Why I’m enjoying the changes in Outlander Season 5 as a book-first fan

Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of STARZ /

While there are many who want to see The Fiery Cross almost perfectly adapted, I’m not one of them. Here’s why I’m enjoying the Outlander Season 5 changes.

I know there are a lot of people disappointed with changes the show has made in Outlander Season 5. There are storylines from “The Fiery Cross” that book-first fans don’t like adapted. I’m not one of them. In fact, I adore the changes.

I’ve read “The Fiery Cross.” I’m also in the middle of re-reading specific chapters before the episodes to remember how Diana Gabaldon wrote it and see how the writers have to adapt it. And it is a “have to” when it comes to adapting. There’s absolutely no way that all the details could fit into the series, something that I’ve always accepted when it comes to book adaptations since understanding the way production works.

There are specific elements to the changes that stand out the most to me. Some that make me love the series even more than I already did. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of the books, but they are two very different entities now.

I do tend to look at a TV show in a different way to the book. I expect differences in the storytelling, as various characters will stand out because of the actors or things need developing due to the time that a novel was written. Here’s why I love the show’s changes.

More focus on the Regulators

Something that I’ve appreciated about Murtagh being kept alive at Culloden is the way he’s been infused into the story. He’s now leading the Regulators, and it means we get to see more of this storyline take place. During “The Fiery Cross,” the tales of the Regulators are more through word of mouth or dispatches. In the series, we see the terror that they cause.

This is a two-edged sword. It’s possible to start to lose respect for characters we’ve come to know and love. At the same time, we get to see their passion and everything they’re willing to do when it comes to fighting for their rights.

The Regulators aren’t all that well known when it comes to the American Revolutionary War and the buildup to it. However, they are an essential part of history, and something that more people should probably learn about in school. Growing up in Britain, I learned absolutely nothing. This part of British/American history was overlooked (I wonder why…yes, sarcasm) but it’s important to understand why these men and women were disenfranchised, why they felt that their actions were the only course of action they could undertake.

The show gives us a chance to see some of that. We see the planning, the emotions, and the extent they’re willing to go. We also see Murtagh struggle with the knowledge that his godson is on the opposite side.

Outlander — Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander — Courtesy of STARZ /

Getting to know Marsali more

One thing I’ve always loved is getting to know the side characters more. This isn’t always possible with a book, especially one that is written from a particular point of view. We get to know what the characters “speaking” will allow us to know or the appearances they see.

With a TV show, that changes. We get a chance to delve more into the side characters. They feel far more integral to the story and we care more about what happens to them. At least, that’s in my experience.

It’s one of the reasons I’m not the biggest fan of books in the first person POV. This is why it took me so long to read Outlander despite friends telling me I’d love it. Quite honestly, I struggle with Claire’s chapters the most purely because of that first-person POV. I don’t feel like I really know any of the other characters.

Outlander Season 5 is changing that for Marsali. Since the third season, I’ve wanted to know more about her. Now I’m getting that chance. It applies to other characters too, but I feel like I’m getting to appreciate Marsali far more in the show than I have ever done in the novels.


Really getting to hate the villain

Oh, I know that not everyone wanted to see the final scene in Outlander Season 5, Episode 2, but I loved it. Like with Marsali, we’re getting to see Stephen Bonnet more. And that means, getting to know him better. That always leads to hating the villain far more.

In “The Fiery Cross,” Bonnet is mentioned more in dispatches than anything else. We get to know what he did to people through Lord John Grey’s letters. However, seeing it is far more shocking, and I don’t believe it was done in a gratuitous way. It was done in a way to show us the realities of the time.

Okay, I do have a strong stomach. I’m one of those who loves Criminal Minds and Prodigal Son. I adore dark and gory TV shows and movies. And I certainly love a good villain to absolutely despise.

I also adore getting to see an actor play this sort of role. It’s certainly not easy, showing off acting abilities.

I understand why the book purists out there don’t want things changed. I get that opinions differ. And, hey, there are elements that I don’t like. However, changes don’t necessarily make a show overall bad. There are a lot of positives to take away from the series and I like to focus on them.

5 best moments from Outlander Season 5, Episode 2. dark. Next

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on STARZ.