Is Captain Richardson a soap opera villain in the Outlander books?

Captain Richardson is clearly up to something when he's introduced in Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Is he too much of a soap opera villain, though?
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ /

There is still a lot that we don’t know in the Outlander books when it comes to Captain Richardson. However, the last we hear about him in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, he certainly comes across as a soap opera villain.

Throughout Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, it’s clear that Captain Richardson is up to something. He sends William on a spy mission when he isn’t even a spy. That mission involves passing messages to Rebels, and then we later find out that Richardson could be a Rebel as well.

However, the end of Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone brings a major twist to the story. Richardson is a time traveler. Bree and Roger have their theories, but they seem a little too soap opera villain for the story.

Is Captain Richardson from the 1980s in the Outlander books?

We find out that Richardson has traveled from the future. He wants to bring an end to the Revolutionary War sooner and in favor of the British in an attempt to end slavery sooner.

However, the MacKenzies think that he is actually after the French gold. They think he is one of the architects from Lallybroch in the 1980s who has had plastic surgery to look a little different. And this is where the soap opera villain storyline seems to be coming in.

Hopefully, it’s just Bree and Roger allowing their minds to run wild. It wouldn’t make sense for Richardson to get plastic surgery. That would mean he knew he could run into the MacKenzies in the past. At that point, the MacKenzies were in 1980 with no plans to go back in time. It was Rob Cameron’s actions that led to the trip to the past.

Yes, this series has certainly brought us some “unbelievable” moments, but they are grounded in the world of fantasy. Even in a fantasy series, some elements need to remain truthful or they need to make sense. They can’t be too outlandish for readers to grasp and believe. The idea of a character getting plastic surgery to go to the past makes no sense at all, especially when the people he was supposed to run into weren’t even in the past at the time.

It sounds like something taken straight out of a soap opera, and it is disappointing considering all the intricate and well-thought-out storylines we’ve had over the years in the books. In a way, it feels like Diana Gabaldon has been backed into a corner as she made Richardson a villain and then didn’t fully see how he could fit into the overall story. And yes, her characters talk to her, but that doesn’t mean she has to write everything they seem to say.

Hopefully, it really is just the MacKenzies thinking “outside the box” and getting it very wrong. They’ve watched too many soap operas in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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