A friend and I were speaking today about how every time we read something or hear something about Outlander Behind the Scenes (BTS) we are gobsmacked by the effort, talent, and artistry of the people involved. I’ve heard folks working on the show say that it is like doing a movie every week. I’m really not sure what the means, but I’m impressed anyway! It sounds like they are doing something monumental and it certainly feels monumental when I sit down on a Saturday night to see the latest installment in the Outlander epic adventure. In fact, my friend and I decided that once we heard about what all has to be done and how many people are involved, we can’t figure out for the life of us HOW it all comes together! We agreed that it is a miracle that any movie or show doesn’t fail when you consider the logistics alone. Outlander is far and away from failing. When I sit back and just take a look at what I have been presented , I begin to understand how truly remarkable the show is and how lucky I am as a fan to have people who have so lovingly cared for the story of Jamie and Claire.
I feel so out of the loop! So, much has happened since the last time I wrote anything about Outlander! Forgive me if I seem a bit uninformed, but there is no way I could get caught up. I just got a chance to see my DVR’d episode 2×12 The Hail Mary this Sunday. I’d do a review, but I’m pretty sure it was covered in a timely manner. I haven’t read any recaps or reviews, but it has been pretty hard to avoid comments on social media the few times I’ve been on. Sex or lack there of seems to be the topic of conversation. My guess is the conversation is surrounding the entire season rather than this last episode. The perception is that fans have somehow been cheated and that the core of the story of Jamie and Claire’s relationship diminished. One of the comments I saw said ” It is going to be hard for me to believe the love between these two characters would last the test of 20 years apart”. People are missing the pillow talk and the physical connection that they feel advances the story of this relationship. Per usual, some of my readers have left some great comments on the blog.
…Just because we don’t see them having sex, doesn’t mean they are not having it. Their intimacy is theirs, not ours. Love that they are showing them trying to make their marriage work. Like Jamie said, he almost lost it. They love each other and have proven that…
…One of the things I find most special about Diana’s books is how wide a net they cast in the fandom from lovers of romance to history, drama and action. In a way, it’s ironic that there are people who get all upset at the “bodice ripping” narrative and there are people who are missing the sex scenes in the television show. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s the same people or different people? I agree, they have been laying a groundwork of slow and steady drumbeats (aka breadcrumbs) leading up to what we know will be a dramatic and heart wrenching conclusion to the season. The little looks, the silent prayers, the brief moments of intimacy always interrupted by the exigencies of the moment due to their status as leaders. For me, their romance, while wonderful and fun, isn’t what has made this couple a great literary success. It’s their shared sense of responsibility towards others to the potential detriment of themselves as individuals and as a couple. And this season has illustrated that masterfully…
…I am a book reader, but I’ve finally been able to understand and separate the 2 mediums. What I think a lot of book readers struggle with (as I did) is that what is in the background in the books (all the actions and adventures) is in the foreground now. And that means what was in the foreground (Jamie and Claire’s love and quite a bit of sex) is now in the background and will for the most part remain there. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means it’s life, daily life and drama sits on top. Their love is not a lesser thing, it’s something that runs through everything they do, think, decide and act upon. If I’m being honest, I read through all of the adventure, some with more interest than others, to get me to the next sex scene (show of hands please!) and eventually began to enjoy their adventures and take comfort from the bond they’d formed as the sex scenes became more infrequent through the books…
…To me, the books would not be as powerful without the love scenes. In Fact, I can’t even imagine the books without those scenes! They make Jamie and Claire who they are. In that same vein, to me, the show needs that as well. There’s a reason Diana puts those scenes in the book. They do move the story forward and make the couple closer. As for the entertainment weekly cover, it seems like again marketing is quick to use sex to sell anything, but It did not represent this season well, since in comparison to last season, there’s hardly any sex at all. They set the bar and expectation with last season, so to me that advertising was false. That’s just my opinion. Yes, we can use our imaginations of course, but I don’t pay for starz just to use my imagination! LOL!…
And my favorite…
I could care less about the sex, because I know Jamie and Claire are having lots of sexy time off camera. For all those complainers, the producers are probably waiting to cackle, “You want sex? Here’s the gut-wrenching ugly-scream-cry sex, last-time-for-twenty-years-sex. Enjoy!”
They make me laugh and think. So, I’ve been thinking about this whole issue with the Jamie and Claire relationship and whether their love has been accurately represented this season. It really sort of boils down to what you think the relationship is doesn’t it? I’m sure that it is as subjective as anything else we fans discuss. We all have different ideas about what are the important and essential elements of that relationship. The one thing we all seem to be able to agree on is the fact that their relationship is one of the biggest reasons we read and kept reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The question then seems to be if that relationship is represented in the show in a way that will keep us as engaged.
For me, there always seems to be something I see hear or read that causes me to look deeper or clarifies what I’m thinking. This week it was three things; some fan artwork, a comment from Ron Moore on writing for television, and the Outlander marathon.
