Even the most passionate Outlander fan has some ups and downs about the show. Karen Rutledge shares how she lost her Doubtlander and fell in love with the show again.
To quote Murtagh, “Thank the Lord.” My Doubtlander is done, over, kaput!
“What’s Doubtlander,” you ask? It was this sad, sinking feeling that the Outlander TV series would never again enthrall me as it had in Season 1. This Doubtlander brought with it diminished interest in the show, a disconnect with my beloved Jamie and, most vexing, a steady decline of inspiration. As Duncan Lacroix said about Murtagh, my hair was turning white with a lack of hope.
Was it me or was it the show? Let’s find out, together.
What I Know for Sure
One thing is clear as I start this self-exam. I am an Obsessenach and will always be a devoted fan of Diana Gabaldon and her books, and of the TV series and its production team, cast and crew. My quest is about why, despite my devotion, I experienced this Doubtlander in the first place.
A wee bit as background. I found Outlander through the STARZ TV series about mid-Season 2 and watched every episode *multiple* times before I started reading the book series. After telling my husband about my newfound obsession, I bought book one, assuring him I had no interest in buying the entire series. He laughed, lovingly. Predictably, by the start of Season 3, I had bought the remaining seven books on Kindle and had read the first three and was about halfway through Drums of Autumn.
I had also found every Outlander-related_video_and_article available online. Judge if you like. Still in research mode after finishing a master’s degree, I had both the skill and time.
One of the first videos I saw was a July 2014 interview with our book author, and with the TV series producer and cast members. Two things I heard made a huge impression. First, Ron D. Moore stated that STARZ Chief Executive Officer and President Chris Albrecht said the following to him about Outlander:
“We love this. Make the show for the fans and trust that anyone who is not a fan of the books already will become one by the time they see the show.”
Second, Diana Gabaldon followed with comments about her first meeting with Ron and his production partner, Maril Davis. What caught my attention there was Diana’s recollection of the adaptation ideas they discussed.
“It’s always about the characters and that’s what I’ve appreciated about Ron’s work…he appreciated who these characters were and that who they were was the heart of the story.”
It was a defining interview for me, about an hour long but worth the watch IMHO as it is full of BTS details and hilarious to boot. I took away a fondness for all these people and the assurance that Diana’s story, which she has said is Jamie’s story as told by Claire, was being adapted in a way Diana and her fans would love. Expectation set, and high, actually very high, for the following seasons.
Although the moment my Doubtlander left the building is crystal clear, I can’t recall a definitive beginning. It probably started creeping in around the time I was re-re-re-watching Seasons 1 and 2 prior to the September 10, 2017, Season 3 premiere.
As I watched La Dame Blanche for the umpteenth time that August, the Star Chamber lighting compelled me to write “I Watch Outlander for the Lighting … I Really Do.”
I was sincere. I had put the sets, the costumes and the music above the story in my ‘Here’s why I watch Outlander’ list.
How did that happen?!? Was it my perception or was I influenced by what I heard from others?
No question, it was solely my perception. I had those very high expectations, remember? I loved the show as a separate entity but my high expectations remained unmet episode after episode. Significant book elements were left out; others were added in or enhanced, some of which I loved, some I didn’t.
I found I was not alone either. Many Obsessenachs I hang out with IRL and on social media were having a similar experience that I’ve labeled “adaptation angst.”
I started hearing this question, “Why should the changes even matter?” I repeatedly heard and saw this statement, “The books are the books and the show is the show.”
In a short (five minutes) November 2016 interview, Diana Gabaldon even addressed this adaptation angst. She was on board so why not keep the faith, right?
Keeping the faith was hard. My Doubtlander doldrums were real, y’all!
To compensate I would limit my Outlander interactions, dropping in and out of social media groups and striving to focus on the positive. I had an amazing Outlander fanmily, we had the books and we would always have Season 1.
My mantra became, “I am grateful!” I was grateful, truly, and in fact, many of the adaptations didn’t bother me at all. But that nagging feeling that something was missing remained.
I tried a new tactic, watching each Season 3 episode at least four times — for the story, the music, the costumes and the sets. It definitely helped absorb all the amazing elements the talented Outlander team shared with us. Sadly, however, the only Season 3 episode I continued to re-watch for the story was “Of Lost Things,“ my favorite episode to date.
