Category Archives: Outlander

Farewell & Adieu to you, Scottish Laddie: OUTLANDER s2 e2-4, Review & Recap

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies,
Farewell and adieu, you Ladies of Spain

Traditional British Naval Song

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With the publication of the notorious Entertainment Weekly cover featuring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who play Starz’s Outlander‘s time-travelling Claire and her Scots husband Jamie, I foolishly imagined that the second season was going to be an in-depth exploration of their loving and sexually ignited relationship. You know, the thing all the book readers claim is at the core of the books, though it’s mostly absent from the show (except for a few episodes, like the Wedding one) and absent from Book One in the series. Alas, season 2 has proven a disappointment in that regard, leaving me once again to wonder where the show is going, and how many of the Starz Outlander writers have actually read the best-selling books by Diana Gabaldon that the fans so vociferously love.

Spoilers,
Outlandish and Graphic

Episode 2

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In a brothel with whores and dildos, Jamie (Sam Heughan) meets a clownish Bonnie Prince Charlie, who doesn’t seem able to drink wine without spilling it, let alone lead a Scottish rebellion. But what do I know about Scottish history? Maybe Charlie isn’t the one who actually leads the rebellion: perhaps the French Jacobites do, in their desire to destroy the British Empire.

In any event, while Jamie is playing Bond, James Bond in the brothel, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is making friends with Louise, who has a caged pet monkey, and who reveals the latest de rigeur French “beauty treatment”: a Brazilian Honey-Pot.

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Louise also takes Jamie and Claire to Versailles, where Claire wears a dress of her own making, or at least of her own design. A dress that leaves little to the imagination. And one that stands out oddly at the French court, where everyone else is wearing florals and lace.

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There, Jamie gets to stand in the all-male audience that watches King Louis 15th attempt to defecate into a royal throne-chamber-pot, while giving advice to eat “porridge.” Very exciting stuff for our Scottish Lord Jamie.

Meanwhile, Claire runs into the dastardly Duke of Sandringham and meets his secretary, Alex Randall, younger brother of the villainous Black Jack (Tobias Menzies). The Duke’s secretary reveals that BJR is not dead, and then Claire worries — needlessly, as it will be revealed later — about Jamie’s discovering that his nemesis and rapist is still alive.

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The bulk of the episode centered around Jamie’s inability to perform sexually with his wife, due to flashbacks of his rape at the hands of BJR. Whenever Jamie attempted to be with Claire sexually, her face grotesquely morphed into that of his rapist. Whom Jamie then repeatedly “stabbed”.

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 Poor Jamie. Bad enough that he got repeatedly raped in Wentworth Prison, and then had his wife go all General Patton on him while attempting to “save his soul.” Now he has to re-live his experiences whenever he wants to make love to his wife.

Starz’s Outlander may be different from the book in that the Starz writers had more accurate information available to them, information about male sexual assault and the male body’s involulntary ejaculation to pressure on the prostate. Alas, Starz has once again failed male rape victims who might be viewers — and their female partners — by presenting the assault as “love-making”, even if Jamie is mistakenly viewing it that way.

Episode 3

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Though she and her husband Jamie are in Paris attempting to abort the Scottish rebellion at Culloden which will result in the destruction of the Highland Clan way of life, Claire doesn’t seem to have “any meaning” in her life. She feels bored and useless as Jamie runs from brothel to chess games to…

Does the man ever go to work at the job — in his cousin’s wine business — which supposedly supports this lavish lifestyle?

In any event, despite Jamie’s protests about Claire’s never being home when he needs her, she goes to work in a poor hospital, helping a nun with a dog do some really gag-me-with-a-spoon-gross-me-out stuff. Claire’s tasting the urine of a patient to determine whether he had sugar disease (diabetes) wasn’t the most repulsive scene of the episode, but it was close.

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Later, after some cutesey jokes about what a “minor composer” Johann Sebastien Bach was going to be, the Mother Superior plays a piece of music in a letter which Jamie’s pickpocket has lifted.

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Then Jamie and cousin Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and Claire figure out that the “key is the key” to the code in the message. It was a silly scene, dragged out beyond belief, perhaps in an attempt to add humor, since virtually every time Claire said something, Murtagh didn’t understand her.

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The only problem with the music-decoding scene is that most viewers couldn’t figure out what the key was either. Only that it had to do with music. And that Jamie and Claire miraculously figure it out.

Beats me how they did it.

Episode 4

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Alas, episode 4 continues the Bond, James Bond escapades of the married pair. This time, they plan an elaborate dinner for the Duke of Sandringham, whom they believe is the author of the musically-coded note.

At least, I think they think he’s the author.

I got a bit confused.

In any event, Jamie and Claire plan to trap Sandringham by also inviting Bonnie Prince Charlie to the dinner. Then, for some reason, Claire decides, on the day of the elaborate banquet, that she has to go to the hospital. She claims that her servant won’t allow her in her own kitchen.

But if it’s Claire’s kitchen…

Never mind…

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Claire takes English Mary with her to the hospital, though for the life of me, I could not figure out why. I guess she thought English Mary — who is supposedly an ancestor of Frank’s and who is in love with Alex Randall, brother of Black Jack — was also bored or something.

On the way home from the hospital, the carriage breaks down, and in her hurry to get home in time for the banquet, Claire and Mary walk.

Whaaa????

Sure, they’re followed by Murtagh, but anyone could have figured out that it was a bad move.

And sure enough, it turns to tragedy when Claire and Mary are set upon by well-dressed “brigands,” who rape Mary in a graphic and violent scene.

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Does this mean that Mary, who eventually marries Alex Randall, as far as I can determine, will already be pregnant and thus will have a child that will only nominally be the ancestor of Frank Randall?

Not only do I not know, I simply do not care.

Outlander & Sexual Violence

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What is it with Diana Gabaldon and graphic rapes?

What is it with Herself and sexual violence?

In book one, which I read after I had seen all of season 1 of Starz Outlander, none of the sex scenes are even hinted at: all of them are left entirely to the readers’ imagination.

Except for the two rapes.

One is between Jamie and Claire, who continues to have intercourse with her despite her verbal objections, her physical resistance, and her fighting him, simply because she is his wife. (Chapter 23)

The other, far more violent and graphic, takes place between Jamie and Black Jack Randall in Wentworth Prison. It is related to Claire by Jamie after he is rescued.

Now, in season 2 episode 4 of the show Outlander, which may differ from the books, English Mary, who was a virgin, is graphically raped.

It was impossible for me to watch in its entirety, so I admit I missed the part of the episode where the “brigands” attempted to rape a very pregnant Claire, then stopped, apparently exclaiming that she was La Dame Blanche (according to other reviews of the show).

