It's hard to be surprised by a show when you've already read the books, and this is certainly true for Outlander fans. With every twist and turn already revealed literally decades ago, book readers often have little else to do but praise or complain about minor changes from the source material.
However, book readers were shocked to find out that #Outlander's writers had changed a crucial detail from the novels: The death of a major character. And you'd better believe author Diana Gabaldon has some thoughts on the matter.
Murtagh The Undead
While Murtagh's face is a welcome sight, his appearance alongside Jamie in prison came as quite a surprise. Why? Because in the books, Murtagh was killed at the Battle of Culloden.
Despite this, it seems the show writers decided to keep Murtagh around. Season 3 Episode 3 revealed that Murtagh had survived the battle and was imprisoned.
It wasn't long until Gabaldon made a lengthy post on her Facebook page about Murtagh's survival. While she did praise the show's crew for their hard work, she wasn't afraid to give her side of the story:
"So they shot the footage for 301, and I believe I said, after seeing the first cut—“So you’re keeping Murtagh alive, eh?” Because we didn’t see him die on the field, and good story-telling does not (usually) involve important characters dying off-screen.
Frankly, I’d thought they probably _would_ keep him alive. Partly because it would be a popular move with the show-fans, partly because Duncan LaCroix does fabulous things with Murtagh and they enjoy working with him, and—partly because they _could_. Everybody likes to play God now and then. (I get to do it all the time; it’s a great feeling.)"
Is Diana Gabaldon Bitter About The Show's Direction?
Gabaldon's post does beg the question: Is she upset about the show writers saving Murtagh from death? After all, the author emphasizes that she has zero legal right to influence the show's direction, despite creating the original story herself and being hired as a consultant for the show. Outlander's writers are more than entitled to completely ignore her input.
Gabaldon has mentioned changes from the book that she wasn't too comfortable with in the past. In an interview with Radio Times, she confessed to being disappointed that the hot springs scene didn't make it into the show.
Given Outlander Season 3 has kept Murtagh alive, as well as featured a whole story arc that wasn't including in the original book (Claire's life with Frank after she returns to the 20th Century), it's easy to assume Gabaldon would be feeling a little uncomfortable with the changes.
So what's the verdict? Is she happy about it? Well, perhaps "happy" isn't the right term. She did, however, think the decision was "OK":
"Did I think keeping Murtagh alive was a good idea, in terms of how it might affect the story? I had no idea, because I didn’t know how or when they meant to stick him back into the story—but when I got the 303 script and saw how he was used, I thought that was OK."
Will Murtagh Appear In 'Outlander' Again?
Sadly, Jamie and Murtagh were separated at the end of the episode. So what does this mean for Murtagh? Will we see him again?
Actor Duncan Lacroix, who plays Murtagh, answered this very question on Twitter— and it seems we might have to wait until Season 4 to find out:
What do you think of the decision to keep Murtagh in the show?
(Sources: Radio Times)