Looking for the show I loved…a reflection on Outlander season 4

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I didn’t write a reflection after season 4’s finale.  It is true that I was sick and really couldn’t think clearly enough to write, but if I’m truthful with myself…a part of me really didn’t want to.  Then because so much time had gone by and so many had written exhaustively about this season, I really thought I would just pass. But, in the last few days, I’ve had readers asking me where my review is and I guess I owe them at least an explanation. I love this show and it hurts me to have to say negative things. I really am rooting for them.  I was holding out hope that my patience this season would be rewarded. It wasn’t.  My overall initial feeling after watching the Outlander season 4 finale was one of dissatisfaction. I wasn’t angry just sad. My thoughts wandered to previous finales and I particularly remembered how I felt after season 1. As I watched Jamie and Claire sail away on that ship to France I was tearfully smiling. I can remember thinking that I would miss this couple and overall pleased with the adaptation. I was proud to be a fan.  I’m still proud to be a fan, but with a few exceptions, I struggled to write about this season. I would find myself sitting with my thoughts for far too long.  I wasn’t inspired.  And, I think my writing this season reflects that.

It is telling that my most popular blog posts this season have been when I felt the need to negatively critique an episode. I hate that.  I’ve had some time to think and to read other fan’s reactions and I find myself agreeing with bloggers and fans that I usually don’t.  I hate that. But, I can’t write this blog if I’m not genuine.  My readers trust me to be honest and my conscience would bother me if I was wasn’t.  I really love Outlander and want it to succeed.  Let’s be clear, there is still a lot to love about this show.  It is beautiful and transportive and I have always believed it was made with obvious love for the story they were telling.  It is a remarkable tv experience. What it isn’t …is …the same show.

I’m still not buying into some fans’ intricate conspiracy theories and need to denigrate cast and crew for not giving “fans” what they want.  But, something HAS  changed.  None of us on the outside really know, but there are a lot of theories out there and at least a few make some sense.  There were a lot of changes to the TPTB and I have no idea if that resulted in different work relationships and expectations and maybe changes to budgets as well.  There were new writers, bad weather, and some really concerning comments from the cast about their characters and the amount of input they would like to have in the writers’ room. I THINK that might be a good idea, but what if their ideas about their characters aren’t what we think they think, lol. I still haven’t forgiven Sam for not letting Jamie “quietly fall to pieces”. Then this week some fans were sent questionnaires.  I guess that would indicate that they are trying to listen, but why not just say we hear you?  Why send surveys to select fans? What was the criteria? I’ve always felt that the majority of fans are happy with the show, but not as vocal as those who seem to be invested in finding fault.  Was this questionnaire sent to a true representative sample of fans?

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I’ve been here since the beginning and I don’t think PR has EVER really known who their audience is for this show or how to market it.  Can anyone say “the kilt drops”?  Are these surveys going to insure that PR and the TPTB will get an accurate picture of what fans want?  I think they might offer some insight, but shouldn’t be taken as gospel or as a definitive barometer of fan opinion. Quite frankly, if some fans actually get what they think they want they still wouldn’t be satisfied. I’m afraid it is the nature of the beast that is fandom. As much as fans like to think they know how to adapt Diana Gabaldon’s bible sized tomes, they don’t.  Nevertheless, there are some consistent and legitimate concerns played on many of the broken records. Sorting those out from the irritating scratches would not be an envivable job. This questionnaire thing feels like a mistake, one that is undermining the creators.  If I was them I’d be looking for another job. And, some folks NEED to stay.

I believe something happened this season that impacted what we saw on our screens. The show has taken a turn and is on a path that is far from the show I love to love.  It is a feeling, a change in attitude, and focus.  In my humble opinion, Outlander shines when it focuses on relationships.  And, that held true for this season as well.  Blood of my Blood and The Birds and the Bees were two of this season’s most well received episodes for that very reason.  I agree with fans who say that to in order to care about what happens to the characters we have to care about the characters.  As wonderful as the Cherokee village and Roger’s rescue were it was far less important than bridging differences and mending relationships in this story.  For example, just because you can write an episode of someone trekking wordlessly through a jungle doesn’t mean you should.

Character development just wasn’t up to par this season.  The Claire of the Ridge has always been my favorite Claire and after watching this season, I’ll have to reread Drums to remember why.  She seemed a faded version of the woman who finally becomes who she was meant to be.  She wasn’t the only character that was less than they should have been. Watching Fergus and Marsali I wondered why in the few minutes they were on screen their relationship was so much more dynamic and their persona so much clearer than Bree and Roger.  These two are so important to the rest of the story and they just don’t seem to be as clearly developed and/or portrayed in a way to make us care about them as major players.  I’ve written before about some choices that  I felt were a few “fatal” mistakes that have reverberated throughout the seasons: Loghaire at the witch trial and not allowing Claire to fight Jamie’s demons.  I read the explanations, but in truth Roger isn’t the beloved character he should be.  I’m hoping Roger’s leaving Bree and not choosing to come directly to River Run will not be one of those fatal mistakes that reverberate throughout the rest of the seasons. I think they dealt with those two previous mistakes as best they could and I’m hopeful that Roger and his relationship with Bree will be righted too.

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I’m completely aware that I am just one more fan voice and one more opinion in the ocean that has been written about this season.  It feels ironic to find myself saying, I’m criticizing, but I truly just want the show to be better, having criticized that type of critique previously, but I truly just want the show to do better. It isn’t too late to fix what was wrong this season.  I just want to write about a show that inspires me, I want the Outlander  I wrote this about:

CHARACTER COUNTS … A REFLECTION ON

OUTLANDER EPISODE 1. 11

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I was perusing Twitter on Saturday before watching Outlander episode 11 the Devil’s Mark when I came across a tweet from someone who had already watched the episode. Aside from being a little pissed that I hadn’t gotten to watch yet, I found the statement intriguing. The author said,
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Because the tweet intrigued me, I re-tweeted it.  I felt my excitement to watch the episode heighten.  Had they really done it? Had they really shown Claire in all her wonderful nerve-wracken-ly principled glory?  I sure hoped so.

The episode was exciting and full of all kinds of wonderful, but per usual there was a theme that stood out for me. Character. In a real-world and TV world full of characters with ambiguous moral character, Outlander has the potential to be something different. Saturday night, I saw some of that potential realized. Our main characters had moral and ethical dilemmas that they solved in ways that have sadly become a-typical. They made selfless decisions. They did the right thing despite knowing the price they would pay would be dear.

I enjoy watching Game of Thrones, a show Outlander has been compared to. In my opinion, this comparison by journalists is weak at best and most often used by writers too lazy to look any deeper.  There seems to be a tendency among these types to latch on to what is the most “pop culture” popular thing to repeat. I have nothing against R.R. Martin or the show based on his works.  They are what they are, but what they are is a far cry from what Outlander is or tries to be.

Last years’ GOT season was full of characters acting out of warped emotions, values and needs. I don’t expect anything different this year. Lots of titillating stuff to discuss around the water cooler, but I must admit the most shocking thing about this show is how hard it is to find a redeeming character. I wish I could say this trend toward pushing the moral and ethical envelope was the exception rather than the rule on TV, but I can’t.  It is all too common.