Sadly? No, wait, there’s my answer.
It isn’t really about the adaptation choices — omitting the Jamie-Lord John kiss, Sam Heughan’s different take on how to “fall apart” at seeing Brianna’s photograph or pronounce her name, or any of the many other changes that I wish were kept closer to the book. It wasn’t even about my feeling that the chemistry between Jamie and Claire was slightly off or how desperately I miss Season 1 Jamie hair. Desperately, really, really, desperately!!
It is that I am solidly #TeamJamie, and I had lost sight of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser because elements I considered critical to his story had not made it to the screen. I had actually expressed a similar sentiment more than once to a select few but only now do I realize why it’s at the root of my Doubtlander. I felt that Jamie’s story was almost being skimmed so that I was seeing a “Jamie Light” version.
I realized the primary element I was missing was Jamie’s deeply-held faith. It’s a faith in God and man that transcends religion and guides every choice he makes. Diana Gabaldon lovingly shares it with us, tightly woven throughout the books.
To a lesser degree, I was also missing his compelling need to do the right thing. Yes, we saw him offer himself to Lord John and his constant rescuing of Claire. What I was craving was seeing certain other book scenes brought to life, ones that illuminated who he is, his character, what Diana Gabaldon and Ron D. Moore had mutually agreed was the core of this story. (Seriously, if you’re not a reader, I highly recommend at least reading book one, Outlander!)
Now it makes perfect sense. I understand why I so often have “Of Lost Things” on loop. In this episode, we see the wonderful portrayal of Jamie’s faith. There he was, explaining being a “Stinking Papist” to his biological child, bringing him in to the circle in a way that both would remember always. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.
The episode also highlights Jamie’s need to do the right thing — to give his family the protection of his body once again and to protect illegitimate Willie by leaving him behind at Helwater before their father-son relationship could not be ignored. Revealing the truth then would have stained Willie’s life forever.
I could go on for days about that “Hard Rain” final scene where Jamie rides away. If you haven’t seen it, you must.
Back to those high expectations, there’s one book passage that didn’t make it to the screen that brilliantly demonstrated that need for me. The setting is Ardsmuir Prison, after Lord John has arrived. Imprisoned Jamie, as leader MacDubh, chose to take one particularly horrendous punishment for another prisoner, a flogging. From Voyager:
The doors to the main cell block swung back, and a small file of prisoners emerged; the trustys who did the actual cleaning, closely watched by the guards. At the end of the line, Corporal Dunstable came out, his hands full of the small bits of contraband a search of this sort usually turned up.
“The usual rubbish, sir,” he reported, dumping the collection of pitiful relics and anonymous junk onto the top of a cask that stood near the Major’s elbow. “Just this, you might take notice of.”
“This” was a small strip of cloth, perhaps six inches by four, in a green tartan check. Dunstable glanced quickly at the lines of standing prisoners, as if intending to catch someone in a telltale action.
Grey sighed, then straightened his shoulders. “Yes, I suppose so.” The possession of any Scottish tartan was strictly forbidden by the Diskilting Act that had likewise disarmed the Highlanders and prevented the wearing of their native dress. He stepped in front of the rows of men, as Corporal Dunstable gave a sharp shout to attract their attention. “Whose is this?” The corporal raised the scrap high, and raised his voice as well. Grey glanced from the scrap of bright cloth to the row of prisoners, mentally ticking off the names, trying to match them to his imperfect knowledge of tartans. Even within a single clan, the patterns varied so wildly that a given pattern couldn’t be assigned with any certainty, but there were general patterns of color and design.
MacAlester, Hayes, Innes, Graham, MacMurtry, MacKenzie, MacDonald … stop. MacKenzie. That one. It was more an officer’s knowledge of men than any identification of the plaid with a particular clan that made him sure. MacKenzie was a young prisoner, and his face was a shade too controlled, too expressionless.
“It’s yours, MacKenzie. Isn’t it?” Grey demanded. He snatched the scrap of cloth from the corporal and thrust it under the young man’s nose. The prisoner was white-faced under the blotches of dirt. His jaw was clamped hard, and he was breathing hard through his nose with a faint whistling sound.
Grey fixed the young man with a hard, triumphant stare. The young Scot had that core of implacable hate that they all had, but he hadn’t managed to build the wall of stoic indifference that held it in. Grey could feel the fear building in the lad; another second and he would break.
