In expectation of the April 10 release of the Outlander: Season 3 Blu-ray and DVD, Outlander novelist Diana Gabaldon and series co-showrunner/executive producer Toni Graphia took part in a fan event on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, Calif.
was invited to the festivities and had the opportunity to speak two-on-one with Gabaldon and Graphia about Season 3 of the series, which was based on Gabaldon’s Voyager novel, and also sneak in a few questions about what lies ahead for Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in Season 4 in America, which is based on Gabaldon’s The Drums of Autumn novel.
Check it out, and for more info on the special features for the Outlander Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital releases, see below.
Season 3 differs from Voyager, the third book in the series, because changes need to be made for television. But do contemporary sensibilities play into it?
Toni Graphia: That’s a really great question and we do talk a lot about that in the writers room. We really try not to change things in the light of contemporary events because we have to be true to the history of the period. We go to great lengths to get details right and be authentic in all of our storytelling, whether it’s props, or sets, or people, or the language they use.
We do that way far and above what many, many shows do, but there are times where we’ll make a slight change from the book. Not because we want to change the story, or think it’s bad, or anything like that, but if we feel it will distract from the story. The one change that comes to mind is the scene when Jamie is with Geneva. We didn’t match the book exactly. We loved that storyline. I wrote that episode myself.
Diana Gabaldon: You did a fabulous job and you make the right call in that instance.
Toni Graphia: Thank you. We did change that. The book did it perfectly, but we felt if we put it on TV in this era, that’s all that will be talked about. It’ll be a huge distraction from the emotions of the story and that comes first, so that’s the call we made. So, occasionally we make that call.
We don’t read the papers every day and go, “We have to make everything line up with what’s happening.” What’s happening today is very, very important, but we’re not trying to be political. We are trying to portray this period in its authenticity and so we have to do that.
Speaking of emotions, do you think that the Jamie/Claire relationship felt different in Season 3 than it actually did in Voyager? It seemed as if Claire might have been a little bit more conflicted about coming back.
Diana Gabaldon: Yes. Well, you would have to talk to Toni about that because they write the show. I didn’t do any scripts for Season 3. I wasn’t involved in the planning of it, etcetera. No, it wasn’t the same.
Toni Graphia: There was, again, just a few places where we went a little bit, slightly different because in writing the books, Diana doesn’t have to think in 60-minute segments, but in the TV show, which is chopping up the book into 13 pieces, each episode needs to be it’s own little thing and needs to have self-contained conflict.
There’s long sections of the book maybe where there’s not conflict. You can take a leisurely rest and write it in this languid style that’s very enjoyable for a reader, because you don’t have to create conflict at certain points. So, we look for dilemmas, where maybe there weren’t dilemmas in the book, but still stay true to what dilemmas there might be.
Claire leaving Brianna was one where we just went a little deeper into what a mother would have to go through to leave their child. But it was just in the service of making some rich, maternal conflict there that we could fit in that episode about Claire’s going back.
One of the big changes in Season 3 was that Murtagh was kept alive. How much will that affect the story going forward?
Diana Gabaldon: I know because I’ve seen most of Season 4 so far. It’ll be all right. That’s all I can tell you about it. As far as I’m concerned, this character is dead. But the show is the show, and the book is the book, so they have latitude. They can do things, and by and large, I enjoy the novel things that they do.
You know they can’t just take a piece, a piece, and a piece, and film it that way. They take a piece from here, and a piece from here, and Toni’s particularly good at taking elements from the book and combining them in a novel way and putting these really interesting little bits of bridgework in to make it all fit into a seamless fold, and so it’s fascinating to watch. So, in so far as they’ve done that with Murtagh, like I said, I think it works.
Was there something in the book that you wish had been in the TV show?
Diana Gabaldon: Oh, sure. I always say this. There were a number of things from the prison, from Ardsmuir, that I would have liked to have seen, but there just wasn’t room.
Toni Graphia: There’s so much I can’t remember what’s in it, but keeping Murtagh alive for Season 3 was just a credit to and a tribute to the character that we were so in love with that we couldn’t let go of.
So I totally get Diana, though. Once you’re finished with them, they’re dead and they’re supposed to be dead, but we just loved him so much and loved the relationship, and we had done some different things from the book in that we had Jamie and Claire tell Murtagh their secret because we thought they were so close and, at that point, it felt like they had to tell him.
Once they told him, they became a little bit of a trio in that they knew this big thing, so their relationship evolved slightly different than the book, but we loved him so we kept him around.
At the FYC panel, executive producer Ron Moore said that Season 4 is about settling down in America. What does that mean for Claire and Jamie’s relationship?
Diana Gabaldon: I don’t know as I would put that as settling down exactly. I think Ron’s being metaphorical about that as in, they are settlers. As in, they are establishing a homestead in the wilderness, not so much as in, now we’re nice little married folks and we can sit on the cabin porch in our rocking chairs sort of thing. It’s not that kind of thing.
Toni Graphia: We don’t have a single scene where they are sitting on the porch in their rocking chairs, but we should maybe at some point because you do, do that, a little bit, here and there, but no. They are trying to make a new home together because they’ve never really had a solid home together.
They’ve had many homes. They’ve been vagabonds and their home is with each other. I think Jamie has a line in the book where he says, “You are my home.” She says, “Wherever you are is my home.” So it doesn’t really matter where they are, but it is nice that they’re in America trying to…
Diana Gabaldon: Put down roots and stakes, and thrive.
Toni Graphia: Thrive, yeah, and roots, and face the challenges together because there’s a lot of challenges. Settling implies a boring thing, but it’s more like facing one obstacle after another and the challenges.
Go through the 🗿stones🗿 to read more at the Source: Exclusive Outlander Seasons 3 and 4 Interview with Diana Gabaldon and Toni Graphia