My reaction to the GOT characters and their actions is very different from what I feel when I watch Outlander.  Folks on social media said they used a box of tissues watching this episode. This is very understandable, there is some tear-jerking stuff!  I cried some tears myself, but I came to examine my feelings a bit closer and realized there was something deeper going on here. When I watched Claire and Jamie and Ned and even Gellis make their choices, I felt a real connection. My eyes filled with tears for the human compassion I was witnessing. Our characters made unselfish choices. They made me feel proud to be human.

My Twitter author Lady Jane commented that Claire was principled to a fault. I think I understand what she means, if she meant that Claire puts herself in danger by stubbornly remaining a person who cares about others ..then yes…I agree, she does. It’s the “to a fault” part that I find myself still thinking about today. The kind of choices Claire has to make come with risk to herself and others, to say the least.  But…I resist the idea that her ethical and moral center is somehow flawed because she chose to be unselfish. I’m pretty sure Lady Jane agrees with me because she loves Claire for it. These are the character traits of the everyday hero who saves a child from drowning, pulls people from a burning car or donates an organ to a stranger.  These are the kind of people we should be admiring and celebrating.

Claire would not give false witness, even against a woman who admitted to killing her husband and even if it would save her own life. I cried bittersweet tears for Claire. Under extreme distress and pressure, betrayed by those who should have represented innocence and mercy (Leery and Father Bain) , surrounded by a sea of faces that desired to see her burn, she stayed true to herself.

Sad, but wonderful too.

She is saved at the last-minute by the zealot murderess Gellis who sets aside her own desires to help another. I cried for Gellis’ courage, for her self-sacrifice and for her wasted life.  She will not be the last person to give over her thinking and decision-making to a cause nor the last to step over a moral and ethical line for that cause.  Once again, it’s all too common.

The evening’s monumental plot twists weren’t over and neither was Claire’s decision-making.  In fact, a much harder decision awaits her upon her escape from Cranes Muir in the arms of her 18th century husband Jamie.  I’m thankful that the decisions were made back to back.  It helped the viewer understand who Claire is and that is a person who will do the right thing despite the pressure to do otherwise.  It makes her decision at the stones that much more poignant and meaningful.  She did not take the decision to leave or stay lightly. In fact, given her moral center the agonizing choice would have left her shattered. She is married to Frank and finally has an opportunity to return to him and yet,….Jamie.

The other person in this triangle  made a few difficult choices of his own. First, he decides to suspend his disbelief for her sake. If I had any disappointment in this episode it was the fact that they chose to let the audience believe that Jamie never doubted her story.  He was human, of course he did and maybe part of the reason he took her to the stones was to shatter Claire’s delusions.  In the book, when  he grabs her back from the rock it’s because she starts to go right before his eyes.  I wish they would have kept that part.  Despite his extraordinary emotional intelligence this would have seemed the more reasonable reaction to me.

And… then, the audience learns that Jamie has chosen to let Claire go. What this choice reveals about him is nothing short of staggering. This is a man of integrity. Everything he feels tells him to beg her to stay, but he chooses to let her go…why?

He now knows the truth and it cannot be ignored. There is a man…a husband … with a prior claim. Claire is the wife of another man and as a man who honors the vows spoken between two people, he must acknowledge Frank’s claim on Claire. She isn’t his wife because she is still wed to another.
He must acknowledge that Claire doesn’t belong here. Her being here and with him is an unfortunate accident. She had no choice. She did what she needed to do to survive. And, after the witch trial, he knows she is a women out of her time and it will place her in danger again. She will be safer if she goes. He knows she has tried to get back to her husband and life over and over again. He will not add himself and his need of her to the equation. He loves her, so he will let her go.

I know I cried at every agonizing staggering step he took down that hill; my heart was breaking with his.

It’s a wonderful story full of redeeming characters who don’t always have to be right or have their own way.  My husband is a big fan of old TV Westerns and I think I know why. Even though I complain about their predictability the plots usually center around someone making a moral choice and often those character’s choose the self-sacrificing or ethical/moral high road. The characters learn lessons about doing the right thing for your fellow-man and having honor …like the characters in Outlander.

Somewhere, in TV and maybe our real-life culture, the idea of self-sacrifice as being a noble action has fallen away to the need for self-fulfillment at any cost.  Maybe it is because people don’t believe there is anything more to life. If that is so then I guess fulfilling your own desires at whatever the cost to others would make sense. But,  “I have to inform you, I am no of that opinion myself”.  I’m happy there is a production on TV that isn’t afraid to tell a story of people who wrestle with choices and choose kindness, honor, truth and self-sacrifice.

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99 thoughts on “Looking for the show I loved…a reflection on Outlander season 4

  1. Sally mcquinn

    Re the survey from starz: starz has something called Starz Insider which periodically sends out surveys to gather information. I signed up 2 years ago? There have been surveys on various things: new website pages, other shows. Movies etc. This was the first i recall just on a particular show…outlander. it was obvious from the questions that they were responding to viewers concerns and/ or feedback on social media. I thought it was a good tool to gather unbiased opinions

      • Rebecca Gill

        Once again you got it. You understand what many of us faithful book readers are missing. Yes, this is an ADAPTATION. We get that wholeheartedly. But the purposefulness and grandeur of Season 1 and 2 is missing. Season 1 and 2 spent time. Time to develop the characters. Time to weave the plot lines so the characters and stories became the tapestry that is Outlander.

        Beth, you mention that you “hate” to negatively critique. Without critique, negative or positive, we do not grow. If you only wrote sunshine and unicorn posts, no one would continue to read your blog. Trust me. One can express a negative take on something while remaining respectful. The last season and a half deserves some negative critiquing. You did touch on some things here. Kudos for being honest and truthful. I recall reading something early on about Ron Moore. First, he is brilliant. His genius is what gave us Outlander to fall in love with all over again. Finding Cait and Sam, Graham, Duncan, Gary Lewis, Lotte Verbeek, Stephen Walters and Grant O’Rourke (I mean, who didn’t love this dynamic duo), Laura Donnelly and Stephen Cree, and Tobias Menzies (whoa, on toast, without Tobias as BJR and Frank, where would this show have gone???) was strategic and powerful casting. This was an ensemble cast that formed Outlander for the screen. With Ron’s hands on deck, Terry’s brilliant clothing design, and the writers and producers that brought us Season 1 to give these amazing actors substance to work with was beyond our expectations.

        But, with all things that Ron Moore gets involved with, he eventually lessens his daily input, and goes on to do other things. By the time Season 3 rolled around, his absence was evident as more and more production responsibilities fell to Toni Graphia, Matt Roberts, and Maril Davis. Don’t get me wrong; these are talented people. But, as is human nature, their more direct influence started to show up on the screen in how things were interpreted. Writers and directors were changed out as if it was a revolving door and it showed up in inconsistencies in story arcs, and out-of-character behaviors that would leave us shaking our heads. I am not looking for the exact same things that Diana Gabaldon wrote, but, if things go off the rails too much farther, Outlander will not be Outlander any more, but something else. What that will be, we have to wait until it comes out. I do not follow the insider’s track so I come in open and without prior knowledge for what will come on the screen. Terry Dresbach has said that she will not be here for Season 5. But the producers and writers that remain will need to love the book version as much as they love the idea of adapting that version to the screen.

