Is Charles Cunningham friend or foe in Outlander?

Kieran Bew is joining Outlander Season 8 as Captain Charles Cunningham. The man lives on the Ridge, but that doesn't mean he's a friend of Jamie's.
Outlander Season 7 Marketing Photography 10/21/22-10/22/22
Outlander Season 7 Marketing Photography 10/21/22-10/22/22 /

When it comes to new characters joining Outlander, we have to question whether they will be friend or foe. That’s especially the case for any characters moving to the Ridge.

Outlander Season 8 will see the introduction of Captain Charles Cunningham, played by Kieran Bew. The character is one of those interesting ones who has a lot going on off the page. We learn what Claire and Jamie are learning, and that’s important for the development of the tension on the Ridge.

However, I wouldn’t say Cunningham is strictly a villain. He is simply on the opposite side of the war.

Charles Cunningham follows his beliefs in Outlander

One thing to remember is that both sides of the Revolutionary War thought they were fighting for the same thing. The opposite side is the enemy, but does that necessarily mean they are the villains? Let’s just look at how Culloden played out. We end up supporting the Jacobites because that’s the side Jamie is on. We want them to win, but we know how history plays out and there is nothing to say that the Jacobites winning would have actually been all that better.

So, we take it to the Revolutionary War. We know how history plays out. There is that want for America to become the America we know. We don’t want to see history changed, so that puts us on the side of the Rebels. That doesn’t mean those who wanted the Colonies to remain with the Crown are the villains of the story. They’re just on another side of the war.

That’s what we experience in Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. Cunningham isn’t malicious or vindictive in the way that he acts. He’s just a British officer on the opposite side of the war to Jamie. That makes him a threat to Jamie—and technically a villain in our eyes—but he is nothing like characters such as Stephen Bonnet, Richard Brown, or even Black Jack Randall.

Charles Cunningham doesn’t openly try to take the Ridge from Jamie

In the past, we’ve seen the antagonists rally support against the Frasers. While that does happen with Cunnigham, it’s not for a fight for power. It’s all about war. And in war, rallying the troops is normal. Jamie is building his own militia to protect the Ridge.

At no point due Cunningham go up against Jamie to overpower him, except in the one conflict that happens during Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. He’s not a man who wants to take over the Ridge. He wants to turn Jamie in as a traitor, because at the time, Jamie is a traitor.

If we had a book that was written with Cunningham as the main protagonist and Jamie was the one on the opposite side, we would likely support Cunningham. It can leave you a little conflicted when it comes to Cunningham’s character.

I hope this is the way the series writes him. Cunningham was one of those characters I wanted to know more about—although Elspeth is the one I loved the most out of the two of them.

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