Outlander: If Not For Hope   Books Included 
January 15, 2019 4:55 PM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Jamie, Claire and Young Ian embark on a long and uncertain journey to rescue Roger, while Brianna forges a friendship with one of Jamie's old friends.
posted by oh yeah! (14 comments total)
lord john was so much angrier than i pictured him in that scene in the books, idk why this surprised me; he seemed more amused and long-suffering by my reading.

also it just this moment occurred to me how agonizingly, hilariously awkward it would be for him to marry his stepson's half-sister.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:17 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

also it just this moment occurred to me how agonizingly, hilariously awkward it would be for him to marry his stepson's half-sister.

Stepson's half sister and crush's daughter. A few awkward moments at family gatherings up ahead!
posted by rongorongo at 2:26 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was a lackluster episode. The psychology game felt extremely contrived. I don't know why they can't work with the material that's in the book rather than coming up with these clunky plot devices that leave you feeling like the world doesn't make sense and all the characters are idiots.
posted by something something at 7:18 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was just so horrified by the Phaedra’s portrait scene. I mean, I didn’t have much hope that the “Brianna on a slave plantation” episode would go well, but, how white is the writers’ room of this show? Ugh.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was not feeling this episode at all. Brianna is back to childish (maybe just a function of who she has to play off of?) and just not seeming thoughtful. Her dialog is so weird too - I never really felt like Claire was putting on a "historical accent" (in the sense of word choice/sentence construction) unless she was in some super formal situation, but with Brianna her dialog is either really awkwardly written or she's putting in the effort to not sound like a 20th century American and yet not putting in the thought to not seem incredibly anachronistic in all her opinions and actions.

I was never much of a Lord John fan in the books but in the show, particularly in this season, I've been breathing a sigh of relief every time he comes on screen - he brings a much more dynamic presence to every scene he's in.

My mom always commented that from this book onward it always just felt like the story of Claire and Jamie was kind of over - at least the Big Epic Love Story - and that Gabaldon wanted to write these different stories about different characters and Jamie and Claire were just kind of this annoying necessity to keep in the background to keep it grounded in this particular universe. I was happy enough to read the books regardless, but I feel that a little more in the show this season - Jamie and Claire's interactions are just so second-fiddle to everything else. Their makeup in this episode just didn't have any emotional punch to me, definitely not the way their interactions with Brianna, or with Willie, or Lord John, or lots of the other characters have.
posted by olinerd at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think the problem with Brianna's speech is that Sophie Skelton is British. Her American accent is not great. It makes everything sound stilted. This season I'm coming around to the idea that she's actually a pretty good actress, but her attempts at sounding American are ruining it.
posted by something something at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Also I'm not going to condone everything about how the show has chosen to portray the Cherokee/Mohawk/etc, but that first A/V club review kinda surprises me - the end scene with Roger pretty obviously to me showed him running the gauntlet, as part of an acceptance-into-the-tribe thing, and the fact that one of the Mohawk characters actually held back his compatriots when Roger was down and they only resumed when he was standing up again, to me, pointed obviously to This Is A Very Specific Thing Happening. I get that (1) it may not have been historically accurate for that tribe or that time, (2) understanding it wasn't just Native People Being Savage takes a stronger than usual historical context for white people prone to believe in stereotypes, etc, but it seemed not surprising to me)
posted by olinerd at 9:36 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah I don't want to go into the whole tribal portrayal thing but at the very least each tribe is for once speaking the correct language(s), although I don't know enough to tell if any grammar is anachronistic.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:55 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Brianna is really a piece of work isn't she? Affected (the liiiight, against your face. I'm suddenly an artist so I'm drawing you, the hell with your work). Hypocritical (Lizzie made "an honest mistake" but she can't forgive Jamie and whoops, Lizzie made another one). Nasty (blackmailing Lord John with ruin in an ugly scene because her problem matters most) and none of it is necessary except for PlotReasons because anyone else would be clever enough to come up with a fictitious marriage. She certainly didn't deserve to get bailed out by him in the end. But it was all in aid of "Doesn't Matter Who The Father Is" (unless he's a murderous lying raping bastard but somehow I don't think we're going to get a discussion of nature vs nuture).

I also wish Claire would stop telling Jaime, she's just like you. I don't see the resemblance.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:35 AM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Compression is the answer to so many questions. NOT that the books aren't problematic, but the problems are spread out over so much narrative that you don't end up getting a firehose of them in the face over the course of 45 minutes. One thing the show runners could have done to address this would have been to excise some of the wtf!! moments in the books (such as Jamie's attacking Brianna in a lesson on her own physical helplessness), and/or give more context to others (such as Brianna's blackmailing of LJG). They apparently want to stay true to the source material on some of these more... memorable, let's say... moments, but don't realize that cramming all the "memorable" stuff together (and by necessity leaving out a lot of intervening exposition), they are forcing viewers to further problematize already iffy stuff.

