Here's to You, Mrs. Fitz!

Written by: Ashley Crawley


Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, the long-awaited return of Outlander is finally within our grasp - days, mere days. In the meantime, we have scantily clad, much-buzzed about photos of our stars.  And trailers that we can analyze frame by frame with giddy anticipation.  And Sam Heughan parading through the streets of New York, including a little coffee talk with Kelly and Michael (read here). And enough social media fan banter to make The Interwebs implode.

Between all of the publicity engine efforts and the much-awaited announcements about the casting of Brianna and Roger, the past few months have been wholly consumed with speculation on season two – from the actors that will portray pivotal new characters to how the show will bring to life Diana Gabaldon’s beautiful storytelling in Dragonfly in Amber, and everything contained therein. Season two, season two, season two. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

What more could we want?

Then I saw this photo from Outlander Cast pal, Maryann, who attended “The Gathering” in Cologne, Germany this month and met many of our favorite actors from the show. Lucky lass!


It made me do one of those "awwww" head-tilt moments typically reserved for babies and puppies when I saw actress Annette Badland.  It reminded me how lovingly I carried the torch for one of my favorite characters from season one that we’ve already said goodbye to and won’t see again when Outlander kicks off April 9 – Mistress Glenna Fitzgibbons, Castle Leoch’s head housekeeper by trade, chicken soup for the weary soul by nature.


Can't you just smell the aroma of roasted pig and fresh bread coming through this photo when she smiles?  As one first time viewer put it, "She looks like she knows how to make really good soup!" Let’s face it, the character of “everybody calls me Mrs. Fitz, you may also” is the latest and greatest in a long line of this important character archetype that we have grown to love throughout television history. Sometimes it’s the maid or the butler, other times the cook or the nanny.  Whatever the role, it’s always about more than just the meals they cook, clothing they wash, sheets they iron, rooms they clean and bairns they help rear… it’s about the den mom support they offer at any hour, to any problem, racking up innumerable life lessons taught in between their actual job.

Before we detail our love for Annette as Mrs. Fitz, let’s revisit some of the most notable examples of these beloved women (and men!) who came before her:

Mrs. Patmore & Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey



Truthfully, wouldn’t just about any of the gracefully aged characters that keep the Crawley house afloat qualify (here’s looking at you, Mr. Carson)?  But for me, there are none more thanked for keeping the upstairs and downstairs families in sane order than Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes. Oh Mrs. Patmore. What can I say? I mean the woman makes time to do “sex 101 in your golden years” sessions with her aging buds whilst simultaneously perfectly cooking a pork roast for 10 for flips sake.  And don’t get me started on Mrs. Hughes – the greatest advocate that the adorable (but riddled with trauma, always the trauma) Bates and Anna never knew they always needed. Alas, it’s Mrs. Patmore that I feel is the most interchangeable and comparable to our lovely Fitzy. That might also explain why I've had to employ the "find and replace" function on this post to remove a few a lot of idiotic mix ups. 

Alice from The Brady Bunch



Pork chops and apple sauce anyone? This butcher-loving, cheery maid seemingly never had a moment to herself (or Sam) because she poured everything she had into Mike and Carol Brady’s blended family. Now that’s devotion. We can only hope she was paid handsomely, but doubt she cared either way.

Mr. Belvedere (Lynn Aloysius Belvedere) from Mr. Belvedere



The British butler who previously served Lords and Ladies and somehow ended up as the manny/butler of a middle class Midwestern family helmed by the sports announcer from Major League. Don’t fight the script, people. Don’t fight the script.  We all know British accents make for sitcom gold. 

Edna Garrett from Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life



You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… Charlotte Rae, a woman who managed to parlay this popular character into an eight-year, two-show career.

Benson DuBois from Benson



Simply put, Robert Guillame is at his finest in this spin-off of the popular soap opera parody, Soap. He's hired as the head of household affairs for Governor Gatling and his daughter Katie. And if that's not the best all-encompassing description for what Mrs. Fitz does for Leoch, then I don't know what is.

Geoffrey Butler from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air



Now this here's a story all about how... ah you get it. See above comment about British accents as a trump card addition to the butler archetype.

Dorota Kishlovsky on Gossip Girl



Okay, okay - this one is likely just for me, clearly. I know not many fan girled the upper echelon crap out of this show like I did, but try not to judge. Dorota’s Eastern European translation issues combined with her incessant need to scheme alongside Blair Waldorf made her not only a wonderfully welcome addition to the adult cast of this teen-dominated show, but a scene stealer no matter who was in the room.

Nell Carter from Gimme a Break

No intro needed. I’ll just leave the show opener right here. Seriously? Gotta love '80s sitcoms. 



Sookie from Gilmore Girls



Okay, okay this might be a stretch. But it’s vintage Melissa McCarthy at her most subdued, but equally charming, best. And technically, she’s the head chef at the Dragonfly Inn and is “the constant” or best bud to Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory.  That and my unfaltering love for this show make it count. Don't fight the logic.


Photo courtesy: Pinterest

Comparison schmarison, it’s time to get back to our beloved Mrs. Fitz and how she fits into our much-loved Outlander clan. A mainstay at Castle Leoch, Mrs. FitzGibbons is in charge of – well, it seems just about everything. She’s related by marriage to Murtagh Fraser, which is an easy detail to miss as a show watcher since it isn’t spelled out as clearly (or at all) as it was in the book. But that sweet woman can’t escape that she’s the grandmother of the immature, hopelessly-in-love Laoghaire MacKenzie. I digress, for now.

While Outlander has thrust Annette Badland onto fans' radars, she's worked steadily in television, radio and film for decades - racking up credits for her work BBC's wildly popular Doctor Who and long-running soap opera EastEndersCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, the television adaptation of Gulliver's Travels and many, many more.