Afterward, however, I didn’t care about the dinner party, especially since poor Mary was lying, in shock and pain, upstairs in Claire and Jamie’s house, with Alex Randall attending her.  Confessing his love to the unconscious Mary.

Who cares if Charlie’s mistress Louise was pregnant with his child but had convinced her husband to accept it as his, claiming he’d been too drunk to recall intercourse with her?

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Who cares if Claire was wearing a duller than dull gown and a rock-necklace to her own banquet,

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to which Sandringham invited the villainous Le Comte de St. Germain?

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Who cares if Jamie and Claire continued their Bond, James Bond machinations by intentionally trying to upset Bonnie Prince Charles by revealing Louise’s pregnancy?

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I disliked the two protagonists so much by that time that I decided it was pointless to watch any more episodes of Starz’s Outlander.

I mean, if you don’t like the show’s two protagonists, and the third one is a despicable rapist, what’s the point of the show?

I don’t see anything like the image presented in the cover of the Entertainment Weekly (above, at start of post).

I don’t see much love and affection between Jamie and Claire. Instead, they’ve reverted, mostly, to the bickering that characterized their relationship in the second part of season one.

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It’s time for me to say Farewell, Scottish Laddie, and Farewell, English Claire.

There are too many other interesting shows for me to watch to wade through multiple episodes of Outlander, trying to follow the serpentine and mostly absent storyline, only to be presented with yet another graphic rape, and with protagonists who are becoming increasingly unsympathetic.

I’m sorry for Cait and Sam, who probably believed these were their break-out roles.

I’m sorry for the book fans who don’t think the Starz show lives up to their expectations.

But mostly, I’m sorry for any writers, book or show, who think that constantly presenting sexual violence and graphic rape scenes, involving both sexes, is good writing or good fiction.

I’m more sorry for those books’ readers, though.

Related Posts

Through a Glass Dark and Dull:
Outlander season 2 Premiere

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My Blogs from Season One

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Filed under Actors, Authors, Books, Outlander, Rape, Recap, Review, Sexual Abuse, Violence

Through a Glass, Dark and Dull: OUTLANDER season 2 Premiere, Review & Recap

Spoilers,
Dull & Drear

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Two years ago, when Starz aired its first episode of Outlander, based on the best-selling novels by Diana Gabaldon, which I had not read, I wrote a post saying that the network was taking a huge risk by creating a show whose intended audience seemed to be solely women. Not only is Outlander more romance than historical fiction, but the show’s writers further restricted its audience appeal by concentrating on the sexual relationship between the time-transported Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her 1740s Scots husband Jamie (Sam Heughan).

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Even if Parts One and Two of Season One, which were divided by an entire year, had been brilliantly written and acted, I doubt the show could have maintained its viewing audience  between seasons, simply because it divided the book on which it was based in half, and because non-readers of the Outlander book series, like me, would have had absolutely no incentive to continue watching.

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As Outlander was neither brilliantly written nor acted, it was no surprise to see its ratings plummet between the finale of Part One and and the premiere of Part Two (from 1.4M to 1.2M, a 32% decline).

Given the graphically violent content of the final two episodes of Part Two, with its explicit torture and rape of the belovèd male protagonist, the ratings drop of those final episodes was to be expected (1.01M for episode 15, down another 7% from the Part Two premier; with only .98K for episode 16, down a further 3.25%). (All these figures, including the percentages, were taken from the Nielsen ratings to which the post is linked in the word “ratings.” If I made a mistake in writing any of them down, I will correct them.)

After all, it is one thing to read about your favorite hero telling his wife about what happened to him in prison. It is quite another to see it dramatized. And in such an explicitly horrifying and graphic way.

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Despite Outlander’s numerous book fans, therefore, the show itself averaged only about 1.04M viewers per episode.

Compare that to the highly successful Game of Thrones, which pulls in an average of 8.1M viewers per episode.

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Apparently, the writers of Game of Thrones know something that the writers of Starz’s Outlander do not.

How to adapt a best-selling book into a successful series.

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Despite the fact that Outlander the show was not necessarily a dramatic success, judging by its low ratings, I was hoping for an improvement for Outlander Season 2, only because it was claimed that author Diana Gabaldon would be more than a consultant. She was to be one of the writers.

I thought Gabaldon’s being among the writers would vastly improve the show, even though I thought it highly unlikely that Starz would get any viewers beyond the book fans based the the dramatic weaknesses of the first season of the show. I read Book 1 after watching all episodes of the show on which it was based, but have not read any additional books. I am blogging, once again, on the show Outlander as a stand-alone drama. Further, I am only watching it because book fans begged me to give my opinion on Outlander, the show.

Unfortunately, the poor writing and cringe-worthy acting of Season One was even more blatant in the premiere of Season Two.

That does not bode well for Outlander, the show.

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When we last saw Claire and Jamie, they were on a ship to France. He had just been rescued from Wentworth Prison, where he was tortured and raped by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). Claire had just informed Jamie that she was pregnant, despite her previously thinking she was sterile.

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I assumed that their going to France had something to do with the historical conflict between the Scots and the British, which would ultimately lead to their return to Scotland and to the Battle of Culloden, when the Jacobites, who were attempting to restore Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne of Scotland, were not only defeated, but the Scottish clans were virtually wiped out by British reprisals against the rebellion.

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Imagine my shock and horror, therefore, when, instead of seeing Jamie and Claire either on the ship or landing in France, the Season 2 premiere opened with Claire, alone, back at Craigh na dun.

Alone.

In 1948.

Dang, was I disappointed.

Furthermore, I was jarred.

What happened to Jamie? What happened to France? What on earth was going on?

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Claire’s return to the stones and to 1948 was accompanied by the Voice-Over that was present in Season One. If Claire’s Voice wasn’t saying things that viewers could see her doing (“I went for a walk along the docks” as she was walking along the docks), then it was so vague it made no sense (“I touched the edges of oblivion” while lying in the grass in the midst of the stones). Voice-Overs are to provide ironic commentary on the characters’ actions, as in Madame Bovary (2000), or to provide viewers with insight into the narrator’s mind, insight which the other characters are not privy to, as in most recent version of The Great Gatsby. Once again, in Outlander, we get pointless Voice-Overs.

Instead of the Voice-Over giving us insight into Claire’s feeling or her character, it tells us what we can see her doing on the screen. I realize that the book readers are probably still accompanying the narrator Claire in all her private thoughts, but the show is not giving us much of that in the Voice-Over.

Claire’s unexpected return to the stones at Craigh na dun was followed her screaming, screaming, screaming as the camera pulled out. Then we were treated to a scenery-chewing-Cait screaming at some poor driver about what year it was and about who won the war. As you can imagine, he thought she was talking about the recently ended World War II. When she shrieked, “Who won the Battle of Culloden?” he must have thought she was bonkers, and not just because she was walking down the middle of an isolated Scottish road wearing a bad wig that didn’t match the front part of her hair and a dress that was clearly two centuries old.