        I won’t go on as I do not want to beat the dying horse. It’s not dead yet, but definitely has been hurt and is lame. I will leave with this though. My expectations for Outlander have been lowered for Season 5. I will continue to watch, but Season 5 will either make or break it for me. So, do we persevere and stick with Outlander because we love the story? Time will tell.

      • thanks Rebecca. I guess my intuition tells me there is one personality or voice that is stronger than the rest in those executive producers and it is that person who is leaning the show toward wouldn’t it be interesting if…

    • Mary Beth Sheetz

      I just completed my survey and there were plenty of open spaces to free form your feedback on season 4. I’m still in a very strong thumbs up viewer place. Like parts of the books that seemed to bleh for the stories own good, so goes the TV show. I remain an avid Outlander consumer of all mediums- it’s the emotional ride I’m on and loving the show, books and how my imagination is constantly challenged by both.

  2. Canuckj

    Yes, all of this. I’m in the same boat of being sad that I don’t really care that the show is off for a while, and making negative comments where I could have never conceived of doing it before.

    This season missed the mark by a long shot. The pacing left every character undeveloped and uninteresting. The scenes they kept from the books fell flat without the proper build up (Jamie assaulting Brianna to prove a point was too soon. I realize time was meant to have passed, but we didn’t see it and see a bond form first.)

    It was just-not well done.

    And I’m on board with the people who feel they’ve gutted Jamie. I feel bad for Sam, honestly. I should have known when they gave him the knowledge that Laoghaire tried to have Claire killed then married her anyway.

    No.

    This season has felt like the writers have no sense of the characters, they’re just bouncing from one cataclysm to the next. The only scene from this season that sticks with me is the fire in the Mohawk village-and as beautifully presented as it was it isn’t the most imperative part of the story.

    I’m sad. Just sad.

  3. I almost messaged you yesterday because I thought I’d missed your blog. Beth, I totally understand what you are saying. I have felt it since the beginning of Season 3 but have been hanging on in the hopes the series would get back on track. What has been totally missing for me is the relationship between Jamie and Claire. It is missing the witty conversations and humor – especially with Jamie’s character. The equality of J&C relationship is absent. They have turned Claire into Superwoman and Jamie into her rather boring sidekick.
    There were so many missed opportunities to include some of the witty and heart rending book dialogue, what we got instead was Claire tramping through the jungle and Bree tramping the Highlands. What happened to Roger??? He’s become quite unlikable and that’s just wrong.
    To me, they made too many story line changes that were totally unnecessary and didn’t add a damn thing to the story. For me Season 1 has been the best so far. I recognized Jamie and Claire now……I’m not sure who any of the characters are. If they don’t bring them back then I’m afraid my beloved story will fade and die which will make me very sad indeed.
    I agree there have been wonderful aspects. The cinematography, the costumes and staging have been amazing but I want the story Diana wrote – her characters and not one dreamed up by script writers.
    Stupid question but what does TPTB mean?????????

  4. Maryann Meister

    Unfortunately, I have been seeing this done in small, almost unnoticeable, increments since the second half of Season 1 until by this season, you wonder how did things get so far afield. This season had the potential to again be epic. It had everything it needed but things were just slightly skewed and made so many things miss the mark. I like to put it that they have a tendency to put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LAB-le. The ones that suffer the most, IMO, are the characters of Jamie and Claire. They are mere whispers of who they are supposed to be. I will continue to watch because I love the books and still, once in a while, get to see glimpses of them in the show.

  5. carol

    Your blog is, as always, marvelous. You view things from a writer’s perspective and that adds much to the episode and as well as the character development. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this. Always a pleasure to read your views.

  6. Susan Kamlet

    Thank you, Beth. The books are unique pieces of literature and the series is unique, too. As you said, the stories are all about character development. Jamie and Claire are at the heart of the concentric rings of family, settings and plot. The production seemed to miss that mark. In some instances it became trite. When Jamie and Bree returned home with the honey, all Claire said was, “Shall I put on the kettle for some tea?” I thought, “who the heck wrote this drivel?” I watch Outlander because it is uniquely wonderful- or was- not for the dialog, plot changes, shallow characterizations and devices that were implemented this season. Hopefully The Fiery Cross will stay true to the spirited characters Diana created!

  7. carol jerome

    Beth. I only wish I could express myself as you do. I agree whole heartedly in your presentation of all things Outlander. Thank you for your report. More fans should read your take on the show.
    Carol Jerome

  8. Elisabeth

    I think we are seeing the results of writing by committee: some perhaps untested/new writers are producing scripts that the Writers Room works on together. The lack of a single writing voice produces errors in character development and continuity. I also feel the absence of Ronald Moore, who has gone on to other projects and assigned Matt Roberts to be the essential showrunner. Much as Matt seems to be a nice guy, he may be unable to produce the emotional “beats” that Moore demanded and perfected in earlier seasons. I too love Outlander and want it to continue for many seasons, but this season and even last season, I felt much as you did. We need more scenes showing connection, emotion, love, heartbreak. Let the actors connect, not just walk through a timeline of actions.

  9. Jude Evans

    Lovely to read your thoughts again Beth. They echo my own. I believe it started in s3 with a writers room of too many “cooks”… some who admitted not reading previous books..and others thinking that was ok. Too much replacement of character with drama…the seasonal 3 day walk…(We had 2 in s4!!)….and a level of ego that got in the way of Diana’s wonderful story. I too have read and discussed over and over what I feel is lost…and in spite of continuing wonderful production values…I too am just sad.

  10. Cheryl

    Thanks for your insight. Now I am going to be critical and I hate that. I think a part of the problem is that fans are becoming too personally involved. I see so much about Jamie wouldn’t act that way, Claire is so emasculating to him, Roger is all wrong….and on and on. Negativity breeds negativity. The show is marvelous! The actors and crew work so hard, so long, and still get such bad mouthing on SM. Perhaps I am just too oblivious to be disappointed, but I feel like we have been given a great show. Hugs to you and keep writing! Always glad to hear your views and they are always kindly stated.

    • Susan Mills

      Thank you Cheryl! I agree with you. I was sad when it was over and am anxiously awaiting Season 5. I don’t feel as the majority do. Maybe it is because i have not read the books in years and don’t notice the things that are “missing”.
      To me, it’s is telling the story I remember. I do not find Roger unlike-able at all and find all the characters as compelling as always.
      Looking forward to what the future brings.

      • Taylor Nault

        I have not read the books either & Season 4 was the most discounted & disjointed of All Seasons. There was no reason to waste 4 Episodes on Roger with the Native Americans nor waste an Episode with Leghair & Frank. Claire was cold, distant, barely smiled, if you even could call it a smile. She acted like she hated Jamie & wished she was still in the 1960’s. Roger & Bree have no chemistry. LJG & Bree they have chemistry & LJG knows how to treat a lady. The only time Sophie shines as an Actress is when she is with Sam or David Berry. Sam Heughan was the Saving Grace of Season 4 & he owned the Season as he has every Season. If not for Sam & his Brilliant, Phenomenal, Magical, Magnificent, spellbinding Performance as Jamie I would have stopped watching along time ago.

    • Jude

      Cheryl, that’s fine if you loved it! No one would take that away from you, but please don’t denigrate the fact that some of us….a lot of us…have noticed something missing. As Diana said about each individual reading their own story…so we each see our own story…and it feels so personal because we care so much.

