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[Warning: the following story contains spoilers from Sunday’s Outlander, “Savages.”]
Outlander hosted a very welcome reunion in Sunday’s episode in yet another major departure from the books.
Going into the season, fans already knew that the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn would eventually see the return of fan-favorite character Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) godfather, as executive producer Ron Moore previously saved him from his book fate of dying at the Battle of Culloden. But when he would pop back up in the story was a mystery.
His change of fate had already been revealed last season when he was reunited with Jamie once at Ardsmuir prison, but his story was once again left up in the air when Jamie was sent to Helwater and Murtagh was shipped “to the colonies.” Sunday’s installment, “Savages,” revealed that Murtagh ended up in the same place as Jamie when a chance encounter with Young Ian (John Bell) led the two long-lost friends to reunite.
The glorious hug and happy, tear-filled moment was short-lived, however. While Jamie and Murtagh were overjoyed to see each other, and Jamie took Murtagh to Fraser’s Ridge so he could reunite with Claire (Caitriona Balfe), it soon became clear that Murtagh was a big part of a growing rebellion of the colonists against the British. Claire knew this was the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and unfortunately Jamie was already allied with the British. They were once again on the wrong side of a coming war, both in terms of their relationship with Murtagh and knowing how history will play out.
But as of now, Heughan is happy that fans finally are in on the secret of Murtagh’s return, no matter how complicated it may be.
“We knew that we wanted to bring him back, but we were all really excited at how it happened,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re so excited for the fans to see that. I think some of them suspected it, but it’s a great story. It’s really emotional for Jamie to have his godfather back, and the writing here is fantastic.”
This episode is only the beginning of what will drive the rest of this season (and series) forward. “Murtagh is on the other side, politically, than Jamie,” Heughan says. “It’s just the beginning of a major plot, the Revolutionary War that’s fast approaching. You can guess what’s going to happen and we’re going to see that through to the end where they’ll be on opposite sides. It’s going to create a real dilemma for both of these characters.”
Outlander has always been a political series, but this season hasn’t focused much on the brewing war between the colonists and British. However, this episode serves as a turning point.
“Jamie and Claire are always fighting history and always trying to change the future and fate, and this is no exception,” Heughan says. “Not only is this battle or war a big part of history, they’re going to have to choose a side and we already know they’ve chosen the wrong side so far. History tells.”
But this season might prove to work out differently. “In previous seasons, they tried to change the course of history and they realized that does not work,” Balfe tells THR. “Now, they’re much wiser and they try to use it to their advantage, this knowledge they have of what’s coming down the line. Even though at this point they seem to be putting themselves on the side of the British, which will be the wrong side of this coming war, they also know they’re going to be able to maneuver in time to hopefully be able to save themselves and keep them on the right side whenever it happens.”
Back in 1971, Roger (Richard Rankin) tried to find Brianna (Sophie Skelton) in the hopes that he could stop her from going back in time and suffering the same fate as her parents of dying in a fire. He followed her trail to Craig Na Duhn and discovered she had been there just 10 days earlier. She left a letter for Roger that was meant to be sent to him after a year, letting him know that she had found out on her own that Claire and Jamie die in a fire, so she went back in time to save them.
Skelton was shocked to discover that filming the momentous scene in which Bree goes through the stones herself was actually a lot more complicated than it looks onscreen.
“It was great to bring that to life,” she tells THR. “But it’s not as simple as it looks. Obviously I can’t actually go through the stones, so you have to sort of hide yourself while the cameras do a 360, and then when it gets to one side, you know you’re out of shot and you have to come around the other side and the camera reveals Brianna has gone through. Creating that spectacle was quite a choreographed scene that you don’t expect it to be. But it was really fun to film and that’s one of my favorite locations that we shoot on. It’s such a beautiful place.”
For his part, Rankin had to be reminded of the heartbreaking scene in which Roger reads Bree’s goodbye letter on a bench.
“Oh, ay! I forgot about that scene,” he says with a laugh. “The letter! It was so sad. He’s feeling a real sense of betrayal, I think. For whatever reason, Brianna hasn’t told him or spoke to him about the fact that she was thinking about doing this. He thought their relationship, even if it’s out of place, she would have trusted him in working together to save Jamie and Claire like they did previously in season two and three. He had hoped she would have been able to speak to him about that and not only has she not, but she left him and just left a letter?!”
Skelton laughs while Rankin continues in a mock-angry tone.
“I mean, come on,” he says. “What does that say about Brianna that she just left him a letter after everything they’ve been through? After all the love, after all the passion, and that’s how she says goodbye to go back and save her mum? She leaves a note with an innkeeper in Inverness? I mean, that’s a little low, isn’t it? That’s a low blow for Roger.”
“I’m just going to interject—” Skelton begins to say before Rankin cuts her off.
“I mean, she came all the way to his country,” he adds. “She could have chatted with him. It may have been nice to have dinner.”
Skelton continues, “She still felt rejected by Roger! He ended the conversation [in the last episode]. He just said he had to mark papers and that felt like a goodbye to Brianna.”
“He obviously didn’t mean it,” Rankin adds.
Skelton continues to defend Bree’s decision. “She has uprooted Roger’s life enough with her family drama,” she says. “I think she’s doing him a favor. She didn’t need to tell him she’d gone back. She gave that information out of love and respect. Really she could have gone and not left any note for Roger.”
Rankin then concedes. “Yeah, she could have,” he says with a sigh. Either way, things are not looking good for Roger and Bree.
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.
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