious screen time from J&C, people aren’t so sure they want Murtagh back.

The hooking up of Murtagh and Jocosta. It was ‘cute’. I have to agree with many that, while a fun bit, it took screen time from other scenes that many fans felt were more important. Also, since Duncan Innes has made no appearance, it seems they may be trying to shoehorn Murtagh into that space. I hope they don’t. It would so tweak that thread with Jocasta being so firmly in one political camp and Murtagh in another. Also, the relationship between Duncan & Jocasta works because she needs a figurehead more than a working husband…Murtagh is definitely the type to take over in that position.

I saw several comments about the wasted time on the ‘expanded’ Otter Tooth story. I was a bit puzzled by this as, having JUST reread the books in the couple of days leading up to the finale, it was taken almost directly from the pages of the book. Where/when the story was told was adjusted, but the story itself was almost exact and, really, not that long. It was important to establish things about the Mohawk and about time-traveling. His going back didn’t change the outcome – so CAN travel back affect change at all?

A huge disappointment to many was Jamie & Claire not being at the birth. While it didn’t bother me that much personally, I can see where many fans are coming from. This is a huge bonding time between Bree & Jamie, a time of forgiveness and new beginnings. THAT part was important and I agree, should have been incorporated in some way if not at the birth.

Not even going to attempt to comment on all the Roger / Richard hate going on. While I agree the writing hasn’t given us the exact character from the book, it seems an awful lot of the nastiness stems from R/R getting more screen time than J/S rather than a true problem with the character/actor/acting.

Young Ian not being in full Mohawk when we last see him was a complaint. It really wouldn’t have worked the way they did the scene – another scene with his whole cleansing and such would have to have been added in. What do you get rid of to have it? A thought here; that was the last episode of the season. Perhaps John Bell is going to actually shave his head or do something radical for the part and didn’t want to look that way for his whole break between filming. Might be a question for someone to ask him.

The last thing I want to comment on was in the opening credits. I saw several comments bemoaning yet another ‘social justice’ moment by the writers depicting an angry Native American with the kids playing and the whole ‘why can’t they leave off the political commentary in the show?!” While I agree the story telling has skewed things a bit when it comes to social issues – I’m not sure this was one of them.

The Native American in that scene was the man who went back in time and became Otter Tooth – noted by the large opal he had hanging around his neck. I think this was more about him personally than a social commentary. This man, while rightfully angry at what happened to his ancestors, was also rather twisted about it. He was on a path filled with anger and vengeance, which came across rather well (to me) in that tiny little scene.

In the end, there are things I love, things I like, things I’m not happy with, and a very few things I hate. However, this is not MY version of Outlander. What is in my own head, my own vision and my relationship with the books will always be there. The series is the vision of a collective and I can only take it as it comes to me. I can voice my opinions – good and bad – as I’ve done here, without personal attacks or nastiness. I can discuss my thoughts with others without fighting about them. I can choose to enjoy the show – the good, bad and ugly – or I can allow the things that bother me to ruin my enjoyment of it.

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The Outlander Ensemble

Jamie and Claire – Claire and Jamie. The whole story – passionate love – middle-age sex [must have more] it’s all about THEM doncha know.

NOT IMO

It has gotten to a point where I am so sick of hearing about Jamie/Sam and Claire/Caitriona it’s hard to follow some of the groups anymore. Don’t get me wrong – Jamie and Claire ARE the heart and soul of the Outlander story. Sam and Cait have done a magnificent job of portraying these characters (even though they really don’t look like them and have terrible wigs and really aren’t written correctly [NOTE SARCASM] ) – it’s just that there is so much of “it’s ALL about THEM” to the point of dissing other characters/actors that it really rather turns my stomach some days.

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Does Caitriona deserve the recognition and noms she’s getting – absolutely. Should Sam be getting some of that? I think so – but then Hollywood is a mucked up place that has its favorites and cliques and if you aren’t “IN” well then dahling that is just too bad for you. Personally I’m far more excited by all the other projects Sam has going and not that bothered he isn’t having to waste time on red carpets. But that’s just me.

I have never quite understood the ‘readers’ (or the ‘viewers’ now) who say they get so bored with the subplots and other characters. They skim through to get to the good parts that are Jamie and Claire – because, after all, that is what the story is all about.

It is – and it isn’t – IMHO.

