[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Saturday’s episode of Outlander, “The Fox’s Lair.”]
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Outlander book readers were in for a big surprise Saturday.
The Starz time-traveling romance drama flipped the script and brought back Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson), a character from season one that wasn’t supposed to be seen again until season three. Viewers remember the young girl who was so in love with Jamie (Sam Heughan) that she framed Claire (Caitriona Balfe) as a witch, leading to Claire almost getting executed while Jamie was out traveling. Had Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) not taken the fall for Claire, both women would have died that day instead of just Geillis.
But Laoghaire returned in a big way. Months after Jamie and Claire returned home to Scotland after their time in France, they ended up traveling to Jamie’s grandsire Lord Lovat (Clive Russell) to get more men for their army to fight for the Jacobite cause. The two were shocked to see Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis) there with Laoghaire. Colum, who believed the Jacobite rebellion was doomed to fail, was trying to persuade Lovat to sign a Neutrality agreement, meaning both the MacKenzies and the Lovats would not join the war. Lovat tried to blackmail Jamie for control of Lallybroch in exchange for giving him men and supplies for the war, but Jamie refused.
Claire realized the way to get the army they needed was by getting Lovat’s son Simon (James Parris) to stand up to his father, and to do that, they needed a woman to give Simon confidence. Claire convinced Laoghaire, who was desperate for Claire’s forgiveness for her testimony back in the witch trial, to flirt with Simon. That gave him the boost he needed to stand up to Lord Lovat, and although Lovat still signed the Neutrality Agreement, he also gave Simon an army to join Jamie’s. That way, Lovat is covered no matter which side wins the war.
To thank Laoghaire for her help in their cause, Claire convinced Jamie to thank her in person even though he wanted nothing to do with her. As Jamie walked away, Laoghaire confessed her love for her under her breath, meaning her story is far from over. That is, until next season.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Outlander showrunner Ron Moore about why he brought Laoghaire back this season, what he thinks of the backlash to last week’s brutal child rape scene and more.
There’s been a lot of controversy from viewers over how much of Black Jack Randall’s (Tobias Menzies) rape of Fergus (Romann Berrux) was shown onscreen vs. how much of it was in the book. Why did you choose to show more of it in the episode?
It’s been a while since I’ve read that chapter of the book but my recollection was the book was fairly explicit about what happened. I thought that what we showed in the show was actually the minimum required to convey the horror of what had happened and to understand from Claire’s point of view why she would change her mind about Jamie and about getting him out of the Bastille and come to an understanding about what made him break his promise to her and to really viscerally put her and the viewer in the point of realizing what had happened to Fergus. We had a lot of conversations about it with the cast and the director and then in editorial, and I went with what I thought was enough to convey the horror of it without lingering in it and making it too gratuitous.
Has the fan response to that scene surprised you at all?
I don’t spend a lot of time seeking that out, but from what I’ve seen, the overwhelming response has been positive. Everyone thought the show was very emotional and that it was a very gut-wrenching episode and the performances were amazing. I’ve seen pretty much a very positive response.
Are you going to be exploring that story going forward any more?
Not as much. Jamie is our lead character, and Fergus is a supporting role and it’s a different story. We’ve jumped ahead in the narrative to many months later and the war story has taken over. It’s a different thing for Fergus than it was for Jamie.
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