“Who won the Battle of Culloden?” she screamed-shrieked.

“The British,” the startled man dutifully replied.

Cue some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen as Claire collapsed, screaming and sobbing most falsely, into the road.

Viewers started off Season Two with a shock: Cait’s acting had not improved; it had, in fact, deteriorated. And, worse, Claire was not with Jamie on the boat to France.

Instead, she was in the “present” — but two or three years later than when she was first transported through the stones to the past — and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies, in a dual role) was back.

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Oy, vey, I can hear all the book fans who don’t like Frank screaming their annoyance and disappointment.

During season one, book fans already vociferously voiced their objections to Frank’s getting so much screen-time, telling me in the Comments to my posts that Frank was not in the book after the beginning and he should not have been in the show.

Honestly, I was in the viewing-minority since I liked Frank, and I wanted him to have more screen-time.

As Frank, of course, not as his evil ancestor Black Jack Randall.

Not only is Tobias Menzies the only principal in Outlander who can actually act, I thought the love-triangle set up a nice conflict with Frank’s searching for his missing wife, and Claire’s continually mentioning that she had to get back to the stones to get back to her husband Frank (though I did think her saying that she had to get back was “tacked on” by the show writers since the character didn’t behave as if she really wanted to get back) even while she was getting more involved with 1740s Jamie.

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Despite the show’s jarring return to 1948, I was willing to see the premiere of Season Two as a sort of artistic parallel to the premiere of  Season One Part One, where Claire and Frank were on their second honeymoon. Initially, in the Season Two premiere, Tobias did an admirable job as a grieving man reunited with his missing wife.

Cait just played a dazed and supremely insensitive, self-centered Claire. Not only did she not say anything — for over a week, at the very least — about where she had been, she was obsessively hunting through historical books for mention of the survivors of the Battle of Culloden. Viewers and the Reverend’s housekeeper, whom Claire had told about Jamie, knew she was looking for the name of her Scots husband.

Frank did not.

How cruel of Claire.

I felt sorry for Frank.

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Claire eventually told Frank about Jamie, in an extremely drawn-out scene, and a weeping Frank told his wife that he was just happy to have her back. But then the writers further extended the scene, dragging Claire’s story out so that it could include news of her pregnancy, with her callously emphasizing that the child was not Frank’s.

Over and over and over.

If I’d had any sympathy for Claire, it would have evaporated when she kept rubbing the fact that she was pregnant with another man’s child into the grieving Frank’s wounds.

Cue Tobias-as-Frank getting angry, making a fist, and lunging at the seated Cait-as-Claire.

Oh, no, they did not, I thought to myself, even as I realized that the show had just made Frank a violent idiot.

I don’t care if the show’s writers were trying to emphasize Frank’s relation to his ancestor Black Jack Randall with the fist-aimed-at-Claire scene. They’d already had Claire flinch when Frank attempted to kiss her in the hospital room, as an image of Black Jack Randall flashed before her eyes. One’s ancestors, no matter how remote or near, do not determine one’s character.

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When the writers, or Tobias himself in an improv moment, made Frank ready to punch his wife — his wife — after he weepingly claimed to love her and to completely accept everything that had happened to her and to just be happy to have her back, Frank’s character fell apart.

I disliked him intensely.

As I would dislike any man who threatened any kind of violence toward a woman, especially toward one who was his wife, especially toward one whom he claims to love so much that, despite her being missing for so many years, he still madly loves her and wants her back.

Bad move, Outlander writers or Tobias.

I just lost all empathy for Frank.

Forever.

Then, in an unbelievably slow move — making the Frank and Claire episode last 40 minutes out of the show’s hour premiere —  Frank told Claire he had been offered a job at Harvard, which he had been planning on turning down but now he was thinking of accepting. By accompanying him, Claire would never be able to return to the stones at Craigh na dun or to her Scots husband Jamie.

As viewers saw Claire and Frank on the plane to America, saw them disembark, saw Claire stare at some generic American skyline, I found myself wondering what in god’s name was going on with the story. Having not read the books, I didn’t have a clue about why Claire was ending up in America, but I did realize it would ruin her chances to return to Jamie.

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And as Frank held out his hand to Claire at the bottom of the plane’s stairs, as Claire reached out to place her hand in his, as the camera shifted its angle to show the two hands reaching toward each other from below…

Bang!

We were back in the past with Jamie helping Claire off the boat in France.

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I gotta tellya, it gave me a headache, trying to figure out not only what was going on, but also how the show’s writers could have taken a story with so much dramatic possibility and made is so drearily insipid.

That took some hard work, dedication, and imagination, turning the Jamie and Claire story into something so boring.

Too bad the writers didn’t use all that dedication and imagination writing a really compelling drama: the kind of drama that readers find in the original books.

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So, now we’re back with Claire and  Jamie, in France, and he seems to be wearing a wig, too, since his hair is so much thicker, longer, curlier, redder, and closer to his forehead than it was in the previous seasons, and like Claire’s hair, his also has no discernible part: one of the telltale signs of a bad wig.

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What happened in France, you may ask?

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Jamie’s cousin Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is apparently there, despite the fact that I did not see him board the ship with the show’s two protagonists.

Jamie and Claire seem to have come into some serious money, despite their being exiles and Jamie’s being an escaped British prisoner, because their lodgings do not look like those of ostensible criminals on the lam.

And what are Jamie and Claire doing in France?

Trying to infiltrate the Jacobites who are hiding in France in order to prevent the Battle of Culloden from happening in the first place.

‘Cause, you know, Claire is so dense that she never paid attention to all the history lessons Frank was giving her while they were at the monument on Culloden Moor, and so Claire doesn’t know anything about the battle except that the Scots lost and the Brits decimated the Highland clans.

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And though Jamie says, in dismay, that it’s “not a very honorable path [Claire’s] laying out for” them, he is apparently going along with this plan because… because… even though he’s a warrior and he wants to fight and he believes that Claire’s knowledge of the Battle’s outcome can help him galvanize the clan members more successfully so that they win the Battle of Culloden, Claire is the boss in this relationship because she’s from the future and because she’s more sexually experienced than Jamie and Outlander the show specializes in making Jamie nothing more than a weight-machine body with a very pretty face.

I guess Claire didn’t remember that the French assisted the colonists and the Native Americans against the British in the French and Indian War (1754-1763, known, internationally, as the Seven Years’ War), or that the French helped the American colonists with their Revolution against the British, or that the French even had a Revolution themselves, so she didn’t think to ask the French for military or financial help in the Battle of Culloden.

