Written by: Janet Reynolds and Anne Gavin
It’s not that dinner with those other folks wouldn’t be fascinating, but let’s get real – Outlander Season 3 is in the works and we have things to say! Decisions are being made and, as avid TV-show fanatics and book readers (can we ever thank Diana Gabaldon enough?), we are obsessing over what may or may not be happening in Scotland as they film and adapt Voyager, the book that is our – and for many fans – the favorite (or maybe second behind the first book) in the Outlander book series. No pressure, Ron and crew. But, rather than wait around to see if Ron adds us to his dinner party list, we decided to invite Ron to dinner ourselves. Yes, it’s a fantasy dinner, but get excited — we’re inviting you to listen in to our chat. Our Uber just arrived and we are off to meet Ron…
And so, we’ve arrived! Time to get eating, drinking and talking…
We’re meeting Ron at one of his favorite haunts – the Public House, one of the restaurants onsite at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Major League Baseball World Champion San Francisco Giants. It might seem like an odd place for a dinner, but we know not to get between a man and his baseball team, and Ron is a total fanatic about his Giants. The kind of fan who, yes, keeps stats during the game. Yep, he’s THAT guy!
Matt Moore gets in trouble but limits damage to one run. Giants lead 6-1 pic.twitter.com/D8g2tE15p1
— Ronald D. Moore (@RonDMoore) September 17, 2016
Spoiler alert—If you haven’t read Diana Gabaldon’s third book in the Outlander series, “Voyager,” stop here…and get reading. You won’t be sorry!
Ron smiles wryly. It’s not as if he hasn’t met a million other maniacal adoring fans. He easily could have run out the door at this point and straight for his Club Seats in the stadium, but thankfully, the waiter shows up with a menu and the bottle of Scapa 16. Ron’s eyes widen a bit and we see a flash of his mischievous grin before he settles back in his chair. So, we take collective deep breaths and tell him why we’re here. We’re here to talk about some of Season 3’s sacred coos. We know it’s TV, we know he has only 13, 55-minute episodes to tell the story, and we know that change from the books is inevitable, indeed even required in certain instances because TV is a different medium. But, we want him to listen to us. To hear us. And, to, yes, question us about whether these sacred coos can and should remain as part of the production. So, we toast “Slainte Mhath!”, take a swallow of the Water of Life, and we begin.
Our basic operating theory is go big or go home. We’ve got one shot to tell Ron our thoughts — who knows if he’ll even stay in the room after we start talking? We are at a Giants game after all! So we jump right in to discuss the elephant in the Season 3 Outlander fandom room: the Print Shop Reunion. There isn’t a fan of this series and/or books who doesn’t have verra clear ideas of exactly how this critical scene should be done. And there are some of us (okay, Janet) who are super concerned that it’s not going to be done the way it should because of certain hints we got in Season 2 about how Ron et. al. think they should handle Jamie and Claire’s relationship. We take gulps of our whisky and dive in:
Now I am already steeling myself for the reality that is probably not how it’s going to go with Season 3 on TV; I’ve listened and read what you’ve said already, Ron — about the need to show what happens to both characters during their 20-year hiatus from each other. I am going to trust that you know what you’re doing there. But on the Print Shop Reunion scene I am begging you to follow Gabaldon’s lead. The woman did it right. From Jamie’s fainting, to their getting reacquainted, to showing photos of Brianna, to eventually and ultimately their reunion sex (yes, Ron, we have got to see this reunion sex. No fade to black. We need to see it.) My two cents on this scene would be this: Ask yourself WWDD (What Would Diana Do) and then read it, and just do it exactly the same. This would be a very good time to cut and paste.
As Janet wraps up, Ron’s eyes are bulging just a bit. I notice Janet has drained her whisky glass, so I reach over and pour her another, as I also reach for a small piece of paper I pull from my handbag. Ron eyes me skeptically as I begin to read from the paper.