      • Cheryl

        Hey Jude, sorry, I had to do that. Please accept my apology for downplaying your opinion. I truly do not understand why there has been such vitriole. You are so right that we each interpret things through our personal lens. I always try to find the positive. Hope season 5 is all you want it to be.

  11. Atlanta Gal

    As always, I enjoy and agree with your thoughtful insights. I’ve lost patience with the decisions they’ve made and the direction they’re going. I knew things were changing this season because I stopped recommending it to people —

  12. Stephanie

    Hi—I couldn’t agree with you more. Something is missing in the relationships. The “cute and sexy” banter, the warmth between Jamie and Bree at the end to show forgiveness, the euphoria of their grandchild’s birth, etc. I appreciate adaptation and, while there might be a scene or two I wished they had filmed, that’s not what was missing for me—and I don’t need to see them fully naked again! (Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, but you can be sexy without showing sex.).

    I’m curious about the survey you received. Can you share about the types of questions? Haven’t heard anything about it.

    Thanks for your writing. Appreciate your honesty. Steph

    • I didn’t receive one. But someone tweeted theirs it was ver specific and seems to reflect a lot of the “gripes” My concern is that asked questions that seemed to suggest they would change things based on fan response

  13. Judy Glasson

    Thankyou Beth for answering our call. As usual you have said what a lot of us think. I have written about my disappointments with this season and have been roundly critisised for daring to say it’s not good enough, but I have also had a lot of people agree with me, and that has given me heart. I really hope TPTB listen to us and take it on board. They are losing viewers and have only themselves to blame. They had a large ready made fan base and not many series get that. The very first thing they need to do, is get some writers who understand just who Jamie and Claire are. I think the writing has become very sloppy and lazy, and it gives me no pleasure to say that. Thaks Beth. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts on S5 when we get it.

    • Canuckj

      I feel they should definitely take note that they are losing viewers. I’ve loved the books for a long time, but I won’t continue to watch the show for the sake of the books. I’m not looking for a direct retelling of the books either-that’s always the first thing said when a book reader criticizes the show: it’s an adaptation. Most of us DO understand that and, as has been noted, while we may wish to have seen our favourite scenes, that’s not really a problem.

      What we’re looking for is the heart. The show needs to realize that if we don’t get it from them, we know better.

      So much is outstanding about this production. It’s been next level from the start. The cast is phenomenal, the costumes (wigs haven’t bothered me personally), sets, and just the overall philosophy of quality. But I also stopped recommending it this season. The heart just isn’t there.

  14. Betty

    Beth – I was sad and disappointed in myself for criticizing anything regarding the show. The first season – miss Claire truly saving Jamie- body and soul. Jamie was near death in the book. And the other seasons – 3 was okay. 4? The 20 minutes or so of the women wondering through jungle and woods – wasted screen time. The men – example Jamie after fighting “the bear” finds the village very quickly and he is injured. The screen time was quick – but going from night to day you know it took time to get there. And speaking of bear – i wanted the bear fight and Claire hitting Jamie in the head with the fish. They could have just done sound effects in the dark and the audience would have visioned a fight was going on. Each episode this season I was hopeful but… Lord John would have been more discreet, Jamie would have been worried about his sister being pissed and not talking to him regarding Wee Ian staying with the Mohawk, Jamie would have held his grandson and looked loving at him… I want my Jamie and Claire. You don’t have to weaken Jamie to make Claire strong. They are both strong and strong willed in the book – one of the reasons they love each other even when they are fighting. Well, I am rambling. I will still watch with hope.

    • I really didn’t want to write this. My experience is that it seems to open the door for piling on. I don’t agree with much of what fans say is wrong. For example that Jamie is emasculated or that there is a feminist agenda or that they have strayed too far from the books. It is just not as rich and wonderful as I had hoped

  15. Christine Holder

    Hi Beth. I hope you are feeling better now. Thank you for this blog, and every blog re Outlander. I always look forward to them. I have been saying the same about this season, although not as we expressed as you. Costumes, sets, casting and acting have been spot on, but I miss the real Jamie and Claire.

  16. Jayne

    Sad is the best description you’ve made. I started loosing some excitement during S3..I could see it as a foreshadowing. Ron was mostly gone and now did not see him once during S4 discussions at the end of each episode. My expectations will be lower and I’m afraid this could effect contracts for Seasons 7-8. The book does not have to be followed in everything, but do not make up strange storylines that take away from our characters. This season is about family, new beginnings, courage..forging new lives. Wasting valuable time, S5 down to 12 episodes, with ‘made-up’ writing will diminish it more. Thank God I have my books! I agree that I’m not so sure actors should have more input. Sam did own up to the fact about fans being so upset over his input. It’s down to having devoted writers that love the written word with this story…

  17. Kristin D. Gesner

    Thank you for your article. I sure wish I had gotten a survey. I love both the series and the books. I have enjoyed them all but there is a lack of emotional investment this season. I think they have been cramming so much story into the 13 episodes it has to be hard. I loved seeing Murtagh but him coming back into the story has changed the story…it kind of feels like they are changing the basics of the characters. Jamie and Claire always were equal and supportive of each other and that was part of their charm…and by leaving out the healing of Bree and Jamie was inexcusable. They didn’t have to have Jamie and Claire at the birth of Jemmy but it is one of the highlights of the book but it should have been addressed. It would have taken them only a few minutes. I will anxiously await season 5 but I hope they rethink some things for next season. Thanks again for your review…always fun.

  18. Gretchen Field

    Everyday, I looked for your email to share with my FB groups. Many of us are right there with your points. Many of us are drained from trying to make others see that there could and should be more…. that the personalities have been changed of the main characters for the sake of drama. We were constantly hit back with stop nitpicking.. stop watching… “I’m just happy to have anything”….. I’m not. Yes, I understand adaptions, yes, I know you can’t film everything from such big books. Season one was terrific, despite some singing and lack of a grotto…. season two had a beautiful transition to France and a heart breaking “Faith”, but season three we began to see a change in those personalities that Diana wrote and we loved and there was the Bakra. Season four started out with encouragement, but then I was furious when we had to watch Bree drag around like she had no common sense to end up in Laoghaire’s home… what are they doing??? So, I’d take a deep breath, read the book and hope that I would get back on track. The drama continued, but we did get some terrific acting from Richard and the wonderful First Nation actors. I think we are seeing the result of keeping Murtagh alive and it will continue to affect the storyline going forward. Adding that bedroom scene, with Maril Davis commenting that they thought it would be “fun!” took time away from Jamie and Claire at the birth of their grandchild and ended up with poor Roger asking to see his son, only to be left in the dust of the redcoats. I will be there for the return of the characters we love and the wonderful cast for season five, hoping for the best. I’m glad you are feeling better and thank you for giving us your insightful perspective. We would have been sad to miss it.

  19. Helen Pharris

    I hope TPTB read what you have to say and pay attention. I believe so much would be fixed if the writers would be required to read all the books. I never understood why they thought they needed 1/2 of the writers to be non-readers. I’m sorry to hear you have not been feeling well and glad you are better. I always look forward to reading your blog, and would be interested in what Diana thinks about this season.