I’d love to give the artist credit for this the signature was difficult for me to read! Please if you know its creator let me know! For me, this powerful image represents where this couples’ relationship stands at this point in time; riding side by side, equals, partners, connected to each other. Two who are one. As my reader so eloquently stated, “Their love is not a lesser thing, it’s something that runs through everything they do, think, decide and act upon”. I would love to have seen some of the wonderful love scenes Diana wrote, and believe fans have every right to express their disappointment, but for me what interaction they did show me in no way lessened the relationship I knew from the book. Their love is still the core of this story. It informs everything.
As wonderful as Jamie and Claire’s sex life is it doesn’t define their love. Those of you you have read the rest of Jamie and Claire’s story know that it isn’t sex that they miss when they are apart, but rather who they are when they are together. They miss their other half. The heart-pounding , lustiness too, but it isn’t whar they miss the most. I’ll let Jamie and Claire explain…
“…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”. And she replies, “ It was lonely without you, ” I whispered,” so lonely.”
“I had feared he couldn’t, again. or wouldn’t. and, then had known those few days of perfect joy, thinking that what had been true was true once more; I was free to love him, with everything I had and was, and be loved with an honesty that matched my own”
Love like theirs endures not because of what happened in their bed, but because of what happens out of it. Their love will be strong enough to endure the separation of time because it has been tested, tempered and forged in fire. The show chose to show us Jamie and Claire finding their way back to each other after crises, grief, war, and perceived betrayal. They chose to show us a couple whose sense of personal responsibility allowed them to put other’s above themselves. They chose to show us two who become one because they fought for it. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH RON MOORE
The second thing that caused me to look deeper was this interview with Ron Moore about writing for TV. As fans of the books it is really tough for us to lay aside expectations and our desires for the adaptation. I’ve come to learn over the past two years, thanks to our interaction with those creating the show, that this process is more difficult than we can possibly imagine. It is easy for those of us on the outside looking in to criticize. It isn’t that I believe that critique of the show is wrong, I’ve done my share, I just believe it should acknowledge the enormity of the task Ron and company took on when they decided to adapt Diana Gabaldon’s story. I was reminded that Ron is very aware of the fans love of this story and he doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.
We have to play to the audience that knows the novels and loves them, the audience who is looking forward to seeing how we’re going to bring these beloved stories to life. These are very passionate fans. They know these books very, very well—the characters, the dialogue, the minutest of details—and they have certain expectations and hopes about how the show will portray all of it. But we also have to play well for an audience that has no idea what Outlander is or where these stories are going. We’re always striving to connect with both audiences. – See more at: http://www.wga.org/writers-room/features-columns/the-craft/2016/outlander-ronald-moore#sthash.C1Z0gVWh.awVvhwfe.dpuf
I, for one, have learned that his integrity and experience is not usual and we were lucky to have him at the helm. He cares, they all do, but he still needs to stay true to his art and vision.
The third thing that caused me to look deeper was a marathon this week. My son was down for a holiday visit. I had introduced him to Outlander last year and he asked to watch this season. Our watching together gave me a chance to see the show with new eyes. I watched with an eye for how the story was being presented to someone who hadn’t read the books. He got it. In fact, I felt an odd sense of pride. I have had absolutely nothing to do with the production of this show and yet, I was proud of it. My son was mesmerized and he is a tough crowd. This show is a wonderful blend of all of the things that made us love the books. It was a quality production lovingly created. The characters and story arcs are well developed. The sets, costumes, and makeup worked together with the writing, filming, and directing to create a believable world and story. I watched with a special eye to the intimacy and love between our two main characters. They portrayed it well and often with significant looks, touches, and meaningful dialogue. They told us an engaging and moving story with remarkable honesty and amazing performances. We are lucky fans indeed.
A LOOK AHEAD
Despite being eager to see an end to some of the fandom drama this season , I will be sorry to see it come to an end. This has been a vastly entertaining show that chosen to show us truths about life and love. I believe this last episode will give us all the feelings we have been looking forward to and dreading. In the article I linked, Ron Moore said some of the best advice he received as a writer was to not be a whore. I would add that includes not being a whore or slave to fan expectations. Someone has to call the shots and I would hate to have someone calling the shots who could be easily influenced by fans. Time after time he and his team have proven that they have a vision and reasons for the decisions they make that have best story-telling in mind. My patience has always been rewarded and I’m not anticipating anything less in this final episode. I am anticipating a culmination the likes of which will make me feel like my guts have been ripped out and the next Droughtlander at least…twenty years long.
“Hail Mary, Coach Wesson! Throw a Hail Mary!” was the cry of one of the fans in the stands at my husband’s football games. He coached for over thirty years and I heard a lot of things yelled at him from the stands, but the memory of that phrase lingers for a couple of reasons. First, the lady that called it out at every game was a great character and it was always shouted with such fervor and good intent. The second reason was my husband’s reaction to her yelling at him to throw a “Hail Mary”. He would just smile and shake his head, No.