No, silly wittle girl that she is, she wants to infiltrate the Jacobites in France in order to convince them not to try to restore Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Scottish throne.

Am I the only one that thinks this makes no sense whatsoever?

Am I the only one that recalls that, in the show, Claire is already in America with Frank and that she is just remembering all these events with Jamie?

Am I the only one thoroughly disappointed with the writing of the premiere of Season Two of Outlander?

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Instead of a story of Jamie and Claire in wedded bliss, expecting their first child, as the leaked photos would seem to indicate, Jamie and Claire are going to go Bond-James-Bond on us.

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Instead of returning to Jamie’s ancestral home in Scotland and living in fear of Black Jack Randall, which is a more reasonable conflict since, technically, Jamie is a fugitive from the British, the two of them are going to Versailles.

Okay, the Versailles part wasn’t actually in the premiere: it was in the previews for next week.

At Versailles, where the king and the royal court are living, where all the women are wearing dresses like this,

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like this,

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like this,

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and like this,

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Claire is going to be wearing dresses like this,

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like this,

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and like this.

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Then, when Jamie and Claire rub shoulders with all the royalty at Versailles, who will be dressed like this,

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and like this,

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the two of them will be dressed like this,

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and like this (at least Jamie has some ruffles in the photo below).

Oh, I got so bored during the premiere, and so confused by the flurry of Versailles-related events in the previews, that I didn’t even want to know anything more about the ostensibly great love between Jamie and Claire.

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I’m ready to hang it up on Outlander, and not because of the Exorcist-puke-yellow that someone will keep dressing Cait-as-Claire in this season,

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but because the story, which has so much dramatic potential, is simply duller than watching cement dry and become concrete.

I’m not attracted to the actors playing Jamie and Claire, if only because neither of them can act very well.

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I don’t care if it looks like Black Jack is going to either appear in France, or Jamie is going to return to Scotland, so they can have a duel.

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I don’t care about the faux conflict the show’s writers created by having Claire loudly announce that there was plague (smallpox) on a ship,

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earning the enmity of some French nobleman, Le Comte de St. Germain, who vowed revenge.

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I don’t even care about Jamie and Claire’s baby,

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their supposedly life-long, loving relationship,

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or even about the Battle of Culloden,

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since one of the very things that interested me in Outlander —  the show — was how a woman from the future, with knowledge of the historical outcome of the battle that caused the decimation of the Scottish Highland clans, was going to attempt to change that Battle’s outcome.

All I saw in Season One, Parts One and Two, of Outlander, the show, was bad writing, slow storytelling, mediocre to poor acting, and inconsistent characterization that confused and bewildered me.

Unfortunately, in many key aspects, such as in Jamie’s character, the show seems to be very unlike the book Outlander, and I found the show confusing in the extreme.

Looks like Season Two of Outlander, the show, is going to be more of the same as it was in Season 1.

With Versailles thrown in for the costume-designer’s fun.

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Related Posts

Outlander, the Show: My Blogs from Season One

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Filed under Actors, Authors, Books, Movies/Television, Outlander, Recap, Review

All That Was Me Is Gone: The History of OUTLANDER’s Theme Song

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I absolutely adore the music of the  Outlander theme song, and, after a little research, discovered that it’s an old Scottish tune — sometimes a “rowing song,” sometimes a lullaby — with original lyrics by Sir Harold Boulton (first published in 1884) about Bonnie Prince Charlie after the failure to restore him to the Scottish throne.

The Skye Boat Song
(traditional Scottish melody,
lyrics by Sir Boulton, 1884 )

[Chorus] Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclouds rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.
[Chorus]
Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.
[Chorus]
Many’s the lad fought on that day,
Well the Claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden’s field.
[Chorus]
Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

Flora, in verse 3, is Flora MacDonald, who supposedly rescued Prince Charles Edward Stuart from the British troops, and helped him escape, disguised as a woman (though I don’t see that detail in the song), via Skye — also known as the Isle of Skye — the largest and most northerly island of the Scottish Inner Hebrides. The Claymore in verse 4 — for all you non-military experts, like me — is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic claidheamh-mòr, the two-handed “great sword.”

Caitriona Balfe as Claire & Tobias Menzies as husband Frank (L), Sam Heughan as Jaime and Balfe as transported Claire (R)

In 1892, the original lyrics of The Skye Boat Song were adapted into a poem “Sing Me a Song of a Lad Who is Gone” by author Robert Louis Stevenson, with the “lad” being Bonnie Prince Charlie. I’m not sure why Stevenson felt he had to adapt the original lyrics, which I prefer to Stevenson’s poem, but for whatever reason, he rewrote them.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s (1892) Poem
“Sing Me a Song of a Lad that is Gone”
(adaptation of “The Skye Boat Song”)

[Chorus] Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?
[Chorus]
Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that’s gone!
[Chorus]
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

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Stevenson’s poetic adaptation was further adapted by Bear McCreary to serve as the theme for the Starz show (only the lyrics were slightly changed from Stevenson’s poem, not the melody itself).

As the original lyrics of The Skye Boat Song were written for a traditional Scottish melody to tell the story of how Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped in a small boat after the defeat of the Jacobite uprising of 1745, and as this is one of the major themes of Outlander, the original lyrics fit the show just as well as any of the adaptations.

The song — a traditional expression of the 1745 Jacobite uprising/rebellion — and its story has entered Scotland’s history as a national legend. The song itself is sometimes heard as a traditional waltz, a rowing song, or a lullaby. This version of The Skye Boat Song is done by The Corries.

Although, as the Theme Song for the show Outlander, Stevenson’s lyrics are hardly changed, the music, of course, is still lovely.

The only music in Outlander that I like better than “The Skye Song” is McCreary’s music for the Dance of the Druids, as it’s called, which is hauntingly beautiful. I haven’t been able to determine if that’s original or based on a traditional tune, but either way, I love it.

Related Posts

Outlander: Season 1 Part 2

Claire & Jamie & The Joy of Sex

Outlander: Season 1 Part 1

By yon bonnie banks, and by yon bonnie braes:
Starz’s Daring Outlander

The broken heart it kens, nae second spring again:
Starz’s Outlander

Both Sides Now: Review of the Mid-Season Finale
of Starz’s Outlander, and Season 1, Part 2

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Outlander, the Show: My Blogs from Season One

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When I first saw the advertisements for Starz’s show Outlander, based on the bestselling books by Diana Gabaldon, I was intrigued enough to set the premiere date in my calendar. I’m not usually a fan of science fiction or fantasy — this show is categorized as both — but Outlander was also listed as a “romance.” That was an interesting combination. I gathered, from the commercials, that a woman fell through a strange and magical ring of stones in Scotland into the past, and had to deal with life there, knowing what she knew from the future. I’ve read books — some of them romances — based on that premise. Sometimes the heroine is just a 20th or 21st century woman dealing with the differences in gender roles between the past and present. But Outlander was also listed as “historical fiction.”