And, while I won’t, as Janet urged, insist on it being word for word the way Diana wrote it, I would like that all the lost time together (from Season 2) be poured into some memorable scenes that truly reflect that our couple is back in grand fashion. Give the dialogue to Sam and Catriona and there is no question they will play it exactly the way it should be played. Because, they are THAT talented and they do understand the Jamie and Claire story. Mark me, the Print Shop scene will become the scene everyone will be talking about for the entirety of the season. It is the “Wedding” episode of Season 3. It will be what everything else will flow from — the good, the bad and the ugly from “Voyager”. It will make or break some fans’ interest in continuing to watch and support the series. It’s THAT important.
So, while I have faith it will be treated with the respect it deserves, I also think you and the producers, Ron, need to know that dilly-dallying in the 20th century for longer than absolutely necessary will be ill-advised. We love Tobias Menzies too, but when you go for the final cuts, maybe think of a little less Frank angst and a little more Jamie and Claire EPIC LOVE STORY. Because after all, Ron, to quote a (very) wise man, “It’s the two of them that is at the foundation of everything that is Outlander.”
With the exception of Black Jack Randall, Laoghaire is the Outlander character fans love to hate. But while she was mostly an annoyance in the books, in the show she has morphed, due to changes in storyline, from being that annoying fly that won’t die to a sinister bat. She refuses to fly out of our living room and we all have strong thoughts of offing her. So it’s not surprising that we have strong feelings about what happens between her and Jamie in Season 3.
The show’s sins continued in Episode 2.08, “The Fox’s Lair”, when Laoghaire showed up acting penitent towards Claire, yet still exhibiting stalking tendencies towards Jamie. As Laoghaire said to Jamie in the hallway at Leoch — “Whhhhy?” Scenes from episodes 1.09 and 2.08 were completely unnecessary. We already know what Laoghaire did setting up Claire and that is, in fact, the important part when it comes to Laoghaire’s appearance in Voyager/Season 3. Jamie’s sense of honor are what drive him to take the suggestion of his sister to marry Laoghaire and give both her and her children some security. It is NOT because of any sort of tender regard for Laoghaire or actual affection. It was duty and honor and we needed no foreshadowing of any kind of a Jamie and Laoghaire “relationship” in Season 1 or Season 2. Simply because, it did not exist.
The conflict, in fact, lies with Claire and Laoghaire, and this was already well established in Season 1 for book readers and show watchers alike. TV watchers are smart. They don’t need everything explained to them and, for many things, they would not have had to read the books. So, let’s just call a spade a spade when it comes to Laoghaire. There need not be any dramatic scenes with her and Jamie in Season 3 and certainly no scenes showing them embracing or worse yet, in a marriage bed together. No, no and no. Potentially this could be one of the worst perversions of Diana’s tale if more is made of the Jamie and Laoghaire accidental marriage. There is a story to be told here, but the story is about Laoghaire and Claire and how Claire reacts to the news that her beloved has gone and married her betrayer. From this, we get to Jamie and Claire and the consequences of this revelation. But, no more Laoghaire add-on scenes are necessary. She’s not important but for the conflict she provides. Period. End of story.
I can see you’re wilting a bit, Ron, after Anne’s on-the-money analysis of how the whole Laoghaire/Jamie storyline should be handled, so I will just add a few points for emphasis so you don’t think Anne is the only fan who feels this way. But first, let me pour you another glass.
- Jamie did not, I repeat did not, love Laoghaire. Do not even think about adding an emotion other than pity for her to this arrangement. Seriously.
- Do not try to make this “marriage” a deal-breaker between Jamie and Claire. In the book, the biggest tension arose because Jamie did not tell Claire (big mistake, Mr. Fraser). That meant she discovered this marriage when one of Laoghaire’s daughters burst into their bedroom, which in turn, played to Claire’s worst fears about the years that they were separated — that Jamie would have moved on and found someone else. They have an epic fight and Claire storms out of the house — only to come back two days later after hearing Jamie is shot (Young Ian is terrific here). By the time she has ridden into Lallybroch’s courtyard, she has already forgiven Jamie and their second reunion — the one that really solidifies that they are soulmates and the only person for each other — is wonderful and immediate. Laoghaire as a problem between them dissipates in the wind; the only concern is how to get her out of their collective lives.
