Out of all the seasons of Outlander, season five looks to have made the most significant book-to-TV changes thus far. That’s not a knock! Adaptations should be exactly that: based off the source material but not completely bound to it, especially if something makes more or less sense narratively on television than it does in a novel. They are very different media after all!
With season five, which was mostly based on Diana Gabaldon’s fifth book in the Outlander series, dipping into book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, for some major story lines, the job of predicting what might make the jump from page to screen in season six gets a little tougher. That’s a good thing! The TV series should be able to surprise people no matter their familiarity with the books. And anyway, A Breath of Snow and Ashes is, in true Outlander fashion, so incredibly long (the paperback version is over 1,000 pages!) that there’s plenty of story lines to choose from. Here, a few of the major ones that could show up on your screen in season six. (Oh, and all of the spoilers are here, FYI.)
Roger and Bree will probably time travel for real.
One of the most mystifying choices Outlander made in season five was the Roger and Bree time-traveling debacle. Pulling from A Breath of Snow and Ashes, the show had Roger and Brianna say their good-byes before traveling through the stones back to the future, only for them to come out in exactly the same spot. It was a huge fake-out that ended up being a waste of everyone’s time. If season six follows the book story line more closely this go-around, Roger and Bree won’t be thinking “of home” when they travel this time, because the need to get back to the 1970s is more urgent: It has to do with their daughter. Yes, Roger and Brianna have a daughter, and she’s born with a heart defect that Claire knows she can’t fix. With their daughter’s life depending on it, the now four MacKenzies have no choice but to leave Fraser’s Ridge. If they make us sit through those good-byes again, so help me.
It might be time to meet the Christie family.
If you thought Claire might get a reprieve from traumatic, horrible things happening to her because she’s suffered enough traumatic, horrible things for several lifetimes, you must be new here. Although Claire’s kidnapping and assault that occurred in the season-five finale is actually pulled from A Breath of Snow and Ashes, there are still other tragedies that manage to find their way to Claire in book six. Much of Claire’s suffering is caused by a young woman named Malva Christie and her family. In the books, it’s Malva who becomes Claire’s apprentice, not Marsali, but even with that book-to-TV change, it seems unlikely the show would skip over her book-six story entirely — especially because of how the Christies supremely fuck with Claire and Jamie’s lives repeatedly.
In the books, Malva’s father, Tom, knows Jamie from Ardsmuir Prison, which is how the Christies come to settle on Fraser’s Ridge. Their family story is messy and awful (whose isn’t in this series?), but suffice it to say, Tom is actually Malva’s uncle, and his son Allan is Malva’s half-brother. So, how do I put this? Malva gets impregnated by her abusive brother, secretly and almost fatally poisons Claire (and Tom) so that she can have Jamie for herself, eventually decides to tell everyone that Jamie is the father of her child, then Malva ends up murdered … and Claire gets arrested for it!! I mean, that should be enough plot for at least, like, two episodes of Outlander.
Fergus might break our hearts.
Outlander the TV show has not fully used Fergus and Marsali to its advantage — they are right there, show, use them! — but the couple has an emotional story line in A Breath of Snow and Ashes that might change that, should the series decide to go there. We know Marsali is pregnant with her fourth child. In the novels, that child is Henri-Christian, a boy born with dwarfism. You see how well people at the Ridge take things like science and women having thoughts, so you can imagine how nasty people might get about Henri-Christian. Fergus is already having a time of it, feeling worthless because he feels he can’t provide for his family the way he thinks he should be. On top of that, he feels ill-equipped to protect Henri-Christian. All of this leads to a heartbreaking moment when Jamie finds Fergus trying to kill himself. This scene is so sad it’ll rip your heart out. Jamie considers Fergus his son — he gave him his last name, remember? He tries his best to tell Fergus just how much he is loved and needed and valued. Anyway, I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
The Beardsleys might break our brains.
Have you watched this show? Everything goes. And by “everything,” I mean even a tried-and-true throuple thriving on the Ridge. In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Lizzie marries both Josiah and Keziah Beardsley. You see, Lizzie here gets a touch of malaria, and the Beardsley twins nurse her back to health with some ointment and their naked bodies, as one does. She starts off hooking up with Jo, but then realizes she’s actually been sleeping with Kezzie too without knowing it, and the book kind of treats this like it’s fine and not assault? The show should definitely fix that.
Anyway, Lizzie says they are basically one person in two bodies, which I don’t think she realizes is actually insulting. She gets pregnant, doesn’t know which one is the father, and doesn’t want to choose just one of them to marry. Through some trickery, she marries both of them. It is wild, and that’s saying something for Outlander. Still, we have reason to believe this story line will pop up in the show because (1) in season five, when Lizzie first meets Josiah, she gets all hot and bothered, and (2) throuples are very hot right now. I mean, have you seen Elite?
We might finally learn what Claire and Jamie’s obituary is all about.
One thing that’s been hanging over Outlander since season four — and the reason Brianna traveled back in the first place — is an obituary that says Claire and James Fraser die in a house fire on Fraser’s Ridge. That house fire occurs at the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, but it’s not what you think. First, you should know that, in book six, Claire creates some homemade ether, and our little engineer Brianna makes matches. Yeah, things are just begging to be set on fire in this book. The actual house fire, however, is mostly born of an accident that has to do with the reappearance of fellow time-traveler Wendigo Donner, whom we met at the end of season five, and his search for gemstones that will enable him to get home to his own time. The house on Fraser’s Ridge does burn down, but, as you may have surmised since there are more books after this one, Jamie and Claire are not fatally harmed when it does. The house fire does, however, push the Frasers toward their next adventure: a return to Scotland. I mean, it doesn’t happen as easily as that, because nothing ever does on this show, but Scotland is the end goal. Didn’t you miss that place?