That’s the category that most caught my attention: a woman from the future, who knows about Scottish history, falls back into the past, before fateful events concerning the Scottish Highland clans occur. Does she attempt to change them? Does she leave history alone? Does she simply try to return to her own life and time?

Season 1, Part 1

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Though I had never read any of the books in the Outlander book series, I was ready to watch the show, based on the ads Starz was running. I blogged on it as a stand-alone drama, with no intention of reading the books until the show was finished and unless the show was so good that I simply had to read them, so as not to change by stance on viewing it as a drama. Unfortunately, I was not overly impressed with the adaptation as a drama. I didn’t feel attached to the woman who fell through the stones, Claire (Caitriona Balfe), to the Scottish hero from the past, Jamie (Sam Heughan), and I worried about the grief the poor husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies) in the “present” was suffering from the unexplained disappearance of his wife.

Here are the blogs from Outlander, Season One, Part One (2014):

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By yon bonnie banks, and by yon bonnie braes: Starz’s daring Outlander

The broken heart it kens, nae second spring again: Starz’s Outlander

Both Sides Now: Review of the Mid-Season Finale of Starz’s Outlander & Season 1 Part 2

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For some reason, the show’s first season was divided in half, with about a year between parts one and two. I’d never seen a show do that, so I admit that I got mighty confused when the show stopped in the middle, yet still called the next installment “Season One.”

Season 1, Part 2

Season One Part Two of Outlander was not as coherent as Part One, which was itself already somewhat confusing. Having never read the books, I didn’t realize that Frank, Claire’s husband in the “present” of 1945, would remain in the show only as his ancestor, Black Jack Randall (in a dual role by Tobias Menzies). I guess the posters for Part Two (above) should have warned me.

What it didn’t warn me about was the irregularity of the show’s writing. Claire changed dramatically from Part One to Two. Scottish hero Jamie changed from episode to episode. The show in its entirety became more graphically violent. I was about to give up blogging on it when quite a few people contacted me on the twitter: they begged me to continue blogging on the show since my non-reader-of-the-book stance was, in actuality, validating their opinion that the show was less than stellar.

For them, I continued watching and blogging, but I admit that it was difficult to find things that I liked about the show. That’s why some of the posts went for humor: I don’t like blogging about shows or films that I simply dislike. It seems a waste of my valuable writing time. Though those fans have assured me that it wasn’t a waste of my time, there have been some who sincerely disliked what I had to say about the show, stating explicitly that if I read the books, I’d understand the show.

I still don’t understand comments like that.

Nevertheless, here are the posts from Outlander, Season One, Part Two (2015):

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Claire and Jamie and THE JOY OF SEX: Starz’s Outlander

Give me again all that was there: Starz’s Outlander “The Devil’s Mark”

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone: Episode 14 of Starz’s Outlander

CowLander: The Outlander Finale

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Book vs Show

Yes, Part Two of Outlander did concentrate more on the relationship between Claire and Jamie, but as I wrote above, it was disjointed, violent, and disconnected from episode to episode. On the advice of book fans, I read the book. Then I blogged about the difference between the show and the book. I intended to do each episode of the show vs the section of the book to which it corresponded — or not, as the case was in many instances.

Until I realized it would probably take me the rest of my life to discuss all the ways the show varied from the book.

And not necessarily in a good, dramatic fashion either.

Here are the blogs about the Book versus the Show Outlander:

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The Outlander Smackdown: Book vs Show, Part One

The Outlander Smackdown: Book vs Show, Part Two

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Though the show’s ratings’ fell during Part Two — which fans attributed to the year-long hiatus between Parts One and Two — and though the ratings plummeted precipitously during the final two episodes of the Second Part — which viewers attributed, most rightly, to the graphic violence, though it was also graphic in the book.

There’s a difference between reading about your hero getting raped by another man and seeing it enacted.

Fans of the book were driven away from the show.

I was not surprised.

The Music

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The theme song from Outlander, based on a traditional Scottish song, usually called “The Skye Boat Song,” is so lovely, it deserves a post on its own.

All that Was Me is Gone:
The History of
Outlander‘s Theme Song

My Most Popular Blog Post,
Which Started with Mads Mikkelsen
& Turned into a Post about Outlander

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Those final two episodes of Outlander, the show, did lead me to a surprising discussion with my life-partner Tom, however, who watched those last episodes with me, in case the scenes of torture and rape triggered me. Our talk began months later, rather casually, during the film Salvation, starring Mads Mikkelsen, but quickly switched into an intense exploration of Outlander, the show, its torture, and its sexual violence.

From Salvation to Hannibal to Outlander:
One Man’s View of Men in Film & Television

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Despite the fact that it’s only one man’s view of the men is some shows and films, it’s been my most popular blog post: getting over 300 thousand unique views, and over 8.3 thousand shares as of this writing.

That says something about the violence in the show Outlander, and that the post is speaking to someone.

Quite a few someones, as a matter of fact.

Season Two

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Season Two of Outlander is scheduled to premiere on Saturday 9 April 2016, and already, with the release of teasers and trailers from Starz, book-readers are complaining that the show is “going to get it all wrong.” I hadn’t planned on watching the second season of Outlander, just as I have no intention of reading any of the further books in the series. However, fans have once again begged me to “validate” their impression of the show as a non-reader and non-fan of the books.

Once again, I’ll watch the show — or as much of it as I can understand — and blog on it as a stand-alone drama. I’ve stayed away from forums and groups and posts which contain plot elements, Spoilers, etc., and won’t be visiting any of them during the show’s broadcast (I wasn’t even aware of them during the first season, so I want to maintain that same detachment in analyzing and reviewing this season’s shows).

I have noticed, though, that the book fans are already “hating” many aspects of the show without its even having aired — like Claire’s dress in the photo above, Jamie’s position in the photographs compared to Claire’s, etc.

That doesn’t bode well, either for ratings or for the fans’ enjoyment. I mean, if you “hate” something before you’ve even seen it, how will you ever convince yourself to like it, or to love it as you love the books? How will the show have a chance for success if you’ve decided to hate it before it’s even shown one episode?

I’m willing to give it a chance, despite the fact that, based on Season One, Parts One and Two, I would never have watched Season Two of Outlander.

Let’s see what you can do, Starz.

Hit me, as they say, with your best shot.