“It’s mine.” The voice was calm, almost bored, and spoke with such flat indifference that neither MacKenzie nor Grey registered it at once. They stood locked in each other’s eyes, until a large hand reached over Angus MacKenzie’s shoulder and gently plucked the scrap of cloth from the officer’s hand.
John Grey stepped back, feeling the words like a blow in the pit of his stomach. MacKenzie forgotten, he lifted his eyes the several inches necessary to look Jamie Fraser in the face.
“It isn’t a Fraser tartan,” he said, feeling the words force their way past wooden lips. His whole face felt numb, a fact for which he was dimly grateful; at least his expression couldn’t betray him before the ranks of the watching prisoners.
Fraser’s mouth widened slightly. Grey kept his gaze fastened on it, afraid to meet the dark blue eyes above.
“No, it isn’t,” Fraser agreed. “It’s MacKenzie. My mother’s clan.”
In some far-off corner of his mind, Grey stored away another tiny scrap of information with the small hoard of facts kept in the jeweled coffer labeled “Jamie”—his mother was a MacKenzie. He knew that was true, just as he knew that the tartan didn’t belong to Fraser.
He heard his voice, cool and steady, saying “Possession of clan tartans is illegal. You know the penalty, of course?”
The wide mouth curled in a one-sided smile.
“I do.” The simplicity, the elegance, the incredible import of Jamie’s response reverberated through my brain. How can anyone voluntarily take another flogging? Yet, once again, Jamie gave the protection of his body to others, the Scottish prisoners of Ardsmuir. That would have been incredibly powerful on screen, even without the actual flogging, agree?
So, after all my self-examination, what happened to restore my faith in the portrayal of Jamie’s character? Ironically, it was an adaptation.
Back up a bit to when I saw the first pinprick of light at the end of my Doubtlander tunnel. I heard Diana Gabaldon say Season 4 gets better as it goes along, which gave me the needed boost to focus on the positive in Episodes 401 and 402 and my hopes continued rising as I watched Episodes 403 and 404.
Then, Hallelujah and JHRC, Episode 405 sent my Doubtlander sailing downstream. The doubt that I would never love the Outlander TV series as I did in Season 1, and that I would never see Jamie on screen again, simply disappeared.
In that scene reminiscent of, and just as exciting for me, as the Print Shop, when Murtagh first heard Jamie’s voice, my heart actually fluttered. I sat mesmerized, watching the recognition and disbelief flow out through Murtagh’s eyes before he slowly turned to face Jamie and Ian.
Jamie spoke Murtagh’s name and Murtagh, with his loving godfather gaze, paused to take Jamie in, head to toe. As Murtagh looked Jamie in the eye, I saw Jamie as Murtagh saw him, all the way back to Season 1. I saw him with Claire, with Jenny, with Black Jack. I heard all his silent prayers.
Murtagh’s softly murmured, “Thank the Lord” said it all. My Doubtlander was done.
So What am I Going to do with All of This?
I have a new strategy to head off future adaptation angst. I’ll watch each season before reading the corresponding book. All are patiently waiting for me out in Kindle ether, soon to be joined by book nine. I fervently hope Diana Gabaldon won’t be disappointed in me.
Duncan Lacroix, thank the Lord for you, sir, my new muse and my hero forever. You and Murtagh banished my Doubtlander. I am once again enthralled and inspired.
Thank you for sitting in that cave in Tibet until we were all reunited in Episode 405. We hope to see you once again on Twitter.
I know some of you have been experiencing your own Doubtlander.
If it has vanished like mine, what made it happen for you?
Want to follow this Obsessenach on social media?