    • Helen Pharris

      There was so much that I loved of the finale that I was willing to overlook some of the things I disagreed with. But, at the end when the writer said that of course, the most important thing was the relationship between Jocasta and Murtagh, I actually screamed at the TV. With that attitude from the writer, I lost all hope for future seasons. It was like rubbing salt into the wounds.

  20. The smartest thing Starz/Sony could do to improve the show would be to give Diana more than just Consultant status. It’s might be a fine idea to give Sam and Caitriona producing credits and power, but, really, Diana is the one who can help them steer a more true course toward getting the characters and story right. She commented noticeably less about this season and I think that is telling regarding her opinion.

  21. Midge Foley

    I’m another of the viewers who got the questionnaire. I signed up with Starz Insider last year and occasionally get a survey. Almost ignored this one because I figured they only wanted to know if I watch. I don’t remember many of the questions but one asked something like what I enjoyed about the season and what I didn’t enjoy. How I rated the characters; how I rated the actors. And I think there was a question about what I would like to see next season because I answered something along the lines of a couple extra episodes or longer episodes maybe (I know it won’t happen but they asked!). As for your review, sadly I agree. I just haven’t felt the same toward the show since the second half of season 3.

  22. Jane B.

    Beth, thank you for writing this issue of your blog – I know it wasn’t easy. I’ve never seen a show like S1 of Outlander – and maybe we won’t again. If this were a show totally written in the writer’s room, without the books, it wouldn’t be too bad.

    I realize it is an adaptation, but they’re leaving out the essence of the books and putting in gimmicks. Some of it seems to be based on the actors they’d like to have reappear. Actually didn’t mind seeing Frank again this year in the scenes with Bree – the goodbye at the dock was quite touching. But the Leghaoir episode!! Bree is supposed to be in engineering school, yet she didn’t think to look for a stick to use as a crutch? And Laura Donnelly was unavailable – but were ALL of her children also unavailable? Great seeing Cree again, but he didn’t even introduce the “lads” carrying her trunk – were they family, or hired hands?? Where are her cousins? He is glad to see her, but drops her on a dock full of hoodlums from all over and never looks back? She couldn’t “see” Frank with Uncle Ian near? Realize not getting Laura D. back made them change their plans, but all the time wandering around could have been used in other episodes. A few more moments on character development throughout the season would have helped.

    This show needs to have an emphasis on Jamie & Claire, even if they’re not in every episode. The loss of “going to pieces” was difficult, but I could kind of buy it, if you think of Jamie having ADHD as Sam may have (does he ever sit still?). The pictures of one child reminded him of his other child, which he was excited to share with Claire. I never liked the book version, where he was not the one to tell Claire about William.

    I like authenticity, and I realize the Mohawks were probably located further away than in the books and the show was extra sensitive about the Native American portrayal, but would Claire have let her daughter deliver her first grandchild without her, knowing the state of medicine at the time? If she went because Roger would be likely to fight Jamie, wouldn’t this thought bother her throughout the trip? Even if the baby cried, we should have seen Jamie and Claire (and Roger) hold the baby. (Don’t they usually have 2 babies for moments like this?) I liked Murtaugh and Aunt Jocasta, but would have given it up for a moment of everyone holding the baby.

    One redeeming part was the separation from Young Ian. Even though it was cut way short, and we didn’t get to see him “morph” into his native appearance, John Bell got to shine in this bit. Although I would have preferred he remain a bit leery of the natives at the very end. It seemed like he’d just joined Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, he seemed so euphoric. Not like he’d just lost his family, perhaps forever. Perhaps we’re to be reminded he’s still a teen, and not as grown up and mature as he thinks he is?

    Sorry to go on so long. Just finding myself not recommending the show to people as in the past. Seems like Starz is comfortable capitolizing on the show’s success, without ever reading the books or understanding what the fuss is all about. When Matt, Maril & Toni break the books into episodes, it seems like they prepare an outline of key elements that have to be in each one. The writers, especially new writers, write a story that connects the dots, but continuity continues to fray, and we’ll have to return to the books to get the characters we fell in love with.

    Thanks Beth, for helping us put aside S4, only to hope that S5 is a bit better.

      • Jane B.

        Beth, thanks for your calm reviews. After listening to some other bloggers, I’ve decided to calm down myself. I enjoy shows like Turn and Sons of Liberty, and don’t freak out if they deviate from history a bit. With Outlander, I find myself holding the show to a higher standard, because they have such terrific material to pull from in Diana’s writings. Episodes written by Toni G. and others who have read the books are better, in my mind, than those who are more willing to pull the story in a new direction. While I understand Ron’s initial choice to have both readers & non-book readers as writers, the show’s characters would have greater continuity if everyone shared a belief in the character’s motivations and core principles. Their problem is how, in the world of modern television, to get those tender moments, the bits of conversation that reveal the players’ character, into the script. It is much more exciting to non-book readers to have scenes with running, fighting, explosions, and similar things we’ve come to expect from television & movies. (Even if middle-aged Claire holding up Roger while running & fighting off natives all at once is a bit much! If Cait were older herself, maybe she’d understand?!?) Book readers yearn to have those quiet moments they remember shown on screen. Ultimately, TPTB need a show that attracts viewers of all kinds who are willing to pay monthly for STARZ.
        So, we’ll just have to cherish the quiet moments we do get between the characters that much more, and accept that Outlander is still a great show, just not the perfect representation of the books we love. Thanks for providing a place where we can vent & share our ideas about Outlander!

  23. Christine Finklein

    Dear Beth!

    Thank you for taking the time & energy to write your thoughts about the conclusion of season 4. I always eagerly look forward to your comments and insights because you have such a beautiful manner when you zero in on ideas and impressions sometimes I’ve not thought about.

    I too was sad to see season 4 finish. We waited so long and eagerly anticipated each episode every week only to have them fly by and be done = darn! Almost from the first episode of this season I grabbed the book and began rereading to refresh my memory of what should be happening. I needed to delve into what would probably not be depicted on TV just in case. Diana has written so many layers of this story that to portray every bit is impossible. It boils down to writers who decide on what is critical and visually how to move the concepts along. I was stunned with the romance between Murtagh & Jocasta but not disappointed essentially because I so love both characters and imaginations chose to keep Murtagh around for designs of their own making. Jocasta is a grand character so if weaving both of them together, who knows what else might develop.

    As I’ve watched every season of this show since 2014 what one underlining notice I can’t ignore is how uncommunicative our main characters are at junctures of such importance. The whole misunderstanding with Roger and then his endurance tests with the Mohawks and all the subsequent agonies he goes thru as well as eventually Brianna & Jamie and Claire too – really? As I read those parts in the book I was seriously questioning Diana’s sensibility because all that would have had to happen was opening up, TALKING TO EACH OTHER, and being honest; look what suffering would have been avoided. Yet, Diana had bigger lessons to teach and plot lines to advance that were vital to the overall book because look at the way everything turned out. What happened to Ian alone! I could never presume to get inside an author’s head and judge their motives or deny their abilities to weave amazing stories that in my limited imagination I never would have devised. In other words, although I felt the communication skills of all our main folks is often lacking, they grow into better people among themselves that eventually produces unbelievable concepts I never could have dreamed up.