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From SALVATION to HANNIBAL to OUTLANDER: One Man’s View of Men in Film & Television

Warning: Conclusion May Contain Triggers
(Some Film Spoilers in Post)

UnknownLast week, my life-partner Tom and I watched Salvation, the Danish tribute to Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti Westerns, with Mads Mikkelsen as the iconic “loner” whose wife is raped then killed, along with their young son, in the early scenes, and who then searches for vengeance.

images-4Salvation is also a tribute to the iconic Western “lone, good man,” defending the rest of the town, as in High Noon and Firecreek, although no one else in the place stands up with the “hero” to fight evil until the hero reluctantly fights back against the vicious gang himself.

images-2Salvation is a pretty interesting take on the iconic Western: Mads’ character is an immigrant rather than a stranger, and has already settled and prospered enough to bring his wife and son over. Salvation is also a fair tribute to the “Man with No Name” series as well as to the “good man as reluctant defender” Western icon.

Mads’ character does have a name — John — and is a more realistic shot than the character Clint Eastwood made famous in Leone’s films (i.e., it always takes John several shots to kill someone). John is first rescued from the gang by his brother, and then eventually joined by “The Princess” (Eva Green), who appears to have been the captive “wife” of one of the rapists/murderers and who had her tongue cut out by Indians when she was kidnapped as a young girl. The Princess comes to John’s aid in fighting the gang members after they kill John’s brother, and only one other town member lends his aid: a boy whose grandmother was killed by the gang. At first, John refuses the boy’s help, telling him, “You’re just a kid.” He replies, “I’m almost 16.” John then accepts his offer. The young boy dies helping John. At the end, the Princess leaves the town with John (from which I inferred that no one in the town had ever protected her from the gang members).

This post is not a review of Salvation. Instead, it is about a discussion that ensued after my partner Tom made a surprising comment about Mads’ looks in the film, which led me to an epiphany about how one man — my man — judges male actors’ looks in films and television.

Unknown“Mads is actually quite good-looking, isn’t he?” said Tom in the middle of an important scene.

I was shocked. I’d never heard him say something like that before. Not about a male actor’s looks. At first, I thought it was because we were watching a Western, one of Tom’s favorite genres. Then I thought it might be because John was already seeking “justice” by killing the bad guys. But Tom said it when Mads’ character John wasn’t actually looking his best (above). Not classically handsome or anything. So I wondered what had suddenly made Tom comment on a male actor’s looks: something he’s never done in our 22 years together, but which he constantly does about female actors if he finds them attractive. (I don’t know what female actors he finds unattractive because he doesn’t make comments like that.)

images-1“You just noticed that Mads is good-looking?” I said.

“I guess.”

“You didn’t think he was attractive in Hannibal?”images-21“He was a serial killer and a cannibal,” said Tom, as if he had watched more than the final season of Hannibal, which, by the way, he was really watching for Gillian Anderson, whom he continually called “stunning” and “gorgeous.”images-10“You never commented on Mads’ looks before.”

“I guess I never noticed.”

“You didn’t comment on him in King Arthur.”

“Mads was in King Arthur?” said Tom. “He wasn’t that pretty boy, was he?”

“What ‘pretty boy’?”

“The one with two swords.”

“That was Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) with the two swords. Mads played Tristan.”

images-14“Which one was Tristan?”

“The one with the hawk.”

Unknown-2“Oh, that was Mads? He was cool. He fought Stellan [Skarsgård, who played Saxon invader Cerdic] at the end.”

images-13“Tristan got killed.”

“Stellan looked over at Clive [Owen, who was King Arthur] to make sure he was watching before he killed Tristan.”

I was stunned that Tom remembered that detail, despite the number of times we’ve watched the film, which is one of our favorites.

“The actor who played Galahad in King Arthur was in Hannibal, too.”

“Which one was Galahad?”

“Hugh Dancy.”

images-7“Oh, that boy,” said Tom after I found a picture. “Who was he in Hannibal?”

“He played the special FBI agent, Will Graham,” I said, showing him another photo. “He was trying to help catch Hannibal.”

images copy 2“I remember that boy now,” said Tom. “They were trying to make it seem like he and Hannibal loved each other, but without their being homosexual.”

By that time, I noticed that Tom was consistently making a distinction between “men” and “boys,” though all the actors we were discussing are grown men. Even if they were playing warrior knights, such as Lancelot and Galahad in King Arthur, Tom was referring to some of them as “boys.” Before I had a chance to ask about this distinction, he made an even more startling comment.

“That boy in Hannibal was about the same as that red-head boy.”

“What red-head boy?”

“That red-head husband in the past.”

By now, I was most sincerely confused, since we were watching Salvation and The Princess’ husband had been dark-haired, and he’d only been killed by Mads’ character a few days before.

“What red-head husband in the past?” I said.

“The red-head husband in the show with the woman who fell through the rocks.”

images-32“You mean Outlander?”

“If that’s the one where the woman has two husbands,” said Tom, “one in the past and one in the future.”

Did Tom really just make a comment about Outlander?

My Tom?

He’d only watched the show twice — the final two episodes — though he knew the premise, vaguely, and had caught a couple of glimpses of Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Sam Heughan (Jamie) when they were nude (as he was passing through the room where I was watching Outlander, to return to the room where he was watching sports).

“You mean Jamie, the Scottish husband?”images-10“Is he the boy who got his hand nailed to the table by that ugly man in the prison?”

“He’s the man who got his hand spiked…”

“The boy who got raped by that ugly man.”

“His name’s Jamie,” I said. “And he’s the man who got raped by Black Jack Randall.”

“The ugly guy who threatened to rape the red-head boy’s wife?”

images-32“Black Jack Randall,” I said, certain now that we were, indeed, discussing Outlander.

“That’s the guy who raped the boy?” said Tom, persisting in using the word “boy” to describe Sam Heughan’s character.

“Black Jack Randall raped Jamie.”

“That ugly guy,” said Tom, “who raped that boy and then tried to make it look like some kind of love scene or something.”images-8“They were probably only doing what the writers and director told them to do. I think I read that they were trying to make one of the scenes between the two actors look like Michelangelo’s Pietà.

images“That statue of Jesus after they took him off the cross and his mother was holding him?”

“They might have been trying to make Jamie a symbolic Christ figure… I don’t know. It didn’t work for me.”

“None of it worked for me,” said Tom. “It was disgusting and horrible, what that vicious ugly man did to that poor boy.”

images-36He kept calling Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall) “ugly,” and he kept referring to Sam Heughan (Jamie) as a “boy.” I thought I was beginning to understand what Tom was unconsciously saying, but I wasn’t sure.

“You know that the actor who played Black Jack Randall also played Claire’s other husband, right?”

“What did he look like?” said Tom.

images-23“It was the same actor,” I said. “Only his name was Frank when he was her husband in 1945.”

