Diana Gabaldon On How Faithful 'Outlander' Season 6 Will Be To The Books

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Diana Gabaldon On How Faithful 'Outlander' Season 6 Will Be To The Books

Previews for Outlander Season 6 have teased some juicy storylines from A Breath of Snow and Ashes. But it's inevitable that the Starz series needs to depart from the novels by Diana Gabaldon occasionally. In a recent interview with The Dipp, Gabaldon discussed how much Outlander Season 6 will stick to the books. And it's mostly good news for book readers... even if the mystery of how Season 6 will finish all of the storylines in A Breath of Snow and Ashes remains a mystery. Spoilers ahead for Outlander Book 6.

During the Nov. 22 Penguin Random House event for the release of Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, Gabaldon confirmed that there will be a flashback to Ardsmuir Prison in Season 6 and that it "has to do with Jamie and Tom Christie."

"That part, without being specific about it, the show has been very faithful to the book, I'd say," Gabaldon tells me over the phone.

In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Jamie is prompted to share more with Claire about his time at Ardsmuir after she treats the hand of newcomer-to-the-Ridge Tom Christie, who was imprisoned in Ardsmuir at the same time as Jamie. Jamie tells Claire how Christie refused to learn Gaelic even though the other 40 men he shared a prison cell with spoke it. Jamie also explains that Christie mocked his scars in front of Claire because Tom had seen Jamie flogged at Ardsmuir. (In Voyager, Lord John ordered Jamie flogged when Jamie claimed a piece of tartan was his own to save young Angus MacKenzie from the punishment. The show gave a nod to this by having Jamie tell a still-alive Murtagh to tuck his tartan away — "Ye know the punishment for having it.")

Christie, while drunk after hand surgery, later admits to Claire that what Jamie did at Ardsmuir was "an act of extra … extraordinary … nobility and— and courage." So that would be as good a scene as any to portray since it would show the violence Jamie endured at Ardsmuir and the sacrifices he made as a leader... the latter which Christie resents. Not to mention, it could give David Berry another scene as Lord John Grey. And though I wouldn't categorize it as "very faithful" to the book, Jamie could be accepting the lashes on behalf of an ailing Murtagh if my theory that Duncan Lacroix returned for Season 6 is correct.

Another option for a flashback is Jamie murdering the guard Murchison. Neither Murchison nor his twin brother has been characters on the show, but Jamie tells Claire in The Fiery Cross how he killed the sadistic guard at Ardsmuir and Tom Christie witnessed it. The Ardsmuir guard doesn't need to be a developed character for the scene to be impactful as it would show the complicated relationship Jamie has with Christie — one where they were once bonded out of necessity.

There's also the conflict between the Catholics and the Christie-led Protestants at Ardsmuir that Kenny Lindsay told Roger about in The Fiery Cross. Mac Dubh soothed tensions by having all of the prisoners become Freemasons, to Christie's shock. That would be a good introduction to the religious tensions between the Fraser landlords and the new Fisher-Folk settlers that will likely plague the Ridge in Season 6.

Since the latter two scenes were from Book 5 and not Book 6, perhaps they won't be included in the flashback. But, as Gabaldon reminds me, the show writers haven't hesitated to pull pieces from other books when needed for their version of the story. Speaking of which...

When I ask Gabaldon if Season 6 will finish off the storylines from A Breath of Snow and Ashes (a big question since the season was cut from 12 episodes to eight), she replies, "I can probably tell you that they're not being hard and fast with, 'This season is this book and this season is this book.' They will take elements from an adjoining book when that serves their purposes."

That implies there could be a hodgepodge (not Hodgepile) of plots from multiple books in Season 6. Or, perhaps, it means there will be lingering storylines from A Breath of Snow and Ashes to be explored in Season 7 (perhaps where some time travelers end up landing?). But with all of the snow falling around Jamie and Claire in the season poster and opening credits, I am inclined to think that the pre-epilogue ending of Book 6 — the house fire — will occur.

As Gabaldon said during the Bees Random House event, the title of the sixth book came to her when she visualized the last scene of Jamie and Claire after the Big House had burned down. "I could see them standing there looking at the ashes and the snow is coming down and it's all cold, but there's this whiff of burning," she said. "And I could just feel them both inhale this last breath before you get on your horse and leave home."

The main imagery for the season certainly evokes that same feeling with its ominous "come what may" tagline. So though Gabaldon is unable to say that Season 6 will end where A Breath of Snow and Ashes did, the snowflakes (and ashes) are in the air.

Images: Starz

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