outlander s1e12: lallybroch

outlander lallybroch

Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. You’d think you had learned something after being married to Claire. Like not to assume you know what’s going on with the woman of the house. Or to, I don’t know, listen to her about the state of the estate she’s run for the past four years.

But no! Supposedly diplomatic Jamie turns into a dumb, egotistical boy the second he gets home to Lallybroch–just like how I revert back to being my 12-year-old self as soon as I walk through the doors of the house I grew up in.

But now Jamie is an adult, and he is the laird (which he keeps reminding everyone), and the stakes are much higher than they were when he snuck into his father’s room to play with swords.

Claire, Claire, Claire. You’d think you’d have learned something after choosing to stay in the 1700s. Like that even if you don’t agree with certain social rules, that doesn’t make them go away. And that maybe you don’t understand the entirety of the situation based on 30 seconds of your own observation in a place and time completely new to you.

But, no. Claire still assumes she knows best and speaks without thinking of the consequences, telling both Jamie and his sister Jenny how they should operate.

But both Claire and Jamie grow a little in their time at Lallybroch–thank goodness. When Jamie asked Claire to listen and to trust him on how to talk to his family, Claire finally begins to realize that she might be able to get more of what she wants if she knows the rules of the game–and knows when it’s best to break them.

Jenny’s husband Ian also helps Claire see this, as they bond over loving the hard-headed Frasers. Their conversation rang so true to in-laws discussing the family they love, but are outsiders to. Ian seems to really love Jenny. He lets her be herself, and when Jamie came back and effectively kicks Ian out of his position of power, not to mention his own bedroom, he doesn’t argue or fight. He respects Jenny’s family and the way they choose to do things, and he does his best to support the Frasers–not just Jenny, but Jamie and Claire, too. When Claire sharply asks why Ian married Jenny, he sweetly speaks of when they met, and how she made him whole. This does not sound like a man who married for opportunity or power once Jamie was out of the picture, it sounds like a man in love.

In fact both Ian and Jenny don’t seem to hold on to resentment toward Jamie for coming home and assuming role as laird–their (legit) resentment instead is for his boorish behavior while doing it.

But Jamie, like Claire, starts to listen in this episode, and after a harsh talk from his wife, Jamie gets it together. He apologizes to Jenny, and the two reconnect and discuss their roles in their father’s death and the guilt they’ve held onto for so many years.

Laura Donnelly as Jenny is fantastic in this episode, displaying a complex character juggling family issues, trauma, and essentially running a business. When Jamie first sees his sister after four years of being assumed dead and accuses her of having two bastard children and punishing him by naming one Jamie (uhhhh Jamie, bro, this isn’t actually all about you), she fights back and stands up for herself and her family.

In a powerful scene, Jenny tells what really did happen with Captain Randall. After Jamie is knocked unconscious, Randall took Jenny upstairs to assault her. As he attempted to rape her, Jenny laughed at him. Rape scenes on TV have become a cliched shorthand to show women’s trauma, but this scene is like nothing I’ve seen before on television.

This story, like so much of what happens at Lallybroch, shows Claire and Jamie that things aren’t always what they look like at first glance, and that the both of them should stop to think and listen before they do things they can’t take back. (Though I’m going to go on record and say that even if Jenny was raped and did have two bastard children, Jamie still owed her an apology and shouldn’t have acted that way.)

Hopefully Jamie and Claire remember the lessons they learned this week because next week it looks like they will be back to fighting for their lives, and the consequences will be much higher than a familial spat.

outlander s1e11: the devil’s mark

claire and geillis from outlander

To be a woman in 2015 culture is to speak the truth in a crowd and have no one believe you. It is to never be able to find the right balance of what that crowd thinks women should be. It doesn’t matter if you do everything to fit their expectations or if you are fiercely yourself–either way you’ll get burned.

Geillis is great because she knew how to live with the trap of being a woman in her time period to get what she wanted. She married an old, wealthy man who she didn’t have to have sex with and who she could steal money from. She knew how to keep him invalid so she could do the things she wanted. She knew how to kill him, so she could marry the man she loved. Don’t like her methods? She didn’t let that stop her.

Geillis worked within her system, but that system still trapped her in the end.

