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Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of Outlander Season 4, called "Blood of My Blood," and Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn novel.
Outlander's fourth season is in full swing, and fans of Diana Gabaldon's book saga know that there's still a lot of ground for Season 4 to cover before another hiatus begins. The show has been tearing through book material, and a bunch of smaller stories that have seemingly been abandoned or stand alone are bound to come together for one huge plot. The latest episode brought back Lord John Grey, and it added one more piece of the puzzle of what's in store for Brianna.
This is your last chance to turn back before HUGE spoilers for Drums of Autumn.
In case you're not up on what happens to Brianna or need a refresher, here's what's on the way if Outlander follows Drums of Autumn when it comes to her arc. After Brianna makes her way to the past on her important mission, she eventually secures a companion and travels to the American colonies, where she is raped by Stephen Bonnet when attempting to get back the ring he'd stolen from her mother. Brianna winds up pregnant, and although there's a chance that Bonnet isn't the father, she's still going to be ostracized as an unwed mother in the 18th century.
Working under the assumption that Outlander is following Drums of Autumn, here's how Outlander is setting up the arc.
Let's start with the latest development. Lord John Grey returned to Outlander in "Blood of My Blood," bringing Jamie's son and a case of the measles with him during a detour on their way to Virginia. The measles gave Jamie the chance to take Willie on an adventure while Claire treated the highly-contagious John back in the cabin. Fortunately, John survived the ordeal, and he and Willie took off for John's late wife's estate in Virginia. As book readers know, however, John Grey will not be out of the action in Virginia for very long.
John Grey will turn back up when Brianna is pregnant and staying somewhere a bit more protected than Fraser's Ridge. She'll figure out the truth of John's sexuality and attempt to blackmail him into marrying her, as she was being pressured to marry somebody before she gives birth, and any other man would have expectations of her. He eventually agrees to fake an engagement to discourage other suitors, passing the time for Bree's sake. They become close friends, and when he is grievously injured later on, she won't take it well.
Where will Brianna be staying while pregnant after leaving Fraser's Ridge? That leads us to another way Outlander has already set up the arc. Bree will go to stay with Jocasta at River Run, which is safer and more protected than Fraser's Ridge, even if Brianna won't be any happier than her mom about slavery. For fans who were discouraged at how quickly Jamie and Claire arrived at and then bounced out of River Run, the location and its characters should be returning thanks to Brianna's unfortunate circumstances.
As it happens, there was part of their stay at River Run that will be very relevant once Brianna begins living there. Jocasta was sorely disappointed when Jamie refused the status as heir of River Run, not least because she had no other family nearby to leave her estate to. When Brianna arrives, Jocasta has a second shot, and she'll want to leave River Run to her great niece. Owning slaves won't be any more palatable to Bree than to her parents, but she can't exactly leave River Run as easily as they did considering her condition.
"Blood of My Blood" featured a small moment that should have reminded viewers of a twist that seemed monumental back in the Season 4 premiere but ultimately went nowhere. In the latest episode, Jamie gifted Claire with a silver ring made out of one of his mother's candlesticks (before the two took full advantage of finally having the cabin to themselves), as he was deeply troubled by the fact that Stephen Bonnet had stolen the ring he'd given Claire at their wedding, made as it was from the key to Lallybroch.
The replacement ring serves as a reminder of what happened to that other ring, which I take as a sign that Outlander is very soon going to revisit what happened to the first ring that Jamie gave Claire, and that does not bode well for poor Brianna. She'll spot the distinctive ring on the finger of none other than Stephen Bonnet, who she doesn't know is a man to be feared when she encounters him and is talked into visiting his cabin on his ship. There, Bonnet rapes her and returns the ring. My money is on the meeting between Bree and Bonnet and then the subsequent rape happening in the next episode or two.
Of course, Brianna's trip to the past does have devastating consequences for another character, although she can't be blamed for his decision to follow her back to the 18th century. Nevertheless, Roger is going to suffer horribly in his own way. Now that Bree has made her trip back in time, he is undoubtedly going to follow shortly, and Outlander will begin really setting up his story as well. We'll have to wait and see how the show handles it.
Obviously, we can't say at this point just how many details from Brianna's arc in the past will or will not be precisely adapted for the series. Outlander hasn't hesitated to make big changes from the books in the past, and the season premiere not so long ago featured a notable one. That said, showrunner Ronald Moore has already confirmed that the rape will take place, so I'd say that it's safe to speculate that a lot of what happens leading up to and following that terrible twist will be close to how it goes down in Drums of Autumn.
See what's in store next for the Frasers when new episodes of Outlander air on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz. Season 4 has been moving way too quickly for my taste for some key reasons, but it's been an engaging ride so far. For some viewing options when many other fall shows go into their winter hiatuses, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule.