Jamie, BJR, and what happened at Culloden
As we wait for Season 3, here's something I have been thinking about recently:
* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *
If you haven't read VOYAGER (Book 3 of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER series), there are spoilers below! This post also contains spoilers about the first episode of OUTLANDER Season 3. Read at your own risk.
If you've read the OUTLANDER books, you know that Jamie Fraser woke on the battlefield at Culloden with Black Jack Randall's corpse lying on top of him.
The body of a man lay across his own. Its dead weight crushed his left leg, explaining he absence of feeling. The head, heavy as a spent cannonball, pressed facedown into his abdomen, the damp-matted hair a dark spill on the wet linen of his shirt. He jerked upward in sudden panic; the head rolled sideways into his lap and a half-open eye stared sightlessly up behind the sheltering strands of hair.So Black Jack Randall died at Culloden. That much, we know for certain. But what we don't know is exactly how it happened. As Diana Gabaldon put it in a post on Compuserve in 2008:
It was Jack Randall, his fine red captain’s coat so dark with the wet it looked almost black. Jamie made a fumbling effort to push the body away, but found himself amazingly weak; his hand splayed feebly against Randall’s shoulder, and the elbow of his other arm buckled suddenly as he tried to support himself. He found himself lying once more flat on his back, the sleeting sky pale gray and whirling dizzily overhead. Jack Randall’s head moved obscenely up and down on his stomach with each gasping breath.
(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "The Corbies' Feast". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jamie knows Black Jack Randall is dead--but not how. Did he kill him? If so--how, in what frame of mind? In the grip of the Red Thing, as he might kill any enemy in battle? Specifically, coldly, knowing who it was he killed? In vengeance? From mercy? From simple necessity? He doesn't know, and thus has only his own forgiveness as a shield. But he both wants the truth and fears it--and his memory is coming back.Fans have speculated about this for more than twenty years. What exactly happened on the battlefield that day? It's one of the great unresolved questions of the OUTLANDER series.
Here's where it gets interesting:
- With OUTLANDER Season 3 premiering in September, we're going to see a version of these events play out on screen. We know that they filmed the Battle of Culloden, and according to multiple people involved with the show, we will see that battle in the opening episode of Season 3.
- Diana Gabaldon has said that she has written a scene for Book 9 (GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE) in which we find out What Really Happened at Culloden. She shared that scene with Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis prior to the filming of that episode.
So, is the film version identical with the 'real' version? No. It's been adjusted for television <g>, in terms of visual drama--it's not nearly as messy and violent and grunting and confused as the real thing, but neither is it a sell-out or betrayal of What Really Happened. It just does what the show always does--separates the elements of the original, plays some up and some down (occasionally omits things for time or dramatic flow--that wasn't done here), and gives you a reasonably good visual account of the original, though somewhat condensed and refracted.This poses a real dilemma for fans of the books, including me. Will you watch the TV version of events, knowing that we won't get to read Diana Gabaldon's version until BEES comes out, possibly in 2018 or 2019? Will you skip the battle scenes in Episode 301, and wait for the Definitive Version of Events as told in BEES? Or do you fall somewhere in between?
I do want to put it on record though, that I wrote What Happened _before_ the show executed their version of it.
How do you feel about the fact that the answer to a question that has fueled speculation among OUTLANDER fans for decades will be revealed first on the TV show, rather than in the books? (Personally, I don't like that at all.)
Here's my take on it. The version of What Happened at Culloden that we see on TV will be (like everything else in the show so far) the writer's/director's/actors' interpretation of events, not necessarily exactly the same as what actually happened. In my opinion, the only definitive version of what happened will be in the book -- in Diana's words, told exactly the way she wants to tell it.
I'm sure the battle as seen on TV will be visually exciting, very dramatic, well-acted, and riveting to watch. <g> But I would be willing to bet that seeing it on TV won't have nearly the same emotional impact as reading about those events from Jamie's POV in the book, overlaid with his 30-plus years of remembering only fragments, wanting to know more, but fearing those memories at the same time.
I'm not going to avoid watching the TV version of events, but for me, the version in Diana Gabaldon's own words is the one I'm far more interested in. And I'm positive it will be worth waiting for. <g>
What about the rest of you?