Towards the end of Season 2, it began to dawn on some fans that in the books, Murtagh dies at Culloden, and panic set in. This resulted in a plethora of blogs, tweets and Facebook posts and the hashtag #SaveMurtagh. After all, the producers had already shown themselves willing to change the fates and storylines of some characters (RIP Angus, hello there Rupert!) and even introduced entire new ones (I’m looking at you Taran MacQuarrie!), so it wasn’t too far fetched, was it? This discussion spawned all manner of weird and wonderful theories. At first I looked upon these posts with fond amusement. But some of the ideas had me thinking. Could they? Would they?
1. THE FIRST COMMANDMENT – DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE BOOK!
Well, that’s gone by the by hasn’t it? I’m one of those annoying people who actually enjoys the small forays from the original storyline. As long as the characters and the main plot remains solid and constant (which in my opinion it definitely has), I’m all for scenes that show us what happens out of Claire’s narrow POV (which we are restricted to in the Book), or possible scenes that either MAY have occurred but were just not Written In The Book, or COULD have been, and only exist in this little alternate universe called TV Land. My recent attempt at breaking the book into episodes (see my previous posts for Episodes 1-6) have shown me that condensing, omitting and bridging are all necessary in order to create an episodic format that includes as much of the source material as possible. But resurrecting Murtagh? That is a Big Change! Purists are dead set against it simply because it is Not Done. But the reasons are much more complex and have to do with the loneliness, isolation and guilt that moulds Jamie after losing everything at Culloden, including his beloved Godfather.
2. BUT WE LOVE TV MURTAGH!
And therein lays the rub. Book Murtagh is a major character, but an insubstantial one compared to the man created by the show writers and embodied by the wonderful Duncan Lacroix. Murtagh has been the mentor, protector and father-figure to Jamie, a friend and co-conspirator to Claire (not to mention song-and-dance partner!) and a deliverer of dry one-liners providing much appreciated comic relief. Television shows such as Outlander follow in the wake of the amazing Game of Thrones and we all know that no character is safe in that show, so we should not be surprised to see our favourites meet their doom in Outlander. We have said farewell to Angus, Colum, Dougal, the Duke of Sandringham and we even know poor Frank has passed away back over the stones there in 1968. So why not Murtagh? But what if there was another way…..
3. IF HE DOESN’T DIE, WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM?
In the book, Jamie remembers that Murtagh has died at Culloden. It’s a bit sad, but there’s no great death scene. If the writers DO decide that Murtagh will go the way of his book-self, viewers will be expecting a heartbreaking death-in-battle scene to compensate them (do you hear that Maril, Matt, Ron and co.?). But if he survives? Firstly, Jamie can’t know it. His character arc must remain untainted. He must believe Murtagh is dead. So perhaps there is a battle scene, Murtagh appears dead, we all cry boxes of tissues, and then…..he isn’t dead. Later we discover that he was shuffled off to one of the many prisons the Jacobite prisoners were incarcerated in. And then, when Claire returns through the stones, we find that Jamie has been reunited with Murtagh, another lovely surprise for Claire along with Fergus, Ian and the rest. There was a theory where he was deported to the New World, as many were, and meets up with Jamie and Claire there, but that would mean we wouldn’t see Murtagh until at least Season 4 and I don’t think that would be at all acceptable!
4. SO HOW WOULD THAT CHANGE THE REST OF THE STORY?
There are a LOT of characters still to be met in the Outlander Series and one of those pops up in Season 3 – Duncan Innes. Duncan is the one-armed ex-Ardsmuir friend of Jamie’s who becomes his right hand man and is involved in some interesting storylines as time goes on (without giving away any real spoilers). The best of all the theories I have read suggested that Murtagh take over Duncan’s storyline. I love everything about this idea! For one, I find Murtagh a much more interesting and entertaining character than poor old Duncan and I like the thought of seeing Murtagh get involved in those storylines I can’t speak of (wink wink). It would also decrease the number of new characters that would need to be introduced to the show, new actors to be employed, new dynamics to be explored etc. It would negate the necessity for the writers to think up ways to include Murtagh so that he doesn’t end up just seeming extraneous, or have them create new and unnecessary storylines for him.
5. DO WE HAVE ANY CLUES YET?
We do have one new clue. Apparently Duncan will be joining Sam and Caitriona for a “boot camp” prior to the start of Season 3. A boot camp seems a big investment for a character just about to die……
What do YOU think about Murtagh’s Season 3 fate?