Karen, wonderful piece! Your Outlander story is so similar to mine….found it flipping through channels and thought “hey! this ought to be good” but then forgot about it until once again it popped up in my channel surfing vision just before S2 began. Quickly binged S1…which I adored, of course….and then watched S2 on the “high” of just having just finished 1. Began the books before S2 was halfway done. All on Kindle and I had never used Kindle before because I love the feel of a book in my hand but I wanted to get my hands on the story “now”, as in digital-instantaneous-ness! If I had any clue when I began reading just what a monstrous collection of words I had just ordered, I would have been horrified at the idea of spending that much time with a screen in my lap. Now I’m glad they are at my digital fingertips for quick reference while watching (and comparing with) the TV show….never a good idea, though, because, like you, it’s been hard to hold onto my conviction that any TV version is better than no TV version. And like you, the thing I’ve missed most in the TV adaptation is Jamie’s faith. I was so in hopes of his “Lord, that they be safe, she and the bairn” faith that was sprinkled so liberally through their lost years. The fact that it wasn’t included…..just those simple words, easy to insert in any of those early S3 episodes….really disappointed me. And when they gave Murtagh his Ardsmuir line about wanting to pray for them, Jamie almost seemed like a sceptic. That was the icing on the cake of frustration. It was one thing to eliminate those faith evidences and quite another to make him appear without faith, even anti-faith. I guess it’s just our shared Southern-girl positive faith experience that has us thinking alike on this omission to Jamie’s character. It certainly informed who Jamie was in the book and it’s just one of the most important omissions in the TV adaptation, in my opinion. Anyway….all this to say…I agree with everything you wrote and like you I have had my doubts. I am able, though, unlike some other social media mavens who complain relentlessly and tiresomely about every change and addition to the story, to walk about each week content to have what we have and leave it at that. I love how you were able to respectfully describe your (and MY) frustration with elements of the show without sinking to the verbal lows that some writers do. Thanks for sharing your hope and excitement for this season….I too share it and appreciate you expressing it so eloquently. Merry Christmas and War Eagle….we at least have basketball!
Outlander love to you, Beth, and #wareaglealways??
Beth, that was meant to be a heart after #wareaglealways. Everywhere I go, I carry Auburn and Outlander in my heart!
Karen, thank you for putting this do wonderfully into words.
I have one point to make. I have always felt that RDM understood Frank but not Jamie. I wrote a comment few weeks ago that Ron wanted to make Frank worthy of Claire’s need to return, and that came at Jamie’s expense. I never truly saw Jamie even in season 1 until the last few episodes. This comment after 401 began with “book Jamie is here at last.”
RDM is undoubtedly a brilliant writer and producer, but I think it a significant point that he has now handed the reigns over to Matt and Toni. Interviews I have seen tell me that these two “get” this story not just about Jamie, but Claire as well. In the books I saw a story about two people who are equals, each bringing their own talents together to make a whole. The first 5 episodes of season 4 have been amazing, and I have no reason to believe this won’t continue.
Thanks for sharing that point, Linda. In one of the many interviews I watched, I remember RDM saying that in a discussion about including (or not) a particular book line, Maril had told him he didn’t understand women. He seemed a wee bit testy but it got a big laugh.
Loved this Karen! And I’m in total agreement about ‘Of Lost Things’ ….. my all time favourite episode and I cant wait for LJG to return and see more of the relationship between him and Jamie, one of the most interesting and complex relationships in the whole series. I cannot believe your restraint in not reading until after the show!! I started reading after I finished watching Season 1 and I had the next book there waiting for the minute each one was finished … then I started again with the audio books! What a case!
I still have a bit of doubtlander I have to say. And its about humour and sex. In the books, Jamie is really funny and I would often laugh out loud at the kooky gaelic insults and his witty comments …. but this is virtually absent from the show. Ian is really the only character who is funny now, I think. I feel that Jamie is often reduced to a caricature and, as you mentioned with his deep spirituality in the books, he lacks the depth and fulness of the book Jamie. No aspersions on Sam Heughan’s acting here … its the writing and the way elements of the story are prioritised I think.
Also I heard Caitriona Balfe interviewed recently and she was laughing about fans wanting more sex in the show. She said it was hard to incorporate sex into the show now that they are an older couple further along in their relationship journey …. but I think this is exactly one of the things that book fans love. The fact that Gabaldon depicts this element of the relationship between two older people who’ve been together for so many years. It is a strong and much appreciated aspect of the stories and not just for ‘titilation’ as Balfe put it in that interview. I think people appreciate that this is a lovely way to portray a long-term relationship, not really seen anywhere else. I think they miss the point a bit on that. But of course, I still love the show!!
Thanks, Andree! It is a real challenge to not read ahead!! It’s also hard to avoid spoilers. The most shocking has been one about LJG. I won’t be spoilery here but you probably know the one I mean.