As I said above, yes, Jamie and Claire’s love/relationship/journey IS the core of the Outlander story. However, J & C aren’t who and what they are ONLY from their interaction with each other. Those other people in their lives shape them. Who they touch – who touches them; those experiences and situations outside their own little bubble of each other. For me, in order to really grasp how these other characters affect J & C, you have to understand them a bit – THEIR stories and how J&C affect each of them. It’s a very give/take deal – just like in real life.

This last episode – #Providence – had very little J&C in it – which really seemed to annoy some people. Richard Rankin absolutely owned this episode and he deserved every bit of praise that was being heaped on him. Yet, I saw a load of J&C memes and comments as if to drown out the kudos Richard was being given on TW and FB. Why?! Roger’s story – along with Brianna and Lord John – are HUGELY important. These three have tremendous impact on J&C both individually and as a couple. Tests of fire, pressure, pain, loyalty and love. These events shape J&C as individuals and as a couple going forward. J&C have a similar effect on those around them in this time of trial and crisis.

Just because Richard/Sophie/David got to really shine in this episode in no way diminishes what Sam and Caitriona bring to the table – if anything, it enhances it. I am so jazzed that we have so many awesome, talented performers in this ensemble to bring Diana’s story to life! I know, I know – it’s not exactly like the books. Stuff gets changed, moved around, done completely different (next blog) but I don’t care! I am – overall – loving the show.

Fergus and Masali also have impact in this episode and I so wish there was more time to see them on screen. These two are smart and dedicated to each other and have their own trials coming up. They are the next generation of love and have been shaped by observation and interaction with J&C from the time they were kids. The other characters – to me – tell J&C’s story almost as much as they themselves do.

All the other players and situations can give insight into the character and depth of who Jamie and Claire are – beyond the passionate, still having great sex in middle age, kick-ass characters we love to lose ourselves with. All these things are wonderful, but they aren’t ALL the story. (P.S. – People keep saying “Outlander isn’t some bodice ripper romance novel” and the show isn’t meant to be ‘soft porn’….yet all the complaints about not enough sex scenes seem to contradict that sentiment. You can’t have it both ways kiddos.)

I simply can’t understand why people would want to cast aside the ensemble that is Outlander and lose so much of, what are supposedly, the main characters.

As always, these are just MY Random Thoughts – discuss, disagree, share or ignore as you will.

The Rings of Outlander

Rings, wedding rings especially, symbolize many things. Unity, the continuous circle of life and death, connection. They are usually made from precious metals and gemstones to show the value of such a relationship. Diamonds are favored – perhaps because of what they go through to become the gem that they are, much like a marriage must go through the trials and fires of life. More and more people are choosing metals and or gems (or lack of them) for specific meaning to them personally. A friend of mine in college picked out a ring that had a lighter emerald center stone with an amethyst on either side. It was a beautiful setting, unique and very ‘her’.

WARNING: possible spoiler(s) below for those that are show only people.

The rings Claire has in Outlander have been the center of many discussions. I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while (since Claire got her new/original ring from Jamie in the series), but life and other issues had me putting it aside for a bit.

 

rings of claire

 

Please remember as you read MY musings here that I am someone that can/does view the books and the show as separate, unique expressions of the same story.

The first ring is what is described in the books (pretty close). Jamie went out on their return to Leoch to get this ring for his bride with the limited funds he had available. Now, in the books, enough time had passed between the very difficult beginning to their marriage (near rape, Claire running off to the stones against Jamie’s orders, being captured, the tension between her and the men, her punishment, etc.) that things had settled a bit between them and Jamie disappearing to do this made Claire insecure again. In the series…they had not sorted things out yet and so it wouldn’t have made sense for Jamie to go get a ring and it wouldn’t have fit in with the alterations that were done to the story line as it related to Laoghaire.

Instead we got what I call the Lallybroch ring. (I’ll get to Frank’s in a minute). Most of the comments about this ring were negative. It was/is ugly, not special, and so on. Much debate back in S1 about this and much wailing and gnashing of teeth for not sticking to the books.

A couple of thoughts here. Claire is a very simple person when it comes to jewelry. All she wore as far as Jamie ever saw was the simple gold ring on her left hand. Jamie was a young man, an outlaw, with little money or immediate prospects. He took something valuable and precious to HIM (the key to his beloved Lallybroch) to make a ring for his wife. Not only precious (though inexpensive in terms of value) but a promise of all he hoped to give her one day. The ring is plain, but sturdy. There is beauty in the simple lines and meaning behind it (much like Frank’s ring). I thought it was a beautiful gesture and something Jamie (even book Jamie) might have done.

