A Few Words From An (Outlander) Fan

Oh, like many of you, I’ve been pondering Outlander author Diana Gabaldon’s, “A Few Words From The Author” tweet. 

Also, like many of you, I didn’t appreciate the delivery toward how some fans feel anticipating viewing the rape and torture of Jamie Fraser by Black Jack Randall in the  season finale episode 1×16 To Ransom A Man’s Soul.  Those of you who worry about how difficult it will be are not whiners or complainers. You’ve a right to your own feelings about what is to come, just as Herself does.  Apples and oranges the perspective of a fan and the perspective of an author.

I’ve no doubt the acting is exquisite and award-winning. I’ve no doubt the actors had to be excessively brave and trusting of each other, the crew, and the team.  Those are not the issues at hand here. Nor is Sam’s humor or Diana’s. Frankly no one has the right to tell a reader or viewer,  how to feel, how to process, and how to interpret the material. Once the characters and story spring to life in any medium, they now in essence belong to the individual reader or viewer.

Loving a book series and accepting what is within the pages, does not mean absolute love or fealty of every scene, every character, every choice, or every path that unfolds. Secondly in the written, the reader ultimately chooses what imagery exists in his or her mind’s eye. There is a choice to what level the material is let in. In the visual medium, there is no room for softer filters or integration. It is what it is. Take it or leave it. Watch or close eyes. Viewing is much more vibrant and dare I say real than reading. There is little room to move toward or away from content as desired or needed. Reading is also an active participation where viewing is a more passive engagement. Again, the experiences are vastly different from one medium to the next.

to the content, the elephant in all of this. Experiencing rape and brutality in the written is nowhere near what is experienced in the visual.

Being an avid lover of the Outlander series doesn’t mean I relish all the challenges the characters go through. They’re vehicles toward character growth and depth. We see the personalities dim and flourish under hardship. We see truly what each individual is made of. The fruits of devastation as it were. The meaning of grit, love, brokenness, grief, joy come flooding in. Gifts at the end of near mortal losses or actual deaths. These events are mirrors into the souls of people created from one and placed onto pages to fall in love with or loathe to the end.

All that said and knowing Outlander intimately since 1991, during the horrific events, I struggle in heartbreak, anxiety, gut wrenching awareness, whether by delving into the word again or into the visual medium. In general, rape and torture are not topics I wish to read about or see, yet I do and I will for what will be born out of them in this instance. And perhaps for the hope of justice, even revenge that might come upon the perpetrators against my friends, these characters so real.

I will watch. I am excited and scared. I will not enjoy seeing all that will be seen. I set my joy on the beauty from ashes that will come for these beloved friends.


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14 thoughts on “A Few Words From An (Outlander) Fan

  1. Sara Tajeldin says:

    I am with you on this. People need to cool it. I read Outlander in 1991 also . I want to see how Ron Moore had interrupted Diana’s words. Yes, it will be difficult to watch as the pages were to read but the outcome is a rich and rewarding life We all have the means to look away. Thank you for your thoughts.


  2. Peigi says:

    Both you and DG have valid points. I respect both of you tremendously.
    Outlander world is immeasurably rich for all of the intelligent conversations.


  3. Thanks so much for that. I am truly terrified by tonight’s episode & hoping most of it concentrates on recovery & recuperating. Having been on the wrong side of vicious attacks, helplessness is the worst feeling. Having read all the novels, I feel that Jamie, with the help of Claire did get through it and I want to see that tonight.


  4. Gwenna says:

    I couldn’t have expressed my thoughts better, nor indeed as well.
    I will approach the last episode this weekend with mounting trepidation.
    After being warned numerous times by the author and cast members; Sam, Caitriona and Tobias, regarding the “dark” nature of the episode,
    to the advice of having a cushion handy with which to hide behind. It will no doubt, be gut wrenching, watching our dear Jamie being pushed to the very edge of sanity by the sadistic sociopath, played so well by Tobias…right down to his anticipatory twitching lip…but experience it I will. After reading all Gabaldon’s books, and her penchant for the minutae of detail upon which she thrives, I must see this series through to the end. As I watch, I also must keep in mind all will right itself to a degree, as light filters through the hideous blackness where Black Jack delights in taking us.
    As he abandons any shred of decency, driven by the sense of power he holds over Jamie, we’ll watch and cringe as he slowly breaks his defenceless prey, reaching the pinnacle of his madness through the final seduction.
    In closing, I must admit, like thousands of others, how exceptional the
    total Outlander cast is.
    …with special kudos going to Sam and Tobias…The last episode took its
    toll. I applaud them and thank Scotland for having the “Munros” where
    Sam could climb and get his head and scrambled emotions settled back to a
    modicum of normalcy.
    Again, sincere thanks to you and your posting.


