Outlander, in case you are still among the uninitiated, is the hit Starz adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon’s novels about a WWII era English nurse who accidentally travels through time and finds the love of her life in eighteenth century Scotland. This season has followed the fourth in the eight-book series, Drums of Autumn. (The ninth book is due sometime in 2019.) It is set in North Carolina in the years just prior to the Revolutionary war. After the season’s twelve episodes of love, loss, death, political intrigue, re-connecting to family, and the clash of cultures that is Outlander, the fans who have also read the books are wondering how the writers of the adaptation will manage to tie up all of the loose ends with only one more hour to go.
The Twitter fandom is a loyal and opinionated group. Tweets can get a bit intense as the fans do have strong feelings about book vs. show plots, and even book readers can disagree about the wisdom of certain changes that the show has made in the past four seasons.
Having just completed a second reading of Drums of Autumn, I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to attempt to divine just what elements of the closing chapters the script writers will include in the television finale. We’ll know how well I did at divination when the Starz online version, available through Amazon Prime, becomes available at midnight Saturday, January 26th, Eastern time.
Since it is doubtful that anyone who has no prior knowledge of Outlander has even found this link, I will forge on with the assumption that the book readers are still with me. The show-only fans may want to exit here, because even if these details are not covered in the show as well as the book, there will be spoilers.
With due warning given, here is how I imagine things will take place in episode 413.
The show will open with the Fraser rescue expedition riding into the Mohawk camp just as Roger is being led back to the “idiot hut”, as he has dubbed it. He being the idiot (see episode 12). Jamie, Claire and Ian will witness the last moments of the immolation of the priest and his beloved in the fire as they arrive.
The arrival of Jamie and Claire Fraser and nephew Ian Murray, who are there to rescue Roger MacKenzie and return him to Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna, will cause all hell to break loose amongst the tribe members. Much confusion and fighting will ensue. Jamie and Roger will end up in the idiot hut together and have to deal with the awkwardness of how Jamie beat Roger to a pulp because of mistaken identity, and Ian sold him to the natives. No significant change from the book.
The Mohawk will require a trade in exchange for Roger but not for the same reason as the book. It will simply be that if he is allowed to leave there will have to be an exchange. (MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD) Ian will still be required to take his place, but I think that young Ian may even offer up himself willingly, rather than being “compelled” by the tribe. In true Fraser fashion, he accepts his responsibility for Roger having been sold to the tribe and will want to make amends to him and to his cousin Brianna for the unfortunate situation.
This all has to happen in the first twenty minutes of the episode!
So, Roger, Jamie and Claire start to make their way back from New York to North Carolina, gutted at having to leave Ian behind, and trying to get back before Brianna gives birth. Sad and tired faces on everyone as horses and riders fade into the woods.
Cut to River Run, where Brianna is waiting for everyone to return, and looking like she’s about to deliver the baby any minute. She will fret about things some more, but the whole focus won’t be on her just yet.
Based on some stills from the upcoming episode, and drawing from last week’s material, I believe we will find Murtagh has made his way to River Run as well. But I think that Marsali and Fergus with baby Germain will have gone on to Fraser’s Ridge to check on things for Jamie and Claire and put the house in order for them before they return.
Since book Murtagh is actually dead after Culloden, his presence here is already a big departure. The book character Duncan Innes has disappeared completely. Many believe Murtagh is going to take over Duncan’s story line and ask for Aunt Jacosta’s hand in marriage. That’s as good a guess as any. But I think they are going to make us wait for season 5 for this to happen. I think we are only going to get a teaser as to any future relationship between Murtagh and Jocasta.
So, after checking in with the folks back home, we now return to Roger, Jamie and Claire.
I think that rather than having Roger go his separate ways so soon as in the book, the three stay together until they find the standing stones that Roger discovered on his forced march with the Mohawk. He said in the book that they are only eight days from Fraser’s Ridge. Claire needs to know where they are for future reference in case anybody needs to be transported back to the future. Roger will show her. She’ll hear them buzzing, too. Perhaps the horses will be spooked as a sign they are close.
Once they reach the stones, Roger will stay behind and contemplate whether he wants to return to his own time, or remain and raise the child with Brianna even though it may not be his own blood. If she still wants him. BUT, he will not take long. He took days in the book version at the stones after first getting lost. But he’s been through so much to be with her that he will accept whatever may be in order to be with her again. So, like Claire, who once had to decide between going back to her time or staying with Jamie, Roger will not even wait the whole night before deciding to ride on and catch up with Jamie and Claire.
All of this has to happen in the second 20 minutes of the episode!
Alright then. We’re down to it. The final 20 minutes!
The task seems impossible! Because in the book Jamie and Claire will get back in time for the birth, and Roger will not show up for what seems like weeks. Roger and Bree are not sure how to act around each other, and the baby is in the way of their re-bonding. Jamie and Claire set up a way for the two to get some privacy and this sets them back on a path to one another emotionally. Then we also have the gathering of the Highlanders which is such an important part of the closing moments of the book.
So this is why I think Roger will arrive very soon after the baby is born but not during the delivery. We need to see the part where Bree wants her da to be there to help her through the birth. I truly hope they do not cut that out! I imagine everyone will be sitting in a beam of sunlight smiling over the baby when Roger walks in. He is sure of himself and approaches with quiet confidence. I think the “adoption by blood”, as I will call it, takes place immediately. I will even add the possibility that he gets down on his knee and asks Brianna again to be his wife. She says yes and the room begins to bustle with activity and adoring looks of happiness all around.
In order to work in the Highlander gathering, which will have to be cut very short from the book version, they will all stay at Jacosta’s because it will now be taking place within weeks of the birth. Fergus and Marsali join them there, and the show ends with Roger and Bree formalizing their marriage amongst the clans while Jamie and Claire look on, holding their grandson.
Before we know the answer to whether I was anywhere close to guessing the changes from book to script for the finale, what did you think? Do you agree? What do you think will have to be cut for time? Feel free to answer on Twitter under the hashtag #OutlanderS4Finale.
“Sing me a song of a lass that is gone…” And we will soldier on until season 5 arrives sometime next fall, thus ending our annual Droughtlander.
As for me, I’m going to start my first reading of the next book, The Firey Cross, the next day.