    Is some of your disappointment with season 4 involving the lack of innocence now? Jamie & Claire aren’t brand new lovers, Bree & Roger are grown up dealing with adult issues and a wee child to raise & love. The novelties of so many of the beloved characters have worn away and now we face serious consequences that can’t be wrapped up so easily. Aall of their lives are complicated by much more than the future.

    I love this story because yes, it’s ideal in a lot of ways but it’s so rich with expressions of love, honesty and true reactions from a variety of angles. The fact I’ve watched the TV show umpteen times, read the books multiple times and still find so much more to learn and enjoy says something about the QUALITY. It’s one’s analysis of a tale that I might not choose at first but I love the potential that it holds to teach and share and identify with my simple life again and again. Anymore, most TV is junk. Canned laughter, stupidity in the way of portraying life styles with overt ridiculousness not truth. It’s an insult to my integrity! I love a tale that makes me want to learn more or challenge my belief system a bit and causes me to dig deeper for more understanding. I love the integrity that Bear McCleary or Terry Dresbach or any of the writers & directors bring to each and every moment of the telling. There were some who took strong exception to using Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” in Roger’s episode with the Jesuit priest’s murder but I was inspired. It’s a powerful piece of music and inserting it where they did brought the gravity of that entire storyline to the forefront. I was staggered with the reality of how a person’s faith could brainwash one into denying baptizing their own child purely because of misbegotten beliefs about the person doing the baptizing. Yet that’s the way the Catholic Church shoved beliefs down the throats of its followers for thousands of years! There was no real judgement in this episode but it sure offered a lot of food for thought if you cared to look close.

    ‘Outlander’ is a monumental show just like the books are magnificent examples of stories about love. There are layers and layers to learn and cherish if you care to look below the surface. Certainly at various points one might get disappointed and feel whoever was doing the telling was less than impressive or enough. But, if you value the beautiful examples of true love, illustrations of relationships that are tough but long lasting and if you admire the skill and talents of amazing individuals whose job it has been to lay an interpretation at our feet, you couldn’t do much better than ‘Outlander’! I am a fan & love the challenges to defend my admiration of it. I’m an addict of true love and, like Diana admitted a long time ago, she only wanted to describe how a marriage could endure, grow and flourish between two very volatile people who in this day & age might never have made it. Hats off to the entire production for doing a bang up job! Please don’t make us wait so long for season 5. One way to bolster our support is tell us when season 5 is due to show up rather than leave us in the dark for so long.

    Thanks, Beth! Hang in there and hopefully you are feeling better and not as ill. I was so sorry to read you had been under the weather!

    😉

    Chris F

  24. Kathie Havemann

    The fact that Starz sent a survey to certain viewers (not to me but to a friend) gives me a bit of hope for Season 5 — if TPTB actually listen. I could nitpick but really the greatest shame this season and last is what the writers have done to Jamie — and to Claire at the expense of Jamie. Jamie has been made a sidekick to Claire when in the books he is The King of Men. TKOM is not a sidekick to anyone anywhere in the books. And Claire time-traveled from 1948 originally. There were no out-loud feminists yearning to be heard back then; there were housewives vacuuming their perfect homes in pearls and heels and taking Miltown to assuage their anger at a world built for only men. Even when she returned to Jamie in the late 60s, there was not the level of feminine outrage we hear and see and applaud today. I was born in 1946 and was in college and grad school from 1964 to 1971. I know some things about those times.

    I also believe that most of the people who complain when others criticize the show either have not read the books or have forgotten them. If I weren’t a reader, I too would find the show and characters quite interesting but only because I wouldn’t know any better. The idea that half the writers are non-book readers astounds me. Would you allow a writer who has never read a comic book to write a Marvel comics movie? That’s precisely why there is such a lack of continuity among episodes and a lot of “Wouldn’t it be fun to . . . .”.

    I am a lifelong voracious reader who has never re-read a book until I read Outlander. As soon as I finished the 8th book, I immediately restarted the series. I can’t wait for the third reading. There is something magical in Gabaldon’s writing that has seared itself into my soul. I hate seeing that bastardized by bad writing and bad ideas.

    Enough said. Thank you, Beth, for giving me an opportunity to vent. I love everything you write.

    • Elena Latici

      Thank you for this articulate and informed reply. I too was born in 1946, but to a mother who put her career above all else bu couldn’t or wouldn’t support her daughters in theirs. Very confusing. loved your Miltown and pearls reference even though it was the opposite of what I saw while growing up.

  25. Thank you Beth, I felt exactly the same, disappointed and sad. After the first 3 seasons I was built up for another season full of phenomenal episodes and felt very let down by the end. Every season has had some let downs, that is to be expected in any adaptation, but it could be overlooked because what was given was so great. But, for me, this season there wasn’t anything done so great to make up for the let downs. I still held on to the finale hoping it would put everything right but it just made the entire season worse IMO. The parts with the Mohawk and Roger were good and when Ian stayed but that was it. It might have been ok if we were given Jamie & Claire at the birth of Jem OR if the ending was as phenomenal as the first 3 seasons, but neither of these things happened. I put together a meme to show how I felt about the ending but unfortunately can’t share a photo here. Basically, it showed the closing shots of each season, 1 with Jamie and Claire sailing away on the ship, 2 with Claire watching the sunrising over the stones, 3 with Jamie and Claire holding on to each other on the beach after the shipwreck and the sweeping view of the beach into the new world they were now in, and last of 4 with just a close up of Jamie’s face and sudden black. The first 3 were absolutely Epic and the last one felt like the end of some cheap daytime soap opera. You can view it at https://plus.google.com/u/0/104742042697068179111/posts/ZpFwLTCJWAS
    I, like you, I want to love it and I understand adaptation but this season felt like they tried to rewrite too much of the story. I’m glad Murtagh is alive, I love Duncan La Croix but he should not be a major character with his own story line, he is strictly a supporting character of Jamie and Claire. I like him with Joscasta but they should not take away from the story of Jamie and Claire to give them so much scene time. I also might have been able to deal with it if Jamie at least showed some enthusiasm for the baby and there was a reconnecting moment with Brianna. I have heard that the baby cried every time Sam held him or something like that, well it’s film, use a doll without showing the face. I believe they could have managed something. To lose all of these just left me empty. I believe it was such a let down because we expected the same caliber of show we were given in the first 3 seasons, we know they can “do epic shit”. Unfortunately in S4 they didn’t. For the first time in the series I’m not feeling droughtlander or excited at all about upcoming S5. I haven’t decided whether or not I will watch S5 mainly because I don’t want to be let down again. It really hurts to see because we know how good it could be from what they have done in the past. Thanks for listening.