Annette, oh Annette. How do I love thee, let me count the ways.  Or at least offer one, courtesy of a Starz publicity video that shows just how deeply the actress connected with the world of Outlander and all the production elements that put her in Full Fitz mode.

 

The downside to the gloriously talented Annette Badland portraying Mrs. Fitz is actually the best part too – she appears in only a handful of scenes, which just underscores how wonderful a performer Annette is for making this character memorable – and her own – with only minutes of airtime.  

With that in mind, I revisited season one yet again (come onyou've done it too as Janet pointed out) to bring you the top moments that made me want to hug Mrs. Fitz, share a drink with Annette and celebrate the invaluable people in my life (not hired help, mind you) who provide Scottish stew for my soul. Because when it comes down to it, we ALL need some Fitzing in our world.

Remember with me. . . 

. . .that time we first met Mrs Fitz as she's giddily running out to greet our worse-for-the-wear clansmen with big smiles and hugs after they return from days on horseback.  You just know that there’s a hot meal, warm bath (one can only hope) and whiskey in their immediate future.  Plus, she tells Murtagh that he "looks and smells like a rat that's been dragged through sheep dung." And if that's not a Hallmark welcome home moment, I don't know what is.


. . .that time she cautiously notices Claire and offers the best 18th century version of resting bitch face I’ve ever seen (while seemingly inventing the side-eye), but their shared dialogue solidifies that you’re meant to adore Mrs. Fitz right from the get go and that she’ll be a good ally for our fish-out-of-water time traveler.  She goes on to serve up one of my favorite lines of season one – “let's find you something to wear that's a bit more... well, a bit more” – before being pleasantly caught off guard by Claire’s desire to treat Jamie’s wound before tending to herself.


. . .that time her caring eyes and tender touch toward a wounded Jamie give us hope she’s a motherly stand-in for our orphaned warrior.  Plus, she gets to touch his bare shoulder. And we don't, so there's that. 


. . .that time she reality smacked Claire into the 18th Century with some hot broth (just a spoonful, mind you) and one of my most favorite television makeover montages, complete with hilarious dumbfounded shock about a bra. There's nothing quite like a good, sped-up makeover sequence. . . especially one that comes complete with this dialogue:

Mrs. Fitz - "What type of corset is that?"
Claire - "It's called a brassiere..."
Mrs. Fitz - *stares blankly* *crickets*
Claire - "It's French."
Mrs. Fitz - "Ohhh, I see."


. . . that time she channeled her inner Real Housewives of the Scottish Highlands to deliver the cattiest jab ever to none other than Diana Gabaldon herself (in character, obviously).



. . . that time she chastised our favorite bromance pairing of Rupert and Angus for their incessant habit of taking up space in her kitchen, drunk. They're like the Highlander version of Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson from Cheers... tanking back drinks, providing unsolicited dialogue and a few laughs to any who come within a four-beer radius. I think Mrs. Fitz actually loved it. . . and I did too.


. . . that time (pick one!) she showed compassion and understanding to Claire by offering merely a kind stroke of her face and a knowing smile.  For a woman trapped between worlds and facing so much scrutiny and judgment from everyone around her, imagine the power that one touch from a gentle soul might have.


. . . that time she was the first to bellow out approving cheers at newlyweds Claire and Jamie upon their return to Castle Leoch after a rough couple of days (I won't go there, but thankfully Kendra did). First impressions are everything and Mrs. Fitz certainly set the tone for how Leoch residents should view the new couple - surprise nuptials and all.  We cheered right alongside her.


. . . EVERY time she stood up for her granddaughter, Laighoaire. You guys, that girl. I can’t with that girl. She’s like the worst parts of high school. The only thing more dreadful than Laoghaire would be Laoghaire with social media capabilities.  If you think it’s hard for us, imagine the patience it takes to be the doting grandmother to this conniving but naïve teen. Oh, the angst. Always with the dramatic angst. Promiscuity, threat of public beatings, scheming to cause marital strife, you name it - yet, there’s granny, solidly in her corner with her unwavering support and a trademark Fitzy hug.


Farewell, Mrs. Fitz. Here's a bear hug and a hospitable smile from us to you.  We shall miss you dearly as we make the move to Paris with our favorite lovers, but know that you're just a fresh bannock and some hot stew (or a re-binge of season one, again) away if we ever need you.

What was your favorite moment from season one with Mrs. Fitz?  And who do you think will sub in for this character archetype when Claire and Jamie settle into Parisian life? 

7 comments

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for this wonderful remembrance of a terrific character. One of my markers for a great TV show is when the show runner/writers recognize the value of a secondary character as a foil to others. But then of course you also need a great actor to make that happen and Annette Badland was absolutely all that and then some in Outlander.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! This sweet character provided so much levity and humor to scenes she was in, and that was definitely in large part thanks to Annette's talent.

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  2. Oh, Ashley -- I will miss her SO. Annette re-created Mrs. Fitz from the book and truly brought her to life. What I wouldn't give for a granny like that. Wonderful remembrances as I wipe a wee tear from my face. Thank you for this sumptuous good-bye to a most beloved character!

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    1. I wiped a wee tear too, re-watching all her scenes with a focused intention on her and only her. So fitting you mention "granny" because I felt like it's me missing my granny that endeared her to me so. You are so spot on about Annette recreating this character and bringing her to life.

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  3. Oh my, how could you miss Mrs. Fitz telling Father Misogyny where to get off? Best scene ever!

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    1. SO true! A great scene. I feel the need to update the post now to include that one. The whole possession sequence was Claire's spotlight moment, but Mrs. Fitz was right in the mix.

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  4. If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you got to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Have your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

    ReplyDelete

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