Claire and Geillis’ witchcraft trial was doomed from the start, but at several points I still hoped maybe they could logic their way out of trouble. (Silly me, I know logic doesn’t work.) Witness after witness builds a case against them, using evidence generally based in truth, but framed so that witchcraft looks likely. (Because women couldn’t diverge from expectations all on their own.) Their lawyer, Ned, works the case by systematically discrediting each woman witness. He first frames a young woman maid as an unhappy, whining woman who is going after her employer. He then gaslights a grieving mother by telling her that because she didn’t step in when she saw Claire holding a child, that it was the mother’s fault the faeries didn’t come for her son. And when Laoghaire says Claire used potions to steal Jamie’s heart, Ned paints her as a jealous, scorned harpy (ok, that one is unfortunately true).

Ned doesn’t discredit the male witnesses–the crowd jumps in to condemn Claire and Geillis each time a male witness speaks. As each witness makes their case, Claire tries to tell the crowd what really happened. So many times being a woman can mean screaming over and over what you know to be true while others ignore you and drown out your voice. Claire’s arguments often make the trial worse–but how could it be worse, really, and how could she stay silent.

As the trial goes downhill, Ned says that their only option may be to save one woman instead of both of them. To do that, he suggests Claire say that Geillis is the witch and that Claire was under her spell. (Of course one woman must turn against another to save herself, for there is a limited allotment of space and resources for women to live on.)

Claire refuses to disown her friend, and she stands with Geillis to face their fate together. In that moment of friendship, Geillis shares her biggest secret yet. That she is from 1968. Of course she is! She’s such a ’60s babe. I dont know where Geillis is from originally, but no matter where it was, I am sure she was a hippie.

When Jamie bounds in brandishing his sword to save Claire, it is a relief. (She needs her husband to save her, and even then it might not be enough.) As Geillis looks on, she decides to do what she can to save her friend. So she gives the crowd what it wants and confesses to being a witch who tricked Claire.

Claire and Geillis reconnect in this episode, unfortunately under terrible circumstances. Their late night talks and shared looks on the stand were great to watch, and I’ll miss them if they are gone for good. Since we didn’t see her die, I have hope that Geillis is still somehow alive because I’d hate to lose her wit and for Claire to lose her friend. Especially when that friend also has time-traveling experience.

After watching Geillis get taken away to burn at the stake, Claire and Jamie steal away to safety. As Jamie tends to Claire wounds, he asks her for the truth.

And she tells him.

Jamie has risked his life to help Claire on numerous occasions, but the most heroic thing he has ever done is simply to believe her. In a world (past and present) where women often have to defend every assertion and prove every experience, to be heard and believed is a rare gift. Jamie doesn’t have to understand Claire or what happened to her, he just has to listen. And in doing so, he gives her the greatest support.

Jamie also listens to Claire’s choices, even when he doesn’t like them. So he hears her when she says she wants to go home, and he takes her to Craigh na Dun.

But Claire chooses to stay with Jamie. (And, girl, I get why.) Jamie and Claire’s relationship is rare in any century, and I can’t wait to see where they go with their new shared knowledge.

felicity, the hero we deserve

  

Arrow does a great job of featuring whole, flawed, wonderful women. Nyssa, Thea, Sara, Laurel, Felicity, Moira, and Mama Smoak are SEVEN women off the top of my head from this world, and I could name three facts about each of them. That is a deep bench of interesting women characters. It’s a whole quidditch team (one I’d really like to see play btw–they’d probably win every game). 

The Arrow women are many things, but none of them are one-note, they don’t blindly follow without questioning, and they aren’t helpless waifs who need protection. This alone makes them different from many other women on TV, but Felicity in particular bucks superhero stereotypes and kicks ass while doing it.

She doesn’t literally kick ass–she leaves that to just about everyone else in a city with a glut of masked fighters. No, Felicity has different skills. IT skills. With a master’s from MIT and experience working for Queen Consolidated, she has real-life credentials to be the IT department of Team Arrow. Oliver is smart to want her for his team. Felicity and Oliver know how good she is, and so does the rest of Starling City. That’s why Ray looks for her and hires her to help run his company. And that’s why Felicity is able to get other jobs on her own, and not rely on Oliver for her employment. She doesn’t need *him*, he needs *her*. Rather than being the secret source her career depends on, for example, he is her friend and partner. 

And the way he gets her on his team is by showing her what they do, and asking her to be a part of it. So many superhero shows depend on the people close to the hero being huge dummies who don’t recognize the voice and body of someone they grew up with or that their SO is MIA at all the times the hero is out and about. Felicity is smart enough to see through Oliver’s excuses and put two and two together, so when he confirms that he’s the Arrow, she isn’t surprised. When he needs her help and wants her to join his team, Oliver lays it all out for her and lets Felicity decide what to do. (This is my fave part of their relationship tbh. I am SO TIRED of the boring reasons men keep lying to women on TV for their own “safety.”) 