I agree with you on Jamie’s humor. I always think about his first encounter with a young LJG and how devilish he was in tricking him into thinking Claire was a prisoner. Could it be the writers / show runners are cherry picking scenes to illuminate different characteristics, so we see bits and pieces here and there, rather than weaving in throughout?
Now that I’ve expressed that thought, I find I feel the same way about the sex. I think I’m agreeing with you here as I speak from my experience as someone married to my high school sweetheart for over 40 years. A vibrant long-term sexual relationship encompasses so much more than the actual act or, well, quantity. And it isn’t necessarily overt moments like Jamie and Claire up against the tree. It’s the daily, wordless interactions – the knowing glances, the clasping hands at moving moments – that set the stage. That’s one of the ways I identify with Jamie and Claire so would love to see a couple of episodes filled with more of those followed by a select intimate scene as opposed to simply more sex scenes. *Laughing at self* — look at me, acting like I know something about adapting and directing.
I know you must be missing Scotland! So glad we got to meet and in such a beloved spot for us both on a perfectly Scottish day!!
I still have a bit of Droughtlander, the phrase praying for Claire and the bairn is one of them. E5 helped some, but I have to have the attitude of taking the show at face value as if I’ve never read the books. That helps me to enjoy it more. I reign in expectations more..trying not to have any about meeting of Bree and Jamie..pretty sure they won’t stick to the book. Of Lost Things is my favorite also..
Thanks, Jayne, and yes! I know they work in seconds when editing but that prayer falls at the top of my list of favorite lines, as Outlander-sacred as “I said I was a virgin, not a monk.”
Fingers crossed on the Bree-Da meeting. I feel they were setting it up with the “welcome” Jamie received when calling on the silversmith.
You have the same strategy as I, I will only re read the book after the season has aired. I too found the TV show first, at the end of season 1 part A. I quickly read all the books before season 2 even started. Then I re read each book prior to the start of season 2 & 3. I feel I ruend both season 2&3 for myself, constantly asking my friend who only watched the show what they thought of each episode. She loved them all. So this season I am watching with different eyes, not re reading the 4th book. It has been better, not constantly being disappointed. Although season 1 was the best season in all ways! But we do have some great stuff to look forward to. The other thing with this series in my opinion, it is translating a huge book. You must look at the season as a whole. Some episodes will be “ bridging “ episodes. They must have these. So some may seem off the mark, but are needed to translate the book as a whole.
Good points, Julie, thanks! I waited for quite a while to gain perspective before I wrote at length about my adaptation angst. I’m excited to see how we’ll both feel at the end of Season 4!
Karen – outstanding article! As you know I only expressed my Doubtlander this past weekend. I felt shy about saying that I was not feeling the show anymore. That I was sorta feeling that it was just a show to watch. I felt this after this seasons Poldark and Durrell’s ended and I was crying on my couch watching these shows having emotions for these characters- emotions that I used to have for Outlander. I am a huge Outlander fan but week after week last season felt lost and disappointed by the episodes. Not being a book reader I just focused on the story presented on screen. But I found the fervor the passion was no longer there and I wasn’t sure why. I agree with many of your points. For me having Murtagh back is like a redemption for the show to me. I missed him! I still miss Angus, Rupert, Jenny and Black Jack! Those characters brought such a rich story to life woven in with Jaime and Claire’s. I am looking forward to the next episode and have hopes for a great remainder of the season.
Thanks, Michelle! Hope you don’t mind me sharing something you said in our text thread that resonated with me – your feeling of an “energy shift in the episode.” That was exactly how I’d felt with Murtagh’s reappearance.
Agree on those Season 1 characters and I was particularly looking forward to Jenny’s return this season. Wonder how the adaptation will play out there now that we know she wasn’t available to reprise her role? I really didn’t believe Stephen Cree when he tried to assure us by saying he played both Ian and Jenny. 🙂
Absolutely do not mind! I was just glad to know it wasn’t just me. Having Murtagh back on the screen it was just that you could feel the shift in energy – it was incredible and Sam’s smile and the emotions he portrayed seeing Murtagh was pure magic. That comes down to the chemistry that Duncan shares with Sam. Same as when Angus and Rupert were on the screen with Claire and Jamie. It was Grant O’Rourke and Stephen Walters that brought those characters to life – so when Lesley and Hayes came into the picture in Season 3 – it felt like a water down version of Angus and Rupert. I would love to read you take by the end of the season. I am just so glad that the Outlander team saw past the book fate for Murtagh.