Frank’s ring is very plain, gold but inscribed. Claire and Frank were married on the eve of war when things were quick and needed to stay simple. It was still a token of their love and a promise of things to come. Not that their future together was remotely what either thought it would be at the time.

When in Ep1 this season, Claire lost the Lallybroch ring instead of Frank’s – I had a couple of thoughts about the change.

1) There was a possibility that the writers would not use the rape story-line with Stephen Bonnet. Of course that would radically alter many other things, but the writers and producers have gotten so much flack for the rapes, it was a possibility.

2) In the series, Bree would also recognize the Lallybroch ring as Claire had worn it every day of Brianna’s life. In some respects, it would be easier to spot/recognize than a plain gold band (though I’ll be honest, no idea how often gold was used for rings in that time/place). If they kept the Bonnet/Bree story, it would go much as it did in the book.

When Ep8 rolled around – obviously the writers had gone with the second option. At this point though, Claire has already been given her new (book) ring so what happens with the Lallybroch ring? My thinking, which did not go over very well in the FB group I posted it in, is that this might become the ring Roger and Bree could use. In the books, they use the ring with the red stone that belonged to Jamie’s father – but that ring is lost in the series.

I’m sure there are those saying that using the Lallybroch ring for Roger & Bree is a horrible idea because of what happened to her getting it back. True – that is one heart-wrenching memory connected to it. However, it is also something her mother cherished. It represents (in the series) the relationship Jamie and Claire have and all they have gone through to be together. Brianna comes to see just how special this love is over time and comparing it to the good marriage she thought Frank and Claire shared. It is THIS sort of relationship she wants for herself, not one of duty. It was also made from the key of Lallybroch, which is someplace that is important to Brianna (having been there, seeing where Jamie came from, meeting extended family) and becomes even more important later. I also think the simple lines and its origin as a key would appeal to the engineer/mathematician she is.

One last bit. I’ve seen many comments from people wondering why Claire would continue to wear Frank’s ring. Again, just my thinking from reading the books/watching the show, I believe because that was such an important part of her life and, like him or not, Frank made it possible. She had Brianna and Frank adored Bree no matter her origin. Claire became a doctor and then a surgeon – something hugely important/useful in the colonies and Frank supported that even if he didn’t care for it. Frank was a good man that Claire had deep feelings for, she wears it for memory and respect.

As always, this is JMHO.

Shaking My Head

The response to my last blog was mind-blowing and humbling. A huge thank you to all who read it and responded. The puzzling bit for me, was that out of the literally thousands of views and many comments/responses – I never got an answer to the question from the people that I was targeting with the post. SMH

outlander-large-trade-paperback-set-of-1-8-diana-gabaldon

There is another thing I am constantly SMH over with this series/fandom.

Over and over again, the big complaint is “I wish they would stick to the material in the books! The episodes are so much better when they do!” Or some variation on this. Complaints about changing the story or making up something completely off book to fill in time when they have SO much they could draw on from the books. Again, I have laid out my thinking about this in another blog post The Book is the Book and the Show is the Show if you haven’t already seen it.

People want the series to follow the books more closely – dialog/story/characters – but only really fuss about something important to them (and everyone has their own opinion of what is special/important). Yet other times – they do NOT want to follow the book because they don’t happen to like it.

For example – STOP CHANGING THE STORY but how cool is it that Murtagh is still around!

I love the character of Murtagh and I think Duncan Lacroix is awesome, but I’m not thrilled he is on the Ridge. To me, this is Jamie’s time to come into his own and deal with life without that safety net. Having said that, I don’t ‘complain’ about it (though I might explain my position) because I think the writers have done a good job folding him into the story and I DO like the character. So…it is what it is.

movie or tv series vs book

Keep in mind – there is just SO SO much in the books that simply can’t make it into the series and that everyone has their own ideas as to what is critical to see and what isn’t. Also, even when The Team DOES do that critical scene or bit or costume, not everyone will be happy because it isn’t ‘right’ for what is in their head. Another post that covers this is Differing Opinions: Books vs TV Series – the comments are enlightening as well.

A final thought: the show is going to do what it is going to do. Some people will love it, some people will hate it – either in total or bits and pieces. The people that have accepted that the show isn’t ever going to BE the books, seem to enjoy it a whole lot more.