Outlander: of fascinations and frustrations — Part IV
My earlier apprehensions about the show seeking to canoodle and then pinch me were grossly premature in that the the magic of Outlander dolefully perished after the second of half of season 3. Dare I say, it turned soapy although with still regrettable omissions of reactions. Why though? Contrivances. When mediocrity and a rash pursuit of acclaim fornicate, such literary sins are committed. And with every such deleterious contrivance, the story puffs in pain till it can no more as all life is squeezed out of it. Worse is that you, due to strong attachments to the characters can’t help but begrudgingly acquiesce to and watch its stuttering demise; your protestations restricted within the walls of your home albeit your fix for catharsis is still met to some extent by disseminating wild rants when motivated by mild provocations from unsuspecting friends and family. Unsuspecting they were, but now, they suspect you are in need of therapy till you resolve to pen down your rants for a wider reach.
Beginning with probably the most benign of complaints was the utterly lukewarm reactions that Claire received when her time traveling escapades were revealed, and in that they undermined my bustling excitement leaving me to educe a number of ‘Oh, c’mons!’ at the perfunctory nature of her people in regards to the advancements that mankind has made till Claire’s lifetime. Best exemplified by Jamie’s shockingly lame response to learning about moonlandings in season 3: ‘hmmmmmmmmm’. I mean I get that your love for each other has you liquefied in a puddle but, it doesn’t have to be Disneyesque such that the vast oceans of human knowledge cease to matter and one doesn’t harbor significant curiosity about natural phenomena. We landed on that shimmering white speck in the nigh sky, you barbarian!
Take Lord John. If contrivance had a face…the man is an angel popped out from the ether to fill in for the shadow daddy, Jamie and to rescue Brianna from her suitor. And what even is up with Brianna? I do NOT ship Brianna and Roger. I tank them. There’s more substance in humpty dumpty than what their companionship has been contrived from. Had Diana written this classic, Humpty Dumpty would have been set right again without all the King’s horses and all the King’s men ever having been sought out. Imagine that! But woe is you for you’d have sniffed that plot progression even before the wall was introduced, even before the scent of ink from the tender wafted to the nose of the chief mason. Bah! What tender?! The king’s orders ruled the roost back then. And in Outlander, the monarchical creators are gratified only if Roger and Brianna bonk possibly roaring in orgasmic unison, Mogambo khush hua. Probably, with Roger being the only single, male of eligible age on the set, Brianna decides to return his love and voila, we have a couple. Besides sprinting past big, rippling red flags, Brianna’s favorite hobby is to swim; to swim in in the maternal legacy handed down to her of being a virtuous homo sapiens by organizing a most genial rendezvous with her rapist over a glass of ale in prison. “Bonjour monsieur”, “Bonjour mademoiselle.” Clink! To what though? To forgive him. To tell him there’s a part of him that lives inside her. To comfort him before the noose goes all dominatrix on him. Where’s the rage, the animalistic wrath to have him mauled till the captain was left unfit to handle any mast?
The clunky nature of the narrative soon has us envisioning every character as simply a plot device waddling into the life of our beloved duo then waddling out all with an elaboration reminiscent of a workman striding across a field, his hands clasped behind, cradling a lota while the sun rays, bathed in tangerine hues, embrace the horizon. Must I add, their purposes is a further painful commonality between the two. Talking matters of the enteric kind, using rape as a frequent plot device was difficult to stomach. My features shouldn’t have to scrunch in concentration to count the number of lead characters who have been raped. I do agree with the oft-spouted defence that historically such crimes were much more common but that’s merely a guiding light; the story has to balance it with other aspects such as plot richness.
A terrible symptom of contrived plotting is that the writer never really leaves your visions, you imagine her to be a wily puppeteer, pulling on the strings at the beck and call of her whims rather than leaving them be in her very well crafted universe for an organic progression. Due to this, the narrative gets pockmarked with pricks of incredulity. And an incredulous me is an insulted me. It was clear that Diana pulled all the strings to pin Brianna in the past; with the rape, the pregnancy and then expending any means to abort it, then having Roger kidnapped due to an asinine misunderstanding that could have been easily avoided. Ugh. All of sudden, it’s as if Brianna’s scholarly life in the 20th century ceased to matter and she was content to plough fields and scrub pigs’ asses with her MIT marksheets in 18th century settlements of North America. And here, I succumb to an existential crisis if I have had one bad midterm exam.