Spoilers below for Outlander and the Outlander book series.
All done catching your breath about Outlander’s season-three finale? Good, because fans of Diana Gabaldon’s book series are already preparing for the drama, intrigue, and sexy times that our favorite time-traveler and her hunky Scotsman will get into in season four. Outlander won’t be back for quite some time — the #Droughtlander is real — but those familiar with Drums of Autumn, the fourth novel in the book series, will have a good idea of what and who we can expect to see when Claire, Jamie, and their cohorts return. Of course, not everything in Drums of Autumn will make it into season four, but we can make some pretty safe bets. Tighten your corsets, people, we’re in colonial America now!
A brand-new villain.
Outlander hasn’t had a real Big Bad since Black Jack Randall, and honestly, he’s the Biggest and Baddest it ever really gets. There’s no topping his brand of evil. Still, the show could use another wide-reaching villain, and it will get one with Stephen Bonnet (played by Downton Abbey’s Ed Speleers). The Irishman is capital-T terrible and manages to antagonize most of the major players. The dude pops up everywhere. We’ll see how far the show goes with him, but since it didn’t hold back with Randall, our Frasers are most likely in for some pain when they cross paths with Bonnet.
Introducing Aunt Jocasta.
Claire and Jamie eventually head to North Carolina because, duh, Jamie already has family there. He hasn’t seen Jocasta Cameron (Orphan Black’s Maria Doyle Kennedy) since he was two, but Jamie gets to know her very quickly. Like most Outlander characters, Jocasta has suffered through some intense tragedy that makes her even more hardened than usual. She’s a blind, tough broad, and much like her brothers, Colum and Dougal, she has big plans for her nephew. But Jamie knows what it’s like to be manipulated by his mother’s siblings, and he’s not about to let it happen again. This should be fun!
Prepare to bask in Jamie and Claire’s domestic glow.
In season three, the Frasers really racked up their mileage points. (do you get a bonus for time travel?) Boston! Scotland! The open sea! The Caribbean! The extreme changes in location were exciting, but also exhausting. Fans will be happy to hear that for the majority of Drums of Autumn, Jamie and Claire stay put in North Carolina. Obviously, they still find trouble because they are the Frasers and this is Outlander. But for a big chunk of the novel, Jamie and Claire are just living together as the hot married couple they are. How wonderful! Of course, “just living” for Jamie and Claire means things like bear fights and Native American ghosts and Claire getting her Dr. Quinn Medicine Sassenach on. So, yes, there are still Outlander shenanigans, the pair are just more domestic than they’ve been in a while.
Jamie will finally meet his daughter!
Even those unfamiliar with the books would probably guess that Bree goes through the stones and travels back in time. I’ll leave the why as a surprise, and instead focus on the big meeting itself. These are two characters who have longed to see one another for some time. When Jamie and Bree finally lay eyes on each other in Drums of Autumn, it is simple and a little silly and Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ is Sam Heughan going to break our hearts wide open.
A ton of Brianna and Roger drama.
The thought of Brianna meeting her father makes me giddy; however, Bree’s appearance in the 16th-century also signals that she plays a much bigger role in Drums of Autumn. This is a good-news, bad-news situation: The reception of Brianna’s TV counterpart has been, well, less than warm and fuzzy. A lot of the novel is told from Bree and Roger’s points of view, and man, does time put them through the wringer. If you aren’t invested in those two just yet, you’ll feel for them when things really get going. It’ll be interesting to see how much time the season will devote to Brianna and Roger: Yes, they are important to the plot, but we all know we’re really here for Claire and Jamie.
A surprise Ardsmuir Prison reunion.
Because Outlander’s world is the smallest on television, Jamie happens upon some buddies from his stint in Ardsmuir Prison once in the colonies. (When the place shut down, the prisoners were shuttled off to America.) After he and Claire settle on their own land, he invites any Ardsmuir men around to settle there as well. Are you bored? You should be, because that fact alone isn’t anything to get excited about. However, thanks to a twist in the TV show, this promises to be very exciting. In the books, Jamie’s godfather, BFF, and reluctant hunk Murtagh died during the Battle of Culloden. In the show, Jamie found Murtagh in Ardsmuir Prison … and he was one of the men shipped off to the colonies. YOU GUYS. Murtagh was definitely kept alive so he could stroll back into Jamie’s life after 20 years. Bonus: A chance to watch Murtagh interact with Jocasta, the sister of the woman he loved? Yes. A thousand times, yes.
John Grey. John Grey. John Grey.
If you thought season three could’ve used a little more Lord John Grey — come on, how great was it when he popped up as the governor in Jamaica and saved Jamie once again? — hold on to your well-kept hats. In Drums of Autumn, Lord John drops by the colonies with a very special guest in tow. Remember that low-simmering tension you felt between Lord John and Claire in Jamaica? Yeah, that’s still there.
Okay, so Rollo the dog isn’t the most integral part of the Outlander series, but this show can get pretty grim. You gotta take what you can get, you know? And after that harrowing shipwreck, we deserve to look at cute things. Enter Rollo, the half-wolf pup that becomes Young Ian’s most loyal companion. In case you were worried Rollo might not make the cut, the show has already cast a pair of (extremely cute) dogs for the role. Outlander truly is the gift that keeps on giving.