Diana Gabaldon Reveals What Ezekiel Richardson Is Really Up To In 'Bees'

- Outlander -
Diana Gabaldon Reveals What Ezekiel Richardson Is Really Up To In 'Bees'

Major spoilers ahead for Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.

Though Ezekiel Richardson's real identity in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone may not be clear, his status as a villain is undisputed. Richardson has been antagonizing Claire and the Greys since An Echo in the Bone... and he may have been antagonizing Brianna and Roger since Book 7, too. Richardson confessed at least part of the reason for why all the villainy in Bees... and it's a doozy. But even after revealing his master plan, Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon makes it clear in an interview with The Dipp that Richardson, or Mike Callahan, may have more up his sleeve.

As he claims to his hostage Lord John Grey in Chapter 138 (takes a deep breath), Richardson is a time traveler who wants the Continental army to lose the American Revolution so that the colonies remain under British rule, resulting in slavery being abolished decades earlier and there being no American Civil War.

"I knew more or less what Ezekiel Richardson was up to, but not the specifics, and now I know more or less specifically what his plan was with regard to Great Britain," Gabaldon says of the reveal. "I knew about Great Britain having outlawed slavery, but I wasn't aware of all the permutations, i.e., that they had eliminated slavery in all of their empire holdings as well as in England, and therefore would have eliminated it in the colonies."

Richardson's cause is a noble one — and one that feels particularly relevant since racial inequality has been a significant part of the national conversation in the last two years. Gabaldon had already planned Richardson's story but says the civil unrest in 2020 could be considered "either serendipitous or uncomfortably close" to what she was writing.

Yet, even with a worthy cause, Richardson is dastardly. His latest plan includes capturing Lord John Grey to stop Hal from telling the House of Lords to end fighting in the colonies. "He might have decent motives, but at the same time, he is perfectly willing to kill innocent people to achieve them," Gabaldon says.

Beyond Lord John Grey, another one of Richardson's targets has been Fergus. Gabaldon pretty much confirms that Richardson has been behind Percy Beauchamp contacting Fergus about his relation to the Comte St. Germain. "I'm pretty sure that is [Richardson], yeah," she says of whoever is (was? if he's dead) pulling Percy's strings.

"He's very interested in time travel, which might possibly be the real reason that he's interested in Fergus Fraser," Gabaldon says of Richardson. "We do not know for sure [the Comte is Fergus's] father, but there's at least a decent possibility of it. If he was, what are the odds that Fergus hasn't inherited something from him?"

That "something" could be the time-travel gene since the Comte was confirmed as a time traveler in her novella The Space Between. "Fergus, of course, would have no clue about [that]. In fact, neither would anybody else in the story ... nobody in the main story knows that," Gabaldon notes. "Ezekiel Richardson may know that."

So rather than the land in the Northwest Territory that the Comte supposedly owns, maybe Richardson is trying to get control over Fergus for his potential time-traveling ability. Which leads to Richardson's supposed alter-ego from the 20th century — Mike Callahan.

Bree suspects that Richardson is the archaeologist friend of Rob Cameron's, who was at Lallybroch in 1980 in An Echo in the Bone and Written in My Own Heart's Blood. She thinks he had some (bad) plastic surgery done so that she and Roger couldn't identify him in the past. When it comes to whether or not Richardson really is Mike Callahan, Gabaldon and I discuss this theory as if it were true. Though, the author has said elsewhere that this is not a guarantee. ("It might be the same man, but then again, it might not," she told The Outlander Podcast.)

Assuming Bree is correct and Richardson is Callahan, that doesn't mean he's originally from the late 20th century... he is a time traveler after all. He mentions that "one of my great-grandmothers was a slave," but Gabaldon gets cagey when discussing what time period Richardson could be from.

"He has to have known what the effects [of slavery in America] would be in the future. He has to have come from someplace where that was the case. Though you never know, it may have been only from the Civil War," she says. "But on the other hand, we have seen him show up in the 20th century, so he does know."

Despite her ambiguous answer, her reply does seem to be a bit of evidence that Richardson is Callahan. And as for where he's from in geographical terms, he's presumably from the U.K. "We think that at the moment, yeah ... [but] it can always be something different that I haven't thought of yet," Gabaldon says with a laugh.

If Richardson is Callahan, then beyond stopping the Patriots from winning the Revolution, he might also be after the Jacobite gold... or perhaps he thinks the gold would help with his master plan. After all, that's what Cameron was after ("and probably still is," Gabaldon adds) when he attacked Bree in MOBY. There's also the threat of conspiracy theorists who believe in the Brahan Seer prophecy, as Frank had warned her about. So what's the connection between Richardson's plan in the past and Rob Cameron in the future?

"Well, my guess is that Ezekiel Richardson is not above taking advantage of other people to accomplish his ends, and we know for instance that Rob Cameron cannot time travel," Gabaldon says. "[Rob's] probably not idealistic enough to want to go back and sacrifice his life to help stop slavery or whatever. But he might be willing to go to some lengths in order to get a share of the Jacobite gold, which he knows about from Roger's book." So just like Percy was Richardson's puppet, Cameron may be Callahan's.

With the gold and Brahan Seer prophecy, Richardson/Callahan's interests may extend beyond abolishing slavery sooner in the U.S. But no matter his real motivations, he always seems to be circling around Jamie and Claire's family — whether that's forcing Claire to marry Lord John Grey in 1778, attacking Brianna and her children in 1980, or capturing Lord John Grey in 1780. So while there's bound to be other antagonists in Jamie and Claire's story when Book 10 comes out, it seems Ezekiel Richardson, aka Mike Callahan, may be the ultimate Big Bad of the Outlander series.

Images: Starz

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