In the book, LJG and Brianna already have an affectionate and mutually respectful relationship before the blackmail takes place. Brianna fully understands that taking this tack is a horrible thing to do, and second-guesses herself about it. LJG's full response to her proposal (before the blackmail) is "Dear God in heaven, that I should live to hear an offer like that!" which, IIRC, is a direct echo of his response to Jamie when Jamie offered to sleep with him in exchange for his caring for Willie. Which I think underscores his amusement at the insanity of this family he's entangled himself with, and his full understanding of the ironies (of which Brianna is unaware). The blackmail is half-hearted (she stammers as she says it and recognizes it is a "ridiculous threat"). LJG's initial, and priceless, response, is "Stop looming over me, if you please."

And next:
'"I am halfway tempted to submit to your outrageous proposal," he said at last, the corner of his mouth twitching--whether with fury or amusement, she couldn't tell.'

The "teach you to play with fire" is not a rape threat for god's sake (LJG is far too much of a gentleman for that kind of suggestion, even as a joke), but rather a clap back of the "you have no idea what I'm capable of in bed, you presumptuous little twit" variety.

In short, poffin boffin's reading
lord john was so much angrier than i pictured him in that scene in the books, idk why this surprised me; he seemed more amused and long-suffering by my reading.
was correct (IMO).

BUT this is not to defend how the show portrayed any of this; it has to stand on its own. TL/DR, the books have problems for sure; the show exacerbates them when they could be ameliorated with a bit more creative thinking in the writers' room.
posted by torticat at 1:39 PM on January 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

For several reasons I quit this show somewhere around the time they left Scotland for good, but on the occasions where I get curious about what's going on I'll dip into the Fug Girls' recaps, an entertaining take on the narrative which I don't think have been mentioned here before (apologies if they have). They're quite long and include a load of screenshots, so they're often not up until Thursday or Friday.

Brianna ends the conversation because she’s so taken with the light on Phaedra’s face, but Sophie tells her, “You’re beautiful,” with the enthusiasm most people reserve for, “My toe hurts.” So Jocasta gives it a try herself, selling it as medicinal socializing to distract her worried mind, and then buttering up her niece with family history. She tells Bree that she’s just like her grandmother Ellen, also an artist and also ever so spirited — yawn; show, don’t tell, Outlander – and who married the man she truly loved because her father didn’t want to force her into a terrible union. Brianna decides that conversation really does make you stop wondering whether the chauvinistic prig you boinked is going to come back alive, and consents to attending the party.
posted by myotahapea at 4:04 PM on January 17, 2019

Oh man, that Fug Girls recap is SO GOOD and also explains bewildering directorial choices:
I feel — from what’s in the article — that the evidence suggests the show isn’t trying to make her LIKABLE so much as that they can’t explain why Gabaldon wrote in certain ways, such as “reveling in being waited on hand and foot” in a house staffed with slaves, and so they’re ignoring the parts they themselves simply can’t explain or support.
Like, I’ve been wondering why they did the “hide pregnancy” attempt - the Fug Girls recap is 100% spot on that a 4 month pregnancy would be impossible to hide especially as the wedding grew nearer, and in the books everyone basically knows Brianna is pregnant. But the reason they’re willing to marry her anyway is partially, sure, her stunning good looks, but also because Jocasta makes it pretty clear she’s going to be leaving Brianna the plantation. And she does THAT because Brianna, unlike Claire, seems to have very few moral problems with being waited on by slaves and kind of talks a lot about how nice it is, so Jocasta is like “sweet, Jamie’s blood plus no inconvenient abolitionist feelings”.

But because the gap between 1994 and 2018 is a really serious one, people are genuinely bewildered about how you would write Brianna like that, so they just kind of...avoid shit, like the inheritance of the plantation, or the fact that the penalty for sodomy at that time is actually death so this blackmailing is way worse than it appears on TV and it already doesn’t look good.
posted by corb at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Re: Brianna’s “accent” - I didn’t do much mean actual accent as I did phrasing. Like her lines are just really awkward, almost like a 20th century American trying to use 18th century turns of phrase she read in a book somewhere, and sounding awkward. Except it’s in situations where that doesn’t make sense to be doing. I’m blaming the writers for this, not her.

I really really liked Brianna in the books (maybe because I’m also an engineer from Boston) but the show just keeps doing a good job of making her unenjoyable to watch.
posted by olinerd at 12:37 PM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Late but thanks to myotahapea for the Fug Girls link which, along with AV Club, perfectly express my frustrations with this show. Also this priceless gem which has bugged me for a looong time:

She clomps down those stairs like Julia Roberts in Ocean’s Eleven. Everyone is visibly so enchanted by her, and then we cut to her looking tired and stompy.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:52 PM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

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