  26. Barbara Spellman

    As always, Beth, I wait for and value your analysis. Whether I agree with you or not, you are absolutely superb in your presentation of your point of view. I agree that there have been some major things put into the series that don’t fit. There are things left out that would be better left in. And I think that for quite a few episodes Jamie was not the strong character he was in the book. One problem I see after reading all the replies, is that Diana’s books are great because they speak to each reader. Therein also lies the problem. Each of us has different life problems and situations, so different parts of the book speak to us. I have tons of post it notes in my copies of the books, each one marking something that speaks to me because of something in my life. But they aren’t the same things that speak to you or other people. I never thought, for example, that a man who lived through BJR, 7 years in a cave, Ardsmuir, leaving Willie, and much, much more would fall apart looking at pictures of Brianna. So I was happy it was left out. I felt that all the things Claire did to cure Jamie of BJR were weird and over the top, so I didn’t miss that either. But I really missed the meaningful dialogues she had with the priest. Some of the things I do like in the series, are the dialogue between Jamie and Claire, Brianna and LJG, Claire and LJG, Jamie and little and big Willie, Jamie and Brianna, Jamie and Murtagh, Jamie and Ian at their goodbye scene. Jamie, Claire and Roger after his rescue, but I missed them at the birth. I also love Sam’s facial expressions everywhere. I’ll always remember the episode where he is lying on the battlefield and in the cottage. He is dying the entire episode, yet his performance was outstanding because of his facial expressions and small but powerful dialogue. I loved the scene in the printshop where he asks Claire’s permission to kiss her, where he explains how he brought her image to him whenever he needed her but she never touched him. There are many others too numerous to mention. I also love the actors and actresses chosen. I think they are all excellent. I concentrate on all the things that I love and ignore what I see as a writer that doesn’t get it or a character development too shallow. So far, I remain a loyal fan of the books and series. As interesting side point is that my friends who have not read the books so have no comparison, just love the series. Thank you again, Beth, for your thoughts and insights, and for providing a place where we too can share our thoughts and insights.

  27. Andrew Brooks

    Lets hope that a character building episode at The Grandfather Mountain Gathering will get series 5 off to a good start. Most scriptwriters need to have read the books.

  28. George and Susan Bond

    Both my wife and I agree wholeheartedly with your main points. In the beginning I recommended that my wife read this series of books after reading them myself. We have both enjoyed the books and the shows on tv. The strength of the story, in both media, is the development of the characters, both the human ones and Scotland and even the birds and plants. She, Diana, makes us feel like we are there in the story with Claire and Jamie. We want them to succeed and have a “good” life. We care about what decisions they make because they relate to the kind of person they are. We want to like them but don’t always agree with them. We have had many discussions about their decisions and how we feel about them and how they relate to our own lives. I would love to see the story vary little from the book, but know that in today’s profit related world that it is not possible. BE TRUE TO THEIR CHARACTER. The book has many strengths but is not perfect. The production company seems to lose their direction prioritizing what is important to the story.
    Thank you for elucidating our feelings and keep up the good work.

  29. Julia Kennedy

    Part of Jamie’s reasons for sending Claire back was to protect her from the sure aftermath of Culloden. Part was to protect the child she carried. I would say the need to send her back because she was married to Frank was perhaps part of it , but was the least part, Her life and the baby’s, given his almost certain death was the most important. Jaimie is an ethical person, but the first “ethical” choice for him was not Frank. Frank would protect Claire and Jaimie knew he himself would not be able to. I do think it is foolish to make Jaimie some sort of god-like being who would put ethics always ahead of even his love for Claire and his child. You could say that where ethics are concerned, his highest ethic was to protect them and Frank was only considered because he would probably take care of them.

  30. Olivia

    Hi. Firstly, I’ve always been looking forward for your reflection post as I love to read about it. This will be my first time to comment as I feel the urge to. Hate that I have to agree with everything you have said. Just a disclosure I haven’t have the time to read the books so I couldn’t comment on changes between books and the show. Personally, I tend to love most are the tv shows that are character-driven. And that is what I fell in love with Outlander. No matter what goings on around them, the characters and their relationships are still the focus. They drive the plot and not the other way around. That’s why I cared about these characters. They are characters that are thrown into circumstances. But the plot doesn’t over power them. I don’t know what happened especially in S4. I felt like it turns to be a plot-driven show. And mostly felt flat. It feels like too many plots and not enough character development and focus (with the exception of Blood of my Blood and The Birds and the Bees, which are my fave of the season). That’s why after everything that’s have happened to Bree and Roger I still find myself hard to root for them. I still don’t care much about them. And yes I care more about Fergus and Marsali or even Young Ian. I feel like they have not done a proper job on developing these to characters, enough that I would care for them. I get that its a big book. But I just wish that they will focus more on the characters then these characters will be intertwined or will drive the plot. Because I think this is where Outlander is at its best. One of my favorite episode of Outlander is the S2 finale. And for me it is the best example wherein there is so much going on around them, yet the main focus of the episode are the characters. Their choices and their relationships.

  31. Nancy C.

    Uffdah. Reading negative comments hurts. They are everywhere. If we’re not careful, Starz will never renew Outlander. I’ll take whatever because not having Outlander to watch, with all its warts, would be sad indeed. IMO.

  32. Lorraine Grzena

    Thank you very much for writing down your thoughts on this season. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say. I agree with everything you wrote, and I felt that the continuing development of Claire’s and Jamie’s story lines could have been fleshed out more. There were times I was actually bored, which has never happened before. I kept thinking there are so many other relevant arcs that could be explained, and yet here I sit yawning. I am waiting to see S5, hoping the Execs have read your blog. Fingers crossed.

  33. Hello. Your thoughts have a lot of merit that several agree with ( including me) however I think that S5 will not meet fan expectations. Since the majority of commenters said they will continue watching is all that Sony/ Starz wants. All they care about is the $$$. In fact I think the content is suffering due to a decreased budget. A lot of people will watch next year ( I would not be surprised if that number increases) in HOPE that Outlander will become great again. It is that number that matters

  34. Janice Frankel

    Beth, I always appreciate your sincere and heartfelt take on Outlander. After reading all the comments, I reluctantly need to comment in defense of the show. I agree that these wonderful characters are getting a bit lost and I completely understand the passion and the concerns expressed, but I would hope viewers would appreciate what a tremendous feat it is to condense these epic novels into a TV season. There’s just too much story to tell, and I doubt it would make any sense to spread a book out into two seasons. I’ll continue to enjoy Outlander for all that is good about it, which is plenty. I hope that all the passionate fans will stick with it. I know that you will, Beth.

  35. Stephanie Beckham

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Beth. I rewatched some of my favorite scenes from Season 1 recently and that only reinforced my feelings about the last 3 seasons. Each season takes us further from the original story and sorry to say, not in a good way.

    The writers were given a great story, plenty of wonderful dialogue, fully realized characters as well as excellent actors. They only thing they need to do to ensure the love and devotion of myriads of fans is to stay close to the original as they adapt the books. They only thing they need to do to lose many of their fan base is to do the opposite. I hope they chose the better way for next season.

    I also stopped recommending the show to my friends. I’ll never stop recommending the books.

    • I’m afraid that is like a domino game. It will move from the books naturally. I just felt they had lost their way somehow. I wanted to remind them to think about why they want to tell this story.

  36. Dolores Friesen

    Hi, I have been reading a lot of the comments but decided that was enough and turned them off. But your blog Beth was what I was waiting to read. I agree there were some aspects of Season 4 that I really liked. And some things I wished would have been different. Not being able to be a fly on the wall and know what transpired to arrive at the final product, it is difficult to judge whether it was due to differences in who and how things were done, budget cuts, or pressure to take some poetic license to preserve the ego of some or some political pressures. All I know is the show had lost some of it’s allure, in my opinion.
    But I will still be watching Season 5 and 6 and more if it continues, hoping the story will continue to be told. Because the books are the most amazing stories, which have kind of ruined me for other books, at least for the time being. Knowing that a book, especially a DG novel cannot fully be translated to a show, but at least the essence of the characters and story line should be preserved.