“That’s not the same man,” said Tom after looking at the photo above.

“It’s the same actor,” I said, showing him another view. “Honest.”

images-29“That’s not the same guy.”

“It is the same guy.”

images-33“No, it’s not,” said Tom, looking at the picture (above) with Tobias and Cait. “That guy is not ugly.”

“Is he good-looking?” I said. “Like Mads?”

Tom stared at the photo of Cait and Tobias, as Claire and Frank on their second honeymoon in Scotland, before Claire was transported through the stones at Craigh na Dun to Scotland two hundred years in the past.

“No. He’s not good-looking. Just average. But he’s certainly not ugly like the guy who raped the boy.”

“I swear to you, it’s the same actor,” I said. “Tobias Menzies.”images-43After looking at the side-by-side photo (above) for a while, he said, “How’d they make him look so ugly then?”

“All they did, as far as I know, was put a wig or hair-extensions on him,” I said. “And he acted like he had a facial tick.”

“He is not a good-looking man,” said Tom, handing back the picture of Tobias. “He’s ugly. In fact, he’s extremely ugly.”

“Even as Frank? Her husband in the future.”

Unknown-13“Then he’s just average. Unremarkable.”

“Why not good-looking? When he’s Frank, I mean.”

“Because he didn’t save his wife when he heard her calling at the stones. He just cried like a baby.”

images-47Now I was really caught off-guard. When had Tom seen that? Before the final two episodes, which he watched to be morally supportive of me in case I got triggered since I’d heard there were torture and rape scenes in them, I wasn’t aware that Tom had seen anything substantial in Outlander. 

I knew he’d caught a glimpse of nude Sam in the water because Tom said, “You know men didn’t look like that back then, don’t you? Men don’t look like that now unless they work out at a gym all the time.”

images-36I knew he’d gotten a good long look at nude Cait in one of the sex-scenes with Sam because he was standing there staring until the scene ended, when he said, “Her breasts look better when she’s lying down” before walking away.

I guess he’d also seen Frank weeping at the rocks and heard Claire calling to him, though I’d never realized Tom knew what was going on in the show. I never discussed it with him because he doesn’t like fantasy and thought the premise was silly, and he rarely reads my blogs. (I don’t mind: he reads my books, which is a much bigger commitment, and he knows what I blog about.) I was still confused about Tom’s association between Will and Jamie, however.

“Why did you say that Will Graham in Hannibal was just like Jamie in Outlander?”

“Because one didn’t stop a serial killer and the other didn’t kill the ugly bastard that raped him.”

“You think Will should have killed Hannibal?”

“Of course, he should have.”

“He pushed Hannibal off a cliff,” I said.

“No, he hugged him off a cliff and they both fell together, like they were lovers about to have sex or something. And they probably survived for another season. So it was just stupid.”

I was starting to understand this film world-view. A male character’s being “stupid” can make the actor playing him a “boy.” A male character not killing another male character he knows to be a serial killer can make the former one a “boy.” A male character’s not killing his rapist can make him a “boy.” After all, the first time Tom ever remarked about Sam Heughan as Jamie, when he saw him nude in the water, he referred to him as a “man,” saying that “men” didn’t have bodies like that back then. After Jamie was raped by Black Jack Randall, he and the actor playing him became a “boy.”

I wondered what “boys” were —  attractive, unremarkable, or ugly — in the world according to Tom.

“Do you think Jamie’s good-looking?” I said.

“Which one’s Jamie?”

“The red-head husband in the past.”

“The one who gets tortured and raped.”

“Right.”

“He’s a boy.”

“But is he good-looking?”

“He’s a boy,” said Tom. “With a weight-machine body.”

“Is he ‘average,’ like her husband Frank. Or ‘ugly,’ like Black Jack Randall?”

“He’s just a kid,” said Tom.

So, no comments or judgment on a boy’s looks, even if the “boy” is an adult male actor.

“But you think Mads is attractive.”

“He’s a good-looking man,” said Tom.

“But you never thought he was good-looking in Hannibal,” I said. “I even asked you about it.”

“I said I didn’t notice.”

“What about Mads in this picture?” I said.

images-20“He looks good in glasses. He’s very manly.”

“It’s from The Hunt.”

“What’s that about?” said Tom.

“See the little girl? She’s one of his Kindergarten students who says that he molested and raped her. The whole town…”

“Is he guilty?”

“What?”

“Did he hurt the little girl?”

“No,” I said. “She doesn’t even realize what’s she’s saying about him.”

“How can she not realize that?”

I explained that her older brother and his friend had been watching porn on their tablets, and showed it to her in passing, as a joke, saying something like, “Look at that big ugly cock.” Later, the little girl, who was unconsciously jealous that she wasn’t getting enough of her belovèd teacher’s attention, told one of the administrators at the school that she didn’t want to see “Lucas’ (Mads) big ugly cock anymore.”

“So Mads didn’t ever do anything to the little girl?” said Tom.

“No. Never. But everyone assumed she was telling the truth because of what she said.”

“But he was really innocent.”

“Totally.”

“I’ll have to watch that some time,” said Tom. “And he does look very handsome in the glasses.”

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This is our 22nd year together; we love films and watch them all the time, yet I never realized that Tom judges a male actor’s looks by what his character does in a role. Tom’s only one man, so I’m not saying that he’s representative of all men, but he’s my man, and that makes this an important revelation to me. Whether Tom consciously realizes these distinctions he’s making about a male actor’s looks — and I’m guessing that he does not — this is what they seem to be.

If a male actor’s character sexually assaults or otherwise tortures or physically brutalizes children, women, or other men, he’s “ugly.” If the violence does not happen on-screen and the other parts of the story-line are compelling, then, at the very least, Tom doesn’t seem to notice any physical attractiveness or ugliness in the male actor, as with Mads in Hannibal. He played a serial killer but Tom rarely saw any on-screen violence because he only watched parts of the final season, i.e., the episodes containing Gillian Anderson.

If the male actors’ characters don’t save their women — even if it’s because they cannot go through the stones at Craigh na Dun themselves — they’re just average-looking, plain, or unremarkable.

But the most important — and saddest — part of the distinction Tom (unconsciously) seems to be making between male actors as “men” or “boys” is this: if the male actors’ characters are raped (as Tom was, repeatedly, when he was a six-year-old boy, by his father’s best friend), then the actors, no matter their age, are “boys.”

And boys need to be protected from “ugly men” (as my poor Tom was not protected by his own father, though Tom told him, and others, what was happening).

Women, too, need to be protected from “ugly men,” and the women don’t have to be “stunning” or “gorgeous” to need such protection.

They can be ordinary women like me.