We, the Outlander fans since the early 1990’s who cannot unread the books before watching the corresponding season, remain voices crying in the wilderness. Your doubtlander angst rings true for us. I too miss Jamie’s sense of humor. I also miss Claire’s – who’s hilarity takes place mostly in her head as she describes events and her takes on Jamie. Humor and married sex seem to have no place in the conversion of tome to video, meaning that Diana Gabaldon’s most memorable writings are omitted. Alas.
I feel for you, Genet! Maybe we could somehow construct a social media poll for longtime readers like you to determine the top 10 lines and scenes from books 5 and 6 that should be included in the show? Not sure anyone would use the results but it could be worth the effort. We’d have to do it in a spoiler-free environment so non-readers are protected. Hmmm… My mind is now spinning!
I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t pay attention even if we made a list; I think they already know. The writers & producers had to be aware of the big points & ‘important lines’ & scenes in the earlier seasons…. those are all over the place & have been for years. To their credit they have included a lot of them – and of course they have to limit inclusions. But seems like they missed some critical character things (the one that still bugs me is Jamie knowing that Laogohaire set Claire up & tried to have her killed, & then STILL married her – they tried to recover from that & justify it, but not sure I’d ever trust Jamie again after that, frankly would have gone back to Boston at that point but that’s just me). Jamie’s character missing faith & humor is a big thing. 405 was much better but still not sure it’s there, although I overall liked this episode, especially Claire learning about local herbs although it seemed awfully compressed, & the scenes in town were great! & I’m good with Murtagh being back, so I’m not totally against all changes, although not sure how that will fit in. BTW long term book fan since 1991 & yes have them in book form & kindle so I can’t unread them. I’m trying hard to just enjoy the tv show & separate it, but when characters appear weaker than expected (Jamie) or more strident than expected (Claire) it grates on me.
I agree the show really misses Jamie’s prayer for Claire and the bairn. Just like I think S4 is missing Roger’s prayer for Brianna “Let me be worthy of her, let me love her rightly, let me take care of her”. We would have a whole different more positive opinion of Roger and Roger & Bree’s ‘relationship’ if we had heard this.
Yes!! I agree with all of this, except one thing… I cannot watch the season before reading the books because I have already read the books! ? That said, my Doubtlander has crept in on a few things, sure, but this series has been highly enjoyable! And, the favt that, from the beginning, Diana has said there WOULD be some deviations but she approved of them all… Well, that has kept me hooked. I have been looking at them as two different adaptations with the same characters we know & love. Similar but not the same. Parallel universes, if you will. 😉
Thanks, Reta, and I agree with all of your comments, except one. I have heard Diana say that some of her advice has not been incorporated. Granted, they always give her an explanation, but I don’t think it means she has always approved.
I remained hooked on the show despite my Doubtlander, just not as enthralled for a time. Thank the Lord for the Murtagh adaptation and for Duncan and Sam’s superior performance.
Genet Weber, I have the same frustration. I can’t unread the books. My Doubtlander is based not in scenes omitted or changes from the books. It is in characterization. I fell in love with Jamie’s self-deprecating humor. His protection of others with no thought of his own wellbeing. I wish these had been more evident from the first season. The show propped Frank up so much that I never felt the bond between Jamie and Claire. Infatuation, yes. But a love to last centuries, no. Episode 405 is getting there and I hope it continues.
I enjoyed reading your insights, Karen. I, too find myself rewatching Season 1 more than any other after discovering Outlander on STARZ last April. Since then I’ve read all 8 books and many of the novellas in addition to watching/reading every interview on YouTube and other web sources that I could find. I was so looking forward to this season, but it wasn’t until Episode 4 that I felt a similar excitement that I had during Season 1. The tears, goosebumps, and smiles returned big time. Just an FYI in case you didn’t see it, but they did film a scene where Jamie takes the blame for the piece of tartan found in the prison cell, but it got cut. It appears on the DVD in the deleted scenes. I wonder if this was one of the scenes that Ron regretted cutting. I’ll have to go back and watch him discussing this. In the meantime, I found this in case you haven’t seen it:
Thanks, Robin! I love your phrase, “familiar excitement.” That perfectly describes how I feel now.