  37. Betty

    Hi Beth. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on each episode, so it saddens me that your resume of season 4 as a whole is so downbeat. I personally don’t feel that it is so significantly different from its predecessors. There have been great moments and a handful of wonderful, joyous episodes in all four of them – but they’ve also each had their share of duds.

    Putting this in some sort of context, I stumbled on Outlander about this time last year, and binged on the first three series in about three weeks, by the end of which time I was also starting on the first of the books. I went for total immersion.

    So, first three seasons, knowing nothing, I loved whole-heartedly first time round. By the time season 4 got underway, there wasn’t much I thought I didn’t know. But I’d lost the simple act of viewing and enjoying what I was seeing and feeling. I was winding myself up to watch every episode in full analytical mode, almost as if I was prepping for a class. Also, by exposing myself so much to all the noise on social media, I was starting to feel something like guilt over my own intellectual investment in these characters and stories. I had to pull myself together: I mean, you can’t really enjoy Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice if you’re trying to write a justification on the significance of women in early nineteenth fiction.

    I hear what you are saying, Beth, that something has changed, that something is missing, in this last season, and I don’t doubt that that is true of your experience. But for me, it’s more about how i and my interpretation have changed, and when I rewatch the older episodes I can see flaws there too. The one qualification I will make to what I’m saying is that I think another couple of episodes, or even better, one or two slightly longer episodes, would have made a difference to season 4.

    I will also admit there are whole passages of the books I prefer to skip (is that sacrilege?). But it’s still a joy to have discovered this virtual world and the people that inhabit it.

    Thank you for all you do, and I hope you are feeling better.

    • Mary Beth Sheetz

      ‘the simple act of viewing and enjoying’ – you have that right Betty..trust me I’m guilty of way to much analysis in everything I consume ( curse of being an earth girl)..looking back to my other favorite series Brideshead Revisited- I loved enormously, but was never tempted to read Waughs’ book. Downton Abbey , another fave- again the story took turns I thought weren’t the best, but it never diminished my enjoyment of re-watching all 8 seasons of episodes. Outlander remains my not guilty pleasure.

    • Hi Betty, I hear what you are saying and I believe there is some truth there. the problem is try as I might and I do try, I cannot completely disconnect with knowledge of the story. You are right to say it is a completely different experience to watch the show without the books in your head and I am kind of jealous of those folks. The show also flow better when binged. I just felt there was something missing that was there in other seasons and it is tough to pinpoint the difference, but I feel it.

  38. Georgia Hopkins

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your intelligent, reasoned and thoughful comments during the life of this show. I feel a greater sense of loss with each season, as the characters seemed at times to pale in the light of more focus on sets and settings. I find myself nothing close to the level of involvement with the show’s people that I felt during the first and parts of second season. I feel like the substance of these beautifully written characters fades more and more – their depth and complexity more and more unrealized. If Diana’s stories are anything, they are character-driven; their interactions and interconnections the main things that kept me reading. I suspect the story might work if set in ancient Egypt or Incan Peru – because these people are archetypal, really, demonstrating the strength, power, failings and foibles, dreams and aspirations of us humans. It why we relate to them and love them.

  39. maryann Musser

    I think the disappointment with the ending of season 4 is partly because there really is a major turning happening in the story, Having read all the books I know that Jamie having to form a militia to help the British is a difficult thing knowing from Claire how the battle turns out. Its also a turn toward more attention paid toward Bree and Roger and a little less toward Jamie and Claire. The younger generation is sort of beginning to take over and thats a transition that anyone feels uncomfortable with. Every family goes through this and every parent and then grandparent too has to step aside a little from the main focus or attention being on them when it shifts to others. There is still much to come for Jamie and Claire and Jamie’s son too and their lives will never be the same. Even the agony of Roger’s need to know if the baby boy is really his is brought out. So what I’m trying to say especially for those who have not read the books is that the story does change somewhat and the characters getting older is part of that as well as the locale and the surrounding circumstances. It is life and anyone my age can appreciate that time has a way of changing things and people. Just an excellent and realistic and loving story and thanks for letting me share my thoughts, Mary Ann Musser

  40. eataylo1

    After I read your review, I forwarded it to my daughter who is a book reader like myself and we spend hours hashing over each episode. I added “I could have written this!” And she agreed, heartily!! Are you sure we’re not the same person????

  41. Yvonne

    I’ve read your blogs sometimes more than once after each episode. I’m a realist at heart but on the whole I’ve agreed with a great deal of your posts. You’ve hit it on the nail in this piece saying about a change that shows but cannot be singled out. One thing which has become most noticeable to me since Ron has handed over more of the production to his team is the constant change in script writers. For me this heralded the inconsistencies of our character depth portrayals and the lack of empathy for certain main characters because there had not been enough effort put into the build up to certain pivotal situations which occur. Writers need to be as involved with the character’s they write about as the fans are. That familiarity helps to maintain the essence of those characters as the story moves forward.
    I also have a particular producer/writer in mind when saying that I agree there is one over riding influence in the present team which seems to enjoy taking the story arc off track with some very annoying results.
    The saddest thing for me is seeing such amazing actors who have been involved and thoroughly committed to bringing their characters to life with great insight & integrity are being forced to look less because they are often not given the depth of plot lines or story arc to keep them interested. It would be a travesty to loose some of these actors who are now rightfully being acknowledged as the talents they are outside of the Outlander world.
    They were the ones who brought our beloved characters to life and have given so much to the show and the fans but now the production is starting fail them.There is still a lot to love in Outlander, the set designs our magical and the costumes breathtaking and the love is still glowing but the producers need to get back to the core of the relationships to keep those embers from going out.

  42. SI Sharon

    Hi Beth, So glad you’re back-I missed you. As always,you are the voice of reason and you are very kind in your description of the unease that so many fans are feeling.

    I tend to view this as series fatigue and try to look at it from a practical point of view. There are few long time tv series where the writers and production staff have remained the same. People move on, get better gigs, find more interesting and/or lucrative projects, burn out (e.g., TerryDressbach)…I can go on and on. Cast members can’t be accomodated(e.g., Laura Donnelly who was doing The Ferryman) . So series go through seasons that are stronger or weaker depending on a whole raft of reasons including the source material. Diana’s books are so dense and detailed that it’s a wonder that they get broken down in a writers room. Certain character arcs have to be developed (e.g., less of C and J and more of Bree and Roger) for the long haul. To make a long story short, I think that this season was disappointing to mant because there had to be some dilution to establish more character storylines especially for Bree and Roger as well as getting into the atmospherics of the new world and the poliics to come. As Diana Gabaldon says all of her work is interpreted differently by each of her readers. And as is the series, some disappoitment and unease is inevitable. Perhaps the emphasis will change in the future and we’ll get more of the Claire and Jamie story that we so love. But this season, we got a big taste of Young Ian, Roger, Bree, Jocasta, Lord John, Willy, Fergus, Marsali,Murtagh and uber villain6 Stephen Bonnet. And we got new cultures to explore. So I remain hopeful.

    As always, many thanks for giving us fans a safe place to air our differences. You rock!

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