And because Felicity isn’t lied to or tricked into getting involved, and because she chooses to participate and knows she could leave at any time (and sometimes does!), her role in Team Arrow is a bright, wonderful beacon of feminism. Felicity doesn’t need protection, and she doesn’t need a cover story–just the facts, plz, and she can decide what she wants to do for herself.

When Oliver is presumed dead–I think the third time, but who can keep count–Felicity and the rest of the team need to decide to keep working in his stead or give up without their leader. Diggle, Ray, and Felicity come to their own conclusion and re-commit to their cause. They each have had plenty of options to quit or leave before and have chosen to stay, but when the Arrow disappeared, possibly forever, Diggle, Ray, and Felicity independently decide to continue and contribute what they can to saving Starling City. This means a lot to all the members of Team Arrow, but it’s especially notable for Felicity. She is in love with Oliver, sure, and she believes in him, sure, but she stays for *herself*, even when Oliver isn’t there. 

Felicity isn’t defined by her relationship to Oliver. She is her own person who is valuable, and *valued*, for who she is–not because she fits some superhero trope or because she’s a damsel in distress or because she’s a serious hottie (even though she is). She is whole, she makes mistakes, and she is more than one thing.

For example, when Felicity meets Sara, Oliver’s on-and-off lady friend and Laurel’s sister, Felicity LIKES her (sigh, I do too), and she isn’t instantly turned into a jealous woman spurned. When Sara turns out to be good at computers as well as super hot and a kick-ass crime fighter, Felicity feels normal insecurity at being replaced on the team, but she never turns into a calculating bitch who wants to sabotage Sara and Oliver’s relationship. And when Sara dies (rip Sara I MISS YOU), Felicity is devastated to lose a friend, not gleeful that an obstacle to her relationship with Oliver is out of the way. 

She isn’t defined by fashion either–her style isn’t sex kitten or prude. She dresses appropriately for work, and she dresses differently for dates–as opposed to the Super Hot Board President who wears dresses that’s that are too risque for work and too board-room-ish for dates. (Arrow’s not totally exempt from cliches–I do remember Isabel.) And when Felicity is feeling a little sassy, she even shows a little midriff. She does wear glasses, often an indicator of being smart and nerdy, but even this shows realism in her case: There’s a lucky few who could spend all day and all night looking at computers and *not* need glasses.

The best part of Felicity’s more realistic fashion sense is that when she’s working, she wears her hair up in a ponytail–unlike the other Arrow women who seem to be able to run all over the city with their long locks flowing. Felicity is practical, and bless her for it. 

Felicity has long been the best part of Arrow, and she is the biggest reason I love to ship #olicity. The other reason, of course, is that Oliver sees her for all that she is, and he loves and respects her for it. He trusts her decisions, and in a superhero world where lying to your gf is the “romantic” norm, this is a ship I’ll gladly go down with. 

If you haven’t yet, check out the preview for this week’s Arrow and watch with me on Wednesday night!

outlander s1e9: the reckoning

(I’m trying some new things with writing, and I’ll also be writing about some new things. I’m a big fan of the TV show Outlander, and what follows is a recap of the newest episode that aired last night in the U.S. It assumes you’ve seen it, so there are some spoilers, FYI.) 

After a long dry spell waiting for Outlander to start again, Claire and Jamie are finally reunited. And the first thing they do after escaping the British is not have super sexy Outlander sex, it’s have a horrible fight.

It’s an ugly fight, but it seems real to me. Their hearts have been torn open and ripped out, and terrible truths fly out from the depths of the cracks. A part of them means every word they said. But as Jamie says in his opening monologue, the first time we are privy to his point of view, life is a series of choices–to forgive or hold anger, to love or to hate, to live or to die. Claire and Jamie’s choices in this episode begin to shape their life together. 

The midseason finale left us with Black Jack attacking and almost raping Claire when Jamie appears in the window, her knight in shining armor…kind of. Turns out, his gun isn’t loaded and he bluffs his way into the room hoping for the best. He rescues Claire, leaving Jack alive, and the two head off into the sunset…kind of. 

Turns out Jamie is mad as hell that Claire disobeyed his orders to stay put, and he blames her for getting kidnapped. The fight they have, and Jamie’s quiet admission of fear that followed on what it cost to go after her with an unloaded gun and his bare hands, was a raw moment that showed the other side of the gentle romance and dashing heroics we are used to seeing from the couple. 