I did see that deleted scene. I didn’t reference it because I thought it didn’t capture the sacrifice book Jamie makes. Of course, neither TV nor book Jamie wouldn let a sick Murtagh take a flogging, right? It’s his godfather! In the book, Jamie takes the flogging because he is the prisoner’s leader. That’s what made it so powerful for me.
Hope that makes sense. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!!
Thisis probably the closest to what I have been feeling through season four, and I did not even recognize this until now. Right now, I mean, as I read this awesome, truly awesome, think piece. I have been an avid reader since about 2010 of the whole series so I can appreciate and agree with your experiences of adaptation angst. I did not have such a problem with any of the show until this season, though, and I am not quite sure why. I gathered many small nuggets of ‘Jamie-ness’ that I saw throughout, the moments I caught through the series that I thought the writers and Sam Heughan illustrated perfectly through each series, but I agree that I had not quite gotten there yet. I hadn’t felt that moment of ‘ yes, there he is’ yet this year, until that moment. The moment he began to recognize his godfather’s voice, and the slight, quick moment of Hope in his eyes that Sam let shine through, and that moment of glory when Murtagh turned to face him. That incandescent look on Jamie’s face glowing through the gloom of the smithy, and both of their ignorance of the confusion issued from Young Ian, and the moment they both recognized that they had indeed found each other again. I cried, easily more than I did through the first series, through “Faith”, and through the entire length of series three. That perfect moment. Bravo, to the show writers, producers, directors, and actors. Bravo also to Diana Gabaldon for creating a character and a relationship so incredible and unforgettable that the show writers and producers felt the duo needed to not only stay in the show, but be celebrated AND be treated as a treasured part of Jamie’s incredible journey.
Of course, now that I have read through all of other comments here, all I can say is yes! I agree with so much of the concern from those that have read the books already, but I try to remember that Both Terry Dresbach and Maril Davis were huge fans of at least the first book before production began, the producers, writers and actors have repeatedly stated that they are trying to stay as close as to the ‘feel’ of the original books as they can, and that they have maintained a great relationship with @Writer_DG about production, challenges in translating all of it to screen, and that they all agree that more than any epic romance story (ick ) the story is truly character driven, and that they all need to stay true to the characters, no matter what. This episode has truly restored my confidence in their continuing belief in these characters, changing the ‘roster’ to include a still living Murtagh or not. Wow, so much to unpack here even for myself. I always loved Murtagh in the books and LOVE their ability to keep him in, and that they were able to do do so in a believable way. I will miss what ( I believe) Duncan Innes brought to the books – as I think his character has been assumed by Murtagh, at least for now, and I hope the show can continue to make whatever changes they need to while still allowing the characters to shine through the murk as they have!
Thanks, Cristin. Glad you found it resonated with you!
I am so excited to see Episode 406 as I think it will be another that requires keeping the tissue box handy. I wonder if we’ll see any fights – verbal or physical – that Jamie will need to break up, either with Claire and their guests and or between the guests themselves.
So much potential!!
Like you, the tv series lead me to the books after season 2. Go ahead and read the rest of the books. Don’t torture yourself! After reading them, reread them again and then get all the audiobooks so you can listen to them in the car. I have learned to let go of the angst when the show has made changes I don’t necessarily agree with, and just enjoy it for what it is – an adaptation.
I wont waste time saying I love what you wrote, and mostly agree. I do find solace in the books, however, and in this case, I am blessed to have a terrible memory. It helps! I do believe Jamie is the character with the most depth. Period. Even Black Jack. Is less complex. My worry is this: as much as I loved Murtagh, I am worried his character being involved and having a story arc, will REALLY take “Drums” off the rails. It’s my favorite book, after Outlander, and I need Jamie. I need Jamie and Claire, Jamie and Bree, and Jamie and Roger. I fear he’s watered down enough… how will Murtagh add to the true feel of “Drums”?
Thanks, Shelley! You make a great point about the potential impact on the season. I’ve heard (second-hand so not confirmed) that Murtagh will remain in the show this season and next. It will be interesting to see if that is true and, no matter the length of his return, how much his story arc intertwines vs disrupts.