That’s why Tom watched the final two episodes of Outlander with me: because when I was a child, I was repeatedly tortured, molested, and raped (by my father, step-father, and mother, the last of whom raped me with implements when I was 11, causing so much internal damage that I could never have children). Tom feared that the scenes of torture and rape in Outlander, though they were happening to a man, would “trigger” me. Just as the horrific rape scenes in Casualties of War or The Accused “trigger” me. (In fact, I’ve never actually seen more than a few seconds of either of the rape scenes in either film: I can’t even listen to them.)

Tom was there to protect me, even if it was from a film or a television show.

He protects me now, in any way he can, because no one protected me when I was younger.

Just as no one protected him when he was a boy.

When I finally realized what Tom was saying during our talk after his comment about Mads’ being “actually quite good-looking” in Salvation, I went into the other room and wept with grief.

For both of us.

Unknown-10Epilogue

As I mentioned in the original post of this topic (above), Tom has long since stopped reading my blogs, though he always asks what I’m writing on. Always. For every single post. When I showed him some of the remarks and responses I was getting to this original post, and told him that it had gotten over 60K unique reads in less than 24 hours, he seemed confused.

“Why does everyone in your Facebook Outlander groups and on Twitter keep saying I’m sweet?” said Tom. “Why do they say the blog is ‘heartbreaking’? I thought you said it was on my view of men in some films and a couple television shows.”

“It is, based on the fact that you commented, for the first time ever, on a male actor’s being ‘actually being quite attractive’. Mads. In Salvation.”

“Mads is good-looking,” said Tom.

You never said Mads was attractive when he was in Hannibal. I mentioned that in the blog. Then I put in the things you said about Jamie… the red-head husband in Outlander… about his being a boy.”

“He is a boy,” said Tom. “He couldn’t protect or defend himself from being raped, just like I couldn’t defend myself when I was raped as a little boy. And no one helped the red-head husband. Like nobody helped me. So he is a boy.”

“Some of the very thoughtful readers who responded wanted you to know that the character, Jamie, heals and becomes more of a man in the later Outlander books,” I said. “They don’t know what will happen in the show, of course…”

“He’s a man already. Or he was before the rape,” said Tom. “Now he’s a boy. And no matter how much healing he does, or how much of a man he becomes, that wounded, damaged little boy will always be inside him.”

“So you intentionally called him a ‘boy’?”

“Did I call him a ‘boy’?” said Tom.

“You did. Consistently. I thought you might be doing it unconsciously.”

“I guess I was, since I don’t remember it. But he is a boy if he gets his hand nailed to a table and gets raped over and over by another man,” said Tom. “He can’t protect himself. He can’t fight.”

“Then you really didn’t expect Jamie to just jump up afterward and kill Black Jack Randall?”

“He was in a prison. In the dungeon. How was he going to get out? He couldn’t have killed that guy,” said Tom.

“Why’d you say that he should have killed the rapist then?”

Tom was silent for a while.

“I guess I said that because I wanted to kill my dad’s friend every single day of my life,” said Tom. “Right up until the day he died. And you know how I feel about my dad never protecting me. Same as you feel about all the people you told, the ones who never saved or protected you.”

Because he’d mentioned me, but I’d never heard him call any female actors “girls,” I asked about Claire’s character in Outlander.

“What about Claire… the red-head’s wife… what if Black Jack Randall had raped her?”

“Look,” said Tom, “there would have been nothing she could have done about it. If she didn’t manage to run away before he caught her, then she couldn’t have stopped it. Rapists are despicable. You can’t fight them. You don’t know if they’re just vicious, disgusting people, or if they’re pedophiles, or if they’re serial rapists, or if they’re serial rapists about to flip over into serial killers. If you fight too hard, you might die.”

“What I wanted to know is this: would she have become a ‘girl’ if she’d been raped, instead of a woman?”

“She’d be a woman, just like you,” said Tom, “with that permanently damaged little girl inside her. That wounded little girl will always be in you, no matter how fierce or independent or sweet or loving or protective you are. That raped little boy will always be in her red-head husband. Same as he’s in me. Even if nobody else knows about it. You can’t go back and make it never happen.”

“So, you were unconsciously calling the red-head husband a ‘boy’. Just like you called the Special FBI Agent in Hannibal a boy, and he didn’t get raped.”images-15“He couldn’t kill Hannibal, even though Hannibal was obsessed with him,” said Tom. “Maybe if he’d snuck up behind him as soon as he’d figured out Hannibal was a serial killer and cold-cocked him, he might have had a chance to cut his throat before Hannibal gutted him like a fish. But you don’t have any chance with serial killers. Hannibal would have killed and eaten that boy eventually.”

“I guess the part that annoyed you, then, was how the shows tried to make the rapes like love scenes, or a serial killer relationship like a love story.”

images-16“Hannibal might have wanted something from that boy, but he didn’t love him,” said Tom. “He had sex with Gillian. But he didn’t love her. Even she said she knew he’d end up killing and eating her. You can’t change serial killers. You can’t change serial rapists or pedophiles. The only thing they love is themselves and hurting other people. You know that. Your own mother was one.”

I sat for a moment, thinking about everything he’d said, and how he’d called the victims “boys” unconsciously, because, in the 22 years we’ve been together, Tom has never come right out and admitted that his father’s friend repeatedly raped him when he was a little boy. He always said he was “only molested” and “performed fellatio” — forced fellatio — on his rapist.

images-31“By the way, be sure to tell them I’m sorry,” said Tom. “The people in those Outlander groups.”

“About what?”

“I know they really like that red-head husband. I’m sorry if they got upset because I said he was a ‘boy’. The actor’s a guy. Even if he kinda looks like a kid.”

“Someone wrote in comments that she thought they might have purposely cast that actor because of his boyish looks.”

“Then they knew he was going to become a boy, too. Because of the torture and rape.”

“Maybe,” I said. “They might have just thought he was pretty.”

“Pretty doesn’t make you a ‘boy’.”

“The actor who played the Special Agent in Hannibal is boy-ish.”

“When a serial killer’s got you in his sights,” said Tom, “or the writers of Hannibal make him act like he loves you, you’re a boy because he’s gonna get you eventually. There’s nothing you can do except run away as fast as you can. If you can’t do that… well, you know… It’s the same as when you were a kid. If nobody listens to you, and no one protects you, you’re gonna get hurt. Bad. And that kind of damage never goes away. Not completely.”

I kissed him on the cheek.

“The person who said you were ‘a good, good man’ meant that you were sweet for watching Outlander’s last two episodes with me, knowing they contained rape and torture, in case they triggered me.”

maxresdefault“You’d do the same for me,” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders. “You’re my Eva and my Claire.”

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Filed under Actors, Hannibal, Memoir, Movies/Films, Movies/Television, Outlander, Rape, Violence