Both Jamie and Claire can encompass all of that fear, love, bravery, naivete, arrogance, ugliness, and beauty because they are both complex humans who feel all those things. And their marriage and their life together is born out of what they choose to do with those real, conflicting emotions.

These contradictions lead to mistakes, of course, but also to course corrections. 

Jamie has been so kind to Claire and has been such a bright spot in an unfamiliar place that I wanted him to continue being that heroic, perfect man. But he isn’t perfect, and the ugly things he spits at Claire reminds us he is a product of his time and experiences–as anybody is. 

Which leads him to handle Claire’s disobedience in the way he knows, and the way he thinks is right. In a horrifying scene, Jamie lectures Claire once again, and then removes his belt to HIT HER WITH IT to be sure she will never disobey him again. Claire obviously does not agree to this, so Jamie CHASES HER AND HOLDS HER DOWN. No, in this episode Jamie is not exactly a hero. Not even close.

When he says he is going to hit her, Claire says no and he actively ignores her lack of consent and violently holds her down. It’s a disturbing scene, perhaps coming across a little too lightly on the show, and it leads to the first real struggle in their marriage.

Lucky for Claire, and for us, Jamie is open to changing the status quo, and after seeing compromise play out in his clan, he realizes he should bring a more open mindset to his wife as well. So he pledges fealty to Claire and swears to never hit her again. But maybe more importantly, he shows he means it by waiting for her verbal yes before finally having that sexy sex. Listening for consent respects someone else’s agency, and Jamie is learning how to respect Claire. 

(btw I love Claire’s angry hairbrushing before Jamie apologizes. When women lose control in other aspects of their life, they can often turn to “women’s things” like hair and clothes, to assert themselves and take back a little bit of self. So you brush that hair, Claire, you keep brushing it. Also note how the camera views Jamie in the mirror–how does the way he sees himself compare with how Claire sees him right now?) 

Jamie thought men should always beat their wives because that is all he has seen and all he had known. He also thought husbands and wives only had sex like horses. Lucky for Claire and for us, he lets Claire help him form a new worldview, one where your wife’s personhood matters. 

After Claire and Jamie find their way back to each other, they finally have that sexy sex we’d all been waiting for…kind of. Claire shows once again she is no obedient pushover by PULLING A KNIFE on Jamie WHILE THEY ARE HAVING SEX and threatens that if he ever hurts her again she will cut his heart out (I’m guessing she doesn’t mean metaphorically). But I guess it all worked out because Jamie and Claire reconnect and both seem to have reached a greater understanding of each other. 

They seemed to have passed the first test in their marriage, but the repercussions from their choices may only be just beginning.

The other members of Jamie’s clan are laying some (admittedly less sexy) groundwork themselves. Jamie’s marriage to an Englishwoman and Dougal’s fundraising for a Jacobite army are not exactly easy pills for their laird to swallow. Loyalty and tradition are no. 1 for the MacKenzie clan, and Claire and Jamie are breaking down tradition one tiny step at a time. 

Next week, I hope we see more Claire, I missed her a lot this episode. And where is Geillis???

my favorite pop culture pastime: shipping

I ship Oliver and Felicity, and Elizabeth and Philip. I ship Alicia Florrick with everyone, but especially Finn Polmar. I yell “make out!” at the TV so often, it’s become a constant refrain in my apartment.

In TV land I am ruthless. I want everyone to cheat on everyone, unless you’re a couple I think is in capital L Love, and if anything comes between them I will riot.

Sometimes I am rewarded in my lust for lust, like the amazing moment Nyssa and Sara ran into each other on Arrow, and instead of attacking each other like assassins (which they are), they kissed like lovers (which they also are). It reinforced my shipping dreams, and now I can keep shipping random strangers because I was justified that one glorious time.

You can’t have a good ship without good chemistry, but chemistry can be good in a million different ways. Lovers have chemistry, but so do friends, colleagues, families, and people who really hate each other–and sometimes one relationship can be all those things at once (looking at you, Empire).

Chemistry is like talent: When people have it–I mean really have it–you don’t see them work at it. You never think about the mechanics of it, or how awkward it is to shoot those sex scenes (ahem, 50 Shades of Gray). Sometimes you don’t notice chemistry it until it’s missing and two people are hugging you didn’t even realize were supposed to know each other. I measure chemistry on a scale of Bella and her child in Twilight: Breaking Dawn (zero–they share the least maternal hug I have ever seen) to Alicia and Will on the Good Wife (whose romantic and sexual chemistry caused me physical pain).