- Oh, dear God, please don’t make us see them in bed. Like seriously, Ron, please don’t do that… I will not be able to cope. (Oh and this: Laoghaire is overweight and haggard in the book; life has not been kind to her. It would be super awesome if she looks like hell on the show, too.)
Geneva Dunsany and Jamie
Right. Back to the topic at hand. I had no problem with the way it happened in the book — Geneva basically blackmails Jamie into being her “first” before her arranged marriage to an older man she does not find attractive. Jamie reluctantly agrees to protect his family. Then in the passions of the moment, Geneva seems to change her mind (she says “no” at one point) but Jamie moves on with the task at hand. The fandom regularly discusses whether or not this was rape. I would actually like that bit of reluctance removed in the show, not because I thought it was so awful but rather because I don’t want to listen to a certain faction of the fandom go all PC about it and make a stink. I’m sure Season 3 will offer plenty of moments when the fans will decry the TV choices that were made. This one is easy to avoid, Ron. Just don’t have Geneva ever say “no.” Voila. Scene done, controversy over. Focus will then be diverted to what matters: the resulting child and the rest of Jamie’s time at Helwater and how he gets to that print shop… you know, the scene we all need to see before Season 3 is half over (see above).
Still, as Janet mentioned, William needs to be conceived so it must happen. The best way to deal with this on screen so as not to create an unnecessary distraction from Season 3 altogether, is to do away with Geneva’s dramatic protestations. You can show some reluctance on her part once she realizes what she has actually gotten herself into, but loud screams of “No! No!” need not ever be uttered for the act to occur and culminate in one Viscount William Dunsany, Ninth Earl of Ellesmere. There will be plenty of scenes to get people talking about Season 3. This doesn’t need to be one of them.
At this point, I’ve realized that eating spicy chicken wings while drinking peaty whisky makes a fine combination. I might think better of this later! Ron, however, has politely listened up to this point and I haven’t noticed any glassy eyes, even as he sneaks a peek of the television monitor behind the bar from time to time to see how long until the first pitch. We continue with some thoughts on the quirky Mr. Willoughby. Stay? Go? Important to the story? The fandom already has its collective knickers in a twist over this character. Let’s just get to it: in or out?
Outlander has been good at many, many things when it comes to adding, subtracting or expounding on characters from the books. Case in point, we have the loveable Rupert and Angus comedy act, sweet and loyal Willie and, of course, the magnificent expansion of Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser. And, in Season 2, we were gifted with the fated Lallybroch Highlanders, Ross and Kinkaid. All brilliant adaptations.
While the racial stereotype doesn’t bother me that much, Diana was writing historical fiction and it was very likely accurate to the times. That said, to avoid the PC police, Willoughby could easily be portrayed by one or multiple other minor characters and we probably wouldn’t miss him. It could easily be Claire that came up with the acupuncture remedy given she has been around the proverbial block a few times. I would miss Ping-An the Pelican, though, as Diana writes animals so well. But, I am sure production could just as well do without having to deal with a trained pelican on set. I say “no” on Willoughby. Let’s save some time and use that for more relevant scenes in the story.
I may have been gesticulating wildly and perhaps a little louder than I needed to be while describing that last bit. Ron smiles and oh-so-casually glances at the TV screen behind him. The teams are finishing their warm-ups. Definitely time to go. He rises, thanks us for the whisky and food. We thank him for listening. He’s been more than generous with his time. As he walks off, we look at each other. So? Any hope? Did we make any progress on what needs to happen in Season 3?
Only time will tell.