[Warning: the following story contains spoilers from Sunday’sOutlander season four finale.]
Outlander certainly went out with a bang this season.
In a massive twist, season four ended on a cliffhanger completely new to the franchise, meaning it was not ripped from the source material of Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn or any other book in her Outlander series.
The finale seemed to end on a happy note with Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Roger (Richard Rankin) all back at River Run and reunited with Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and her newborn baby. But then British soldiers stormed the house. While Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and everyone assumed they were there to find and arrest Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), who escaped his death sentence earlier, they were actually there to deliver an ominous message to Jamie. He was ordered by the king to form a militia dedicated to finding and killing the escaped convict. Talk about awkward!
As those who have read Gabaldon’s books know, the character of Murtagh is no longer alive at this point in the franchise, so anything involving his storyline is new territory. But to have Jamie’s orders to build an army, which is in the book series, include a directive to hunt down his beloved godfather, whom he’s kept safe all this time, is a twist that no one could have seen coming, which is exactly what the Outlander producers wanted.
“Just when we think the Frasers are going to be happy and content and everyone’s back together again, au contraire – things are just ratcheted up even more,” executive producer Maril Davis tells The Hollywood Reporter. Since Outlander had already been granted a two-season renewal during production on season four, that allowed the producers to take their time in telling the stories they wanted to play out over multiple seasons.
“We’re always thinking ahead, and knowing that we already have seasons five and six picked up, it does sometimes change how you plan a season,” Davis says. “If you plan a season and you don’t know if you’re getting another one, you try to do as much as possible, sometimes to the detriment of the story, because you’re trying to shove too much into one season. Knowing we have two more gave us the ability to tell a different type of story and save certain things and set some things up for the next season.”
That’s why they decided to tie Murtagh’s story into Jamie’s from the next book, The Fiery Cross. “Certainly next season we’ll get to explore more of Jamie and Murtagh potentially being on different sides of the line of this conflict and what will happen to them,” Davis says. “They’re family, godson and godfather, and for Jamie to be put in this predicament, he made a deal with the devil, and we wanted to end the season on a cliffhanger. This starts to set the table for the next season in wondering what Jamie’s going to do.”
Another shock during the season four finale came when Murtagh arrived at River Run after last week’s jail break. While he and Jocasta constantly butted heads, one extremely heated argument ended in an unexpected hook-up. But perhaps the biggest surprise came the next morning when the two normally harsh grumps were acting so in love. In the books, Jocasta ends up with another one of Jamie’s men, Duncan, and they actually get married in a big storyline in The Fiery Cross. So how does this change where next season is going?