  5. Gail says:

    What a wonderful post! Unlike most of you, I had not heard of Outlander until I found it on OnDemad over the Christmas holidays. I’ve since read the first 3 books, but don’t plan to read any more.

    This is probably an unpopular opinion in the Outlander fandom, but I’m not a big fan of Diana Gabaldon. I’m grateful she came up with a TERRIFIC story, and some of her writing is absolutely lovely. But I find when she engages with her fans, she generally creates more trauma and controversy than necessary. In supposedly trying to reassure fans about the last two episodes, all she;s done is feed the fire.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t love her. As you said above (in so many words), our feelings are what they are, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for them. The fact that (nearly?) everyone her holds her high esteem is great. I’d never want to change your minds. 🙂

    I’m actually looking forward to tonight’s episode. (I’ll stay up and watch it on OnDemand at midnight.) This “manufactured” fan drama has gone on too long, and I’m tired of it. I’m ready for it to be over. I’ll be fortified with a big glass of Scotch (no wee drams here!) and a pet on my lap to comfort me.


  6. Cary says:

    I really, really appreciate your post! While it troubles me when fans on BOTH sides of the issue resort to nastiness, name-calling and rudeness, I still think its important for everyone to remember that we all have a right to how we feel about the books, certainly, but also in this case the series. We DO NOT have to like the direction its taken and we DO have the right to say so, without being called names or looked down upon! Who else are we going to talk to if not other fans?!? Geesh… 😉 While I don’t feel the need to have Diana or anyone else tell me how I’m supposed to be feeling about the series, I enjoy hearing others opinions, when respectfully shared (as this was)

    We can love some parts and hate others and should not be condemned for doing so! Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts – I hope we’ll still hear from you discussing all things Outlander during what is sure to be a long hiatus 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just hope fans don’t traumatize themselves before even seeing it. All the negative doom and gloom talk before the last episode not only hurt the ratings, it wound a lot of people up that didn’t need to be.
    Yes, this is difficult stuff to deal with. The material is horrific, the actors paid a price to give the fans the best performance possible, and seeing such cruelty visited on such a beloved character is sickening…..however…..there is far worse out there that people watch all the time. You aren’t meant to enjoy what happens in Wentworth – but it will be worth it. Like with life – it all depends on where you put your focus.


    • If someone knows what is coming how could one not anticipate the horrors? The show isa hit, ratings down for an episode are not affecting a thing. Outlander is a cash cow. Season Two was greenlighted when Season One was filming. Knowing what the cast went through does not change what a fan might feel nor do negative worrisome feelings about content take away from performances.
      Diana in her humor and non humorous talk cannot understand the fret. That makes no sense. Everyone feel what they need. Anyway, The media has done a far superior job at striking fear in would be viewers than any one fan’s comments. Sigh. It’s on soon.


  8. Rebecca says:

    “Frankly no one has the right to tell a reader or viewer,  how to feel, how to process, and how to interpret the material. Once the characters and story spring to life in any medium, they now in essence belong to the individual reader or viewer.” THANK YOU!! I have had these thoughts running through my head for weeks but especially w/ discourse over E115 & E116. I totally respect the ownership has over characters and plot lines they created. But you are so right- apples and oranges. Once they send their “child” out into the world, they cannot tell people who meet and interact with the child what must be felt or understood about them. Relationships and perceptions will be different. And to deride readers who are protective of the book content as it is transferred (or not) to the screen is cutting off fans of good value for new viewers who may never read the books.
    I’ve got my own reasons for loving, not loving characters and plot points, dialogue and events in these stories. And I don’t understand all of them but they are all beneficial to the Outlander book and series franchises. And they are as legitimate as those of anyone else. Diana, Ron, Sam, Caitriona, Tobias, et al are tremendously gifted almost to the point where I suspect sorcery (JK). But I’m not going to fawn or deify or give up my relationship to the yes-I-know-they’re-fictional characters from Leoch and Lallybroch to Fraser’s Ridge.


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