Will and Alicia level chemistry is hard to come by. Even other couples on the Good Wife can’t match it, but the Good Wife makes up for this injustice by allowing me to ship multiple ships. Alicia and Finn? Definitely. Alicia and Peter? Yes, but in a twisted power game way. Alicia and Kalinda? Oh, hell yes.

I make up the rules of shipping as I go along, and I change the game whenever I feel like it: This person is allowed to cheat on their spouse, but not with a waste of a ship. That couple should be together forever, except he hasn’t realized it yet so she should get it from somewhere else in the meantime. If that person strays, I will never forgive them.

I have found that I am the best shipper when I am my best self. Shipping is not for yearning for your past or for what your future could be–that’s torture. I come to shipping with my heart full and overflowing with love, and I want to cheer on others to find the same. My shipping is a tribute to my own relationships, and a prayer that others can find that connection and acceptance.

The connection that warms my heart also thrills me. Watching people be attracted is attractive. That click with someone is so rare in real life, and so precious, that when I see it I celebrate it any way I can.

Underneath the sexiness of chemistry is the humanness of it. By responding to another person’s energy with our own, we are recognizing their humanity. And longing for that recognition and connection with someone else is universal.

So I ship. I ship everyone, and I change the rules of the game to allow for more and more shipping because the more diverse and inclusive our shipping is, the more diverse and inclusive our connections IRL can be. I ship so that cheering for all relationships and celebrating the sexy sex of bodies of all shapes and sizes becomes something we do on the regular, because we saw it on TV.

to do lists of the semi-adult: episode 16

to do lists of the semi-adult

Make up can be awesome, right? You can play with your look and try fun new things and cover up some insecurities. But with a billion products out there, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. In this episode, Jewels and I talk about our favorite make up products and what works for us.

We both love Neutrogena Face Wipes, and I especially like the nighttime version. I use Stila eyeliner with primer for my every day eyeliner look, and it lasts forever. Jewels likes a MAC paint pot, rather than a primer. We both love MAC, and Jewels really loves her MAC blush in desert rose. Our other favorite is Burt’s Bees chapstick in pomegranate.

Jewels and I both like drugstore brands like Maybelline Falsies mascara (my fave) and E.L.F. products like clear lip liner (Jewels’ fave).

Jewels also mentioned this Reddit tutorial for lipstick that I can’t wait to try out.

We both use Anastasia for eyebrows–I use pencils, and Jewels uses powder. Filling in your eyebrows has been life changing for us, it’s great.

One of my favorite secrets is Expanda Dust Volumizing Powder for adding volume to your hair. A little goes a very long way.

We have many more tips and products on the podcast, and if you have any questions or your own tips, please let us know!

In the lightning round, we talked about The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Looking for Alaska by John Green. Jewels also made egg wraps and this Asian salad, which she recommends. And in personal news, I’m moving in with Michael soon, and I got a new haircut and couch!

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

to do lists of the semi-adult: episode 15

to do lists of the semi-adult

As you guys know, Jewels is a very good cook, and I am…a novice in the kitchen. Lucky for me, I can always call Jewels if I have a question or need help, and lucky for you guys, today on the podcast we talk about our favorite kitchen gadgets to make cooking a little easier.

We both love coffeemakers with a timer and have a really cool apple peeler and corer. I love my George Foreman grill to make cooking meat easier, and Jewels recommends steel mixing bowls to make baking easier. My favorite kitchen gadget might be my teapot, partly because I use it all the time and partly because I think it’s pretty cute. Jewels says she uses her tiny spatula a lot, and it also seems pretty cute.

We think that sharp knives and good cutting boards, a salad spinner, and a food processor can also make a world of difference. But the No. 1 thing that has made it easier for me to cook is Blue Apron. For a more inexperienced cook like me it has made me much more confident in the kitchen, and I’ve gotten to make some really cool meals that I wouldn’t have made on my own. Jewels and I have a few free weeks we can give out to new Blue Apron customers, so if you guys want to try it for a week, email us at raesdays [at] gmail.com. First come, first serve.

What do you guys use that makes things easier in the kitchen? Let us know!

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

(Links to products are affiliates, and they are all products we have used and recommend. Also, my second newsletter on what I’m watching and reading and think is cool is going out later today, you can sign up here.)