Thank you for this! You expressed my thoughts to a T, better than I ever could. Jamie’s character has not been developed by the writers in any way near the book’s version. I understand a TV series has different priorities to attract viewers, however, the reason for the books popularity is the rare love and bond we see between two wonderfully developed characters. Everyone has done such a incredible amount of high quality work on the series that it is difficult to express any negative thoughts but I do feel that there is a prejudice in building Jamie’s character into what it is in the books. I am going to be hopeful that we continue to see glimpses of book Jamie in the upcoming seasons!
Thanks, Sharon! It’s been good to hear from you and others who share my angst!! Now that I’ve sorted it out, I’m confident I can continue to enjoy the show. So much about it to love!!
The thought that remains uppermost in my mind is that Outlander is “Jamie’s story, as told by Claire” . I believe that to be true of Season 1, but season by season, it has become more focused on what a strong woman Claire is. And I don’t argue that; yes, she IS a strong woman. Just not to the diminishment of “Jamie’s story”. That is where MY “Doubtlander” began – season 2 . And continued through season 3. From what I have seen is season 4, my fears remain, although I will admit to smiling with joy more in episodes 4-4 and 4-5 than I did through most of Season 3 or 4-1, 2 or 3. Women writers in 2018, in my mind, result in a greater focus on the strong woman, and that is not what Outlander is about. It is about the strength of love, and how that love strengthens both partners as well as the relationship – across centuries, decades, oceans. I love Outlander with all my heart. I love the cast – chosen with such care and almost always impossibly perfect in bringing their characters to life. I love Sam & Cait. I just wish the writers would let them be the Jamie & Claire that Diana wrote so wonderfully.
Well said, Mary, thank you! Let’s hope they will let them be the characters Diana created!!
Mary Whitlow – yes! You got it right. Have read all the books, since published. Watched each season and enjoyed every one. But – there has been a dismemberment of Jamie. His character, confidence, pride. As a woman of the 70’s who fought for women’s and all rights of others, I get it. But – this is over the top changes for no apparent reason than to incorporate me/too-ness. More later, family just arrived.
Hear, hear, Sandra!!
I do miss the humor just as just about everyone has stated…Jamie has a sense of humor, a romantic side and is a warrior…That is what makes him the man he is…That is why we read the books to see the type of man that can handle all that is thrown at him while he still loves a strong woman…But being a strong woman does not mean that you don’t enjoy the love of your man, physically and mentally…After an industrial accident I had to carry the whole load of our family on my back…Financial, household, child care, parent care, and I didn’t give in…But God I loved my man and I enjoyed his comfort and love he would give me as support…Surgery after surgery left him in pain and anquish but he was there for me as I carried the load of our life totally on me…There was criticism from friends that would leave me in tears but he was always there to try to make me feel better with a little humor or affection while gritting his teeth through pain…It isn’t easy for Jamie to see Claire do what she does but he is strong and he knows her well…His warrior side plays into that as well…That love is what I want to see on the screen…We have read a series of Romance novels and we have come to love this couple…I don’t want to miss their love and affection for each other, and I don’t want to see it drift away…I have lived with problems and I have stayed in love and I know they do it too…That is what I want to see of them…Oh and by the way Cait 50 is not to old to enjoy sexual pleasures of a long marriage…not 70 either…Dear Cait you have some things to learn…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story, PK. Adversity often drives people apart. Glad that you two made it through!
Having not read the books, just watched the series…I can’t speak to the writers following Diana’s words. However, I am not feeling the same energy in Season 4, as I did in seasons 1-3. I am obsessed with the story of Jamie and Claire, and have laughed, cried, cringed through almost every episode. To me, everything revolves around the passion that Jamie and Claire have for each other. I love Murtagh’s return, Frasers Ridge, Jamie’s glimpse at his son, and while I did like Lord Johns character in earlier seasons, I’m not a fan of the tension he brings as he seems to continually lust after Jamie. But my basic issue is the lack of intense passion between Jamie and Claire. The last episode ended abruptly with them basically laughing with each other.
Yes…they are older, but I think many of us are obsessed with this show and in a sense live vicariously through this relationship. So, we want, need the passion, the sex, the desire…no matter their age. People in their 40’s and 50’s can have crazy, amazing sex!!
Yes! We need those #laughcrycringe moments to continue! And don’t count out us folks in our 60’s either, please!