Outlander Book Club: Lord John and the Hellfire Club Part 1 breakdown

Lord John and the Hellfire Club gives us a new look at Lord John Grey after the initial introduction in Voyager. Let's break down Part 1.
Outlander Season 6 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ
Outlander Season 6 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ /

Welcome to the start of the Lord John novellas as part of our Outlander Book Club. We’re starting with Lord John and the Hellfire Club.

When this short story was originally written, we didn’t know a lot about Lord John. We’d met him briefly in Voyager (and okay, in Dragonfly in Amber before Prestonpans), but there wasn’t that much in the way of character development for him. After all, we’d only met him in the sense of Governor of Ardsmuir, and the man who would help Jamie find a good place for parole and eventually look after his son, William.

There were signs of him being a good man. We also had a lot to learn about him. After all, he had been “exiled” to Ardsmuir for a reason. Lord John and the Hellfire Club is just the start of unraveling the layers of this man.

Breaking down the chapter of Lord John and the Hellfire Club

Lord John and the Hellfire Club Part 1 starts with a reminder of everything we know about Lord John Grey up to this point. One thing is very clear: his thoughts are on a certain red-haired prisoner. This is important because while we know Jamie leaves a lasting mark on a lot of people, he’s left a lasting mark on John for romantic reasons.

However, right now, Jamie and John haven’t developed the friendship that they will do in later years. And it’s important to remember that as we read these chapters.

This is a great chapter for us to see John’s obsession of Jamie. And that’s what it is at this point. He goes to dinner with Harry Quarry, who even fuels the obsession. At least Quarry doesn’t mean to do it in that way. He doesn’t realize the obsession that Lord John has, and he doesn’t realize that John just wants to speak about Jamie. He wants to see the man again.

And this is where we get the obsession in full. There’s a flash of a red-haired man. John is, once again, thinking of Jamie. He becomes obsessed with this red-haired man, now, gaining feelings of a romantic nature almost instantly.

This man is Robert Gerald, Harry's cousin by marriage and a man who is seemingly feeling a little off after an altercation with Bubb-Dodington while trying to enter the club. All Gerald will say is that Bubb-Dodington made an invitation he didn't wish to accept.

We get a good sense of who Gerald is within this section. He is a man skilled at discretion, which certainly is necessary as the junior secretary to the prime minister. He would like John's advice on a matter, and the two arrange to meet at the Arcade.

As John and Harry get some more time alone, the conversation is on Jamie Fraser. Harry admits that while he liked Jamie, he didn't really trust him. John is happy to talk about this man he is obsessed with, but the conversations are cut short.

Gerald is in the middle of a scuffle in the streets. Before Harry and John can get to him, Gerald is stabbed. He dies in John's arms before he can answer any questions about what happened.

The chapter ends with Harry cutting a lock of hair to give to Gerald's mother. However, it's important to note that it's red hair, which connects back to Jamie.

Could this chapter be used in a Lord John Grey series?

I’m going to use this post to take a look at the dream of a Lord John Grey TV series. I would love a spin-off with the man. Whether it would all start with Lord John and the Hellfire Club isn’t clear, but I’m going to look at the chapters to see if they could be used in an adaptation.

If we’re going to get to know Lord John, this chapter would be somewhat necessary. The problem is that a lot of John’s comments are internalized. He can’t share his feelings for Jamie with anyone, which makes it difficult to then share his feelings with the audience.

The show would likely need to do something like Outlander through the use of the voiceovers. We could have John’s voiceover to share his thoughts for Jamie.

The other option would be to have someone who John can talk to about this. In later books, that is Hal in a way. Could we see that develop a little earlier in a TV series? I’m in two minds about whether that would work. After all, John’s family isn’t happy with his sexuality. It’s against the law of the time. And yet, Hal does know about it and I believe is the one to accept John for who he is more than any other members of the family.

There is the action with Gerald's death. This kick-starts the whole short story, so it could be used to start off an episode in a spin-off. It would depend on how far back in John's story a spin-off would want to go as too far back could lead to needing a new actor.

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