Droughtlander’s OVER! I’m Withoutlander no more!! So, bring on the recaps.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not one to put together a slew of meme’s, gifs, and snappy innuendo filled one-liners to recap the most recent episode. Instead, I’m going to try a different approach. What is the main feeling I’m personally left with after watching the episode?
For Season 2, episode 1: Very, very happy but with a touch of self loathing. And here’s why. During this scene:
Frank’s reaction to Claire announcing her pregnancy. He becomes enraged and then pulls back as though he was going to closed-fist strike her. And at that point, I checked out on any form of Frank love, “Nope. Deal breaker, Randall. You’re officially an ASS.”
In fact, I was still thinking of this scene Sunday morning while my brain was in the process of removing itself from an owner induced whiskey fog. Why did this scene bother me so much? Tobias’ performance was without a doubt brilliant. Wonderfully heartfelt, gut-wrenching, and ultimately forgiving of Claire’s ‘transgressions’.
And to be clear, I’m not talking about Claire’s struggle in those moments when she looks at Frank and sees Black Jack. I’m pondering why Frank’s lashing out made ME so angry.
Maybe I was struggling with the on-screen deviation from the book? The books simply state that Frank accepted Claire with all of her faults, mistruths and adulterous pregnancy out of a sense of honor – “Only a cad would do otherwise”. We never really had a sense of how angry Book-Frank must have been – and I am truly happy that the show covered this. But in all of my readings and re-readings, I never had a sense that Frank would ever be violent towards Claire – maybe an adulterous ass, but mostly great dad and decent man. Whereas the show has touched a few times on some hereditary inner violence, which I kind of get. Frank has some faults. One must choose sides in the battle of Husbands Through Time.
So, I choose. Called Frank an ass, gave him a righteous “Oh no you di’nt!” when he (almost) lashed out at Claire and then I paused…. Oh crap.
Frank wasn’t the husband who ACTUALLY beat her. He wasn’t the one who fought with her and responded to one of her slaps with a “You try that again and I’ll slap you until your ears ring!”
My inner turmoil: Why was I so quick to hate Frank but so quick to forgive Jamie? Am I really so shallow as to forgive a pretty face? Am I the only one who came up with allowances for Jamie’s abuse like “Oh, but it’s Jamie who REALLY loves her. He didn’t MEAN to hurt her.” or worse, “Well, she DESERVED it.” or even more worse-er “He said he was SORRY.”
AHHHHHHH!!! No! Did I really just go there? What’s happened to me?! All of my personal notions of feminism, participation in women’s rights marches, and absolute conviction that men do not hit women EVER, are somehow tossed out the window because of a tv show? Crap. Crap. Crappity Crap! Crap!!
I had no option other than to evaluate the two from a fictional woman’s viewpoint. I examined the differences between our fights from Claire’s side. When she was beaten by Jamie, our girl FOUGHT BACK. In fact, she was ready to pick a fight and leave her 18th century life behind. Whereas in the scene with Frank, Claire was in mourning, dejected and completely vulnerable, and let’s not forget to mention, pregnant. All of her fight was gone.
Hell, the scenes were scored completely differently as well. In ‘The Reckoning’ the beating scene was scored with a jaunty little chorus of strings when Jamie was trying to administer Claire’s punishment and most of us got a good chuckle out of it. Whereas in ‘Looking Glass’ we knew by the tense crescendo of McCreary’s score that this scene was building up to a violent outburst. Intentional musical differentiation of and justification for abuse? Crap again!
And it’s here that I came to terms with the my personal justification for separating the two hubbies’ behavior. While Jamie did lay hands on Claire – it was not a fist to the face, it was the reluctant administration of ‘clan punishment by belt’ for her behavior. While the two of them do get into screaming matches, the physical anger between the two of them is always held in check. Whereas Frank’s angry outburst was unexpectedly scary, and not reciprocated by a partner armed to do battle herself.
And here is where I need to just let it go. Because in the end this is a tv show and a work of fiction, and it has absolutely not changed my personal opinion of abusers. And it never can.
It has only given me yet another example of a strong woman who can try her damnedest to put up a fight, and one who can ultimately forgive those who have proven that they deserve her love.
But a note of caution to those who are pulling the tv strings: the majority of your audience is made up of fiercely loyal and kinda bookish women. We don’t take kindly to gratuitous outbursts of violence towards our lady. While we trust your judgement that Frank’s outburst will move the story of Claire and Frank forward, some viewers might be a few ripped bodices and nipple shots away from getting aggravated with ‘creative license’. And I do understand that what is explained by thousands of words on a page has to be portrayed differently within a few seconds on screen. I get that.
But some of us who are also Game of Throne’s fans know all too well, dismissive and/or salacious shots of abuse do not go over well with some viewers. By all means, divert from the books as much as you need to capture the true essence of these wonderful stories, but please let’s not allow the role of women as punching bags become the norm.