I once read an interviewer who said that Diana Gabaldon’s story was a Cinderella tale for aspiring authors. On some levels, I would have to agree. There is definitely the element of the fairy tale about her success. A woman believes she should be an author and sets out to write a book for practice and ends up with a multi book contract, finds her name on the New York Times best seller list, and can quit her day job to write full time, yep, sounds like a fairy tale to me! But, if you spend much time delving into the world of Diana Gabaldon, you’ll discover her success is much more about hard-work and persistence than magical fairy godmothers. She was a working mother with three small children when she began writing her novel for “practice”. She wrote in the wee hours and when she could, but she kept at it. Now, I would argue that her success isn’t just about hard work. It also has a lot to do with her intelligence, her ability to think with both sides of her brain and innate talent to tell a story. Luckily for us, she is very generous with her fans who aspire to write and shares a lot about her process and general information about writing a novel. The most consistent message I’ve heard from her is to write, to find what works for you and then do it … a lot.
One of the benefits of being an Outlander fan is the interaction with the people behind the scenes. We have been afforded a rare look at film making and access to creative process through their generosity. The cast, the crew, the designers, the writers, the producers have all gone out of their way to include us, inform us and educate us. The biggest take away for me has been understanding why these folks do what they do. I now understand why they write design, film, produce, apply makeup, fix hair, dress the sets, and edit as they do.
I love being able to write this follow-up and look ahead every week. It gives me a chance after a few days reflection and reading other people’s takes on the last episode, to gain a bit of perspective and gives me a chance to examine my initial reaction. I told several readers this week that by Wednesday I make some re-calibrations. As most of you know, this wasn’t my favorite episode (see here). My biggest issue was with changes to characters’ motivation and personality and the move in a different direction to the Leery story arc.
I heard from a lot of different folks on the blog, Bethwesson.com. At least 100 of you left your views in the comment section and most were fairly lengthy observations and explanations. Which I love by the way. For the most part, it was very civil. Some readers shared that they felt like I did. They didn’t hate the episode, but it left them scratching their heads in puzzlement. Others flat out hated it and felt this episode confirmed for them that the characters they hoped they were going to see just weren’t going to materialize. Others told me that they loved it and why. Many encouraged me to listen to Ron’s podcast and to read Diana’s and Ron’s comments about this episode. I don’t do podcasts (they eat my internet minutes), but I do read. So, I set about to find said comments.
It truly took me about half way through the first season to start understanding, at least in some part, the adaptation process. I started to be able to see how and why things really couldn’t be exactly like the book. I started to get a grasp on how storytelling for a visual medium had to be different. I started to understand that this was Diana’s story AND Ron’s story and it really couldn’t be any other way. So, it makes sense to me that it has taken me until mid-season in this second go round to deepen my understanding. I saw seeds that were planted by the writers come to fruition in this episode 7. I saw the why of their choices in plot and characterization. I saw the method in their madness, if you will. There was a destination, a place they wanted to take us and they had to get us ready to go there.
Adaptation of a book the size and scope of Dragonfly in Amber is harder and more complex than any of us mere non-TV production mortals can imagine. I’m convinced that there is absolutely no way to win if you are the folks making the choices. You can’t win. No matter what you do you will never please everyone. I don’t know how they can stand the criticism. I especially don’t know how they stayed silent when they knew what was coming in this episode. When I think of how gracious they were in the face of complaints about shortened episodes, petty differences from the book, a heroine characterized as selfish, and a lack of sex, I’m in awe. The book lovers wanted their personal version of what was important from the books, a “faithful” adaptation and now, …several main stream TV critics suggest the show really needs to move away from the books. Good grief.
Last night, I was sitting at a high school district track meet watching the granddaughters strive to make the finals (they made it in 4 events whoo hoo!) and a chance to advance to the regionals. It was spitting rain and bit cold and the events they participated in were spread out over the night. I had some time to drink coffee and check in on what was happening in Outlanderland. Right before the hurdles, I was reading an article about how Diana Gabaldon was credited with saying there was a decision/scene in an upcoming episode of Outlander that “jumped the shark” (how is that for irony). Not entirely sure what “jumped the shark” meant, I looked it up on Wikipedia.
I’ve read quite a few reviews since Sunday afternoon and quite a few fan reactions. I’d be quite interested to hear Ms.Gabaldon’s take on what some fans see as a misstep in the characterization of Claire as a meddler. My initial take was that it was different than the book, but not totally inconsistent. In fact, given the amount of meddling both she and Jamie are doing this just seemed like a natural progression to the request she eventually makes of Jamie. I thought they did a wonderful job of showing her regret and uncertainty. None of this is sitting well with her.
Outlander part deux is moving ahead rapidly. Overall, the show has been well received. I don’t think anyone would argue about the value the amazing costumes and sets have added to the narrative. We have been introduced to new characters and once again marveled at the perfect casting. After each episode, we are awed by how many plot points they can fit into an hour! This is a quality produced, directed, filmed, acted, and…written show.
I’m focusing on the written part this week because one of our Twitter friends, Richard Kahan, has penned Outlander episode 5 “Untimely Resurrection”. He has been part of the Outlander writing team since the beginning, but this is the first episode where he is being identified as the “writer”. He jokingly said that last Sunday began a week of shameless self-promotion! LOL! Let’s see if we can help him a bit!